I hired Stacy to do weekend-of coordination for my insane-over-the-top-weekend-long-burning-man-style wedding in May of 2019. It was three days of craziness at a summer camp in the San Bernardino national forest, and it the event was guaranteed to challenge any planner’s abilities – but Stacy assured me she could handle it. Turns out she couldn’t.
All throughout the planning process, Stacy was incredibly hard to reach and painfully slow about returning my communications. She’d promised to be available to help me evaluate vendor contracts (read them through for me and let me know if I should be concerned about any clauses), help me negotiate my arrangements with the venue, basic stuff like that – but I would often have to chase her down with a half-dozen texts and emails and a lot of stress before she would respond. And each time, she had some excuse about how her power had gone out or her cell phone wasn’t working or her internet was down or something equally inane. I’m sorry – but if you’re in a profession that is driven by communication as wedding planning, you need reliable technology rather than excuses.
Our division of labor was that I would plan the wedding (I’m a professional organizer by trade), and she would step in starting a few weeks before to wrangle vendors and create a weekend-of plan – then from the moment we set foot at the venue, she would be in charge of making sure everything happened according to my plan. She was to handle the décor and set-up, managing meals and food throughout the weekend, keeping folks on schedule and making sure activities happened when they were supposed to. But unfortunately, she and her staff dropped the ball in nearly every arena all weekend long.
When I contracted with Stacy, she had promised me her services plus those of three assistants for the duration of the weekend – which in my mind, meant two actual grown people who did this kind of work professionally for a living. However, I only got one fully adult assistant – Stacy brought her two minor children to serve as the other assistants. (She also drug her husband along to help some during the set-up stage, but he left after that.)
First off, I let me say that her one for-realz employee John was FUCKING AMAZING! However, we were less than impressed with the rest of Stacy’s minions. These kids spent most of their time either goofing off until someone came and told them to do a task, whining about the amount of work, or fighting with mom (she and the daughter got into regular screaming fits with each other throughout the weekend, and there was one point when my DJ felt the need to step in and defend the son when Stacy was berating him – completely unprofessional and unacceptable behavior). When we paid for three “assistants,” we did not expect two of those assistants to be minor children who were going to require insane amounts of babysitting and who argued with “the boss” every time you said anything to them. We expected three assistants of John’s caliber – folks who could work independently, who could problem-solve and figure out how to get a task done, who took initiative rather than sitting around waiting for instructions before tackling an already-on-the-timeline to-do – and who grasped that whole “ask the wedding coordinator, not the bride” concept (I can’t tell you the number of times one of Stacy’s kids bugged me about how to handle a problem, and I had to tell them “go ask your mother, that’s not my job this weekend”). Stacy’s children, while lovely people, have neither the maturity nor the training and professional demeanor required for this industry – and they were a completely inappropriate staffing choice for an event of this size and magnitude. Frankly, I felt that I should not have been charged full assistant price for either of them – as they did not perform full
There were also some pretty egregious regulatory violations committed by Stacy’s staff. At one point the first day, I caught two of her folks SMOKING on site when it had been made abundantly clear in every discussion, on our wedsite, and in the camp’s printed rules that this was a MASSIVE legal infringement (in a national forest in a state that has been catching fire every 15 minutes over the past couple of years) – this have gotten her entire staff kicked off the property for the weekend and landed us with a $10,000 fine from the national park service! I also witnessed her son handling bagels and rolls (and her daughter serving pizza to my guests) with their BARE HANDS! What if one of our guests got sick because her kids engaged in unsanitary food service practices?
There’s also the fact that all throughout the weekend, I kept finding jobs half-done or done in a very slipshod manner. Here’s the thing – I’m incredibly anal-retentive, and provided Stacy with DETAILED descriptions of what I wanted in terms of décor, food service, the activities to occur during each segment of the weekend. We also had several meetings beforehand to discuss the logistics, and Stacy even created a “timeline” translating my wishes into a plan of attack. (I put this in quotation marks because her plan was a total joke – the first draft not at all reflecting my priorities or the level of service she promised me, the final draft super sketchy and incomplete, and the whole thing delivered MUCH later than Stacy had promised in her initial pitch to get me to hire her.)
However, any planning was made irrelevant when much of my instruction and the vast majority of her “timeline” was disregarded the actual wedding weekend. I kept finding decorations I had provided which were never put out, reception food laid out according to specification, and my eyeball jello shots for our toast randomly sitting out for anyone to take along with the buffet food (what should have been a big “ta-da” reveal moment, the same as you would for a bride handing out champagne flutes, ended up being an “oh yeah, you might have already eaten some of these but now we’re using them for the toast” afterthought.) These might seem like minor details, but it’s details like this that made our wedding so epic – and it frustrated me mightily that Stacy considered them not important enough to worry about after I’d spent months planning all these details.
Oh, and did I mention that Stacy’s crew actually broke some of our décor, shoving it into her van? (We had a unity volcano that looked like us, and they snapped two of the point off with their mishandling.) Not cool.
