All the Buzz About Outdoor Weddings

The One With The Yellow Jackets

I facilitated a fall wedding in a beautiful Chicago park. There were roughly 75 guests and although it was misting/raining, everyone seemed to not mind. When you get to work with really great, genuinely kind couples, guests don’t seem to mind when it’s 50 degrees out and raining.

The reception was going to be in this sweet little pavilion. All the guests were asked to bring a dish to share for a potluck dinner following the ceremony. As the guests were arriving, they had to drop their dishes off at the pavilion then continue to the ceremony sight about 200 yards away that overlooked a beautiful landscape of trees and a waterfall. I had taken all my umbrellas and they were definitely getting used- #PreparedForAlmostEverything #WeddingPlannerForTheWin
As the guests would enter the pavilion, I was sorting hot food and cold foods, desserts and sides. Since we were in a park, there were environmental conditions naturally occuring… like insects being attracted to delicious potluck dinner food. In my attempt to try not to bother the insects, but continue to get things ready for when the 15 minutes ceremony was over, my confidence got the best of me… or should I say the swarming yellow jackets got the best of me. Yup- I got stung. Right between my thumb and index finger too. Naturally, I said a naughty words. They flowed like a river… right in front of the Priest. #FacePalm He kept asking me if I was ok and if I was allergic to yellow jacket stings. Side note- because I have severe allergies, I’ve been tested to see everything airborne I’m allergic to. However, although yellow jackets fly in the air, they are not considered airborne… so I had absolutely no idea if my throat was about to close up and I was going to die at this wedding. Verbally I was telling the Priest I was alright… but my mind was still flowing like a river with the wonder of how my body was going to react.

I continued to work… and watch my hand swell. It was time for the ceremony. As I walked the quarter mile to the ceremony site, carrying the bride’s veil, I just kept wondering how long it would be until I’d break out with hives, spike an uncontrollable fever, swell up to the size of the Violet of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and be rushed to the emergency room- and I was really hoping one of these guests, who would be considered a complete stranger to me, would be kind enough to take me to the emergency room for an epi pen. Clearly I was thinking of the worst case scenario… maybe a tick dramatic… but I got the wedding and reception done without meeting any Chicago doctors :) Yay! Thank you, Lord!

Not only did I get the job done, but then I became a bee whisperer. I was in the College of Agriculture at Purdue and had taken an entomology class. The pavilion had a wood fireplace that was burning pretty well. As the guests arrived and the the yellow jackets held their ground over the food, I decided to take a burning/smoking log from the fireplace to smoke the bees out of the area. Ever have one of those moments where you even surprise yourself with your resourcefulness?… this was one of those times for me. I had actually paid attention during one of my entomology labs!
I might have looked slightly crazy walking the food line with a smoking stick to prevent the bees from wanting anything to do with our area, but at least the 75 guests were safe. I eventually told the bride and groom that I had been stung and I wasn’t trying to add a rustic mesquite taste to their food, but I was trying to keep the party going.

I drove away from that wedding feeling slightly like a hero because no one else was stung. I also had a club for a hand and couldn’t wait to get to a drug store to ice it and have the pharmacists apply a sting kit to my giant hand. It took about 10 days and a round of antibiotics until my hand started feeling and looking normal again. This was indeed a wedding I made no money on due to medical expenses, but I did learn a lot. Now I come prepared with a sting kit and bug spray to all my outdoor weddings. :) Actually, I have an entire med kit in my car that a nurse practitioner helped me build. Thanks to this kit and my obsession with Grey’s Anatomy, I’m pretty sure I could handle any medical emergency at any all points in time for all occasions.

I BYOBC.... I Bring My Own Bolt Cutters

The One With The Padlock

I have a “May Poppins Bag” that I take with me to every wedding. It has emergency essentials like bobby pins, duct tape, super glue, a sewing kit, etc. My bag has grown from a make-shift diaper bag to a full blown bag with small bags inside.

Once upon a time, I did this beautiful wedding at church and the reception was at a very quaint barn venue. The bride and groom had hired all their vendors and had me come in for the day-of coordinating. The caterer had brought with them a mobile refrigerator unit to keep the food and beverages cold.

I was just starting to take my deep sigh of relief that all guests had transitioned from the ceremony site to the reception site with no issues. The bridal party had arrived and had unloaded off the party bus and gone straight to the bar. The bride came running to me and said the most terrifying words that could ever be spoken at a cocktail hour, “The bartenders have locked themselves outside of the cooler and can’t get to the drinks… they can’t get to the alcohol!" The mobile freezer trailer had come with a padlock and a key. The last bartender had put the padlock on backwards and we could not get the key into the hole to unlock the padlock.

There were roughly 300 people at this reception, we were 15 minutes into cocktail hour, and there was roughly $1,800 worth of beverages locked in a steel locked box. Awesome.

The natives were starting to get thirsty and restless. My clever distractions of large group photos were starting to run out. Then it happened! At that exact moment, I would have sworn this man’s name was Fabio and moving in slow motion like in the movies… but in reality he was a dairy farmer from across the road carrying bolt cutters running towards me. He saved the day!

My “Mary Poppins Bag” grew that day. I still carry bobby pins, duct tape, zippy ties, and safety pins… but I also leave a pair of bolt cutters in my car… just in case.


Best Man Demoted

The One With The Hammered Best Man

Early on in my career as a wedding coordinator, I was unaware how much was truly out of my control. I did not have in my contracts that I was not responsible for the unruliness of family and friends, the weather, and poor vendor selection if my couple neglected to ask for my advice. It is now in every contract that my couples are required to sign.

I am not in control of how much the bridal party drinks during the day. I hear many pastors the night of the rehearsal warn the bridal party to not drink during the day because the bride and groom are entering a legal marriage and signing a legal document once they say, “I do.” 90% of the people he talks to apparently stroke out during this pep talk because I go through more Listerine strips in one day, than most people do in a year. Why 90% and not 100%? Roughly 10% of my bridal parties have been pregnant or underage.

On one occasion, I experienced one of the most jaw dropping best man speeches I’ve ever heard. I’ve grown accustomed to the, “Hi, my name is Bob and here’s a story of the groom from college, what he called and told me when he met the bride and a toast to the happy couple”… sound familiar? This speech was kind of like that… except when he got to the part where he was supposed to toast the bride and groom, there was a plot twist.

“Bride and groom, I wish you many years of happiness. Bride, you should have married me. But hey, there’s always the groom’s mom.”

Yup. True story.

Now, when my couples and I start conversing before the wedding, I ask, “how much does your best man drink? Can he handle his liquor? Does he have a thing for your mom, sister, grandma, or any other woman near and dear to you?” Every single one of my best men get a glass of water and solid food before they give their memorable toast to the bride and groom.

Remember boys and girls, it’s a wedding toast not a roast.



As a wedding coordinator, I get to experience every chaotic part of a wedding. Since I am a professional who prides herself in keeping the flowability of the day running as smooth as possible, I keep my (often hilarious) commentary to myself to not draw attention to the madness. I do share my adventures with my husband and some of my closest friends because let’s face it, any time you get that many family members together or people who have had a little too much cheer in the same room, you’re going to get some EPIC stories out of each event. I have been encouraged by an alarming amount of people to write a book. I don’t have time to read a book, let alone write one. So I’m going to give this blogging thing a go and see if I can’t end up on Ellen… although I think I might have a better chance at Dr. Phil because after all, I enjoy planning and coordinating weddings.

The names of the people in these tales have been changed to protect the innocent. These are their stories.