Why We Started Requiring a Day-of Coordinator

Madison at the Mill has been hosting industrial weddings for really cool couples since late 2015. In those (almost) four years, we have learned a LOT. We often joke with other wedding vendors that our contract got a little longer after every wedding. That’s just the way it goes!

The BIGGEST change we made in 2019 was to start requiring that all of our couples have a day-of coordinator. Anyone booking after January 1st of this year is required to have SOMEONE in charge of the details. There HAS to be a point person, and it should 100% be a wedding professional.

We’re so passionate about this new rule that we even wrote to all of our already booked 2019 couples encouraging them to hire someone or designate someone ASAP! Here are a few of the reasons why:

You NEED a point person.

On your wedding day, guests, vendors, family, friends, and bridal party members are going to have a million questions. Is there a coat closet? Should the DJ be here setting up? The caterer is filling up water glasses, right? Which car gets the decor and which car gets the gifts? It’s overwhelming, and it’s far too much for a bride, groom, or their parents to handle while still enjoying the day.

In past years, we’ve seen our couples get way too sucked into the logistics instead of the moments. By requiring couples to hire a coordinator, we know we can eliminate that stress of having all the questions directed at you. You just won’t have time for it!!

You NEED a timeline.

Perhaps it’s my love of spreadsheets and planning, but I truly believe that every wedding needs a well thought out, detailed timeline. Another term for this might be “production schedule” because truly, weddings are productions. There are SO MANY moving parts and different vendors and sometimes different locations. You need an experienced wedding professional to be thinking through the timing and logistics of all of that.

All too often, we saw couples with no reception timeline. No one knew who was giving a welcome toast or when. No one knew when the first dance or parent dances would be. Sometimes, figuring all of this out will fall on your photographer or DJ, and that’s just not fair! They have so many other things to juggle, they don’t need to be trying to create a timeline on the fly.


You NEED someone with experience.

When you’re paying for a coordinator, you’re often paying for someone’s YEARS of planning for, preventing, and working through worst case scenarios. You need someone with an emergency kit that includes ribbon because she has literally corseted a bride in her dress before the ceremony when the dress’s corset ribbon was missing. (True story.)

On your wedding day, you need someone who can CONFIDENTLY handle anything gone awry without you even knowing that anything HAS gone awry! You need someone with rental company cell phone numbers in their phone in case there are no wine glasses. (Another true story.)

So, what can you do? Who should you hire? First, please, please . . . don’t try to give this job to your maid of honor, your friend who is pretty organized, or your aunt who loves weddings. We’ve seen those scenarios play out pretty terribly. Don’t let that be you! We have some suggestions of amazing professionals who will make your day run seamlessly.

By popular request, I (Shalese) have started offering day-of coordination! You can more information about my in-house coordination services HERE. You can certainly hire me OR any of the wonderful planners we have listed here.

Why You Need Table Assignments

One of the things we hear most from couples just starting their wedding planning is, “We’re not going to assign tables, we want it to be more laid back!” Now, we LOVE laid back here at the Mill, but there are so many benefits to at least assigning TABLES (not specific seats at the tables). It’s so worth it that we encourage ALL of our couples to assign tables! Here’s why:

People expect it.

When guests arrive to your reception, they immediately start looking for their table or seat assignment. We see it! When there are no table or seat assignments, guests often seem confused and unsure of where they should sit. Most people expect that certain tables are reserved for immediate family and close friends. Generally, when there are no assignments, we see guests sitting as far away as possible, as if they’re afraid to choose a seat that may be reserved for more immediate family and friends! It’s important to make your guests comfortable by meeting their expectations and telling them exactly where to sit.

I call it “wedding psychology:” guests just love having their space & knowing where it is!

You need to make sure you have enough seats.

It may seem like you can just set the room with enough seats for all of your RSVP’d guests and let everyone fend for themselves, but this does not always work out! Imagine this: you have tables set for 8 people each. A family of 5 sits at the last table with 5 open seats. Then a family of 4 or group of 4 friends come in . . . but there is no table with 4 open seats! You might have 2 seats at one table, then 3 at another, but nothing with 4! It’s an awkward situation that you don’t want to put your guests in.

Make everyone feel welcome!

When choosing your table assignments, you’re bound to find some folks who may not know as many other people coming to your wedding. Maybe they’re a work friend or a childhood friend that doesn’t hang with your regular circle. Don’t leave these guests to invite themselves to a table of close friends! Assign them to a table where they may have things in common with a group or at least know one other person. It’s so, so important to think of your guests & make them feel comfortable in this way!

Bonus Tip: If you have some friends who won’t know as many other guests, it’s nice to give them a plus one! It will ensure that they’re a lot more comfortable AND feel braver about getting on the dance floor later!

So, what are some easy ways to show guests where their tables are? You can do one big chart like Lauren & Bobby:


Or you can create a sheet for each table & hang them from our copper arch like Ashley & Richie did with this gorgeous frame:

Photo by Justin Edmonds

Photo by Justin Edmonds

Here’s another example from Elizabeth & Skip’s wedding. Behind Robert & I, you can see the cool hanging display, then you can see how everyone was listed up close:

Photo by Kristine Pringle

Photo by Kristine Pringle

New Year's Eve Wedding at Madison at the Mill | Deanna & Travis

People are always surprised to hear that we’ve hosted a New Year’s Eve wedding! It’s understand because . . . it could be risky to host your wedding on some people’s favorite night to head out to a party! There’s a lot of pressure to make sure your wedding is extra fun because it’s also a NYE party, in a way. But if anyone was up to that challenge, it was Deanna & Travis.

Deanna and Travis (and a lot of their family & friends!) traveled all the way from New York to celebrate at the Mill. Their decor was perfect for our space: black, gold, paintings by the bride herself, and big canvases of their beloved cats.

We loved getting to host Deanna & Travis’s big day, and Shalese was extra honored to get to photograph it!


Photography | Shalese Danielle

Venue | Madison at the Mill

Catering | Roadside Chive

Florals | Briarwood Florist

Cake | Sweethaus

DJ | Rhythm of Love, Robert Duffy

Gown | Berta Bridal, Nordstrom

Transportation | Central Virginia Wine Tours