Meris and I have quite a long history. She and Paul were the third wedding AJ and I ever shot in our first year - a decade ago. Both so young at the time we had no idea what the wedding world had in store for us. She has since become an incredible wedding coordinator with an excellent team and I adore working with her!
All of the vendors I've highlighted in this series so far have been in the Raleigh area, but since I shoot so many weddings in the High Country as well, I thought it'd be fun to highlight a few favorites up there as well.
I asked Meris to talk about a few of the pitfalls new couples come across as they are planning for their big day and how she can help:
Why is it important for a couple to work with a planner for their wedding?
First and foremost, a wedding planner can introduce you to the right team of vendors for the your style, personality and budget and tell you the ones to steer clear of.
Second, if it's in the budget to have more than just a "month of" coordinator, the planner will shoulder some stress during the planning process and help keep the team on the same page, minimizing the constant back and fourth... which can be exhausting.
As far as the wedding day itself goes, even if your wedding day is planned to perfection, there are still 100 different things that you never thought of that will happen on the wedding day. It's important to have someone that knows you well enough to be the point person for all of those situations that come up so that you can breathe easy knowing that everything is being handled according to your wishes.
What are some of the biggest hurdles couples come across when planning their big day?
Balancing the guest list can be a really emotional thing for everyone involved. I think also just managing the general stress the month of the wedding is a lot. It's impossible to not feel pulled in a million directions and overwhelmed even if you have a perfect team of vendors and a Full Service planner.
How do you manage to keep up with so many unique details at a wedding? Especially when you have multiple events in the same month?
I could geek out on this subject forever but basically we have systems in place that I've put together over the years from how we organize emails and online folders t spreadsheets and forms that we've built. I'd say it's pretty bulletproof at this point through constant trial and error. I've tried different wedding software but none of it seems to fit exactly how I want things laid out.
How do you work with bad weather?
Weather is a biggie and it's unavoidable. There's just so many big "game day decisions" to be made any time you have to enact a plan B or plan C. It can be really stressful for the couple to make the decision by themselves. Weather can also bring up thousands of dollars in unexpected expenses whether you're having to rent extra indoor space or tent sidewalls and gutters, heaters and flooring. It can also be hard to know when to pull the trigger on these decisions. We do the best we can to go with the couple's wishes while still maintaining a realistic plan regarding all the moving parts.
What parts of the planning and/or day of to-dos do you do yourself and what do you delegate to your team?
The main thing is making sure that I bring along enough staff so that I can stay focused on the big picture. Typically there are 3 or 4 of us working on a wedding day. I really don't have hard fast rules for what I do vs what my staff does. Some days I'm setting up chairs and covering tables along with everyone else but I do tend to spend more time with the wedding party and leave a lot of the "set up" to everyone else so that I can make sure that things are flowing well.
What is the difference between a day of coordinator and a full-service wedding planner?
We hear this question quite a bit. We offer Month of, Partial and Full Service packages. The Month of is exactly like the Partial, you just have access to us from the time you book up until the wedding where as with the Month of we step in at 30 days out and pull everything together.
The difference between the Full Service and these two is that the responsibility is on u to make sure everything is done start to finish where with the other two packages, you're driving the car and we're the navigator. The Full Service Package also looks different for different couples. We do our best to work within the expectations of each different client. Some of our Full Service couples want to be involved in all steps of the process and just want us to be there too. Other couples let us know their overall preferences and then give us free reign to choose the vendors and details that we think are best for them. Things that are helpful to some people aren't always helpful to others so it's important to really get to know your clients in the beginning and figure out how to best serve them.
What is your favorite part of planning a wedding for a couple?
I love love love the early stages of the planning process. Getting to know the couple and their families and then matching them up with the perfect team of vendors is one of my very favorite things. I enjoy joining together all of the intricate details into one seamless event.
Of course there are favorite moments on the wedding day as well. One of my favorites the sweet moment that the bride and her father share right before they walk down the aisle. I tear up every time! I also can't get enough of the stories that the family and friends tell you about loved ones past and present.
It's an honor just to be a part of the biggest day of someone's life. Other than that, I really just love people and people working together towards a common goal and seeing something beautiful come to life from start to finish. Having a job where the end result of every work day is a lifelong memory is pretty great.
Maggie and Richard's wedding is one of mine and A.J.'s favorites to date. It was very large and full of incredible details as well different buildings across Eseeola's huge grounds. It could NOT have been accomplished without Meris' incredible team at The Whole Shebang. So grateful for any chance I get to work with them. If you don't have a coordinator yet, you must give her a call!