Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Even a Wedding Planner Needs Help on Her Wedding Day!

The following is an email I recently received from a friend who went to a wedding that was NOT well organized. The bride in this wedding is, apparently, a Wedding Planner … but the following email about her wedding "flaws" just goes to show that even an experienced planner needs a good Wedding Day Coordinator to oversee everything!

Every bride needs a good set of helping hands, a pair of observant eyes and someone who is able to really pay attention to what is going on at the wedding – anticipating and dealing with needs before they arise!

Here’s what my friend told me about this wedding – and my own comments in italics about how a Wedding Day Coordinator would work to ensure these situations are avoided or corrected.
It's a bit long for a blog - but I believe it is well worth the read!!

Dear Gayla: We were at a wedding yesterday. The bride is a wedding planner and, if I were attending her wedding and looking for a wedding planner for myself, I would not choose her. I have never seen so much confusion and panic at the front of the church! Here are some things for your check-list if they aren't already there:

* all readings should be in the hands of the readers before the wedding (one of the readers thought she might have to read from an i-phone! Someone raced in at the very last minute and handed the reading to her) Your wedding coordinator will have a copy of all readings with her in her folder!

* have everything in place for easy lighting of the candles - not a lighter that is difficult to use! They finally lit a votive to light tapers and then used tapers to light the rest of the candles Your wedding coordinator carries “torch”-style lighters that are very easy to use!

* have one person (not family) who arrives early at the church with everything that is needed for the ceremony (people were racing around trying to find someone who knew what they were doing)! Your wedding coordinator will be at the church early to make sure everything is in place (she will know this because she was at the rehearsal) and she will have a name tag identifying her.

* let grandparents know ahead of time where they will be sitting, when they should be there; and if they will be wearing corsages. It would be good to find out if the grandparents even want a corsage or boutonniere.Your wedding coordinator always verifies that all special guests are aware of their seating – that the ushers are also aware of who sits where – and ensures that everyone needing corsages or boutonnieres have them on properly - she also brings extra pins to make sure they stay on securely!

* if congregational songs are to be sung make sure that there are copies to give to the bridal party and the minister
Your wedding coordinator will ensure that words to songs are in place discreetly at the front of the church for the bridal party & minister to follow along with.

* make sure that someone knows where the washrooms are Your wedding day coordinator will not only be aware of washroom locations, but will check the washrooms before hand to ensure cleanliness and adequate supplies – and will inform bridal party & key people of location of facilities – or provide signage as needed to direct people

* if it is snowing make sure the steps and walkways are cleared before and after the ceremony Your wedding day coordinator will do this herself or arrange for this to be done – as well as adequate salting to avoid guests slipping

* encourage the minister to not walk up and down the aisle looking for the bride (she was 30 minutes late) Your wedding coordinator will be the one who is informing people of the status/location of the bride/groom or whoever is late

* try to avoid the asking a friend to be the hair stylist, especially not for the whole family/wedding party (the hair stylist was still doing the bride's hair 10 minutes before the wedding!) Your wedding day coordinator will always advise having multiple stylists and that the bride be done first – not last! As well the coordinator will adequately schedule the day, allowing enough time for hair/makeup & photos before the ceremony.

* think about the wedding and reception places from the point of view of people with walkers or wheelchairs, etc
Your wedding coordinator will have discussed specific guest needs with you ahead of time and will ensure that ceremony & reception sites are convenient for guests with special needs.

* try to get a reception place with room to walk between the tables (the meal gets served faster and people can actually move and get up easily to talk to each other and use the washrooms) Your wedding coordinator will review the reception site and numbers before hand to ensure feasibility of set-up – and then will “walk through” the reception hall before the reception begins to ensure that there is adequate space. Re-arrangements will be done as needed to ensure guest safety and comfort.

* keep speeches to a minimum time and number of people (there were speeches all during the meal along with a lounge singer and 3 hours of speeches after the meal!) The scheduling of events by the wedding coordinator will ensure that there is adequate time allotted for plans and will give counsel regarding speeches & entertainment
* I think my favourite was this: there was an elevator but when asked where it was the response was: "Just up those stairs" - something else to check out for people with physical challenges! Your wedding coordinator will ensure that elevators/escalators are easily available will post signs if needed to direct guests to them

* if there is a choice of meals for guests – here’s a couple suggestions: make sure the meal options are somewhat "equal" in value/size/quantity & perhaps you could include the menu choice with the invitations and let guests choose in advance when they reply. (We received a phone call about our choices and then there was confusion about what was actually being offered). Your wedding coordinator will advise on ways to adequately handle offering meal options for guests

* Check out the size of the dance floor and the ceiling height - it was a very small space and the ceiling was really low – one guest in particular actually had a difficult time dancing because he touched the ceiling – and he’s NOT that tall! Ok - I can’t even imagine what kind of room this was – but your wedding coordinator will review the dance floor spacing and ensure that there is enough room for guests to enjoy themselves without overcrowding (or hitting their heads on the ceilings!)

* The guests didn't get to dance for quite awhile as the bride and groom danced to a very long song; then one couple at a time danced - parents, attendants, etc Your wedding coordinator will work with your DJ to encourage the bridal party to enjoy their first dances within a reasonable time frame and then to quickly involve guests – the party is now about the guests enjoying themselves!

* All in all - if you invite guests to your wedding, treat them as guests and think about their comfort, food, drink, ease of moving, enjoyment, special needs etc. Your wedding day coordinator will do everything she can to ensure your guests are treated with utmost respect and that they enjoy the day as much as possible

I think there were more things that seemed to go wrong that I can’t think of now… but I don't think I have ever seen such a disorganized wedding! They surely could have used a "detail" person like you! I have to say I did think of you several times, thinking: "This wouldn't have happened if Gayla were in charge!"

SO - the moral of the story is this:
“You’ll never give a party that matters so much to you as much as your wedding reception. Remember that this is when the focus turns from you to your guests – and it is your obligation to treat them as honoured guests and see that they have a wonderful time."

Hiring a Wedding Day Coordinator will ensure that you AND your guests enjoy the event to its fullest.