Of course our biggest complaint for the weekend was how much of our time we had to devote to doing Stacy’s job. When we hired her, we were told that we just needed to show up with a smile and a costume and enjoy the weekend – she’d take care of everything else. Instead, we had to devote half the day Friday to decorating the reception hall (when it was supposed to be done mid-afternoon and by 3PM it was maybe a quarter finished and no one was taking any steps to get it completed), a big chunk of Saturday morning to setting up the ceremony site (when it was also not done and there was no activity in that direction even after breakfast ended), and a large part of Sunday morning helping break down/pack up. Not only did this add to our stress and exhaustion, but we also had to push our photo session much later than we wanted, and kept us from taking as many pictures as we would have liked. We were also not happy about the fact that so many of our guests HAD to pitch in and help to get everything done. Our friends assisting should have just been gravy on top of your staff’s efforts – instead, it turned out that their manual labor was NECESSARY to get the basic job done. Unacceptable.
And yes it was a big job, far beyond what is required for a normal wedding – but Stacy knew that from the very start. We’d always been incredibly forthright about the scale of this event, she saw the layout and size of the campground way back months and months before at our first walk-through, and she saw the level of detail I included in my wedding plan. Stacy assured us that she could accomplish what I wanted in the available time with only 4 staff members. I even said to her (multiple times) that if this wasn’t enough staff, let me know and we’d be fine with more people – I feel like Stacy seriously
underestimated what it would take to accomplish this wedding, and we are the ones who paid the price.
We also feel like Stacy’s “coordinating” of events was not in line with what she assured us of when we contracted with her. She told us that a big part of what you do is “manage” the timeline of events – but yet we (and our friends and our photographer) ended up doing a great deal of the work in that arena. As a bride, I shouldn’t have to come ASK my coordinator what the procedure is for getting me down the aisle – that should have been something she prepped me on well before the actual ceremony. (Stacy didn’t.) I shouldn’t have to tell my coordinator that she was sending the flower girl and ring bearer down the aisle to the wrong music (which Stacy did) – she should be so familiar with our ceremony that she knows exactly what’s happening at each point along the way. (Stacy was barely present for our rehearsal – screwing around on her phone and not paying attention while I led the run-through.) I shouldn’t have to tell my reception emcee “Hey, we’re supposed to do the cake pops and toast” or “Hey we’re supposed to have a garter/bouquet toss” followed by “but Stacy hasn’t said anything to me about how that’s going to work and I don’t see her setting anything up, so can you please go find out?” My guests shouldn’t have to storm the kitchen to get cream for their breakfast coffee because her crew never put it out. And I most assuredly shouldn’t have to ask you why our officiant wasn’t instructed to sign the marriage license after the ceremony – these are all BIG parts of Stacy’s job description as wedding coordinator that just didn’t happen.
But the best part came late in the reception evening when I found out that Stacy had thrown away $800-$1000 worth of catering food, not only without either Ben’s or my permission, but in direct contradiction of my verbal and written instructions. At a wedding where I’ve told my wedding coordinator that I want to take any uneaten food home (and where we’ve got “zero-muthaflippin’ food waste” signs everywhere), she made an executive decision to toss the leftovers WITHOUT EVER
SPEAKING TO ME ABOUT IT. Her justification when I confronted her about this of “we weren’t going to have access to the kitchen after 7AM” was nowhere near acceptable – if she’d come to me and told me that beforehand, I would have said that I would be happy to get up at 7 and get the food out of the fridge myself. And Ben confided that Stacy asked him about throwing away the food and he told her specifically not to. As far as we’re concerned, that’s the equivalent of destroying our personal property.
This was not (as I was promised) an event where I was free to have fun and not worry about the details – rather than helping me to better enjoy the weekend, every interaction with Stacy’s staff (except for John) created more stress and anxiety. And both my photographer and DJ were SHOCKED at the level of unprofessionalism displayed by Stacy and her kids. (At one point Stacy asked my DJ what was happening next during the reception, the DJ showed Stacy her printed schedule of the weekend's events, and Stacy took a photo of it with her phone – the DJ isn't supposed to provide the wedding coordinator with this information, it's supposed to be the other way around!)
To add insult to injury, when I contacted Stacy about these concerns and asked for fair compensation for the thrown-out food, as well as the level of service that we were promised and did not receive (meaning the difference between what she charged for a full assistant and the current California minimum wage for the hours charged us for each of her children, as well as the hours charged us for her crew to be decorating, setting up the ceremony area, and breaking down the site that we and our friends spent doing their work for them) – Stacy did nothing. Her response was not “yeah, things didn’t go as I’d planned, but I want to make you happy” – it was “I’m sorry you feel that way, I need to speak to my attorney” and then nothing. Stacy made it incredibly clear to me that she gives not one crap about actual customer satisfaction or taking responsibility when something in her business goes sideways.
I didn’t want to have to leave this review – but Stacy has given me no choice. She forced me into filing a dispute with my credit card company, and she’s forced me into spreading the word about her questionable business practices. She’s a sweet person who I believe simply got in over her head and did not expect the weekend to go as it did – but she did nothing to remedy the situation, and that decision has destroyed her reputation with me. I no longer see Stacy as a solid, upstanding businessperson – and I don’t want to see someone else go through what I did with her. If you’re thinking about hiring her for your event, caveat emptor.