IMAGINE EVERY BRIDE — if she's honest — has things she would change about her wedding if she had it all to do over again. Here's the mistake I made when I got married five years ago — I didn't use a wedding coordinator.
I plead ignorance. I had not yet been invited to join the staff of Special Events Magazine, and I didn't know a gazebo from a gobo. In that blissful confidence born of naiveté, I figured I could figure it all out.
Most things ran smoothly. Bless the Episcopal Church, which took many decisions about the ceremony right out of my hands. (The church's wedding guide sets out plenty of “nots,” including, “We do not light a ‘unity candle’; the bride and groom do not make up their own vows; secular songs and non-Scriptural readings or poems are not appropriate …”) And I've been in the business world long enough to recognize that even costs have costs. I think we were the only wedding clients in history who didn't argue over the fact that California restaurants must add sales tax to the banquet service charge.
But it's painful to think of the stress I could have been spared if only I had had a coordinator there. I have to laugh at myself as I recall earnestly explaining to the leader of the band how he would recognize me so I could pay him after the reception: “I'm blond, I'm about 5-foot-4 — oh, and yes, I'll be the one in the bridal gown.”
Then there was that wonderful episode after the reception. When it came time to head off on our honeymoon, we somehow got our signals crossed with my relatives about the gift table. Everyone departed, leaving my brand-new husband, my sister/maid of honor and me — all dressed in rapidly wilting wedding finery on a hot August afternoon — to spend an hour loading wedding gifts into the car.
I know that wedding coordinators can't guarantee that problems won't crop up. My readers often regale me with stories about what has gone wrong in weddings they've worked on. (My favorite: the nervous bride who made one last visit to the ladies room right before she was to walk down the aisle, and wound up flushing her veil down the toilet.)
But in every one of those stories, the coordinator — not the bride — came up with the solution. The coordinator is the magician who allows the bride to feel, as celebrated coordinator Sharon Sacks puts it in this month's Guest Room, like a celebrity. Until we find that 15 minutes of fame Andy Warhol promised, this is as close as most of us will ever get.