Martha Stewart Weddings: Does Hiring A Wedding Planner Really Help You Save Money

Budget is always an important part of our planning process with each of our couples. Read more of our thoughts on this key component on Martha Stewart Weddings!

Photography by  Mademoiselle Fiona

Photography by Mademoiselle Fiona

A Cup of Jo: How to Navigate a Career Change

After 7 years of working on a trading floor at an investment bank, I decided to quit my job and start my own business in wedding planning.  After this 2017 season, I will have 7 years under my belt in planning events!  I was so honoured to be interviewed by A Cup of Jo about my 180 career change, along with 9 other ladies who made the change in many different fields.  Click on the image below to read more.  Thank you to Joanna Goddard and Meg Cahn for including me!  

 
 

Top Wedding Planner by Martha Stewart Weddings

Ang Weddings and Events has been named a Top Wedding Planner by Martha Stewart Weddings in their 20th Anniversary Issue!  I am deeply honoured and grateful to have been chosen to be listed among such esteemed colleagues across the country, who I admire so much.  Christmas has certainly come early this year!  I am still sitting here pinching myself.  When I started this business, I would never have guessed that in five years I would see my name on the pages of this beautiful magazine.  Being on any top list is always flattering.  Being on a top list by the best of the best is beyond exciting.  I am so thankful for my family, friends, clients, assistants, wedding professionals and wedding editors who have encouraged, supported and advised me over the years.  Martha Stewart Weddings Winter 2015 will be out on the newsstands in a few days and I can't wait to get my hands on a copy (or let's be honest....more like 5 copies).  

 

 

Happy Thanksgiving

I have much to be thankful for this year with the addition of a special little person to my family.  One of the reasons I left my previous job at a bank was that I knew that one day I wanted to have children and I wanted to have flexibility in my work.  Thinking that running my own business, I could choose to take fewer weddings when I needed to.  I didn't realize at the time that when I have my own business, it would become another type of baby, that I feel constantly needs my attention to support and nurture it.  I found myself responding to emails as soon as I got home from the hospital and meeting with clients about 2 months after.  I was quite strict about not taking weddings too early on, with the first one 4 months after the baby was born.  It was so hard to turn couples away, but nice being able to recommend my favourite fellow planners.  I ended up planning as many weddings in 2013 as I did in 2012, just more condensed into the second half of the year.I feel truly blessed to have my baby (I am learning a whole new meaning of love) and my business (where I get to do the job I love).  It is certainly a challenge trying to balance both, but I know how lucky I am to even have both.  I was overwhelmed by the kindness that my clients have shown me during my pregnancy and after my baby was born.  While pregnant, I was bustling one bride's gown and she kept trying to feed me the special plate of hors d'oeuvres we had provided for the bride and groom to eat before joining cocktail hour.  Being a doctor, she couldn't help herself and had to look after other people.   Making sure I was drinking enough water too.  Breast feeding was something that was really important to me, and my clients were totally fine that I took 10 minutes away on wedding days to go and express during quiet moments.  My amazing assistant Laureen kept an eye on things while I was gone.  In one instance, she had to guard the door that I was behind as there was no lock and it was in eye sight of the dance floor!

The great thing about being in this industry is having friends who own very successful businesses and are mothers as well.  Incredible people who inspire me and have provided so much advice along the way.  Friends like Katie Fischer, Betsy Thorleifson, Sarah Brysk Cohen and Judy Pak.  You are amazing!

Of course the biggest thanks goes to my husband, sisters and family.  I am very much looking forward to Thanksgiving tomorrow with my NY family and all the good food.  My favourite part of Thanksgiving is definitely the chinese dumplings that my in laws make.  Not terribly traditional of me, but I have a dumpling problem.  Baby will be enjoying a turkey, carrot and sweet potato stew I made with baked apples and cinnamon for dessert.  Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

baby

Photography by Judy Pak Photography

November

This has been a very busy November, as we just completed three weddings over three consecutive weekends.  I don't tend to book so many things together as I like to space things out.  However two of these were full planning weddings, and those were the dates that worked out best for the venues we wanted and the auspicious date for a Chinese wedding.  When a month of coordination wedding for a client of Fiona Conrad presented itself as the third, it was hard to say no as I love her work.  There was a nice gradation with these weddings, as we had 300, then 200 and then 100 guests at each.  They were all so different as well.  One of the reasons why I love this job so much is bringing to life different couples' visions and often they can be so varied in style.  The first had a very clean and contemporary style with lots of whites and greens in a white loft space Three Sixty.  The second a classic and traditional wedding at an iconic New York venue, the Central Park Boathouse.  The third wedding at Morningside Castle had a lot of fun DIY elements that our crafty bride had spent months working on.Someone asked me recently if this job was what I had expected it to be.  I think the biggest surprise when I started doing this was the physical aspect of it.  I'm certainly not 21 years old anymore.  Coming from a corporate job of seven years, where I sat in front of a computer all day, my body was in for a surprise!  Even though I always worked out regularly, and walked everywhere, being on your feet for 12-15 hours on a wedding day is a whole new thing.  The first few weddings I did were tough, but your body learns, and now it isn't so bad.  Having said that, it did feel good after our third November wedding to be able to put my feet up and not have to start working immediately on a wedding for the following weekend.  No chance of sleeping in, as I have a 9month old baby at home, but it was still nice to finally take a day off.  Thank you to my wonderful assistants Laureen and Ashley, who are invaluable on big wedding days.

