You'd think that it's the couple who's most stressed out on their big day, but we often forget about the wedding planner behind the scenes. They don't have it easy; he or she has to deal with the event logistics, brides and grooms, their families, the vendors, and of course, the drunk guests. We really don't give them enough credit. A professional wedding planner of seven years (events for 10) answered all your burning questions on an IAmA, and damn, were her responses juicy. She's been to more weddings than anyone has ever needed to, which means she's really seen it all. Wedding disasters, drunk guest stories, how many brides really handle stress the day of, and so much more are ahead. Plus, she also provided some really helpful tips for future married couples to consider for their own planning. See 11 of her standout secrets and tips.
1. How often are people left at the altar?
"Only in movies . . . If you shell out $50,000-$100,000 you're gonna call it off way before the final payments go out."
2. What is the most overpriced thing that isn't REALLY necessary that people buy/buy into for weddings?
"A wedding cake, explained below in another comment. Also, often, a videographer is not always necessary, as well as providing transportation for guests (unless the venue and hotels are far apart, then it's for safety). Take away gifts are not necessary. People come to your wedding — you gave them a good time, that's a gift enough. I've also mentioned before: utilizing a string quartet or a single instrument player from a music school will save you a lot of cash, plus students often have vintage instruments and they rarely have an ego. They're so stoked to play. Chair covers are a waste as well . . . basically anything you see on David Tutera or any of the wedding shows! These shows create unrealistic expectations. It's also increasingly easier to print your own invites, programs, etc. Go on Etsy and get something truly custom or a mom-and-pop print shop. I've heard about 'wedding insurance' and think that's garbage, too."
3. What are some drunk wedding stories?
- "I wear a diamond ring on my left hand so that everyone thinks/assumes I am married. Towards the end of any event the guys start to realize I'm the only girl there without a date and hit on me. It's easier to say I'm married and have a fake walkie-talkie conversation."
- "I had one wedding where everyone was so wasted they called a drug dealer. I had security stop him at the door and not let him in. I'm no fool."
- "I had a drunk bride fall down the stairs. She was such a diva I didn't care."
- "I had a drunk groom scream at me because I wouldn't allow him to put kegs in a venue's bathtubs. (The tubs were from the 1920s, come on!)"
- "I caught two women having sex on a rooftop and the security guard would not stop them. I flashed the lights on and off and closed the roof. They had met at the wedding and apparently really hit it off."
4. How often are brides actually horrendous?
"Almost always it's someone else . . . a mom of the bride, an aunt, some sort of drunk step parent; the brides are almost always OK. Fun fact: a lot of brides take Xanax."
5. Weirdest request? Biggest disaster?
"I could go on for DAYS about the weirdest requests. The most recent is a bride asking if she could have a chimp come to the wedding 'for entertainment.' I said no."
"Luckily, no disasters yet (fingers crossed). Although one bride through my timeline way out of wack. She delayed hair and make up by two and a half hours so she could do yoga and go swimming. Then we had a seated dinner where I hired an artist to hand paint the table cards. Everything was laid out so that the escort cards corresponded to the table cards and I had three assistants helping seat people. Each table card was a specific species of tree so there were no 'table numbers.' My team memorized these trees and the placement of tables so that when all 200 guests came to them to be seated they could bang it out quickly. The artist came up with his own trees on a whim and clusterf*cked the whole seating. I still cringe when I think about that stupid one."
6. How many cocktails do you down before dealing with the bride and her mother on the day of the wedding?
"I will have a glass of champagne during the ceremony after she goes down the aisle and will also have some whiskey in my coffee at cake time . . . It's how I deal with everyone."
7. Have you ever had either a groom or bride ditch out on the big day? Tell all the juicy details!
"I have had a couple call me after months of planning and tell me they eloped. They still had a huge party but that was a shocking phone call. Other juicy stuff . . . I've been jacked against a wall by the father of the groom while he screamed in my face, I have been cornered by a DJ in a similar manner, and I have been assaulted by a cater waiter. Drunk people are idiots. Always."
8. DJ or live band? Buffet or plated? Best man/woman speeches or no speeches? Open bar or cash bar? Wedding cake or alternative dessert?
- Have both — have live music for the ceremony and cocktail hour and a DJ for the rest. Live music for a ceremony is helpful because a song can be stretched out or shortened depending on your needs.
- I am a fan of buffet or small plates where guests get to have four to six smaller entrees. I can't stand seated dinners. I really can't. You are stuck with the same eight people and lose two hours of fun sitting down. Also, a seating chart is the most stressful part of any wedding. Hands down.
- Have speeches from the best man, the maid of honor, and also a parent(s) if they pay for everything. (If they aren't paying, the parents can do a speech at the rehearsal dinner.) Also, you and your SO should give a thank-you speech (works best at the time of cake cutting).
- Open bar, the whole night, otherwise it's tacky (sorry). If you want to cut costs at the bar, offer beer, wine, and two specialty cocktails only.
- Wedding cakes are expensive and almost never taste good. If you have a beautiful cake, it's gonna taste gross and be a few days old. I like a small wedding cake to cut and then have other desserts. I love a dessert bar or passed sweets — something fun like vodka-infused snow cones, but I really can't stand candy bars (a bar of candy).
9. What are some cool, unique ideas for wedding invitations?
"One of my favorite invites was a telegram. The guests were coming from all over the globe, so it really made sense but was so simple and unique. Very vintage."
10. What is the craziest wedding or event you ever had to organize?
"Craziest event: Renting a tarmac and hosting an event for the unveiling of the new line of Learjets. We turned an airplane hangar into a makeshift kitchen for catering in 90-degree weather. Asphalt in an airport seemed insanely hot and our neighboring hangar was for the models for hair and makeup as we hosted a fashion show as well. It was a riot to have the chefs sweating over steak skewers and half-naked models bugging us for food, all sweating and drinking champagne together with insanely rich guests eating oysters on a tarmac with private planes. Insane."
"Craziest wedding: Seven-day Pakistani wedding. Seven venues, seven color schemes . . . essentially seven weddings. If I could specialize in Middle Eastern weddings, I would."
11. Does your job drive you insane sometimes?
"Yes. Clients seem to forget they are not some sort of special snowflake and it drives me insane. Also, it can be stressful and I have to treat each client as if they actually are some sort of special snowflake. So, if I have a wedding in the coming week, I'm also dealing with the weddings for future weekends and can have 10 "emergencies" all at once. I just have to prioritize them. I'm also on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. I check my cell phone at dinner dates, I wake up in the middle of the night to read emails. It is what is it and I can't imagine it any other way. Also, it's difficult to plan vacations or do weekend trips but I try to get away as much as I possibly can. Lastly, it's annoying to go to other people's weddings, events, clubs, etc. because I end up mentally ripping them apart in my head. It's a sickness."