I’ve been planning weddings for almost 5 years now. I’m often asked what my biggest challenge is. I’m very lucky- I love what I do because I love the hard parts of my job. Recent studies show that event planning is one of the top 5 most stressful jobs- and it takes one to fully appreciate that.
In my personal life, I’m at an age where many of my friends are now getting engaged and coming to me with questions and expectations- and I am learning something that is alarming me. Even people close to me don’t understand what I do (here is an excellent article from Lauren over at Every Last Detail setting out an excellent list.)
Thanks to tv and Hollywood, wedding planners face constant battles- couples being completely misled about our pricing structures, our vision and the complete glorification of our lives as creative professional (it's not all cake tastings and linens, contrary to popular belief.)
Perhaps the biggest struggle a wedding planner faces is making it clear to couples what exactly they do and why it has value. You all (hopefully) know the short list. Wedding planners:
-Manage your budget
-Communicate with your vendors regularly
-Get you what you want (DJ’s, flowers, décor, photography, etc.)
-Create timelines for the planning process
-Create wedding day timelines
-Stick to them in spite of everyone’s best efforts to thwart them
-Work my butt off on your wedding day so your friends & family don’t have to
Somehow, to many couples, this alone is not a service worth paying for. You pay a photographer to work all day long to perform one overall task- capture the images of the day (often at a comparable rate, or even more than a planner). As a planner, I know that a photographer has to maintain current equipment, stay educated on their craft, spend hours editing photos, running a business. I have similar responsibilities…but more couples understand the value of good photography over the value of having a wedding planner.
Brides, I want you to read this and know how your wedding planner’s heart beats for you and your special day. We have a relationship with you and your wedding that you will never understand. I decided that I wanted to spend the days of my life focusing on making that one day of yours as perfect and magical and special as it could possibly be. I, too, am emotionally invested in this wedding. Saying nothing of the painstaking hours and days I spend before your wedding day making sure everything is ready to be as close to perfect as possible, even the most perfect day didn’t happen by itself (see short list above). Please read on to see a wedding day from my eyes…
I wake up, finally, after not getting a good night’s sleep. I woke up three times in the middle of the night worrying that my alarm wasn’t going to go off. I can’t be late!
Months of planning have led to this. 2 months ago there was a torrential flood that destroyed your dream wedding venue that you had booked. Your wedding invitations had already gone out with the location, the time, the details. You cried for days and I called 26 different venues to see who still had space available. Only 2 were still open. The wedding couldn't be rescheduled- you had plane tickets for your honeymoon leaving 3 days after the wedding. Out of town guests had already made travel arrangements. Together, we re-planned. The day is here!
I shower and pick out my best suit. I try to wear something that matches your wedding party colors- my blouse, some jewelry, my shoes perhaps. I am on Team YOU! I do my hair and makeup as nicely as I can. I know it will be mostly flat and smeared by dinner.
I might have breakfast, but I won’t really eat. I’m back on the phone- your décor company got confused and thought it was a Saturday delivery instead of Friday (today is Saturday, and your wedding is in 6 hours). Nothing was in place when it was all supposed to be set up yesterday. You have no idea this happened. I spent 2 hours on the phone yesterday negotiating an early morning delivery so that by the time you knew anything, it would look like it had been done on time. Have your hair and makeup team arrived? Are the flowers on their way? Is the groom awake? I find out all of these things. It’s time to head out.
I come to wherever you’ve just woken up and eaten breakfast. I see you in the makeup chair, your ladies surrounding you with love and laughter. I’ve brought along my clothing steamer- I know your dress will have a few wrinkles from the garment bag you’ve kept it hidden in. One of your bridesmaid’s nylons has a tear- not to worry, I have an extra pair in my emergency kit. Another forgot her toothbrush- I keep extras to give away. You just put the finishing touches on the letter for your fiancé that needs to be taken to him before the ceremony- I’m on my way there, I’ll take it!
Once things are under control here, I head over to where the boys are getting ready. A groomsman’s tux hem is too long- I have a kit to stitch the hem well enough to get by for the day (and not ruin your rental!) The groom has forgotten his letter to you at his house, 15 minutes drive away. I get the house key and make a mad dash to my car and drive across town. You never knew he forgot to bring it that day.
I come back to bring you the letter- your bridesmaids come to me and tell me there’s a problem- your dress won’t button up.
I come to see you standing in front of the mirror. You look gorgeous- and you are so happy. Even I have a tear in my eye. I’ve been waiting for this day for a long time too! Now let’s get you into this gown!
