101 Wedding Lessons

I still continuously update and add tips via twitter, @darlenetan. 

Thank you, Rachelle and Paolo, for this
caricature... :) 



I've experienced much as a wedding coordinator, and now that I am taking a break and focusing on emceeing instead, I thought it best to pay it forward and write about the lessons I learned... :) Will add two or three lessons everyday... :)

Lesson 1:
It's important to orient the parents that there will be a lot of lights and cameras facing their way as they walk to their "stopping point" along the aisle. That way, they will be prepared and they will still remember what was practiced prior to the start of the march, i.e. that they should stop, move aside, and turn their heads towards the door.

Lesson 2:
Orient the groom. He is not a mere attendee even if he wants to believe such a fallacy. Yes, he didn't help you at all during preps. Yes, the only task you gave him was to burn two CDs which he eventually did not do. But... but... but... on the day, he is the groom and he does not want to make a fool of himself in front of a lot of people. He should remember that his parents stopped there to wait for him; thus, he doesn't walk past them, rather he should walk with them to the altar area.

Lesson 3:
To the couple: Remember that when the veil and cord have been placed on your shoulders, you must remain in your kneeling position until they are removed. (Yup, even when the commentator asks everyone else to "please stand".)

Lesson 4:
Choose secondary sponsors who don't have stage fright, so to speak; however, be wary, too, of choosing the ones who like to hog the spotlight. In short, make sure they are capable of doing their duties. For instance, don't choose a candle sponsor who is afraid of matches and lighters. Avoid getting a veil sponsor who has shaky hands unless you want a red spot to magically appear where it shouldn't... hehe! :)

Lesson 5:
Tell all the members of the entourage to be alert, i.e. pictorials will be taking place from time to time -- even after the recessional; thus, when the coordinator or the photographer calls out for the entourage (yup, it means ABAY, too), they should be able to join in.

Some common boo-boo's of entourage members:
a) they don't know their roles (they arrive at the church thinking it's enough to show up...)

b) they know their roles but they don't know the responsibilities attached to such roles

c) they don't come on time

d) they leave right after the mass without waiting for the recessional and the possible pictorial after recessional

e) they don't even make an effort to groom themselves (i.e. unkempt hair, wrinkled suits, etc.) -- you know the gender I'm referring to, right?

f) they change their clothes after church, such that, during the entourage entrance during reception, they stick out because they are not wearing the prescribed attire anymore

g) they refuse to dance or do anything during the entourage entrance during reception and they even forego smiling

h) they don't listen to the instructions of the coordinator so they do something totally different compared to previous pairs

i) they don't come back after church

j) they cause stress because they tell the bride and groom about their attire woes (no need to tell the bride and groom, they have their own woes to take care of... besides, it's their special day, not yours.)
     Examples of attire woes: I can't be a groomsman anymore because I have no suit. (For goodness sake, just borrow from someone. That's not the groom's problem anymore, unless... unless... unless... he knows you are the most irresponsible person on earth yet he chose you to be a groomsman. Then, yes, that would be the groom's fault. Oh... and if your dress doesn't fit well, take it up with the designer, not the bride. The bride doesn't know how to sew, that's why she got a designer. :)

k) they demand that the HMUA who handles the bride should also handle them on the day (Please note that the HMUA should focus on the bride and the mothers, not the friends who think they are brides as well.)

Lesson 6: Ask the church before assigning anyone to be a reader or commentator. That way, you won't end up telling the person in the end that the church doesn't allow outsiders to take on roles facing the rostrum. In case the church allows you to choose your own commentator or your own set of readers, do get those who really go to mass -- good diction plus a real and solid Catholic background -- that way, they won't shake when they are asked to take their seats near the altar. Also, they will have presence of mind to follow the lead of the priest.

Yup, your missalette does not matter to a priest who has his own "show script" so to speak, so you need a commentator who has presence of mind. :) (Example: the priest asks everyone to stand, but the next line is "please stand", of course, commentator with presence of mind will not say please stand anymore, right?

