Hiring a wedding coordinator is one of the first steps in the wedding planning process. They play a pivotal role in bringing your wedding-day vision to life at the Lightner Museum! A few members of our team recently sat down with one of St. Augustine’s best wedding coordinators, Coastal Celebrations, to get the answers to some of your most asked questions about wedding planning.
During our conversation, we learned the importance of hiring a wedding coordinator, the differences between a coordinator and a venue event manager, and some exclusive cost-saving tips that you won’t find anywhere else!
Lindsey: Coastal Celebrations is a wedding and event planning company here in St. Augustine. We travel to as far North as Ponte Vedra and as far South as Hammock Dunes. We love being here with the girls at the Lightner Museum as well as at The Treasury on the Plaza. We are also super excited about the Ximenez-Fatio House, the new property that is joining The Treasury Venue Collection. We also work at many other wedding venues in St. Augustine.
My name is Lindsay Ohlin, and I am here today with Michelle and Emma. Michelle has been a planner with our team coming up for seven years this year. Emma runs all of our social media and she’s one of our newest lead coordinators. We’re super excited to have her on board. We’re missing a few members of our team today. We also have Lucy, who’s one of our lead wedding coordinators and, of course, all of our amazing assistants. We love everybody on the team. It’s a pleasure to have everybody here and we are so excited to get to talk to you guys today.
Lindsey: There are several different options for what we can do, based on the wedding planning package that the couple chooses to book with us at Coastal Celebrations. One of our main focuses is absolutely on the day-of timeline. We focus on floor plans, linens, swatches. Again, it just depends on the packages, but we’re fairly highly involved throughout the process and leading up to the event day.
Emma: I’ll start with the day-of coordination package. In this package, we start full-time about 90-days prior to your event. During this time, we help you communicate with all of your vendors and get your timeline together. With this package, you also get an initial meeting before we meet up again at that 90-day point.
Michelle: The next package is our advisory planning package. We work with you on your style, budget needs, and help you select your different vendors. This package is for the client who wants to be hands-on throughout the planning process, but also wants assistance with vendor consultations and meetings. We also help compare and contrast different vendor proposals before you book and sign. We are here for you throughout the entire process to accommodate your timeline, communicate with vendors, and make sure that you have an amazing day that flows flawlessly.
Lindsey: And then, of course, we have full planning. Full planning is for a certain type of client. A doctor is a good example. This is someone who is a busy professional that wants to choose what they should and should not be a part of. They really entrust us with their vision and let us make a lot of those decisions from taking care of their stationery to escort boards and floral design. We do it all in this package!
Click here for more information about Coastal Celebrations wedding packages.
Lindsey: Well, it actually depends. Many of our DIY brides lean towards day-of coordination. Of course, we would set up and break down any decor to help them enjoy their day. This essentially lets them do all of the planning up front and then we take the stress off of them the day of.
We always do an initial call with our brides, and sometimes that leads them to our advisory package. For instance, when you’re creating those centerpieces, sometimes it’s more affordable to rent products over purchasing them. We pride ourselves on being St. Augustine wedding experts. So if you give us your overall vision, we’re going to tell you where to go, who fits in what budget, etc. So I think it depends. I think they would fall between that day-of to advisory package.
Michelle: We love working with The Treasury Collection team. You are always wonderful and work very well with us. Your venue event manager is here to oversee any venue-related planning tasks, such as unlocking the doors when the vendors arrive, working with us to create a parking list to get to the parking attendant, running the bar service, or coordinating any special effects.
We are more hands-on with our brides, and make sure that their timeline is going according to plan. We also work with the other vendors to make sure that we stay on that timeline.
Lindsey: We’re also one-on-one with the bride and her bridal party. We are there for them, from changing their shoes, to helping make sure their choreographed first dance goes off without a hitch, to changing their outfit, bustling their dress, getting their veil out, and providing appetizers and drinks. Someone from our team is by your side at all times.
