When Things Go Wrong by Weddings by Rachel

It’s time for our third post from Weddings by Rachel – a professional wedding planner based in South Wales. Each fortnight she’ll cover a different wedding planning topic and this week she’s talking all about how wedding planners can help when things go wrong at weddings…eek! (You can see all the posts in this series here)

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Sometimes you just have to admit that nothing is completely perfect. Things will inevitably go wrong on the big day, and it is my job (and a guilty pleasure of mine) to make things right before the couple even knows about it.

But even I can’t stop the rain from falling on an outdoor wedding ceremony, or the electric from cutting out during a first dance. Unfortunately these things have, and do happen, and the best thing to do is stay calm in a crisis and prepare for every eventuality you can!

Here a few examples of major and minor issues that I have had to deal with on wedding days and how I organised a solution. Everyone always thinks that it won’t happen to them, but I really do encourage you to consider the fact that there is a possibility, as slim as it may be, that something could happen to you.

Now, I don’t like being the bearer of bad news; quite the opposite in fact. I adore being the one to deliver the perfect wedding day for brides and grooms; and I am over the moon to say that I have had nothing but outstanding feedback since day one; but sometimes even I am faced with a challenge that makes me think “Oh no!”.

So here are some of the problems I have encountered, and what I did to resolve the problem, in the hope that it will help you be prepared for your big day :)

Problem: Delivery of the wrong cake

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Now this was an odd one for me, because I wasn’t actually the planner for this wedding; in fact I was a guest. One of my close friends got married late last year and I was thrilled to be a guest and get to wear a pretty dress to a wedding!

However, when my husband and I sat down in the ceremony, I saw the cake set up on the platform in front and cringed. I was almost certain that it wasn’t the cake that they had ordered, after conversations with my (cake-maker) friend and bride, but as the ceremony was starting I was at a loss of capabilities at that moment in time. I couldn’t talk to the bride to make sure I was right.

I was, however, right, and was promptly informed when I asked the question. So immediately I sent the bride to get her glass of champagne and disappeared to make some calls. After many calls and demands I finally managed to rearrange delivery of the cake (which was two hours away).

The incorrect cake was promptly removed from the reception room and I waited as patiently as possible (I called every twenty five minutes for an update!) for the delivery of the correct cake; which by the way, was delivered to another wedding but had my friends’ names on it! Eek!

On delivery of the cake I checked it over for damage and we displayed it at the evening reception, opting for the cutting of the cake and photos at this time. This allowed the evening guests to enjoy it too, before it being cut and served after the evening buffet.

There was a silver lining though: my fabulous friend was known as the bride with two wedding cakes!

Problem: Blowing a fuse

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This is never good; and is something that is completely out of your control. Unfortunately a bulb blew in one of the lights at this wedding, resulting in a blown fuse; cutting out all of the electrics in the venue. To make matters much worse it was during the first dance!

The second it went dark I moved like lightning to the band and DJ, which is where the catering manager was heading too; and organised for them to get the electric back on immediately. Knowing that they were on the case I went among the guest and ushered couples onto the dance floor.

The bride and groom didn’t want to dance for too long on their own, so while the lights were out I filled up the dance floor with additional couples. When the lights went back on the dance floor was full and many of the guests even thought it was planned.

Problem: Not enough food for the guests

This was one of those ‘worst nightmare’ moments at a wedding; for everyone involved.

This was an on the day package for me and I hadn’t worked with the caterers before. But this wedding was the only occasion where this proved to be a problem. Unfortunately the caterers arrived short staffed (three servers for 130 guests) and clearly without enough food!

During the starters I started to hear the servers telling the kitchen staff that they were running out of starters that people had ordered. When the kitchen staff advised there was nothing left, I jumped in and help create a unique starter for the remaining guests. Luckily, everyone was happy and I walked away from the kitchen relaxed and smiling, despite the momentary hiccup.

But then the real trouble came. There wasn’t enough food for over twenty guests during the main course. Everything was running late and kitchen staff were adamant that people had been eating more than one main course each!

