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a look back in the past 10 years in wedding planning …

Happy end of 2013 everyone! This year marked our “celebrating ten years of producing fabulous events” for our little event planning business.

It’s been a wild ride … forging relationships with clients (we still keep in touch with so many of you), vendors and the nitty-gritty of producing weddings. So as I look back, I thought it would be interesting to post some of the “almost catastrophes” that we have dealt with and fixed over the past ten years. I know I am leaving out some good stories, I should have been keeping a list along the way. There are no names mentioned to protect the innocent, and the guilty.

Our crazy list of REAL wedding “almost catastrophe” stories & other juicy stuff:

  • Flower girl choked on a piece of candy during the ceremony. Paramedics were called and she was okay. Bride wasn’t told until the reception.
  • Ten minutes before the bride walked down the aisle, the wedding cake fell apart and on to the floor. Cleaned it up and didn’t tell the bride until just before she walked into the reception.
  • Flowers didn’t come in the day before the wedding and the florist drove all over the place that evening and morning to find replacement flowers.
  • Groomsman passed out during the ceremony. You really do fall like a tree when your knees lock up.
  • Ring Bearer passed out during the ceremony. See above.
  • Minutes before the processional started, the bride’s veil that had hand sewn pearls on the edges, unraveled. Ping – ping – ping as they fell on the floor. We sewed it to stop the unraveling and went on with the ceremony.
  • Grandmother had a heart attack the morning of the wedding. Re-arranged the timeline with all the vendors so the bride could visit her in the hospital for a brief moment.
  • Torrential rain came down one hour before the outside ceremony was to start. Mother of Bride finally agreed to Plan B. We moved to location B (off-site), designers flipped decor and started 30 minutes behind schedule. Moving 400 people took a few minutes.
  • One of our brides had a panic attack before walking down the aisle, we and family calmed her down.
  • Groomsman disappeared at the end of the evening. Stole a golf cart and drove it two miles before abandoning it. (Okay we didn’t have anything to fix with this, but it’s still a funny story).
  • A stomach virus swept through the wedding party starting the evening before and then moving to the Mother of the Bride the day of the wedding. Some well-meaning, yet ill-advised, family member gave her Benadryl and she slept through her only daughter’s wedding reception.
  • Truck carrying the cake broke down in 100 degree weather. Cake ended up on time, just a little more icing than normal. No one ever knew.
  • Stage collapsed during setup for the band. Drummer/emcee hurt his arm, almost didn’t get to play but he pushed through.
  • High winds and rain came down hard during the church ceremony and almost toppled the 5 tier, coconut wedding cake. Two caterers and one of our team members held the table as coconut flakes blew … it looked like it was snowing.
  • While the wedding party was being formally announced into the reception, a bridesmaid slipped, fell and twisted her knee so bad it was dislocated. Like pointing the wrong direction and she laid there screaming in pain! Luckily a guest was a doctor and popped it back in. She was sitting with ice on her knee for the rest of the evening. The next day she found out it was broken in several places.
  • Gorgeous outdoor, classy private residence wedding reception — first wave of storms brought quarter-inch hail, sky to ground lightning and a heavy downpour just after the salads were served. Band cords were submerged in water, however the sound tech stayed to play music from iPod. Food was salvaged and served buffet. Double rainbow appeared (and during the couple’s honeymoon in South Africa, they saw another double rainbow). Still a GREAT wedding reception.
  • The Rabbi’s flight was delayed on the day of the wedding in St. Louis. The couple only wanted HER to marry them, not a local one (because you know we already contacted one in case). We called in a car service to pick her up and drive her to the door. Since we were having cocktail hour before the wedding, she rolled in just in time and all was good!
  • A car hit the back of the limo carrying the wedding party from the church to the private reception. Then it started a chain reaction on a two lane, country highway. Ended up with two totaled cars, 2 ambulances, one fire truck, two sheriffs and thank God everyone was okay.
  • Divided bridesmaids and family members ended up in a brawl. Nothing really bad, thank goodness …
  • Too many times to count dealing with heavy rain and tornado watches and warnings. It’s a wonder we are still alive.
  • Numerous guests caught in the coat room, bathroom and bushes … being, um, intimate.
  • Bride twisted her ankle wearing high heel shoes at the rehearsal dinner. Same Mother of Bride slipped and fell at the hotel, tore ligaments in her knee and attended the wedding in a wheel chair and highly medicated.
  • Night before the wedding, the DJ commercial building burnt down. We had another DJ lined up to loan equipment in one hour, however, luckily all the equipment was in the trailer and everyone was okay. DJ performed as usual, bride found out at the end of the wedding reception.
  • Bridesmaid dress zipper came completely apart. We worked on it and were prepared to sew it, luckily the teeth of the zipper connected again and it zipped right up! Bride didn’t find out until the next day.
  • We’ve redirected anger and frustration from numerous family members throughout the past ten years, sometimes taking direct hits from their pinned up emotions. Weddings and funerals just bring out some raw emotions.
  • Caterers did not have the correct number of staff and serious unforeseen problems in the kitchen to get the food out. We pitched in as we could and moved the timeline around so the guests and our mutual clients would not notice. (We all know stuff happens, it’s how you deal with it and keep moving on as a team is what counts).
  • We’ve sobered up more than twenty groomsmen, at least.
  • Countless times that items, flowers, rentals did not come in on time and we made last-minute design changes to keep our brides happy. Most of them never noticed, nor cared at that point.
  • Sewing kit, goo gone, zip ties, safety pins, binder clips and more has saved thousands of mishaps throughout the years.
  • Bride could not find her special purple wedding shoes. Planner drove back to the hotel to find an empty hotel room, then dumpster dived to see if housekeeping had thrown them away. Only to find out they were misplaced in someone’s trunk.
  • Saved personal written vows from being thrown away in the nick of time, by housekeeping.
  • After having TWO face-to-face meetings with restaurant for rehearsal dinner, formal written proposals, numerous phone calls solidifying all the details … I call on the day before the wedding, Friday at 3pm just to see how everything was progressing for setup and the owner tells me, “Yes, we’ll see you tomorrow.” Um, no, you’ll see me and 50 other people in 3 hours. He had the day of the week wrong. I said fix it, he did and I haven’t patronized that restaurant since. 
  • Due to a light last minute rain, we delayed the start of the outdoor ceremony. DJ reset his equipment and it failed due to technical difficulties. WE had the entire playlist on our phone for the ceremony music, so we plugged in and the wedding music happened off our iPhone.
  • The groom and groom’s parents were in charge of the rehearsal dinner. After numerous times checking up with the family and me calling/visiting the restaurant to verify it was scheduled, my spidey sense told me to call the restaurant ONE more time three days before the wedding. I was informed the groom’s parents never sent in a payment and there was no rehearsal scheduled. (insert sigh) We fixed it with the groom, it involved a little bit of yelling on my part to numerous parties and the bride was never told.
  • We ALWAYS have problems with hotel reservations for guests, we just know it in advance.
  • We are told LOTS of secrets by our clients and family members. Including,
    • “I’m pregnant, don’t tell my mother.”
    • “I’m not sure if I want to get married”
    • At the reception, “We should of eloped, this is overwhelming”
    • “My future father and mother-in-law are ruining my life”
  • Secret: We can tell which marriages are not going to last.
  • Secret: We had two weddings two days after my father died. None of the clients knew it happened.
  • A bridesmaid got so drunk she passed out (dead weight). Only to wake up throwing up all over the guest table, down the hall, in the elevator, on her husband. (luckily it was at the very end of the evening)
  • A groomsman got so drunk that he urinated in the ice behind the bar. IN THE ICE.

