Event Planning- The Good, The Bad and The Oh So Pretty!

Photo credit - NWIndianaLife.com

Photo credit - NWIndianaLife.com

Hello there!  I wanted to take a moment to share my very awesome but terrifying experience just recently.  I had the opportunity to speak at the Northwest Indiana INsight Design Conference a couple of months ago.  It was such and honor to be in the presence of such amazingly creative people.  The speeches were all so good and I really learned a lot from them. I even made a few new friends.

At first, I wasn't sure I belonged among all of these creative minds.  I was very nervous and unsure of myself among these designers and artists.  I beat myself up over this speech for months prior not even sure what I had to offer these super cool peeps!  Thanks for all the help Katie!! I felt like that awkward teen getting up in front of the class ready to crash and burn any minute regardless of all the prep time.

Then I thought back on the all of the weddings we lead every year.  I thought about all of the creative ways we had to function to get the job done for our incredible wedding couples.  We are creative.  Wait... what?  Yes, I said it we are creative!  We are a big part of this creative community. Celebrating each and every bride and her creative vision along with our own creative notes.  Designing the wedding of their dreams, each and every time.  

Here is my full speech in case you missed it.  And if you were there listening to me stammer away trying to beat our 5 minute time clock, here is what I meant to say...

Hello,  My name is Michelle Nikitaras and I am a wedding planner.  I never really thought of myself as a creative person when I began this journey.  I knew I was organized, I was great at time management and I was really passionate about weddings. What else could I need? Our brides hired us to keep them on task and make sure everything ran smoothly on their day.  I had no idea that this position would force me into a creative place and that our clients would actually appreciate that.  
Our group is a handful of full time non-creatives.  I am a mother of 4 with kids aging from 2 to 22, Katie is an HR manager and our intern Brooke is a college student going into Public Relations. We are not full-time professionally trained artists or designers.  But, we are great at anticipating and solving problems.  I once had to super glue a groom’s shoe sole back on right before he walked down the aisle, no joke.  So, needless to say we are prepared for almost anything!
We are great at communicating, collaborating, and managing talent.  We can even sense a crooked fork from across the room, but we weren’t making ourselves emotionally and creatively available to our clients on one of the most emotional, personal, fun, exciting, overwhelming, nerve-racking days of their lives.  
This is contrary to what you think you should do as a business owner or manager, right? Be emotionally available for your clients and offer your own ideas? We have analytical and practical personalities and our minds just didn’t work in an emotional or creative way at first. Of course, we believe in what we do as planners and we do believe that every bride should at least have a day of coordinator to relieve some of the stress of the big day. But, we needed to do more!
Now, obviously I’m not here to sell you a planning package or even sell you on the idea of having a wedding planner but I am here to answer the age old question of “what does a wedding planner do anyway?” and clarify any misconceptions about our job.  So, flashback 5 years ago, let’s look at some of the things we did and continue to do for our brides.  
Among other things, we become their financial planners, and assist with the wedding budget.  We Network for them, we are their vendor coordinators.  We keep them organized and on time.  
  • Financial Planners
  • Network / Vendor Coordinators
  • Organization and Timeline Planners
  • Calendar and Time Keepers
  • Service Experts
  • Event Managers
  • Problem Anticipators & Solvers
  • And, sometimes, we are even the Clean up Crew
We thought we provided everything a wedding needed to be successful, but we found ourselves in a position where we got tired of answering the same question with the same answer. “ What does a wedding planner do?” We would answer with something like “Service, Networking, Timeline, and Organization.” The reactions we received were typically something along the lines of, “Oh so you’re like Jennifer Lopez in that one movie?”  We realized we were being perceived as something expendable that is not to be taken seriously.
From an inspiration and design perspective, we were not making ourselves available either. We knew from experience that the certain fabrics may clash together but that’s what the bride wanted so we thought it wasn’t our place to suggest something different.  Come to realize, THE BRIDE HAS NO IDEA WHAT SHE WANTS! She knew she wanted vintage with some sparkle, but she didn’t know how to interpret it because maybe she’s in Public Relations too.  Ultimately, in theory, the bride will probably get something on her wedding day that wasn’t at all what she wanted.
And then Pinterest came along.  All of the sudden brides had pictures of their vision! Now we have something to work with, here, as non-creatives ourselves. Pinterest became a sensation in the weddings industry and we were totally on board.  
We found ourselves doing more and more DIY projects as requested by our brides.  Some more labor-intensive than others, but we were OK because they typically came with step-by-step instructions. “Nailed it!”
The creative aspect of wedding planning seemed to come naturally to us once we dug a little deeper into color, texture and style.  The more we designed, created, redesigned, matched, coordinated, and took an unreasonable amount of trips to JoAnn Fabrics, the more our clients bought into our interpretation of their vision, trusted our talent and judgment, and appreciated our professionalism.
Finally, they could rest easy knowing their vision was our vision and we had the power to make it reality all while still remaining within their budget. After years of trying to explain what we do and prove ourselves worthy of a little respect in the wedding world… Finally, We got their buy-in.
So, now, what does a wedding planner really do? Not only are we Financial Planners, Vendor Coordinators and everything else on this list.  But we are also
  • A bride’s inspiration
  • A Trusted Creative Mind
  • DIY Experts, Idea generators
  • Option Providers
  • And Pinterest Cheerleaders
  • Oh, yes. Sometimes we are still the clean up crew
But now, as wedding planners we get to be in a fun creative position, gathering inspiration from life.  I may even get an idea or two from some of my kids’ art projects.  Ultimately, we, become our clients’ pseudo wedding family.  We are by their side on one of the biggest days of their lives as a couple, we have the power to make decisions on their behalf when they are too busy to answer because we already know what they like and what is important to them. We get to change blank canvases like this
into this!
Photo Credit - Studio This Is

Photo Credit - Studio This Is

But most importantly we get to create beautiful memories for our brides.
Photo Credit - Studio This Is

Photo Credit - Studio This Is