Be a Guest at Your Own Wedding

Some brides leave the decisions to someone else so they can simply enjoy themselves

When Caroline Wiest walked down the aisle last June in Nisswa, MN, she was surrounded by pew decorations and bouquets that she’d never seen before. Upon arriving at the reception in the woods near her family’s lake house, she was delighted to see the cocktail tent filled with lanterns in every shade of green, and the dinner and dancing tent swathed in dramatic colors; all of it was a revelation to her. And at the end of the night, when the band launched into “Sweet Caroline” and the guests gathered to see the happy couple off, she was once again surprised to see a golf cart festooned with flowers waiting to deliver them to their limo. The night had been a dream come true…just not one she’d spent time realizing.

“I’m not a very artistic visionary,” admits Caroline, who feared that her self-described “high-anxiety” disposition and responsibilities as a New York City schoolteacher would turn the planning process into a nightmare. So she relied on NYC-based planner Michelle Rago to do the work—and worrying—for her, freeing her and her fiancé to concentrate fully on their guests. “I’d heard so many stories about brides who ruin their wedding days freaking out about the little details that guests aren’t even going to remember,” she says. “We were much more focused on people being relaxed and having fun.”

Of course, plenty of brides hire planners to execute the wedding. The difference is that Caroline and a growing number of brides are almost completely relinquishing creative (not budgetary) control from the get-go, defying the stereotype of the hyperinvolved, micromanaging bride from the engagement on. Rago attributes the change to the bridal industry, which educates brides to believe that a good planner is there not just to help out but to take on as much as a bride will allow. “It’s come a long way even in the past two years, this swing to really relying on your professional,” she says. “When I started in the business, people didn’t understand what a planner was.” Caroline is quick to add that leaving more to the pros doesn’t mean she didn’t care. She simply established her priorities—square tables were a must, as was a big band—and then let Rago take it from there.

Jennifer Zabinski of the Wed-ding Library in NYC estimates that 25 percent of her clients these days are willing to hand her the planning reins. “I think everyone is valuing their time more,” she says, so she goes to increasingly great lengths to free them up. It’s not unheard of for her to do menu tastings, fly to Paris to search for vendors, or choose a venue—by herself. She’s even submitted to hair and makeup trials on a bride’s behalf. “She was just like, ‘Was it scary? Was it glittery?’” says Zabinski. “She didn’t even care about seeing images. It’s really about trust.”

Give a Subscription to Brides Magazine as a Gift

Thank You
for Signing Up!

Check your e-mail inbox for the latest updates from