Hitched 2.0: I’m Caving On The One Splurge I Swore I Wouldn’t Make — A Wedding Planner

“Who would waste money on a wedding planner? That’s a luxury I don’t need.” – Me, before and shortly after I got engaged

Ugh, I hate to eat my words.

Here’s the thing: I’m type-A, hyper-organized, OCD, you name it. I start every day with a to-do list, and when it gets too messy, I write a new one. I’m a planner, and regularly take charge when it comes to family trips, nights out with friends, and household chores. I have binders, file folders, and Gmail labels for pretty much every detail of my life, from online shopping receipts to paid utilities bills. Shocker: that includes my wedding, too. My sister, who kept a rather extensive wedding binder of her own, gifted me a fresh one when I got engaged. Taking that empty binder into my hands was almost like a high. I couldn’t wait to add in labeled dividers for “venue,” “music,” and everything in between. I was ready to put contracts and magazine tear-outs into those shiny sheet protectors. My overall mentality when I began wedding planning was, “I got this.”

And for the most part, I did—and still do. Because of our long engagement, I took my sweet time getting the ball rolling. But when I did start planning, all bets were off. I’ve done intense research on everything from venues to photographers, and recorded all my findings in a comprehensive spreadsheet. I spent endless hours designing my own save-the-dates in Photoshop and determining the best way to have them printed. I extensively researched places to stay for my bachelorette party, not because I needed to (I’ve got some great bridesmaids), but because it’s what I do. I find myself regularly taking over tasks that I delegated to my fiancé—in a noble effort to lighten my own load—not fully capable of relinquishing control. So yeah, a big part of me does “have this.” Just not as much as I thought.

A couple months ago, I started to realize there are way more details going into this whole wedding thing than I thought, and that I just might forget to plan some of them. Since then, those details have only become greater in number and more daunting in scale. For as organized as my spreadsheets are, I’m getting the feeling that, save abandoning my career for a few months, I’m not going to be able to handle this wedding on my own. It may be time to call in a professional. I’ve heard of “day-of” wedding coordinators before and from what I understand, they enter the picture a month or so prior to the wedding, get caught up on everything, and swiftly take over to make sure it all actually goes smoothly. They make schedules, direct vendors, herd bridal parties, and ensure everything and everyone is in its place. Not bad.

One of my best friends got married last summer and hired one such professional at the last minute. While I recognized the value, at that point, I still didn’t think I’d need one. “Her ceremony and reception are in different places; there are more moving parts. Mine are in one place; it’ll all flow and everything will be fine,” I said to myself. HA. That was before I started realistically thinking about the logistics of my wedding day beyond, “Get ready, take pictures, walk down the aisle, dance to ‘Shout.’” Once I started to factor in, oh, everything else, I got a little scared. And then we sat down for the tasting at our venue.

In between bites of crostinis and steaks, we traded very specific questions with our venue coordinator in an effort to nail down the details and flow of the day. We mentioned to her we were thinking about hiring a day-of wedding coordinator to help out, and it very quickly became clear just how strongly we needed to do so. The conversation went something like this: “Will you be bringing in anything special for the ceremony?” she’d ask. “Yes, we’ll have a huppah. And, crap, we need to designate someone to come in and set up the huppah the morning of the wedding,” we’d respond. “Oh, your day-of coordinator can deal with that,” she’d counter.

“How much time do we have to get our personal decorations out of the venue after the reception—and where do they go?” we’d ask. “You have until midnight, and your coordinator can work with our staff to pack it all up and take it to your hotel suite,” she’d smoothly answer.

Prior to that meeting, I thought a day-of coordinator might be handy for keeping all the bridesmaids on schedule, and making sure our transportation showed up. After that meeting, we realized the immense value in having someone there to do not only those things, but also put the Ketubah back in a frame and on display after we sign in; ensure we’re checked into our hotel suite and our belongings are there waiting for us; remind the venue that the toasting glasses we’re using are ours and don’t go back to the kitchen; and oh my God, so much more.

I can’t even comfortably say how much day-of coordinators cost these days; I haven’t created that tab on the spreadsheet yet. But I can definitively say I’m finding money somewhere to hire one, and I’m never letting her go. They plan honeymoons too, right?

Hitched, our weekly column about getting married, is back! This time around, we’ll be walking down the aisle (well, in spirit) with writer Emma Sarran, who will be sharing her thoughts on long engagements, the institution of matrimony and that godforsaken wedding industrial complex every Thursday. Follow her on Twitter!