Estate Weddings and Events branched out to our wonderful and embracing community of wedding planners this past month to ask for a few tips, and we got back some of the best advice in the industry from experienced wedding and event planners!

We are so excited to share the wealth of many years of expert knowledge about event planning from this talented panel.

The questions we asked ranged from what planners learned in 2012 to what trends they predict for 2013.

As an added bonus, planners also gave advice for new planners, including couples planning their own weddings.

Read below for their candid and surprising responses!

Video Responses

Alison Howard of Alison Howard Events:

1. What were your Biggest Lesson(s) Learned in 2012?

What were your Biggest Lesson(s) Learned in 2012?

The importance of social media. Not only does it shape your reputation within the industry, but it also helps give your business a personality. Staying on top of your pages and blogging can be a lot of work, but it's definitely worth it! Much of our work is inspired by elements outside of the event industry (fashion, travel, interior design, etc.) and by following other designers through social media, many of our new ideas are born!

– Sterling Social

Networking, Networking, Networking. I've always been a huge believer in networking with fellow industry peers but this year it was apparent how important that is to the growth of our business.

– Blush BBG

Each client is so unique, her style, her needs, interests. It makes planning exciting and never the same!

– Ever After Events

Many vendors and service providers will come and go, but true professionals learn, adapt and become even more creative as the wedding industry continues to change. Being more mindful of social media, is a great example; however, balance is key.

– I Do... Weddings!

2. What Are you Looking Forward to in 2013?

What Are you Looking Forward to in 2013?

In 2013 we can't wait for some fantastically eclectic weddings with amazing tasting menus, fresh entertainment and creative timelines. This year it's all about throwing the norm out of the window and our couples are all about it!

– Valley and Co.

2013 is shaping up to be a year filled with unique and thoughtful weddings. Couples are thinking of their guests’ overall experience from the moment they arrive at the hotel until the day after the wedding.

– Sapphire Celebrations

Seeing more creative ways couples will share their personalities with their guests.  I believe the wedding day is a great way for the bride and groom to share who they are as a couple with their guests. It is fun to witness the excitement from the guests when they learn something new about the couple or participate in one of their family traditions.

– Stonehouse Events

3. Do You Have Any Predictions for 2013 (trends, etc.)*

Do You Have Any Predictions for 2013

Non-floral elements. Brides are including herbs, fruit, vegetables and succulents in the place of flowers. Also, food is also extremely important to couples this year. They want to treat their guests to something new and different. Many are taking the time to craft menus with their caterers that reflect their upbringing and current favorite flavors.

– Sapphire Celebrations

Last year, it was all about the blush and creams but recently we have seen many of our clients leaning in a different direction. This season they are asking for deep colors, bright accents and clean lines. As the year continues, we expect brides will seek a more elegant glam rather that the rustic chic of 2012. Both are obviously beautiful, but so far the trend has been more toward a modern classic decor.

– Create Events SD

I think the shabby chic and vintage trends are still in, but I think brides will be mixing in some modern elements into their designs.

– Simply Divine Events

Utilizing old materials in a new way. We love the inclusion of bronze and other metal containers for centerpieces. Also, minimalism! With all of the great style blogs and Pinterest, most of our clients included a significant number of details in their decor. However, we believe we will see a move to less décor- that is more impactful, with a focus on what guests will truly notice.

– I Do… Weddings!

Here are some trends I see (and hope to see!) more of for 2013: 1) Elegant and unique wedding invitations – from water jet cut copper, lace-like laser cutting and opulent gold foiling, etc. 2) Cool lounges! I adore designing lounges for cocktail hour or after dinner to give guests a place to relax and converse and not sit in their dinner chair for too long. 3) Creative entertainment – it's not all about just a DJ any more. We once brought in a lip print reading psychic before to tell guests what their kisses meant for their future!

I also think brides are definitely coming back to the idea of a beautiful and glamourous affair and not always having to go so 'theme-y' or too DIY like we were seeing for a few years. Lastly, I predict that destination weddings are on a major rise!

 Alchemy Fine Events

In 2013 we foresee the extension of the wedding weekend, with couples kicking off festivities as early as Wednesday or Thursday. Couples will focus on campfires, brunches and fun and games with their guests for a few days rather than the more traditional Saturday wedding ceremony and reception. We also anticipated couples getting creative with their dining experiences, featuring wine flights and sampling menus that feature delicious local fare. This will be big this year - yum!

– Valley and Co

*Many planners mentioned the return to classic and traditional styles

4. What is Your Biggest Lesson Learned as a Planner?

What is Your Biggest Lesson Learned as a Planner?

Don’t take things personally. There’s a lot of emotion flying around when a person gets married!

– Ever After Events

That you need to focus on who your client is and then listen and communicate with only them, not their mother, friend, aunt, etc.. When too many people try to get involved it becomes a game of telephone and things get lost in translation.

