Kingston Wedding Expert Interview Series: How to Select an Event Planner for your Wedding

I met with Event Planner Krista Stechyson of Smart Weddings and Events to find out as much info as possible for local brides and came away with a lot of helpful information. I can see why brides would want someone like her there for them leading up to and on their wedding day. I know as a photographer it always makes my job easier when the couple has booked a good planner.

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Why should couples hire a Wedding Planner?

Some people think that hiring a wedding planner is only for the rich and famous, but that is not true! I work with all kinds of different couples with all sizes of budgets. Wedding planning can be stressful and time consuming and many couples have work, family and personal commitments that don’t allow for enough free time to plan the wedding. Having a professional planner can take a lot of that pressure off and allow the couple to enjoy the process and their big day! Just a few things that wedding planners and coordinators can assist you with include:
– We have experience with vendors and suppliers that we know are trustworthy and reliable, and we can provide you with guidance on who will meet the needs of your wedding.
– We will keep your budget on track and can suggest the venues and suppliers that will work best for you.
– We will liaise and be the main point of contact with all of your vendors and create a timeline for the day so that everyone knows when and where they need to be at all times.
– You have amazing ideas and a vision for your day and we will know how to execute it in reality.
– Many couples live outside of the area where they are planning their wedding and want someone local to be responsible for getting the details of the wedding together.
– We will be there in person on your wedding day and available throughout the entire process to ensure the set-up, rehearsal and big day go off exactly as planned.
– We can think of logistics ahead of time that someone planning a wedding for a first time wouldn’t think about – who is picking up the flowers, will the bridesmaids have a meal prior to the ceremony, how are the groomsmen getting to the ceremony if the limo is picking up the bridesmaids, who is taking the gifts and cards home after the ceremony, etc.
– We’re there for guidance, support and encouragement throughout.
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 Give us some examples of emergencies that a Planner can be of great help in fixing on the big day?

I try to plan for every eventuality ahead of the wedding. I always confirm with vendors, ensure everyone is paid and that all parties involved know when to arrive and where to be, but there are some things that can still be out of your control. A few small emergencies where I was able to manage the unexpected this past year include:
– I had to drive a guest back to their hotel during the reception, in a blizzard, because they forgot the game that the couple asked them to bring to the dance.
– I rushed to pick up eyelash glue because the Bride’s false eyelashes were starting to fall off.
– I had to move the ceremony chairs inside last minute because of an unexpected storm.
– I fixed the icing on the wedding cake when a small child decided to take a bite while no one was watching.
– I arranged last minute transportation for an elderly family member who had a fall earlier in the day and wasn’t able to make it into the family limo to go to the ceremony.
– I sewed a groomsman into his pants because the suspenders broke and he didn’t have a belt. I bring an emergency kit with me to every wedding to fix makeup, clothing, décor and anything else that may occur. My job is to ensure there is a solution to any issue that may come up and that the couple and their families continue to enjoy the day without having to stress over these details!
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What are three questions couples should ask planners before they hire them?

I always encourage an in-person meeting prior to reserving with a couple so that we can get to know each other and ensure that it will be a good fit. This is a great opportunity for both the bridal couple and the planner to ask questions so they can get to know each other. My suggestions for questions to ask a wedding planner during an initial consultation:
1) Ask what their wedding and event experience is. Find someone with real knowledge, contacts and a background in event planning. Don’t be afraid to ask for references!
2) Ask what is included in each package. Most wedding planners offer a day of coordination and a full wedding planning package. Ensure that the package that you are interested in is the right fit and that it works with your needs.
3) Ask for ideas for your wedding to see how creative they are and whether your visions line up. This one is a bit trickier and the planner may have to get back to you with a proposal with ideas but it is important to see what they can come up with. You want to ensure that the planner sees your vision and doesn’t provide “cookie cutter” suggestions. We may not divulge all of our trade secrets until after a contract is signed, but most planners would be happy to provide complimentary suggestions and ideas.
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 What are the Wedding Trends you are seeing a lot of this year?

I am noticing that there is a trend towards classic weddings, instead of rustic. For the last few years rustic chic was the look that was in fashion but I see that a lot of couples are moving back towards the more formal and traditional reception. I am sure we will still be seeing mason jar centrepieces for a few more years to come, though! Naked cakes are all the rage this year! This is when you have a traditional tiered wedding but it is not covered in fondant or buttercream icing and is left un-iced. It creates a gorgeous natural look.
I also think we will be seeing more bright colours for weddings in 2016. The palette for weddings over the last few years has been soft, ethereal and romantic – think blush, cream and ivory. In 2016 we are seeing bright, vibrant pops of colour everywhere. Purples, reds, yellows and lots of tone-on-tone colours (different shades of the same colour) will be the new trend!
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How do you inject a couple’s personalities and taste into an event?

I think the measure of a good planner is to be able to read the clients’ needs and desires so you are able to provide them with their vision for the day. I always have an initial consultation where I ask all kinds of questions in order to get a full picture of their wedding. I also ask for plenty of photos (or their Pinterest board) so I can get a good idea of their style. Once I get to know the client I am then able to make suggestions for vendors that will fit with their personalities and that will work with their aesthetic and point of view. Every event is unique and I pride myself with being able to provide a one of a kind day for each couple.
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Why did you decide to become a planner and how long have you been doing it?

I have been planning events for as long as I can remember. I organized my first “real” event, a large conference for teachers when I was 15, and I haven’t looked back since. I studied commerce in university and continued to work in the event industry during those four years and that is when I first started working with bridal clients. I was a catering manager for the University of Guelph and we held all types of weddings on site, from intimate ceremonies in the Arboretum to 400 person sit down meals in a grand hall. I moved to Kingston after graduation and started working in the hotel industry managing the catering department at a downtown property. While there I worked with many wedding couples, as well as planned corporate and social events. While living in the United States for a few years with my husband I decided I was ready to start my own business, a dream of mine for a while. I opened the business slowly while I was there and then when we moved back to Kingston a few years later I ramped the business to what it is today. I have worked on hundreds of weddings over the past 12 years and have operated my business for just over 2 years in Kingston. It is my passion to bring my years of experience, my organizational skills and creativity to my clients.
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What is one of your absolute favorite memories from a wedding you planned?

It is a bit of a bittersweet memory: I helped an amazing couple plan their wedding extremely quickly, in less than one month, because they received devastating news that the bride’s father had an aggressive terminal illness. They wanted to ensure that they would not have to compromise on their day, even with the short timeline. We pulled out all of the stops and made sure the wedding was fabulous. The father daughter dance was so touching; there wasn’t a dry eye in the room. It was a privilege to help this family have this wonderful memory. The father passed away two weeks after the wedding.

Thanks so much to Krista for taking the time to give us all this great information and I’m sure she shares with me in the sentiment that we hope it helps many a bride while planning her big day!

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