When it comes to wedding venues, there’s a ton of information to keep track of. From seating charts to timelines to payment schedules, every engaged couple needs organization (and maybe a little luck) on their side to ensure that everything goes according to plan. This used to mean constant emails, spreadsheets and notepads, but a super savvy online wedding-planning platform dubbed “Aisle Planner” has recently changed the game for wedding planners and engaged couples alike. So, today, we’re chatting with the program’s founder, Christina Farrow, to learn more about this technology and its impact on the wedding world.
Venuelust (VL): How is it that you came to found Aisle Planner?
Christina Farrow (CF): I spent 15 years working in the wedding-planning industry in Hawaii and couldn't help but notice the lack of a comprehensive wedding planning tool on the market. I knew I couldn’t be the only wedding planner in search of a solution that was better than a three-ring binder. I’ve also always wanted to empower small business owners (and women, specifically) to lead more balanced lives. I knew the creation of the perfect wedding-planning technology--one that could house all of your ideas, notes, seating charts, budget information, collaborative comments and more--would ultimately do just that for women in the industry.
VL: Either from personal or professional experience, what would you say are the most important things to look for when wedding venue shopping?
CF: Beyond making sure that the venue aesthetically fits my client’s overall vision and accommodates their guest count (especially if the guest list isn’t negotiable), I always take a good hard look at any and all restrictions. Taking stock of restrictions is super important because these “rules” that a venue imposes can ultimately affect anything from the vendors you’re allowed to work with to your setup schedule. And these things--schedules, vendors, etc.--can really have a huge impact on your budget, ultimately making or breaking a venue as a viable option for your client's event.
VL: How many venues do you recommend taking a look at before making a final decision?
CF: Each couple is different, so with this in mind, my planning process when it comes to venue discovery and selection will vary. Some couples will kick off planning with a solid vision in their head such as “toes in the sand ceremony with an outdoor lawn reception overlooking the ocean.” Others may not know just yet, but are looking for a venue that speaks to them (sort of the “I’ll know it when I see it” approach). However, once I’ve had a chance to sit down with a couple and really dig into their overall vision, I can usually pinpoint the venues that I know they will just adore. While I typically share photos of more than just a handful of venues that fit their style and preference, we’re usually able to narrow down the selections to three or four quite easily for site visits.
VL: Out of all the weddings you've attended (aside from your own), do you have one that sticks out in your mind as being a "favorite" and, if so, why?
CF: I have been to a lot of amazing weddings, but one that sticks out in my mind was a surprise wedding that my husband, daughter and I were invited to attend. We were vacationing on a tiny island in Fiji and awoke one day to find the most unique invitation on our door. It was hand lettered on a banana leaf, wrapped in beautiful tropical flowers and foliage that you could tell were fresh picked that morning. No details, except time and place, and the simple words “please join us…”
We didn’t know the couple, they didn’t know us, but I will never forget the heartfelt ceremony and fun dinner and dancing that followed. Maybe it was the element of surprise, maybe it was the romantic tropical locale, or maybe it was too many mai tais, but you know how they say that we always remember how people make us feel? This couple made my family and I feel like we were a part of theirs. It was a true celebration of life and love, and we were so happy to be a part of it. I think this is why, as a planner, I’ve always encouraged my clients to create thoughtful moments and unique experiences for their guests and, of course, themselves.
VL: Once you've secured a venue, what are the most important things to keep track in regards to the venue?
CF: There are so many details and moving pieces when it comes to working with a venue for an event that, as a planner, you must stay on top of everything from available equipment inventory to requirements, milestones and due dates.
VL: Talk a little bit about Aisle Planner and how it helps a bride and/or event planner manage those things.
CF: Aisle Planner really is a comprehensive solution for wedding planning, and such a large portion of wedding planning revolves around venue-related details and information (seating charts, decor, timeline, food and beverage, etc.). Aisle Planner allows you to store all of this information in one platform that myself, my team and my couples can access from anywhere. There are two main things I really love about it in comparison to “traditional” wedding-planning tools (i.e. email, binders, etc.): (1) Details don’t slip through the cracks. With everything being stored and tracked in one place, you’re way less likely to lose something (be it a comment, a note, a sketch, a business contact, etc.) (2) It minimizes back-and-forth and really keeps plans moving forward.
VL: What is your favorite Aisle Planner feature?
CF: Aisle Planner’s Design Studio is what gets me the most excited. It’s the one tool that allows me to collaborate with my clients and creative partners to visually define every aspect of an event, from the venue to décor elements to rental options and florals. Being able to take these bits and pieces of inspiration and build them into my planning process makes not only designing, but also collaborating with my clients and vendors so much easier. Having these tools at my fingertips has made all the difference in the way I plan and has truly helped me focus on giving my couples the best possible experience throughout the planning process.
VL: Do you have a favorite type of wedding venue?
CF: I was born and raised on tropical islands, so I can’t help but feel right at home by the sea. Any beautiful oceanside or beach venue will easily win my heart. BUT as a planner, I’m most enamored with and excited by wide open spaces and a clean slate, so I can work my magic and create a unique event space and an unexpected experience for my couples and their guests
VL: Do you happen to have a favorite off-the-beaten-path wedding venue?
CF: I’ve always loved searching for venues that are beautiful, unique and off-the-beaten-path. I’ve been known to hop over fences and knock on a stranger’s door to inquire if land or ranch owners would be open to having a wedding on their property. There���s a thrill I get from knowing that I could transform a space that hasn’t seen a wedding before, and knowing that it’s going to be different than what anyone has ever experienced before at a wedding.
That said, my favorite off-the-beaten path venues aren’t necessarily wedding venues. They are hidden meadows, stunning ranches and remote beaches with the most amazing tropical backdrops.
If I had to choose a few of my favorite wedding venues, I would return to the islands where I got my start in the wedding industry and name (1) Puakea Ranch on the island of Hawaii (2) Kauikeolani Estate on the island of Kauai and (3) Olowalu Plantation House on the island of Maui as my all time favs.
What wedding planning tools do you find indispensable? Use the comments section to join the conversation.