This week has been a bit of a doozy. I have been sick all week. (Yuck!) But, I am thrilled to be back on my feet and sharing this wonderful interview with wedding planner Amy Nixon. She shares some great wedding tips.
Thanks so much for agreeing to an interview, Amy. Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I was born and raised in Dallas, Texas and moved to Ohio in 2005. My hobbies are reading, cooking and baking and watching reality TV shows! I started my business in 2006, left “Corporate America” in 2007, and have been growing my business ever since. I’m a member of Working Women Connection, a women in business networking group in the area, and I love networking of any kind. I am happily married with two teenage step-children and I live in Avon Lake where I have a studio in my home. In November 2010 we opened our second studio in Vermilion.
Wow! A second studio. That’s exciting! How did you become a wedding planner?
One of my first jobs in high school was working with flowers, making things like corsages and homecoming mums. That job was what began my love of creating, and led eventually to my love of creating weddings. After working in flowers for several years, and then learning about photography from my mother (who had her own photography business), I wanted to start a business of my own combining all my experiences. When I moved to Ohio, the opportunity to start a business presented itself, so I took advantage. I started with planning and day-of coordination only and soon incorporated floral designs and décor rentals as well.
What is your favorite part?
My favorite part is the feeling of gratification when you pull off an amazing event. When the bride tells you that everything is gorgeous, and the guests ooh-and-aah at the décor all night, and all of the hard work you put in has paid off.
O.K. I’m going to jump right in with a hard one. Many people assume hiring a wedding planner adds a huge expense to their wedding budget. How would you reply?
Complete myth! A good wedding planner will be able to save their client money in the long run, in addition to saving them time by doing all the planning research and legwork. We work with you to form a budget and stick to it, and we pass on any vendor discounts we receive directly to the client; for example, $50 in savings on your cake, $100 in savings on your DJ, $500 on flowers… that already covers the cost of our partial planning package, and we haven’t even gotten into photography, videography, attire, invitations, transportation, décor, favors, hair, makeup, accommodations, etc… In short, a good planner will help you make educated choices along the planning path, which will help you save money and avoid any over-spending.
Great points Amy. Can you share a few of your favorite wedding details from last year?
We did a large wedding in June at Lyman Harbor that was tropical themed and fun! Palm trees, huge tropical flower centerpieces, and even a grooms cake in the form of a Hawaiian shirt. We did a small wedding in August that incorporated some Japanese themed décor items such as bonsai trees, lanterns, cherry blossom fans and favors in Chinese take-home boxes (the couple was honeymooning in Japan). Another one of our August weddings was a rustic nature theme, where we did small tree trunks as vases and used all baby’s breath in the arrangements and bouquets. We also did a super fun Halloween themed wedding with a Buddhist ceremony at House of Blues. At the reception there was a huge Halloween candy station and a photo booth with Halloween costumes to play in. Deep red and orange calla bouquets, pumpkin centerpieces, deep red rose petals… (We kept it tasteful, not kitchy!) I also included a photo of my favorite bouquet from last year, made with all yellow flowers and grey ribbon.
Here are some images Amy sent over. Gorgeous stuff.
You are a florist as well, right? How does that help your brides when you are planning?
Yes, we do event design which includes floral design (along with linens, lighting, and other design details that make weddings beautiful!). My background is in floral design, so most of my brides like that fact and add on our flowers to their planning or coordination package. We have a great portfolio of previous work, we can do modern or traditional, and we can almost always quote a lower price than other florists in the area because we don’t have the same overhead costs that they do (for example, we don’t keep a shop full of flowers… we only order what we need for our events.)
What is the best advice you can give for any bride trying to plan her wedding?
Before you do anything else, set a budget. Weddings are expensive any way you look at it, and if you don’t control your spending you’ll quickly find yourself in a bad place. You need to realistically evaluate your finances and contributions from others to come up with your budget. Then, allocate certain amounts from the budget to each vendor. Don’t over-spend. If you have trouble setting a budget, contact a planner or coordinator. Some (including us) offer hourly consultations and can help you establish a budget and get you on your way to smart spending.
What trends to you see coming up for 2011 and 2012 weddings?
Yellow and Navy are popular this year, as well as shiny metallic colors. Uplighting and pin spotlighting are décor elements that we’re getting more and more requests for these days, and we’ve learned so many creative new ways to use lighting in our décor designs. Interactive stations for the guests are popular as well; candy and dessert stations as favors, decadent coffee and tea stations with fancy condiments, a fill your own tossing cone station with petals and herbs….no matter what type, brides are loving that it gives their guests an entertaining activity while at the same time acting as a décor element.
When planning a wedding, where do you look for ideas? What keeps the creativity flowing?
I’m a big blogger! I follow tons of blogs, everything from cocktails and baking to designing and weddings, and they always inspire great ideas! I also like to look to the engaged couple for ideas. I like to incorporate personal touches, so details about the couple can inspire great ideas; for example, a bride from Ohio and a groom from the Jersey shore inspired a hotel welcome basket with salt water taffy and buckeyes. We also attend educational seminars and expos throughout the year to learn about what’s new in the event industry from other seasoned professionals. David Tutera from My Fair Wedding, Linnyette Richardson-Hall from Whose Wedding Is It Anyway?, Michael Cerbelli from Total Entertainment, and David Merrell from Design Dawgs are a few of the pros that educated and inspired us during 2010!
Do you have any funny stories from your experience as a planner?
I guess the funniest thing I can think of right off the bat would be a photographer falling asleep at the table during dinner. I sat with the photographer and my staff at the vendors table for dinner, and the lights were dimmed to run a slide show of the bride & groom. While we were eating, the photographer across from me began nodding off (literally nodding, head bobbing all around). My assistants were trying to hold it together and not laugh! We let him nap for about 10 minutes while we finished dinner, then I purposely bumped into the table while standing up and it jolted him awake. He just yawned, picked up his camera and headed over to take photos of the cake cutting like nothing had happened.
Oh my! I have to say, I’ve never fallen asleep during a reception!
What should a bride do if she is considering your services?
If a bride is interested in hiring a wedding planner or day-of coordinator, we offer a complimentary consultation for them. They can call or email us anytime to schedule a consultation. We can answer any questions from the couple, explain our packages and pricing, and we can recommend the best package for their needs and budget. We can also help with design ideas from our linen swatches, wedding magazines, and sample items in our studios.
Last but possibly most important of all, what is your favorite candy?
Chocolate! But in particular, the extremely elusive Chocolate Pay Day candy bar. (They’re very hard to find, and I think they only come out at certain times of the year). I stock up when I find them.
And just when I thought I had tried every candy. Now, I’ll have to add one to my list.