Over the last year, I had the pleasure of speaking to many wedding pros all around the country of all types. I asked them if they could offer up some tips and advice, and also some of their “gripes” when it comes to working the back end on events, sales and planning. We heard from wedding planners, videographers, photographers, DJs, caterers and sales people from all over in the wedding industry. Here’s some things they find may help you in planning, make your wedding day error free and less stressful without wasting a ton of precious time. I also advised them all since I was not using names in this blog, they could say whatever they wanted as a safe place to vent, so there’s some notes included to consider also when contacting professionals for service. Some of the rants are towards the other service providers they interact with weekly too so keep that in mind while reading!
Random rants from wedding pros (things they shake their head at!):
-Sloppy drunk brides/grooms…not a good look, stop it.
-Guests who yell at staff.
-Groomsmen who hit on staff.
-Birch tree themed cakes.
-DJs with stage names.
-Confetti!!!!! Mark’s note: Guilty as charged! But I do clean it up always. :-)
-Caterers who don’t close the bar during formal introductions, first dance and toasts.
-Venues that leave the kitchen door open during first dance and toasts and all you hear is clanking glasses and Metallica on the radio coming from the kitchen.
-Brides who have ring bearers/flower girls under the age of 2 who then lose their minds when those children refuse to walk down the aisle.
-Bridal parties who don’t think it’s necessary to arrive even remotely close to on time to anything.
-Bridesmaids who care more about getting themselves ready then the bride.
-When a photographer takes a couple out for photos during cocktail hour and then never comes back for an hour and a half and when you send staff out to check on them, the photographer gets an attitude and says you are disrupting their work. Meanwhile, there is a room full of 200 annoyed guests, who don’t want another butler passed item, their feet hurt, Uncle so and so needs to have dinner so he can take his pill, the kitchen is freaking out, the champagne is flat and the ice water on the tables has now turned to tepid swamp water.
-Same scenario when the bride and groom tell you there are two toasts and no additional formalities and then all of a sudden (they forgot to mention) that there are actually 6 toasts, a blessing, gift presentation, slide show and hula hoop contest. Say good bye to your stacked chopped salad, which has now turned to a soggy collapsed mess.
-Brides who only care about what THEY want and not what the GUESTS will enjoy. For instance, only serving a surf and turf duet plate when the room is full of vegans and your grandmother has a shellfish allergy.
-Ceremony outside in the last weekend of October in Upstate NY or tent reception in July with no air conditioning and no fans.
-DJs who do whatever they want without consulting the venue…changing the order of events only affects one or two of you, it literally changes everything for an entire staff and may destroy food that cannot be re-made. If it is a plated dinner, the staff HAS to have time to get orders before salad is served (prior to intro’s) or everything will drag another 30 minutes. And please stop saying “your first course is being served now, enjoy!” when we haven’t even taken orders yet or it is a hot item that will take 5 minutes to even begin to plate. It makes us look terrible. My mind set is always that the sooner I can conclude their meal service, the more time they will have to enjoy their guests, visit with family and party! Contrary to what people think, that is the goal. No caterer/venue wants a bride to have guests eating for 3 hours. Help us to help them.
-Which brings me to another point…brides who want a 2 hour cocktail hour, 8 course dinner, late night nosh station and dessert bar with cocktailing at the tables and table side wine service with 6 wines then complain that they only ended up with an hour to dance…not rocket science…no one cares about all this food and couldn’t possibly consume it all anyway…they just want to drink and dance!
-Brides who don’t double check their place cards (or give them to us in no particular order-please alphabetize them!!) or floor plans. Why is it taking so long for intro’s to happen? Well, we are adding chairs, place settings, champagne and water to 12 tables because your floor plan was completely wrong. I actually had a bride once who left off an ENTIRE TABLE and we had to carry in and set up a table in front of all the guests and right through the bridal party waiting in the hall. The kicker…still not enough seats…took almost 20 minutes to correct and the guests were all ready to walk out because they felt like the bride didn’t care enough about them to assign them to a table. We added a plant from the lobby that was the same color and a bunch of votive candles and linen that was close in color as she had not had these guests remembered at any stage so it had no linen, no centerpiece, no favors…awful.
-Florists who are not prepared…we are very happy to be of assistance to you, if you please communicate. It becomes extremely difficult for us to stop and provide you with a set up table, buckets/pitchers of water, scissors, garbage cans, pins, string etc. when you arrive 30 minutes prior to the room opening. We have about a million moving parts to attend to before that first guests arrive so please, if you could only call ahead…we would love to get you everything you need so you can do your very important job for the bride and groom. Also, please make sure that the bouquets and boutonnieres arrive BEFORE the guests.
-Clients who try to book parties with one day’s notice and then get upset when their menu options are limited. Oh and don’t forget the client who calls on Wednesday and wants to book for Saturday and then loses it when you don’t have a room available.
-Wedding Planners who have never worked a day of catering in their lives and have no idea of what it takes logistically to put out a 6 course meal from a shanty tent for 300 people in the middle of a pear orchard on top of a mountain. Or…how long it takes to actually turn a room, promising ridiculous stuff like the cocktail hour being able to be in the same location as the ceremony.
-Brides who book their cousin’s friends sister to do photography/DJ and then I spend the majority of my day babysitting them to make sure they are doing what they need to do at the right time. Your wedding day is not the time for a learning curve to happen.
-Clients who ask you to hold 6 dates for them while they make a decision, then either never call back or get mad when you book one of them even though they have not signed a contract, placed a deposit or even bothered to return the 10 calls you made to them trying to give them first option.
-Clients who change their guest count by 40 the morning of their event.
