Surprise Part Deux

One would think that there would be very little that surprises me when it comes to wedding receptions, but still I walk away from some of these events thinking  “What the H just happened in there?” 

Well, a couple of weekends ago, I had that experience.  I was lost for words; I know - me, lost for words - weird, that never happens! 

I have already written about this couple that I am going to tell you about, back in July 2010, the mother of the bride that had made all of the arrangements like picking out the date, location, colors, etc for her wedding her daughter’s wedding.  She’s baaaaaaacccckkkkkk!

I really liked the bride, she is cute, funny and kind.  The groom was cute, funny and kind.  They are obviously a perfect match.  There was nothing unexpected when planning the event.  The typical mom-zilla stuff and a few things the bride was very specific about, which I can handle. 

Then came the week before the event.  The bride and her mom dropped off some things and filled me in on a few things I should be watching for during her reception - the usual stuff like don’t let the bridal party get embarrassingly drunk, watch out for Uncle Jim - he is a little handsy with the ladies, and the groom’s brother and his current girlfriend are in to exhibitionism.  Wait….what.  Exhibitionism,….ok….wow.  Will do, I will keep an eye on that for you. 

The event goes well until….well it went pretty well but anything that could have gone wrong, went pretty wrong.  The florist didn’t bring enough flowers so we had empty vases, but never fear, I Do Expert is here!  I took care of it as well as the other miscellaneous items like the two page list of pictures the bride asked me to take, the decorator forgetting the birdcage for the cards, the appetizers running out in 15 minutes, etc. 

At every event I try not to involved the bride with any problems unless I absolutely have to let her know.  So I went to the Mother of the Bride to let her know about the items that were wrong so she could get a refund and so that they bride wouldn’t have to know.  What does that MOB do, she runs right to the Bride as soon as she gets to the reception and tells her everything that has gone wrong!  I was shocked - I mean when the bride was almost in tears, I pulled her away, showed her how beautiful the reception hall looked and got her announced. 

The bride and groom arrived about 10 minutes late, not too bad!  Then they did a receiving line for 200 people.  Then they did photographs and then they were re-announced.  Dinner was supposed to be served at 7:00 p.m….we had dinner served finally at 9:00 p.m.

Everything else went fairly smooth - taking booze away from a bridesmaid, keeping our eyes on the exhibitionist couple, kicking out an uncle, keeping an eye on the exhibitionist couple, keeping the other bridesmaid from showing her Sharon Stone impersonation to everyone, and keeping an eye on the exhibitionists. 

As the night was coming to a close, guests were leaving we were missing two members of the bridal party.  I asked the I Do Security Officers to walk through the building with me, looking for the missing bridesmaid and groomsman.  We did not find them and we scoured the building. 

We as are locking the doors and thanking the I Do Security Officers, the caterers came to me to let me know that they broke a window.  The I Do Assistant and I went to go check out the broken window.  Discovering it was a window broken on a building other than the reception site, we called the police.  Since the window wasn’t broken completely in, the building’s alarm wasn’t going off.  The police could not do anything unless the alarm was going off, so the dispatcher suggested I complete the breaking of the window.  Not wanting to end this memorable evening with a breaking and entering charge, I declined the option to break in the building.  I hung up the phone and called the building owner at 1:30 am. 

Apparently, I am a worry wart because the I Do Assistant and I were the only people concerned about the broken window as the building owner said he would take care of it…..within the next week.

As I am on the phone, I see someone walking out from behind me.  It was the missing bridesmaid!  Then about a minute later, the missing groomsman walked out.  Here’s the kicker….wait for it…..wait for it…..the couple was NOT the exhibitionist couple we would have expected. 

Then this is where it happened - I. Was. Speechless.  I literally lost my words when I was on the phone, I am sure whoever I was speaking to thought I was a complete idiot, but I couldn’t put a sentence together. 

I hung up the phone and we were gathering the staff to leave the building when I hear a tap, tap, tap on the front window.  It was the groomsman - standing there waving and knocking.  I went out to the front door.

Groomsman: “Um, hi...yeah, um this is awkward. So, um, we don’t have, um, our phones, we need to use your phone.”

I Do Expert: “Yeah, the other bridesmaids and groomsmen thought the two of you left so they took your things you left behind,” I said to this man with this shirt buttoned incorrectly.  “I will let you back in on one condition.  You have to tell me where the two of you were, we scoured the building looking for people to make sure everyone was gone and you scared the bejesus out of me.”

