I had an interesting phone conversation yesterday. I was speaking to a bride who was "interested in day-of wedding coordination". Except that she wasn't. After explaining to her what we include in our day-of packages, she said "well, the thing is, I'm really, REALLY organized, and I just don't think I'll need all of that". I acknowledged how incredible all of the proactive steps she was taking were, and how her vendors were likely to be very appreciative of all the extra work she was doing, but then explained how things can go sideways on a wedding day, no matter how organized the couple thinks they are. Trust me. I've seen it all. To be honest, most of our clients ARE very organized, and that's what leads them to hire a day-of coordinator. They value organization, but also recognize that they don't want to be the ones executing their vision or solving problems on their wedding day. This bride, though, just didn't seem to be willing to acknowledge that anything unforeseen might happen on her wedding day. I certainly hope that's the case, but, friends, it's rare that I wrap up a wedding day, look at my assistant, and say "well, that was a totally uneventful day where everything went according to plan". (It's literally happened twice, MAYBE three times in eleven years).
I got to thinking after that conversation about the things we've dealt with over the years. The issues that arise, surprises that come our way, and the problems that we solve, all without the knowledge of the couple. Here are just a few of the many . . . names have been omitted to protect the guilty. 😉
Dog Eats Dress
About five years ago, we had a double-header weekend. Sunday morning, after being out until 1am, I was still in bed when my phone rang. It was one of the bridesmaids for that day's wedding. She'd just pulled her dress out of the closet, and her dog had shredded the bodice. I told her, confidently, that we'd be able to get it fixed in time for the wedding. (I had NO idea how. . . ). After an hour on the phone, I'd found a contact of a contact of a contact who put me in touch with the owner of the shop where the dress had been purchased. They opened up on the Sunday of a long weekend, brought in their head seamstress and alterations mistress, pulled the skirt off of a dress they had in stock that was the same colour, and remade the bodice of the damaged dress. All before the ceremony, and without the bride knowing. It's all about the connections . . .
Last summer, on a particularly hot day, we were dealing with a lovely bride, who also happened to have high anxiety, and was four months pregnant. Perfect storm, right? Oh, yeah . . . there were also SEVERE thunderstorms in the forecast (speaking of storms). There had been no power at the venue all morning, so getting hair and makeup done had been a challenge (my first phone call from the panicked bride came at 5:52am). The aesthetics team were superstars, though, and they got it done. The bride had dismissed the hair and makeup artists, but as we got closer to the time of the ceremony, it became apparent that she was HOT, the A/C wasn't working, and her makeup was running. The bride insisted that the makeup artist come back to touch her up before she walked down the aisle. We got the artist on the phone, sweet-talked her into coming back, and got the venue to provide cold drinks for the guests, who were going to have to wait a little longer in the heat for the ceremony. Finally, the bride was happy, and the ceremony proceeded as planned, just a few minutes late. The bride and guests were ecstatic, at least until a severe electrical storm threatened the venue's power during the dance. . . but we had that under control too. 🙂
Where's the Food?
One of the benefits to hosting your wedding at a barn or on private property is that you have the flexibility to bring in the caterer of your choosing (which can save a ton of money). At one such barn wedding, the catering team were onsite to set up at the agreed-upon time, but the actual food was being delivered in a separate vehicle. We'd confirmed with the caterer (three times!) that they would be ready to serve the meal on schedule, so we had the MC ask the guests to be seated. Meanwhile, the catering vehicle had hit some delays, and the food was not yet on site. By the time this became apparent, the guests were already seated, and things could've gotten awkward. REALLY awkward. To make sure that the hangry guests didn't get out of hand, we quickly switched up the order of events, and moved a few of the speeches to pre-dinner. By that time, the food had arrived, and all was well. . . except that we had a pretty frank conversation with the caterer about promising what you can't deliver!
At another barn wedding a few years ago, all was well - we were ready to go with the ceremony right on schedule. The bride and her maids were waiting in the limo, ready to process down the aisle. The only issue was that the officiant hadn't shown up yet! I'd connected with him once the week prior, and once at the rehearsal, so I knew he was SUPPOSED to be there . . . he just wasn't! I'd been on the phone for half an hour trying to figure out where he was, with no success. Meantime, I'd found a guest who had officiated weddings before, but was unlicensed. Because I had the actual text of the ceremony from the licensed officiant, I had the unlicensed guest on standby to perform the ceremony, and the couple would just have to go to City Hall later to make it legal (the barn was so far out of town, I couldn't get a licensed officiant there in any less than an hour). Luckily, the bride didn't know any of this was going on, and the officiant DID show up (drunk, I might add!) ten minutes late. We covered for him, smoothed things over with the bride, and the wedding proceeded as planned. Suffice it to say we won't be recommending THAT officiant!
DJ Flat Tire
Again, at a barn . . . seriously. We were waiting on the DJ to arrive to set up for the ceremony, and she was 15 minutes late. I got on the phone at that point, but couldn't reach her. Finally, I got through to her husband, who told me that she'd blown a tire two country blocks away from the venue. I immediately hopped in my car, and drove WAY too fast down gravel roads to get to her. She was on the phone with CAA, so I opened up the hatch on my car, and loaded her speakers, amps and bins in the back. She hung up the phone, turned around, and said "OK. Let's get this equipment loaded". I told her I'd already done it, to which she responded "No! It takes two people to lift that equipment!". (Apparently, it only takes one very motivated wedding planner!). We got her back to the venue, set up, and ready for the ceremony, which started only a couple of minutes late.