– Alchemy Fine Events

Take care of your vendors. Yes, the couple and their guests are the priority on the wedding day, but you need to make sure that the vendors are taken care of in order to make sure that your client is happy. Communicating with them to make sure that they have what they need to do their jobs on the wedding day. Happy vendors equal satisfied clients and wedding guests that truly enjoy the celebration.

– Sapphire Celebrations

In nearly a decade of planning parties and weddings, one of our biggest lessons learned is that each and every couple is different. This is why we tend to scrap traditional layouts, floor plans and timelines and start from scratch, giving each couple a fresh wedding experience.

– Valley and Co

THANK YOUR TEAM! It's very important to recognize all of the key people that pull together the moving parts of an event. No matter how exhausted you are, before you lose momentum and are on to the next event, reach out to every vendor individually and let them know how grateful you are for the role they played in making the event a success. Trust us, it will make the next event even better!

– Sterling Social

5. Best Piece of Advice You Could Give to a New Planner?

Best Piece of Advice You Could Give to a New Planner?

Be prepared to work harder than you've ever worked. However, a great work ethic often results in great rewards.

– I Do… Weddings!

The thing I have learned about being a wedding planner is to find your niche and stick to it. Don't be afraid to not book every bride. Every bride is not for you. Find your niche, learn about and research that bride, market to her and make her vision become a reality!

– Blush BBG

The best advice, I would give a new planner is to get the most hands-on learning experience as possible.  Don’t be afraid to shadow your vendors on a few events. This helps you learn more than the pretty side of the business. It also makes you appreciate all the hard work that goes into planning an event.

– Simply Divine Events

Take the time to learn the business and educate yourself. Determine what separates you and your business apart from other wedding planners and build your brand from there. Never use another professionals content or photos to sell yourself.

– Stonehouse Events

6. Best Piece of Advice You Could Give to a Couple Planning Their Own Wedding?*

Best Piece of Advice You Could Give to a Couple Planning Their Own Wedding?

We think it is wonderful when couples are extremely involved in the planning process but we always recommend hiring a professional to assist them on at least the day of their wedding. It is too important of an occasion for them to stress over what may happen on their big day. Don’t rely upon close family and friends to execute your plans when you want them to be part of the wedding and enjoy it themselves.

– Create Events SD

Focus on putting a detailed budget together from the very beginning, so that you are aware of your limits. Ask questions about exactly what is included with the venue, so that you can allocate money towards all the areas that the venue does not cover such as kitchen rentals and power. The first thing we do when working with a new couple is put together a detailed line-by-line wedding expense breakdown. This helps with all future vendor decisions and keeps the budget in line throughout the planning process.

– Sterling Social

Think about each line item in your wedding checklist or budget as an experience in itself. Treating invitations, favors, music and flowers as a delicious, lovely or creative thought, instead of simply paper goods or bagged cookies, will help you determine what's most important to you both.

– Valley and Co

Hire a planner to help you from beginning to end. Hire someone you trust and let the planner guide you as she does her job.

– Create Events SD

*Many responses included the importance of hiring a planner

The Panel

Erin Sprinkel, Owner/Partner Sterling Social Events & Experiences

Erin Sprinkel and Angela Margolis, Owners Sterling Social Events & Experiences

Los Angeles, CA

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

Sterling Social is a full-service event production company based in Los Angeles that specializes in both social and corporate events. Infusing innovative concepts into the design, management and logistical aspects of the planning process, they produce unique, experiential events. From weddings and personal celebrations to high-profile lifestyle productions, they deliver an outcome that is both creative and memorable. Bringing a brand or vision to life through stylish details ensures every event is an experience. For them, entertaining is a lifestyle in itself.

Event experts and co-founders, Angela Tormey Margolis and Erin Sprinkel, launched Sterling Social in the of Fall 2010 having over 14 years of combined experience in the event industry. Both have a vast background executing events for brands such as Target, E! Entertainment, and Samsung, as well as lifestyle publications such as InStyle, ELLE, and Us Weekly. Over the years they have worked in various luxury hotels, private estates and raw spaces that they have transformed into chic event settings. Embracing their love for travel, events have taken them beyond Southern California to destinations such as Napa Valley, Las Vegas, Arizona and New York. Their attention to detail and large-scale production background translates into successful design and seamless execution with Sterling Social.


Cindy Stonehouse, Wedding Planner, Owner Stonehouse Events

Cindy Stonehouse, Wedding Planner, Owner Stonehouse Events

Tampa, Florida

Website | Facebook | Blog | Twitter

Cindy Stonehouse with Stonehouse Events has been perfecting the art of planning weddings for more than five years.  Her knowledge and wisdom help Cindy guide her clients toward the wedding day of their dreams.  Cindy’s style is best described as creative, elegant and sophisticated. Every wedding she plans is truly one of a kind and inspired by each of her lovely couples.  Cindy’s work has been featured on Grace Ormonde’s Wedding Style website, Style Me Pretty blog, Weddings Illustrated blog and magazine, The Knot magazine plus the Knot’s special Luxury Wedding pull out section.

Her favorite thing about weddings, is watching the bride and groom share their first dance as husband and wife.  With the room filled with all of the love and support of their family and friends, they dance as if no one else is there, in utter amazement of each other.   It is such an intimate moment, she feels so privileged to witness.


