This week we feature another astounding planner: Clementine Custom Events. Not only do they have one of my favorite company names, but they are great woman to work with, incredibly helpful, cordial, and really put their clients needs first. See below for our conversation with the lovely ladies of Clementine.

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How and why did you get started in the wedding planning business?
My involvement in the wedding planning business evolved over my career in off-premise catering. I began coordinating social affairs in 2005 and was given the opportunity to really focus my attention to the wedding business with I joined Clementine in 2012.

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What are some of the main services you offer and how do they set you apart from other competitors?
We offer month-of coordination, full-planning and everything in between. I feel that the “Custom” in Clementine Custom Events really speaks to our core principles. It is important to us to really take the time to listen to the needs of our clients and what they wish for their special day. From there, we work as a team to prepare a plan that will best suit their needs, while providing expert guidance within the evolving wedding landscape.

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What are some things couples should consider when creating a design/style for their wedding?
Take the time with your significant other to jot down how you both envision your day and what is most important to you. Keep the top three elements top of mind as you begin to research, brainstorm and make decisions. I also recommend envisioning how you will feel when you look back on your wedding day photos 10, 20, 30 years from now. Sometimes that point of reference can really help in making decisions on design and style.

 

How do you go about interpreting a couple’s vision and designing a unique look or style for an event?
I feel that this can be an evolving process. Many times we will prepare a thorough plan based on the preliminary design thoughts, and use this as our guide for the duration. Thoughtful vendor selections for who will enhance the design plan is incredibly important. Of course, as important as it is to listen and reconfirm direction, it is equally important to be flexible. As we all know, plans change.

What key qualities should couples look for when choosing a planner?
Experience
Responsiveness
Trustworthiness
And comfort…you are hiring this professional to be a partner in one of the most special moments of your lives.

What part of your job do you find the most satisfying and the most challenging?
My catering background will always be a major factor in my love of this job. I find the production and logistics of the day challenging and satisfying. I also have to say that my most favorite moments in every wedding day is sending the bride down the aisle, a fluid dinner service, and seeing our timeline tick along with ease.

What is the craziest event story you can share?
My lips are sealed ;)

For more information, check out the Clementine website here.

This week’s Stitely Vendor Spotlight features another one of our favorite planners to work with in Chicago–LOLA Event Productions! These women go above and beyond the call of duty for every event that we’ve worked on with them. We had a chance to catch up with Lori Stevenson, a founder of LOLA to see what she has to say about her beginnings in the industry and tips for couples choosing their vendors.

Lori Stevenson

Lori Stevenson

How did you get started in event planning?

I have been in the wedding business since college – my degree is in fashion design, and I paid my way through school designing and making wedding gowns. Brides are just in my blood! I started LOLA in 2006 recognizing a gap for a planner that can also act as a design liaison as well as dig into the logistics of planning a wedding or event.

There are 4 of us so our journey is a collaboration that clients really get to take advantage of. While they have a single consultant they are working with, they have the ideas and expertise of the entire group and our diverse backgrounds in design, catering, logistics, etc.

What part of your job do you find the most satisfying and the most challenging?

Working with brides is incredibly rewarding – you get to be with people on their best day. How many people get hugs from clients on a weekly basis? It feeds my soul! Most of my challenges just come in work/life balance. I am lucky to have a VERY understanding husband as this job is really 24/7.

What is the key to a successful event?

The LOLA Pros

The LOLA Pros

A great guest experience. Yes, a wedding is to a certain extent “all about the bride” but at the end of the day you want to make sure guests get the experience that a bride and groom are striving for from the band to the food, flow, decor and atmosphere.

What is the craziest event story you can share?

Whenever I say, “Well, now I have really seen everything” something even crazier is bound to happen! I feel like I need to knock wood if I am going to answer this one :-) Last year alone we had a “cheeky” grandmother (yep, she mooned the DJ), we had a streaker blow through cocktail hour chased by 5 of Chicago’s finest police officers, and we surprised a bride and groom with a flash mob (not all surprises are bad, but I can’t say I love any surprise on a wedding day!)

Hire your planner before you make ANY decisions. Not only can we help create a beautiful, cohesive and well-planned event, but we can help you tackle it all with aplomb so you can have a great time doing it. No stress needed!

If you were stuck on a desert island which three albums would you want with you?

I always tell clients not to judge me based on my musical acumen! It’s petty awful in a tween-pop sort of way. My husband is ashamed of my iPod selection.
I think I would have to stick with classics, even though there are so many good contemporary artists out there spanning pop and indie like The National and Bruno Mars (seriously, can you STOP singing Uptown Funk?! Absolutely NOT!):
-Hot August Night – Yes I am die-hard Neil Diamond fan since childhood – I blame my mother!
-Tom Petty’s Greatest Hits – for when you need to sing along to something (and for the record, my husband is NOT ashamed of this pick)
-Fleetwood Mac’s Greatest Hits or ABBA Gold – for when I just need to ‘dance it off’ – it really never gets old.

