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

Let Them Eat Cake!

I have been doing some thinking about cake toppers after a recent incident at a wedding a few weeks ago.  

Maggie was a very nice bride.  She had a wedding and reception that was just her style, simple and on budget.  The bride and groom were very in love.  Planning with them was a breeze and their families got along great.  This was a great match and beautiful event. 

There was really nothing to tell you all about her until I saw it.  I was doing a final check on the room before letting Maggie and her husband into the room.  I walked by their five tier cake and had to do a double take.  Both the bride and groom are white, but sitting on top of the cake was a white groom and Hispanic bride.  I went to talk to the caterers to see if they placed the cake topper, which they had not done.  

So it was moment of truth time, I mean it isn’t like the bride wouldn’t notice that on top of her cake is tiny Hispanic woman looking lovingly into the eyes of her handsome Caucasian groom.  I knock on the door of the room that Melissa was waiting in before the wedding ceremony began.

“Um, hi Melissa, can I talk to you for a minute?”

“Sure!” she said.

“I think we might have a little mix up that I wanted to talk to you about.  We have time to make the correction, but I thought I should let you know.  The cake toppers are wrong, I have one of my staff people headed out to the store now to get a new one.”

“What do you mean they are wrong?”  she huffed.

“I know, I’m so sorry I just noticed.  The groom is fine, but the bride is Hispanic on your cake.”

“Oh that!” she laughed “When I was at the craft store buying them, I grabbed the wrong one and I didn’t feel like returning it.  I thought she looked like me with a tan.”

I have to say I was a little speechless.  I honestly couldn’t believe that she didn’t just pay the $10.99 to get a correct representation of herself on her wedding cake, but, to each her own, right?

This got me thinking about all of the different cake toppers I have seen in my life as a wedding planner.  I don’t think that you would believe me, so I have copied a few pictures for you to see the many different options for brides and grooms to choose from.  There are so many beautiful, elegant and classic toppers out there, but there must obviously be a need for these, because they are mass produced!  I guess I take love too seriously, but I just would never want some of these adorning the top of my wedding cake, and some of the others, I just don't understand.  I will admit that I did chuckle when I saw some of the pictures below, but really, on your wedding cake, in photos that are supposed to last forever.  Let me know what you think and please feel free to add funny cake toppers you have seen too!

Cute and different, if you are into Legos.  At least this company is keeping it tasteful, just a little nerdy.  I give it two thumbs up for being different, classy, creative and true to themselves.
Do I need to remind you that your mother, father, grandparents and children are in the room.  Give me the benefit of the doubt that I know you plan on consummating your marriage tonight, but can you not do "it" ON the cake??
I absolutely hate these cake toppers and anything else that is similar to this where the woman is dragging the man to the alter.  It is creepy and degrading to women I think.  Not all women are so desperate to get married that they drag someone to the church.
Really?  Mermaid Mice.  Really?  Again people these are mass produced with a price tag of over $30! Wow!
So, aren't spies not supposed to tell you they are spies?  Maybe this is their way of sharing secrets with friends and family.   "My job as a data processor is going well Uncle Sal."  Hint, Hint, Nudge, Nudge, Wink, Wink.
Really?  This is what you choose to be on top of your wedding cake.

It is unfortunate the number of the butt grabbing toppers, it was hard for me to choose just one, so I have shared two with you.

Ok, maybe I don't get the European Humor here, but do I need to remind you that your mothers, fathers and grandparents are here.  I would be so embarrassed.

This one was actually called "Groom and Stripper."  Who are you Stu from "The Hangover."  Are you so excited that you married a stripped that you put it on your cake?  Again, I would have to pass on the cake, especially if the strip club where they met was doing the catering.

I almost didn't include this because I didn't quite "get it," but on closer examination, I do believe that it is the bride and groom on top with chainsaws chopping up the men and women trying to get to the top.  And if you look closer, there are actual blood splatters on the cake.  I would not have been able to choke down a piece of that cake.

Oh I get it, the old ball and chain bit, but really? Nothing like starting your life off together on a positive note right?
Yes, you are correct, that is a bride, groom and deer on the top of the cake.  She is a very proud supporter of her man's huntin' skeeels.

