DIY weddings are on the rise and 2016 has certainly been the year of the village hall wedding so far. Lots of couples are looking for something different for their venue and with a little imagination and creativity, you can turn anything into a reception venue. A barn, a tipi in a field, an old cinema, a warehouse or a local village hall are all popular (and often budget friendly) options to host your fabulous wedding reception but unlike hotel venues they’re not always set up with a team of people to look after you.
You might be bringing in a bar team and caterers to serve the food and drink, you might have access the day before to set up and also the day after to clear up again . Your bridal party, friends and family are all willing to muck in and help so why would you need a coordinator? What do they even do on the wedding day?
Last weekend I coordinated the wedding reception of Amy & Chris who had a fantastic day! pm They married at their local church and then held their reception at Stannington Village Hall. Here’s a timeline of what I did for them as the ‘On the Day’ wedding coordinator.
The planning process:
I’ve met with the bride twice for in depth consultations where we discussed all aspects of the wedding day and I advised on timings, procedures and other bits and bobs. We also email frequently to keep up to date on all the plans and create a detailed schedule and info sheet for the day.
The day before:
- Meet with Amy to run through all final timings and details. Collect their decor, wines, table plan, guest book, sweets for the candy bar and lots of other bits and pieces.
On the Day:
- 8.45am Arrive on site at the village hall. The tables and chairs have been laid out by the caretaker already. Meet with the caretaker and find out where all the power sockets, light switches and fire exits are. Make sure I know how to operate the boiler, dishwasher, PA system and what the lock up procedure is.
- 9.00am My set up assistant arrives. She sets off fitting the lace sashes to the chairs, all 120 of them.
- 9.10am Get the white wine and Prosecco into the fridge to make sure it’s chilled ready for the guests arrival later today. Unpack the table decorations and candy bar bits and bobs fro the car.
- 9.30am Start hanging bunting in the main hall. I use sticky hooks which leave absolutely no damage or marks at all, They are fantastic for hanging bunting and also stringing fishing wire to hang paper lanterns.
- 10.00am The linen supplier arrives on site and cloths the tables in the main room. Once she finishes I check that the chairs are set out correctly according to the table plan. They aren’t so we need to find extra chairs and put sashes on those too.
- 10.15am This village hall has it’s own (very well stocked) bar which is run a volunteer who sits on the committee. David asks me to go through timings and schedule for the day with him. I ask him for flutes and wine glasses to set the tables with.
- 10.30am Carry on hanging bunting.
- 11.00am Start setting the tables with napkins, cutlery, wine glasses. I’m using cutlery and glassware from the hall today and realise that we are short of 3 forks. I know the caterers aren’t bringing any with them so I toy with the idea of driving home and picking some up from my own collection. Then I realise that there is a pub about 100 yards away so I pop over there and borrow some from them. Afterwards, I set out table numbers, lanterns with tea lights and slices of wood which jars of flowers will be placed upon. The jars are coming with one of the guests later.
- 12.00noon Set up a table just inside the main doors to serve an arrival drink from. Set out 100 flutes and several tumblers and a couple of glass jugs.
- 1.00pm Set up the candy bar, dress tables with cloths and bunting in the side room. Scatter table confetti on the dining tables. Set out the finger print tree with instructions and put out the guest book.
- 2.00pm The catering team arrive. I’ve worked with Kenny before at a village hall wedding so we know how the operation will roughly work. He brings a team of two servers with him and we run through the timings and arrangements working out who will do what and when.
- 2.15pm Find some platters in the kitchen and cover them with the napkins provided by the bride and groom. I’ll use this later to serve the cut cake from.
- 2.30pm Set up the table plan and the cake stand ready for the cake which will arrive with on eof the guests.
- 3.00pm Go over my notes for the day and make sure that everything is in place ready for the guests arrival.
- 3.15pm Start pouring Prosecco into the flutes.