Groomsman: “Well, um...we were….um, in the men’s bathroom by the reception hall.”

I Do Expert: “Sure come on in.”  I was judging...boy was I judging. 

This dance of uncomfortable, awkwardness continued for the next 40 minutes.  The bridesmaid had to call the MOB and the groomsman had to call the Mother of the Groom as these were the only phone numbers I had on file.  None of the phone calls were comfortable. 

The who conclusion of the night reminded me of something that the great poet Lil’ Wayne once wrote a perfect lyric for this situation and I will leave you with it now;
Boy I know you got a girl
And you know I got a man
So lets both respect the game
And have a one night stand
Everybody wanna know
But they wouldn't understand
So lets keep it on the low
And have a one night stand

I Do Expert

Don't You Know Who I Am?

Yes, yes, yes...I am well aware that it has almost been eons since I have written my latest and greatest exploits as a wedding and event planner extraordinaire, but what can I say, I have been busy.  Now while I catalog my thoughts of the events of the past many moons, I want to tell you about a quick interaction I have had with a new wedding booking. 

I like to call him John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt.  I want to re-state that I have changed the names of my clients as to protect their identities.  So please do not get on Facebook and look up all of the John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidts to find out which is recently engaged.  From this point on I will refer to him as “JJJS” (feel free to insert the  “na na na na na na na” in your head each time you shout his name).

JJJS doesn’t call me initially.  JJJS’s fiance doesn’t call me initially either.  JJJS’s mother calls me.  I have know JJJS’s family since I was approximately in kindergarten.  JJJS’s mother proceeds to introduce her self to me as if we have NEVER met, and never seen each other in our lives.  I play along with the charade like any good event planner.  I talk with JJJS’s mother about the costs, details, etc of planning this wedding.  She is not sure that the venue is quite large enough for the party, but we place a date on hold and give her time to think. 

I hear rumors that JJJS has chosen a different venue and event planner so I am honestly relieved. 

On a random Tuesday, my phone rings. 

“Hello, I Do Expert - how can I make your dreams come true today?”

“Well, yes hello.  I need to ask some questions about a wedding.”  the voice on the phone sounds like a man whose ascot is too tightly tied, “I was wondering if there is an adjustment on price of services based on who I am, and who my fiance is.”

“Nope, regardless of who you are, the price for weddings and receptions is not negotiable.  It is, what it is.”

“Well, maybe if I introduce myself.  This is John...Jacob...Jingleheimer...Schmidt.”

“Fantastic.  Since we are doing introductions, I am the I Do Expert.  And sorry JJJS, there is no price adjustment even after you revealed your identity, just like the masked man on The Bachelorette didn’t get a rose after he revealed his identity.”

**Sidebar:  Ok, maybe I didn’t say that last piece about the masked man on The Bachelorette, but it would have been funny, right?

Back to JJJS.  I hung up the phone with him and he was disappointed he didn’t get a discount.  After three more phone calls of him trying to negotiate my very firm pricing, he decided that he and his fiance would be booking the event. 

Needless to say, JJJS and his fiance didn’t come in with the contract and deposit.  JJJS’s mother did. 

This wedding isn’t until fall of 2012 and I am already blogging about him.  This cannot end well. 

So remember….whenever you go out, the people always shout, “There goes John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt.”

I Do Expert

Fly on the Wall

At some point in our lives, everyone has wished to over hear a conversation happening behind closed doors.  I know I have said – “Oh I wish I could be a fly on the wall in that room.”

It surprised me when I get into the wedding planning industry that people were curious as to what was happening behind the closed doors where the bride and her maids were getting ready as well as what was going on where the groom and his groomsmen were preparing for the wedding ceremony. 

So many times a grandma or other loved one stops me and asks “What’s going on in there?” or “How is the bride doing?”  Always my answer is something charming like – “Oh she looks beautiful and is so excited,” or “He is smiling ear to ear waiting for his bride.”  While, in my head I am likely singing a different tune.  So what's the point of all of this, you might ask?  I want to share with you some of the things that actually happen behind the closed doors of brides and grooms – both before and after the wedding ceremony.

