Several times in my wedding career, I’ve received a public dressing down from the Mother of the Bride for something that was completely beyond my control. I have to stand there and keep a “game face”, even when I want to snark back at her and explain WHY whatever went wrong was not my fault.
But I can’t do that because, as THE wedding planner at an event, clients hold me responsible for everything. It’s not fair, but it’s the reality of this business. Move over Bridezillas, Momzillas do exist, and sometimes they’re worse.
Probably the most bizarre example of blaming me was the time that a wedding was disrupted by dogs! It was a torrentially rainy day, and the waterfront villa didn’t have air conditioning, so we had all the windows and doors flung wide open for any hint of breeze. It was summer in the Caribbean and the humidity was horrible.
We’d had to move the wedding up from the beach to the waterfront porch of the villa because of the rain, and we were totally ready to go – bride poised at the top of the staircase – when all hell broke loose.
True Story: Two ginormous dogs – turned out they were Brazilian Mastiffs – came barreling through the open front doors of the villa, slid across the tile, bounced down the stairs into the great room, slid across the great room’s granite floor, and then got up and ran across the back porch out into the yard. They both jumped in the pool, and then got out and started rolling around on the lawn that resembled a rice paddy.
The bartender started chasing them, trying to catch them to read their tags (both had collars), as I hollered at her to be careful – those were HUGE dogs and who knew if they were friendly!
I hit speed dial and called the property manager, expecting him to say, “What am I supposed to do about it?” But I was wrong. All I had to do was say the word “dogs” and he said, “I’m on my way.”
Meanwhile, the Mother of the Bride was shrieking. She got in my face and screamed, “Why did you bring your dogs to my daughter’s wedding?” She yelled so hard she actually hit me with spittle. Ugh. I can only imagine my face.
Seriously? SERIOUSLY??? C’mon, lady, those aren’t my dogs. And when the property manager showed up a few minutes later and clipped leashes on the two very friendly beasts, it was clear I’d had nothing to do with the invasion.
The dogs belonged to the villa owner and, rather than taking them home with him to another island for the few days my clients had rented his villa, he’d left them in the care of a neighbor. They escaped, and they ran home! Just in time for the bride’s processional.
Now it’s a funny story. It wasn’t a funny story when it happened. We had to mop and clean up things before the wedding could start again. But nothing short of medication could have brought the Mother of the Bride back to normal. The bride was sobbing at the beginning of the aisle, where she’d been standing since the madness began. It took a while to calm her down.
The rest of the wedding went perfectly, but the bride never contacted me again after her wedding day. It made me sad. Not only was it not my fault that two random dogs crashed her wedding, but I had successfully helped catch and remove them within 20 minutes. What did she think I should have done differently? Why do people think wedding planning is a glamorous job?
VIP wedding guests (members of the wedding party or the immediate family) can be extremely harsh and critical about truly ridiculous things. And while, deep down, I know they’re the ones acting foolish, it doesn’t make it any less humiliating in the moment when I’m getting my ass chewed, usually with an audience.
Once, the grandmother of the groom publicly eviscerated me when it started to rain at the beginning of the wedding ceremony, and I didn’t have a whole bunch of hair dryers on hand for the guests to use to fix their hair. Nor did I have umbrellas for all 60 wedding guests – the bride hadn’t requested them, and I only carry one in my bridal emergency bag.
Our “Plan B” was to move the ceremony on to the large villa porch – not have the guests sit in the rain. But in the grandma’s eyes, I was a complete failure in my chosen career. And she made sure that all of the women at the wedding thought I was supposed to have had stylists on hand in case of a weather emergency.
When the Mother of the Bride is the one responsible for the problem occurring, chances are that she’ll be even louder and more vitriolic than you can even imagine. For example, moms are frequently the reason that things run behind schedule on the wedding day. Sometimes, they’re late for their beauty appointments, and aren’t ready on time.
