Thursday, June 16, 2011

Sweet Emilia Jane, or Why You Need a Coordinator/Equivalent

I was exceedingly lucky to be able to work with Sweet Emilia Jane as our Day-of-Coordinator.  She was organized and level-headed throughout my wedding planning, giving me more support than my day-of-coordination (or really month-of-coordination) package warranted. She was helpful and enthusiastic, even when I was wracked by wedding crazies. And, quite simply, I could not have pulled off my wedding day without her.

We initially met via her personal wedding planning blog, where her gorgeous ideas always inspired me without making me feel inadequate (which  is important, because I often feel inadequate when I read design-oriented wedding blogs). We worked through our wedding planning challenges and frustrations together, and became friends along the way.  I got to cheer as she finally went into business for herself, since wedding planning is an ideal outlet for her love of  design, her longtime background in  non-profit event management,  her floral arranging skills, and  general craft brilliance. Oh, and she gets the real point of a wedding, after having planned her own love-centric, DIY, stunner of a crafty backyard wedding in 2010.

Emilia's event design and artistic eye are obvious to anyone who has read her posts at Style Me Pretty, perused images of her events, floral arrangements, or styled wedding shoots on her portfolio and blog, or reads her design inspiration blog Auburn & Ivory (where she's begun posting again after months of silence).  But as you all know, the pretties aren’t what impress me about weddings or wedding planners. I’m a logistics girl, and Emilia also has that in droves. Thank goodness.

If you’re like me, you can manage everything up until the wedding day. You can find your own vendors, make your own seating charts, make your own timelines, and figure out your own decor.  I couldn't afford to hire her gorgeous eye and design sensibility, but I happily settled for help with an inspiration board (she offers a la carte design and craft help too!) Her ideas helped me start to see the easy design possibilities and feel more confident in myself. And in the areas where I already felt confident (event organization), I still really appreciated Emilia's professional input on the drafts I sent her. I was nearly gleeful when I realized that her timeline format and organization was better than mine (the little organizational things really matter). She walked through an event questionnaire that identified challenges we hadn’t thought about. She contacted our vendors for us the week beforehand for final confirmations and to confirm herself as the point of contact (which was nice, because I was already harried enough). She helped with the last pieces of our signage and craft projects at the rehearsal. These were all things I could have done myself, but Emilia helped make them all better, and just knowing I had support was serious relief.

However, on the wedding day, I could NOT manage things on my own. I did fine until 11:30am. I oversaw rental equipment set up, unloading the uhaul, pulling the tables and chairs from storage, the flower arranging,  hanging papel picado from the rafters, making the sangria,  laying out our ceremony chairs, and other efforts with our army of helper friends in the morning. However, as of 11:30, I was done. I had to get dressed and ready for our 2:30 ketubah ceremony. I couldn’t oversee the final set up and our helper friends all had to leave and get cleaned up too. So Emilia jumped in and made the room prettier than I’d pictured it could be, by arranging extra flowers in unexpected receptacles and displaying our eclectic decor to its best advantage. She set up our DIY photobooth. She finished laying out  and decorating our ceremony and reception spaces, and she created a really sociable and attractive cocktail/buffet/bar area.

During the wedding itself, I was too focused on getting married and enjoying the day to understand anything about our timeline or where we were in the schedule (if I’d been in charge, food would never have been served because we’d have stayed on the dance floor until 9pm without noticing). She put food in my hands and made me sit down and eat (this was a lot more difficult than I expected. Everyone wanted to talk with us, which made eating really hard. I needed someone to tell me/allow me to sit down.)  She cut our cake into 140 delicious pieces.  When the party got rowdy (which is exactly what we'd hoped for) and rowdiness led to breakage, Emilia swept up broken glass.  She jumped in to solve crises like the shuttles. She handed out tips and final payments to all our vendors. She brought an emergency kit so I didn't have to (you don't have an event emergency kit? You need one, with duct tape, scissors, band aids, and random event and first-aid items).  And she let me ease into the first post-wedding moments of married life, unworried about cleaning up the venue. That was huge guys. HUGE. I was willing to haul ass and beg friends to help with setup, but I refused to let any guests (or myself) lift a finger to clean up. Emilia and her assistant took care of that for me. And then they loaded our uhaul with all our remaining decor, props, booze, and supplies and had it ready for pickup the next day.

Having Emilia at my wedding was the best money I spent.  Emilia let me be present at my wedding. I remember being aware that something bad was happening with the shuttles, but I just flagged her down, figured she could fix it as well as I could have (yep), and got back to the party. Your crises may not be shuttle-related, but you'll probably have something  go wrong and you'll definitely need someone to take care of solving it.  If you’re not in the budget category where you can afford a coordinator, you still need a sober, organized friend or family to be your manager for the wedding day. If you are not an organized person, you definitely need re-work your budget to hire someone or cajole a friend to help you get organized beforehand with nifty excels and timeline assistance. You can’t do this alone. You can’t do this without a system of organization (well, you probably can, but my last weeks were chaotic enough with lists and preparation galore, and I wouldn’t wish anything more chaotic on anyone.)

And for everyone in the position to hire a coordinator or full service event planner, I can’t recommend working with Sweet Emilia Jane highly enough.  For people who want some help with design, she's great with that too (and with "eff it, I can't take it anymore" crafting services too.)  Emilia just relocated to Los Angeles, but she's familiar with San Diego, Southern California, and beyond for your wedding planning and design needs. 


  1. Right on.

    We had an equivalent that was MUCH more informal (think a bridesmaid who held my phone and had all the vendor numbers and was instructed to keep a 20-yard distance between my mother and me at all times) and it was a godsend.

    This is a wonderful testament to SEJ's services!

    (PS my captcha was "imbibing." I like it.)

  2. You are so nice to right all those sweet things! It was such an honor being a part of your wedding and a joy to see you, Jason and your friends and family celebrate and love and dance and be merry. You guys are the best! Thank you soooooo much!

  3. Agreed. Minimum day-of coordinator is a MUST. It does allow a bride to be able to enjoy and be present at her wedding versus a big-time stress monkey!

  4. Yes, for sure! After playing this role for my sister's wedding, it was the one thing I knew I had to fit in my budget, somehow. I want to be able to talk to people and not have to worry about whether someone is refilling the ice.


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