Career Confidential: A Wedding Planner Bemoans “Difficult” Groomzillas
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I’m a wedding planner in the South, and I would say the grooms are the most difficult to deal with. I think a lot of times it’s hard because it’s the bride or the bride’s father who’s planning or paying for the wedding, and grooms don’t know when it’s appropriate for them to step in. If it’s not them signing the contract, they don’t have the place to say what stays and what goes.
I think to a lot of people in the wedding, especially the groomsmen, it’s kind of a joke — they’re having fun, throwing back shots of Jack Daniels before they walk down the aisle. Like 90 percent of them do this. But it’s not too uncommon for the girls in the wedding party to do the same thing.
Plenty of times I’ve had to give a bride a shot of vodka. I usually keep it at the ready. You always think of the groom having cold feet but you don’t always think of how nervous the bride is, and how difficult it is to make her get up and walk down that aisle. I had one bride who, before she was supposed to walk down the aisle, got out of her dress and put on her blue jeans and button up shirt, and the groom had to come in and say, we can do this. It took like ten minutes of convincing before she put her dress back on and walked down the aisle.
We have a lot of groomzillas right now. What I’ve been seeing is that so many more of our brides are going back to grad school, in a medical program or a law program, and don’t have a steady schedule, so the groom ends up being our point of contact and a lot of them are great at it. I’ve had a lot of grooms who are more organized than the brides are, who are into accounting and make Google Docs and spreadsheets to monitor where every cent is going. But I’ve also had a lot who, after a tasting, call and put in their two cents where it’s not needed, or think they need a special drink at the bar because it’s “their day.” Or who want to know, how come they can’t take more shots at the reception? Because it’s “their day.”
We try to keep the grooms a little more sober. Before this job, I worked on a wedding where the bride surprised the groom with an Irish car bomb station, and he got so drunk at the end of the night that he puked all over himself in the getaway car. No one saw but she had to clean it up — on her wedding night — which is awful. I think the groom should handle the music and handle the rehearsal dinner and stay out of everything else.
I definitely get to see a lot of wedding drama — more than the average wedding planner, even — because I work directly with the venues, so we see couples from day one. While I wouldn’t say we have the tempers of some of those wedding reality show people, we definitely get the crazies, yes.
We’ll have the drunk uncle that you have to have a picture of at the bar so you don’t let him drink. I have to deal with the brides, brides’ moms, brides’ dads, the groom — really everyone involved, and deal with their emotions and their budgets. It’s very difficult dealing with people on the most emotional day of their lives and making it 100 percent perfect for them.
With the more expensive weddings in April, May, September, October, the moms of the brides worry about what their friends are going to think. I’ve had a lot of people who want the full raw bar, who want the best liquors available, just to upstage their friends’ daughters’ weddings from a few months ago.
Usually brides don’t ask my input on their dresses, but we have some that try to incorporate mom’s old dress and I wouldn’t suggest that to anyone. Other than that I see a lot of Vera Wang.
The average cost of a wedding where I work is probably around $40,000. I think the U.S. average now is less, but in the busy season we have weddings that are $200,000, which is a crazy amount of money.
It’s crazy to me, even as someone who’s done this so many times, that there are events here with a budget of more than $1,000 per person. What makes it so expensive is when people bring in air conditioning units to really cool the outside area —those are around $20,000 per unit. But it’s a beautiful outdoor area that we fully redo — build out the floors with carpet, etc.
You can place a hold on a date at a venue if you’re looking around. We have girls that will call in and try to do this and say, “I’m not ready to book, I don’t have the ring yet.” We’ve had girls do it three times in a row — I think they’re just so hung up and ready to get married. Plus, things now book a year, year-and-a-half in advance.
I play the middleman a lot. There’s a lot of times when the family just doesn’t agree on something and you have to choose who’s side you’re going to take. Are you going to make the bride happy? Or the dad who’s writing the checks?
I’ve seen someone fall at a rehearsal but never in the actual wedding. She was thankful it happened in the rehearsal.
As told to Amy Odell.