Anytime you walk into a room of brides and bridesmaids there is excitement in the air, as well as sense of importance.  As far as the bride is concerned, she is the only person in the entire world that matters.  Some bridesmaids have a huge problem with the bride’s self-proclaimed attitude of “this day is all about me.”

Overhead statement by bridesmaids:

            “I definitely look better than the bride.”
            “Don’t you think she could have found a dress that was more flattering?”
            To the bride as she is walking to meet her father “You look so beautiful!!!”….as soon as the door closes “Just not as good as me on my wedding day.”

            It is not all bad – I have seen bridesmaids fall apart like babies when they see the bride in her dress or right before they all walk down the aisle.  Believe me – I broke down when I saw my little, tiny, baby sister in her wedding dress (ok, so she is approximately 14 seconds younger than me).  I think it hits you, when you see someone you love so much walking down the aisle or getting ready to walk down the aisle like a princess to commit to a life of love and marriage.  Every wedding I have been it, or been a part of I have cried.  Even as I send the nastiest bride down the aisle, I still get teary eyed.  It’s touching and like I said in my very first entry – I love LOVE.

Then you walk into the room where the men are getting ready.  Whenever you have a group of men gathered into a room with the door closed – I feel like it turns into a locker room.  After you get over the caged up man smell and excitement, you start to listen.

            “Are you sure buddy? This is the last chance to run!”
            “I saw her and she looks beautiful man!”
            “Dude that stripper so wanted you last night.”

Some of the most touching and magical moments are when a father sees his daughter for the first time in her wedding dress.  I can just picture a father looking at a little six year-old version of his daughter walking towards him in a white poufy dress and over-sized high heels on, then blinking through the tears to realize that it is his grown-up daughter.  It is that moment where a father tries to fight back tears, to ultimately lose the battle in an embrace with his daughter ending with a kiss on the cheek. 

There are moments, however, that are burned into my brain for completely opposite reasons.  A situation where I never wanted to or wished to overhear what was going on in a room, but I experienced it anyway.

One of the most horrifying moments was when I had the groom and groomsmen in place, the grandmothers lined up, I had the Mother of the Groom ready to go, bridesmaids were standing in position and I was missing the Maid of Honor, Mother of the Bride and the Bride.  I was frantically running around looking for them, when I hear a terrible, terrible sound coming from the ladies restroom.  I put my ear to the door and I recognize the sound, and immediately my stomach turns.  Anyone who knows me is well aware that I do NOT handle people getting sick in front of me well.  I tap on the door, open it a little and manage to whisper out “Is everything ok?  We are getting ready to start.”  The Mother of the Bride shouts “We are fine, just get it started and we will be out in a minute.”

I try to avoid the situation, thinking it will be over soon.  So I head over to my assistant to start sending the grandmothers out VERY slowly.  One of the grandmothers grabbed my arm and pulled my face down to hers and said “Honey is everything ok?  I haven’t seen the Bride.”  While my head replays the sounds coming from the bathroom, my stomach turns and I am able to whisper to her “Yes, ma’am.  Everything is fine.”  I straighten her corsage and tell her how beautiful she is and send her down the aisle feeling like the Queen of Sheba. 

I hope and pray that when I turn around, everyone is out of the ladies room and in position, but that is not the case.  So I slowly opened the door to slide in and quickly closed it behind me. 

There was the bride on her knees in front of the toilet, vomiting.  The mother is screaming at her about being irresponsible and getting her dress dirty.  The Maid of Honor is holding her veil and hair, while saying encouraging statements.  This was one of those times I never wished to be a fly on the wall in the room. 

“Ladies, we are ready for you.  Mom, I am going to need you to step outside so you can be seated.”  This kind statement was followed by death glares from the mother and a look of “please save me” from the Maid of Honor. 

They can wait on us!”  the mother shouted at me

“What is your problem?!?” the mother shouts at the bride. 

“I don’t know mother! I guess I either had too much champagne this morning….or I’m pregnant,” the bride says. 

My jaw hit the ground.  No one was laughing.  There was so much tension in the room.  Everyone was uncomfortable and the eggshells on the floor appeared everywhere.  There was no where to go from here. 

Then the Maid of Honor spoke.  In the kindest, most sympathetic and heartfelt voice uttered “Well, you are going to look so skinny in your dress after throwing up for the last 20 minutes that no one will even suspect you are knocked-up.”  Like with that little comment, everything would be fine. 

