“This is not real life.” These words, spoken near the conclusion of the Jennifer Lopez rom-com, The Wedding Plannerwill surely ring true with real life wedding planners who don’t wind up with Matthew McConaughey.
“Real life” is turning the fairytale wedding into a reality at a time of economic challenges and 21st century priorities. And, of course, never letting the bride and her family see you sweat the details.
Ann Trombino, the wedding coordinator for Hughes Catering in South Florida, is new to the business. She used the company to cater her own daughter’s wedding, and the staff was so impressed with her own planning skills that they offered her a job. She works with director of sales Pam MacEwan, an almost 18-year veteran, who has seen the changes to the industry wrought by the 2008 economic collapse.
“Everyone is on a budget these days,” she told Millionaire Corner. “The amount of guests are getting smaller. “Many people are choosing to have their weddings in their homes,” she said. “Ceremonies are getting shorter and more casual. “But we work within whatever their budget is.”
The more things change, the more they stay the same, though. Brides, Trombino observed, still splurge on the dress. Couples are also more likely to cut back on flowers to accommodate food and entertainment costs. “People are making their own flower arrangements, or providing their own beverages. Or perhaps they have a friend who they will use as a photographer or DJ.”
More eco-conscious couples are also prevailing upon the wedding planner to green-up the nuptials that were being held in a nature center. “I just had a customer who wanted sustainable dishes and napkins,” she said. “Requests for gluten-free food” are also on the rise, MacEwan added.
The other thing that hasn’t changed about wedding planning is the amount of work and planning it takes to make the bride’s day as worry-free as possible. MacEwan said she can’t help but take the work home. “We put our heart and soul into our work,” she said. “There are so many details. (I look on it as if) I am planning my own wedding. Sometimes I can’t sleep at night. The challenge is to get everything coordinated so when the bride comes in, everything we planned for so long is pulled together. (The reward is) when you see the happiness on her face.”
The less said about so-called Bridezillas, the better. “You bite your tongue,” MacEwan said.
It’s a fine line you must walk.” Job one, she said, is to “make them feel comfortable.”
In wedding planning, it is best for brides to “keep an open mind and to be realistic,” but at the end of the day, say Trombino and MacEwan, it’s all about taking on the brides’ stress to make sure “everything goes the way they envisioned it.”
Millionaire Corner research finds that even millionaires believe weddings have become too lavish. MacEwan and Trombino find more families are allocating financial responsibilities. “They split things up,” MacEwan said. “Parents are putting down deposits. The bride’s family may pay for the wedding, while the groom’s family pays for the rehearsal dinner.”
Trombino is a relative newcomer to the industry, but she speaks like a seasoned veteran when asked what wedding tradition she would like to see abolished. Without hesitation, she answered, “the garter toss. “It’s gotta go.”
Donald Liebenson writes news and features for Millionaire Corner. He has been published in the Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Los Angeles Times, Fiscal Times, Entertainment Weekly, Huffington Post, and other outlets. He has also served as a marketing writer for Chicago-based Questar Entertainment and distributor Baker & Taylor.
A graduate of the University of Southern California, he is married with a college-age son. He also writes extensively about entertainment.