Now this is an opportunity for a melt down – but, and I can’t emphasise this enough, it can’t be done! Calm, cool and collected is the only way in a terrible situation such as this.

I took the time to quietly speak to the guests who were without food and explained that there was a slight kitchen mishap. Unfortunately, the wedding was located in a quiet town away from too many amenities. Except a fish and chip shop.

Aware of the complications regarding time of going further afield, I quickly had to accept this as my only option. I discussed the options with the unfed guests, who were all quite happy with the suggestion; took orders and sent one of my very helpful assistants across the road with some cash.

Throughout the process I made sure to keep the bride, groom and the rest of the bridal party calm and relaxed, ensuring that there was as little worry as possible.

With things running late I organised for deserts to be served on platters to be eaten during the speeches, and we turned the room around in record time.

By the evening, guests were laughing about the situation, which in their eyes caused very little effect to the day itself.

My advice here – be prepared! Know your local area in advance of the wedding day. Although the likelihood of this happening is very slim, it has happened before and it is better safe than sorry! And please, speak to your caterers in advance – find out how many staff they are having and ensure that they are fully prepared, and make sure they definitely know how many guests are coming!

Problem: Melting wedding cake

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I recently did a wedding where the cake maker was delivering a beautiful five tier wedding cake to Caerphilly Castle. I met the maker locally and took her up to the castle, leaving her to set up the cake as I worked on the room overall.

Shortly after our arrival I noticed some panic coming from the corner, and headed over to see what the problem was. It turns out the icing on the cake had melted in transportation and two of the tiers were not maintaining the beautifully smooth and elegant effect of the others.

Now, for those of you who take great pride in your work like this cake maker, you will understand the upset and worry that something like this can cause. She was trying so desperately to resolve the problem and smooth out the cake, but unfortunately it was not going to plan.

Taking a step back and reviewing the cake (and the room), I had a quiet word in the ear of the florist and salvaged some beautiful ivy that was being used to decorate the castle. Taking a stash of my emergency pins (I carry a crazy amount of emergency items); I cleaned all of the ivy and used it to create a ribbon around the damaged parts of the cake.

We also pinned some around the cake stand, making sure that it all integrated perfectly. This looked beautiful and fitted in spectacularly with the room. The bride and groom even commented on how perfect the addition was when they saw it later on!

Problem: Ripped wedding dress

This happens more than you think. High heels, rough floors and children are three enemies of the wedding dress.

This is why safety pins, an emergency sewing kit and someone who can thread a needle are always helpful to have on hand. I have had to sew up many brides dresses in the past to prevent them tripping up on the lining!

Alternatively, some pretty ribbon can work just as well and can be used to tie up a broken bustle hoop too, maintaining a beautiful effect :)

Problem: Rain on your wedding day

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Living in Wales, rain on your wedding day can often be inevitable, so be prepared. Umbrellas, towels and jackets are always helpful to have on hand, and brides are becoming savvy to this. But if you are preparing an outdoor wedding, please think ahead.

The two top tips I can give are these: prepare the ceremony with a quick turnaround indoor option. It is worth not setting up a wedding breakfast until you can guarantee the weather is going to hold. Make sure that you’re going to be able to hold it outdoors so that there aren’t any last minute emergencies. Of course, if you have another room available, that’s perfect, but make sure it’s licensed in advance!

Alternatively, have a marquee or alternative available to pop up last minute in case of light rain. Please consider the location of it though. If you’re getting married on grass, think about those poor ladies wearing stilettos and try to get hold of a remnant of carpet to lay down should it get wet!

So! There are some things that I have experienced (and there were many more), but it’s worth considering everything for your big day. I have heard numerous other stories such as decorations falling down during ceremonies, guests falling ill during wedding breakfasts and much more. I have even had someone drive into me on the way to a ceremony before (I still made it on time; no easy feat I tell you).

But good preparation, or a wedding planner, can prevent you from having to worry about these things and relax and enjoy your day. Being laid back is great, but don’t be underprepared!