Then they get upset when they feel like the party isn’t long enough because it ends when it was supposed to, not when they think it should. The reception time clock doesn’t stop just because the Mother of the Bride or Groom can’t get her shit together. It just means she’s taking away party time from the bride and groom on the back end of the event.
One mom spent more time cocktailing than eating, when the wedding reception dinner was a massive food station buffet, with all sorts of fun live stations offering seafood, risotto, and salads made to order by uniformed chefs. The dinner was available for almost two hours before she even started trying the food. In fact, not realizing that she hadn’t eaten, I was just about to shut it all down when I saw her start filling a plate.
The risotto station, where guests could top their risotto with anything from truffles to lobster, in big martini glasses, ran out of food at the exact time the Mother of the Bride went to get served. Should that have happened? No. Of course not. And the chef was very embarrassed. But honestly, we thought EVERYBODY had eaten their fill of everything because the dessert bar had opened and guests filled the dance floor.
Servers had pretty much finished clearing all the tables. She’d waited two hours to take the first bite of food at the reception, and by that time, one item had run out. There wasn’t a single serving left – and that was all we needed because everybody else was finished eating. If it had been my mom, she would have just been happy that it was her, and not a guest, who had been shorted. But not this woman.
Apologies were made, but that wasn’t sufficient for this mom, perhaps because she’d been sucking down wine and socializing rather than putting some food in her stomach. She was trashed. And she was angry.
She came to the kitchen, completely open to the great room where some of the guests and all of our staff were listening, and tore into the chef, and me! Apparently it was MY fault because I had assured her that we had ordered enough food. The chef tried to take the blame – and she yelled at him too – but the true target of her wrath was me, the wedding planner.
I know these stories seem extreme, but they’re all true. Momzillas do exist, and they’re not as few and far between as I wish they were. I’ve planned more than 500 weddings and most of the time, all of the parents are pretty nice and normal. But when they’re not, they’re a complete nightmare.
The thing is that while Momzilla may think she’s doing the right thing (usually in an alcohol-induced haze), she’s really doing a huge disservice to the bride and groom, who didn’t think that anything was wrong with their wedding.
I assure you the bride whose guests got wet wasn’t mad I didn’t have community hairdryers, but it upset her to see her new grandmother-in-law revved up. The bride whose mom didn’t get risotto thought all was right with the world until her mother interrupted her dancing to bitch about food.
This isn’t just a lesson about not abusing the wedding planner for the weather, it’s about not taking what is a perfect experience for the bride and groom and turning it into an ugly memory of how upset Momzilla got when something went wrong that the bride and groom didn’t even know about.
And even if the couple does know about the problem, her mom should be doing everything possible to minimize the impact of it, telling the bride nobody noticed, or it wasn’t important – not blowing it out of proportion.
The mom could have laughed about the dogs – it didn’t happen in the middle of the ceremony – but instead she added to the hysteria, assuring the bride that her wedding was ruined. What kind of mother means to do that to her daughter?
If something can be fixed – like a problem with the music – bring it to the wedding planner’s attention when the problem occurs so that she can fix it for the rest of the evening. But recognize that we can’t, for example, make a dish of risotto appear out of thin air, and those sorts of things don’t need to be reported to the bride to upset her evening.
I think Momzillas are even worse than Bridezillas or Groomzillas because Momzillas are ruining their son or daughter’s wedding day, not their own. Just don’t do it. Make every effort to have your child’s wedding memories be flawless, even if you don’t think the day was perfect.
Until next time, happy wedding planning from Sandy Malone Weddings & Events!
Sandy Malone is the star of TLC’s reality show “Wedding Island” and a regular blogger for the Huffington Post and Monsters and Critics. Sandy is the owner of Weddings in Vieques, a successful Caribbean destination wedding planning company based on Vieques Island just off the coast of Puerto Rico. She also owns Weddings in Culebra, Flowers on Vieques and Boutiques in Vieques. Please follow her on Twitter!