- 3.30pm The guests are due to arrive now but are running late.
- 4.00pm Guests start to arrive. Various guests give me jars of flowers for the tables, chocolate tortes for the dessert table, lunchboxes for the children, the cak arrives and so with help from the bridesmaids I get these all to the right place. I then man the drinks table making sure that everyone gets a glass of Prosecco on arrival or orange juice for the children.
- 4.30pm We’re running about half an hour behind schedule and the guests are still trickling in. I pour the last few glasses of Prosecco and leave them for the guests to help themselves. The catering team have really kindly offered to help get the flutes collected in, washed and onto the table ready for the speeches so we all rush around picking up empty flute glasses.
- 5.00pm The bride is keen to get sat down and start the speeches so we don’t run into arrival of the evening guests but we’re not ready just yet. It takes another 15mins to get the glasses on the table and filled with more Prosecco, as well as putting out bottles of wine ready for the meal.
- 5.15pm I make an announcement asking the guests to take their seats at the tables. Most of them sit down quickly but there is a reasonably big queue of (mainly) blokes at the bar. After a couple of minutes I diplomatically ask them to take their seats so that we can start the speeches and let them know there is wine on the table. Unusually, it’s only one of the ushers who is resistant and again, I have use my diplomatic skills to persuade him to forfeit a beer for half an hour so that the bride and groom aren’t waiting for him on their wedding day!
- 5.20pm Acting as Master of Ceremonies for the day, I introduce the speeches in turn. Breaking with tradition today the speeches are made by the Bride, the Groom and the Best Man, The brides speech is possibly one of the most emotional I’ve ever heard. I have to admit she brought a tear to my eye.
- 6.00pm The speeches finish and I announce the cutting of the cake as we’re serving this as part of the dessert course. I ten invite the guests table by table up to be served the hog roast.
- 6.45pm With the help of the catering team again we cut the cake into fingers and I set out rocky road onto platters. I fill a huge punch bowl with strawberries and portion up the homemade chocolate tortes. I fill up the sweet jars too and leave the guests to discover and help themselves to the dessert bar as the evening guests are starting to arrive. The catering team clear the dirty plates.
- 7.00pm The evening guests are offered food from the hog roast as they arrive and so I start to coordinate the turnaround of the main room. The band are here and starting to set up their equipment so I need to clear the dancefloor. I recruit the ushers, best man, bridesmaids and the grooms 5 sisters to help me clear the tables of all glasses, flowers, bottles of wine, napkins and personal belongings and we move several tables into the bar so there is a quieter area for guests who want to sit and chat.
- 8.00pm I start clearing up as much as I can. Again with help I clear the dirty dessert plates and start putting them through the dishwasher. I get rid of empty bottles into the bottle bank and have a general clear up in the kitchen. It’s at this point that I realise I haven’t eaten or had a drink of anything all day so I gulp down a glass of orange juice and manage half a cheese sandwich that was left over from the kids lunchboxes!
- 8.45pm I put out the cheeseboard , crackers, grapes and chutneys and replenish the dessert bar with the chocolate torte.
- 9.00pm I check that the band are all set and don’t need any help. I speak with the grooms parents who are in charge of the clear up operation in the morning and let them know where I’ve left things for them to collect.
- 9.10pm Say my goodbyes to the bride and groom. All the formalities have been taken care of and there’s nothing left for me to do so I leave them to enjoy the band and get their dancing shoes on.
- 9.15pm Go home and put my feet up with a glass of wine.
Coordinating a wedding day in a DIY venue is such a rewarding job. I get to be part of the most special day for some amazing couples and guide them through unfamiliar territory. It is also bloody hard work. In my opinion it’s a blend of hospitality, crowd control, foreseeing problems, dealing with the unexpected and good hard graft. Without a coordinator this couple would certainly have still had a wonderful day but having someone there for them means that they don’t need to think about how all these little jobs will get done leaving them to simply enjoy their special day.