Loyalty, Love, And Laying It All On The Table. Marriage, Mergers & Messes…
It’s not uncommon for me to get a “problem call” on wedding day. In fact, it’s common and a regular occurrence.
For two months now these “problem calls” have been rolling in. They aren’t coming from my clients in numerous states marrying an inmate either.
Instead they are coming from my “traditional clients.” Standard bookings from Texas Twins Events, The Pawning Planners, or a venue I’m on staff at.
My traditional clients are and can be my “trickier group.” Why? Because during this pandemic the changes they’ve been forced to make in order to get married have left them anxious and occasionally event angry. “They had a plan. They had a guest list.”
They had thought of everything and what they missed I had thought of for them.
Neither my clients, my staff or myself could ever have “planned for Covid-19.”
What was today’s problem? My bride decided that she didn’t want her mother in law to be walked down the aisle by the groom aka her son.
I was advised by the bride to advise the mother of the groom of her “change in plans.”
I had questions as to why what had been rehearsed was now being changed at the 11th hour?
Apparently, last night at the rehearsal dinner held at a restaurant that wouldn’t allow more than 25 guests at a time, an argument broke out about who could go in. This is a rather new problem since restaurants in Fort Worth have reopened. For a month and a half the rehearsal dinner was swapped for a backyard barbecue or Uber eats.
I’m “new” to these pandemic changes myself and didn’t attend the rehearsal dinner although I was invited because I had another commitment and because I haven’t eaten in a restaurant for over two months now. Like many others, I’m cautious about being out in public. I need to stay healthy for my clients. I cannot risk getting this virus by being with large groups of people. Since there was a “sideways shuffle” regarding who could get in the restaurant and who couldn’t, I’m THANKFUL I took a pass.
My bride was adamant regarding “putting her mother in law in her place because it’s my wedding.” I hear this all of the time spoken by people who take possession of the frivolity but take a pass on the expenses.
Sadly, the mother of the groom was the person who hired me AND effectively my actual client.
This type of “who is the boss” is so common with my traditional clients that after ten years of being the “go between” I should be accustomed to “awkward situations” but I’m not.
Sitting in my Sahara at Tom Thumb to get emergency flowers to create Bouteniers for the florist who had already sent me a text that she was “short” on flowers for the wedding party, I took a deep breath and called the mother of the groom to broach this change to the procession. Ugh.
My client answered on the second ring. “I was just about to call you. She’s impossible! The florist is also short on bouteniers for the parents of the couple can you take care of that?”
I was in the process of “taking care of it.” The number of times I’ve had to cover another vendor who didn’t cover their own obligations making their job mine is always a thorn in my side.
If you are a florist get it together and go over your order. Stop expecting everyone else especially me to CYA (cover YOUR ass) on wedding day.
I waited and listened to my client relive the entire rehearsal dinner fiasco. “I’m the mother of the groom. I’m writing the checks and even offered to pay for the rehearsal dinner and I’m not invited? What the hell is wrong with her? She’s writing checks her mouth can’t cover. This wedding is going to be stressful for me you know my mother is in the hospital. Wendy what can we do to soothe these ruffled feathers? I’m not in the habit of handing my credit card to someone and then being told I can’t attend a dinner to celebrate my son.”
Whoo the treacherous landscape of the life event business. Clients, chaos and a literal circus without the midway or the corn dogs.
Someone is always feeling slighted. Someone else is acting arrogant. Still someone else is feeling taken advantage of.
I often hear Cindy humming her big top theme music whether she’s sitting next to me or not.
My twin sisters famous quote “close the tent this circus has too many clowns” rang in my ears with the circus music fading away in the background. No rides. No corn dogs but plenty of suspense.
I checked my Corum watch to view the “countdown.” Two hours and counting. Damnit. The bride would be in hair and makeup. The groom would be killing time taking calls. Giving directions to the venue. Probably having a quick drink with the groomsmen.
I finally respond and explain why I called to my client aka the mother of the groom offended by the consistent arrogant behavior of the bride throughout the planning process.
“The bride wants to change the procession for the wedding. She’s decided that she wants you seated prior to the procession. I’m really sorry as you know to have to relate this rather odd request and don’t know how you wish for me to relay your response or what can be done to meet in the middle. Because you are my actual client though I’m going to suggest speaking to your son who is most likely unaware of this possible change of plans.”
I often calculate or guess who might be the “best candidate” for a buffer to work with in times of conflict.
On the one hand I have a mother slighted. On the other hand I have a bride acting like a Bridezilla. In the middle I have a groom trying to make his mother and his bride happy.
The groom holds a unique position of being able to put out this fire. However, it will be I who “broach this subject” rather than his mother in order to remove the possibility of chili stirring outside of the immediate problem.
I’m certain the groom has heard plenty already from all sides regarding that rehearsal dinner gone wrong.
I’ve encountered Groomzillas before but I’m lucky this morning. This groom is mild mannered and knows exactly what he’s dealing with.
His parents are divorced making his position even more stressful. His mother and father don’t want to be anywhere near each other.
The father of the groom isn’t paying for anything the mother of the groom is. She holds a position of power, custody and control and she knows it. She’s graceful about it but she’s writing the checks and anyone unaware of this fact is quickly enlightened by my client. She’s self assured. No nonsense. She wants everything perfect and she’s happy to pay for it.
