Rookie Wedding Planner Mistakes Part 1

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Do you remember when you were little and people used to ask you what you wanted to be when you grew up?

For me the answer was easy, I wanted to become a concert pianist and play on big orchestral stages around the world. (And just so you know, I did actual play the piano for many years).

In my head it was absolutely possible to play concertos and sonatas from Beethoven, Rachmaninov and Chopin, who were my favourite composers. And get paid lots of money to do it. Anything was possible at the age of ten.

Unfortunately some things are just not meant to be although I do still play for fun. Piano is now a hobby and not a career.

But what was your dream? What did you want to be when you grew up?

I bet you didn’t say ‘Wedding Planner‘….I certainly didn’t and yet I’ve been in the wedding industry for over 25 years now.

However, somewhere along the line the idea of being a wedding planner must have crossed your mind because that’s why you’re here, reading this blog post.

And I wouldn’t mind betting you’ve also spent time wondering exactly how to make that happen. What to do first? How to get all the information you need.

All those questions are perfectly natural and ones I hear all the time, you’re definitely not alone.

So I thought it’d be fun to share some of the mistakes it’s easy to make as brand new wedding planner. And trust me I’ve made some absolute doozies myself.

And to kick this series off in full style I’m calling this mistake ‘To Paddle or not to Paddle
The lesson to learn here is to ALWAYS expect the unexpected as a Wedding Planner.

Now to put some context to this story I need to quickly give you a little background.

At the time, I was living in Australia and working as the Event Operations Director on a five star tropical island called Hayman Island.

I’d sold my event company in London to my ex business partner and moved lock, stock and barrel to the great land of Oz.

Bearing in mind I’d never worked exclusively for one venue before, let alone an island where there was only one boat a day to get to the mainland, it’s safe to say it was quite a shock to my system.

It took me a while to get my head around the fact that there was a chapel on the island on top of a hill that overlooked the ocean, a pool that we would often use to set up evening receptions, and of course the beach where everyone wanted to host a dinner.

Anyway, long story short, two weeks after my arrival on the island we had our first big wedding. I say big because in Hayman terms it was big – it was for 100 guests and normally a standard wedding was less than 25.

The wedding was taking place over a weekend and the first night was the Rehearsal Dinner and it was to take place on the beach.

I was beyond excited and couldn’t wait to see the whole thing unfold.

Wedding on the Beach

The couple arrived on the island before their guests and we did our usual meet and greet with the chef, florist and banquet supervisor to go over all the details for the whole event – no stone left unturned.

Now one thing you should know about Hayman is they only allowed me to keep a small permanent staff and for the big events I had to pull staff from other departments – yep I’m talking landscaping, engineering, housekeeping and even laundry.

Some of these people had never carried plates before let alone done wine service.

Never one to let minor things like lack of trained staff get me down I held two big training evenings to bring my new staff up to speed and felt pretty confident.

So there we were halfway through the set up for the beach dinner when one of my landscape gardners, newly promoted to wine waiter, asked me if I’d measured the tide.

I looked at him rather blankly and made a non-commital sort of noise.

He stood there looking at me expectantly and I mumbled something about not being entirely sure what he was talking about.

Wedding Planner Mistakes

It turns out that when you have a beach dinner on Hayman Island you need to go out onto the beach first thing in the morning to measure how far the tide had come up so you knew where to position your tables so your guests weren’t paddling during the main course.

OMG! It hadn’t even entered my head to even think about something like this.

Luckily for me my landscape gardner was one step ahead of me and had taken it upon himself to do it for me. Using words like rookie, new, and untrained he strode off to tell the other landscape gardners to move the tables I’d so carefully set up into a position that meant all guests would have dry feet throughout the meal.

I was mortified. Just that morning I’d been moaning to my small but brilliant permanent team how much of nightmare it was having to work with untrained gardners – turns out they knew more than I did!

As I say the moral of that story is to expect the unexpected and never assume anything.

Other things I’ve had to do that weren’t on the list include things such as:

  • Covering 250 seats with chair covers when the rental company staff dumped and ran
  • Plunging toilets when they overflowed and started to smell
  • Polish cutlery on 26 tables of 10 (250 settings) because the banquet staff were on their break
  • Drive to the local supermarket to get cigarettes when the venue completely ran out of them

And my personal favourite, play the piano for the reception when the harpist got stuck on the motorway and couldn’t get to the venue. I knew my pianist skills would come in handy one day.

So, knowing all this do you still want to become a wedding planner?

I hope so because I can truly say, hand on heart, it’s the best job in the world.

And of course, if it really was what you wanted to be when you grew up then check out our courses and learn how to become a wedding planner avoiding all the rookie mistakes >>>

Advanced Certificate in Wedding Planning Design and Business Modules


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David Tutera

Leading Wedding & Entertaining Expert, David Tutera is hailed as an artistic visionary whose ability, uniquely creative talents and outstanding reputation have made him a tremendous success in the lifestyle arena. Tutera has created a name for himself by taking his passion for designing spectacular events and transforming it into a lifestyle.

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