Monday, January 26, 2009

Coordinating a Wedding

This is one of my favorite Friends moments (among many), and one that I think proves that if life were like Friends, I would truly live the character of Monica.

This is a truly wonderful day! It is my very bestest friend's one year wedding anniversary! This time last year, I had made an emergency run to get corsage pins and bagels to ensure the bride ate (!!), and done the final ribbon wrapping on the bouquets. I'd taken favors, decoration flowers, and final items to the reception facility and coordinated with the facility manager there regarding last minute changes. I'd transported the programs, decoration flowers, bouquets/bouts/corsages, and the bridesmaids gifts to the church. Gotten Jay to risk his neck to climb up and get the protective plastic off the bride's wedding dress and fluffed it out so that it would be picturesque when she and her party walked in. I laid out all of her accessories, and gifts for her party, so that the photographer could get beautiful/artist photos of them when he got there without effort. I'd rearranged the entire front entryway of the church to make a place for the guestbook and program presentation. I'd also called the groom multiple times to no avail when he wasn't where he was supposed to be when he was supposed to be there. And then when he finally showed up stating that he had packed his cell in his honeymoon bag, I gave him and his groomsmen a stern talking to!

Due to the wonderful world of the military there was no time for a rehearsal the night before, so I did a quick rehearsal with the boys (when they finally got there) ;-) and then the girls once they were dressed. I ran all over the church guarding doors and hallways to ensure that the bride and groom would not see each other. I made sure that my wonderful husband was all set up with the music and processional order he needed to oversee the sound. And did everything I could to make sure that the bride was not informed of any snafus, or at least not until they were resolved.

I coordinated the processional so that all the bride had to do was enjoy her moment, and then had the breathtaking honor of opening the doors as my best friends was revealed to her husband-to-be for the first time! I simply cannot tell you what that moment was like!

I then employed another helper and my husband to jet immediately over to the reception site to make sure that everything was up and running and ensure that the music would be playing when the guests arrived.

Once I'd directed the wedding party and family into the sanctuary for pictures and the guests to the reception, I put the church entryway back together. (I hope I did it right. It was kind of like that game of what's missing. I always suck at that game!) I employed a family member to take a final sweep through the brides dressing room to insure that nothing got left once they were done with pictures, then I loaded up the car with all the the decorations and left overs and headed to the reception site.

Driving over there, I realized that I had obviously missed a step in the directions from the church to the reception site that were printed in the programs and crossed my fingers in hopes that all the guests found their way.

Once I got there, I made a sweep of the set up to make sure it was exactly the way the bride had requested, and touched base with the facility coordinator. I greeted guests as if I knew them and welcomed them. And started watching for the family to arrive, signally that the photos were wrapping up and the bride and groom would soon be there. Not long afterward I got a phone call informing me that the bride was just a few minutes out. I got the photographer and rounded up the bridal party outside the facility so they could be introduced. I gathered all the guests and we cheered as I introduced the bridal party and the bride and groom, only butchering the name of one groomsman, oops.

After all the dancing had been done, and the fun had been had, I herded everyone outside for the bride and grooms exit. And watched with tears in my eyes as my best friend drove off into her new life! It was truly bitter sweet. She loves him, of that I am certain, just as he her. But being a part of the military life, I knew her life as an army wife was going to be hard. She would have just a few weeks with him before he deployed for 15 months. When that was over, who knows. But for those few hours, there were no deployments, no trainings that would take him away from her, no extended time without communication, and no nights spent alone. There was only the two of them, and the love that they shared, and the life they had in front of them.

Once they were gone, it was time to gather up all of our stuff before the facility cleaned it up and threw it away. Arrange for how everything was going to get back to the bride's family's house and in whose car. After packing the last box, making one last run through the facility, and dropping everything back off at the house, it was finally time to take a breath.

I took stock of the day both the good and the bad. I had done pretty well for my first try. To be honest it was one of the scariest things I've ever done, but that was because the bride is so important to me, and making this special for her was my most important priority. I realized that for a wedding coordinator, having a cell phone or walky-talky's is a necessity. I'd probably made 50 phone calls that day to coordinate the whole thing. Everything from calling the absent groom, to calling the father of the bride to ask him to grab one more forgotten thing out of the car before he came all the way back into the facility. I realized that no matter how comfy your high heal shoes are, they will never be comfy enough to coordinate a wedding in! I also realized that pockets are one of the world's most amazing inventions and how I'd have given my eye teeth to have had some! I also realized that the "Bridal Emergency Kits" that tells you to put together is not just a gimic to get you to buy more crap. I think we used the scissors I'd included in our homemade one a thousand times and believe it or not, the needle and thread was used more than once. I was so thankful that almost every time a "Do we have a...." question was asked, I could answer, "It's in the emergency kit!"

So, a year later, and almost a year from my own wedding, I can still say that weddings are my passion. I love every single detail of them: the color schemes, the invitations, the dresses, the decorations, the organization of the whole thing. The amazing thrill of seeing a vision that has been obsessed over finally birthed into existence.

But even more than that, I love what it stands for: The love, the commitment, the caring, the hope, the relationship... for better or for worse.

So, one year later, on her anniversary, my best friend sits at her apartment alone, 9 months into her husband's 15 month deployment to Iraq. She loves him even more today than she did that day, in spite of the distance, the loneliness, the frustration, the washing machine breaking, the car battery dying, and all the other things he wasn't there to help her with.

Because weddings are about more than flowers and dresses and food. They are about marriages... the beginnings of a new life together.

And that is why I love weddings so much.

One Year Ago...

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All images by Brian Salmon Photography

Happy Anniversary, babe!

1 comment:

Jr. Mint said...

I couldn't have done any of it without you! Thank you so much - a year later!