Yesterday I posted about my first wedding regret: that my mom had to spend the morning of my wedding running around making sure that the venue was being setup properly, and then she had to end her evening by picking up trashing and packing up decorations. Today’s post focuses on my second regret: little day of crises that could have been handled by a wedding coordinator. I use the term “crisis” here kind of loosely – in hindsight these “crises” weren’t huge deals, but the day of my wedding they were truly catastrophic to me. There’s a lot of emotion the day of your wedding, which I admittedly was not fully prepared for. I thought that since I’m an event professional, none of these things would phase me. Oh how wrong I was! I wish there had been someone else there to correct the problems as they were occurring, so that we had less to deal with and more time just to enjoy our ceremony and reception!
The most minor crisis of the day is something that could have been prevented before the wedding started. I ordered a cake topper through Etsy that was labeled as “clear/paintable,” which meant to me that it could be used as “clear,” without being painted. Unfortunately, I didn’t discover until the day of the wedding that the topper was supposed to be painted – it has a printed backing that couldn’t be peeled off like I assumed. As you can see from the picture below, it made the cake topper less adorable than it would have been otherwise.
If I had been thinking more clearly, or shown the topper to a neutral third party (such as a day of coordinator), someone else probably would have realized that that backing couldn’t be peeled off and I could have had time to paint the topper before the wedding.
The next crisis is probably the one that ended up having the most lasting effects. Before the wedding, I gave our DJ a dossier for the wedding that explained everything he needed to know for the wedding. This included instructions to remind people to sign our non-traditional guest books – a custom banner that I designed and a giant Jenga set made by my matron of honor’s husband. Despite instructions to make the announcement several times throughout the evening, the announcements didn’t get made, and only a handful of guests (less than 25%) signed either of the guest books. We spent a lot of time choosing our guest books – we wanted them to reflect who we are as a couple, and we wanted items that we’d actually use and look at again in the future. I think we chose the right items – we just didn’t get very many guests to actually sign them!
On a similar note, we also asked the DJ to remind folks to grab a wedding favor before they left. For our favors, we decided to make mix CDs. I borrowed the idea from my good friend Kaitlyn who got married in 2013. Throughout our relationship, my husband and I have always enjoyed making mix CDs for each other, so we thought it’d be cute to share our tradition with others. Plus the majority of our guests had to travel more than 100 miles to come to our wedding, so I thought our guests might enjoy listening to our CD as much as I enjoyed Kaitlyn’s CD as I drove home from her wedding.
However, no announcement was made and we now have about 100 mixed CDs in handmade envelopes sitting on a shelf in our guest room. If we’d had a wedding coordinator, she would have realized that the announcements weren’t being made and reminded our DJ to do so. Then we’d have had more people sign our guest books…and we’d have fewer leftover CDs. I’m considering handing them out at Halloween, or maybe giving one to anyone who knocks on our door. I’m sure the mailman would enjoy one! (Kidding…both about Halloween and mailman! But I just can’t bear the thought of throwing them away!)
Finally, the most major crisis of the evening: we forgot our cake knife. I had grand plans. We were going to cut the cake with a cake knife and server that belonged to my mom’s parents, both of whom are no longer with us. My grandparents got the set when they were living in Alaska and it is a beautiful set. The handles are made out of intricately carved ivory – they were a gift from one of the local Inuit tribes whose children attended the school my grandparents taught at. I thought they’d be a great way to honor my grandparents’ memory at my wedding. And it would have been. Except we forgot them.
They were left sitting on my dining room table. Have you ever tried cutting a giant wedding cake with a plastic knife? Speaking from experience, I can assure you it is not easy. We only had to cut one piece to smash in each other’s faces but I still feel bad for my fairy godmothers who had to cut cake for all of the guests using only plastic cutlery!
Now, you may wonder, how would a day of coordinator saved us from this mess? First of all, the cake table was set up in the morning. An experienced coordinator would have looked over the set up and asked about the knife, and there would have been time for someone to run back to my house and get the knife. Or, if no one had realized in time, most experienced coordinators bring spares of really important but often forgotten items, like a cake knife. It wouldn’t have been the cake knife I’d planned on using, but it sure would have been easier than using a plastic knife!
No matter how carefully you plan and prepare for events, there’s always something that goes awry. That is just how it goes – and the larger the event, the more things there are to go wrong. Having someone at your event who’s not there as a guest can make a big difference in the success of your event. Coordinators know how to participate without being involved; they watch for minor issues and can intervene before anything happens. Coordinators have fresh eyes, and they’re less emotionally involved in the whole shindig, allowing them to spot problems early, make impartial decisions, and deal with the inevitable chaos. Obviously coordinators aren’t miracle workers – they’re just people. But they’re the people you want to have on hand to make sure that the biggest (and most expensive) party you’ll ever throw is a smashing success.