The bride stood up and smiled at her Maid of Honor, washed her mouth out with water and I shoved a couple of curiously strong mints down her throat.  She straightened her dress and the Maid of Honor floofed her veil.  The Mother of the Bride adjusted her dress and jacket, combed her hair to the side with her hands and all exited the restroom with smiles on their face ready to have a very memorable ceremony and reception. 

Everything seemed to go smoothly throughout the ceremony and evening.  I never saw the Mother of the Bride and Bride speak throughout the evening.    I don’t know what ever happened.  I don’t know if the bride had the flu, was pregnant or what, but it does go to show that there certainly are times that you do NOT want to be a fly on the wall, and this was certainly one of them.

R E S P E C T...Find Out What It Means to Me!

I am a stickler for manners, politeness, kindness and respect. You will hear me telling my staff people – especially the young ladies in high school and college who work for me – about respect. I am sure I sound like a broken record when I tell them “You do not work here to be disrespected! Call me if someone is rude and I will handle it.” There is nothing I hate more than seeing someone doing his or her job and to have someone be rude or violate personal space. I see this disrespect happen much more often to the young ladies that work in the events and wedding industry than men.

Have you read my blog entry “Buyers Remorse?” Well you should, not only is it a fine example of literary excellence, but our little tattoo getting bride’s story doesn’t end there. I try to see the best in everyone. Yes, the bride is on a tight budget, but that is not a bad thing. What is bad is when the Mother of the Bride, is negotiating pricing for different items, amenities, food, etc with all of the vendors she is working with. This isn’t a flea market lady – pay the price they are asking or if you try to negotiate and they tell you it is a firm price, move on and don’t threaten to take your business elsewhere because I am sure they all want to yell from the rooftops – PLEASE GO SOMEWHERE ELSE WITH YOUR BUSINESS!!!!!!!!!!!!

Well, I assumed my staff and I might be in for a LONG night with this lovely bride after a few things happened during the wedding rehearsal.

First, when asking for the final payment due before the wedding and reception (I learned my lesson the hard way about collecting money after the event), the Mother of the Bride said to me “Can the bride pay for the beer after the wedding reception so she can use money people give her as a wedding gift?” After my answer of “No!” was discussed, it was decided that they would pay for beer for their guests, but not soft drinks. WOW!

Second, did I mention that the bride got a tattoo across her entire back to make her dress not look so plain?

Third, the groom and brother of the groom (aka the “Best Man”) arrived individually on their moped / scooters. I do not believe that they were joining the “Go Green” movement; rather neither had valid licenses to drive an actual automobile in the state because of the number of drunken driving charges against them.

When I wake up on the day of the wedding ceremony and reception I ironically have a catchy little tune in my head by the Black Eyed Peas, sing it with me “Tonight’s going to be a good good night.”

Everything moves smoothly with the ceremony, and guests move into the reception area. EVERYONE is asking for beers, but not everyone is 21. As would any respectable establishment, the bartenders are carding guests and stamping his or her hand if over 21. One of the bartenders notices across the room, that there is a guest licking his stamp and pushing his nasty licked hand onto the hand of another person to share the stamp. The newly stamped individual brings his nasty unofficial stamp to the bar and upon being asked for his identification, he yelled at the bartender. She called for me and I decided that for each drink the guest had to show an id and could only get one drink per trip.

Next customer was the dude again who just was denied a drink and yelled at the bartender. He came to me and asked for a beer.

Me: “Can I see your ID?”

Stupid Dude: “What for I’ve got a stamp.”

Me: “I need to see your ID so that I know you’re at least 21.”

Stupid Dude: “Listen Sweetie, I left my ID at home. Can’t I just leave you a big tip and you can pretend like you checked my ID.”

Me: “Nope.”

Stupid Dude: “F*** You! You dumb B****!”

Me: “Soooooo, you don’t want a soft drink or kiddie cocktail maybe?”

We all started laughing, and looked across the room to see Stupid Dude talking to a group of guys and one of them came up to the bar to get a drink. He was of age, so he left with a beer. I heard shouting across the room and here was Stupid Dude chugging a beer.

Luckily, there were uniformed police officers as our security guards that night. We had the officers take the beer from him and ask him not to drink any longer, then the officers were walking back to the bar and Stupid Dude was following the officers, mocking them as they walked. The interaction went a little like this:

Cop: “We took care of it I Do Expert, so we will keep an eye on him.”