Angela Johnston, Owner/Wedding Coordinator Sapphire Celebrations

Angela Johnston, Owner/Wedding Coordinator Sapphire Celebrations

Denver, CO

Website | Facebook | Blog | Twitter | Google+

Sapphire Celebrations combines the energy, perspective, and creativity of two generations when planning weddings and events throughout Colorado. Founded by a mother and daughter team, Sapphire Celebrations reflects their Colorado heritage. With family roots dating back to 1907 and covering the northeastern plains and Rocky Mountain vistas, there is no team better qualified to plan your Colorado wedding or special event.

Pamela and Angela are proud of the high level of service for which Sapphire Celebrations has come to be known. Two full service coordinators, two associate coordinators, one Day Of coordinator, and 15 assistants take pride in exceeding the expectations of couples who entrust us with their wedding day.

Sapphire Celebrations approaches wedding and event planning from a team perspective. Our clients interface with a single point of contact. However, behind the scenes we combine our individual areas of expertise to make your vision a reality. Our coordinators pride themselves on their ability to draw on both practical – project management and organizational – and creative skill sets to translate your mental image into an event to be remembered.


Aleah and Nick Valley, Founders Valley & Co.

Aleah and Nick Valley, Founders Valley & Co.

Seattle, Washington

Website | Lifestyle Blog | Wedding Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest

Since 2003 we've been planning and designing some of the most beautiful, unforgettable and fun events around! From event planning and logistics direction to full event design and styling, we provide impeccable services for our clients and couples. Valley & Co. is the culmination of our passions.

We both grew up attending and throwing fun-filled events and soirées {from amazing family holidays to themed beach bonfires to large-scale university events and social gatherings}, and have had an entertaining mind set since we were young.

At university Nick graduated with double honors in Criminal Justice and  Sociology. Aleah majored in Business Entrepreneurship with a minor in English. Armed with innovative ideas, business skills at an early age, and an outstanding sense of drive, we have catapulted our keen knowledge with our unmatched services to become industry leaders that results in a splendid planning experience and an amazing celebration for our clients (that's hopefully you!).

Aleah loves the beach, a good glass of champagne,  the beloved peony, delicious cheeses, family, our dog Lulu, and inspiring others. Aleah is inspired by the sea, the lights of Paris, architecture, nature, and the joys of life. Aleah's favorite moment at our events: seeing the culmination of a dream come to life. There's a perfect moment when everyone is dancing, visiting, and enjoying the celebration. It's remarkably rewarding.

Nick loves the beach, a tasty caipirinha, warm summer nights, and traveling. Nick is inspired by the sound of waves crashing and palm trees rustling. Nick's favorite moment at our events: when our clients, along with their families and friends, are all in the moment and nowhere else. Nick is also our advocate for grooms and has, for nearly a decade, provided a fun planning environment for our gents.

We invite you to take a look around, view our galleries, read our countless rave reviews, and get a feeling for our service scope and expertise. In addition to event planning and design, we offer our social media expertise on a consulting level to creative businesses.


Monica Haleh, Owner and Lead Coordinator Create Events SD

Monica Haleh, Owner and Lead Coordinator Create Events SD

San Diego, CA

Website | Facebook

Monica Haleh graduated from San Diego State University with a degree in Hospitality and Tourism Management with an emphasis in Events.  As owner of Create Events, Monica understands planning an event can be a challenging experience for most people. There are so many details, a variety of choices and simply not enough time. Create Events provides specialized packages to fit your planning needs. While we love helping you with every detail from the very beginning, we are more than happy to enter your coordination process at any time.

Create is here to help you with every aspect of your event. We will take your vision and make it a reality with our creativity and expertise.  Every package is personalized, and with our assistance we can ensure that your event will exceed your expectations.

At Create we believe you should work with someone you trust.  Throughout the planning of your event we will be here to guide you and make the process easy, stress free and fun. Let us help you make your affair an exciting and memorable one.


Lori Randall and Jessica Meiczinger Simply Divine Events

Lori Randall and Jessica Meiczinger Simply Divine Events

Tampa, Florida

Facebook | Twitter | Website | Blog | Google+

Lori Randall knows event planning and coordination inside out. Prior to establishing Simply Divine Events, she worked as an event producer for Event Show Productions in Tampa, managing corporate affairs throughout Florida and across the country. In 2005, Lori teamed up with Jessica Meiczinger to form Simply Divine Events, a wedding and event planning company based in Tampa, Florida. Together Lori and Jessica have over 15 years experience and have become well respected in the event community. This year, Simply Divine Events won a BizBash Event Style Award for Best Nonprofit Event Concept for the 2010 Tampa Bay American Heart Association’s Heart Ball. Lori has served as the co-logistic chair for the Tampa Bay Heart Ball for the past three years. Lori is currently a member of the Tampa Bay Area MPI chapter. Lori received NACE’s 2010 Chairperson of the Year Award.