Is he stopping her from running away or trying to trip her - either way, is that funny?

I guess this is the reverse of the topper above - the run away groom?  Stay Classy!

Marry me, or else!?!  Wow, nothing screams "we are in love" like a shotgun wedding.

"Hey Babe, It's me. Can't wait to get Married.  I'll call you right back I'm getting another call"

You do not need to have your eyes checked.  Those are two horses cuddling.  This was one of over 100 "animal themed" cake toppers ranging from cuddling animals, like above, to animals kissing to animals doing things that shouldn't be displayed anywhere except for on the National Geographic channel. Weird!
"For Better or Worse, In Sickness and in Health, Til Death Do is Part."

I have no words. 
 I think that somethings can really set the mood for the future of a marriage, and the cake is most certainly one of them!

I Do Expert

We Are Family!

Have you ever heard that song “We are Family” by Sister Sledge?  Probably if you have ever been to a wedding reception in your life, you have heard it at least once, which is why it is on my ever growing list of songs that will absolutely not be played at my wedding reception when that day comes).  Sing it with me now….. “We are fam-a-lee! I got all my sisters with me. We are fam-a-lee! Get up every body and SING!”

Well when I met Stacy and Robert, I was in for a huge surprise about their families.  So meeting with the two of them, was pretty typical.  They wanted a platinum wedding on a bargain basement price, but there so so much one can do to make a wedding spectacular and still remain within a budget.  I can get pretty creative.   I put Stacy and Robert in touch with the I Do Decorator (we wedding professional have to stick together!).  

Stacy called me and said that rentals are far to expensive, she can buy floor length linens, chair covers and sashes for 350 guests off of eBay much cheaper than she can rent them.  I expressed my concern with doing that, as any good wedding planner should.  Not because I want her to do business with my friend, but because so much goes into preparing linens for an event and sometimes quality can be questionable when you buy a thirteen cent floor length linen.  I asked her to please consider the cost to have everything pressed, cleaned, delivered and placed versus the cost to rent them and have someone else doing the placing of the linens.  She was still convinced that the discount linens were the best option.  I reminded her that the reception hall provided linens, so maybe she should use the reception hall white, lap length linens and spend the money on buying floor length white polyester linens on something different to accent the table.  Nope!  Floor length, white polyester linens from eBay it is!

Stacy also believed that she had seen enough pictures and reality shows about weddings that she could make all of the flower arrangements and bouquets.  Again, I expressed my concern that it may be worth spending a little more money on having bouquets created by a professional in order to alleviate some of the stress and timeliness that comes along with working with fresh flowers.  So she decided to order flowers, exotic ones of course, from Discount Bob’s Floral Emporium online.  

So finally the big day rolls around.  It is the day before the ceremony and reception; I meet Stacy and Robert, along with a dozen friends ready to help with the setting up of linens for the reception.  

She has everyone unloading the boxes of linens and chair covers from the truck she rented to get everything to the reception hall in.  Finally, the moment everyone had been waiting for….drum roll please…………the first linen is pulled from the box (which means she didn’t have them cleaned or pressed, just took the word from someone on eBay that they were clean just like buying a pair of underwear and not washing them before the first wear; just because the tags are on them doesn’t make them clean!).  She fluffed it out and it landed on the table perfectly, at a lap length.  It was most certainly not floor length.  She tried another…..lap length.  Her maid of honor tried one, because “maybe the bride was doing it wrong” (P.S. How does one incorrectly put a table cloth on a round table?)  And to Maid of Honor’s surprise and shock…it was lap length.  

The profanities were flowing out of the bride’s mouth as quickly as the tears were rolling down her cheeks.  She couldn’t believe how the person on eBay “scammed” her and that she needed to get to a computer immediately to report the seller to the internet auction giant.  

The I Do Decorator was there decorating the ceiling for the bride.  We had been exchanging glances through out the whole debacle.  I Do Decorator said

“Stacy, what size did it say that the linens were in the description on eBay?”

“90 inches” the bride-to-be huffed.

“Well, 90 inches are lap length linens on the tables here, that is why I Do Expert and I kept encouraging you to ask us before buying linens.”

