My husband Bill posted a quote on the bulletin board in my office after we'd been planning weddings together for about a year. It remains there today, and has moved from office to office with us as Weddings in Vieques has grown.
"There is a difference between knowing what you want for your wedding and being straight up rude to the people who are trying to help you." - Author unknown.
Your wedding weekend, whether you choose to exchange vows in your hometown or down here in the Caribbean, will have some stress factors to it. That's just the nature of the beast. If you really want to have a completely stress-free wedding, then elope -- and only bring your fiancé with you. Otherwise, you have to expect that there will be some things that happen that are beyond your control. How you handle those stresses and the way that you treat the people who are trying to make your big day every bit as fabulous as you've always dreamed it would be says a lot about the kind of person that you are. And the manner in which you approach the people who have the ability to help you will have a lot to do with whether or not the problem gets fixed.
Let me start by sharing a couple of my favorite rude/tacky client examples to give this posting context. I'll start with the young lady (I use that term loosely) who missed her appointment for her marriage license by 45 minutes. The demographic office administrator was kind enough to give us another appointment that same afternoon, but the bride wasn't having it because she wanted to go to the beach. She began stamping her feet on the ground outside the office, yelling, "I'm the bride, I'm the bride, I'm the bride! You can't make me do anything. It's my week! I'm the bride." I'm dead serious. Fortunately she was outside in the hallway and not in front of the lady to gives out the licenses or they wouldn't have gotten married that weekend at all. I was speechless. But the funny thing was that a couple of local cops who were walking down the hallway actually stopped to check and make sure I was okay because they thought the bride was nuts and might attack me. Nice. Can you believe the groom actually said "I do" after that display?
My husband Bill's all-time fave is the bride who shall forever go down in history as "Captain B." I'll let you figure out which five-letter word the "B" stood for (hint: it wasn't "bride"). Anyway, she was an Army captain with a drinking problem and a foul mouth. Swear to God -- they almost didn't let her get on the plane to Puerto Rico because she was so drunk and rude to the flight attendants. But once she got to the island, my staff was her favorite target -- and not just me, she was a witch to everybody. After working with me for almost a year on her wedding planning, at the very beginning of her welcome party (the first of three days of events), she introduced me and my staff to her future parents-in-law as "the help." Sigh. She treated us like "the help" all weekend too. And I never heard the word thank you cross her lips to ANYONE.
I have seen brides screech at makeup artists and hairdressers because they're running late when the reason they are behind schedule is because the bride and her wedding party weren't ready to go at the designated time. And I have been the recipient of 3 a.m. terrorist text messages from wasted grooms who want me to know they "aren't getting married tomorrow" (of course, they always do).
You know the old saying "you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar?" It's true. And believe me, I have to remind myself of that every single time some nutjob wedding guest starts bitching at me for something completely beyond my control. But the old adage is very true for brides and grooms on their wedding day. As long as you stay sweet, as long as you smile, and as long as you ask nicely for whatever it is that you really need, you will be amazed at how the people who are tasked with making your experience flawless will trip over themselves to make sure you are happy. I sure do.
Even when you are the bride or groom and it is your actual wedding weekend, there is a right way and a wrong way to talk to your wedding planner, the vendors, their staff, and anybody else who comes in to your space as a part of the team executing your wedding weekend. Hopefully, you've hired a wedding planner who has everything under control. If you have questions or concerns, you raise them with her and she fixes them. Voila! But if you don't have a planner, or your planner isn't around, it's entirely possible that you will need to answer some questions or give some direction to the people who are trying to create the perfect wedding for you.
Here on Vieques Island, I always caution my clients to be polite everywhere they go. You never know if your waitress for dinner could turn out to be your wedding photographer. Or what if the bartender for your wedding reception is the same person who led your bioluminescent bay kayak tour the night before? You probably won't know where your overlaps lie until your actual wedding night. That can be a lousy time to find out that you stiffed your photographer two nights ago and now you're hoping she can find the light that makes you look best.