Turning Plan B into Plan A

As a planner, our number one goal is to bring our client’s visions to life with the utmost care and attention to detail. Our joy and happiness come from seeing a smiling face at the end of the night, knowing that we have worked together as a team to create an event that is one to remember. As a planner, if I have learned one thing throughout my years of executing events, is to, in the words of the Boy Scouts, “always be prepared.” Along with our arsenal of tools: double stick tape, scissors, bobby pins, clips, band-aids, you name it, we always have our secret weapon at the ready—PLAN B. Just as in life, some days do not always go according to plan despite how much we prepare. This is especially true with events that are planned for the great outdoors. While Mother Nature complies most of the time, there are instances when we are at her mercy and forced to reroute and re-design our initial plans. This weekend was the perfect reminder as a planner to always try to be two steps ahead of Mother Nature and try to out-think and out-prepare her in order to fulfill my couple’s wedding visions and dreams.

 We spent the last 5 months planning every detail for Devin + Grady’s wedding in Rome, Georgia at his grandfather’s private estate. It is a beautiful, traditional Southern-style estate with large, welcoming white columns at its entrance, and sprawling, well-manicured greens in the backyard. The venue was especially sentimental, and it was easy to see why the couple wanted to use the picturesque backyard as the backdrop for their ceremony and reception. The ceremony was planned for the lower lawn, which was accessible by a newly laid stone walkway, with a backdrop of perfectly positioned trees. The reception to follow was slated on the upper lawn under a beautiful clear tent that was designed to bring nature in and allow for natural light to highlight the beautiful couple and their nuptials.

 For anyone who has planned an outdoor wedding or event, you know that weather.com is your best ally. If you’re like me, your screen is constantly set to refresh to display the day-by-day, hour-by-hour forecast so I can feel as prepared as I can be. It was a crisp, sunny, Georgia fall day when we started erecting the tent, assembling the beautiful wooden farm tables, and staging the rest of the property for the big event on Saturday. As out-of-town guests arrived on Friday, the skies were a fresh blue with fluffy white clouds billowing up above. As we prepared for the ceremony rehearsal that evening, I hit refresh on my trusty weather app and I slowly came to the realization that this crisp fall day was about to be overtaken by dark skies and heavy clouds just in time for Devin + Grady’s wedding the next day. As the guests arrived for the rehearsal, I quickly started concocting Plan B in my head as I prepared to share the “good” news.  I knew I had to have my game plan on point. No pressure—you’re only about to, quite literally, rain on the Bride + Groom’s parade!

 If you have ever been a bride or groom going into her/his wedding weekend, or are a bride/groom-to-be, you know that any sudden change in plans could be, frankly, heartbreaking. You have spent months prepping, sweating, planning, and dreaming of every detail of your big day, and nothing, NOTHING, will stand in your way of having the Best. Day. Ever.

 In this situation, I could have easily started panicking and obsessing over the fact that I would have to break it to the Bride and Groom that the day they have imagined might not be exactly as they had envisioned. I wanted to share a few important things to remember as a planner in order to make the Plan B transition as smooth and painless as possible for those who are ever in a similar situation.

1. Never Let Them See You Sweat

Slowly count backward from 10 and find your center—where all great ideas evolve. It is near impossible to be clear-headed and at your very best when you are frantically throwing ideas around in your head. Even worse, out loud for all to hear. Yes, you may be stressed but what does that “chicken with their heads cut off” running around truly do for anyone? Nothing. Especially your bride who will feed off your nervous energy. Let that nervous energy swirl around inside of you while you remain the ever-cool and collective planner that you are! Trust in your abilities and perform. You’ve got this!

 2. Your Bride + Groom Are EVERYTHING

You wouldn’t be here without your Bride + Groom. Their feelings are of the utmost importance. They should be the very first ones to know about your Plan B and how you plan on transforming their big day into one that may not be what they envisioned but is equally as special. Your responsibility is to make informed decisions and suggestions, but never push them into a decision they are not comfortable with. Calmly outline your plans and gauge their reactions to see if you are putting their needs and wants first. You have spent months, sometimes years, planning together, so by now you should be able to see when your bride is truly happy or put off. I find it helpful to walk them through your idea step by step and explain why this would be the best solution. Get her buy-in before proceeding and ensure that every objection is addressed and resolved.

 3. Give Yourself A Deadline

As planners, one of our greatest strengths is also our weakness: people-pleasing. While we cannot control the weather, our bride and groom often assume that we can. Who can blame them? Who wants to change plans at the last minute? It is easy to say, no worries, we can keep it as is and do a little rain dance, cross our fingers, and pray to the skies, but in all reality, this does nothing but give false hope. Your responsibility is to make the call in a timely manner to set the expectations. The bride should never be in limbo as to when you are going to make the official change to Plan B. Always keep her in the know so she can enjoy a stress-free day as she prepares to walk down the aisle, wherever that aisle may be.

 4. Let Your Imagination Set You Free

All great ideas come from a place of innovation and creative thinking. As a planner, you are never confined to the adage of “this is how it has always been”. Your job is to see things as no one else does and through a glass that is half full. Redesign and re-purpose to make your Plan B seem like your Plan A. A dancefloor can be transformed into a platform for the ceremony chairs. An altar can become the backdrop to a head table. A space can be flipped from the ceremony to the reception with a few extra hands and a bit of heavy lifting. Re-work the spaces at your disposal until all the pieces of the wedding fall seamlessly back into place.

 5. Think of All The Angles + The Flow

You have spent months, maybe more, going over every detail of how the guests will arrive at the ceremony, enter the cocktail reception, and make their way to the reception area. Now that everything may potentially be flipped on its head and you need to redesign your plans. What you must not forget is how Plan B will affect your guest’s arrival experience and the overall flow. You also need to re-envision how your bride, groom, and the bridal party will enter each space. She still needs to have her WOW moment as she walks down the aisle. As far as the guests are concerned, make it appear that this is all how it was planned to be from the very beginning. If you are transitioning the ceremony space to the reception space, you need to think about how you are going to escort the guests to the new location so you can work your magic while guests are not interrupted. Can you extend the cocktail hour? Is there another additive that you can add to the timeline to give yourself enough time to make this happen with the least amount of disruption? At every angle, envision what your guest will see through their lens, and how you can mitigate any potential hurdles.

 6. Lastly—Your Plan B Should Look Like Your Plan A

As far as the guests are concerned, this was the wedding of your bride’s dreams! This is the day that she has envisioned since her engagement ring was placed on her finger. For those attending, they should be none the wiser that this was not Plan A. For that matter, the bride needs to still have the stress-free day that you and your team have promised her. You still have every detail mapped out despite the minor (or major) changes that came with Plan B. You are still prepared to execute this day as if it were the one you’ve planned all along. Be cool, calm, collected, and confident!

 In the end, October 19th wasn’t the clear, crisp, fall day we all envisioned; however, it turned out to be the most perfect, cozy, intimate, and stunning wedding! Our bride’s nerves were set at ease and she was able to walk down the aisle with a smile on her face and tears in the groom’s eyes. The I Do’s were said beneath grey skies that parted to allow a slit of sunlight to shine down. Devin + Grady grabbed an umbrella and took stunning photos throughout the property. The guests danced the night away under the twinkle of market lights and the warmth of heaters. A bouquet was tossed. A cake was cut. And they were sent away beneath an aisle of sparklers. Plan B masqueraded herself as the perfect Plan A!

 All we have to say is the smile on the Bride’s face cannot be denied!

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