F.C.-Born Business Makes Weddings A ‘Cake Walk’ for New York Couples

Falls Church native Andy Tonken has moved to New York City and launched a business that allows brides to enjoy their wedding day and avoid being harried bridezillas under the stress of the big day. Cake Walk Wedding Coordination lets Tonken help couples around New York have their perfect wedding day, but the business has its roots in the Falls Church area.

He considered himself an unofficial wedding coordinator – a guy who could help out with anything from pinning on boutonnières to seating the mother of the bride – when he was in his early 20s and many of his friends in the Washington, D.C. and Falls Church area were getting married.

The idea struck him to make a business out of being a wedding coordinator. Many of his friends who were having weddings would ask him to help out, and Tonken began to realize he could make something out of this vocation.

“I was falling into the rhythm of being a wedding coordinator,” Tonken said. “After helping out with one wedding, another friend asked, ‘what do I need to do to have a great wedding?’ and I told her they had a wedding coordinator. … The next day, my friend called again and asked ‘Could you be my wedding coordinator?’ and I said ‘sure!'”

While talk of Tonken’s business might conjure up scenes from movies like “Father of the Bride” and “Made of Honor,” of design-savy assistants planning to the smallest detail and spending big bucks on lavish affairs, Tonken says his work as a wedding coordinator is quite unlike that of a wedding planner. Wedding coordinators are the point person for the big day; planners, on the other hand, are constructing the weddings and all their components from day one.

“A wedding planner is traditionally when money is no object, and you can hire a wedding planner, and I think it’s always nice when the bride and groom can,” Tonken said. “But because there is the financial strain of hiring a wedding planner, particularly for younger couples, more and more couples aren’t hiring planners.”

Another reason more couples aren’t hiring wedding planners, Tonken said, is because they want to use the wedding as an opportunity to bond, and do the wedding themselves, and make it their own. Wedding coordinators, Tonken said, give the couple all the planning power with none of the day-of concerns about execution, ensuring a wedding planned to the personal tastes of the bride and groom goes off without a hitch.

“They get to the day of the wedding, and many brides and grooms end up not able to enjoy their wedding because they’re concerned with ‘did the wedding cake arrived?’ ‘Is the staff here?’ ‘Is there enough wine at the bar?’ So as a coordinator, I equate it as being a production manager for a wedding,” Tonken said. “The wedding is about the bride and the groom, and they should just have to worry about their vows, and enjoying every moment and capturing everything in memory.”

Brides are well known for knowing what they want, and Tonken thinks this is perfectly good. Rather than being wishy-washy, Tonken prefers a couple that knows what they want so he doesn’t have to pick for them, as it can be uncomfortable to choose because the wedding is about the bride and the groom’s decision. Tonken enjoys all the different aspects of wedding coordination, but he really enjoys when a couple makes the wedding unique to themselves.

“I think that’s the most exciting to me, the bride and grooms who choose things about their wedding that are specific to them and their backgrounds, and their kind of style,” Tonken said. “That is far more interesting to me than a big white dress and a church and a very difficult out-of-the-movies wedding. It means that it’s personal to them and that it’s important.”

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