Successful relationships

As a veteran wedding planner and day-of coordinator, I’ve found that the most successful relationships and wedding day outcomes happen when the professionals are allowed to do what they do best — their jobs.

Many couples hire wedding planners to take care of the details of the day. When family members jump in, they may not understand who has been assigned to do what. They may not have been informed about the timeline or the bride’s specific wishes. It can get a bit messy.

Many couples hire wedding planners because of their expertise and wedding etiquette knowledge. They know how a table is supposed to be set and how the silverware should be placed. They know how much you should tip the officiant. You are paying them a lot of money to get things done correctly.

Many couples hire professional photographers and videographers because they know how to direct people to get the shots the couples want. They are not being bossy; they are being effective and time-conscience. They want to get everyone to the reception as soon as possible so they (everyone) can start having fun!

Many couples hire vendors they know have outstanding, reliable reputations for quality, price and dependability. Let them do their jobs. Don’t let momzillas, sister-zillas or even dad-zillas ruin your day by not fully enjoying theirs. We all want a win-win wonderful day!

What do you want?

Every time I talk or meet with a newly engaged bride, I ask, “What kind of experience do you want your family and guests to have? and “What is your biggest “stressor” about planning and hosting your wedding?”

The answers are always the same. They want their family and guests to have the best time ever, not have to help out, and not have to work during the event. As for stressors, they want everything to go smoothly. They don’t want to worry about the timeline or the details, and they want to actually enjoy their day – the whole day!

I was married for 25 years and had the big wedding. Then, in 2014, I married my high school sweetheart and our wedding was just the two of us, the preacher, and his wife, the photographer. We got married, staring into each others eyes, in Gatlinburg.

When I look back and think about my first wedding, it didn’t go all that well. I didn’t have a wedding planner. I now wonder who did everything because I didn’t and my parents were from out of town and had to take care of my 90-year-old grandmother.

My fiancé wanted to be married at the top of his family’s mountain property under an oak tree. I guess his family did all the work, setting up chairs and refreshments, lining the aisle with potted white Chrysanthemums, placing the table décor. The list goes on.

Apparently, the guitar player we hired thought we were ready to march down the aisle so he began playing the processional song. Two of my bridesmaids, the flower girl and the ring bearer all walked and got into position. The preacher was in place as were the groom and his groomsmen. I was nowhere to be found.

My maid of honor and I were in a car, driven by my dad, and we were stuck behind guests who didn’t follow the parking directions and blocked the gravel road. Our ceremony guests waited another ten minutes for me to show up. Meanwhile, the groom and his groomsmen were behind the trees drinking champagne. I was embarrassed when I heard.

A wedding planner or day-of wedding coordinator never would have let any of that happen. She/he would have ensured my vision for the outdoor venue was executed as per my wishes. She would have kept everything on time and not have that giant faux pas in the middle. She would have orchestrated the event so the guests knew when to head down to the reception. My groom’s family would have gotten to enjoy the wedding and not work it. My groom would have behaved properly.

A wedding planner or day-of wedding coordinator is not for everyone and may not be in everyone’s budget, but there is a good argument for having one. Not only do you eliminate stress, enjoy your day and ensure that your family and friends have a wonderful time, but you might also save some money, get a few upgrades and know that you are, absolutely, the star of the show!

I’m feeling blue

I’m not depressed but inspired! I’ve been seeing all shades of mixed and matched blue, with a splash of another highlight color, and it makes me happy.

I’ve been asked to do several winter weddings next year and these colors are motivating me to get uber creative. Let color palettes be your guide. Pick colors that spark emotions inside you. This photograph is actually my screensaver and every time I look at it, I get an overwhelming sense of calm and joy. Find your joy and let it drive the creativity in your wedding planning.

Planning a wedding during a pandemic

Planning a wedding can be frustrating enough but add a pandemic to the mix and you have a real headache.

I was just published in Simple Elegance’s bridal show magazine on this very subject. Please take a moment to read it. It may help ease some of your pain.

If you need a better copy, please e-mail me at Susan@weddingsbysusan.ORG.


Food Trucks

Thinking about a food truck for your catering? Sounds like a good idea in these times of COVID. You can have guests (socially-distanced) go up and get their food or you can have wedding planner assistants deliver the food to the tables. Food trucks tend to be yummy and less expansive than traditional caterers.

You need to be very specific in your questions before you sign a contract, however. How much of the food is pre-prepared? How quickly can they get it out?

Do they have to make anything on site? If yes, how many minutes do they need to get each order out? If it takes two minutes per order, times 60 guests, you’re talking two hours! Are you letting people customize their order? (Suggestion: Don’t!) How many people will be working the food inside the truck? So many questions! Please e-mail me if you would like my free Food Truck Questionnaire. Susan@WeddingsbySusan.ORG.

Giving back, in so many ways!

I did a beautiful wedding last night, for a couple who is concerned about our planet. They went out of their way to have biodegradable plates, cups and cutlery. Hurrah. I always feel terrible about throwing away plastic plates, cutlery and glasses so I try to recycle and reuse as much as I can. Yes, I am that person. The one who separates garbage and washes stuff for reuse later for family events.

This couple went even further, asking if there was some retirement or nursing home that would enjoy their table flowers. The answer was yes. My mom’s assisted living community embraced the thought of fresh flowers from a wedding filled with love.

As a wedding planner, I, too, try to go the extra mile. So, I spent part of my Sunday filling thrift store vases with roses, chrysanthemums, eucalyptus, ferns and other lovely stems. Let’s all do our part to try to preserve the Earth and to spread joy to others. Thanks, Kristi and Brynnan!

Three things that make me happy

There are a lot of things that make me happy but there are three things that, recently, made me smile even more.

The first is how much couples are doing to keep their guests safe from coronavirus at their events. They are aware and they are conscientious, Thank you.

Photo by Nathan Metcalf Photography

The second is that I am working with a couple that is super eco-friendly. All of their plates, cutlery and even glasses are compostable. What? Yes! I always feel bad when I throw away things that can’t be reused, repurposed or recycled. But in our defense, Tennessee is not known for its recycling capabilities. We do what we can.

Finally, when I see couples truly in love, it makes my heart want to burst. You can tell when they are “the one” for each other. You can see it at the first look. You can see it in the kiss after the officiant says, “You may kiss the bride.” You can see it in the joy in their faces and you can witness their strong connections. I did not have that in my first marriage but I do now. Don’t marry the one you can live with, marry the one you can’t live without. Thanks, Tony Metcalf. LOML

Celebrating decades-long marriages

When I’m not coordinating weddings, I like to volunteer at my mom’s assisted living facility. On Sunday, my mom and I hosted a wedding party for ladies from Johnson City, Bristol, Kingsport and Erwin. The residents brought photos of their loved ones and told their wedding/marriage/love stories. It was so much fun. Some brides have never worn a veil as they got married by a justice of the peace. ~~~ Side note: I also like to watching baking shows on TV. I finally put all my “TV knowledge” to work as I made a three-tier wedding cake for this event. It was red velvet, black walnut and carrot cake with cream cheese frosting. Super yummy but not kind to the hips! (Click on a photo to see the complete gallery.)

Tips and other random thoughts

The older you get, the more random thoughts enter your crazy, ole brain. They need to be shared, and thus, the blog. I hope you enjoy reading about all that I have learned (so far) about weddings, marriage, entertaining, love, and romance.