Adventures in Wedding Planning

|by Julie Eastman, CWS

I know it’s not brain surgery, but I love what I do. I get to make people happy. (I also get to help people spend money … for a living.) There truly is nothing more rewarding than seeing couples’ faces when I take them into their reception area for a private look before the guests arrive. And it’s also the moment when I finally can breathe a sigh of relief, as the events leading up to that day are usually nothing short of, well, adventurous.
One of the first (and most important) things to do after picking the date is selecting the venue. Lucky for us, Fort Worth has so much to offer, from hotels, to museums, to private clubs, quaint barns and even an amazing zoo. A planner can guide you through this process and help you find the perfect place for both ceremony and reception, including the ideal spots for fire dancers and aerialists to perform and a dog to bear the rings. (Yes, I’m speaking from experience here.)
A planner can also shepherd her clients through the budgetary process — the one thing that can really throw folks for a loop. One particularly eloquent father-of-the-bride recently described paying for a wedding in these terms: “It’s like buying a brand-new Mercedes and then pushing it off a cliff.” (Nicely put and also, in many cases, not far from the truth.)
Although I’ve worked with budgets of varying sizes, the bulk of them surpass what most of us make in a year. But no matter if the sky’s the limit or if the funds lean more toward the conservative side, a wedding planner can save money by getting discounts from vendors, as well as a huge savings when it comes to time — the one commodity that no one seems to have enough of.
What even the most experienced wedding planner cannot do, however, is guarantee that the “big day” is all sunshine and pixie dust. In fact, one not so great aspect of the job is having to be the bad guy. I have to take the heat when a guest (who didn’t RSVP) shows up and demands an A-list seat. Or when a groomsman brings his date-of-the-week even though the invite didn’t include a plus-one.
I’ve even been asked to keep things secret from family members. One time I had to break the news to the father-of-the-bride that he could only walk his daughter halfway down the aisle — and then hand her off to her stepfather, who would actually be “giving her away.” Talk about awkward.
Then there are the things that the bride and her family never need to know about. I have had cakes that wouldn’t fit through doorways, cakes that were damaged in transport, things that got broken, names that were misspelled on paper goods … not to mention the constant struggle of keeping dreams within budget. I should probably include “Professional Problem Solver” on my business cards, as there are so many things that just need to be mended and not mentioned.
My biggest piece of professional advice? Every wedding will inevitably have some sort of hiccup somewhere along the way; that’s just the nature of the game. But if you have a solid plan from day one, you’ll be much more likely to stay on track. (And much more likely to find a venue that welcomes fire dancers and four-legged friends.)
by Julie Eastman