For more information and to connect directly with Lori and the other ladies at LOLA, check out their website here!

In light of our recent Vendor Spotlights in which we have been sharing some of our favorite planners, I thought I would highlight some reasons why planners can be incredibly helpful in making preparations for your big day!

Planners are no longer reserved only for the upper-class and extremely wealthy like they were once depicted in the movies. There is now a range of ways you can hire a planner to best fit your budget and your needs, so everyone can benefit from a little professional help on their big day. See our thoughts on why and how to make this work below:

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Perks of the Planner: Although it can be really fun, planning your wedding day can quickly turn into a challenging project. Not only are brides and grooms trying to create the perfect vision for their event (a tiring task in itself), but they’re trying to do it with limited knowledge on how to put together a wedding. From catering menus to invitations to booking a rocking band for the reception, it’s all new territory for most couples. And unless you happen to have a ton of free hours every week to pore over details, it can get really stressful really fast. Brides-to-be may write off the idea of hiring a planner, thinking that they know how to throw a party or don’t have the budget for such a luxury. The reality is that the help of a professional is invaluable in letting you enjoy your day and the months leading up to it.

There are some wedding details that practically demand a planner. If you are planning on having a large wedding (100+ people) things can get complicated quickly. A professional has dealt with large guest lists in the past, and she can help you prioritize your tasks and help you make choices that will satisfy your expectations, as well as those of your family and friends. Even if you have a smaller crowd, it can be a good idea to hire a wedding planner if you are holding your ceremony or reception in a location that is atypical. For example, a wedding held in a museum, park or historic home can be a beautiful and unique choice, but that also means there could be less wedding-specific assistance and a lot of unknown factors. This is a time when hiring someone who has spent years planning events comes in handy.

A professional planner can also save you money through their established connections with local wedding vendors.

Not for Everyone: If you are holding your wedding in a full service location (i.e. a banquet hall) you may be able to take advantage of an in-house planner who can assist with the catering, seating, and music set-up. Couples who plan to have a small, intimate wedding may also be able to handle the details themselves, though that depends on the wedding location and time limitations of the couple. (No matter the size, it’s always good to have help planning a destination wedding).

A Happy Medium: Brides who like the idea of having a professional on their team but don’t think they have the budget for it still have some options. Consider hiring a “day of” coordinator. These wedding planners will learn your wedding details a few weeks beforehand and manage the day from start to finish. They confirm details with all booked vendors and arrive on the day of the event, clipboard in hand, to make sure that everything runs smoothly. Even if you spend your days, weeks and months leading up to your wedding in a planning tizzy, the day of the event is really when the planner is clutch. If you’re going to have a planner in any capacity, the day of the event is the number one day to utilize that resource.

In this week’s installment of Stitely Vendor Spotlights, we had a chance to catch up with Lindsay Parrott of Parrott Party Productions. Not only is she a planner that we often work with, but was also a recent client of ours! Her December wedding was a show-stopper to say the least. Read below to hear about what she does and her tips for couples looking for a planner.

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[Photo by Jai Girard]

How and why did you get started in the wedding planning business?

P3 was started in 2011 after Lindsay wanted to move away from only doing birthdays and corporate events. Our first wedding (partnered with I DO!) was in Napa, California at Auberge Du Soleil and was featured in Town & Country’s Spring 2011 issue.

What are some of the main services you offer and how do they set you apart from other competitors?

Our main service is Event Design! We take great pride in being able to transform any room and love seeing the face of a stunned bride, groom and guests! We love planning and being able to see all of the small details fall in place. The biggest thing that sets us apart from our competition is our pricing! We set realistic planning and design prices in order to allow more couples to enjoy the awesomeness of using a planner!

What are some things couples should consider when creating a design/style for their wedding?

When creating your design scheme/theme always remember, “less is more and more is in the details”! You don’t need the biggest centerpieces or a complex lighting plan to have a beautiful event. Find examples of what you like, get the images priced out, and go from there. Scale down in places where you don’t feel as strongly and go big in the places that mean the most.

How do you go about interpreting a couple’s vision and designing a unique look or style for an event?

I always ask couples to bring in as many images, fabrics and examples of their design style. We then go over their favorite images and what about them makes them their favorite. I learn about their favorite colors, vacations spots and the things they enjoy doing together. All of this information helps me go back and create a Design Board that communicates the couples’ uniqueness and their wedding vision.

What key qualities should couples look for when choosing a planner?

When looking for a Wedding or Event Planner and/or Designer, you should always pick someone who you feel comfortable with. Find a planner who has a great communication mode. If you prefer text, make sure your planner offers that as an option and their rules and response times. If you prefer to only be contacted at a certain time, make sure your planner understands. Notice how quickly the planners you reach out to when searching, the ones who respond instantly-should move to the top of your list immediately. Whether it was their Production Assistant, Secretary or Intern, it means someone will always be readily available to answer your questions. There should also ALWAYS be an emergency number provided to you by your planner, whether it be their personal cell phone or direct line in. Sometimes there are questions you will need answers to immediately, your planner should be available to those types of questions always.

