F*** is my cake!!!"
As weird as it is, I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE a tough love learning situation and people (rightfully so) going off on those who are making big mistakes. This is probably because it is not my nature to do this, but it is such a sense of justice when you see someone finally get called out for falling short. Obviously it sucks if it is happening to you, but then you look back at the moment a month later and think, "I will never in my life forget that lesson". It becomes ingrained into this terrifying memory but in a way that helps you, you know? Or am I crazy... anywho, here are the stories about how I learned some of the biggest lessons of my career in wedding planning.
"Do the videographers know they need to be getting all of this?" I was coordinating a wedding a while back and I had just finished my rounds of telling family members when they will be up to give their speech, and as I was doing so, the father of the bride began giving his speech. Once I finished making sure everyone was set, I went to the edge of the room and took a quick glance around. Before long I noticed that the Maid of Honor was urgently waving me over. As soon as I ask her what she needed she asks me, " Do the videographers know they need to be getting all of this?"
My stomach drops and as I looked around the room, I couldn't find a single photographer or videographer!!! I walked as fast as I could out of the room while trying not to draw attention to myself and tried to figure out where in the world all 5 members of the team responsible for capturing the memories of an entire wedding day would be. So I run into the green room and find every single one of them eating. And the worst part is when I told them that they are missing speeches, their response was, "are you kidding me..." and not in an "OMG I'm missing speeches!" kind of way, but a, "but I just started eating!" way!
This was one of the moments where I wished I was the type of person who could yell at strangers and let them see what a HUGE mistake they just made by not paying attention to the timeline that we had gone over multiple times and that the bride made sure they knew was of utmost importance to her. But, in the end, the maid of honor saved the day and taught me that at any point of the wedding where you will need a photographer or videographer, get them situated FIRST, then get eyes on the bride and groom, or whoever is involved in the activity, and then the DJ can announce it.
Flower girl to the rescue... Outdoor ceremonies are known to be tricky and if you don't pull out all of the stops, you may just miss the main event of the wedding. On this particular wedding day everything was going FLAWLESSLY, and I mean perfect, things couldn't be going smoother! We are right on schedule and it is time to begin sending people down the aisle. So we turn on the officiant's lapel (fancy word for small microphone) and begin the music.
Once the officiant is down at the end of the aisle and most of the wedding party has gone, the DJ taps me on the shoulder and says the lapel isn't working and they're not getting anything on their end. He has a microphone in his hand that he says will work, but he doesn't want to interrupt the ceremony. So I quickly grab it and tell the oldest flower girl to hand it to the man in the middle when she gets down the aisle. Thinking that I just saved the day, I was on cloud 9 and thought, "this day is going to be perfect". But then that microphone doesn't work... and the next microphone that the DJ runs down doesn't work!!!
For the next half an hour, my heart is beating out of my chest and I feel terrible that I can't do anything to help, but the ceremony finally ends and the worst-case scenario is over. The officiant spoke as loud as he could and did a great job doing so. Even with the waterfall roaring just a few feet away, I know people were able to hear most of what he was saying. But now the wedding party is worried that the microphones won't work for the speeches and honestly, so was I! I know it is different, somehow, and less likely to have interference while inside, but I have no idea why! Yet I am still the point person who has to promise to do my best to make sure things will work.
Moving forward, I have made it a point to ask all DJ's or audio leads to bring a microphone with a cord long enough to reach wherever it needs, to ensure, NO MATTER WHAT, one of the mics will work.
And this brings me to my final story on this post.
"Where the F*** is my cake!" At the end of the night, as at most every wedding, the cake is cut by the bride and groom, and then the catering staff takes it to the back of the house to cut it and serve. Or they will cut it right there at the table for guests to take at their leisure.
So at this wedding, the cake was cut and the bride had been dancing for about an hour since then. As I'm watching the crowd dance, I notice her sister say something in her ear and then a displeased look come over her face. I go to the dance floor to see if she is okay and while still dancing she says in my ear, "Where the F*** is my cake?!"
Panicked, I quickly glance the room without letting her see me do so, and without seeing any sign of cake, I calmly said, "let me go find out for you where catering served it." I run to the back with my mind racing thinking, "there's no way they didn't cut and serve the cake yet... right?!" Once I found someone, I asked her where they put the cut cake, to which she responded, " the processional area right outside the ballroom" . To which I thought, "okay... kind of weird, but at least there are a lot of people out there, maybe the bride changed it last minute with the venue manager who handled the layout and manages the catering staff." So I ran back out to tell the bride, "don't worry, your cake is out in the professional area!" ...............
Once more, still dancing, she gets back into my ear to tell me that I need to find whoever is in charge in the back and tell them to grab every single piece of cake that is out there and bring it into the ballroom where it was supposed to be! And you know, a few other choice things that made me feel like I was going to crap my pants! But, I said, "you got it." and ran to the back furious that a team their size, with a staff of 3 leads who seemed to be over the top on top of every detail, with layouts in hand, put the cake in the wrong spot!
So I went back to the woman and told her the bride is pissed and the cake is supposed to be in the ballroom, she wants it moved now. But now, the same woman says, "oh no, it's not in the processional, it is in the ballroom. I don't know why I told you that." The cake was literally in the right spot the whole time! But I quickly realized, no matter how organized a wedding staff is, I can't just assume other vendors are doing everything right. Luckily in the scenario, they were doing it right, they were seriously phenomenal, but I should have been able to know exactly where to look when the bride asked me where her cake was and tell her, that it is right there in the corner by the coffee.
Like I said, I love a good tough love situation and this wedding was it. Oh, yea, did I mention; this was all the same wedding... In the end, everything was still gorgeous and all of the kinks were pretty minor in the grand scheme of things, aside from the officiant's mic not working. But, after it all, I got a great review from the bride and some lessons I will never forget thanks to a sweet bride and her family who is not afraid to say it like it is. I strive to learn from her :)
Main lessons in bullet point form:
5 minutes before a wedding activity is up on your timeline, gather the photographer, videographer, and make sure anyone involved in the activity is in the room and ready. Then have the DJ announce it.
Always have the DJ bring a backup mic with a wire long enough to reach where it needs to.
Have one of your assistants on layout duty. Their main job during the event is to follow the timeline and make sure everything is in its correct place, while you or your other assistant is on vendor duty. They should know where vendors are at all times.