Jessica has spent her entire life in the industry—from her parents owning a restaurant, to managing banquet staff and planning every detail of someone's special event. She loved it so much that she pursued a degree in it at the University of Central Florida. Upon graduating in 2000, Jessica coordinated weddings and events at the Veranda Bed and Breakfast in Orlando. Then in 2003, Jessica joined the staff at Tampa's premiere event facility, A La Carte Event Pavilion, planning some of the Bay area's most prestigious events. Jessica is currently an active member in the Tampa Bay Area MPI and NACE chapters as well as Style Me Pretty’s Little Black Book.


Brandee Gaar, Owner/Lead Designer Blush by Brandee Gaar, LLC

Brandee Gaar, Owner/Lead Designer Blush by Brandee Gaar, LLC

Orlando, Florida

Website | Facebook

"I am a party planner and I LOVE planning parties! I designed my first soiree at the age of 6 when I convinced my babysitter to help me plan and execute a surprise anniversary party for my parents complete with invitations (their closest neighborhood friends of course!), decor (balloons, streamers and a home-made banner), wine (Asti Spumante…will never forget!) and hors d’ oeuvres (pigs in the blanket if my memory serves). It was a great night! Since then, my love of event planning has grown and my taste for the details has matured (thankfully!).

I graduated from the University of Central Florida with a degree in Business Administration /Hospitality Management and was blessed to be on the opening team of the prestigious Gaylord Palms Resort here in Orlando, FL. After 6 years of planning large scale corporate events I decided to follow my passion for planning weddings…and so became Blush!

Weddings excite a special emotion that gives me a high like no other event! I love everything about the process of planning a wedding. Hearing the engagement story (and how nervous he was), how he (or often she) picked the perfect ring, what their vision for the perfect day is and of course meeting the excited family members anxious to help in any way they can! I love seeing their eyes as they take in all of the details we have meticulously planned for so long and hearing my favorite expression “It’s so much better than I imagined!”."


Merilee Hennings, Owner EverAfter Events

Merilee Hennings, Owner EverAfter Events

San Diego, CA

Website | Blog

Merliee is a woman of distinction with a natural eye for style and elegance. Intuition and unlimited creativity flow from her, enabling every event to be truly unique to each client. From table decor to extra touches, Merilee oversees each detail to make sure it exceeds the expectations of every bride and groom. With a bachelor's degree in Psychology and over ten years of experience in event planning and design, Merilee effortlessly puts the most stressed-out bride at ease.  Her superb organizational skills, quick decision making and leadership experience allow her to take command of any situation with a gentle firmness that inspires confidence and trust from her clients and vendors.


Alison Howard, Owner and Wedding Planner Alison Howard Events

Alison Howard, Owner and Wedding Planner Alison Howard Events

San Diego, CA

Website | FacebookPinterest | Blog

Everyone dreams of doing something extraordinary at one point or another. As a little girl I dreamed of being many things: a teacher, a doctor, a writer, an actress, a singer (my parents knew early on that singing was a long shot, as I sang to Madonna's Like A Prayer in an unknown key). I always had a longing to do something big and make a difference. I just didn't know what that was. As the years passed and I grew into a woman, the career titles associated with my ambitions continued to change, but not the heart and intention behind the ambition itself; to help, to mentor, to inspire, to share the stories of others, to tell my own story.

Becoming a wedding planner was not on my radar...but when this profession found me, I immediately knew that this was the perfect fit. It encompasses everything I had hoped to attain in a career. It has allowed me to teach; to remedy stressful situations and help others navigate the unknown; to write about my experiences and share the love stories that I witness daily; to share my heart and inspire others to do the same. I find great fulfillment in helping a couple plan their wedding; the joy I experience when I see a couple relishing in every second of their wedding day is why I do this. I am always honored to support a couple as they plan the first day of the rest of their lives together. Not even being the next Madonna compares to that.


Vanessa Van Wieren, Founder Jillian Sanger

Assistant Planner Alchemy Fine Events and Invitations

San Diego, CA

Website | Facebook | Twitter

Alchemy Fine Events & Invitations is an event design company that takes a creative and individual approach to each event. What sets us apart is our ability to create and produce the entire event under one creative umbrella. From destination weddings to intimate celebrations, corporate charity events to bar/bat mitzvahs, we will create and coordinate the entire affair including décor, invitations and the special small details, that make your event unforgettable. Whether it be in Southern California or an exotic international locale, we can bring the level of design and detail to attention that you have come to expect from us. From complete planning and design to dessert bar styling, Alchemy can provide as much or as little help as you need.

With a comprehensive art background including interior design, fashion, art direction, and graphic design, Vanessa Van Wieren, the creator of Alchemy Fine Events & Invitations, followed her artistic passion to an industry where it’s possible to marry the love of all arts into one creative outlet. Her formal education includes studying Fine Art Painting at Otis, Interior Design at the Design Institute of San Diego and a Masters in Graphic Design, which she earned in Florence, Italy. She has earned over 10 years of professional design experience including luxury packaging design, high fashion art direction and interior design, which are relayed to every element of her creations. During her time in Italy she worked in the luxury travel industry planning events for international clients where her passion for fine celebrations grew.