Please let me know if I can help with any preparation questions, or if something like this has happened to you, and what you did to fix it. Also, if there are any posts you would like to see here, drop me a line and I’ll do my best :-)

Lots of love,

Rachel xx

www.weddingsbyrachel.co.uk

Busting Wedding Planning Myths with Weddings by Rachel

It’s time for our second post from Weddings by Rachel – a professional wedding planner based in South Wales. Each fortnight she’ll cover a different wedding planning topic and this week she’s debunking those wedding planning myths!

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When I talk to couples who are starting the wedding planning process, I find the same questions and assumptions often come up. Some people have the wrong opinions of wedding planners and the way that they work, so here are some common wedding planning myths: busted! :)

Myth: I can’t afford a planner 

Busted: Most couples think that hiring a wedding planner is a huge expense and is only for big budget weddings, but this is not necessarily the case! There are a lot of benefits from hiring a wedding planner that work well for smaller budget weddings too.

For example, budget management. This is key, especially if you have a strict amount of money to spend; negotiating deals and getting the most for your money is imperative. My packages start from as little as £350 for on the day packages and the complete coordination packages are created bespoke for your individual wedding and budget. I have worked with large budgets and very small ones, delivering the same level of service every time.

A good wedding planner will keep you organised, help you think of unique ideas and create something extra special for you both, but can also save you lots of money (I have saved brides literally thousands of pounds in the past negotiating deals and getting freebies!) and keep track of your budget. I also work with lots of suppliers who offer discounts which I always pass onto my clients! :)

Rebecca Hampson

Bride’s Opinion – Rebecca Hampson

Other than my dress, Rachel was the one thing I couldn’t do without. Aside from all the effort, stress and time she saved me she also saved me a lot of money by finding me some great deals and getting me discounts. She basically paid for herself! I would definitely recommend having a wedding planner to anyone. Rachel covered everything for us, but there are lots of different levels of help available, so if you can’t afford the full package just some help with the planning or on the day support can make a huge difference.

Myth: A wedding planner will take over the planning process

Busted: This is something that worries a lot of brides (and grooms) and the first thing I would say is this: I would NEVER want to take that away from you! Planning your wedding is one of the most exciting times of your life – but it can also be stressful, time consuming and expensive. What I do is pull together all of the resources required to create your perfect wedding day.

I work with you to select the best suppliers and will always offer suggestions and advice but the power stays in your hands. If there are areas you want to handle then that’s fine, of course! Think of a wedding planner as your personal PA for the duration of your planning (and a short while afterwards).

My aim is to make sure that you have the best possible outcome for your wedding day, keeping the process fun for you. Every bride I have spoken to who has used a planner was happy that they did – this is always something to think about :)

Myth: I don’t need a planner, my wedding is going to be simple!

Busted: While this may have a large element of truth in it, every wedding, irrespective of size, requires planning and coordination. If you think that the whole planning and executing a wedding day process is simple then maybe you just haven’t gotten to the details yet :)

There are a number of elements that you do not want to worry about in the build up or on the day, such as arrival of guests, late arrivals of suppliers and ensuring the day runs to schedule.

I have been on hand to eliminate crises in the past, have my (as the lovely Maria Farrelly calls it) ‘Mary Poppins’ emergency wedding kit in case someone forgets cufflinks or you need an emergency chocolate bar for some sugar, and try to always be ready for every eventuality.  All of these are something that a professional will take care of, leaving you to enjoy your wedding day.

 Myth: I don’t need a planner, I have an on-site wedding coordinator 

Busted: As a wedding planner I am someone who the bride, groom and bridal party may contact if they need extra reassurance on the actual wedding day. I meet with clients, double check details with suppliers, introduce myself, and finally am in attendance on your wedding day to make sure that everything happens the way it’s supposed to.

A venue coordinator works for the venue – which means that often that is where their loyalties lie. Their job is to answer your questions about the venue and assist you with your venue layout and decor. It isn’t their job to assist you with all the many details that go into planning your big day! :)

The venue coordinator (or on-site wedding planner as they are often called) probably won’t help you with your bustle in the bathroom, help your grandmother to her room at the end of the night, make sure your suppliers are set up on time and to your specifications, pin buttonholes on groomsmen, dry church floors in the rain to stop your dress getting dirty, and much more – trust me, I’ve done all sorts.

