Objects In Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear. Reschedules, Reality & Riding The Wave Of Wedding Season..
This morning I had the apprehension that at least one of my weddings today wouldn’t be without hiccups. I had “pegged” the wrong wedding. My reasons for assuming my second wedding of the day would have hiccups was due to a phone call late Friday with a bride I had been trying to reach for over a month. It’s essential for me when I can’t meet with a client to at the very least speak to them regarding their ceremony details and desires so I can prepare my ceremony, the procession and other factors.
My second wedding of April 3rd had sent me a text at 8:11AM Friday morning and since I was driving, I asked her to call me. After 11:30AM she returned my request with a text that she would call me later. When preparing my ceremony script, I need to know the clients preference of religious or non religious. Handwritten vows or not and other details such as whether we will be honoring a guest no longer with us Etc.
Because I hadn’t spoken to, emailed or received any correspondence whatsoever from my bride I was highly concerned about “winging it.”
She called me after 5PM Friday while Cindy and I were unloading for a rehearsal at Willow Lake Event Center asking that I was on site two hours early at her wedding location. The issue? My timeline from Dallas to Arlington and my schedule. I’m always 30-45 minutes early to a wedding ceremony but there’s no need for me to be two hours early. My contract outlines the time I will be on site which is generally an hour unless a client requests me to be on site longer which is determined prior to the booking.
It’s not uncommon for me to be standing on location thinking “everything is perfect. No vendor problems. No guest issues.” Minutes later something unexpected can and does happen.
Today’s problem was no bride. This was new. I’ve had a no groom issue several years ago. I located him at a local bar and drove him back to the venue. The brides family had run him off. Specifically the brides brother. This brother also consistently attempted to object throughout the entire ceremony but certainly didn’t run ME off.
Arriving on site 47 minutes early, I walked into the venue searching for my bride to find the bridesmaids visibly upset. My bride had cold feet. I went to check on the groom and found him in tears. I advised him that I was going outside to call the bride and see if this wedding could be salvaged?
She answered on the first ring. I was on a tight timeline. Checking my watch wondering if I could pull still pull this off and get to Arlington early for another bride who wanted me on site earlier than I had scheduled to arrive. I’m a juggler but I never push someone to marry. I asked “where are you? Are you alone? Are you driving? Drop me your location.” She wasn’t alone. Her maid of honor was with her and she wasn’t driving. All good signs.
I was 8 minutes from the Taco Cabana parking lot they were sitting in. I dashed over. Finding the right car after finding the wrong car, I got in the backseat to find out what exactly was going on.
Apparently, my bride is pregnant and just found out. The groom is unaware of this and my bride “wanted to wait to start a family.” This was a situation I had yet to encounter in my entire career of planning and officiating weddings.
After much discussion and as her phone continued to ring, it was decided that I would return to the venue and talk to the groom alone and call her from my cell phone. My bride was concerned that her groom wouldn’t want to get married because their plans were to wait to start a family.
I then returned to the venue and grabbed a microphone to advise the guests that the bride needed a few more minutes and the ceremony was postponed for another 15 minutes. I apologized for the delay and instructed guests to go grab a snack or drink while we waited.
Walking back outside to find my groom, I was surprised to find him jumping with joy at the unexpected news he was going to become a father.
Communication is key to ANY relationship. My bride was concerned about how her fiancée would react to an unexpected pregnancy. My groom was thrilled, surprised and delighted.
The wedding went off 30 minutes later than anticipated but the guests had time to grab a drink or a snack or visit the restrooms so they were rested and well. The couple are excited and although there were a few hiccups, I was back in my suv and on the road to Dallas within an adequate window to still arrive 45 minutes early in Arlington.
Yesterday my Arlington bride was frazzled. Today she was relaxed and excited. While on site I had two booking inquiries from guests planning to marry this summer. My schedule is tight. Really tight. I have 86 weddings scheduled in the next 6-8 months. But I will make time to get the other two couples married.
Throughout the day I’ve had several inquiries for TDCJ Weddings as well as inquiries from other states. Due to the number of people who were cancelled and are waiting to reschedule in Texas, I’m not planning on leaving the state other than a few turnaround trips to Florida for destination weddings and California. I’m really sorry but happy to refer you to my niece, Leigh Ann for California inquiries or my son and daughter in law for Arkansas, Colorado, Louisiana and our other service area State destination locations.
Elopement Updates- Because we’ve had a large number of changes to bookings, I need you to be on site at least 15 minutes early in order to give me plenty of time to get to my next event. I often and normally have several events on the same day. Please leave early on wedding day and please don’t forget your marriage license.
Booking process requirements- you will be mailed a contract. My contracts for Texas Twins Events and TDCJ Officiant require a deposit. My contracts for Pawning Planners bookings require an Appraisal Appointment. Please be aware that until we have a contract in place, my staff has not created a client file for you. If I’ve talked to you, emailed you, DM’d you or texted you and mailed you a contract, I need you to return the contract. I cannot and will not reserve a date without consideration and a contract. There are a few reasons. First, I cannot overcommit myself or my schedule. Second, I do not line jump anyone onto my books as doing so would be grossly unfair to my other clients. Third, my availability as well as my team’s availability is critical. If I’m not available I certainly cannot be on site. It’s essential for me to factor travel time between bookings into my schedule. I’m never late. I’m always early to check in with my clients.
I turn down 50- 60% of traditional weddings inquiries as the majority of my clients are marrying an inmate in State, Federal, ICE or County custody. This surprises many people but I have no surprises at an inmate wedding. There is structure, procedure, punctuality and policy in place that dramatically limits drama at a prison wedding. I do not take on planner bookings unless they are by referral. Why? Because officiating a ceremony takes approximately 1 hour of my time. Planning a traditional wedding takes months and up to 8 hours on location wedding day. Because I spend months in the planning process for the majority of my clients planning to marry an inmate, I don’t have months to dedicate to one client for one event.
Many of my clients send me photos of what they plan to wear to a prison. It’s imperative to dress within the guidelines. If you are uncertain, send me a photo.
Moving forward- weddings outside of prisons rarely start on time. However, it’s essential that your guests are not left waiting too long. As your officiant, it falls on me to update guests as to what’s going on. Please let me know if you have an issue or concern on wedding day. Many times the issue can be communication.
Tomorrow I’m at 4 locations and will mostly be unavailable as I’m on location. Hoping all of you have a blessed Easter weekend…