Monday, September 24, 2007

Halloween Horror Stories

Once a year, around Halloween, I give myself permission to tell wedding-related horror stories that we've actually witnessed. These experiences always underscore the need to be well-advised when selecting wedding professionals, and to hire a professional. And it must be said that these are exceptions. Most of the people we know are extremely dedicated to giving good products and services to their brides. Many professionals give up family-time on weekends, work long hours, and give more than was asked or paid for.

Problem: Warning Sign #1. The makeup artist was 45 minutes late for the trial. But, in about an hour, she did a nice job, took a Polaroid and said that she would do the same hair and makeup on the wedding day. On the wedding day, the same makeup artist took 4 hours to do the hair and makeup of the bride (a warning sign if ever there was one).

At the end of the marathon session, the bride had dark circles ringing her eyes like a raccoon, and her hair that looked like rattails rather than ringlets. When she timidly asked the makeup person about it, the person exploded, "I'm an artist and I say it looks just fine. I have a more important bride to get to, so just get over yourself."

The makeup person had guaranteed there would be no other clients on the day. The bride had paid over $1000 for the privilege of being spoken to in such a disrespectful manner, and then was cursed out in a foreign language. The bride cried for an hour, then locked herself in the bathroom saying, "The wedding is off." It took compassion, resourcefulness and 3 hours to get the wedding back on track.

Solution: Bride re-did makeup and hair herself with some items from our emergency kit. The emergency kit contains 107 items. We rarely go to a wedding where at least one item isn't needed.

Problem: Ran out of food after 70% of the guests were fed. There was no Plan B.
Solution: No solution. People were hungry...and irritable.

Problem: The assistant photographer had holes in his pockets and lost several rolls of film. I picked up several rolls throughout the day and returned them to him, but he kept putting them in his holey pockets. As a result, large sections of the wedding day were missing.

Problem: Wait. It gets worse. The same bride and groom had paid for 2 senior photographers. After the ceremony, the prime photographer left, saying she had broken her camera. But she never returned. The assistant photographer left holding the bag (Mr. Holey-Pants) was mad as hell for the rest of the day - and didn't try to hide it.

When the bride respectfully requested a refund for the part of the wedding that was not covered due to the photographer's negligence and for services that were not rendered because there was only one photographer for most of the day, the prime photographer threatened to burn each and every negative if the bride brought the subject up again.

Solution: The bride opted not to take photographer to court, as she found the whole subject so distressing. She said over and over, "Thank heavens I had a great videographer, or I'd have nothing at all."

Problem: Lest you think we have it in for photographers (we don't - we love working with 99.99% of them). Here's a story that skewers both photographers and videographers.

Before filming a wedding at a cathedral for the first time, we sought permission and were able to observe a wedding at the cathedral the week before. Although we attend every rehearsal, this was a particularly complex ceremony at a particularly restrictive church. Boy did we get an eyeful.

The photo/video company had sent out two bozo's. They had safari vests on with the name and phone number of the photo/video company emblazoned on the back. I would not have been surprised if the name pulsed on and off like a marquee.

The church strictly forbids cameras in the center aisle. That's exactly where one of the video cameras was stationed. On a 6' tall tripod. On wheels. So the holy host of tripod/camera was rolled up and down the aisle continuously, with one creaky wheel. Once the tower arrived at the front of the aisle where it could block the maximum number of guests' views the bozo snapped down the brake, whipped out a still camera and started clicking away like the rat-a-tat-tat of a machine gun accompanied by a blinding flash every time.

But then there was a lull in the action as the clown spied the altar flowers which were in his way. So, in the middle of the holiest part of the ceremony, he clomped up the stairs to the altar and while almost tipping the arrangement oer, moved them out of the way so that all subsequent pictures were no longer symmetrical.

Solution: What can you say?

Problem: Friend of a friend said she'd make the cake. It never arrived.

Solution: Director of Catering scrambled and got a suitable cake on 4 hours' notice.

Problem: Friend said she'd make the invitations and have them addressed by 6 weeks before the wedding. The bride and groom arrived back from a trip to find nothing had been done.

Solution: We called up our favorite stationer, and asked that she keep her shop open late, and to give a 24-hour turnaround to this desperate couple. The stationer stayed until 9 PM (closing hour was 6 PM) and delivered the perfectly addressed invitations within 4 days.

Problem: Flowers were delivered after the first 3 bridesmaids went down the aisle. Then the altar flowers went down the aisle, then the remaining bridesmaids, flower girls and bride.

Solution: What can you say? It becomes part of the memories of the day.

Event Planner
Problem: Arrived late, poured herself a mimosa, put her feet up and sipped that mimosa and 4 more. Was worse than having no event planner because people were waiting for her to give directions and cues which never came. Also, with an hour to go until the reception was to start, escort cards had not been put out and decor had not been put up.

Solution: All the event professionals scrambled to do the tasks the wedding planner should have been doing, for the sake of the bride. This took time away from what we all should have been doing, but was necessary for the wedding to go on. The wedding was not as smooth as it could have been, but this was invisible to the guests and not very noticeable to the bride.

Problem: Seven chairs had wet seat cushions from being left out in the rain the night before. When asked to replace them, was told every chair was being used in every ballroom in the hotel.

Solution: Wedding coordinator stepped in and within 5 minutes, dry chair cushions had replaced wet cushions.


OmniBride said...

We found your nightmare wedding stories via OmniBride and brought it back in a newly published blog feature "Is the Reception about You? …or the FOOD?"

I enjoyed your 2007 stories and since it is almost Halloween again, look forward to your 2009 horror stories. :)

I hope all is well with you!

-Lea McIntosh @ OmniBride

J Sav said...

Hi Lea! Glad you enjoyed the Horror Stories. Will see if I can conjure up some more for 2009. Hope you are well, too.