What part of your job do you find the most satisfying and the most challenging?

I love planning events that have 400-600+ guests! Our favorite part being able to see so many peoples’ reaction to the décor, lighting, floral and entertainment is exhilarating. We always work with such amazing vendors, we never worry that feedback will be anything other than amazing but it’s always lovely to be reminded.

The not so stellar part of planning Weddings and Events would have to be “crushing dreams” as we call it. We can do anything and everything when it comes to planning and designing BUT we cannot make your budget bigger! Our vendors extend enormous discounts and sometimes will throw an item in there every once in a while, but it is always difficult to tell couples’ they cannot have a 12 piece band, 5 course meal and open bar throughout their entire wedding and only hope to spend $15,000.00. We make magic happen, not miracles!

What is the craziest event story you can share?

We had an outdoor event last summer. The venue was a gorgeous house in the backyard. The house itself was beautiful; the backyard was lush and had beautiful landscaping. The only thing I saw as being a huge problem was the guest-count and of course, the weather! The day of the wedding was beautiful, great weather and all vendors arrived more than early! Set up went superb and the couple was on time with pictures. Minutes before the event starts—DOWNPOUR. The ceremony had to be moved inside, and the reception had to be delayed about an hour while appetizers were passed inside. That is not the craziest part…while the ceremony was going on, the P3 Staff and Catering crew were in the tent outside, standing on the dance floor so it would not wash it away. We had to make bridge-like walkways for the guests to get from the house to the tent without sinking into the ground and help the caterers set up the food stations. It was beyond stressful but at the end of the night, the owner of the house had nothing but nice things to say and the newlywed couple were over the moon.

As a recent bride, how has your own wedding experience change the way you plan for others?

As a recent bride I wanted to simplify the planning and designing process even more! We recently upgraded our A La Carte Menu to include more offerings from our Luminous Suite. We also have added Event Design Suites, for clients only seeking Event Design assistance. I think being a bride has made me more sensitive to the fact that my clients have lives and other things to worry about and do. Yes, their wedding is important and they understand that but life gets in the way. I want to be able to take the reins as much as allowed, allowing the couple time to enjoy their engagement.

For more information about Parrott Party Productions, check out her website here, or on Facebook here.

This week we are excited to re-launch our vendor spotlight feature! In this feature, we catch up with some of our favorite vendors to find out more about what sets them apart, while also giving current and future clients a sneak-peek into the wonderful world of wedding planning and all that it entails.

This week we had a chance to talk things over with event planner Audrey Gordon. Having been in the biz over 30 years, we though Audrey would be a perfect vendor to start our re-launch of this blog. She is very personable with her clients, striving to get to know them personally and really make their day special and unique. See our conversation below!

How and why did you get started in the wedding planning business?

My love of entertaining and “hosting” people was the organic beginnings of my business that started over thirty years ago. When a friend of mine asked me to help her with her kid’s 10th anniversary party at her home in Glencoe, someone at the party asked me for my card—at the time, my business card was my name and my phone number on a napkin! That was the birth of Audrey Gordon Parties. Ltd.

Over your years in the industry, what are some of the major changes you’ve seen in wedding planning trends?

Major changes include the TYPE of Venue being chosen to house the ceremony and reception.

What are some things couples should consider when creating a design/style for their wedding?

I believe what couples should consider when creating a design/style for their wedding is to definitely incorporate elements that reflect the essence of who they are as individuals and as a couple. They should highlight their common interests so when guests walk into their environment it makes sense and the guests know that are in the right place!

How do you go about interpreting a couple’s vision and designing a unique look or style for an event?

My most favorite thing to do is to have the first face-to-face meeting at their place. I learn A LOT about the couple just by visiting them at home. I may ask them how they met, what hobbies they have, their favorite colors or definitely show me their Pinterest board. It’s also important to ask them what they really DON’T like.

What key qualities should couples look for when choosing a planner?

I believe a couple should choose a planner they are EXTREMELY comfortable with; to be able to say anything and everything because it’s all about THEM!

What part of your job do you find the most satisfying and the most challenging?

The most satisfying thing about my job is similar to having a baby…you plan…plan…plan…and then the day comes and you watch how all the pieces fall together to create the vision that they’ve shared. The ultimate best is when couples come up to me and hug me and say that it wouldn’t have been such a pleasant experience without me to allow them to “be present”  through the entire experience.

The most challenging times come when things happen outside of one’s control, i.e. unexpected weather conditions for an outside event. The trick is to keep your calm, take a deep breath and figure out a solution because there is always a solution to EVERY situation. The old motto is: “It’s not WHAT happens; it’s HOW you handle it.”

Thank you for taking the time to speak with us Audrey! For more information about Audrey Gordon Parties Ltd, check out her website here.