Lesson 7: Ask the church regarding the priest who will be assigned to handle your wedding. Is he strict? Is he the type who will make you walk then leave you hanging till the point when he feels he wants to come out already? (Yup, after making you march in a hurry and making you wait around 30 minutes... sisilip na siya, then finally, bibihis na siya para naman makapag-mass na kayo... all because that's his style!) That way, you are prepared for the quirks.

Lesson 8: Bring out your inner bridezilla and force your partner to bring out his inner groomzilla if the priest needlessly affects the wedding rite. You paid. It's your right to have the rest hear you say "I do". The priest should be considerate enough to allow a change of mic if the mic doesn't work. (Yup, "expensive church", you know what I'm talking about... and how I've never had a wedding there with  microphones that work all throughout the mass. Perhaps, you should consider investing some of the fees towards this purpose -- microphones that truly work.)

Lesson 9: If the church does not allow vows, don't bring out your inner bridezilla and force the issue. Usually, they write that in their list of rules. Thus, it's your duty to read it before booking. If vows are important to you, look for a church that will allow you to say them.

And if in case the church does allow it, but the priest asks you to read together, "Grant us, Oh Lord...", politely ask the priest for a chance to say your vows (without the mic). He may have just forgotten... (yup, no need to bring out the inner bridezilla here).

Lesson 10: Have a hairstyle that will withstand the rigors of being flattened by the length of your veil as you walk and carry it via your head towards the altar. You want to be really pretty when the groom does his "you may now kiss the bride moment".

It won't hurt to really ask for it during the trial hair and make-up. That way, you can request for adjustments on the day to prevent falling bangs, etc.

Also, tell your hair stylist if your church is known to be warmer than most. Tell them also if you are acidic. That way, they can prepare and let you know if your preferred hair style will work or not. At least if you force the issue and a boo-boo happens, you know whom to blame right?

Lesson 11: Read through the missalette together, i.e. you and your groom, should find time to really digest what's in the missalette -- what are you supposed to say, when are you supposed to say it, etc. That way, you are not totally dependent on the priest and what he dictates. Also, you know when to sit, stand, and kneel.

Lesson 12: Avoid having a really long pictorial line-up in the church. Go for the basics. Remember that half the time, people are wrapped up in their own worlds -- they don't really listen to what's going on. They want to go out -- get some air, smoke, talk to friends, etc. We need to have a list of around 15 pictorial groups, then it's time to have the petal shower, otherwise, we may not have people present to throw petals.

Lesson 13: If a gimmick works in one church, it does not mean it will work in another church; thus, check the church rules, and check the exterior or the interior of the church, see if the whole thing will work as well. You might just get disappointed if what you bought won't be allowed or won't work due to the different format of the church aisle, the lighting, etc.

Lesson 14: It's a good idea to add a map to the reception at the back of the missalette... :) Aside from a map, you may also add written instructions on how to go to the reception. That way, they won't get to the reception annoyed because they went through too much traffic or they got lost several times. :)

Lesson 15: It's only a good idea to have vans from church to reception, if you really have people who signed up for the vans. Otherwise, if it's a "just-in-case" thing, you will be spending but the vans might end up going to the reception empty or half full.

Lesson 16: Have a registration table that everyone can see. It's important, too, that there's space for  a line.

Lesson 17: Have escort cards for your guests. The whole idea makes registration quicker. People who see cards with their names and their table numbers will inevitably get the point -- the card is theirs, the card guides them to their tables.

Those who see their names can get their cards, while those who need help can still ask the coordinators at the registration table regarding their tables, but definitely, they will be fewer since we've trimmed down the line by giving those who are self-sufficient an option to get their card and go.

Lesson 18: Have cocktails. People go to weddings to witness ceremonies, yes, but they also go because of the food that will be served. Don't keep them hungry. If you can provide drinks (other than water) and some chow (not just nuts and chips), that would be great! :)

Your emcee won't be pressured to cut the pre-dinner program short, and you also won't be having a program with a half-empty hall because of the guests who chose to eat and run half-way into the after dinner program.

