Lori was my first client. She lived in D.C. with her fiance Drew, and their wedding plans were Grand with a capital G: A ceremony in the Hall of Sculpture followed by a reception in the Music Hall Foyer, all within the historic Carnegie Museum of Art.
They hired a string quartet to play Kanye West. There were gold candelabras and red roses at each dinner table. Lori had two stunning gowns. They scheduled an evening photoshoot with their adorable dog, Yinzer, and still had time to end their night with a 90s power hour on the dance floor.
It was the perfect balance of class and character, and I couldn’t believe my luck. When she signed the contract, I celebrated in my own Grand way: A glass of prosecco at Grapperia. Cheers!
The day of, I woke up ridiculously early. I was so nervous you’d think it was MY wedding day (Save the date! June 22, 2019). I got to the venue, and started setup with Tori, the Museum's event manager. I knew she was a rock star after she replied to my introduction e-mail within two minutes, and answered every single question. Plus, she was funny.
As the morning turned into afternoon, everything was going perfectly. Escort cards were set in a perfect circle in ABC order. Twenty candelabras were gleaming on pin-spotted dinner tables. Lori and Drew’s cocktail hour slideshow was up and running. The laser cut Disney cake topper was...on top of the cake. The DJ was setting up speakers, The chuppah was up, and the bridal party was outside taking photos on Forbes Ave.
God, I loved weddings...and I hadn’t even done one yet!
The red flag: Throughout the day, there was a running confusion about Lori and Drew’s wedding rings. It evolved into a game of telephone I’d been trying to unravel between managing the vendors setup and keeping Lori and Drew’s impressive pre-ceremony photography schedule on time.
All afternoon, the questions grew. I played the messenger between Lori and Drew, who wouldn’t see or talk to each other until Lori was down the aisle, which--no duh--would be way too late to matter. Who had the rings again? Did the best man have them? Lori had hers, but not Drew’s. Oh, Lori had both? No, just hers! Where was Drew’s?
This is the part in the story where I need to back up to the week before, when like any person faking it ‘til they make it, I Googled ‘what to put in wedding emergency kits.’ I was so excited to go to Target and spend $300 to fill a suitcase with everything to save the day at each wedding I worked. I screenshotted a great list, and went off shopping.
When I got to “fake wedding rings,” I rolled my eyes and laughed. Yeah right, I thought. I’d never need that. This wasn’t an episode of Friends. I moved on to floss.
Seven days later, I was less than an hour away from my first wedding ceremony, and no one knew where the wedding rings were. I bought every single item on that stupid list (even floss, which to this day, is still untouched!) except the stand-in rings for emergencies such as this.
Guests were starting to arrive. The groom was hidden away, lined up with the groomsmen in a dark hallway 10 feet from the altar, racking his brain. The bride was in her suite, allegedly unaware that we still hadn’t found the rings (Post-ceremony she came clean: She knew!) The father of the groom had already swooped out to double check their house for them, specifically a dresser in their guest room.
And then, a memory breakthrough from the groom: The rings were in a box, in a bag, in the glove compartment of the bride and groom’s car, parked valet, at the hotel...directly across the street.
One call to the father of the groom, and 10 minutes later he was back, rings in hand!
All was well. The ceremony started on time. Lori’s dad officiated, and there were happy tears. Lori and Drew exchanged the rings with a smirk; Their first inside joke as a married couple. The rest of the night went flawlessly. Best. First Wedding. Ever.
What I learned: Communicate and plan for those ‘little-big’ things with your clients in advance. Little-big things include those 'obvious' items that are crucial to the day...Items like the rings.
At every final planning meeting, I ask my client this question: Who is in charge of the rings?
At the rehearsal, I introduce myself to the designated ring keeper (typically the best man or maid of honor) and remind them that they’ll be in change of the rings.
When they arrive for the ceremony, I ask them: Do you have the rings? They show me. Cue laugh track.
And then, if all else fails, there is now a set of fake wedding rings in my suitcase. Just in case!
Photos: Sasha Danielle Photography