It was the summer of 2009, and I had never planned a wedding before. Two of my friends were getting married. They had $1,000 and an empty lawn at a church in Glendora. They asked me to bring their wedding vision to life, and I said yes…
Now, I had always been creative and organized (two traits I find essential in this business), and I had planned various birthday parties and church/family events. But I’ll be honest, I had no idea what I was doing.
It was a dessert potluck wedding, filled with jam jars, daisies, DIY twinkle lights, and youth group furniture covered in white sheets from Ross. It was a long, hard, HOT day. But friends, it was magical. When the sun set, the candles glowed and the people gathered…and it was beautiful. At that wedding, 2 people asked if I would do their weddings. I said yes, and business was born.
At the time , I had no idea this was the start of my career. It was just a fun hobby business to earn some extra cash. By word of mouth, in that first year, we did 14 weddings. It was a whirlwind. Over time, I added in floral design services, took on more clients, and began building a team.
Now here we are, years later, producing incredible events all over the world…and I couldn’t find any more joy in what we do.
I love that I can be creative, authentic, and innovative.
I love that I get to work for myself.
I love that I can support my family doing what I love.
I love that I can educate fellow professionals to empower them to pursue their dreams.
I love what I do.
Thank you, for being a part of this journey, friends. Your love and support mean the world to me and my family!
I have had so many couples reach out to me (both my own clients and people through social media) reach out with questions about postponing events and whether or not they should plan on moving forward with their wedding day, given the current situation with COVID-19 and everyone on quarantine.
Friends, the first thing I want to say: Love is not Cancelled. Regardless of when you get married, what government restrictions are in place, or what is happening in the world…nothing can cancel your love. Your love story is happening. One day, you will tell your grandchildren about how your love survived the global pandemic of 2020.
The second thing I want to say (before going delving in to planning tips): each situation will be unique. Each geographic location, each couple, each guest list - all of your weddings are different. This post is meant to be a general guideline (and my own personal thoughts) regarding postponements later this year - but you will need to work with your own team of vendors, your own families, and with your significant other to decide what is best for you and your wedding day.
Finally, before giving tips, I want to acknowledge that this post is being written from my perspective in April 2020. So, keep in mind - as the Coronavirus situation evolves, the right thing to do may evolve as well.
So, with those three things being said, let’s get started…
If you are getting married in May 2020:
Odds are, you’ve already been talking with your planner and vendor team about backup plans. Each situation will be unique. Me and my team chose to move our May events to later this year.
If you are getting married in June 2020:
If you haven’t already, I recommend setting up a call with your planner to talk about backup plans. If you don’t have a planner, call your venue (or your vendor who is helping you most in the process) to ask about their policies. While we don’t know what everything will be like in June, seeing as it’s just two months away, I recommend having a strong backup plan in place. This way, as the situation evolves, you won’t need to feel panicked if restrictions on gatherings continue.
If you are getting married in July - December 2020:
All of us are hoping and praying that this situation is resolved (or less intense) as the year progresses. As a planner, I’ve been encouraging my couples getting married later this year to:
My main advice: don’t make a decision now because you are afraid. Take the time to see how the situation evolves, to pragmatically discuss your Plan B, and to embrace the fact that while none of us are in control, we can control our own actions and our own love stories.
All of the weddings after restrictions are lifted are going to be so EPIC. Everyone is going to be so excited to GATHER and CELEBRATE. I can’t wait to be a part of them!
Event Planner and Wedding Industry Professional Tips: Serving your Clients throughout the Discomfort of Uncertainty
I’ll never forget where I was on March 15, 2020. I don’t think anyone in the events industry will forget it. It was Sunday, and Taylor and I were sitting on the couch. The kids had just gone to bed. We had all been watching the rapidly evolving Coronavirus news over the past few weeks, and I was scrolling through Apple News to get any latest updates. And there - in the headlines - I saw it. That cold, prickly feeling went down my spine. The CDC was recommending that no events over 50 people take place for the next 8 weeks. With that one announcement, our whole year changed.
For those of you who know me, you know that me and my team have navigated several different crises. From replanning a wedding in 72 hours due to the Thomas Fire to navigating venue closures with the Montecito mudslide, me and my team are no strangers to thinking “on the fly” and implementing new plans QUICKLY when we need to.
I immediately jumped on my laptop and emailed all of my clients, saying that I wanted to set-up a phone call with them on Monday. I encouraged them and told them: “I’m On Your Team.” I told the truth: the situation is changing, and I want to get on the phone with you to talk about our next steps.
Monday was hard. I talked with each of my clients who had events in the next 8 weeks. There were tears, people who felt hopeless, and lots of questions: what are we going to do? Do we cancel? How do we know if there will be any more dates open? How far out do we postpone? Should we just elope? The conversations weren’t easy, but I met each one with grace and was ready to listen.
