Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Vendor Reviews: The Worst of the Wedding

Well the moment that I've dreaded has arrived: it's time to review our Day of Coordinator that I've only hinted about. I debated if and how to I should this, and then I read Mrs. Sword's cathartic review of her photographer. In addition to her great post, what also struck a chord with me was Sarah Cool's comment:

This is such a tough situation, but I wish we (as brides) would feel more comfortable leaving negative reviews for bad experiences. It would help out other brides SO MUCH. But personally, I just don’t want to 1) be uncomfortable, 2) open myself up to legal issues, and 3) BE UNCOMFORTABLE. You know? 

She is so right. As uncomfortable as it is to leave a negative review, I also don't want another bride to go through what I went through with my DOC. And so, here is my honest review, negativity and all:

Day of Coordinator: CRSocials
I'm not really aggravated here. This is just how I dance. (Mr. Rucksack is rightfully just as frightened.)
It' probably comes as no surprise that hiring Carisa is my biggest regret of the wedding. Like my other reviews, I'll try to keep this short and to the point and won't be writing a laundry list of grievances here. I will, however, outline some of the biggest problems we experienced.

1) She lacked assertiveness: I started having doubts at our rehearsal when Carisa asked what she should do if people were sitting on the beach when she arrived for set-up. When I told her that she could nicely explain that she was setting up for a wedding and ask them to move a few feet (you know, because people are generally understanding about that sort of thing), she panicked and said she didn't feel comfortable doing that. Fast forward to the next day and she actually made my aunt do it for her because she was too nervous. This also applied to teenaged party crashers who showed up for the reception and whom she ignored.

2) She was ill-prepared: When at our one venue walk though  3 months prior, Carisa divulged that she would be 8 months pregnant at our wedding. I was a little nervous (after all the sole reason I hired someone was to climb a tall ladder and hang lanterns) but she assured me she would bring extra help with her, including her husband, to make sure everything was set up properly. But alas, on the day of the wedding there was no extra help - just Carisa and her usual assistant which meant that while Carisa sat down and rested, her assistant tried to do most of the work herself and failed. Luckily, my family showed up early and were able to move tables, get decor out, and direct the rest of the event staff. I'm extremely grateful, but they obviously couldn't do it all so a lot of things were missing. Most importantly, I didn't want my family to have to do anything expect show up and enjoy the day. I hate that they had to spend their hours before the ceremony (and after the reception) working and sweating.
I was also very surprised that Carisa didn't have anything like a DOC toolkit for the day. Every bridal show I've ever seen portrays these super prepared coordinators with a handbag full of goodies. Maybe that's expecting too much (I know television is far from reality), but my DOC didn't even bring tape so that none of my signs ended up being properly placed or placed out at all.

Personal Photo
3) It seemed like she had never done this before: So far, that has been the most frequent comment from our guests along with "You didn't pay her, right?" Sadly, this was noticed by most if not all of our guests, and I have to admit that's a little embarrassing. Especially since we did pay her. Quite a bit actually. You all know that I'm a planner and a lister, so of course I labeled each and every box  top with a list of all items contained, where they should be set up and a picture of how to set everything up. So what did Carisa do as soon as she arrived at the venue? Removed all of the box tops and set them aside, naturally, so that she couldn't find anything and had to keep calling me to ask where certain items were.

4) She was unprofessional: With all of the things that went wrong, this is the only one that I truly cannot understand. Minutes before the ceremony (Literally as I was putting my veil on) Carisa came back to the room that I was waiting in to complain about the set-up process and to tell me that she was scared my mom was mad at her. I just remember looking at her with shock and wondering why on earth she would think that was an acceptable thing to do as I was about to walk down the aisle. Luckily, my bridesmaids thought the same thing and told her how inappropriate that was and escorted her out. For the rest of the night they ran interference and refused to let her talk to me. I later found out that she also complained to Mr. Rucksack and some of the guests before my mom found out and put an end to it. (Momma Rucksack might be a pushy broad, but I am so thankful for that.)

Aunts to the Rescue! (Photo by Cousin Em)
After the wedding, Mrs. Mongoose and I chatted and she asked me what I would have done in retrospect - would I spend more money on a better DOC or would I just go without? I can honestly say that I just wish we had gone without. A DOC really wasn't in our budget and I stretched myself pretty thin to make it happen. If I could do it all over again, I would "hire" a couple of friends to do the work for a hundred bucks each and the promise of free food and alcohol. I could have made a point to head over earlier to make sure everything was okay and I could have prepared my family for doing some of the set-up and breakdown. Instead, I just feel like I spent all of this money just to have extra stress.

I later read through some of her negative reviews on WeddingWire and I can unfortunately see a lot of similarities in the service she provided on the day of our wedding. I just wish that I had paid more attention to them before the wedding. So that's my biggest advice for you planning bees - read all of the reviews, the good and the bad. While not everybody is perfect, there may be some glaring warning signs in there which you can use to help make a decision or that you can ask your potential vendor about.

(All photos by Abigail Scott unless otherwise noted)
Previously on the Rucksack Recaps:

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