Me: “You have an admirer following you.”

Cop: “Oh I know.”

Stupid Dude: “Get me a beer!”

Me: “Um are you talking to me?”

Stupid Dude: “Yes, are you deaf? I said get me a beer!”

Me: “Did you find your ID that you left at home?”

Stupid Dude: “No, but I want a beer.”

Cop: “I Do Expert are you done with this guy?”

Me: “Absolutely!”

Cop: “Listen Stupid Dude, you can only come up here to get a soft drink and if we see you asking for a beer or drinking a beer we will escort you out of the building.”

Stupid Dude begins to mock the cops. Anything they say, Stupid Dude says. Anything they do, Stupid Dude does. Everything appears to be under control, so the officers move to a different area of the building to make sure everything is safe. Stupid Dude follows them. Forty minutes go by and Stupid Dude is still parroting everything that the police officers say and do. By this point Stupid Dude’s friend has joined in on the “fun.” Finally, when Stupid Dude and his friend had transferred their disrespect onto the young co-ed sitting at the front desk greeting people, the police officers escorted both of them out of the building and they were told they couldn’t return.

Cops: “It is time for you to leave.”

Stupid Dude: “What the F***! You can’t do that!”

Cops: “Yes we can. You need to find someone to give you a ride home.”

Stupid Dude: “What’s your badge number Pig so that I can report you?”

Cop #1: “Badge Number 8309.”

Stupid Dude: “I got it and I’m calling it in now Cop 9803”

We all got quite a laugh from Stupid Dude, but I can never imagine treating someone, especially a police officer that way. Things seemed to be back on track. I went to check on the bartenders and the reception. Everyone was dancing and having a good time.

Then I went out to the front desk area to see the bride screaming at the young lady at the reception desk.

Me: “I’m sorry to interrupt this conversation, but is there a problem?” I say as kindly as one can while wanting to punch someone in the face.

Bride: “Yes there’s a problem. People were thrown out of my wedding.”

Me: “There were two men asked to leave the reception, you are correct.”

Bride: “I cannot believe this! They didn’t do anything wrong! They didn’t even hit anyone or get into a fight yet.”

Me: “Well they were disrespectful to the police officers, my staff and they were drinking underage.”

I honestly didn’t make out a lot of the next couple of sentences that were screamed in my face. It was a string of profanities and fingers being pointed in my face. I was in shock and I was doing everything to contain my anger and laughter. I was instantly whisked away to the set of Jerry Springer.

I was brought back into reality by the police officers standing on each side of me. One said “We are done hearing this, are you done? We can take her out of here right now!”

My eyes focus back on the situation and notice that no only is the “lovely” bride still scream at me, but looking around the entrance of the reception facility there is a crowd – I think I noticed a few fist pumps, some Arsenio Hall “whoops,” and other cat calls associated with professional wrestling events or NASCAR and I was ripped from Jerry Springer, back to reality.

Me: “Bride. Listen. Bride. BRIDE!!!”

Bride: “Yeah, B****”

Me: “I am going to give you two choices. A) These officers can take you out of your wedding reception and you can spend your wedding night in jail or B) you can go back into your wedding reception and enjoy the rest of your night.”

Then I was called names that I have never been called before and words I am not even comfortable using asterisks to “bleep” them out.

Within seconds, the officers were being called back to the bar, to help the bartenders “control a situation.”

A few minutes later I was called back to the reception area to speak with the bride’s father. I explained the situation. He was almost in tears from the embarrassment and apologized for his daughter. He supported my decisions 100% and he want back into the reception and hung out by the bar the rest of the night. If a guest even thought about raising his or her voice at one of the bartenders, the father interjected and either told them to go dance or to leave the reception. Thank my lucky stars for this Father of the Bride!!!

The rest of the evening went fairly well. I had to threaten a group of 10 year olds with being arrested to get them to listen to me, we had to clean up intentional spills, but at least there were not any more people who decided they wanted to scream in my face.

When the bar closed and people left the building, we all did a happy dance.

I do believe that we can learn something from every encounter we have during our lives. What did I learn from this bride? Hmmmmm….I learned that a great way to accessorize a wedding dress is to get a tattoo. I also learned a plethora of new curse words.

