Saturday, March 7, 2009

Chronology Of A Disaster

I wanted to share this post from my friend and fellow wedding planning colleague, Jeannie Ward of The Wedding Jeannie in Southern California. Normally, I would just provide a link so that you could read it - but I think this particular missive deserves a full blown print out. It's one more example of why wedding planners are NOT a luxury, but a wise and prudent investment into the success of your event.

Feel free to offer your comments - I'd love to get your perspectives!!!

My blog is a place where brides and grooms can come for good advice with a smile. Normally, I wouldn’t post anything with a negative tone, but I’m compelled to warn you about what can happen when you don’t hire an experienced wedding planner.

Recently a bride called me inquiring about hiring me. I was already booked for her day, but referred her to another planner that I know and trust. Her wedding was 45 days away and she still didn’t have a DJ. Even though I wasn’t her planner I referred a great DJ to her, and she hired him.

Monday after the wedding, I heard from my valued DJ. The bride decided not to hire a planner because she didn’t want to pay the fee, and she was confident that her family members would take care of the details. Unfortunately they didn’t, and her wedding was not all she was wishing for. Here is a list of what went wrong, and how it could have been avoided.

1) The bride was 30 minutes late for her own wedding.
We make a detailed timeline of the entire day, from the time the make-up artist arrives, to the time the limo picks up the bridal party, etc. We even contact your hair and make-up artists to tell them what time they should start and finish, to keep the bride on time.

2) The florist was late and didn’t have an assistant to help him. He was putting down the aisle runner and petals while the guests were seated and watched.
A professional coordinator’s timeline is detailed. Each vendor (including the florist), is called two weeks before the event to discuss the duties and what time they need to start work and finish work. The florist is called again a few days before the wedding to confirm. I always have an assistant, and often times an intern. If a vendor is late and needs help to finish, we all jump in to get it done.

3) Kneeling benches were to be used for the ceremony. The bride’s sister was to pick them up from the rental company and bring them. She didn’t do it! Her own sister didn’t do it.
Prior to every wedding, I’m mentally prepared for every possible problem. I know what rental company is nearby, and could have had my assistant pick them up within ten minutes.

4) Seating cards were to be placed outside of the ballroom. Assigned seating was the order of the day. The bride left this task to her beloved and responsible cousin. Guess what? She forgot them! It was a seating “free for all”. Important family members were relegated to the back of the room, because people who took the seats closest to the couple refused to move.
We require that the seating cards are given to us the night of the rehearsal. We place them and assist guests in being seated.

5) The ceremony was one hour late and the priest threatened to leave because he had another wedding to perform. He instructed the DJ to start the music and send the bride down the aisle immediately or he would leave. The bridal party was running around visiting with friends and would not stay lined up. The brides father couldn’t be found when it was time to start. The Bride had to walk down the aisle alone!
This is absolutely heartbreaking. There are always two of us at every wedding. I stay with the bride and her maids, and my assistant stays with the groom and his men. We keep everyone in line. The latest I’ve ever started a wedding was 10 minutes.

6) Photography is one of the most important aspects of your wedding. You get one opportunity to capture “moments” on film. The photographer at this wedding was eating hors’ doeuvres and sitting down. The DJ caught him sitting down on several occasions, not taking pictures. He had to continually hound him all night to do his job.
It is not the job of the DJ to help with all of these problems. This couple was very lucky that this DJ is very caring and wanted the best for them. A coordinator would have made sure the photographer was doing his job. If necessary, my assistant would shadow him and keep him on his toes. It’s our job to oversee that the important shots are being captured.

7) A video montage was to be played during the reception. The bride assured the DJ that there would be a projector and a screen provided. She forgot to inform the venue. No screen, no projector. Luckily the DJ had a backup projector in his vehicle. He convinced the venue manager to allow them to use their screen (additional fee for the couple).
We do a final walkthrough with the venue to go over the timeline and flow for the day. The mistake would have been indentified and corrected at that time.

In the long run, the couple were married. Isn’t that what really matters? Of course it is. But the bride was especially distressed about everything that went wrong. Most brides are sure that their family will “take care of them that day”. I can attest to the fact that when a family member has been assigned a duty, 8 times out of 10, they don’t deliver. It’s not that they don’t love you, but your wedding is not their priority. We see it happen every day. That’s why I carry in the trunk of my car, an extra sign in book, toasting glasses, garters in every color, place cards and pens.

We are trained floral designers. If the florist forgets grandpa’s boutonniere, I can make one in one minute. My emergency kit contains, florist’s wire, tape and pins. We can put together an amazing cake topper from flowers from your centerpieces in five minutes.

Pardon the sound of anger in this post. I am so heartbroken for this couple. For the cost of hiring an experienced planner, these problems could have been avoided. Let me break it down this way:
Wedding Coordinator- Month Of Package…$1500
Walking down the aisle with your dad….PRICELESS!!!

8 comments:

saundra, event engineer said...

Well. There you go. Nothing much else to add!!!

TCRANOR said...

Sometimes you don't pay out your pocket and in the end you still PAY!! Its in a different way and quite often a higher cost.
Thanks for sharing this, I will post it as well. Really eye opening.

Carla said...

You said it all. I feel really sorry for this couple, too.

Tunji said...

This is so true!!!!!!

Mark Kingsdorf- The Queen of Hearts said...

OUCH!

Nicole Thompson said...

Is it possible to have an anxiety attack while reading a blog posting? OMG Professional wedding planners are a necessity not a luxury.

Deidre Gray said...

Nothing more needs to be said. I had a bride like this until she spent 15 min. talking to me and realized her friends and family could not do it. In the end, we are so worth it!! Thanks for sharing this!!

gangsta bride said...

I completely agree with you. I can understand that weddings are sooo expensive, but having a planner at least the day of is so worth it.