I do however work closely with the onsite coordinators, as this is often the best way to achieve results and they do a fab job!

Jenny Evans

Bride’s Opinion – Jenny Evans

Although the New House Hotel offered a coordinator of sorts it was not really a personal service, unlike the service I had with Rachel. They were dealt with more prior to the wedding as opposed to the actual day itself. Other than confirm the room layout, order of the day and menu selections, they really didn’t know anything else about us or our wedding.

Having a wedding planner was a much more personal thing. We’d had so much communication in the run up to the big day (a year), that I felt confident Rachel really knew me (and Leigh) and what was important to us both by the time the wedding day came around. Namely that we wanted to give our guests the best day we could.

On the day itself it was such a relief knowing that I literally only had to worry about myself and that Rachel was the main contact for everybody – the florist, the chair cover people, the cake lady, the singer – even Leigh, because she took my phone off me!! Every little detail I asked for was remembered and everything went to plan – even if it hadn’t I would have been none the wiser. So for me a hotel coordinator was not enough and having a wedding planner helped to ensure that the big day was as much fun for me as it was my guests :)

Myth: I have a friend who can do it 

Busted: This is something that I come across a lot – please don’t take the risk! It is a money saving option (or so people think) and couples will often ask family members or friends to take care of the finer details of their wedding. This has a number of potential problems. First of all, asking them to be in charge of something means they might not be relaxed enough to enjoy the day. They will also be required for photo-taking and a number of other duties that they may be kept away from on the day and, even more importantly, what if something goes wrong? How will they feel about letting you down and how will you feel if they do?

Cutting out a coordinator is something that could end up costing you time, money and even more stress. Hiring an expert is sensible as the chances are you don’t have experience running events like this. Think about how friends and family will cope if an emergency happens, for example, if the cake doesn’t turn up, or falls over. My job is to take care of everything and leave you to enjoy your day, with all your friends and family :)

Jenny Ferries

Bride’s Opinion – Jenny Ferries

Never underestimate the stress involved in planning and organising your own wedding; for all the lists you can write there are tons more things that can go wrong.

When I got married in April last year I had issues with arranging a timetable for the day to bring together the church and venue as well as planning something between whilst my venue was being prepared. Rachel helped me come up with loads of great ideas and I decided to go for a boat cruise and to have drinks, afternoon tea and speeches onboard. Rachel also helped to arrange a replacement (and as it turns out, better) boat when the company informed me a week before that it had been double booked!

Having a planner shares the stress without involving family and friends in your problems, brings new ideas for your special day and means that you can use yours and your helper’s ideas without then carrying the whole responsibility if things don’t go as planned.  I enjoyed my day without once worrying about the finer details and my family, friends, husband and I could enjoy our day from start to finish.

Myth: Wedding planners are too expensive

Busted: This is a very common misconception. I say misconception because even though a planner will charge you a fee for their services, more often than not that fee is covered by the money saved for you.

You’d also be surprised how easy it is to go over budget. An extra £25 here and there adds up quickly – I make sure that this is all accounted for, preventing you from overspending, and recommended cheaper alternatives where possible.

The important question that I always ask is ‘Is my fee too expensive if it means having a professional on hand, almost as an insurance policy, to ensure everything runs exactly how you want it to, making it the perfect day for you?’

Also, please enquire as to a price – you may be pleasantly surprised by the quote you receive!

Myth: It’s easy to plan a destination wedding from home 

Busted: A lot of the couples I work with are coming from outside of Wales to get married. Please do not underestimate the benefits of having a local wedding planner who knows the area and the local suppliers when planning a destination wedding.

I schedule regular Skype, email and telephone conversations with my destination clients, offering the same level of service that they would receive if they were just around the corner. I am on hand to visit suppliers, collect contracts etc., the finer details that you wouldn’t be able to do from further away.