Melissa Barrad I Do... Weddings!

Melissa Barrad I Do... Weddings!

San Diego, CA

Website | Blog | Facebook

Melissa Barrad founded I Do…in 2003. A San Diego native, with a degree in Advertising from San Diego State University, Melissa has been an event designer and florist for over a decade. Melissa’s work has been featured in Modern Bride, Exquisite Weddings, Ceremony Magazine, San Diego Style Weddings, The Knot, Style Me Pretty, Bridal Insider and The Jewish Journal among other publications, blogs and websites. Her portfolio boasts an impressive roster of events ranging from a ceremony in the heart of Africa, a vintage hotel in Palm Springs, overlooking La Jolla Shores at the Scripps Seaside Forum and a wedding complete with a petting zoo. Melissa has also been mentioned on The Huffington Post and The Today Show, was tapped as a wedding expert with eHow.com. She has also appeared locally on CBS, Fox and the CW to discuss wedding trends.


Thank you to our expert panel!

For complete answers, keep reading...


Erin Sprinkel, Owner/Partner Sterling Social Events & Experiences

Los Angeles, CA

1. What were your biggest lesson(s) learned in 2012?

The biggest lesson we learned this past year was the importance of social media.  Not only does it shape your reputation within the industry, but it also helps give your business a personality.  Staying on top of your Facebook page, Twitter updates, Instagram, Pinterest, Loverly and blogging can be a lot of work, but it's definitely worth it!  We have the ability to be so much more visual now and it's truly beneficial to those of us in the event industry.  Social media builds trust and allows industry colleagues and potential clients to get to know so many creative aspects of your business.  These interactive methods give your business a voice and allows you to share many forms of inspiration.  Much of our work is inspired by elements outside of the event industry (fashion, travel, interior design, etc.) and by following other designers through social media, many of our new ideas are born!

2.     What are you looking forward to in 2013?

Continuing to think outside the box with our Clients.  We feel so lucky to have the balance of working on Weddings and Social events along with Corporate and Lifestyle events.  Even though the industries can be very different, we find that some of our most creative ideas come from working within a wide genre of events.

Thinking BIG!  We've been reaching out to many new "dream clients" this year and pitching various ways we can collaborate in the future.   It's inspiring to see how many different opportunities are truly out there.

3.     Do you have any predictions for 2013 (i.e. trends, etc.)

From a design perspective, people are going wild over the new 2013 Pantone color of the year, Emerald.  It's such a strong, statement color and can be infused into any sort of design palette.  Whether infused into a chic, minimalistic setting or a something with a more organic, rustic flair, Emerald is a classic color that will never go out of style.

In terms of an event experience, we're seeing the blending of old and new.  There is something appealing about the contrast of a cutting edge experience with the foundation of classic, thematic charm.  For example, a high-tech luxury brand wants to showcase their newest product by immersing guest's into an old era setting.  Recreating the look and feel of the Roaring 20s or the Prohibition Era in an event setting allows guests to really pay attention to details and get lost in the period entertainment.  It's all about creating a unique, intriguing experience and putting a modern spin on a timeless theme.

4.     What is your biggest lesson learned as an event planner?

Always have a contingency / back up plan!  This is so important.  Think through all possible scenarios in advance so you can think quick on your feet in the heat of the moment.  Especially the areas of permits, security, insurance, and anything to do with technical equipment such as power, lighting, sound, etc.  Take the time to do extensive walk thrus and sound checks to ensure that your core team is on the same page.

Most importantly, THANK YOUR TEAM!  It's very important to recognize all of the key people that pull together the moving parts of an event.  No matter how exhausted you are, before you lose momentum and are on to the next event, reach out to every vendor individually and let them know how grateful you are for the role they played in making the event a success.  Trust us, it will make the next event even better!

5.     Best piece of advice you could give to a new planner?

Put yourself out there!  There are so many wonderful, talented people to meet in the event industry.  Attend event industry events so you can meet new faces, talk trends, share stories and meet vendors.  It keeps you current and allows you to explore new opportunities.

6.     Best piece of advice you could give to a couple planning their own wedding?

Focus on putting a detailed budget together from the very beginning, especially when you are searching for a wedding venue, so that you are aware of your limits.  Ask questions about exactly what is included with the venue and what is not, so that you can allocate money towards all the areas that the venue does not cover such as kitchen rentals and power.  We hear about too many Brides who book their venue first without knowing these things and realize later on down the road that they don't have any funds left for areas that are really important to them such as photography and décor.  The first thing we do when working with a new couple is we put together a detailed line-by-line wedding expense breakdown.  This helps with all future vendor decisions and keeps the budget in line throughout the planning process.


