A wedding planner does more than just organize a special occasion. They orchestrate an event that marks the beginning of a couple’s life together. While that may sound very romantic, for the planner it’s actually a lot of work and requires great flexibility, problem-solving skills, business connections and a people-pleasing demeanor. Weddings aren’t always the “bride in white” and “groom in a tux” affairs that they used to be. Some weddings nowadays may even feature a groom in white and a bride in a tux. Or two grooms or two brides. Or three grooms and no brides. It’s a brave new world, and planners must be aware of current wedding trends. Not to mention the fact that not every wedding is what you might picture in your mind. Different people have different cultural backgrounds and therefore different traditions. As a wedding planner, you need to be knowledgeable of all these differences. You don’t want to accidentally cry out “Mazel tov!” at an Indian wedding or have the caterer make three pork dishes for a Jewish one. Awkward.
It may not look like it, but they’re judging you.
When Bride’s Magazine launched in 1934, weddings were simple events that included a ceremony performed in a church and a reception with an elaborate, tiered cake. World War II ushered in the need for small-scale weddings, because many men tied the knot before going off to war. (You don’t want to spend a ton of money on a marriage that may only last a few months.) During the 60’s, miniskirt-wedding dresses were seen as an appropriate way for women to express their individuality and need for independence in a committed union. The fairy-tale wedding of Princess Diana and Prince Charles set a tone for the 1980’s. Brides-to-be fantasized about wearing a dress with a long, flowing train (a total headache – not to mention safety hazard – for the maid of honor), taking a carriage to the reception and having a crowd of well-wishers bestow flower petals at their feet.
Today, weddings are all about the personal tastes of the couple. Let’s face it – we’re not all flower people. Generally, couples aren’t afraid to break tradition. Furthermore, the bride isn’t the only one pampered any more. Although the groom might do best to stick to this one particular tradition. Couples concern themselves with throwing events that show their guests a good time. For example, it is typical to have an engagement party, bridal shower, dinner the night before the wedding or rehearsal dinner, a cocktail hour before the ceremony, the ceremony itself, a reception and an after reception shindig. Talk about milking this thing for everything it’s worth. Wedding planners have more on their plate now than ever before. And that’s not only because many reception dinners are buffet-style.
This picture gives us vertigo and heartburn at the same time.
Weddings have also evolved to reflect the changing demographic of the United States. The world has transformed into a global village. Many people from different cultures decide to follow some of their own people’s traditions. For instance, a traditional Korean wedding is held in the bride’s family home. A few days after the ceremony, another one is performed in the groom’s family home. Unfortunately, this doesn’t mean you get to double-register at Bed, Bath and Beyond. Planners educate themselves about the varied traditions of their clients before planning their wedding.
In addition, wedding planners are savvy (the good ones, anyway). They can negotiate with vendors, follow a budget, organize venues, stay on schedule, see the big picture and tend to all of the tiny details. This is not a career path for those who cannot keep calm within the eye of the storm. Planners have a huge responsibility. A botched wedding may result in tears or a bad reputation. Or an entire tier of cake being thrown in your face. (Might not sound so bad, but do you really need that much fondant?) The wedding world is small. Scream at the floral arranger and her friend the caterer may not want to work with you. Also, brides can be a fickle bunch. Ever seen Bridezillas on the WE network? Some of those ladies can throw down. One day a bride may want a seven-tiered wedding cake and the next day she may change her mind and opt for cupcakes. You can only hope that day is not the one directly preceding the wedding.
Despite the pressures of throwing a wedding, planners are rewarded with being part of an event that will always be special for the bride and groom. Even if the couple one day looks back on it with regret and sadness, there is no denying that it will be “special.” Planners are able to take the couple’s dream and turn it into reality. How’s that for romance?