I have a feeling that this is NOT the last time I will hear from this bride or her family. There is a small part of me that doesn’t want to check my voicemail or answer my phone for the next couple of weeks. I anticipate a phone call from the bride or her mother any second now.

Oh no, my phone is ringing now – I hope it is not them!!!

I Do Expert

Buyer's Remorse

Have you ever purchased something and then thought you shouldn’t have gotten it?  I have!  I love accessories – a girl can really NEVER have too many – purses, jewelry, hair things, sunglasses, scarves, hats, shoes, etc.  If buyer’s remorse was a town, I would likely be the mayor.   

I am someone who tends to give more than purchase things for myself, so when it comes to spoiling me – I have a hard time.  Everyone though has a friend who can help you justify any purchase you make.  Mine is one of my oldest friends – let’s call her Little Black Dress (LBD for short).  I could be across the country, buy something and our conversation would go a little something like this.

Me: “Um…..I might have just purchased a Tory Burch T Stitch Tote.”

LBD: “What color?”

Me: “Black.”

LBD: “Oh my gosh, think of all of the things you can use it for! It could be your carry on for a trip to see me, it could be for work and you will easily be able to dress it up or dress it down.”

Me: “You think?”

LBD: “Honey, you are money.  No worries – keep it and love it!”

What would I do without her?  Something else I value about LBD as well as all of my other closest and dearest friends is that they would all tell me if I made a bad purchase.  So it was surprising to me when I had a conversation with a bride on a Monday about her wedding that Saturday.

We met to go over some last minute details and I asked how she was doing.  She proceeded to tell me that she put her dress on the week before and was unhappy with how plain and boring it was.  She kept going on and on about how plain it was and the back was just a “U”-shaped back with no decorations.  

She assured me she had the “problem” taken care of.  All that kept running through my mind was please don’t tell me you glued rhinestones and glitter to your dress with neon puffy paint you found under your bed from 1982!!  

Then it happened!  She lowered the hoodie she was wearing to reveal a huge tattoo.  Smiling from ear to ear she said

“Since my dress was so plain, I decided to get this!!”

I was utterly speechless.  Hoping it was a joke, I didn’t say anything.  I just stood there, waiting for a camera crew to jump out and tell me I just got punked, but that didn’t happen.  

“So, what do you think?”  she said.

“Well, that’s permanent!”  was all I could say. 

Where were her friends?  Her mother?  Her sense of self?  I am not anti-tattoo, but I am opposed to getting a tattoo that spans your back in order to accessorize your wedding dress.  How about a backwards necklace, a bow, puffy paint from 1982? 

I am still just surprised that anyone could go through the following thought process:
            1) Try on wedding dress.
            2) Boo! Wedding dress is plain and I am unhappy with it.
            3) What should I do to make this dress less plain?
            4) I know – I am going to get a tattoo that spans my entire back a week and a half before my wedding!

Who does that?  I hope and pray she doesn’t wake up with a huge case of buyer’s remorse, because not only are diamonds forever, but so are tattoos!

I Do Expert

Respondez s'il Vous Plait

I think that the art of the R.S.V.P. has been long on my generation. I notice that people in my parent's generation are quick to respond to a party with regret or with attendance, but I see people struggling with their guest count on a daily basis when planning for a wedding. I inevitably get the question from brides, "Is it OK to call people who haven't replied?" I always ask myself W.W.E.P.D? (What Would Emily Post Do?) Duh!

What a sad state of society that people, who you care about enough to invite to your special wedding day and they cannot even return the card or postcard that the bride already stamped? How hard is it – check yes or no – just like the notes in grade school – do you like me, like really like me?

I had a bride and mother of the bride who took personal offense to those who didn't RSVP. They gave a list to one of my staff members and had her check off names and number of guests as they came in. If the name was not on the list we were instructed to turn the guests away or pull them out of line and consult with the mother of the bride. This was NOT a Hollywood movie premiere, this was NOT the Queen of England's grandson's wedding, this wasn't even a local TV reporter's wedding – this was Jane Doe from Nowhere, USA. She was not a celebrity, she was not even a local a radio or tv personality and from what I know of her, I am guessing she wasn't in the popular group in high school either. It was weird, but in this profession, you have to handle brides, and mother of the brides, with kid gloves, so we proceeded to check guest's names off the list as they entered and most were appalled.