Yes, we want a 30-minute pre-dinner program, a 30-minute or so dinner period where we finish all your pictorials, and an hour for the after dinner program. That way, we don't end up boring the guests. :)

Lesson 19: Although the couple pictorials are important between mass and reception, keep in mind that the period is called "cocktail hour", thus, everything -- travel time, pictorials, retouch, and a light meal should fit into the hour. (ok give or take 15 minutes... wink!)

Lesson 20: Make the wait worthwhile! Have prepared numbers, give prizes, etc. This is not the time to be stingy. Neither is it the time to be too shy. If guests feel how much you have prepared for the program (because you care about them), they will stay and finish it.

Lesson 21: Invite guests who really care about you as well. If you have more than 50% who don't know you much, you can't expect that 50% to stay right?

Lesson 22: Never ever allow yourself or anyone in the entourage to go to church wearing shoes that look new but have not been worn for the longest time. There is a 99% chance that the shoes won't make it to the march, i.e. the sole will get detached from the shoe, the leather will break into a gazillion pieces, etc. (If one still wants to take the shoes out of the baul/trunk, and wear it to the wedding, the relative/family member should slip another pair into the car. So when that person starts stressing out, there's another pair waiting for him/her in the car. There is nothing more stressful than seeing your grandma's toes peeping out of her pumps seconds before she starts walking down the aisle (mind you, she didn't start out with real peep-toe pumps).

Lesson 23: Advise the parents to avoid distributing the food before the proper turnover. That way, no hard feelings will ensue from the other side, i.e. they will feel short-changed if the distribution of food began before they were called in. The right turnover happens this way: the caterer and the coordinator hands over the food -- bride's side, groom's side. Both mothers/reps see that there is an equal number of bags per side. After this process, the moms can each decide on what they would like to do with their share of the food. (Do advise the coord if the other side does not wish to get any food.)

Lesson 24: Go for wedding details that count. Some get too wrapped up in DIYs that they forget to consider if the DIYs are related to their wedding theme or if the DIYs will even get noticed by guests. I love how some would combine things, example: have a little snack of chips or cookies or even both for guests and use them as escort cards. That way, the guest feels compelled to get this/her escort card, otherwise, he/she lets go of the uber cute tin of personalized m&ms right?

Lesson 25: Look for a caterer who already provides cocktails. That way, you don't end up spending more or causing guests to get hungry.

Lesson 26: Some caterers provide only water during cocktail hour. Ask if you can provide juice packs which they can mix so that guests get a choice of either juice or water.

Lesson 27: Hotels don't usually allow you to bring in cooked food so the heaviest cocktail meal you can give guests would most likely be cheese and bread sticks/crackers. Yup, if you can go for more than nuts and chips, that would be great! That way, coords don't need to spend too much time fending off guest requests for them to call the couple already and get the ball rolling.

Lesson 28: Instruct moms and dads about your picture taking hour aka cocktail hour. That way, they won't force the issue of opening the buffet prior to your arrival. Make it clear to them that this one is unforgivable basically because guests who have eaten are more unruly and will most likely leave even before you're 30 minutes into the program.

Lesson 29: Message cards are cute, but please do not expect guests to sign on a one is to one basis. That's not going to happen, no matter how hard you wish for it. Be happy with a 50% turnout. That's already higher than the norm. Imagine, you have couples and families... they will go for one rep to write. So yes, it's normal to just get 1/3 of the total number of present guests.

Lesson 30: Check on how the caterer/hotel/establishment counts heads before you sign the contract. Does the caterer have a 10% buffer for real? Or you are only allowed to have around 5 pax more than the paid amount? Does the establishment ask you to pay for all heads over and above the guaranteed # of pax? Does the hotel require you to pay more than the agreed amount if the number of heads exceed the guaranteed number on the day?

5 comments:

  1. Nice tips for the bride/groom to be.im gonna share this to my clients thanks :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. very informative & helpful! :)) thanks for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Replies
    1. Thank you for your comment... really happy this helps... :)

      Delete
  4. Addition to Lesson 6. Lady Mass Readers should know the attire acceptable to the church. Some churches do not allow gowns showing the shoulders, backless gowns and so on. When in doubt, it's better that a lady reader brings a shawl.

    ReplyDelete