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What the Bride Wants, the Bride Gets -- Wedding Planners Don't Make the Big Decisions

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The wedding is all about the bride and the person she is marrying -- traditionally, it was more about the bride, but that's changing. Regardless, for the purposes of this blog, let's assume that I mean the bride and groom, or brides, or grooms, whenever I use the term "bride." It's just going to make it easier for me to write and you to read.

There seems to be a misunderstanding amongst some about WHO makes the decisions and choices for the wedding events. The clients choose the venue, the lighting, the food, the beverages, the music and pretty much everything else you can think of. If they've decided not to make a ceremony out of cutting the cake and are serving just a dessert bar with no photo opportunity, that was the bride's decision. I just implemented it. If she doesn't throw her bouquet, it's not because we forgot to do it. It's because she specifically decided she didn't want to follow that tradition.

If the bride is walking down the aisle alone even though her father is there, that's a decision she made for a personal reason. I had nothing to do with it other than to get the father seated and send the bride down the aisle. So having six martinis and then taking me aside to tell me how horrible I was to leave her father out is pretty much a waste of time. I'm sure it makes the person feel better, but you're yelling at the wrong person. That said, I'd rather they tear me up and leave the bride alone on her wedding night.

Some brides want long, drawn-out toasts after their wedding dinner -- with six or more people on the list to speak, and me under instructions to hand the mic to anybody else who wants it when the first ones are finished. Other clients want only the Best Man and Maid of Honor to toast -- and then they want the mic put away, period. They do not, for whatever reason (could be a drunken relative with a history of embarrassing them, could be they just HATE sitting through long toasts at other people's weddings), want a line of friends to get up and wish them well, no matter how good their friends' intentions might be. My job is keep control of the microphone and the group, and direct them on to the next planned activity as a diversion -- usually I get a LOT of help from the DJ with some get-up-and-dance music. Or that's when the bride and groom do their first dance. Whatever the timeline and however limited the toasting, those are all details the bride has decided in advance and that my company must execute on her behalf.

What's amazing is the number of times I've been eviscerated by inebriated guests (even parents) because I didn't give them the microphone and let them do exactly what the bride was worried about in the first place. Get a grip people -- I'm not doing this to be personally mean to anyone. I'm doing what the bride wanted and I'm not going to explain that when it's happening because that would be unprofessional. So instead, rant at me and make yourself feel better. Then you don't need to let the bride have it too. It's her wedding night, after all.

Some travel information packets (the destination wedding version of a Save the Date) have verbiage that says the weekend is "Adults Only." It's written in a cute way, but makes it clear that when the real invite arrives, the little darlings will not be included. So if you're starting to plan your travel, you should also be starting to make childcare arrangements. Again, the decision not to include children in their wedding weekend was made by the guests of honor, not their wedding planner. So getting mad at me isn't going to help the situation one way or the other. The decision has been made and other guests have made arrangements for their children. Do the same or don't attend. But be polite about it. You would not believe the abuse some of my brides have taken from nasty family members and friends. And I know you're thinking "they're not really friends if they can't work through this," but the truth is that it's not usually somebody close to the bride making a stink. It's an uncle they're not close to, or the groom's college roommate's wife, or somebody else who wouldn't be missed if they didn't come to the wedding at all. I have received the most flaming emails from guests who had been told to leave the kiddos at home -- one of them even cc'd every single wedding guest and called me a bad person -- as though I personally decided I didn't like his kids and didn't want them to come to Vieques. Really? REALLY??? Somebody's giving this wedding planner a little too much credit. I plan weddings that include children all the time as long as the bride is inviting them.