After listening, we worked with each couple to come up with the best solution for them (over the weeks that followed). Some were rescheduled to future dates, some re-planned their wedding to be more intimate or more of a party. It was a lot of hard work. But it was good work. And I’m proud of it.
And here’s the thing: We are still in the middle of this global pandemic. The situation will evolve and change and isn’t in my control. I can’t control what is going on in the outside world, but I can control how I respond.
Friends, there are four things I want you to take away from this story:
Hearing that my source of income was being literally wiped out for the next 8 weeks (and potentially longer) was scary. None of us plan for global pandemics in our businesses. Sure, we plan for a client or two cancelling here and there, we plan for an unexpected shift in plans every once-in-awhile, but 8 weeks worth of work? Never in a million years. Until March 15, 2020. It’s ok to feel all the emotions when things are uncertain.
Instead of being paralyzed by that fear of the unknown (what is going to happen to me? My family? My clients? My events? My business?), we need to continue to move forward. We need to take action. When things are uncertain or not going to plan, it’s important for us to lead the communication with our clients. If possible, be the first to reach out and address the situation. When we are leading the conversation, we have the opportunity to do so with bravery, grace, and to develop a solution alongside the people we serve.
We don’t need to have an answer right away. It’s ok to say that you need to think or consider some options, and give your client an actionable date you will get back to them.
When things are tough, we need to SERVE. Serving doesn’t mean letting go of personal or professional boundaries. It doesn’t mean ignoring your contracts and pricing structures. It doesn’t mean letting go of your personal brand and the quality of your work. To me, serving means to work alongside my clients to hear what they need to say and work with them to develop the best possible solution in a pragmatic, professional, peaceful way. It means giving open, honest, authentic advice and walking them through what options they have. It means being prepared. It means being honest when you don’t have a solution right away. Essentially, to me, it means being on the SAME TEAM.
My friends, we are all navigating this global crisis together. We are not in control of what will happen. It’s ok to feel all the emotions as they come up.
When we are faced with fear, we can take action and lead the conversation.
We can lean in to the discomfort of the unknown
We can work together and be on the same team.
We had the amazing privilege to travel across the country to the Midwest to lead a workshop in the beautiful town of New Albany, Indiana, just outside of Louisville Kentucky. We created an inspired styled shoot in a sweet loft in the downtown area, which has so many cute storefronts, restaurants, and is right across the river from Louisville.
It was such a dreamy set-up! Because so many weddings in the Midwest are in barns and have a more rustic theme, we wanted to bring in modern elements and lots of wild florals to create a trendy look in the middle of a beautiful midwestern Downtown.
The attendees created beautiful floral arrangements alongside Tyler Speier, with cappuccino roses, panda anemones, smilax vines, rich autumn-toned blooms. We created a ceremony space with ghost chairs, gray taper candles, modern white candle holders, and ombre rose petal accents on the aisle. Instead of a traditional wedding arch, we created a crawling arrangement of blooms and branches on a vintage screen. This made the space feel so warm, natural, and inviting!
The table had a gray velvet linen, ghost chairs, napkins created with vintage fabric, amazing menus and place cards by Lime and Lilly Calligraphy, and gray taper candles. We created a crawling installation of vines on the wall to bring elements of the outdoors in. Autumn-colored blooms adorned the table, bringing warmth and rich color to the space. The centerpiece also had dried flower accents to add extra texture.
The invitation suite featured hand-sketched elements from downtown, including the bridge from Louisville. It’s always so fun to incorporate local elements when getting married in any destination!
It is always so fun to juxtapose various design elements together. From the vintage screen in the ceremony contrasted with the modern ghost chairs, the modern inspiration against the backdrop of a beautiful midwestern downtown, to the soft velvet against the modern gold candlesticks, it was such a dreamy set-up! We can’t wait to go back and visit New Albany, Indiana!
Event Workshop: Tyler Speier
Event Venue (New Albany, Indiana) : The Loft on Spring
Bridal Gown: Laurel Wreath Bridal
Photography: Naomi Ruth Duncan
Calligraphy: Lime and Lilly Design
Hair and Makeup: Celia Striegel
Rentals: All Occasions Event Rentals
Shoot Day Catering: Board and You
Dress Designer:Sophia Tolli
Models: Laura Allstar, Chloe Halbleib
The second day of our workshop last August was so much fun. Each attendee got to create their own miniature styled shoot. Everyone got to pick a sweetheart table, linens, chairs, china, flatware, glassware, print products, and floral/design materials to create something unique and fun. Amber from Amber Jean Photography came in the morning and worked with each attendee on creating a flat lay of their unique details. After a “Fiesta Lunch,” James and Jess of James and Jess Photography spoke about collaborating as a team and attracting your ideal client, then the styled shoot began! James and Jess artfully captured each person’s work. Then, as a team, we combined all of our florals and design elements to create a beautiful ceremony space under chandeliers from Bella Vista Designs. Nicole, our model, had her hair and makeup done by Style Me Kristi and wore a beautiful custom gown from Lili Bridals. As the sun began to set, we gathered and toasted to a wonderful two days of creativity, openness, learning, and growth.
