Don't Ambush Your Wedding Planner

So why would anybody choose to ambush their wedding planner instead of preparing her for the insanity that is their family for their wedding weekend?
05/23/2012 12:31 pm ET Updated Jul 22, 2012

You'd think I would claim to have "seen everything" after planning more than 400 weddings on Vieques Island in the Caribbean. Not so. I never cease to be amazed by the things that come my way. My clients have ranged from Puerto Rican royalty to Wu Tang Clan lookalikes from the West Coast. Some weekends I feel like I could be a character in a reality show called "Ambush Your Wedding Planner." Sort of a post-millennium "Candid Camera" where you throw insane scenarios at a wedding planner to see how she's going to react. But here's the thing -- if something dramatic is going to happen at your wedding and I know about it in advance, I'm totally ready for it.

A wedding planner's job is to make sure your special event runs smoothly no matter what. That's a challenge here on Vieques Island where nothing meets the standard of "normal" and where getting anything done on a timeline is nearly impossible. Everyone (and everything) that comes to Vieques Island for a wedding takes either two boats or two airplanes to get here. It rarely arrives on time, and it's often not what we expected when it gets here. Sometimes that includes the clients and their wedding guests.

I facilitate events and manage guests as necessary (answering questions, helping schedule activities, etc.). Sometimes I'm a bouncer (no, children are not invited and no, just because you ignored the "adults only" instruction on the invitation for the whole weekend that doesn't mean we're going to let your children join the festivities), sometimes I'm a therapist (blended families can make for interesting weekends and I will not let your intoxicated grandmother beat up the MoH/your sister at your welcome party), and sometimes I'm a security guard (picture 15 unsupervised little boys eyeballing a giant tower of cupcakes before the bride has even arrived at the reception venue). My goal is to give you the perfect wedding, whatever it takes.

So why would anybody choose to ambush their wedding planner instead of preparing her for the insanity that is their family for their wedding weekend? It's important for me to know if there are problem children, alcoholic parents, un-medicated bipolar relatives, and other potential dramas, or giant secrets to be revealed to your family during your wedding weekend. My all-time favorite surprise moment took place at a wedding rehearsal three years ago when I had to tell the Jewish mother-of-the bride that her daughter was a witch and that her wedding officiant was a Wiccan priest. To her credit, the MOB postponed the anticipated stroke, pulled herself together and made it through the wedding weekend with poise. But was that necessary? Couldn't that information have been imparted to me prior to their arrival at the wedding destination? What made the bride think that I was the appropriate messenger for something like this?

On the glass is half-full end, disasters have often been averted by alerting me and my team ahead of time to potential madness and drama. We've removed relatives from numerous events when they were "over-served" and needed a safe escort to their accommodations. We've "escorted" cousins, moms, dads, sisters and on one occasion the groom, upon the bride's request. If I know the situation is likely to occur and how you want it handled if/when it does happen, I can take care of the problem in a smooth manner that won't attract attention and detract from your big day. No one has to poop on your party to ask you whether it's okay to take the guest out the back door because we already know what to do.

You don't have to be BFFs with your wedding planner to loop her in on the things that are going to make your wedding weekend stressful. You just need to understand that, like a doctor, she can't diagnose and fix the problem if you don't tell her where the problem is. I often remind people that we are event planners, not magicians. We can't read clients' minds, although we'd like to.

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