I recently blogged about brides who are struggling with the public breastfeeding issue at their upcoming weddings, and found myself under a total social media attack as though I personally have a problem with breastfeeding. I don't. I help accommodate guests' needs on a regular basis, and even found and purchased a forgotten breast pump on one occasion. Because that's my job. However, my critics feel that assisting the bride with making sure her conservative family isn't offended at her wedding is a horrible sin. Actually, it's not. It's my job. Anything a bride wants, within reason, it's my job to facilitate. In this case, the bride would prefer the MoH not breastfeed uncovered at her wedding dinner table and has offered her a private bedroom in the villa or suggested gifting a pashmina that will match her bridesmaid dress, and both offers have been slapped down. When the wedding day arrives, I'll try to talk politely on the side with the MoH and see what we can work out. It's certainly worth a try because I want the girls to speak to each other after the wedding weekend. If they don't, it won't be my problem or my fault. I'm just doing my job.

Here's the thing that guests -- especially drunk ones -- seem to forget: I'm the wedding planner, NOT the bride. You don't like the lighting, that's too bad. I'm glad you told me because telling the bride would be very rude. But at the end of the day, I didn't choose it. Nor did I decide to have a beer-and-wine-only bar to spite the guests. That's another decision made, and paid for, by the bride. The decision not to serve desserts at the beach party was hers too -- we gave her several options. And the decision to use a paper runner and wear stilettos on the sand was definitely a very bad one, but I tried to talk the bride out of it and she wouldn't listen and she told me to have the boys put down the paper runner so I did. What was I supposed to do, ignore the bride's instructions? Get into an argument with her at the end of her aisle? Obviously not. Which is why I find it so incredibly bizarre that guests think it's perfectly okay to approach the wedding planner to criticize or verbally attack any aspect of a wedding where they are just a guest. No toilet paper in the bathroom? That is absolutely my responsibility and never should have happened in the first place -- I'm on it, and thank you very much for telling me about it before the bride saw that. But the rest of it is really something you should just sit back and enjoy -- watch if you don't want to participate -- but let the bride and groom, or brides, or grooms or whoever happens to be getting married enjoy the lovely wedding and reception they've planned without the downer of your negative opinions. It's just so, so very wrong.

I'm not going to pretend I haven't sat at weddings throughout the years and been a little snarky with Bill, or my mom, or a friend (although I don't make it to many weddings anymore as a guest because I'm usually already running one that weekend here on the island). I'm human and some of those centerpieces were hideous and some of the food has been really bad, so yeah, I gossip just like anybody else. But I can't imagine ever thinking it was appropriate to openly criticize the choices the bride has made for her wedding to the professional staff she hired to execute her plan. Or even worse, saying something unkind to the bride herself. I've heard the worst things said to my clients and always wonder if the guest is suffering from a disease that makes them blurt out inappropriate statements at just the wrong time. Here's an example:

Tacky Guest: "What a shame the DJ is so bad. People would probably be dancing if the music was better."

Bride: "This is the playlist that we gave him (looks mortified) but you can make requests, just tell him what you want to hear."

Tacky Guest: "Oh wow. I thought you guys had better taste than that (uncomfortable laugh) -- I'll go talk to the DJ and see what I can do to get this party going."

No really, people say things like that all the time without thinking. I've heard remarks about cake flavor, signature beverage selection, even the bridesmaid dresses and for some reason it isn't clicking for the guest that the bride was the one who made the selections. And the bride always looks so hurt, even if she keeps a brave smile on her face. What is wrong with these people? I wish I could smack certain guests but our insurance company won't let me.

Lesson of the Day: If it's not your wedding, keep your big mouth shut, unless you're complimenting or thanking the bride. Certainly if there's a problem, bring it to the staff's attention, but pointing out how ugly her new mother-in-law's dress is to the bride will not thrill her when she's spent a couple thousand dollars on pictures that will help her remember that dress for the next 50-plus years. Be thoughtful. If you're already married, remember how you felt on your wedding day. If you haven't had your own wedding yet, think about how you would want your guests to treat you. And then, still keep your mouth shut.

Until next time, happy wedding planning from Weddings in Vieques and Weddings in Culebra!

Sandy