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I recently talked with someone who had gone to a wedding and was pleased by the fact that he actually enjoyed it. This is because weddings, like meals in a restaurant, can be either horrifically unpleasant or surprisingly good. Years ago when I worked in the hotel business as an event planner, I put together and executed dozens of weddings and found that good or bad, they were always a nightmare to make happen.
People like to have their events go exactly as planned and without a single glitch, and this is particularly true about weddings. I lost count of all the brides I had sit across a desk from me and tell me that their wedding had to be “totally different”, and “the most perfect day ever”. While both are fine goals, neither is easily achievable and require a nightmare's worth of planning and work. In my experience, weddings were pretty much all the same despite the belief of the principals involved and from the point of view of the person making them work, they are never even close to perfect. Weddings involve a lot of players; brides, grooms, mothers of both, fathers of both, and various other family members wanting input, a formula that usually creates all kinds of differences of opinion and conflicts. I have had to deal with emotionally dysfunctional brides on the edge of hysteria, controlling mothers, demanding fathers, and grooms who would just rather elope to Las Vegas and get married by an Elvis impersonator. It is a situation that creates major headaches for the person caught in the middle.
I once had to deal with a wailing bride and an irate father because I told them that her dream of having 8 individual hibachi stations around the ballroom was not going to happen. The father, who was a wealthy bully type, demanded to know why we couldn't fulfill his little girl's dream in the ballroom of a 100 year old mansion in Chicago. I told him that I would absolutely love to, but there was the little problem of ventilation, local fire laws, and a sprinkler system. He suggested that he might take his wedding business elsewhere. I told him that was fine, but if he wanted hibachi stations elsewhere had better be outdoors – in December.
In my years of planning weddings I had everything crazy that could ever happen actually happen. Once I had a couple who thought it would be cute to put Barbie and Ken on top of their wedding cake. It was a clever idea, but they did not take into account that Barbie and Ken weigh a whole lot more than your average wedding cake topper. The baker delivered the cake with the famous duo dressed to the nines and standing atop the cake, but it didn't take long for their combined weight to cause them to sink into the cake like they were standing in quicksand. A half hour before the party was due to arrive for the reception I was in the kitchen with a sous chef trying to repair the cake and figure out a way to keep Barbie and Ken from crushing the cake and ending up on the bottom layer. We managed to patch up the cake reasonably well and figured out a way to put Barbie and Ken on the top safely by way of a complicated rig involving wire and skewers and a method resembling something they used to use during the Spanish Inquisition. If Barbie and Ken had been alive they would have confessed to all imaginable sins within seconds.
The worst, but most entertaining wedding involved a spoiled rich girl built like a Renoir model and her husband who, under the influence of a considerable amount of alcohol, managed to look like he'd rather be marrying Pee Wee Herman. The wedding was obscenely expensive and elaborate, with a garden worth of flowers, an open bar, a huge cake, a thousand piece band, a champagne fountain, and about 1000 people. The bride wore a dress that cost more than I made in a year. Sadly, since she was a fleshy girl, she ended up looking a lot like a German sausage stuffed in a giant doily, but hey – it was an expensive doily. Half way through the night she and her new husband ended up in the center courtyard in a screaming match. This kind of thing is tricky. Do you send in security? I opted to appeal to her parents, who went into the courtyard with the minister who had performed the ceremony and most of the wedding party to try and diffuse the situation. Unfortunately, right at the point when the reverend went to approach the couple to negotiate the bride decided to pick up a lawn chair and take a swing at her beloved. The groom ducked and the bride hit the man who had married them with the chair. He went down like a stone. She then let go of the chair and it flew into the best man, who fell backwards, knocking over two bridesmaids and a waiter. Mayhem ensued. The mother ended up on her knees next to the minister checking for signs of life, the best man had a black eye, there was a bridesmaid with a broken ankle, the father had the bride in a full nelson, and the groom tripped over a garden hedge and landed in a fountain. I sat on a garden wall with my staff and we laughed ourselves into convulsions. A perfect day was had by all.
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