Lo and behold, this dress is too small. I don’t know if you ordered it that way, stress ate these last few weeks, the seamstress was confused and took in 3 inches instead of 1, but here we are. I’m going to send your panic stricken bridesmaids into another room for some more mimosas so as not to scare the life out of you. Not today. I sit behind you on a chair literally breaking a sweat as I twist safety pins inside out into your dress to keep it shut. I wrap white ribbon around the pin so no one can see what it is. Everything is fine! I tell you. This one silly button just won’t cooperate! (Lie). You’re annoyed it’s taking me this long to just “do up a button”. Off you go! You look absolutely perfect.
I head out to the ceremony space to make sure everything is set up properly. We’re outside at the foot of the mountains (that was always part of your wedding dream!) and the curtains creating the altar are swaying violently in the wind. I go into the meadow and find the heaviest boulders I can find and roll them over the base of the curtain poles to keep them in place. I set out your card box and your sand ceremony items (who else was going to?) There is literally a massive brown bear ambling around the meadow I just walked out of, 200 feet away. Move on, yogi! There’s a wedding today! I don’t have time for you! I have to go hang a chandelier between two trees!
But after yesterday’s rainstorm, a large tree branch has bent sideways. So I’ve taken bungee cords and pulled it back around itself just far enough so that your bridesmaids can stand in line beside you, smiling to the crowd. I am praying it will hold for 20 minutes lest your bridesmaids all lose their teeth. You have no idea. It’s exactly how you pictured it!
The ushers are here- they need to be handed the programs and told what to say to guests, who will start arriving shortly. I pin on their boutonnieres and wait for your parents and grandparents to arrive and pin on theirs. They can’t wait to see you walk down the aisle, they’re already crying!
The marriage certificate somehow didn’t get on to the table off to the side of your bridesmaids. The ceremony has already started- quickly scanning the area I see I can covertly get up there without being in the way of the photographers. Guests might not even see me. At one point I am actually sniper crawling on the ground like a ninja, certificate in hand. I reach up, it’s done! You go to sign it- you never knew it wasn’t there.
Meanwhile, my assistant is at the reception, carefully pouring your favorite candies and chocolates into glass jars, setting out scoops and name cards and bags to take home. We had to wait until the last minute- the chocolate might have melted, the candy gone stale sitting out (or stolen by passersby.)
We set out your guestbook, but you forgot to buy pens. We use our own stash and leave them on the table. We know we’ll never see them again.
Every table has several tealights on it- I know if they’re lit as guests arrive, they’ll only burn for a few hours. I have extras to replenish them and lighters. No one will notice, and I knew how important that ambient lighting was to you.
I've checked with the caterer to be sure your aunt and uncle will be served their special kosher meal properly- it will be delivered to them with gloved hands, wrapped directly from the Kosher caterer's kitchen.
The vegetarian at table 12 has moved to a different table- I make the kitchen aware so that he will be served his proper meal without a mixup.
At the end of the night, you have a getaway car waiting for you. I made sure both of your overnight bags are packed in the trunk of the car when it arrives. You aren’t thinking about that right now. It’s time for your big sparkler exit!
Guests are told to line up outside and get ready. 3 foot sparklers are handed out to all the guests, along with a few lighters to be passed around and shared. Guests are told NOT TO LIGHT THEM YET!
They light them instantly. There is a snowball effect. I run inside, grab the photographer and tell you it’s time to say goodbye. You’re off through the sparkles and the smoke.
It’s time to clean up. I stay to make sure the décor and linen companies arrive to tear down. The florist arrives for her vases that you rented- I account for each and every one.
On this particular night, I have to pack and stack up your chiavari chairs. I remove every cushion from every chair, pack it into a bag, put the cover over the chair, stack the chairs up for pickup. 150 to be exact. I’m there until 2:30 in the morning.
After the last guest and vendor is gone and the room is bare, I can go. I’ve been on my feet for 18 hours straight. I won’t be able to walk tomorrow and my brain will be mush. Tomorrow I’ll rest, but then it’s wedding week preparation for next Saturday’s bride. I’ll start again.
It was a perfect day.
Note: Thank you to the couples who have trusted me with their (often eventful) weddings and value the services I offer you (every one of the stories that made up this post are real!) It is every professional wedding planner’s privilege and responsibility to make your day as stress free for you and your family as possible so that you can enjoy every treasured moment of your day. Everything But The Ring takes great pride in our clients- past, present and future.
As always, I welcome any opportunity to educate people on what we do as wedding planners! I can be contacted anytime by email at firstname.lastname@example.org to answer any questions you may have!
To your love,