She also offers to call her son for me but I quickly brush off the idea. I need her focused on relaxing and getting ready. I also don’t want an argument between the mother and son hours before a wedding. I will handle this myself with kid gloves.
“I will call your son in just a few minutes. I’m at Tom Thumb covering the florist so give me a few minutes. You go focus on getting beautiful and I will see you at the venue.”
I needed those minutes. Going into a wedding day knowing the possibility of a blow up exists isn’t for the faint hearted.
I’m reminded of the father of the bride in California who was offended about the pizza party rehearsal dinner. He wasn’t paying for anything but he sure was complaining about everything. “This is a cheap out on so and so’s part. It’s embarrassing. Pizza and no alcohol either. Do something. Tell them how unhappy I am about this.”
Umm hmm. First I was going to give this father of the bride a few options since he was so embarrassed. Stay tuned ya all because what he was expecting me to do and what I did were wholly and entirely surprising.
“I understand your frustration. As a planner and officiant, I often find myself in the middle of conflict. I’ve got a great idea though and it’s for you to offer to cover the cost of the rehearsal dinner which would also give you the opportunity to change the location. Where would you like to have the dinner? I will advise the wedding party of the location change.”
Tennis. It’s always shocking when you hit that ball right back into someone else’s court.
“I don’t have any plans to cover the cost of the rehearsal dinner. That’s the grooms families responsibility not mine.”
Sure you don’t. What you want is to complain and shame the other family who are on a limited budget and try to force them to pay for something they can’t afford. Sit down and shut up. The rehearsal dinner went on at the pizza parlor and everyone except the father of the bride had a great time. The salad bar was amazing too.
Yet another father of the bride in Dallas managed to get under my skin a few years ago. That event was crazy too. The mother and father were divorced. There was also a stepmother and godmother. Everyone wanted their “own wedding without so and so involved.” Four weddings for one couple? On a timeline and frustrated about this outrageous demand, I came up with the solution to limit this chaotic craziness on location to the father. “You want me to perform the same ceremony four times? Aren’t you and the stepmother married? That would be three ceremonies. First for the mother. Second for you and your wife. Third for the godmother. My fee for three ceremonies is $$$.
Tennis. It’s a game I play nearly everyday although not on a court. My game is with people.
“I wasn’t planning to pay you for three ceremonies. I was planning to pay you for one. I just don’t want to be around my idiotic ex wife or her former best friend aka the godmother.”
The number of times people tell me what they want but aren’t willing to pay for would astound you. It always astounds me.
“I’ve got a solution. If your wife is willing to pay for one ceremony and you are willing to pay for another, I will ask the godmother how important a third ceremony is to her. Your guests weren’t planning to sit through three ceremonies. It’s August and it’s hot. Let’s consider their needs.”
The godmother and mother agreed to “share a ceremony.” The father begrudgingly took the second ceremony after a coin flip to be in the first ceremony.
I called my groom leaving Tom Thumb to “broach the ceremony details.” As usual, whenever I’ve talked to him he was good natured and “aware of the situation.”
“What can we do to make my mom feel special and included?” Well, there are a number of things but what was important to her was to walk with her son. “I know you haven’t considered this before and may be able to communicate it to the bride for me but one day you will have children. One day your mother will be a grandmother. One day this day will be in the past but not forgotten. I’m going to suggest speaking to your bride and advising her of the marriage investment your mother put into this day because her parents couldn’t afford to. Sometimes it’s difficult to see the forest for the trees but everything your bride wanted has been addressed by your mother. She deserves to share this day with you. She earned it.”
I gave him a few minutes to ponder my thoughts on what was just and fair. He was in a precarious position of being the man in the middle. It’s not an easy position. It’s a position my son had years ago and it’s stressful. You can’t make everyone happy all of the time but you can be rational on wedding day. You can be respectful and you can be thankful for those who contributed to the expense of your wedding.
“Ms Wendy you’re right. I know that __ has been a bit tough to deal with throughout this process and I thought that once the wedding was over she would settle down but maybe I should talk to her and tell her it’s important to me.” Good plan.
The wedding went off without a hitch and the bride had an eye opening enlightenment regarding her new mother in law being an ally rather than an enemy vying for the attention of her new beau. One day she will be a mother and her parents who bothered to show up at the wedding but didn’t bother to do anything else will probably show up at the birth of her child but her new mother in law will be involved. Excited. Shopping for her new grandchild and an active part of its life.
Why parents push the person their children are marrying away I have no idea. Marriage is a merger. It merges families. It blends people who may not blend well.
I’m glad we were scheduled so early today as I head to my next “socially distant ceremony.” I’m happy that things worked out and I had time to enjoy my coffee while sitting in the parking lot watching guests take selfies and wait their turn to congratulate my couple.
“When KINDNESS is CONSISTENT it becomes CONSTANT.” Cindy Daniel
Socially distant weddings are so odd to me. I miss being in a room crammed with guests and family. I miss the party environment. The celebration. The precious moments.
What I also miss the most are my prison weddings. I can’t wait for visitation to reopen. There are no arguments over rehearsal dinners or the procession. There are no issues of entitlement. There are amazing people who are thrilled to be getting married and thankful for the opportunity…