-A wedding vendor who puts his/her contract above the needs of the wedding that day. Specifically I see this with DJs who don't want to provide an audio line to videographers, or who won't play music during cocktail hour.
-Venues who are irritated with vendors who were left off the dinner list. I realize this is an inconvenience but I do not know one venue/caterer who does not plan for extra and regardless the attitude is unnecessary.
-Photographers who are upset at other people taking photos. It’s the new millennium everyone has a phone camera, get over it.
-Any couple needs to understand that when dealing with vendors (or really any salesperson from any field), no is okay, yes is great, but maybe is a complete soul sucker. Do not string a vendor along with maybe or without replying to follow ups. It’s like irritating the artist before you ask him to give you a tattoo. Just don't do it. Don't talk to a vendor until you’re prepared to make a decision, or let them know that you will not be making a decision for a while.
-More than four people a side in the bridal party. Come on really? You are probably not going to speak to, or be as close to, half of them in less than three years.
-I hate having an initial client consult with people that don't have any ideas on how they want their wedding to be. It's extremely difficult to meet with someone that doesn't have any passion for their wedding and just seem to be doing it because they feel they have to for whatever reason.
-On the other extreme, I have meeting with brides and grooms that think they know more than me and want to micromanage the entire event without placing any trust in the experience of their wedding vendors. I just met with a bride last week that said she watched all my videos and hated every one of them, and that her wedding would not be anything like "that". Then continued to explain to me how her entire wedding was going to be EDM music with no requests allowed whatsoever.
-Wedding clients who insist on micro-managing the music, selecting all of the songs and even choreographing specific musical sets. More times than not, these playlists fall short on results.
-Brides who are uptight on their wedding day and observing the events of the day with a critical eye, ready to harp on any variation from her vision of perfection. These brides can often be found sulking alone at the sweetheart table.
-Prospective clients who try to bully wedding vendors into extreme discounting of their services, pitting Vendor A against Vendor B. Often times, these couples are spending top dollar on their venue but decide to cheap out on entertainment.
-Prospective clients whose first question is "how much"? Even when trying to steer the conversation back to a proper consultation dialogue, these price shoppers don't book 99% of the time.
-Prospective wedding clients who schedule a consultation because some wedding "cook book" recommended they meet at least six vendors face-to-face, but knowing full well that they were already decided on going with another company.
-I hate when someone tells you they want to book, send the contract, and then when you don’t get it and call to find out when it’s coming, they say “Oh I’m sorry, I thought I told you we went in a different direction”.
Rants for guests who are attending weddings:
-Sign the damn guest book people, sign the guest book!
-Leave your beer can outside the banquet hall. And your hidden bottle of liquor. There’s a reason why it’s not allowed inside and aside from that, your PBR can doesn’t match the couples crystal.
-Stay out of the aisle...just stay out of it. Leave your iPhone in your purse or pocket.
-When preparing a toast if you’re doing one at someone’s wedding, don’t start off by saying “for those who don’t know me…” If the MC did his/her job, you’ve already been introduced twice, including 10 seconds before you started talking. Marks Note: One of my friends, Tom Haibeck, wrote an excellent short book on this. Check out: www.weddingtoasts.com/
-Don’t ask the DJ “Hey did anyone tell you the bride’s nickname is ‘George?’”, you should use that and embarrass her.
-If the couple is dancing and having fun, and you’re leaving, just leave. Don’t go into the middle of the dance floor and stop the whole floor. Let them enjoy their precious time celebrating.
-Come to the reception prepared to relax and enjoy. Celebrate the moments and be involved! Don’t watch Youtube videos or TV during toasts on your iPhone. Not cool at all. Decline the RSVP. Stay home.
Mark's note: I created this graphic you can send to your guests when inviting them to your wedding. They may get a kick out of it. ;-)
When searching for service providers during planning:
-Respond to everyone you sent an inquiry to who wrote you back!
-Sometimes, a vendor does respond to your email, but it gets sent to your spam, or maybe emailing from the Knot or Wedding Wire and it has an issue. The phone, usually, never lies---when in doubt, pick it up and use it. You get a real person with a real response, real quick.
-If you have to cancel an appointment with a pro, let them know. We hate it when we block 2 hours to sit with a couple for a consultation and then they never show up because one of them got called into work.
-Email inquiries that say; “Hi, getting married July 29, need pricing.” At the very minimum, on top of what you gave us, we need to know the venue, about how many guests, as well as your time frame. Caterers need to know even more! So many variables go into pricing for some pros.
Advice for couples from pros during the planning process:
-Avoid long end cut rooms (where the dance floor is on one end of the room).
-Don’t invite a ton of smokers who will be outside all night long (if you want everyone dancing).
-Pick a venue for ceremony with a good solid rain backup plan, etc.
-Pick a venue where the bar is in the same room…it simply so much easier and better to keep everyone involved. Put your photo booth in the same space as well. The closer everything is, especially if it’s a smaller wedding, the more involved everyone will be throughout.
-Do not let your guests make pre-event music requests on invitations, etc... you set the entertainer up for failure. Your DJ/entertainer can only play 40 dance songs max if you have 2 hours to dance on a 5 hour reception. If 75 couples submitted 1 song each, that’s half the room who will be mad “their request was not played” and also give you no time for your own selections. Even if you do not submit them all to the DJ for use, they will still remember what they put in the rsvp!
-The MORE you stay inside the reception area, the better party you will have! If you want your guests to dance, you dancing will only help that much more.
Happy planning to all out there. I hope this made some of you laugh and I hope also, someone gets some good takeaway from this. If we all work together, weddings will be that much better. That means the pros, the guests and the couples. Smile, bring the love and positive energy...celebrate!