"Hello, can I get your name and number in your party to check against our guest list?" my cute little college co-ed staffer said to what appeared to be the Duggar family, you know from TLC's "19 Kids and Counting."

"Jim Bob Duggar and there are 19 in our family," the patriarch stated.

"Hmmmmm. Let's See. Okay, here you are, but it looks like you RSVPed for only 12, so I will have to ask you to step aside while I get permission from my boss to let you all in." The check-in girl proceeded to call me on the radio and explain the situation. I checked with the mother of the bride and our conversation went a little like this:

"Teresa, we have the Duggars at the front door with a party of 19, but you only have 12 on the list, should we let them all in and change the tables a little to accommodate the extras, it shouldn't be a problem at all."

"If they RSVPed for 12, then only 12 can attend," the mother of the bride said gruffly and matter of factly – no thinking it over or anything.

"Are you sure?"

"I am positive. Please go now!" 99% of me wanted to curtsy and say "Yes your royal highness"

As I head to the front door, I am trying to think of a way to tell this family that only part of them can attend the reception. "Hello, I'm the I Do Expert, and I understand that we have a little problem here with the guest count for your family." Jim Bob does the explaining and counting of all of the children and pregnant wife.

"Well, I have spoken to the mother of the bride, Teresa, and she is only allowing me to admit 12 members of your family to the reception since that was the number that you returned to her. I'm sorry, but only 12 can come in." I felt mean and rude just even having to utter these words to someone. How terrible! I am turning people away from a wedding reception not the hot new nightclub where Justin Timberlake is performing.

After some discussion, 12 Duggars entered and 7 left. I am glad that they were kind to my staff and myself about it, knowing that it was not our decision, although part of me wished that they all would have loaded into the RV and left.

While checking on the progress of the reception happenings, I got another call on the radio from the young woman at the door checking names. I went to the mother of the bride again.

"Teresa, sorry to interrupt your conversation, but I need to steal a word with you. We have your cousin Mary at the front door with her husband and two children. Since you haven't seen her in four years and you were the best of friends growing up, she wanted to surprise you."

"Are they on the list?" she snarled.

"No, she sent a regret so that she could surprise you and....." I was quickly interrupted.

"I don't care if it is the President of the United States, if they are not on the list, they cannot come in."

"Are you serious?" I said. I know! It slipped! I shouldn't have said it, but I just popped out. I was disgusted by this woman. Who doesn't something like this?

So I had to go back to the front door and break the news to Mary, who by the time she walked out of the door was in tears and handed me a gift to give to the bride and one for the mother of the bride.

"Are you sure?" I said.

"Yes, the gift for the bride is something I made for her with all of the photos of all of the women in our family in their wedding dresses and the gift for Teresa is a picture of the two of us when we were 7 playing dress-up as brides. Thank you!"

I couldn't believe it. I would have touch-downed the photos in the parking lot and then run them over with my car.

At the end of the evening, the mother of the bride went to the caterer and said, "I am not paying for all of the food bill"

The head caterer said "Was something wrong?"

"No," she said "but I saw your staff sitting down and eating and I am just not paying you to eat the food that I paid for."

Calmly the caterer said "Ma'am, I am assure you that the food we ate you are not charged for. We always made extra so that our staff who are on their feet for eight hours,serving your guests, can have a bite eat. All of the extras are boxed for you to take home, so you actually get more than you paid for."

"Well fine, as long as I am not paying for you people to eat then that is fine."

Emily Post, the queen of etiquette, and one of the people who fascinates me the most, once wrote that "anyone receiving an invitation with an R.S.V.P on it is obliged to reply, and breaching this standard is inexcusably rude."

I wonder what Ms. Post would say about turning away guests from a party you invited them to for bringing too many people or for trying to surprise you with a reunion four years in the works?

People never cease to amaze, surprise and shock me.


I Do Expert

Father Knows Best

Most relationships develop over time.  You learn to love your friends as family and trust your siblings with your deepest secrets, but the relationship between parent and child has a unique dynamic that you are literally born into.  

It is amazing to see my friends become parents.  They have all told me that they didn’t know they could love someone so much.  One of my friends recently posted on her Facebook that she loves her daughter more and more everyday.  I was fortunate enough to grow up in a house where love, respect, trust and honesty were the foundation of my life.  It is the job of a parent, I believe, to be brutally honest with their children, because if you cannot believe your parents’ honesty, who can you trust – especially in relationships.  