That was a fun list to remember, especially that last one.

It’s just a reminder that we have been our client’s advocate … through the good times and the bad, shielding them from problems so that they can enjoy their special day. That’s what we do. Tireless hours on your feet and under high stress, but in the end it’s all worth it.

featured image credit: pfe iPhone

Happy 2014 everyone!  

did you marry your best friend?

The genius Atom Smasher (well he added that title) posted on Facebook an interesting comment today that inspired this post (I’ve paraphrased to protect the innocent).

I can’t stand it when girls say, “I married my best friend’. Your best friend is the person you call to complain about to your husband.

He really does have a point. The things I talk to my besties about is often very different than what I discuss with my husband. Usually because he actually MAY be the topic of the conversation.

HOWEVER …

I will say that I’m very upfront with my husband. I do not play that coy, girlie, guess-what-is-wrong-with-me, game. You know the one, ladies …

Him: What’s wrong?

Me: (silence) Nothing. (shrug)

Him: Ok.

Me: (sulking silence, why doesn’t he KNOW what is wrong?)

I’m not a mind reader and don’t expect him to be one either. So rest assured, when he is making me mad or not doing what I feel he should be doing, he hears about it. Clearly. Ok, sometimes loudly. By the time I get to calling one of my besties, it’s to complain about how he’s not changing his behavior. Or complain about kids. Girls are always talking about kids.

My take on this? When others refer to their spouses as their “best friend” — it’s really referring that this is THE person you show your most vulnerable side, the real side of you, good or bad, 24/7. Your bestie doesn’t see that, there is always a little bit of a cloak, otherwise they probably wouldn’t be friends with you.

What do YOU think?

plan on!

ps I may lose a best friend with this photo. Kelly McWilliams is so special to me. And when we Facetime, we make fun of the way we look.

 

an open letter to wedding vendors

This post has been brewing in me for a little while now. It is NOT directed to any one person or situation in particular. But a accumulation of occurrences.