Cindy Stonehouse, Wedding Planner, Owner Stonehouse Events

Tampa, Florida

1. What were your biggest lesson(s) learned in 2012?

The biggest lesson I learned in 2012 is no matter how much planning I do I still am not able to control everything.  Although, I have multiple back up plans just in case, there is still an element of surprise on the day of the wedding.  Fortunately, when I work with my selected team of vendors’, we all work together to create the best possible outcome for the bride and groom; which result in unexpected blessings.

Another lesson I am reminded of is to always trust my instincts.  Because of my experience, my instincts are always right.

2. What are you looking forward to in 2013?

I am looking forward to offering more services to my couples in order to enhance their wedding planning experience.  Because there is so much information available to couples planning a wedding, I want to help make the process easier and more manageable.

I am also looking forward to seeing more creative ways couples will share their personalities with their guests.  I believe the wedding day is a great way for the bride and groom to share who they are as a couple with their guests.  It is fun to witness the excitement from the guests when they learn something new about the couple or participate in one of their family traditions.

3. Do you have any predictions for 2013 (i.e. trends, etc.)

I believe couples will start to incorporate some of the old traditions that their parents and grandparents had at their weddings and the “old” will become “new” again.

I predict couple’s will begin incorporating more entertainment into their receptions along with the band and/or DJ.  I believe the dinner portion of the reception will become more of a dinner and a show experience, calling for more live performances.

4. Best piece of advice you could give to a new planner?

Take the time to learn the business and educate yourself.  Determine what separates you and your business from other wedding planners and build your brand from there.  Never use another professionals content or photos to sell yourself.

5. Best piece of advice you could give to a couple planning their own wedding?

For couple’s planning their own weddings, if you decide to allow a friend to provide a service for you instead of hiring a professional, I recommend you have a written agreement about what they will be providing and determine what the compensation will be. This will keep your expectations known and your friendship in tact when the wedding day is over.

Also, for a couple planning their own wedding, remember the wedding day is just the beginning of your life together as husband and wife.  So always keep in mind what matters most because in the end; it is your commitment to each other for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward until death do us part that is the single more important part of the wedding planning process. So enjoy this once in a lifetime experience!


Angela Johnston and Pamela Drennan, Owners Sapphire Celebrations

Denver, CO

1. What were your biggest lesson(s) learned in 2012?

a. The value of a good emergency kit. We had an aunt of the bride start bleeding while bustling the bride’s dress. Thankfully we were able to treat the stains and fix the bustle so that you couldn’t see that anything had happened.

2. What are you looking forward to in 2013?

a. 2013 is shaping up to be a year filled with unique and thoughtful weddings. Couples are thinking of their guests’ overall experience from the moment they arrive at the hotel until the day after the wedding.

3. Do you have any predictions for 2013 (i.e. trends, etc.)

a. Non-floral elements in wedding flowers are very popular in 2013. Brides are including herbs, fruit, vegetables and succulents in their personal and centerpiece flowers. These elements add wonderful texture and make the look of the wedding fresh and unique.

b. Food is also extremely important to couples this year. They want to treat their guests to something new and different. Many are taking the time to craft menus with their caterers that reflect their upbringing and current favorite flavors.

c. Coral is a very popular color in 2013.

4. What is your biggest lesson learned as a wedding planner?

a. Take care of your vendors. Yes, the couple and their guests are the priority on the wedding day, but you need to make sure that the vendors are taken care of in order to make sure that your client is happy. Communicating with them throughout the planning process to make sure that they have what they need to do their jobs on the wedding day. Happy vendors equal satisfied clients and wedding guests that truly enjoy the celebration.

5. Best piece of advice you could give to a new planner?

a. Work/life balance is extremely important when starting into the wedding and event industry. When you own your business it can tend to seep into your personal life and the next thing you know you are letting your business work you. Set up parameters for when you will work and when you play.

6. Best piece of advice you could give to a couple planning their own wedding?

a. Couples should focus on what they want for their wedding day and how they want to show their personalities and interests throughout the celebration. There will be a lot of people giving their opinion throughout the process. The bride and groom should take all the advice and decide what is best for them and their wedding day.

b. Create a wedding budget early on in the planning process and keep it in the forefront of your mind. Doing this will make sure that your wedding planning isn’t a financial stress and the focus can be on your love and special day.


Aleah and Nick Valley, Founders Valley & Co.

Seattle, Washington

1.What were your biggest lesson(s) learned in 2012?

2012 proved to be really big for couples grabbing inspiration online, more than ever. With Pinterest being a huge resource so many couples came to us with a vast range of ideas {some feasible, some not at all} and we became well-versed in wading through said abundance of ideas and crafting those already used visions into something uniquely them. While this has always been a big part of our job description, the online craze in 2012 made it that much more important to encourage couples to draw inspiration from other elements like nature, restaurants, travels...

2. What are you looking forward to in 2013?

In 2013 we can't wait for some fantastically eclectic weddings with amazing tasting menus, fresh entertainment and creative timelines. This year it's all about throwing the norm out of the window and our couples are all about it!

