Thursday, July 12, 2012

Smile and Nod

Has there ever been a time that you just had to smile and nod? There are lots of times as a wedding planner that you just have to "smile and nod." Typically it is the moments when an idea is introduced that does not go with the theme, style, or feel of the wedding. However, they REALLY want to have it. So, initially, we smile and nod. Then later, Courtney and I brainstorm on how to make the idea flow better while still achieving what they want. Other times is with a vendor on the day of. They may not be doing their job well and causing us more stress, but they come up to us trying to justify their actions/comments and we just smile and nod. There is no reason to burn bridges. We take it as a learning experience and take notes so if we ever have to do an event with them again, we know how to handle them.

I can only think of one instance where I had to literally hold my tongue to the point of sacrificing my blood pressure and Courtney was literally speechless. Curious?? Here is a "dadzilla" moment..

We contracted this bride and groom about 5 months out from their wedding. They were a super sweet couple and they had pushed their wedding date up significantly because the groom was getting deployed right after the wedding. We chatted, met the bride's mom, and they signed a contract on the spot. It was a really small wedding of about 40 people in a little inn in Durham. The ceremony and reception was all taking place in the same spot. It was a day of service - which means we confirm all the vendors, oversee set-up, take down, and direct the entire weekend from the rehearsal to the end of the night. We gave them some vendor referrals, but beyond that, we had nothing to do with the design or actually planning the wedding. They invited us to the rehearsal dinner and we had a great time chatting with the guests and the bride and groom. It was a stress free wedding for us. The couple was laid back, so easy going, and generally just happy to be getting married. They were very concerned with their guests and it was important that all guests had a good time. They wanted everyone to be comfortable and happy - they were just that kind of people.

So, what happened? To set the scene: Their families were a little complicated. The ceremony was held in the parlor and then they had dinner in the dining room which was attached to a small room that had a mirrored (super heavy) table that had the cake on it. The table was probably 5 feet in diameter and the cake was set right in the middle. We had planned on eating in the parlor as the guests were eating (after they had all gotten their food of course), but the bride insisted that we sit at a table, she had reserved us some seats. However, the brother of the bride and his date were sitting in our seats. No big deal, we said we would just go eat in the parlor. No, no, no, she insisted we sit in the brother and date's seat, at the head table! We tried to assure her that it was no big deal, but she really wanted us to, so we sat and ate quickly. Right as we finished, the DJ had arrived for the second part of the night, the dancing - downstairs. We head down to check in, and make sure the space looked good and was ready for guests. Not 2 minutes after we get down there, the sister (of the bride) comes down and says that there are kids running around the cake table and her dad (actually her stepdad) is worried about them touching the cake. Ok, we can go see what is going on. 

We head up and there is nothing but guests in the dining room chatting and visiting. No kids are running around, but I see some sulking at a table nearby. The bride and groom are out getting some air on the porch. We survey the room, and see nothing amiss and then I made the mistake of making eye contact with the stepdad. He narrows his eyes, and points to me and gestures me over. This did not look good. Courtney missed that whole exchange and so she blindly follows me not thinking anything is wrong. Oh boy. To be honest, I can't really remember everything that was said, I think I blocked it out of my memory. But, this is what I remember. He said that there were kids playing around the cake and if they touch it our it falls of the table, or if anything happens to the cake, their is going to be a problem. At this point, his face is red, his voice is rising. I decided right then and there that my pride needs to take a back seat and just take what is coming next. Mostly because I did not want this to be the memory the guests have of this wedding. It is getting quieter and quieter in the room and I am just praising God that the bride and groom were outside mostly because I knew that this would upset them and cause a fight between them and the stepdad. He goes on to saying that we are the planners, and the casual attitude is unacceptable (????), and he spent a lot of money on this wedding and if he does not see one of us at all times, there is going to be even bigger problems. Then he continued to talk to us like the hired help and ask if we understood. A curt "sure" came out and we walk away. Courtney is wide eyed and she is getting red in the face. We stand and take our spot "so that he can see one of us" in the corner and plaster smiles on our faces.

The whole night, we mumble back and forth, make a joke out of it with each other, and try to just shrug it off. The brother was just as rude to us when he was being announced basically blaming us for the fact that the DJ had a delay from when we lined him up to starting the music - like we had something to do with the DJ' s technical difficulties. At that point I responded that I am not a DJ - sorry if he was confused. The best part of the night was the fact that guest after guest kept coming up to us and saying, "I'm so sorry for that," "you did not deserve that, you guys have done a great job" "You took that like a champ!" Obviously they saw the ridiculousness in the situation and did not think we were at all deserving of the verbal abuse. We were just grateful that the bride and groom had not heard, we did not want to stress them out. Well, about an hour before the end of the night, the bride and groom came up apologizing profusely. Someone had told. They felt terrible and they knew that we had done nothing wrong and the bride threw in some choice words for her stepdad and assured us that we were great and would recommend us to anyone.

To me, that is all that matters - they hired us - they were happy. In the end it is just one more war story from our glorious job and one that we can actually laugh about. Lesson here: Be the bigger person, engaging in a conversation with this man would have not only brought more attention to the situation, but would have made us sink to his level. There was no amount of explaining that would have changed his mind. In the end, we did a fantastic job and had an even better attitude that the guests, bride, and groom respected us much more than an irrational man. So, next time, just smile and nod.

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