One of my favorite jobs at church is wedding coordinator. I only handle the wedding rehearsal, the church preparations, and the ceremony on the big day. It's hard work, but I love it. The wedding party is usually stressed out about how it will all come together, and that's were I come in. I've been doing it since 2007, right after my daughter got married at St. George.
When I got married, my mom did everything. I mean everything. I was told where to be and when. I picked out my wedding gown, the bridesmaids dresses, the wedding cake, and my flowers. That was all the responsibility I had. Even though I wanted tamales and beer at my reception, we had a buffet dinner with smoked turkey, macaroni salad, and the trimmings and an open bar. Mom was amazing. Her friends served the food; Daddy's friends were bar tenders. Everything went without a hitch. I had an amazing photographer.
My daughter and I planned her wedding. Before her wedding, my daughter told me she needed to get in touch with a lady at my church. I couldn't imagine why. Then I found out we had a wedding coordinator. Before church one Sunday, I asked the coordinator what she did. Then I asked her if I could help. She almost hugged me she was so happy that I asked. Then, before I knew it, I was in charge, and a year later, she retired.
God works in mysterious ways. I've thought about being a wedding coordinator since the kids were in their mid teens. I even made business cards (Alana's Weddings), and researched venues and caterers. But I was still in school and the kids were just getting into their busy teen lives, and the idea just sort of fizzled. Then a few years ago, a friend and I resurrected the idea, but again, my busy schedule didn't allow it. So I figured it would be a retirement thing.
Being a wedding coordinator for St. George is the best of both worlds. I don't have to find the clients, the church staff takes care of the scheduling and the paperwork, and I just contact the bride or groom a few weeks before the day and answer any questions they have. Our pastor and I handle the rehearsal (usually a friend of mine joins us), and I handle the wedding with any volunteers I can get. Our work is strictly volunteer. My duties for a wedding begin with the first contact with the bride and/or groom. I ask questions about the bridal party: How many bridesmaids and groomsmen? Will there be a flower girl or ring bearer? Will there be ushers? How many guests are they expecting? Will they have Communion? How many do they expect to receive Communion? Then right before the rehearsal, I remind them what to bring to the rehearsal, i.e., the license, the checks for the musician, custodian, Altar Guild, etc.
At the rehearsal, Father and I run through the ceremony, placement of the bridal party at the altar, the readers, the order down the aisle, and if there will be ushers, I teach them how to usher. It helps to have the musician there so we can run through when the songs are to start and end.
I was trained as a Lay Eucharistic Minister in case there wasn't one available. But since I've been trained, I've become the LEM for weddings, and that makes some things awkward. With me behind the altar, I can't help guests get to the altar rail. I'll definitely have to work on getting 2 people to help me at all weddings, especially if there are no ushers. At one of our weddings, my pastor asked his wife to usher and we enlisted a guest to help her.
This weekend we had a beautiful wedding. It was the first one where the wedding party went down the aisle as couples. Everyone was so easy to work with. My pastor wasn't part of this one, so I was basically in charge. It was scary and fun at the same time. I worked with my Altar Guild partner, and she was great. We work well together. It's funny, I want to work with someone who is not afraid to make decisions, but I have a hard time letting go of control.
On the big day, I try to arrive about 15-20 min. earlier than the bridal party so I can unlock all the doors and turn on all the lights. The custodian and I work together to make the men and women comfortable and the space perfect for the ceremony. I run back and forth between the church and the office to make sure the guys know where they are supposed to be. Things get really hectic the last 30 minutes before the ceremony: I pin the corsages on the moms, then I run across the street to the guys and pin on their boutineers. Then, I or our pastor lights the candles. I find out if the ladies, particularly the bride, is ready to go, get the guys over to the church, make sure the families are seated in the proper places (didn't do this so well yesterday), get the moms down to their seats, turn on the microphone (forgot yesterday too), and then it's show time! The bridesmaids are usually apprehensive about getting down the aisle. The hardest part is getting them to go slowly. The bride is the most nervous of all. Normally, they have their dads with them for support. And they are at their most beautiful in their nervousness and gorgeous gowns.
When everything is over, everything is put away and I can go home, I'm usually in pain and exhausted but happy that everything went well. I'm thrilled to be a part of one of the most important events in a person's life. Being a wedding coordinator is the hardest job that I'll ever love.