“But in the picture they were floor-length” she whined.  “I’m suing eBay for deceiving me!!”  

Good luck with that, I thought.  I can see it now, Silly Bride who didn’t listen to any of the experts giving her advice vs. eBay.  I don’t think Stacy would be happy with the outcome.  

Pushing my desire to dance around the room singing “I told you so” aside, I got the distressed bride back on track.  We finally finished placing all 38 special ordered linens and all 304 chair covers on and the room was coming together.  It was time for the I Do Decorator to do her magic and finish the d├ęcor in the room.  

When in doubt with linen sizes, trust the professionals you have hired and who work with these things everyday.

It was now two in the afternoon.  We decided to take a lunch break.  I declined Stacy’s invitation to join her and her group for lunch.  I wanted to go to the nearest watering hole and have some cocktails, but deciding that it would be considered slightly unprofessional to show up for the bouquet making with Stacy and the catastrophe that followed her, I went for the next best thing, a venti caramel Frappuccino.  

When we met for bouquet making, I waited and waited and waited.  I checked my calendar to make sure I was in the right place, and I was.  I waited another five minutes and then called Stacy. 

She picked up the call and all I heard was more sobbing and sniffles.  Surprisingly the flowers from Discount Bob’s weren’t going to be here until next Saturday.  Since, I was alone at the reception site, I did begin dancing my “I told you so!” dance while saying “Oh, I believe you that the fake roses you got from the Dollar Store’s 50% off bin look just like real flowers.”  Stacy decided that instead of taking the time to make bouquets for herself and the bridesmaids, they will each just carry one fake rose from the discount bin at the Dollar Store.

Remember, do not buy your flowers (or anything for that matter) online from a place that specializes in offering discounts, but that doesn’t have an address or phone number and that never sends a tracking number for your shipment.  Probably because they never shipped anything!!

Finally, we are at the rehearsal.  I have been given full reign over this part of the show.  I asked Stacy to tell everyone to be at the ceremony site at 5:00pm even though we don’t anticipate starting the rehearsal until 5:30pm.  Everyone was there by 5:30pm, well everyone except for the bride.  She finally rolled in a few minutes after 6:00pm and we got started.

“I need to get the mothers over here by me, along with the gentlemen who will be escorting them to their seats.”  Suddenly I notice that about a half dozen women get up and begin to walk towards me.  

“Oh Sorry,” I said, “Just the mothers of the bride and groom, not all the mothers in the room.”

“WE ARE!!!”  they all seemed to snarl in unison.  GREAT!!!!!!

So the divorce rate in the United States is what like 50% now, so there have been a few divorces in the family, unfortunately that happens, and I have been trying not to judge people, so I just tried to go with the flow.  

“Okay, so I need to get all of the mothers of the groom here and all of the mothers of the bride here.”  The masses of mothers split.  Now, how does one delicately ask for the “real” mother?

“I need you ladies to line up so that we have the MOTHER of each of the bride and groom last.”  

“What do you mean by mother? We are all the mothers! You are going to have to be specific.”

Ok, so I see we are going to take the classy way out of this awkward situation.  “I need to have the biological mothers of each of the bride and groom last in line, then you are going to line up in the order of marriage dates.  After the biological mother, I want the step mother who was married to the bride and grooms father next.”

Finally I got all of these women sorted out.  I wish I could have made stickers for them, “Mother of the Bride,” “Mother of the Bride 2 & 4” Mother of the Bride 3” etc.  

We FINALLY made it through the rehearsal, and everyone (all seven mothers, four fathers, seven siblings, nine step siblings, and quite honestly I lost track of the number of grandparents in attendance) moved onto the rehearsal dinner.  Again, I declined the kind offer to join this brigade of “family” to what I am sure was an awesome rehearsal dinner.  Part of me did want to get to see who picked up the bill.  But maybe it was every man for himself with the bill since they did rock things out on the classy end of things by going to an all you can eat, $8.99 per person, buffet.  I, one the other hand, went home and had a drink. 

The big day was here, and everyone seemed to be in good spirits, well as good as it can be when most of the mothers don’t speak to one another.  We start gathering for the ceremony processional. 

