Wedding Whys & Wherefores
Welcome to the monthly review of meet and greets with the wedding experts. Whether I know them on a personal level, have worked with them or admire their work - I want more inside info! This is a chance for a more in depth interview with individuals that help make a wedding day bliss!
MEET: Amy McGonigal, Event Planner
Company: Picture Perfect Events, Mt. Royal, NJ
Tell us a little about yourself and your business.
I have been planning events since 2000 and PPE was established in 2006. Picture Perfect Events is a full service event planning company that services NJ, PA and DE. We provide all types of services; from full service planning and design, to rehearsal and day of coordination.
When is it an appropriate time to hire an event planner?
There really is no correct answer to this question, you can hire a planner at any point throughout the planning process. Some clients like someone there from the very beginning to help select the venue and the overall feel/design of the event, and others get overwhelmed at the very end, (wanting someone to step in and manage all of the details they have already selected). So whether it be beginning, middle or end, we can create a package that will assist all clients at any stage in the planning.
What are some key questions a couple should ask when hiring an event planner?
How long have you been in business? Do you work alone, or with a staff of people? What local venues recommend you? Do you accept commissions from vendors I book through your company?
What is the question you get asked most by your clients?
What is the difference between a site coordinator and what you do? Well the difference is this...usually the site coordinators at venues are sales people assigned to book events for the space, they are not event planners. In most cases, (although there are exceptions), the site coordinator assist you with the menu selections and ensures that your event starts off as planned and the maître D assigned to your event is well informed and able to manage the flow of the food and formalities. An event planner like myself, would assist them with vendor selections, design and décor elements, contract review, timelines, budgeting, confirming vendors and managing your day, (start to finish not just the few hours you are on site at the venue).
Is it easier when a Bride & Groom come in with a wedding vision or a clean slate (leaving it up to you)?
I enjoy both types of clients. I enjoy clients that have a vision of there event and I can just use my experience and design ideas to pull it all together. Obviously, I enjoy the client that just wants us to run with our ideas and make their day amazing. I usually have a stash of great ideas in the back of my head that I can’t wait to use. So clients that are a clean slate, let me pull out all the fun things I haven’t gotten to try out yet!
What is the biggest challenge you have had as an Event Planner?
I have had a few clients come to me with less than a week to plan an entire event, and that can be challenging. Although I love a good challenge, I do enjoy the extra time to double and triple check all the details to make sure everything is as perfect as possible.
Do you find that the drop in the economy has changed the style of weddings these days?
It definitely has. There will always be the big budget events, (that cost in no object) but for the most part we see a much more cost effective and frugal client in the past few years. The clients seem to educate themselves more than ever, (prior to meeting) which is a great thing overall. There are plenty of ways that we assist our clients with saving money on their budgets, so we have never been intimidated by a budget savvy client.
What is the biggest trend you see happening at weddings now?
Overall, thinking outside the box as much as possible, we have so many clients excited to do things they have not seen before which is a breath of fresh air for us! Some things that we have seen for 2013 so far is patterns and prints in wedding attire. Couples are getting more adventurous with their formal wear. In addition, the food truck has become a new twist that is growing in popularity with items like; gourmet grilled cheese, homemade ice cream and even homemade donut trucks. Another thing we love to see is that clients are going “local” for their events - from locally grown flowers to local ingredients for the reception menu. Supporting your local community is a great thing to see and something we love to encourage.
What is the best tip that you could give a Bride & Groom on their wedding day?
You have to relax and let go! Sweating the small stuff or obsessing about your wedding day on the actual day can truly ruin all the fun! If you hire a group of professionals and a planner or coordinator that you trust, you should have no reason to do anything other than have a blast! This is day that cannot be repeated, so please take a deep breath and enjoy every single second and of course dance till your feet hurt!
What advice do you have for an aspiring event planner?
No class at a local college will teach you half as much as interning at an event planning company in your area. You cannot truly understand the profession until you walk a mile in our shoes. I know from the outside it just seems like a super glamorous job, but it is hard work! We work 12 hour days and there is very little that happens during an event that we are not involved in or touching in some way. There is nothing more rewarding than seeing our clients faces when they are overjoyed with how everything came together and are able to relax and enjoy their event. So before you truly commit to this profession, get out there and learn what is really involved...because it is not always a walk in the park, but for the right person there is nothing more rewarding!
If you are a professional wedding vendor and would like to be interviewed for Wedding Whys and Wherefores monthly, contact Tanya Lea at: firstname.lastname@example.org.