The balancing act between wedding guest and wedding professional is a hard line to walk for most in our industry. How do you let go and relax when you’re not allowed to run the show? See what Tanya had to share about her own experiences as a guest and her advice on staying out of the details when you’re not the one in control.
In the words of Cogsworth from the famous Beauty and the Beast song, “life is so unnerving, for a servant who’s not serving”. Oh, how right you are you clever little animated clock.
I’ve been to hundreds of weddings… each time in the same dress, sober, dateless. I’ve listened to, I’d estimate, over 400 wedding speeches and watched as many first dances.
Occasionally you allow yourself to get lost in the moment but as a Wedding Coordinator, you are on high alert from the moment you enter the venue and that control never slips. Even if things seem under control you never take it for granted because with so many people and so many variables, absolutely anything can happen. You’re always one step ahead.
When people ask us (leaning in with morbid curiosity and a wicked grin on their faces) “has anything ever gone terribly wrong?”, you indignantly reply, “no!”, because it’s your job preempt what may happen and to put a stop to it before it does. You’re a highly trained trouble-shooter and you’re never off duty.
So, what does this mean when that day finally comes and you’re invited to a wedding… as guest?!
Well firstly, a Wedding Coordinator has exceedingly high standards when it comes to wedding guest attire, so it’s a challenge from the off but they won’t disappoint. You know that exceptionally well-dressed wedding guests are rare. You won’t buy from certain stores as you’ve seen their full product line and you know you risk a twinning incident. (I once wore a Comino Couture dress to a wedding yet still took a spare as the risk was too great.)
The invitation told you everything you needed to know; you’ve picked up on the couple’s clues. You’ve already figured out which colours to choose and this extends to your expertly presented gift-wrap, which not only compliments the wedding florals but also your own outfit. (For the record, I loathe people with poor gift-wrap etiquette or greetings cards hurriedly written in a taxi. A wedding is no place for your smudged biro!)
You plan your survival kit well. Chances are you have a bag with spare shoes in it (I’m sorry but you won’t catch me dead in awful £2 flipflops, I’d rather bleed to death through my toes.) A dental kit, snacks in case they haven’t added canapes, blister plasters, tissues, your own confetti and so on – check! Beware, this often makes you the go-to person in an emergency.
You’re low maintenance for the wedding couple – you won’t text, email or (heaven forbid) contact via social media to ask about parking, bedrooms, dietary needs and so. You pick up the phone to the venue and take the pressure off your friends.
However, in spite of all this, it’s so hard to switch off and ease into the role of wedding guest. Really hard.
From the moment you arrive your eyes dart around the venue scanning the staff, the service and the facilities. If the venue is a competitor then you are staunchly unforgiving, you lean in and quietly nod to your plus one, “there’s two light bulbs out up there” tut tut.
So, now you face a dilemma and the choice you make will dictate the rest of your day.
You can either 1. Give in to the professional side of you and remain on high-alert, knowing that for the rest of the day you will be called upon for emergencies and people will constantly ask you, “so how does this compare to one of your weddings?” (oh puh-lease!) or 2. You join ‘em.
A drink before the ceremony and at least two more afterwards should do it. There! You are now impaired. You are now unlikely to notice those cobwebs and, if you do, you’ll remind yourself that it’s no big deal in the grand scheme of things. When you’re told at the bar, “sorry madam but we’ve run out of Aperol”, you’ll graciously accept their offer of a G&T (whereas sober you would have muttered something along the lines of how heads would roll for that in your venue).
You see, I’ve taken my inner Monica Geller to weddings many times and it only serves to p*ss off the staff when you meddle. Plus (and most importantly) YOU WON’T HAVE ANY FUN!
It is very important that you enjoy yourself. I know, this is an alien concept to you and I know there are things that are making you twitchy, but if you’re needed someone will come and get you.
I confess that I am a terrible wedding guest, I genuinely do not enjoy myself as I’ve actually forgotten how to relax at a wedding (maybe I need more practice?!). However, at my sister’s wedding, I really wanted to enjoy the experience as her sister, not as a Wedding Coordinator. I needed to be a guest that day, I had to experience the day and not micro-manage it.
It was extremely hard, yet with the help of Madame Clicquot I had a fantastic day. I didn’t intervene and ask the staff about the time frames. I didn’t meercat my head through the entire day, checking on things that didn’t concern me. I didn’t assist the photographer. I didn’t meddle.
I did what wedding guests are meant to do. I wandered off, I didn’t pay attention to the Toast Master, I was oblivious to the photographer, I saw the wedding through the eyes of a guest. I laughed, I cried, I had an amazing time – and somewhere there’s a photo of me dancing in flipflops to prove it.