Have you ever been to a wedding where the bar's been shut down? Not fun. We were working one a number of years ago when the bartender informed us that there'd been a bottle of vodka taken from the bar. She was ready to shut down the bar until it was returned, but we persuaded her to let us look for it first. After a trip through the bushes on our hands and knees, and a search behind the tent with flashlights, we finally found the bottle in the ceiling tiles of the bathroom. (How highschool dance, right?). We returned the bottle, the bar stayed open, and all was well. (And by the way, it was one of the bridesmaids who stole the bottle. From an open bar. RUDE.)
Florist Mess Up
Sometimes, the best laid plans fall apart because of the ineptitude of a vendor, and we end up picking up the pieces. Last year, we did a wedding at a lovely, historic venue here in London, and we were tasked with setting up the centerpieces. The bride had ordered bulk greens from a florist in town, and we were meant to place them around the centerpieces on 18 tables. When we saw that the florist had only sent two bunches of ruscus, we knew we were in trouble. I got on the phone, sourced out additional bulk greens, and headed downtown (in the middle of a Climate Change rally, no less!) to pick them up. I got back to the venue, set up the greens, and they looked so beautiful, the bride never knew there had been an issue.
Coked up Wedding Party
I fully admit that I'm a pretty sheltered, Pollyanna type, so when a catering manager approached me last year to let me know that the wedding party was doing cocaine in the washroom, I literally choked on my tea. She wanted to shut things down immediately, as her license was at risk. I talked her down, we chatted with the wedding party, expressed the severity of the issue, and they put a lid on things. (At least, they started hiding it better). The reception was able to go on, and the bride and the guests had no idea (except those who were also involved in the 'extracurricular activities' in the parking lot!).
One of the things we ALWAYS make sure to do is to empty the cardbox and hide/lock up the cards. These days, depending on the size of the wedding, there are usually hundreds, sometimes thousands, of dollars in that pretty little box. In my first season as a planner, someone walked right into the downtown hotel where my wedding was happening, and grabbed the cardbox right out from under the noses of myself, the venue staff, and all the guests. The joke was on them - the box was empty at the time, since I'd already locked the cards in the couples' room. I sure hope they enjoyed that pretty, white satin (empty) box!
We do a lot of outdoor weddings, and, as you know, nature has a mind of its own. We did a wedding a couple of years ago at a space that was stunning, except for about five HUGE tent caterpillar nests in the trees, directly above the ceremony site. The venue told us they weren't allowed to remove the nests because of the regulations of the Conservation Authority, and that their hands were tied. I'm not saying that we purchased a tree trimmer, climbed on a ladder and removed the nests ourselves (because that would have been a violation of the Conservation Authority's rules), but let's just say there were no more caterpillar nests by the time the ceremony started . . .
Demolished Head Table
I always recommend that you have a chat with your MC about how much alcohol he or she chooses to imbibe during the course of his or her duties. Sometimes, though, they don't listen. A few years ago, the couple had asked two married friends of theirs to act as MCs. The MCs chose to hit the bar pretty hard during cocktail hour, and were in rough shape by the time dinner started. Part of their job was to introduce the kissing game, which was that the guests were to demonstrate a kiss for the bride and groom to mimic. The MCs decided to demonstrate a fairly passionate kiss, but, being a little less than steady on their feet, they lost their balance and fell, directly ONTO the head table. It went crashing to the ground, smashing all of the vases, candleholders, and glassware. Needless to say, the MCs were NOT the ones who cleaned it up . . .
Catering Truck Quicksand
Outdoor weddings are lovely, until Mother Nature intervenes, and the wedding day is preceded by a week of rain. We did one such wedding last year, and luckily, the rain stopped the day before the wedding, the skies cleared, and the actual wedding day was gorgeous. However, the fields surrounding the venue were a soupy mess of sticky mud, which an unlucky caterer chose to drive a food truck through. Suffice it to say, he got stuck, and I found myself out in a field at 11pm, up to my knees in mud, helping to free the truck from its muddy prison. Ah, wedding planning is so glamorous . . .(and yes, that gross pic above is my foot at 1:56 that morning).
Those, friends, are just a handful of the situations we've found ourselves in as wedding planners. In every single case, we solved the problem with little to no involvement of the couple. Nobody called the bride, the groom's mom was never brought into the situation, and the wedding party was able to remain blissfully ignorant while the issues were resolved. THAT is why a wedding planner is worth his or her weight in gold. I hate to toot my own horn, but we're really good at what we do, and we excel at solving the unforeseeable issues. We're on site to deal with those situations that literally make you say "what the &^$*? How did THAT happen?". Because no matter how prepared you are, no matter how many spreadsheets you make, and no matter how thick your wedding planning binder is, something completely off the wall is going to happen, and you're going to be SO thankful you have a coordinator there to clean up the mess.
Are YOU interested in wedding coordination so you don't have to deal with disasters like these on your wedding day?Book a Consult!