Since I'm a wedding planner, you may be surprised to hear that I think you should plan your own wedding! Planning your wedding is part of the engagement experience. A wedding planner can certainly be a big help but is not necessary. I believe the bride should be involved and enjoy the planning process. However, no bride should go without a DOC -- a Day Of Coordinator.
A DOC is a wedding coordinator that you hire to manage the event on wedding day. She is the go-to gal for all of the vendors and the bridal party so that the bride and groom are not bombarded with questions or problems that arise.
A DOC will usually start working with a couple a few months before the wedding. She will go over the details of the wedding with you, discuss the layout of the venue, help create a timeline for wedding day, and confirm with all of your vendors the week of the wedding. The DOC will also typically direct the wedding rehearsal so that everyone knows what to expect on wedding day.
While its tempting to have a friend or family member serve as a makeshift DOC, just keep in mind that the person you choose may not be able to fully enjoy the wedding as a guest. Plus, the friend or family member may not know how to handle the issues that arise.
There is a lot for a DOC to do on wedding day! A good DOC will know all of the details for your wedding so she can answer questions from vendors and the bridal party. She will help the bride and bridesmaids get dressed, will setup any ceremony items or reception items to be used at the appropriate time (e.g. programs, wine, unity candles, guestbook, favors, etc.), and will hand out vendor payments. One of her main jobs is to manage the timeline of the day and keep everything running on schedule. The DOC will cue when it's time to start the ceremony, when it's time for the first dance, cake cutting, bouquet toss, etc. And of course, the DOC is there to handle any emergencies. At the end of the festivities, the DOC will help pack up what needs to make it home with the bride, such as the guestbook, gifts, top tier of the cake, etc.
As an example of how a DOC comes in handy, I had a bride whose wedding was at a fancy hotel. The hotel's site coordinator had not yet arrived, and the hotel staff was left to set up the ceremony site based on a written work order (a situation that is very common with hotel weddings). But the work order was wrong! As a result, the setup was wrong and the staff had a lot of questions about what to do. As the DOC, I was able to step in to get the setup back on track.
Your venue may tout that they offer the services of a coordinator that can act as your DOC. Be sure to ask lots of questions about the role of the venue's coordinator. What time does the coordinator arrive at the venue on wedding day? What types of tasks does she handle? Is she on hand for the bride and groom before, during, and after the wedding? Sometimes the venue's so-called DOC is actually the site's catering manager or event manager. If that's the case, she may be back in the kitchen dealing with her own staff and may not be on hand for your needs. Asking lots of questions in advance will help you determine whether to consider hiring an independent DOC as well.
On wedding day, I deal with the smallest of requests: finding an extension cord so the hairstylist can plug in the curling iron, providing safety pins, fetching water for a parched bride, adjusting the room temperature. A DOC will be on hand, ready for anything that comes up. Let a DOC sweat the small stuff so that you can relax and enjoy your big day!