Professional wedding planning tips + trends + what to do + especially what not to do

Professional wedding planning tips + trends + what to do + especially what not to do

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Why should I hire a planner if the venue provides one?

This summer, half of my weddings had an on-site coordinator, but still hired me to facilitate their wedding plans.  When these clients initially called me to ask me about my services, there were a few concerns that seemed to form a trend.  So I’ll post them here:

  • I’m nervous because the on-site coordinator won’t call me back in a timely manner.
  • I don’t feel like the on-site coordinator understands my vision for the wedding.
  • My on-site coordinator hasn’t asked me about anything except the food plans.
  • My on-site coordinator doesn’t set up any of my decorations, or tear them down.
  • I’m just not getting a good vibe from my on-site coordinator – like they don’t have my best interest at heart, only the best interest of the venue.
  • My on-site coordinator shows up later on the wedding day and leaves right after dinner.

I was completely up-front with my clients about their situation.  You CAN save money and just use the on-site planner.  People do it all the time.  But if you’re feeling like the comments above are a reflection of how you’re feeling, you might want to consider bringing in a professional. 

I used to be an on-site planner.  That’s where my experience comes from, so by no means am I knocking the position.  But I strongly believe I was not the same as most.  I worked long hours on the weddings because I wanted to open my own event planning business one day.  I was getting experience with a company which allowed me to make all the rookie mistakes under someone else’s name – that sounds horrible, but it’s true.  A wedding has too many moving parts to leave in the hands of a rookie.  You don’t want your wedding to be a planners first rodeo.  So if your on-site planner doesn’t meet these standards at a minimum, consider hiring a professional wedding planner:

  • They are available to you “anytime,” meaning they are willing to give you their cell phone number.
  • They have been through a summer of weddings with their specific venue.
  • AND they have been planning weddings for longer than 5 years, OR have worked on a minimum of 50 weddings.
  • Your coordinator can commit to you that they will be in the room all night.  Often, throughout the reception, they’ll leave the room and head back their desk to work on other events (hotel venues are notorious for this).  You want your coordinator available to you at a moment’s notice.
  • They are there for the rehearsal, arrive early on your wedding day to oversee your setup, and stay to oversee the teardown.

So my final suggestion is this:  if you have a lot of working parts to your wedding day – lots of d├ęcor, a complicated timeline, lots of details – consider giving me a call, even if your venue provides someone on site.  Sometimes the professional planners are even willing to discount their price if the “on-site coordinator” is strong enough to act in lieu of an assistant. 

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Events by Autumn makes dreams a reality. . .even our own!

I have been talking about opening my own business for as long as I can remember.  And when I set a goal for myself, there’s no stopping it from happening.  Even if the road to get there gets windy and confusing, I always stay focused on the end result.  

As a kid, I spent every single summer and winter in Montana, skiing, riding, fishing, exploring, just enjoying everything the state had to offer.  When I got the chance to take a job in Missoula, MT at the age of 25, I jumped all over it.  I prefer being outdoors if given a choice, and Montana towns operate at a slower pace than the “big city.”  That combination makes living in Montana my ideal place, along with the fact I bought my dream home there – a log cabin on some acreage, ready for horses.  I’ve owned the house for about 5 years now in Stevensville, MT, located in the BEAUTIFUL Bitterroot Valley.

So when I took the job in Montana, it was with the goal of opening my own business one day.  But the job required more than 70 hours a week on a regular basis, and my salary wasn’t enough to save money.  So I didn’t have enough time, or money, to take the leap and open my own business.  I was good at my job, and was eventually recruited to take a position in Boulder, CO, doing the same thing I was doing previously.  I was hesitant to leave MT, but the pay was literally 3x what it was in Montana.  So, keeping my goal in mind, I took a leap of faith.  I took the job as the Director of Catering, thinking I would work there for 4 years, save some money, and move back to my dream home in Montana, live off the savings, and open my own business.

Well, the plans went awry, like they always do!  The new boss at the hotel was changing a lot of things – employees who had been there for 15+ years and were comfortable with the status quo didn’t like the new direction the hotel was taking, so they left in droves.  (Whole different topic, but change can be GOOD people, especially when the hotel hadn’t been making money for the past 15 years).  The mass exodus of staff alerted the ownership (from a foreign country), that they should take a look at what was happening at the hotel.  So they began to take notice of what we were doing, and the first thing they did was review the bonus structure -The same bonus structure that made my paycheck awesome.  It was cut completely.  So my plans of saving money and moving back in 4 years were up-ended.

It was time to re-evaluate my plans of opening my own business and how I was going to still make it happen.  So I took a part time marketing job with another company, and just went ahead and opened Events by Autumn in Colorado.  The past year and a half has been spent creating contracts, websites, marketing materials, and getting myself fully prepared to move back to Montana and hit the ground running.  And I’ve planned quite a few Colorado weddings as well in my first year, and received the kindest, most amazing positive feedback, which just reinforces that I’m on track.  But when you know where your heart belongs, you just feel compelled to follow.

In August, my renters moved out of my dream house in Montana, and I now had to be realistic about paying two mortgages.  So my decision was to move back to Montana, rent (or sell) the house in Colorado and get the business rolling where I really wanted it to happen in the first place.  Fall is the perfect time to move back, get re-acquainted with vendors & friends, and promote the business, since most engagements happen over the winter months.

I’ve been gone from Montana for 2 and a half years, and had planned on being in Colorado for 4.  I’d say that making a dream happen in about half the time is a pretty good feeling.

(A hazy day at the log cabin in Stevi. . .the Bitterroot mountains are barely visible in the background.)

The view from the field, up the driveway