Planning a wedding can be a bit stressful. Before I was asked the big question, I truly believed that it was going to be a piece of cake for me due to the fact that I plan A LOT of events for work. This time in my planning process, I've been tasked with looking for venues and I have to honestly say, I don't know where to begin! Last weekend, I had the great pleasure of meeting Jan Hill, Founder of La Fête Wedding & Events, and was able to pick her brain about the wedding planning process and how couples start with their venue search. Check out our interview below:
How did you become a wedding planner?
I've loved weddings since I was a little girl...seriously! I had been a flower girl in a few weddings and I kept the programs, my flower girl baskets and even some of the petals for a long time! I even have a photo of me when I was 4 years old and I received a bride doll for Christmas. My parents liked to entertain when I was growing up and even took an etiquette class in second grade. Everything I learned start to pay off when friends and family tagged me as the "go to" person when they were planning events. After planning my sister's wedding, as well as my own, I decided it was time to start looking to doing this as a business. I received my certification as a Professional Wedding Planner so I could have a good foundation and then opened La Fête Weddings and Events (La Fête means to celebrate or the celebration in French). I named the company La Fête as an homage to my mom since she speaks fluent French and she is my inspiration.
Why do you recommend couples into seeking a wedding planner?
A wedding planner can be an essential part of your wedding planning process. Planning a wedding can be extremely overwhelming and having a professional to guide you through the process can help save time and in many instances... money. You may have ideas about what you'd like your wedding to be like or even know certain wedding professionals you'd like to hire. But professional wedding planners may have relationships with the same vendors you're seeking.
Have you experienced couples disagreeing on if they should invest in planners?
I have actually. Some believe that their fiancé and friends can do the planning and even think they can solicit the help of friends and family the weekend of the wedding. But I've had grooms send me messages after their wedding to thank me and they admit to being wrong about not hiring a planner. (see attached)
What are the first steps couples should do in vetting a wedding planner?
Most of my business comes from word of mouth. Ask friends that have gotten married or know someone who has gotten married recently, venues, etc. Ask questions like, "How long have they been in business?", "How many weddings have you planned?", "What is the average budget of the weddings you've planned?"
In your experience, what was the most unusual wedding that you helped to plan?
I wouldn't say the that wedding was unusual, but it was unique and one of my favorites! I planned a wedding at the beautiful Vizcaya Museum and Gardens in Miami. I planned a weekend of events in addition to the wedding including a welcome party on a rooftop in South Beach and farewell brunch overlooking Biscayne Bay. One fun surprise element at the reception was the late snack of fried fish with mini bottles of hot sauce and cones of french fries! Another fun one was a couple that decided to have a very private intimate wedding at home and for their reception bought out their favorite restaurant to celebrate with family and friends. We even had warm cookies delivered and served with shot glasses of cold milk at the end of the night.
I'm in the process of selecting my venue. Where should I start first?
Think about your vision and what you would like to see as you walk down the aisle and then into your reception. Do you see the ocean? Trees? Drapery and florals? This will direct you to look for a specific type of venue. Other things you have to consider are budget, location and capacity. Some people have booked venues thinking it could accommodate a certain number of guests, but they didn't consider that they were going to need space for food stations, tables and a dance floor. These are the things a professional wedding planner would think about when researching venues for a client.
Like most brides-to-be, I have a "The Knot" planner, how do you incorporate what is provided in this planner with how you plan weddings?
Physical planner books are great guides to tell you what things need to happen and when. I have a planning software that I share with my clients that sync with our calendars so we know where we are with the planning process.
If you had an unlimited budget, what would be your dream wedding to plan?
I would love to plan a gorgeous destination wedding weekend experience in Greece or Italy where no detail is left unnoticed.
What is your favorite aspect of wedding planning?
I love designing weddings that truly speak to my clients' vision, style and personality. But the most important thing is knowing that my clients were able to enjoy themselves during this time in their lives and let me handle the details.
Stay tuned for my next entry! In the meantime, I'll be creating my vision board for Game of Thrones inspired venues to match our look above!