Monday, January 4, 2010

A Beautiful Nightmare

Saturday morning. I am fresh, I have had my triple soy latte and I’m ready to set up, it’s cold, sprinkling, and this is an outdoor wedding, in August, in Seattle… enough said. I am early as usual, a good start. I load up the rolling cart with boxes of stuff, framed photos for the remembrance table, favors, and programs galore. I glance at my phone; the tent company should be here in 20 minutes. The florist arrives, the first thing I see: buckets of carnations. What the hell are those doing here???

My bride has a fantasy, the most important part of her ceremony. When each guest arrives they are handed a single calla lily. At a certain point in the ceremony each guest comes to the front and places their flower into a huge vase, then each parent, then the couple, a community bouquet. A logistical nightmare true, but a beautiful nightmare none the less. The florist promptly informs me that all the calla lilies were dead, so she brought carnations instead. Carnations! Are you kidding me? Those are not a substitute, not with a $5000.00 floral budget.

Ok, it will be fine, I can go to the market and find 100 calla lilies right? Yeah right is more like it, not happening, carnations it is, hopefully this will be the only hiccup of the day. Nope… florist again, I brought the wrong size vases… ok, deep breath in the car go to the store find the right vases, pay $280 out of pocket and pray someone reimburses me. Drop by the market no calla lilies, drop by the wholesaler: you should have placed an advance order. Ok 38 callas and 62 carnations? Nope, carnations it really is.

Still Saturday morning, well it’s actually almost 3pm now, not technically morning. I stand on the rooftop of the bell tower waiting for the tent company, they are only 3 hours late… no problem, maybe they can set up the tent in 5 minutes instead of 60; never mind the fact that the tent draper has been waiting since 10 am, waiting to do her 6 hour tent draping job which will now take place in one hour instead. It’s hot, and I mean really hot, my makeup is melted completely I’m sweating profusely and I don’t even sweat when jogging.

I am stressed, like I need a cigarette even though I don’t smoke stressed. The tent company was confirmed last week and last night and I have spoken with the manager every 15 minutes for last 3 hours. No one can do anything without the tent being set up. This is a nightmare, a total nightmare. The florist has set up the ceremony flowers, it looks like crap, not enough crystals at all, my bride is going to be pissed. “Maybe you can hang some more crystals”, ok good she’s adding more, and here comes the tent company.

They inform me they need at least 45 minutes to set up, ummm no, you have 15, the ceremony starts at 5pm, people will be arriving at 4:30 and it’s now 3:15. Does no one realize how much is left to do? I am suddenly considering firing my assistant for having the flu today and making a mental note never to use these vendors again. The tent draper is extremely pissed, of course she’s pissed I’m pissed too, but I cannot do anything at this point. I bring a lot of just in case things; a 40 X 60 tent is not one of them. And now the florist has left so I get to set up all the centerpieces alone, awesome.

OK, the tent is set up, the dance floor is in place, the draper is on her ladder it’s been 30 minutes there is no way the tent is going to be draped completely, or is going to look good at all, I suddenly wish I would have said no to this wedding. Ceremony space check! The bride was insistent that programs be placed on chairs, it’s windy up here, not happening; they will get handed out with the carnations. Handed out like I suggested 40 times; make a mental note if your wedding is outdoors your programs will not be on chairs, it doesn’t work.

I begin to set up the remembrance table. Crystal tree in place, framed family photos in place, candles in place. It looks good, really good, I am impressed. Maybe this wedding will be ok after all. I’m getting too optimistic, the draper bumps into the table and crystal frames shatter on the floor. Great! At least extra frames are a just in case item I brought. I quickly reframe the 6 pictures and threaten the personal safety of anyone that comes within 3 feet of the table.

Things are moving at record speed now. Guests are standing waiting to be let into the gate. The venue sets up round tables, I make them tear them down, rectangular tables! Hello??? Don’t you have a work order? Its 4:50 I finish lighting the candles, give it a once over and tell security to open the gate. The tent does not look good, maybe no one will notice, I suppose you wouldn’t notice if you didn’t know what it was supposed to look like. I know who will notice the bride, shoot the bride, I have not even checked on the bride. This is tough without my assistant. Ok guests are seated, groom and Officiant are about to go to the front, time to get the bride.

I hop in the elevator and notice my shoe is wet, I slip it off and look inside, and it’s filled with blood. My feet are bleeding! Actually bleeding, both feet. Why did I choose to wear new shoes today??? I stop in the bathroom and fold up paper towels, place them in my shoes and run to get the bride. She looks good. Really good, her dress is awesome, it has a slit almost all the way up to the crotch, normally I would say no good. But on her it looks perfect. I fix her veil, adjust her train and she gives me a hug. Good she’s drunk, maybe she wont notice the tent or the flowers.

I slip the ring bearer a five dollar bill, he walks down the aisle. I primp, encourage, and see the bridal party down the aisle. I wave the bride off. This was worth it for sure, she looks great, the groom looks happy, they both are happy. This is why I do it, all that stress and rushing and now it is what it is. Ok time to light the centerpiece candles and make sure the dinner area is ready. This is the part that looks good. The tables: centerpieces are arranged perfectly, sure I had to do them myself, they are carnations not callas, but they look good, I am happy with it.

What I am not happy with are the tied off pieces of fabric hanging down, ok what can you expect when someone does a 6 hour job in one? Everyone is saying how great everything looks, they must be blind, or I am too detail oriented. My feet are killing me, my shoes squish when I walk they are filling with blood at an alarming rate, and I am exhausted. I sit down as cocktail hour ensues and pray everything else runs smoothly. First dance runs great. But then oh my god! Beaver shot from the bride! I run over, “DO NOT DO THAT WITH YOUR LEGS!”

It is now 7:30 and I haven't eaten all day. The groom's parents and the bride's family all come and thank me for a job well done and praise the decor and other arrangements.  "It was a pleasure," I lie, and I fill up on rubber chicken and tough salmon.  The bride’s mother wont sit to eat, she’s sucking down her 10th cocktail, and is very busy being the prettiest "girl" in the room, loudly greeting people with much kissing and shrieks of.  I wonder if she's drunk. Why do I wonder of course she’s drunk, they all are.

The party is in full swing, dancing, the hokey pokey, ugh, I loathe the hokey pokey. The bride is officially hammered hanging all over me like a cheap coat, slurring her appreciation for a day well done. She is going to feel like crap in the morning. I set up favors. It’s now midnight as I try to usher everyone out. I have given up on shoes, we are supposed to be torn down and completely out by 12:30. The bride keeps leaving and then running back in like making us run late is the most hilarious thing imaginable. The brides mother is handing out centerpieces… WTF??? What is she doing!!! Giving away the florist’s vases, my god.

I quickly try to get back what I can, and explain unsuccessfully to the drunken mother that these are rented. Another 20 minutes and they are finally gone, that must be a record, it never takes that long. It wouldn’t have been so bad if it was a couple stragglers but it was the bride, the groom, the entire wedding party (all 18 of them), the drunk Officiant, the photographer, the brides parents, the grooms brother, the grooms parents. And look who just showed up… the florist, how nice of her to come tear down. Maybe I’ll get out of here after all.

I peel off my clothes and collapse in bed at 4:00, I’m ignoring the fact that my bloody feet are probably staining my white sheets, I’ll see the damage in the morning.  I wake up to an “Oh my god!” as my fiancé examines my feet, huge gashes along both heals and I can barely walk.
I can't wait to do this again….

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