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Real life examples of how one NYC Wedding Coordinator has dealt with potential wedding and event disasters and the lessons she learned in the process.
When working in weddings and events you need to be prepared to do anything and handle everything. No matter how thorough everyone involved might be, something totally unexpected can always pop up. If you are the Wedding Coordinator or part of the staff it will likely fall on your shoulders to take care of any situation... and do it with a smile.
Jamie and Frank held their loft wedding for 150 guests on a pretty typical New York in February evening. While setting up for the wedding, I see the coat racks with lots of hangers in the back room. Most of the staff has put all their stuff on one of them. No problem, right? Well, with about 10 minutes until guests are scheduled to arrive we find out that the caterer neglected to hire coat check staff and on a cold evening with rain expected... who's not going to have a coat? We have coat racks, but no one to man them.
My co-worker, Meagan, and I jumped in to work the coat check. Neither of us had done it before, but we pulled two of the racks out by the entrance to speed the process. Things were going well; Meagan and I were like a well-oiled coat check machine. Guests wanted to check hats, umbrellas, shopping bags, shoes and we handled it all. We quickly filled the two racks and used most of the hangers. Then the ceremony started.
You might think that that is the end of the story... but it's not.
For the next half an hour, throughout the entire ceremony, guests continued to arrive. About 50 more people than were expected showed up. We had no more hangers, so we started stealing hangers out from under the staff coats. We had no more room on the racks, so we started running coats to the back room. Then, we ran out of coat check tags. Most of the latecomers were very understanding, even appreciative... they were late, missing the ceremony and we were grabbing their coats quickly (and quietly, since the ceremony site was not far away). Some guests, though, were appalled (some were borderline livid). "How will we get our coats back?" "Can I come find you later to get a tag?" "What do you mean you don't have any tags?"
We did our best to quietly remind those guests (with a smile) that they are missing the ceremony and that we would be there all night to assist them. When an event has come to one of those points when the staff is working as hard as they can (to fix someone else's mistake no less) and guests are still giving you a hard time, it's tough not to say "You're late and missing the ceremony. Why don't you just shut up, give me your coat and sit down?"
Of course, you can not say that. What I did tell them (again with a smile) was that we would be here all night to help everyone find their coats.
Luckily, guests left this wedding in drips and drabs and not all at once. This made it easier to assist them with getting their belongings. Most of the people that were upset by the coat check situation had loosened up (in part by our reassuring smiles, but also the bar service) and were much more polite on their way out.
Being a wedding planner requires that you be able to roll with the punches and take on jobs that might be beyond the scope of your responsibilities. In this case, it was running the coat check. Whatever the drama at your event, just remember to stay calm, work fast and smile all the while. That mantra will help you every time.
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