I was sitting at my desk one day when my phone rang.  

“Hello, I Do Expert, this is Mr. Roberts.  I’m Barbie’s dad.”

“Oh hello Mr. Roberts, I just spoke with Barbie and Ken.  I am excited for our meeting in next week.  The special day will be here before you know it!”

“Right, that’s exactly what I wanted to talk to you about.”  Mr. Roberts said in a very serious tone. 

Insert foot into your mouth, I thought to myself.  The couple must have broken off the engagement and the father is calling me because poor Barbie is crying her eyes out at her Barbie Dream Townhouse.  

“Oh gosh, what can I do?”  I said.

“Well,” Mr. Roberts said, “How long do I have to break up this relationship and still get my money back?”

Thankfully this part of our conversation was not in person, because I had to pick myself up off the floor.  I remember Ken telling me how he asked for Mr. Robert’s permission to propose to Barbie on a dream getaway in their pink Winnebago that they travelled across the country in.  

How could this father give his blessing to a man proposing to his daughter, let her get engaged and then weeks later turn around and ask me, the wedding planner, how long he has to break off the engagement and still get his money back?

I was flabbergasted and speechless, both adjectives I never thought I would use to describe myself.  I finally pulled myself together after what seemed like minutes of crickets chirping and tumbleweeds blowing across my brain.  

“Excuse me.  I think the phone cut out.  Did you ask me how long you had to break off the engagement in order to get your money back?”

“Yep, I sure did.”  Mr. Roberts said. 

“Well, I guess that the sooner the better.  All of the deposits that have been made to vendors are only refundable if they are able to rebook the date to another couple, which at this point is likely since we are a year out, but a decision needs to be made soon.”

I could hear him typing on the other end of the line.  “Can I come into your office?”  he said abruptly.

“Certainly, I said – I am here all afternoon, come on in.”

About 15 minutes later Mr. Roberts came to my office.  I escorted him in and showed him to a large comfortable chair, I took the matching chair across from him.  

After getting him a glass of water I said “I know it may not be any of my business, but did something happen?  Is Barbie okay?”

“Oh she’s fine.  I just don’t like that Ken Carson she is engaged to, he is such a dope.  I worry he will never do anything with his life except for continuing to be a model.  My Barbie has so many ambitions, she wants to be a vet, a teacher, an astronaut, a baby doctor, a ballroom dancer, a snowboarder, the lead of a rock band, a race car driver…the sky is the limit with Barbie – she can be anything she wants to be, but I feel like Ken is dragging her down.  They have been dating since grade school, and I want her to experience life without Ken.”

Mr. Roberts and I spoke for a while about Barbie, Ken, relationships, friends and life.  He loved Ken.  He knew that Ken was a good man and would make sure that every dream, wish and whim that Barbie had would be taken care of.  He knew deep in his heart that Barbie would have a very full life.  Barbie is the oldest of the Roberts kids.  Mr. Roberts was blessed with all girls, five of them!  This was the first time he was “giving his daughter away,” and that act is one of the most difficult for fathers around the world.  

A week later, I met with Barbie, Ken and her parents.  Ken and Mr. Roberts are all buddy-buddy, sharing jokes and pats on the back.    I don’t remember much about the rest of the planning because it was easy, elegant and fun – there were no fights and there weren’t any meltdowns.  The wedding was beautiful and so was the bride. 

I think my afternoon with Mr. Roberts was a culmination of stress, worry, caring, and love for his daughter.   It is a delicate dance that fathers and daughters do throughout life.  Fathers are the men that we love and we trust from the beginning.  They are the guys we call when we have a flat tire or a leaky pipe, but when those phone calls stop, it has to be awfully hard for a dad.  

But I do think of her often and hope that she is happy.  I hope that her life is filled with love and laughter.  I hope that her relationship with her father is as strong as ever.  

The week after the wedding, I did get a very large flower arrangement and kind letter from Barbie’s father thanking me for everything I did for him and his daughter.  I would encourage anyone thinking of being a wedding planner to also take a few psychology classes, some comfortable chairs in your office and a healthy supply of boxed Kleenex.

Until next time!

I Do Expert