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I get asked a lot by my brides, “What’s the biggest thing you’ve learned from all the weddings you’ve seen?”  The answer to that would be a pretty close race between two tidbits:  splurge on great lighting, and hire a good coordinator.  It’s unbelievable how much a wedding coordinator can change the tone of a wedding.  Coordinated weddings are smoother, calmer, more on-time, and usually much more well-decorated.  They also tend to result in better photographs.  Why?  Well, in the absence of a coordinator, the photographer usually fills the position of the wedding “point person.”  When I shoot a wedding where there isn’t a coordinator, I know that I’m going to be responsible for finding the bride and groom, corralling their attendants, making sure the bride and groom don’t run into each other, helping the bride put on her dress (by this point I’m an old pro), keeping everything on time, getting guests out of the ceremony spot and onto the reception, finding the bouquet for the bouquet toss and a chair for the garter toss, lining everyone up for the exit, and on and on… And all of the time that I’m doing all of those things, I’m not taking photographs.

Most brides think that they don’t need coordinators for three reasons.  The first argument I always hear is “We don’t have room for it in the budget.”  Ironically enough, many times having a full-service coordinator means that you’re actually going to save money overall.  Coordinators know which vendors are overpriced and which vendors will make you a great deal, and they’ll be able to point you in the direction of vendors who will give you the best prices.  They’re also experts at managing budgets, and they can help reign in your spending when you’re getting too close to going overboard.

The second argument that I often hear is “Our venue provides a coordinator for us.”  The thing you need to remember there is that the venue coordinator is there for one reason and one reason only: to serve the venue.  Their primary job is to make sure you are in and out of the venue at your specified times and you don’t break any rules while you’re there.  Yes, many of them are super sweet, care a lot about their brides, and are willing to go above and beyond to take care of the couple.  However, some of them are the exact opposite, and are more likely to be a source of stress than a source of help.  Many a time I have seen a bride either fuming with anger or on the verge of tears because of a “church lady” or “on-site coordinator.”  As a bride, it’s important for you to have someone “on your side,” so to speak, to deal with any issues that might arise so that you can relax and enjoy your wedding day.

Finally, the third argument I hear quite a bit (and probably the most understandable) is “I want to plan the wedding myself.”  For many brides, planning a wedding is a fun experience that they want to soak up completely, and they don’t want to pawn off the experience on someone else.  These brides often tend to be the DIY-type and make their own invitations, bouquets, centerpieces, and other decor items.  However, even the most involved bride can’t run her own wedding day (well, she might, but she’ll regret it for the rest of her life because she will have spent her wedding day stressed out and running all over the place instead of relaxing and enjoying her day).  For brides like this, most coordinators offer what’s called “Day Of” or “Month Of” services.  This is a bit of a misnomer because most packages like this actually start a couple of months prior to the wedding, but essentially, you’re hiring someone to come in and help manage the last-minute details of your wedding.  They’ll get to know your vendors, help you set a timeline, remind you of any last-minute details you might have missed, and most importantly, they will run the show on the wedding day so you don’t have to.

I also want to recommend a three of the coordinators I work with most often.  They’re all so different and unique, and each company has its own personality and strong points.

If the wedding industry were a high school, DFW Events would be “The Prom Queen.”  Everyone loves them because they are super-nice, everyone wants to know them because they have so many friends and connections, and everyone envies them because they do some of the most lavish, high-end, gorgeous weddings you will ever see.  Peruse their blog and you’ll see what I mean – their events are unforgettable.  I know that when I shoot a DFW Events wedding, my camera will be on overdrive because there will be beautiful things to photograph everywhere I turn.  DFW Events is headed up by the incomparable Mary Frances Hurt, who is a legend in this city.  She knows everyone, she’s worked with everyone, and she’s at the heart of the wedding network.  She has assembled a group of stellar ladies – Alison, Mindy, Karen, and Stephanie – and one insanely talented design and decor guru, Nelson.  If you want your wedding to be jaw-dropping, DFW Events should be your first call.  Here are a few photos from some of the many events I’ve shot for them:

Along the lines of the high school analogy, Coordinator Extraordinaire Tara Wilson would be a mix between President of the Art Club (for her artistic prowess) and President of the Drama Club (for her ability to turn every event into a fabulous production).  Tara’s brain works like no one else’s – the incredible details she comes up with never cease to amaze me.  She ‘s a master at creating the most surprising decor ideas that will bowl you over with their cuteness and cleverness.  Her weddings are unique, sophisticated, and as we say in the industry, “very publishable” because of the incredible details.  I spoke with Tara recently about her goals for next year, and she said that what inspires her are weddings that are different – unique venues, unique color palettes, unique design – so if you want your wedding to stand out from the crowd, look no further than Tara.  On a side note, Tara is also a press darling – you may recognize her from her various spots on the CBS 11 News where she’s the resident event expert.   I’m not quite ready to publish our New Year’s Eve wedding, but here are just a few of the stellar details she created:

Last but certainly not least, we have the Social Butterfly of the Wedding Industry High School, Kelly Simants of Sweet Pea Events.  Kelly is a recent transplant from Seattle, where she was a star in the wedding scene, and hit the ground running when she arrived in Dallas.  Kelly takes “networking” to a whole new level.  I can only imagine what her calendar must look like because every time I turn around she’s telling me about a fabulous venue, caterer, photographer, or other wedding vendor.  She runs our monthly wedding industry networking events, Thursday Therapy, and she’s also one of the geniuses behind The Simple Plan, a workshop that helps small business owners get their business plan and business goals in order.  When it comes to networking and business smarts, Kelly is unparalelled.  As a bride, this is invaluable to you, because a coordinator who knows no one (or only knows a small subset of vendors) is pretty useless.  It’s a coordinator’s experience and network that provide the real value to their services, and Kelly’s got that in spades.  She’s also probably the nicest person you’ll ever meet in your life, which is a big bonus. Here’s an inspiration board Kelly created for one of my brides that I pretty much want to steal for my own wedding:

There are lots of other fabulous coordinators in Dallas (Paige Chenault and Jordan Payne are two that me and my colleagues revere), Houston (Claudia at A Day to Remember is a life-saver in times of stress for her brides and a fountain of great information), and San Antonio/Austin (Jennifer at A Regal Affair is known for her A-list events and her gorgeous wedding decor and Katherine at Elegant Events did a fabulous job with Kristyn and Chris’ wedding, which will be featured in the next issue of The Knot).  Every coordinator has their own unique style and personality, so it’s important that you pick the one that’s right for you!


  1. Claudia said . . .

    Stacy, thank you so much for the mention! That means so much to me! You are truly awesome and I hope you know I feel the same about you! :D

    Posted February 16, 2010 at 2:28 pm | Permalink
  2. Tara Wilson said . . .

    Stacy…you are one talented lady that we LOVE working with on savvy weddings! Thanks for doing such a wonderful job capturing all the details!!

    Posted February 16, 2010 at 5:25 pm | Permalink
  3. Kelly Simants said . . .

    Thanks for the shout-out, Stacy! You are such a joy to work with and I’m so thankful to have such a wonderful colleague like you! This was such a great post for brides to help them understand the value of a Planner! Thanks again!

    Posted February 16, 2010 at 9:50 pm | Permalink
  4. Ashleigh said . . .

    So neat to see some pictures from our wedding! DFW Events is awesome and so are you!

    Posted February 17, 2010 at 5:32 pm | Permalink
  5. paige chenault said . . .

    Your website is incredible! Each photo is so personal, alive, and vibrant. I love your work! Keep up the talent!!!

    Posted February 17, 2010 at 10:26 pm | Permalink
  6. Aimee Wendell said . . .

    Hi Stacy, A local photographer referred me to your site and this article and I just can’t tell you how much I appreciated and valued it! I am a wedding planner in the Sacramento area. I think it is so incredibly valuable for brides to hear how the lack of a planner affects the other vendors and their ability to do their job on the day of. Kudos!

    Posted February 17, 2010 at 10:30 pm | Permalink
  7. Great advise! Keep up the great work. . .

    Posted February 18, 2010 at 1:21 am | Permalink
  8. Marandah said . . .

    I’m glad you like my inspiration board! :) Didn’t kelly do such a great job?!

    Posted February 18, 2010 at 1:18 pm | Permalink
  9. Lori Cramer said . . .

    Hi Stacy, I’m a wedding planner in the Lake Tahoe area and your blog was forwarded to me by one of my associates…THANK YOU for supporting the wedding planning industry! :-) lori

    Posted February 19, 2010 at 6:58 pm | Permalink
  10. Karol Welsh said . . .

    Stacy, after doing weddings in Dallas for the last ten years and now just focusing on our online site, Dallas Wedding Planner, I can say that your descriptions of wedding coordinators/planners and why you need one is so on target. You did a great job of helping brides understand the confusion and the reason to hire a professional wedding coordinator/planner. Congratulations on your upcoming wedding as well.

    Posted March 4, 2010 at 3:22 pm | Permalink
  11. Marissa said . . .

    Great post, from one photographer/coordinator to another awesome photographer!

    Posted April 10, 2010 at 8:51 pm | Permalink
  12. Mary Frances Hurt said . . .

    Thank you so much Stacy for your amazing words and ever so kind referral of DFW Events. We are so proud of what we do and we are so thrilled to be aligned with amazing talent like you!!! A potential client interviewed us today based on your T4B post. I cannot thank you enough for being so generous and complimentary of our team! ~ Mary-Frances

    Posted June 16, 2010 at 9:54 pm | Permalink
  13. Janean said . . .

    Hello Stacy, I am so glad that you promote how important it is to have a great coordinator. Unfortunately, most brides believe that this is the last vendor they should hire. However, not realizing that a coordinator/planner can save them a lot of time, money and stress. Again, thank you for acknowledging the important and beneficial role of a coordinator.

    Posted June 20, 2012 at 12:42 am | Permalink

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  1. […] This is a great post from Stacy Reeves about why you should consider hiring a wedding coordinator. […]

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