When I talk to people planning weddings, one thing stands out to me above all others…IT’S HARD WORK!! Hopefully, you will only do this once in your lifetime!! But since you haven’t done it before, you really have no REAL experience. Let’s face it, planning such a large event with so many moving parts, is a full time job. As wedding vendors, we take for granted that you need to know that, or this has to be done before XYZ…but for YOU the couple, this isn’t your everyday business and even just getting started is overwhelming! Who do you call first? A wedding planner, a venue coordinator, a caterer? This series aims to answer some of these questions and MANY more!!
Up first, because, let’s be honest, your wedding planner is your right hand Woman (or Man), I spoke to Crystal Beng, head Ninja at Cherry Blossom Planning Factory. Crystal is an amazing wedding and event planner in Hampton Roads Virgina. She specializes in LGBT weddings and I had the pleasure of working with her on David and Tim’s beautiful wedding last May. And she is so much fun to be around. She always wears a HUGE smile and will make planning your wedding so much easier! She is also there to ensure your big day goes off without a hitch! So, she was of course the perfect first person to interview for my new series!!
What made you decide to be an events coordinator?
I don’t think I knew I wanted to coordinate events per se. I knew I wanted to do something that was 80% business and 20% creative, and I already had years of experience in event planning. When I realized I could start my own business and specialize in LGBT weddings, it hit me like a ton of bricks.
Planning a wedding is an overwhelming experience, there are SO MANY things that couples do not know about until they actually start planning the big day! What pitfalls do you think couples fall into when planning their wedding day? What can they do to better navigate wedding planning?
People hire planners for a few different reasons. Some aren’t the best at making decisions or get stressed easily. Others don’t like dealing with 100’s of emails or simply don’t have the time. Whatever you’ve hired your planner to do, let them do their job so you can focus on the other parts of the wedding you’re excited about. And when in doubt, a second glass of wine is usually a good idea to get through the last push.
What questions should a couple be asking an event coordinator to make sure they are a good fit for one another?
The hippie in me feels it’s more important to jive well with the other person because you’re about to trust them with your wedding.
The business person in me wants to know what’s covered, and more importantly, what’s not covered with each package. Another good idea is to ask about things that are stressing you out and see if your planner can take care of them for you. For instance, if you have your heart set on an outdoor wedding in April, what is your rain plan? Maybe you’re nervous about the logistics of traveling between the Ceremony venue and the Reception venue, or creating a cohesive design. Or maybe you’re not sure how those string lights are going to get hung. Whatever it is, come from an honest place and see how they respond. By the end of the meeting, you should leave feel excited and ready to conquer planning!
Let’s pretend I am getting married, I am completely new to wedding planning…what sort of things would you tell me to start me along in planning my dream wedding?
It’s not romantic at all, but you have to be realistic about your budget. Your dream can be interpreted 100 different ways depending on what you feel comfortable spending, and we would never want to suggest something outlandish. After the formalities, and boring stuff is out-of-the-way, we can go to town and figure out how to recreate what’s in your head! Usually we start with the venue, though.
What is the difference between a Day of Coordinator and a full service event designer and a venue coordinator?
Everyone interprets these words a little differently, but here’s how I see it:
– day-of coordinator: you hire all your vendors and we tie the pieces together
– full service event designer: you give me your checkbook and I book who will get the best job done for your wedding
– venue coordinator: in charge of the house; makes sure the house is well maintained and functioning.
What sort of things and who should I bring to our first meeting?
You should bring anyone that you want to feel included in the planning process to our meetings. Mom, Fiance, your BFF! There is no wrong answer!
Also to help me understand your wedding vision, Pinterest is helpful, color swatches are nice, but coming ready with your ideas is the best start. It’s my job to lead you through the questions, we just need you to answer them so we can get the party started. Depending on how long you’ve been engaged or have been planning, we might talk about design ideas or even get super specific and talk about which songs you picked out.
Do you help your Clients hire vendors? How does this process work, do we pay them ourselves or do we pay you and then you pay them?
We offer two main packages: day-of coordination and partial planning. Partial planning came to existence because so many of our couples are not from the area but choose Hampton Roads as their wedding location. With partial planning we’ll pick up our clients and take them from meeting to meeting. We pre-screen potential vendors to make sure they’re available and within budget before setting those meetings, and we pride ourselves on connecting the right clients with the right vendors. We’ll also remind our partial planning clients when the payments are due to each vendor, but 9 times out of 10 the client is calling the vendor directly to make that payment.
In short, if they opt for partial planning, we do help our clients hire their vendors.
I have hired you to be my Event Coordinator! Who should we hire next? A Venue? Photographer? What do you think are the vendors that need to be hired as quickly as possible?
Yay! LET’S DO THIS! If you leave it up to me, we’re going to go in this order solely for budget reasons:
I usually take cues from our clients, though, and let them lead who we book and when. If they’re excited about photography, then I want to have that checked off their list early so they feel the ball is rolling. This is after the venue is booked, of course.
So you are planning your OWN wedding now!! How does that differ from planning someone else’s?!
Eeeek! There is so much pressure! I have a whole new sense of empathy that I’ve never had before, and I consider myself to be pretty empathetic in general. When I’m helping someone else plan their wedding, it’s all about whatever they want and I leave my opinions out of it (unless it’s constructively necessary). Now that I’m planning my own wedding, I get to do everything I’ve ever wanted. It’s basically the most expensive stylized shoot I’ve ever put together and I’m 100% excited about it.
Is there anything else you think a couple should know about event planning that we haven’t covered?
Make sure you like your coordinator, photographer and DJ. You will spend the most amount of time with them. When you see me coming on the wedding day, I hope I make you feel calm and not stressed. Also, wedding planning it’s a lot of fun and super exciting. Enjoy every minute of it!
Thank you so much Crystal for all this amazing information! Please contact her if you have questions or are looking for YOUR event planner!! And stay tuned for more from the Ask the Experts series! Learn what to ask your Caterer, Venue Coordinator, Photographer, DJ, Event Rental Company, Cake Designer, Lighting Expert, Videographer, Hair and Makeup Artist, Florist and how to get the best Dress buying experience!