Weddings, quite simply, are a blast.
This is something we all know and recognize. But sometimes, we forget to acknowledge the people behind the scenes who make all the fun happen: the event coordinators. Most brides and grooms are endlessly thankful for the people who plan and execute their big days, but wedding guests can easily forget the planners working to make sure every special moment flows seamlessly.
Ever wondered what a wedding planner does during the ceremony? What about the craziest wedding mishap one has ever witnessed? We interviewed Stephanie Carr, Chubb Hotel’s expert event coordinator, to learn about how a wedding really goes down.
Introduce yourself to us! What’s your name, where are you from and how did you initially get into the field of wedding and event planning?
My name is Stephanie Carr, and I’ve been working in the event planning industry for over 10 years. I’m originally from rural upstate New York, but I moved to Philadelphia in 2003 for college. I instantaneously fell in love with Philly and never went back. I’ve been working in the hospitality industry since I waitressed at a local country club as a high school teenager. I then worked for a well-known Philadelphia caterer during college as a server and event supervisor. Upon graduation, I began the typical nine-to-five, Monday through Friday corporate America gig, which I quickly learned was not for me. I kept my catering job on the weekends, and as soon as there was an opportunity to join the catering company as a planner, I took it. While I never set out to be an event planner, it was the best decision I could have made. I love what I do!
How long have you worked at Chubb Hotel? How many weddings/events have you planned throughout your entire career?
I’ve been at Chubb Hotel for over a year now. I’ve certainly planned hundreds of events throughout my career—mainly weddings and Bar & Bat Mitzvahs, but also plenty of holiday parties, corporate meetings, galas and showers.
During the actual wedding ceremony, where can you usually be found? Are you already hard at work preparing for the reception, or do you get to watch the event?
During the ceremony, you can probably find me peeking through the bushes or through the window trying to see every moment, not only because ceremonies are one of my favorite parts of weddings, but also because I like to be nearby just in case something happens and my assistance is needed.
I’m lucky enough to work with a capable and talented catering staff so that my responsibility doesn’t have to be to prepare for the reception. By the time the ceremony takes place, we’ve already reviewed the reception details as a team, ensuring that everything is in order and the staff is ready to rock at a moment’s notice.
What’s a detail about planning a wedding that often gets overlooked?
I often see guests’ dietary restrictions overlooked or not sufficiently planned for in advance. I always advise my couples to add a simple line to the response card asking about specific dietary restrictions or allergies. That way, our chef can make one meal that encompasses any and all restrictions, like a meal that can be vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free or free of any ingredients a guest may be allergic to. This ensures seamless, fast dinner service and avoids a situation in which one guest has to wait for their ‘special meal’ while the rest of their table starts to eat.
What’s your favorite part of a wedding to plan?
My favorite part of a wedding to plan is definitely the food! I believe the food at a wedding is an unexpected way to tell the story of the bride and groom. I once worked with a couple who met on a blind date at a pizza shop. For their cocktail hour, we created a custom reception station that featured all the flavors of pizza they ate together that evening. The story and the station became both a focal point during the cocktail hour and a conversation piece for the whole evening. Our culinary team loves to tailor and customize menus, so I always encourage my couples to incorporate personal stories, family recipes and cultural dishes or ingredients into their wedding food.
Do you have a most memorable moment from a wedding you’ve planned?
Yes! A couple once used large tour buses as their transportation from ceremony to reception. There happened to be a hurricane that day, so our entire timeline was pushed back due to issues with roadways being blocked and flooded. When the tour buses finally arrived at the start of cocktail hour, only two of the three buses unloaded the guests. The third and final bus was filled with the entire bridal party and the bride and groom. Somehow, the door to the bus jammed, and every guest had to be unloaded off the bus through an emergency window in the pouring rain—even the bride in her huge wedding dress! Luckily, my staff and I were nearby with umbrellas, and even though we were soaked to the bone, we were able to get the bride to (dry) safety.
What are some of your favorite wedding trends that you’re starting to see more frequently?
Satellite bars are themed bars during the cocktail hour that are separate from the regular, open bar and feature either specialty drinks or related liquors. I’ve seen really fun margarita bars with assorted flavors, bourbon bars with various local bourbons and big block ice cubes and even make-your-own mimosa bars where guests can select from assorted juices and toppings to mix with champagne.
What is your favorite part of a wedding when you’re attending as a guest?
When I attend a wedding, my favorite part of the evening is cocktail hour. It’s the chance to socialize after the ceremony, a great time for music and games and also when I think the best food and drinks are served. I love everything in miniature form, and since I’m in the business, I love seeing what other venues and caterers are doing creatively with food.
I also find it to be one of the only times to have direct interaction with the bride and groom, which is one of the reasons I encourage my couples to do a “first look” with their photographer. That way, they get as many hours of photos as they want before the ceremony, get to mingle with their guests during cocktail hour and then don’t have to worry about trying to talk to every single table during the reception since they’ve already talked to the majority of their guests. Then, they can simply dance the night away without feeling like they’ve neglected anyone.
What piece of advice would you give to the bride and groom for their big day?
The best piece of advice I received as a bride (which I now share with all of my couples) is to be sure to take one moment, at some point in the evening, to step back and observe what’s happening. Take that one moment to soak it all in and really watch all of your friends and family having an incredible time in honor of your marriage. Believe everyone when they tell you that your wedding day flies by, because it really does!
Does wedding talk make you crave more pictures of gorgeous celebrations? Check out our photo gallery of couples who’ve taken to our stunning property to say “I do.”