This coming Saturday (!!!) my fiancé, Derek, and I are having a few friends over to his parents’ house for a party. A big, complicated, fancy party with over a hundred of our nearest and dearest during which we will celebrate one of the biggest moments of our lives. A party which, THANK GOD, we had lots of help planning thanks to our supremely organized, always on top of it, knowledgeable, and loveable wedding planner, Michelle. I know some people relish getting into the nitty gritty of planning their own wedding, but reader, if it were not for Michelle…I shudder to think. In honor of the big day, I asked her here to answer a few questions about her job:
1. You’ve been a wedding planner for ten years now! If you could go back and talk to yourself when you were just starting out, what advice would you give?
Oh goodness! Many things, but I would say the most important is that you are constantly learning and growing as a planner and small business owner. You should never have your job perfectly figured out or it would be time for a new career. The challenges that come along with stepping outside of your comfort zone are what make what you feel invigorated and purposeful.
2. You work with clients to help manage and orchestrate one of the most important days of their lives, what’s the most rewarding thing about this kind of work? What’s the most challenging?
Hands down, the most rewarding is being allowed to take part in this moment in my couples and their families’ lives. It’s truly an honor to play a role in a life event as big as the start of a marriage. The wedding day itself holds as much excitement and anticipation for me as it does for my couples. When I can look around the room and feel the warmth and love it makes all the work worthwhile. The most challenging part is that I’m a perfectionist and want everything to be perfect, even though I know full that doesn’t really exist. There are always little behind the scenes issues that pop up and it’s being able to address them quickly and smoothly that makes all the difference. That, and I really wish I could control the weather. Oh Seattle weather! The bane of any planners existence here in the Pacific Northwest.
3. You see a lot of couples get married every year, do you feel like you can spot the ones whose marriages will last? Is there some telling quality or x factor that you see with couples who end up happily hitched?
I love the first chance that I get to sit down in person with a couple and get to know them as we start the process. I learn a lot about them very quickly. The biggest element is partnership. I can tell when a couple makes a great team. Bouncing ideas off of one another, taking the other person’s feelings into account every step of the way, coming to appointments together, maybe not always agreeing but being able to communicate and come to a join decision…partnership is the key to a happy marriage. It’s also important not to sweat the small stuff. When I ask each couple what the most important thing is to them for their wedding day, and they both answer that it’s to marry each other and have a fun day with their closest family and friends, that’s when I know the wedding itself is for the right reason. That tells me it’s not about a show or a who’s who of guests, it’s about the couple and getting to celebrate their union with their nearest and dearest. That’s what a wedding day is all about. Not a Pinterest board and the perfect shade of blush! I feel lucky that I work with grounded couples who really get what is most important in life.
4. What do you think are the most important elements to having a wonderful wedding? Conversely, are there things people stress about that don’t end up mattering very much?
I pretty much summed it up above: Don’t stress about the small stuff. Especially if you have a planner on board. I and the team of vendors we’ve chosen do our best work when couples put their trust in us to make their wedding amazing and collaborate with them. Another biggie - make sure you eat! I am a big food pusher. My couples have so much fun planning their food and drink menu that I want them to enjoy it. Lastly take time to soak it all in. Moments throughout the day that couples look around the room and are really present and aware really matter. One of my favorite moments is the first time my couples see each other privately for photos before the wedding begins. Where it’s just the two of them and nothing else matters. And the moment right after they are announced and kiss at the end of the ceremony. I always tell them to pause, and I mean really take a moment and pause, and look around the room at all of their family and friends cheering for them. It’s pretty incredible. That’s what a wedding day is all about. These wonderful, delicious little moments. A snapshot in time.
5. Time to dish! What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever had happen at a wedding? How did you deal?
I could write a book about all of the crazy thing from over the years! There have been lots of unexpected moments - wild wedding parties, power outages and wind storms, family drama, wacky guests, cakes on a hot day sliding off their tiers (then rushing to put them back together) and the list goes on. Fortunately, the couples and their guests are almost never the wiser that they were ever any issues. That’s what I’m here for!
Read more about Michelle on her website, and if you happen to live in Seattle and be planning a wedding, do yourself a favor and hire her.!