I had an intern with me for this event, who wanted to see what it was like to be a wedding planner, we will call her I Do Intern.  Today, she is manages a five start restaurant.  Honestly, I would have chosen that too after what was about the happen the night of this blissful matrimonial celebration.  

I charged the I Do Intern with rounding up the mothers while I worked on getting the bridal party members in place.  Anytime I would pass her, she would say, “I am missing the mother of the groom in brown.”  We would find said MOG and place her in her designated position.  As soon as we would turn around, the woman was gone.  I am not sure if she was channeling David Copperfield, but this woman was good!

I found her outside smoking.  “Ma’am you are going to need to come inside and stay in your position so that we can get started.”  

“Fine!” she shouted. 

“You will be in your seat in just a few minutes.”  I said.  She responded by shooting daggers at me with her eyes.

“We are all here and accounted for!!”  I Do Intern says with a proud smile.  

“Ladies!  Gentlemen!  We are ready to start!”  I say in my best cheerleading voice to get everyone excited.

“Where’s! My! Purse!”  I heard someone shouting.  I look over and it is Mother of the Groom in Brown, Queen of Daggers, shouting.  

I cue the pianist to continue with the fluffy music he is playing.  “Your purse is safe in the room where everyone got ready.  It is locked and you can get it after the ceremony, but we are already running late and we REALLY need to get this going.  Guests have been patiently waiting.”

“I!!! NEED!!! MY!!!! PURSE!!!!” She shouted and by the time she finished, I Do Intern was already sprinting to retrieve the purse which I expected to be made out of platinum or housing a dozen gold bars.  She had her purse and we were underway. 

We got everyone successfully down the aisle, married and onto the reception.  Things ran fairly smoothly at the reception.  Everyone was through the buffet line, the toasts had been completed and things were going really well.  

I sent the I Do Intern home, she had experience a lot at her first wedding, thus leading to a phone call saying she had made a career change.  

I was getting ready to head home when I heard a commotion.  I head a woman yelling and someone crying.  I grabbed a security officer and headed to investigate what was going on.  

I see a young girl crying (who I remember being the Groom’s half sister) and Mother of the Groom, Queen of Eye Daggers, with a death grip on the young girl’s arm.  

“Is everything ok?”  I said calmly looking only at the girl, who was probably 12 years old at the very oldest.  

“It’s none of your business!” The mother said.  It was my business.  The girl was reaching for me, it was my business.  

“You are NOT living with HIM!!” the Dagger Wielding Mother said.

Running out of the room was the Father of the Groom.  “Queen of Daggers!  Stop it!!  Leave her alone!” he shouted.

“Ma’am, let the girl go and you and Father of the Groom need to step outside to take care of this matter.”  I Do Officer said.  She looked at the I Do Officer square in the eyes, and pushed the girl against the wall.  I ran right over to her while the I Do Officer grabbed the Queen of Daggers by the arm and escorted her out of the building.  

“She made me choose…..She made me choose.”  The girls kept sobbing.  So, here is what lead up to showdown.  While the slideshow of pictures of the happy couple with all of the parents, grandparents and siblings through the years and sappy music was playing, the Mother of the Groom, looked at the young girl and said, “Your dad and I have something to tell you. We are getting a divorce and you need to choose right now, before we go back to the hotel, who you want to live with.”  Obviously, the girl chose to live with her father.  Poor thing!  I wanted to sweep her up and take her home with me.  

We got everything taken care of.  The Queen of Daggers was escorted to the hotel by the I Do Officer and while at the hotel, the I Do Officer grabbed all of the girl’s clothes and belongings and brought them to the reception hall.  

Everything got calmed down, no one really witnessed the scene.  The groom didn’t find out until the next day, and all was well in wedding reception land.  As I said my good-byes to the bride, groom, mothers, fathers, and siblings, I was laughing because at that time, the unknowing DJ began playing Sister Sledge.  

“We are fam-a-lee! I got all my sisters with me. We are fam-a-lee! Get up every body and SING!”

Oh Sister Sledge, little did you know how ironically funny that song summed up my entire trip through the planning process and down the aisle with Stacy and Robert.

With Love,
I Do Expert