I can't wait to share images of these weddings with you from some incredible photographers, Susan Stripling, Christian Oth Studio and Mademoiselle Fiona.  In the meantime, here are a few instagrams from my iphone.

three sixty wedding monique lhuillier

three sixty wedding

central park boathouse wedding

central park boathouse wedding escort card table

morningside caslte wedding menu doily

morningside castle escort table

Photography by Ang Weddings and Events

Being Thankful

One of our wedding venues was by the water in downtown Manhattan.  The weekend after Sandy, we kept our fingers crossed that power would be restored as it had been planned for the majority of Manhattan.  Come Monday...no power. Tuesday...still no power.  We were 11 days from their wedding, and guests were starting to contact the Bride and Groom asking if the wedding was still happening.

The venue offered a backup venue they also own, so we did a walk through of that the following day.  It was an interesting venue in an iconic New York building, but it just was not right for their wedding.

There were a lot of guests flying into New York from abroad.  We had to decide quickly what to do, so that if we did have to cancel or reschedule the wedding, their guests could change their travel plans.

I do like planning things far in advance, but when presented with a problem like this, I do strangely relish the challenge.  The adrenalin kicks into high gear and you know you  just have to get it done.  This is someone's special day!  There is no other option.  Back in the office I started calling venues to check on availability.

After speaking with 20 different venues, I found 3 that had availability, which I presented to the Groom.  We did walk throughs the following day, and the Groom really liked the stunning New York Palace Hotel.  Being such a considerate fiance and not wanting to stress her out, he had done the legwork first and was going to present our plan B option to the Bride after he had seen it.  As she was very busy at work, we scheduled a second walk through at the The New York Palace Hotel for her on Saturday (1 week before their wedding) and luckily she loved the space too!

With no power still at our original venue and the need to notify 140 guests and all our vendors, on Sunday we decided to move the wedding.  On Monday I had the contract with the venue drawn up and went through all the logistical details with The New York Palace Hotel.

Our vendors were just incredible with the last minute change of venue. Our floral designer, Sarah from Blossom and Branch, despite having just done a big wedding the day before, came into Manhattan for a walk through at the venue with just a few hours notice.  She changed the design to fit the venue, removing the paper lanterns which no longer worked, renting tall clear plexiglass stands to elevate her stunning ceremony pieces, and making the escort card arrangement taller and more substantial to complement the soaring ceiling of The New York Palace Hotel.  Our DJ Jamar Littles from 74 Events was also able to join the walk through with a few hours notice, so we could go through the logistics of the day.  Even though Gary Hoffman, the owner of 74 Events, was in Spain for a wedding, he was so helpful with planning over email.  Having worked at the venue before, Jen Huang, was able to give me her expert photography opinion on where we should do the first look, family portraits and tea ceremony, despite being busy herself teaching a photography workshop in Santa Barbara earlier that week.  Ron Ben-Israel Cakes was able to create a beautiful wedding cake for us with only a few days notice.  We also had a string trio from Elan Artists, photobooth from We Love Photobooths, makeup artist Lindsey Jones, hair stylists from Styles on B, and officiant Rev. Annie Lawrence, who all got back to me within hours that they were all set with venue change and ready for a great wedding on Saturday!

Bebhinn Gallen, Carrie Gayle and the entire team at The New York Palace Hotel were the utmost professionals and so helpful in getting all the details into place in a short timeframe.  They were able to make mini black and white cookies we wanted for the wedding favours.  A nice nod to New York, and something the Bride and Groom thought their guests who remembered that Seinfeld episode would get a kick out of.

I am so grateful to all these wedding professionals for being so flexible, accommodating and generous with their time.  It was a great team that collaborated to create a truly memorable event for this special couple.

I am also very grateful to the special couple for remaining calm through the process and being such a delight to work with.  After you spend months planning a wedding, to suddenly realize in the few days leading up to it that the plans are being derailed is a tough situation to face.  Despite this, they were able to remain calm and work with me to find a plan B, which in my opinion turned out to be even better than we could have imagined.  If you can handle this as a couple with such grace, I think your marriage is off to a great start!  I got a lovely mention in the Groom's speech at the wedding, which made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.  A beautiful reminder of why I love my job so much.

This being our last wedding before Thanksgiving, I have plenty to be thankful for.

Image via Katie Fischer Design