As wedding engineers (er, planners), we get a plethora of wedding vendors that contact us requesting to be on our referred vendor list. Facebook messages, emails, cards, phone calls, and more. We have a process when we recommend a vendor (and yes, we will occasionally recommend vendors that we have not worked with before… as long as they have some stellar testimonials that we check out).

We are also offered many things, one of which a little “kick-back”. “Refer me and I’ll give you $50.” says wedding a vendor.

Honestly that’s not our motivation when referring vendors. For the record, we do not accept kick-backs of any kind. What we prefer is that you (the wedding vendor) extend that $50 towards our client’s service package. You look good, we look good. Win/Win.

However here’s the real needle in the haystack that I want to address in this blog post.

Darling wedding vendors, we recommend to do the following:

  • Bring your A game and a little more. Seriously. Treat the clients that we bring to you with such great care that they want to be your Bestie as well.
  • Want to work with US. That’s right. We bring you into the team-fold to spend all day with you on a Saturday (away from our family), we want you to work with us. If you have ever experienced working with the planning…forever events team, you KNOW that we don’t ask you to do anything that we wouldn’t do ourselves. In fact, there is no such language as, “That’s not our job” at an event. We pitch in and work hard right along side of you.
  • Watch each other’s backs. It takes a full vendor team to execute a fabulous wedding. Everyone doing their part and a little more. We all make mistakes (yes, us too). We’re human. Help us and we’ll help you.
  • Be a little more flexible. You know that your job is going to be a little easier with us on site. Timelines and production schedules are complete. All vendors are contacted prior to the wedding. So don’t lump us with all your other DIY clients. We are professional. Time is money and we know what we are doing. A little flexibility goes a long way to repeat referrals.
  • Have fun on the wedding day. We pull 17 hours sometimes. Often, we’re the first ones there for setup … to the ceremony … the reception and breaking out. We love what we do, but I won’t lie. Sometimes it can be a long hard work day. Bring a smile and a great attitude. The day will go by faster and easier.
  • Communicate with us. Sometimes client’s don’t tell us everything. A rogue Father of the Bride goes off and plans special events during the reception as a surprise and we don’t know anything about it. Let us know ….
  • Refer US. You read that correctly. Throw our name out there to YOUR clients. Ask them, “WHO is your wedding planner?” and tell them about us. Tell them why you like to work with us. You should know, we SELL YOU before our clients call you to meet. This is a tight wedding vendor circle and throwing back some love to us is just as important as us always referring you. One sided relationships almost never work. Think about it.

This blog post was from the heart and for educational purposes. We are so fortunate to work with so many fabulous wedding vendors. And on the weekend’s that we have a “dream team” put together…we all sleep better the night before.

Go ahead, tell us what you think…

feature image photo credit: chris berneking photography

plan on!

 

lie to your wedding vendor?

I’ve got a bee in my bonnet. (and apparently I’m a 150 years old by using that phrase).

Surfing the Internets I found this (ahem) gem of a post (by an author, I can only assume is NOT a wedding professional) suggesting to brides to LIE to their vendors to get better deals on their wedding…. (her quote)

“…when dealing with certain vendors I have a better word that gives you, the bride/groom, more wiggle room: LIE.”

Let’s let that sink in for a moment. Nobody likes to be deceived. Not brides. And NOT vendors.

People believe that if the word “wedding” is attached to products/services that it will cost you more money.

There is some truth to that, but you have delve further for clarification. WHY?

Weddings are as unique as the bride and groom. They are intensely more important than your average party. Therefore, expectations run high, as well as labor and materials to create your vision. Specific materials are requested. Therefore, so may the cost of your products/services be increased. You have to compare apples to apples.

Does this make sense?

What this author so ineptly missed was that ordering the exact same flowers that sit in a vase (for a corporate lunch centerpiece) IS TOTALLY DIFFERENT from the exact same flowers put together in a bridal bouquet that will not fall apart a few hours into photos.

Are we really comparing the two? I think I’m being punk’d.

It’s called LABOR, EXPERIENCE and additional MATERIAL. It’s much more than just, (author’s quote, wait for it)..

“The only difference is how the flowers are held together”.

No kidding. If you could see my face.

There is an art to creating a wedding bouquet of flowers. Stems need to be wired together, floral tape strategically used (so it doesn’t show) to keep the bouquet from falling apart. And the most important thing, it takes labor, experience and material. When running a business, these things are not free.

Would you want to come to work for your employer on an 8 hour shift and then only be paid for 6 hours? Um, no.

There are more flaws in her theories to saving money with regards to limo companies. If you ran a limo company, you would have to charge a minimum of hours (standard in this area is two hours). Put it this way, would you want your wedding limo making another run while you are getting married? What if there is traffic? What if you want to leave the church early? Poof! No limo. Not going to fly at a wedding. Not when you have other vendors (photographer, videographer, catering, DJ) on the clock waiting for the bride and groom.

