When grown women begin removing their high heels and taking off their earrings as a group, there's gonna be a throw-down. Somewhere in the back of my head, I know that. I'm from D.C. -- I've only been a wedding planner on this little island for six years full time. I know what it looks like when, as my former SWAT-commander husband says, "an attack is imminent." I just never expected to see it happen at a Caribbean destination wedding I'd planned, and I definitely never thought I'd be the target. And I certainly didn't think it would happen on camera while TLC was filming my reality show Wedding Island. Brides, you've gotta start choosing your wedding guests a little more carefully! Sheesh!
Let me back up and explain a little bit because, to be fair, this wasn't the first time wedding guests have gotten aggressive with me and my staff. A couple of years ago, we planned a vow renewal for a military couple -- military police as a matter of fact -- and almost all of the guests were military police or military or law enforcement in one capacity or another. But there was one crazy uncle (not a cop) who broke the mold... and sadly, it only takes one person to spoil an entire wedding.
We had three fabulous days of events for this lovely couple who had never had a real wedding -- they got married on active duty in the Middle East and signed papers through a bullet-proof consulate window. Their 10th anniversary vow renewal was an opportunity for the bride to finally have the white wedding of her dreams and we did that. Everything was perfect til the end of their wedding night. I'll spare you the story but the end result was me calling the police to help get our staff off the property safely and sincere apologies from the bride and groom the next morning. Nobody got hurt, but we instituted a few new safety policies at events. Unfortunately, as life goes on and we've done hundreds of weddings without incident, we've gotten a little more lax. Bad move.
It's never the bride who gets mean and aggressive with me -- my clients are my girls (and boys sometimes)... they all know I'd pretty much go to the ends of the earth for them to make their weddings perfect. Whatever they want, need or ask for is theirs (as long as they can afford it), and during wedding weeks, I troubleshoot and keep guests happy so that my clients can be the guests of honor and sit back and have some fun. When there's a problem or an altercation, it's always a badly behaved wedding guest, or occasionally a parent or member of the wedding party.
Let me begin by saying that I'm certain alcohol always plays a factor -- and sometimes drugs. But for some reason, I never really see it coming because these people are all adults and I'm not monitoring their beverage intake or anything else they do. I'm busy running the wedding, keeping vendors on the timeline, and coordinating the events. So when things all of a sudden go nuts, I'll be the first to admit that I'm usually taken by complete surprise. And that's what happened on Wedding Island if you saw our new show last night on TLC. Yikes!
We planned a small wedding for a nice couple from California, and their guests were only their closest friends and family members. The villa was beautiful, and their wedding ceremony on the pool deck with a view of the water was decorated to reflect the bride's taste and style. She was very, very happy. So was the groom. The Maid of Honor (and sister of the bride) was not so happy about the music and was very vocal about it.
The FoB was supposed to DJ, but he didn't show at the last minute so they wanted the bride's sister to fill in. But you can't play MoH and pose for photos while running a DJ system. Physically impossible. I jumped in and made an emergency panic call to my fave DJ and he saved my ass. But even that wasn't enough for the nasty MoH.
She didn't like the music -- which was ridiculous because the bride and groom didn't have a playlist prepared and the DJ was doing his best based on the guests' requests -- and the MoH was getting verbally abusive. I stepped in and offered to fix the problem by playing go-between, remember the DJ was doing me a huge favor. But that only worked temporarily. She and some of the girls started to gang up on the DJ during the reception and I stepped in because they were starting to make a loud stink in the middle of the dance floor. Again, I offered to fix the problem and suggested that they take it down a notch in general because they were "making a scene." I said it nicely and they responded appropriately and I went back to work. Then all hell broke loose. Apparently the girls had a pow wow and determined that I had "disrespected" the MoH. OMG. Really? Really??? Who are these people?
Five minutes later, several women were screaming at me -- threats and obscenities -- and I was standing there with the groom, my staff, and my husband, all of us completely appalled. The bride and groom were still happy -- but the MoH and her girls wanted me upstairs for a throw down. I don't think so. I let the groom know that we would absolutely implement our company security policy and have these ladies removed from the venue if the behavior continued, and he agreed! And he went upstairs and broke up the brouhaha and sent the troublemakers back down... they literally screamed and yelled at me from the pool deck, telling me to come down and fight them. It was crazy. I've never been in a physical fight in my life and I'm sure not going to try it at a wedding I've planned.
The event was nearing the planned end time anyway, so my team had a quick meeting and paired up to do a fast tear down and get the hell out of there. We'd more than done our jobs and the bride and groom knew what was up. Nobody was surprised that we were done. Two of my staff heard three of the women plotting to "jump" me and let me know they were watching my back. I appreciate that, but I'd rather not be in this position in the first place. Generally speaking, guests don't behave this way at the weddings I plan. I've never had women taking off their high heels and earrings to come after me before... that was definitely a new one and something I hope never happens again. Gonna have to add a whole new section to the client guide after this wedding. One of them left an enormous gold plastic ticky-tacky ring behind when she calmed down and we have it on a shelf in our office to remind us to watch our backs.
Here's the thing, brides and grooms. You know your guests. Do you always have throw downs at your family gatherings? Don't play -- some of you know exactly what I'm talking about. I refer to one of my best friend's family parties as WWE events -- it's just a question of who is going to go after whom on any given holiday. So if you have one of those families or groups of friends, you know who you are and you might want to think about preventative steps for your wedding. Either omit the troublemakers from your guest list entirely or make sure that they understand you aren't going to allow that sort of behavior on your big day. Wherever you're getting married. No real wedding planner or wedding venue will tolerate that sort of potentially destructive or dangerous behavior, and if you're here on Vieques Island as my clients, you can bet I have no problem shutting down your event if I feel I'm in danger. I'm telling you, those women had some seriously high, sharp heels and I was scared.
Looking back, I'm still sort of in shock about that entire night. Maybe a little PTSD from almost getting my butt kicked (oh wait, it was gonna be on national television too -- ay dios mio!). I'm just glad we all got out of there okay and I truly hope nothing like that ever happens again. I can only do one WWE wedding per lifetime.
If you didn't see me almost get my butt kicked last night, tune in to TLC's Wedding Island next Thursday at 9p.m. to see it again and have a good laugh at the expression on my face, and then watch our new episode at 10 pm ET/PT. If you want to have a sneak peek at what you're missing, go to the TLC Wedding Island website.
Follow Sandy Malone on Twitter: www.twitter.com/WeddingsinVQS