I think my favorite part of a workshop is that everyone is coming to learn. Everyone is arriving open and ready to try new things. It creates such an amazing atmosphere, and I find that everyone leaves inspired, refreshed, and ready to take on their “next step.” I would love to have you join us for our workshop at the Sunstone Winery Villa on March 18-19, 2018. Click here for more details. Come create, be refreshed, and have fun!
The Team That Made This Happen:
Dress: Custom Gown by Lili Bridals
Hair and Makeup: Style me Kristi
Stationary: Lotus and Ash
Calligraphy: Jessica Yee
Venue: Dos Pueblos Orchid Farm
Photography - Flat Lays: Amber Jean Photography
Photography - Styled Shoot: James and Jess
Linens: La Tavola
Rentals: The Tent Merchant
Lighting: Bella Vista Designs
Flowers: Florabundance Inc.
Styled By: Tyler Speier and the Workshop Attendees
To kickoff 2019, I got to attend the Florabundance Design Days Workshop and learn from some of the top florists in the industry (Holly Chapple, Tulipina, Hitomi, and many others). It was such an incredible experience and I feel so inspired and refreshed as we embark on the adventures that 2019 will bring. As the Design Days workshop came to a close, I began to reminisce on our Tyler Speier Workshop we had last August at a beautiful private greenhouse on the Gaviota Coast. It was such an incredible weekend. I have a deep love for educating and teaching - and I remember when I was first starting in the industry, I often felt isolated and “in over my head.” It can be lonely being a “soloprenuer,” and it can be overwhelming when learning how to plan weddings, do flowers, run a business, support your family, find work/life balance…the list goes on. I remember wanting to have someone I could reach out to when I had questions about contracts, procedures, design elements, how to run a business, and how to attract my ideal client. Now, with 10 years of experience under my belt and a thriving business in the luxury Santa Barbara wedding market, I love to give back and work with fellow creative entrepreneurs.
Our August workshop was so much fun. On the first day, we had brunch together and then had a discussion about who we are, what we do, and how we want to grow. It was so inspiring to have so many creative people in one room sharing their visions for their businesses (or vision of starting a business)! In the afternoon, we went to the venue and had a floral design workshop, where we created floral centerpieces, took headshots for our portfolio, prepared for a styled shoot (on day 2), and had a social media educational session. It was such a fun day! Here are some of my favorite images from the floral design portion. The best part is…nobody attending had any floral design experience! It was so fun to see how each person had their own unique interpretation of the centerpiece. We worked with beautiful flowers from Florabundance Inc.
If you are interested in joining us for our next immersive, creative design workshop, we would love to have you! Whether you are a seasoned event professional, looking for a career change, or looking to further develop your entertaining/design skills, we would love to have you. Planners, florists, caterers, rental company reps, graphic artists, calligraphers, etc, - we all play a vital role in the art of designing an event, and having the skills of curating an artful design is key to attracting our ideal clients across the industry. Our next workshop is coming up - March 18-19, 2020, at the beautiful Sunstone Villa. (See more info here!) - we would love to have you!
Wedding season is in full swing! We are up to our ears in flowers, emails, timelines and walkthroughs...I love my job! One of my favorite parts of my job is getting to collaborate with a bride and groom to create beauty. It is so much fun to take a space and completely transform it--to give it the "wow factor," and to create an event that the bride, groom and guests won't forget.
But I have to tell you...my love for weddings goes way beyond the creative design aspect. One of the best parts of being a wedding designer and coordinator is getting to witness some of the most raw and genuine moments between people in love.
So, while I hope you get as excited as I do over creating beautiful details on your wedding day, here are some of my favorite moments that you can consider incorporating into your wedding day. I guarantee that you will not forget these moments!
take it all in
Step away from your reception for a few moments and be together as husband and wife. Take it all in -- let your photographer follow along and capture your first moments as newlyweds.
create a keepsake
So much of what is created on a wedding day is temporary. Set aside time before your big day to write your bride or groom a heartfelt note. This will let them know that you are thinking about them, and create a treasured keepsake.
Whether it's in your vows, your toasts, or whispered words as you have your first dance together -- be open. Allow yourself to feel the deep joy and excitement of getting married, whether that brings roars of laughter or causes you to shed a tear.
take moments with your loved ones
Honor the people that have helped you get to this place in your life. Take a moment with your mom and dad, take that picture with grandma, share that dance with your sibling, honor the person that's passed away.
While all the fun details are so fun (and contribute to the overall event experience), taking in everything as a couple, honoring the people you love, personalizing little keepsakes, and being genuine/open will make your day so much more meaningful. It's so important to remember WHY we celebrate weddings in the first place - to celebrate love, family, a new chapter, and being together.
1. Molly Magee Photography
2 & 3. Jodee Debes Photography
4. Willa Kveta Photography