Finally, (as if this cannot get anymore epic) when she targeted cake bakers, (I prefer cake designers). What type of scary wedding cake is she suggesting?

“Have a half sheet placed on top of a full sheet and decorate away. It will come out costing less than the full scale wedding cake and you’ll get just as many ooohs and aaahs.”

On what planet will that get “ooohs and aaahs”? A two layer sheet cake that is abnormal in size? Ever try to put together a four tier wedding cake? You want to talk about labor, experience and material … I’ve DEALT WITH the tilted DIY wedding cakes that we had to cut early or the guests would be scooping their dessert off the floor.

Please, please, please, PLEASE KNOW…

Wedding vendors work tirelessly for your wedding. While weddings may be a “billion dollar industry”, one or two vendors are not making that kind of money. While there are some unscrupulous wedding vendors out there (what industry doesn’t have those jerks). The majority of us aren’t out to gauge, lie or steal from you. We make a living and help you achieve a beautiful day to remember.

Oh, and we work our a$$es off doing it.

You can read her full article here.

ps If you liked this article then please Tweet about it or Comment below. Cannot wait to hear from you.

plan on!

 

father of the bride’s…are the best

I’ve been a wedding planner for 7 years and it’s so cool how we get to get a glimpse into people’s families and interact with them on such a highly emotional and personal day.

Some of my most memorable weddings comes from my interactions with the Father of the Bride. It’s a tough day for them. Watching their baby girl walk down the aisle and turning his most precious possession over to another man….yeah, if you know ANYTHING about men, it’s a really, tough day for them.

So today, for a very personal reason, I’d like to pay a little homage to past Father of the Brides (or affectionately called The FOB) who personally made a big impact with me. There are many more than just featured here…

photo credit: studio b

2007 FOB, Mark Burris

What I loved about Mark he was a total business man with a great attitude. He actually interviewed me while his daughter and Mom sat quietly. Steve would chuckle about the expense of “flour and water” for a wedding cake and roll his eyes at his wife’s obsession for the perfect floral or gown to wear. But secretly, he loves his family and would do anything for them. Our team worked extra hard to WOW him at his daughter’s wedding and we met his high standards.

photo credit: jordan barclay

2008 FOB, Doug Little

Sometimes Dad’s are chosen. That was Doug Little, technically a step dad but in every important way, a real dad to his daughter. He’s pretty quiet, but has a sense of humor and a great laugh. He was a little overwhelmed by all the wedding planning. Not sure what to make of all the decoration selections or the food tasting. He would of been happy with a beer and a burger, probably. But the way he looked at his (step) daughter; pure joy would shine through his face.  He couldn’t be more proud of his little girl. He even played along with the Jewish tradition of putting on the kippa for the ceremony (which he forgot to take off until WAY into the reception).

photo credit: jordan barclay

2009 FOB, Glen Sturm

Actually I met Glen for the first time the Friday before the wedding. You can see what an impression he made on me to make this short list on the blog. First, he’s a jokester and a prankster. I figured that out real quick. But he is also a planner. Actually all the Sturms meticulously plan out details. From taking dance lessons and practicing the day before with his daughter AT the reception hall for their Father/Daughter dance to writing his Welcome Speech about a year in advance, (which by the way, major props…that speech was awesome), to the high stool chairs that you brought from home so the bride and groom could sit while you made all the guests laugh.

photo credit: equinox photography

2010 FOB, Michael Espenlaub

Some Dads are rock solid, some are rockstars. Enter Michael Espenlaub. To begin with, his lovely daughter just wanted the planning…forever events team for design and decor for her wedding. But when Michael learned more about our Wedding Day Management service, he was sold and hired us. He came to EVERY planning meeting, even when we tried to “lose him” by going to sushi for a meeting (just kidding). He called me, “HIS wedding planner”. I won’t lie, a personal first. Favorite part of the day, we were walking his daughter outside to the front of the church minutes away from getting married, he hung back on the side watching her. He thought we didn’t notice, but we did. He loves his daughter very much and would do anything for her. And as a selfish bonus, has another daughter. Michael…….call me.

photo: my daddy and me in 1969

Why all this talk about Daddies today? Because this morning at 6:45am marked the one year anniversary when my own Dad, passed away. Instead of being sad, I want to remember good times and celebrate the living.

Being a Daddy’s Girl, I’ve always been acutely aware of the Father of the Bride and what he must be feeling on his daughter’s wedding day. But now since my Dad is gone, I seem to be drawn to watching them, watch their little girls.

So even though it is not “Father’s Day”, do me a favor. If your Dad is still living…..please call him, email him, text him or better, hug him and tell you that you love him.