A wedding will not plan itself with little attention from the bride and/or groom, even if you hire an experienced, professional wedding planner. I'm sorry, but that's the facts of life. You can find the best planner in the world and pay her a ton of money and give her an unlimited budget (which rarely, if ever, happens), and she can do the vast majority of the planning for you; however, there are some decisions the bride and groom must make.
Some couples reading this must think it sounds crazy that some brides and grooms have so little interest in their own wedding details because they're up to their necks in every last detail of their own wedding plans. But some engaged couples don't have time -- legitimately -- to take on the minutia of dealing with all the decisions, contracts, vendors, etc. They want to hire somebody to do everything for them.
And we can do most of it. While it makes me uncomfortable to choose certain things on behalf of a client whom I've never met that lives thousands of miles away, if they tell me it's my choice and they don't want to deal with it, it's my job. With that said, there are five things that brides and grooms MUST do for themselves, even if they have a wedding planner:
1. You must plan your own wedding ceremony. We give our clients a planning guide that's easier than Mad Libs but some of them still put it off to the very last minute and are surprised they have to do it themselves. I cannot choose the vows a couple will exchange during the wedding ceremony. These are serious promises you're making before your friends and God (or whatever/whoever you believe in) and you have to decide what you want to say. The "charge to the couple" -- basically the instructions for married life -- is something else important for the couple to select based on their own beliefs about marriage. The one and only time I was left with absolutely no vows from a groom, the bride and I substituted some Dr. Seuss vows that were hilarious. It worked, but did it really mean anything for their lives together?
2. You have to decide whether you're taking your spouse's last name or not, and how you want to be introduced to your guests at the conclusion of the ceremony and when you make your grand entrance at the reception. I can name you if you want me to, but seriously folks, that's a pretty major thing. If she's not taking his last name, there can be blowback from older, more traditional guests if we make it obvious so there are ways around that. And with same-sex weddings, it's even trickier because they have more options. I have to know what you want to be called or I can't do it properly at your wedding. Neither can the minister.
3. Even if you don't know anything about flowers, you have to show me a picture of a bridal bouquet you like, and give me some sort of clue about how you want your wedding décor to be planned. There are literally thousands of example pictures on our Facebook, Instagram and other social media pages -- look and pick something you like. You can really send me a picture of anything from anywhere and I'll work with you on that, but telling me that you want it to be "simple" and you "hate pink" does not give me enough information to plan a "dream wedding" you'll have to look at in pictures for the rest of your married life.
4. Honorees who are being asked to give toasts at your wedding must be selected by the bride and groom, in advance. Otherwise, you'll have a never-ending, round robin of wasted guests jumping up to grab the microphone and add their two cents about you in front of all your family and friends. After a few cocktails, everyone thinks they're a comedian. Toasts become roasts. And it can go on forever, burning up precious dance and party time at the reception. Obviously, as the wedding planner, I have no idea who you'd like to have toast and without that information, I have no way to control what will actually go down at your wedding. You should discuss your selections AS A COUPLE and give your wedding planner the exact names of who you'd like to have say a few words. If this is hard for you, stick to tradition and have the best man, maid of honor, parents of the groom and parents of the bride offer toasts, in that order. And of course, the bride and groom should toast and thank their guests when everyone is finished.
5. Your wedding planner cannot choose your wedding music. I will not take responsibility for selecting the songs you will process and recess to at your wedding ceremony. I won't choose your entrance or first dance song for your reception. If you forget a last dance, I'll figure something out, but the others are too meaningful for a complete stranger (because that's really what I am even if you have met with me once in person when you visited the island) to choose them for you. Beware the wedding planner who leaves your blanks in the hands of a bad DJ -- you could suddenly hear "Pour Some Sugar on Me" blasting after you cut the cake, or bonafide stripper music during the garter removal and toss. Funny as we think it is, you don't want "Closing Time" to be your last dance song even if that's how the staff is feeling when your event finally ends. But if you didn't take the time to fill out the music request forms (and the "do not play" list) ahead of time, you just never know what you'll hear playing at your wedding.
Trust me when I say this blog is oversimplified -- I have a lot of clients who eventually do want to make decisions they initially put into my hands. And then we have to redo all the work we've already done. Be sure that you truly don't care when you say you "don't care" or you're putting everybody through hell planning, and re-planning, your wedding details.
And just for the record, the next time a bride tells me that she "doesn't care" what her wedding cake looks like or what flavor it is, I'm going for something incredibly weird and whacky just so I can blog about it and prove a point. Maybe chocolate with peanut butter filling, decorated with their names and wedding date spelled out in mini Reese's cups would be fun? Enough of me being nice and finding them neutral cakes I can decorate with pretty flowers. They said it was up to me, right? I'm going to have some fun with it.
Until next time, happy wedding planning from Weddings in Vieques and Sandy Malone Weddings & Events.