3. Do you have any predictions for 2013 (i.e. trends, etc.)

In 2013 we foresee the extension of the wedding weekend, with couples kicking off festivities as early as Wednesday or Thursday before their wedding. Couples will focus on campfires, brunches and fun and games with their guests for a few days rather than the more traditional Saturday wedding ceremony and reception. We also anticipated couples getting creative with their dining experiences, featuring wine flights and sampling menus that feature delicious local fare. This will be big this year - we're already gearing up for this trend with our weddings - yum!

4. What is your biggest lesson learned as a wedding planner?

In nearly a decade of planning parties and weddings, one of our biggest lessons learned is that each and every couple is different. This is why we tend to scrap traditional layouts, floor plans and timelines and start from scratch, giving each couple a fresh wedding experience.

5. Best piece of advice you could give to a new planner?

Create a high standard for the weddings you start planning and take on. Keeping the bar high is key to keeping standards high in this industry. While everyone starts somewhere, challenge yourself to take on events that will truly help you hone in on your craft.

6. Best piece of advice you could give to a couple planning their own wedding?

Think about each line item in your wedding checklist or budget as an experience in itself. Treating invitations, favors, music and flowers as a delicious, lovely or creative thought, instead of simply paper goods or bagged cookies, will help you determine what's most important to you both.


Monica Haleh, Owner and Lead Coordinator Create Events SD

San Diego, CA

1. What were your biggest lesson(s) learned in 2012?

2012 emphasized the unique vision of each wedding couple and taught us the importance of understanding their specific needs. To make the couple’s wedding vision a reality we first establish what our bride is looking for in a planner and determine how we can assist her in planning the couple’s big day. By recognizing and ascertaining each bride and groom’s individual needs, we can cater to their styles and personalities. Given that our vendors play a key role in executing and realizing the couple’s dream wedding, we’ve also learned how helpful it is to build and maintain strong relationships with the industry’s best vendors. Above all the other lessons from 2012, we believe these strategies will assist us in providing the best service to our clients.

2. What are you looking forward to in 2013?

This year, we look forward to growing our business so that we can help more brides make their special days as memorable as possible. Our clients are always a source of unique ideas and in 2013 we hope to expand on these ideas so that we can make each couple’s wedding dreams a reality.  Since lighting and florals have a significant impact on an event’s overall ambience, we also hope to explore new possibilities in these areas.  Likewise we look forward to working at more extraordinary and unique venues.

3. Do you have any predictions for 2013 (i.e. trends, etc.)

Destination weddings are huge! Southern California is a very popular place to get married and enjoy the great weather.

Last year, it was all about the blush and creams but recently we have seen many of our clients leaning in a different direction. This season they are asking for deep colors, bright accents and clean lines.  As the year continues, we expect brides will seek a more elegant glam rather that the rustic chic of 2012. Both are obviously beautiful, but so far the trend has been more toward a modern classic decor.

4. What is your biggest lesson learned as a wedding planner?

The most important thing to realize as a wedding planner is that sometimes things happen on a wedding day that is beyond anyone’s control. Therefore, as a wedding planner you have to make sure everything runs as smoothly as possible by planning for all potential issues at the outset.  On the big day, however, even the most well prepared wedding planners must be able to make adjustments for unexpected occurrences. The planning of a wedding really never ends and sometimes we must make quick changes on the day of the wedding.

5. Best piece of advice you could give to a new planner?

The most important thing is to relax and keep everything under control. It is very important to be friendly, professional and reliable when working with both the clients and other vendors. A wedding planner’s demeanor can significantly affect that of the bride, so it’s critical to stay calm, positive, and relaxed while completing the wedding-day duties.

6. Best piece of advice you could give to a couple planning their own wedding?

We think it is wonderful when couples are extremely involved in the planning process but we always recommend hiring a professional to assist them on at least the day of their wedding. It is too important of an occasion for them to stress over what may happen on their big day. Don’t rely upon close family and friends to execute your plans when you want them to be part of the wedding and enjoy it themselves.


Lori Randall and Jessica Meiczinger Simply Divine Events

Tampa, Florida

1. What were your biggest lesson(s) learned in 2012?

You can never predict the market.  Brides are still booking short term.

2. What are you looking forward to in 2013?

New venues and new products!  Fun color combinations, especially with Emerald.  We are also looking forward to another great year with our fabulous clients!

3. Do you have any predictions for 2013 (i.e. trends, etc.)

I think the shabby chic  and vintage trends are still in, but I think brides will be mixing in some modern elements into their designs.

Here are some add-ons:

1. What is your biggest lesson learned as a wedding planner?

Nothing surprises me.  Also, don’t be afraid to ask questions.  Always have a back-up plan.

2. Best piece of advice you could give to a new planner?

The best advice, I would give a new planner is to get the most hands-on learning experience as possible.  Don’t be afraid to shadow your vendors on a few events.  This helps you learn more than the pretty side of the business.  It also makes you appreciate all the hard work that goes into planning an event.

3. Best piece of advice you could give to a couple planning their own wedding?

Hire a planner to assist you, even if it is just for the day-of.  Also, don’t just hire a day-of planner a few months prior to your wedding, because planners are a great resource for information, which takes the stress out of planning.   If you decide not to hire a planner, make sure you get everything in writing and take good notes.  You also want to hire professional vendors for the big day.