Trying to coordinate all the details of a perfect wedding from miles away is more difficult than it first seems and can often prevent you from achieving exactly what you want. If you are travelling so far to get married then why take the risk?

If you were going to Hawaii would you use a planner? You would, because you don’t know the area and would need someone who can get you the best quality for the best price. It’s exactly the same when getting married in Wales (except for maybe the sunshine!).

Caitlin Morgan

Bride’s Opinion – Caitlin Morgan

My fiancé (now husband) and I live in Washington DC but wanted to get married in Wales where his family is from. Because neither of us are super particular we honestly didn’t think that planning a wedding would be that difficult – how mistaken we were!

Fortunately we managed to hire Rachel early in the process and are eternally grateful that we did.  She managed to book meetings with all of our vendors, helped with the logistics of obtaining marriage licenses from abroad, got us a ton of discounts that we never would have known about and took care of all of our international money transfers (which otherwise would have been a huge hassle).

Rachel also took care of all the small details that we never would have planned for including: booking taxis for our families, finding local food options and even booking some family events in the days leading up to the wedding.  Finally, it was just great having someone working in the UK and not five hours behind. This meant that instead of trying to coordinate with everyone ourselves we were able to just Skype with Rachel each week.  From planning to the day of, Rachel allowed us to have a stress free wedding!

Phew! I hope you’re feeling a bit more informed about wedding planners now that we’ve busted those top wedding planning myths. I love to hear from you all so please do let me know if you have any questions! :)

Lots of love

Rachel x

Introducing Weddings by Rachel

Today we’d like to introduce you all to Rachel from Weddings by Rachel – a professional wedding planner based in South Wales. Each fortnight she’ll cover a different wedding planning topic, from wedding planning myths to what to do if your day doesn’t quite go to plan. First up tho, an introduction! :)
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RachelMatthewsHello, I’m Rachel and I am a professional wedding planner. Most people automatically think of either Jennifer Lopez or Frank from Father of the Bride when I say that. In fact, one of my fabulous brides has an ongoing joke with her neighbour about me ordering numerous swans and ice sculptures for her wedding, but I really am completely different.

My background is in marketing and events. I started planning weddings for family and friends four years ago and the following year I started Weddings by Rachel.  I am a fully qualified wedding planner, I organise weddings in Wales for clients based locally, all over the UK and abroad.

I’m married to my lovely husband and we are proud Pug owners! We got married in Usk three years ago and it really was the best day of my life (and the quickest!).

I absolutely love weddings – everything about them. I love the excitement in the build up;  I love the way a groom can go from nervous to completely in awe as the love of his life walks down the aisle; I love the speeches and the toasts; seeing children run around playing in formal wear; I love the dancing and, amazingly, I even love the clean up afterwards.

There’s something extremely special about spending a couple’s wedding day with them and I truly don’t think there’s a job like it. There are always ups and downs but being organised and ensuring everyone is enjoying the day is something I thrive on.

People always ask if it’s a glamorous job. My answer: it can be. I have had glamorous moments, of course, but I think the not so glamorous certainly outweigh them. But that’s half the fun of it, and part of the reason I love the job, with the added bonus of taking the stress away from everyone. After all – who wants the bridesmaids or mother of the bride running around organising everything on the day?

I’ve really seen all sorts at weddings, from grandma doing vodka shots from an ice-luge, to children’s dancing performances and a very questionable strip tease. Then of course there’s been the tears of happiness, the excitement and nerves, the laughter and, most importantly, the unbelievable love between the couple and all of their guests. Every single moment is one that never fails to put a smile on my face when I look back.

My job varies from wedding to wedding, but can include planning the entire day to being the on the day coordinator which allows the couple to sit back and enjoy the whole day without worrying about a thing.

Weddings really are my life. Planning a wedding is such an unbelievable experience for everyone involved and I strive to ensure that it is as enjoyable and wonderful as possible.

I hope you enjoy my upcoming posts and if you have any questions or need advice please get in touch here.

Rachel x