ask the experts: wedding planners
Storybook princesses have fairy godmothers; modern-day brides-to-be have wedding planners. Planning a wedding is no easy task, but luckily for local gals there’s an abundance of people who can make your big day run smoothly. Meet Meg McCaskill, Brittani Adams and Michele Caswell-Adams, three wedding planners who’ve become experts in their field.
Unique Weddings in New Orleans
Michele Caswell-Adams and her daughter, Brittani Adams, run the wedding planning company Unique Weddings in New Orleans. Michele has been in the industry for 22 years, while Brittani has inherited her mom’s love for wedding planning and started working in planning events at the age of 12. The pair says that they’re direct with their clients; from the beginning, they say, a bride’s vision needs to be realistic with what her means are. They offer full service, same-day service and intimate ceremonies.
What does your job entail? “For full-service clients, we take them start to finish. We assist them with finding ceremony and reception venues, all vendors (i.e., photographer, videographer, band, DJ, etc.), save-the-date cards, invitations and program assistance, an overall design concept, floor plans and menus. We create a timeline from the moment they start hair and makeup to the tail end of the reception. The week of the wedding we do all the vendor confirmations, orchestrate the rehearsals and are on-site the day of the wedding, making sure all their deliveries are timely and correct, and then we are with them throughout the evening.
For same-day clients, we provide unlimited recommendations, suggestions and advice. We oversee floor plans, design and menus. About two months prior, we step in and start communicating with all vendors. We create a timeline from the time they start hair and makeup to the end of the event. The week of the wedding we do all vendor confirmation, orchestrate rehearsals and are on-site the day of the wedding, making sure their deliveries are timely and correct. We are with them throughout the evening, as well.”
What advice would you give to a clueless bride-to-be, or a woman who’s recently engaged? “When we have a client who’s clueless, we show her many options to get her imagination flowing. If there’s a bride who’s having problems with design, for example, we would have them start looking at magazines to see what she likes, and just as important – if not more – what she doesn’t like.”
How do you differ from other wedding planners? “Through our years of experience and active involvement within the hospitality industry, we have developed an intimate knowledge of each venue in New Orleans; this allows us to design and detail “seamless” events tailored to each couple. Our goal is to create an unforgettable experience, unique to each individual bride and groom as well as simplifying the complexity of the wedding planning process, creating an experience that is uncomplicated, undemanding and unproblematic.”
What is the biggest dilemma you’ve had, and how did you solve it? “The biggest dilemma we ever had was when a second-line band (that we suggested the clients not hire) failed to show up. But because of our established relationships and experience, we were able to get another band there, before the end of the wedding, and the bride and groom were unaware until the next day what had happened!”
What is the best part of your job? “When everything we have planned becomes a reality. Hearing ‘this is the best wedding ever’ really makes us feel like we have succeeded in making someone’s dream come true, and we hear that, time and again.”
Get Polished Events and The Bride’s Lounge
Emily Sullivan has been a wedding planner for almost four years. This year, she opened The Bride’s Lounge on Magazine Street, in order to offer a one-stop shop for brides. “At every venue, my staff and I strive to make a good impression and maintain positive relationships, which is imperative in planning successful events,” she says.
Sullivan believes that brides should never know the things that happen on their wedding day: “All brides and their families should be able to relax and enjoy the big day without worrying if vendors are showing up, and other mishaps.”
Why did you become a wedding planner? “Wedding planning just sort of fell into my lap. I worked for a major cosmetics company for eight years before deciding to branch off on my own. So I started out by doing makeup for weddings and special events, and before long, I realized that I loved all things [related to] weddings, and especially New Orleans weddings. I believe that you must have a specific personality to be good at this job. Patience and problem-solving are two characteristics that are essential in the wedding planning world. I always say, ‘It’s not about the problem, it’s about the solution.’”
What is a good time frame to plan a wedding? “While I have planned events from three months to two years out, I think about a year is a good rule of thumb. There are certain exceptions to this rule, though. For example, October is one of the busiest months for weddings, so I suggest that you start planning a little earlier to get the best selection of vendors.”
What kind of services do you offer? “Well, this is a very interesting question, because we do everything. Get Polished does on-location hair and airbrushed makeup for bridal parties. We also plan weddings from start to finish and offer a ‘month-of’ coordination package for those brides who want to be very involved in planning. The Bride’s Lounge is a wedding resource boutique that offers complimentary wedding planning advice for brides-to-be. We also provide services to help match brides with vendors who would work well with their preferences and budget.”
What is the hardest part of your job? “Brides who want to micromanage their planner! Nothing is more frustrating than a bride who doesn’t get her money’s worth.”
What advice would you give to a clueless bride-to-be, or a woman who is recently engaged? “Take one task at a time so that you don’t get overwhelmed. Choose the things that are most important to you and work your budget around those items. The Bride’s Lounge does complimentary budget consultations by appointment.”
What is the best part of your job? “Watching our brides as they walk down the aisle, into the reception site and throughout the night. For the most part, they tend to be glowing and almost euphoric for their entire wedding day. You must truly love this business to stay in it, and it is those moments that pay off.”