I’ve become someone I can’t stand. I’ve become a realist. Granted, this is coming from the girl who saw the movie “Pearl Harbor” and considered switching her major to nursing. Yes, I do believe everything happens like it does in the movies! At least I used to.
Unfortunately, after being in the wedding industry for only three short months as an intern for Weddings in Vieques, and helping 17 couples tie the knot in that time, I can spot the clear flaws in some of my favorite wedding movies now. Not to be the buzzkill, but most wedding planner movies contain unrealistic representations that I feel MUST be addressed. Trust me when I say, it’s been a struggle for me to sit down and list out the reasons I’m NOT like J. Lo, but it had to be done.
Let’s start with the basics. Why is there not a piece of paper (or realistically, stacks of it) on any big-screen wedding planner’s desk??? I get the whole “GO GREEN” thing, but that’s why we shred and recycle… a lot… Lots of paper, and lots of files. There’s just no way these wedding planners in movies have offices THAT tidy and organized. A wedding planner – the real kind – is married (pun intended) to their clipboard with all the paperwork they need to pull off a wedding!
We have client files containing all of the details about the individual couples and their wedding weekend that we’ve used throughout the planning process. Then for the wedding week, we have multiple schedules, including the planner’s master schedule, the wedding party’s schedule, and detailed schedule for vendors. Also on the clipboard, so we have everything we need on hand on the big day, are supply lists, placecard charts, dinner orders, and ceremony plans, because someone has to know when the ceremony is about to end and the reception starts to cue the kitchen to start pushing out the appetizers. And finally, any extra notes we personally have, from conference calls, or reminders and explanation about the décor need to be easily accessible. It would be literally impossible to not have some sort of paper trail for every single client.
Bottom line: If these movie wedding planners are as busy and amazing as they’re portrayed on the big screen, they would have stacks and files of paper everywhere. Don’t get me wrong, a good wedding planner is extremely organized and knows where every file is; however, the portrayal of spotless, empty offices in these movies is completely unrealistic. Where are the welcome bags at least?
While we’re on the topic of paper trails, in the movie “Bride Wars,” Anne Hathaway and Kate Hudson’s characters are able to have a five-minute meeting with the BEST wedding planner in New York City, sign a piece of paper, and have their wedding dates locked in? I’m not buying it. Securing a spot at The Plaza, and a superstar wedding planner without putting down a dime… I doubt it! And it goes without saying that the likelihood of The Plaza having three spots left for June weddings only three and a half months in advance? Not a chance in hell.
Sure, while watching “Bride Wars,” it’s easy to get caught up in the drama between the best friends that accidently got booked to walk down the aisle on the same day at the exact same time, but how could this possibly happen in the first place? No professional would even offer to coordinate two huge weddings at The Plaza on the same day. Candice Bergen’s character can’t even keep her clients’ contracted wedding dates straight, how could she possibly execute those huge events simultaneously?
It’s okay though because I’m willing to suspend my disbelief and go with it. Where I really draw the line is with the portrayal of the wedding day.
Seventeen weddings and never have I walked in the room to get the bridal party ready to walk down the aisle and had them jump up and follow my lead. Maybe I’m not authoritative enough. On the wedding day, we’re in and out of the bridal suite ALL DAY, and STILL when I relay the message that it’s “go time,” there’s always something to cause a brief delay. When the planner in “Bride Wars” walks in the rooms to get the brides, she says “GO!” and everyone runs out the door, ready to head down the aisle. No. Just NOOO! Nobody needed a lipstick retouch, or last minute pictures, a quick drink, or to pee? NOTHING? I call bullshit on that. Or we need to get ourselves one of those bridal parties for Weddings in Vieques. It sure would make life easier!
Just one last critique before I ruin the movie for readers – no professional wedding planner would call their clients, who are paying at least tens of thousands of dollars to get married at The Plaza, “Bride One” and “Bride Two.” Especially to their faces. No client should, or would, put up with that. Seriously! Brides, grooms, mothers, great aunts, daughters, and even random guests’ boyfriends expect you to know their names. Calling the ladies of the day “Bride One” and “Bride Two” only works in the movies.
Wedding planners spend months planning the brides’ and grooms’ biggest day of their lives and the very least we can do is refer to them by name! Even as destination wedding planners who usually don’t meet our couples in person until they arrive on the island, we already have a close relationship we’ve built with our brides and grooms through the planning process. Any REAL wedding planner is a lot more involved than any movie wedding planner is shown to be, sometimes too involved… but never by choice.
In the classic movie “The Wedding Planner,” we watch J. Lo plan flawless weddings. She ends up breaking the number one rule and falls in love with the groom (yep, that will get you fired), but before destroying her career, she saves the day on more than one occasion. Under her three-piece suit, J. Lo comes through in the clutch with her emergency materials. It’s cute how she has a fashionable and compact belt equipped with anything a scripted bride might need, but that’s totally unrealistic for a real wedding.
We, here at Weddings in Vieques, have a 25-pound gun range bag (Sandy’s husband is a retired SWAT team commander), with about 20 pockets stuffed with “bridal emergency” materials. Where is J. Lo keeping her back-up fake eyelashes, or bug spray, or umbrella, or deodorant, or hairspray, or nail glue… all of which have been requested on more than one occasion by our clients. That would certainly add some unflattering bulk to her prim and proper suit! Real life brides need more than just a safety pin when they’re in a pinch.
Let’s go back to what is, by far, the most unrealistic portrayal of a wedding planner in a movie. J. Lo falls for the groom after he knocks her off her feet! No, literally, that’s how they meet; he saves her by pushing her out of the way after almost getting hit by a truck. Granted, she falls for him before she know he’s engaged, and a future client of hers, but no professional would agree to take that wedding (and that groom) as a client feeling that way. Aside from it being personal torture to the planner, anyone, even the viewers, saw the potential for disaster from the beginning.
Brides need not worry; no wedding planner would have a career if they even went as far as to flirt with the groom, or any married man for that matter! In fact, we’re not even permitted to flirt with guests at weddings. Even if we had extra time to flirt with guests while executing a wedding (which we don’t). The times we do get to chat with the guests, we’re usually getting instructions or updates on our headsets at the same so it’s not the most ideal grounds for conversation. It takes serious “Wedding Planner Game Face” to be mid-conversation with a bride, groom, or guest, and hear through a headset in one ear that all hell is breaking loose somewhere else at the venue.
Of course, no one else knows about any of these behind-the-scenes hiccups, and they’re taken care of before anyone ever notices. But I’m sure this gives you an idea of how unlikely it is for the planners to get into serious conversations with guests, and eliminates any worry that your own wedding planner will behave like J. Lo in the “The Wedding Planner.” My boss HATES that movie for just that reason – and she’s actually fired and sent home two interns in the past after receiving a complaint from a bride about them flirting with guests.
I’m no movie critic, but I guess I’m becoming a realist when it comes to wedding movies after seeing how things REALLY play out. Trust me when I say that how things REALLY happen could make for a great movie in itself. But we’ll leave that topic for a different blog, or book, or movie, and for professional therapists. I’m not saying you can’t have a beautiful wedding just like in the movies, just don’t expect the wedding planning to go as portrayed. In reality, it’s a whole lot better.
Devon Gorson, Intern at Weddings in Vieques