I can't claim to have just learned this in 2010 but I definitely found out that no matter how long you have to plan and no matter how many planning meetings you manage, something will always go wrong. Once you accept that, it will make your life easier. Brides, you'll be able to relax knowing that something that will go wrong, will be covered by your planner. Planners, you'll stay on your toes, knowing that when something inevitably goes wrong, you'll be ready for it.
Well, what could go wrong, you ask? Anything. There is a never ending list of things that can go wrong. Different venues represent different complications. Different vendors mean different personalities to work with, which means LOTS of different things. Different Brides will always mean new styles of planning, different levels of planning and different needs from your planning process. While all of that information doesn't help you to KNOW what will go wrong, it at least lets you know that there are SO many areas you have to cover when working on a wedding, so you have to be detailed to be safe.
For new wedding planners, this is where you lack based only on not having the experience with all of the different people, places and things but it still doesn't mean you can't do a good job, you just have to be even more detailed and more prepared.
For experienced wedding planners it means that you always have to be prepared and there is no such thing as being totally certain of how to run any wedding. You'll always have issues, but the more experience you have the easier things are to handle, the more likely you are to expect things and the calmer you'll be, when things do come up.
During this year, things came up that I can say I just found to come from out of left field. After almost 10 years in the event industry, you'd think that I'd expect anything but that's just not possible. You'll never be able to expect everything. You can be prepared for anything but being "ready" for everything is unrealistic. If you are hiring a planner that is claiming to know it all/done it all and they are insisting your event will be PERFECT, you might want to reconsider this person as they clearly have never worked a wedding.
However, as a planner my job is to make it "seem" like the event went perfect. The greatest comment that client's leave (and you'll find this type of comment on any good planners feedback page) is saying that "if anything did go wrong, they didn't know." You never want them to know, you never want to stop any part of their day to seek them out for help, assistance or questions. A good planner has to know that and be prepared to handle anything. That's why you always want to have plenty of planning meetings as well as lots of documentation that review all of your details, timeline, setup and expectations.
Okay, so you've been waiting for examples and I'll give you a few.
My classic example from one of my earlier weddings was hands down the best example I have when I'm asked about fixing a difficult situation.
A May wedding was being planned and due to the amount of rain, I asked the tent vendors to setup the tent a week early so we were sure that the reception ground had time to dry. They setup the tent and we had a long week of time that the reception area should have been drying. Well, when we went to setup the wedding, the staff was setting up tables and hurrying along to get the chairs up, linens on and settings out before the florist arrived. Halfway through setup, we realized half the tables were "crooked" and I asked the staff to go back and setup again. Well, come to find out that the week of drying, hadn't really dried anything out. The ground was soaked, wet and mushy and the tables were sinking into the ground. There was NO indoor space available so we had to work with the outdoor swamp space. We ended up having spare wood planks for the fire-pit that we had at an even the night before. We broke them up and used them under each leg, of each table to stop the sinking. The tables stayed up, but halfway through the event, everyone was covered in mud. Thankfully, it was a great group and most of them ended up barefoot and dancing through the night. The bride had no idea the tables were sinking, that they had sunk into the ground at one point and she just enjoyed her time.
There was really no way to be ready for that and had the wood not been in the truck, I'm not exactly sure what we would have done but now I know. If this were to happen again, we'd know what to do. Hopefully, it doesn't happen again. Hopefully and now I know that a week isn't long enough to dry out a field. Lesson learned.
Other, shorter examples.
Problem- DJ not showing up (this situation proved that you should always take your planners recommendations, NOT use someone that you "found" that is "cheap)
Solution- Call vendors in the are and find a DJ available that evening, offer to pay them LOTS of money and have them show up, on time and ready to play the music that is on the music list that the planner SHOULD have on hand.
Problem- Bride realizes the garter she had is lost and now she has nothing for the garter removal ceremony.
Solution- This is an easy one as you should always have a backup for everything in your "wedding emergency kit."
Problem- Limo service leaves hotel with all of your wedding guests, except Great Grandma and Grandpa.
So, those are just a few, but the list is endless. There is usually something that happens at each wedding that makes you, the planner, realize how lucky the bride was to have you there. Sometimes, they never know, but that's the point.