Lindsey: Absolutely. As Emma mentioned, in the day-of wedding coordination package, we do have that first initial meeting. So depending on the client, that might be enough to steer them in the right direction and then help them pull it back together at that 90-day mark. A bride who wants more hand-holding throughout would absolutely be steered toward the advisory package. We would attend all of the floor meetings, rental meetings, walk-throughs, and really pull together that whole vision.
Lindsey: Our sister company is St. Johns Illuminations, which is a large rental company here in St. Augustine. Here, you can find everything you can imagine, from drapes, staging, dance floors, to little details such as silverware, flatware, and chargers. It’s definitely a huge benefit to our clients. We give them a pretty large vendor discount, as well as some smaller perks. Chargers are a good example: a retailer may charge $5 for a charger plate while our clients get them from us for under $2. So there are lots of smaller perks throughout the planning process. St. John’s is a great way to help you design and customize your wedding day. We do work with other rental companies as well, so you’re never limited to just St. John’s Illuminations for wedding decorations.
Lindsey: No matter what package you book, we have a vendor discount sheet with over 30 vendors. That includes DJs, photo booths, photographers, ceremony musicians, etc. These are all wedding vendors who offer a discount for working with our company. So right there is a huge price saving. For our clients, we do linens at cost, so depending on the floor plan, we can usually save you a few hundred dollars. Emma also runs Coastal’s Closet and does a great job with that.
Emma: Coastal’s Closet consists of 10-12 pages of items like votives, signage, card boxes, budget-friendly centerpieces that you can use for your wedding day. That can save you hundreds of dollars! You don’t have to buy a card box or make your own signage. Those types of little things help you save on decor. It’s stuff that we use every weekend as wedding planners. If you were to purchase it on your own, what are you going to do after your wedding day?
Michelle: Repurpose decor as much as you can. If you’re working with a florist, designer, or you are doing your own centerpieces, use them in your ceremony and then incorporate them back into your reception. For example, if you have 7 or 8 bridesmaids, use their bouquets for centerpieces. That can cover 7 or 8 reception tables right there. You are already purchasing a bouquet. You might as well get the most use out of it as possible!
Lindsey: You can also have beautiful glass vases at your wedding ceremony and switch them over to your reception tables. Your guests will have no idea that they are the same decorations from the ceremony.
Michelle: It depends on the couple. If you are a day-of client and want to do the majority of planning on your own, then you can book your coordinator later in the process. If you want a more hands-on wedding planner, then you probably want to book us sooner than later so we can help you with that planning process.
Lindsey: We will book up to two years out. I will say that about a year out our calendars can get very full.
Michelle: The history is one of the things that we fell in love with, and the location in the oldest city. My favorite thing about the Lightner is when you enter for your first dance, your guests are on the second-floor mezzanine. They are able to look over the balcony and watch the couple share their first dance. It’s a really theatrical feel that you don’t get in most venues. There is so much to offer with the architecture and design; you don’t need a lot of decor to make it extraordinary! There’s just so much personality in the venue!
Michelle: The biggest misconception we get as wedding coordinators is that we are just here to set up and break down your decor on wedding day. We do so much more. We are there for you to ask us questions and do things like changing your shoes, taking off your veil, and bustling your dress. People ask, “are you like J-Lo from the wedding planner?” We’re not; we do so much more! We focus on the couple and their guests. For instance, if there is a mom in a wheelchair, we can serve her dinner. We make sure everyone is comfortable and enjoying the couple’s special day as well. There’s also a lot of little details that you don’t see or even know about that we take care of.
Lindsey: We have some big secrets we will be announcing soon! We are expanding our team and our sister, company, St. Johns Illuminations, and are so excited about the future. We can’t wait to service all of our brides and just for the St. Augustine wedding industry in general!
Emma: You can visit our website at coastalcelebrationsstaug.com and follow us on Instagram and Facebook at @coastalcelebrationsstaug! Feel free to also send us a quick email at email@example.com!
Thank you to the Coastal Celebrations team for sitting down with us and sharing more about their company and services! We are truly lucky to have these St. Augustine wedding coordinators as expert partners in creating wedding magic here at the Lightner Museum.
Come back soon for more advice and insight from some of St. Augustine’s best wedding vendors!
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