Feeding the Vendors

June 29th, 2009
The guests get the gorgeous place setting.  Photo by Carasco Photography.

The guests get the gorgeous place setting. Photo by Carasco Photography.

So, your photographer, your DJ, and your day-of coordinator all gave you contracts saying that you have to feed them dinner during your event.  Fair enough.  Now, how do you manage this?  A surprising (to me) number of my clients insist that I sit at a table with their guests and eat dinner while everyone else is eating.  As much as I enjoy meeting new people and getting to know the family and friends of my clients, this is not always the smoothest way to handle the situation.  Your other vendors have their own schedules and interests, but for the coordinator, during dinner is often a busy time.  I may be able to eat just one bite of food before I need to jump up and do something, like find the best man for a toast or remind the caterer who has ordered a vegetarian meal.  This can be disruptive to the other guests at the table, or at least surprising.

I would suggest that you set aside a small table near the kitchen or in the back room for your vendors and inform the catering manager that he or she should ask the vendors for the most convenient time to serve them dinner.  For me, once the serious dancing gets underway, I finally have time to sit down for a moment and eat.  The DJ may need to eat during the guests’ dinner.  The photographer may hardly have a moment to sit down at all but will eat when she can.

The most important thing is communication.  Talk to your vendors and to the person in charge of serving.  You can save yourself many headaches this way.

Becoming the Grown-up (Part Two)

June 15th, 2009
Groomsmen prepare for the wedding

Groomsmen prepare for the wedding. Photo by Carasco Photography.

You’re joining the ranks of adults by getting married.  There are lots of new things to think about.  One very important part of the planning process is how you work with your fiance.  This applies to both brides and grooms.

A mistake some brides make is in how they deal with their fiancé in the wedding planning process. Some men like to have a hand in the process and others do not. My experience is that the way you work together on planning (or fail to work together) sets a pattern for your married life. Once the wedding is over, you will be planning everything in your lives together. This is a wonderful time to get used to the idea. That is not to say that you must compel your fiancé to take part. Rather, be the grown-up and talk to him about your hopes, your expectations, and your wants. Ask him how he sees himself participating in the planning. If he says, “I just want you to be happy. Do what you want,” then you know that you only need to keep him informed along the way. But you may be surprised about what he says. Keep the discussion going if it is productive, and begin planning together the adventure that is your lives.

An unfortunate number of grooms don’t think much about the wedding planning process, even though it affects them tremendously. If you are about to marry the woman of your dreams, be sure to talk to her about how that is going to happen. Don’t assume that she wants to do it all herself. Wedding planning is a long, complex, sometimes difficult process, and your bride-to-be will need your support, at the very least. You may even have skills and connections that will make the planning easier. Talk to each other and figure it out. This is what adults do, after all.

Why You Want a Day-Of Coordinator (Reason Number One)

June 8th, 2009
The sweetheart cake atop the stand full of mini-cakes

The sweetheart cake atop the stand full of mini-cakes

You know how they always say that you should hire a day-of coordinator for your wedding, just in case something happens?  Well, here is what happened this weekend:

It was a beautiful June Saturday in Chicago.  Gospel Fest was in full swing downtown, along with the Printers’ Row Book Fair and a soccer game.  I think there may have been at least one baseball game, as well.  I was the coordinator at a morning wedding at the Columbus Park Refectory, with the reception at Adobo Grill in Wicker Park.  The bride’s home, where she and her bridesmaids were dressing was in Melrose Park. All these places are located along the notorious Eisenhower Expressway, a highway that I have personally seen jammed at all hours on every day of the week.

The day began well, with the rental chairs showing up early for the ceremony.  The florist, however, was late.  I called him and he said he was 10 minutes away at the bride’s home, dropping off the personal flowers.  45 minutes later, he showed up to decorate the ceremony venue, apologizing profusely and saying that traffic was very slow on the highway.  He arrived about 10 minutes before pre-ceremony photos were to be taken–except that the bridal party’s limo had not yet shown up.  He got the flowers and ribbons in place and sped off to the reception venue.  The limo arrived (just a little late), dropped off the bridal party, and went back for the bride.  Photos were taken.  Guests arrived.  Boutonnieres were pinned.  I began locating everyone for the processional.

The bride, however, was nowhere to be seen.  After the time the ceremony should have begun, she sent a text message from the road to say that they were on their way.  A while later she sent another to say that they were close by.  And then another to say they were stuck in traffic and not moving.  Finally, a full hour after she had expected to arrive, the limo pulled up.  She got zipped into her dress in about 3 minutes flat and the processional began.

Every detail was planned.  The flowers even matched...

Every detail was planned. The flowers even matched...

At that point, I hurried off to the reception location.  Oddly enough, I had no problems with traffic.  Someone has to live the charmed life, I guess.  I arrived at the restaurant about 45 minutes after I had planned to be there.  The florist and baker had been there and made things beautiful.  The restaurant staff had everything properly set.  But the DJ wasn’t there.  I called him and he was (surprise!) stuck in traffic.  He ended up getting there about an hour late.  Meanwhile, the guests were arriving for the reception, and the restaurant manager was keeping them out of the party room until everything was set.  With the help of the restaurant staff, we loaded in the DJ and got him set up in about 10 minutes so that when the guests walked in, music was playing and no one ever knew what a mad scramble it had been to make everything perfect.  Fortunately, I was on the spot and could make it easy for the DJ to get in and set up.

...the bride's purse!

...the bride's purse!

The party began: appetizers, drinks, music, conversation.  But the bridal party had gone downtown to the lakefront to take photos.  (You can guess where this is going, right?)  Two full hours after the guests arrived, the bridal party got to the reception.  Some of the guests had actually left by that time.  Instead of having 3-1/2 or 4 hours for a reception and for all the elements the couple wanted to include, we had to jam it all into about 2 hours: first dance, dance with parents, cake cutting, bouquet toss, garter toss, toasts, not to mention giving the bride and groom an opportunity to greet their guests.  The whole schedule had gone out the window.  I had to improvise a new one and get everything done before the guests left.  We got it all in, but it took some quick thinking on my feet.

The whole day was like that: The schedule we had worked on so carefully became suddenly useless and I spent the day making up a new one on the fly.  At the end of the day, the bride told me that she was very, very pleased with how the day had gone.  I felt like I had really earned my keep that day.  I had been hired as insurance, just in case, and when things did go wrong, I kept the day on track.