Brandee Gaar, Owner/Lead Designer Blush by Brandee Gaar, LLC

Orlando, Florida

1. Biggest lesson learned in 2012:

Networking, Networking, Networking.  I've always been a huge believer in networking with fellow industry peers but this year it was apparent how important that is to the growth of our business.

2. What are you looking forward to in 2013?

In 2013 we are looking forward to expanding Blush!  We are expanding our Design and Planning Services into the Southern United States...specifically Louisiana, Georgia, and the Carolinas.  Very exciting!

3. Do you have any predictions for 2013 (i.e. trends, etc.)

In 2013 I think we are going to continue to see the trend of outdoor weddings but will be moving away from the shabby chic trend and coming into a glamour phase.  Glitter and sparkle meets farm tables and open fields.  More clean lines but with serene borderless spaces!

4. Best piece of advice you could give to a new planner?

The thing I have learned about being a wedding planner is to find your niche and stick to it.  Don't be afraid to not book every bride.  Every bride is not for you.  Find your niche, learn about and research that bride, market to her and make her vision become a reality!

5. Best piece of advice you could give to a couple planning their own wedding?

Advice I would give to a couple planning their own wedding would be to at least secure a Day Of Planner (DOC).  Their knowledge can be invaluable in leading you to the right vendors.  You still do all of the contracting and designing yourself but they will suggest quality vendors and ensure all of the details you worked so hard on are flawlessly executed on your big day!


Merilee Hennings, Owner EverAfter Events

San Diego, CA

1. What were your biggest lesson(s) learned in 2012?

Each client is so unique, her style, her needs, interests. It makes planning exciting and never the same!

2. What are you looking forward to in 2013?

Enjoying the clients I have and making their day perfect for them.

3. Do you have any predictions for 2013 (i.e. trends, etc.)

Less vintage/DYI and more classic style/timeless.

4. What is your biggest lesson learned as a wedding planner?

Don’t take things personally. There’s a lot of emotion flying around when a person gets married!

5. Best piece of advice you could give to a new planner?

Get experience! Having experience is so helpful to know how to best work with and make decisions for your clients.

6. Best piece of advice you could give to a couple planning their own wedding?

Hire a planner to help you from beginning to end. Hire someone you trust and let the planner guide you as she does her job.


Vanessa Van Wieren, Founder Jillian Sanger

Assistant Planner Alchemy Fine Events and Invitations

San Diego, CA

1. What were your biggest lesson(s) learned in 2012?

For us, 2012 was all about go-go-go! From California, New York, Miami, Italy, Ibiza, and then back again, it was a globe trotting year!  While I love to travel and create gorgeous and unique destination weddings, I learned that I can't always say yes to everyone and everything that presents itself to me. As an event designer and planner, I always go to the next level with my clients, which entails a lot of design time and attention to details and quality. My background is in interior design, fine arts, graphic design and art direction so I am a self-proclaimed micromanager and invest a lot of time in every single element which takes much more time than the average 'planner' per se, but, that is exactly why my clients hire me. I want to take on the world, but I learned in 2012 that because of my dedication to quality, I need to be more selective on accepting my clients the same way my clients were selective in choosing me.

2. What are you looking forward to in 2013?

For 2013 we are rearing up for another great year full of weddings, events and our annual Mike Larson Photography workshop which we design, style and even teach at.  In addition, we are really excited to start working on our signature wedding design collections for my partnership with luxury concierge company Bonder & Co (http://www.bonderco.com/en/weddings-and-events), that specialize in incredible villa rentals on Ibiza, Mallorca and Barcelona. In this exciting endeavor, we'll be creating even more custom pieces to add to our line of Alchemy Gold Accessories which will include linens, table wares, vases and other unique décor items inspired by our travels and love of art history, as well as modernism.

3. Do you have any predictions for 2013 (i.e. trends, etc.)

For 2013 I think brides are definitely coming back to the idea of a beautiful and glamourous affair and not always having to go so 'theme-y' or too DIY like we were seeing for a few years. Your wedding should be timeless, elegant and speak to who you are now and in 30 years. I also predict that destination weddings are on a major rise! Why spend the same amount for a hometown wedding and maybe a few more guests when you can rent a villa in Ibiza or a castle in Tuscany for about the same price. When you start actually comparing expeditures brides realize that it's actually a lot more attainable than they may have thought.

Here are other trends I see (and hope to see!) more of for 2013:

-- Elegant and unique wedding invitations – from water jet cut copper, lace-like laser cutting and opulent gold foiling, there are so many exciting and gorgeous methods of creating a piece of art on paper for a lifelong keep sake and to set the tone of the special day to come.

-- Cool lounges! I adore designing lounges for cocktail hour and for after dinner to bring in an interior design vibe and to also give guests a place to relax and converse and not sit in their dinner chair for too long.

-- Patterns and color – I love to have a few splashes of bold color and pattern against some neutral palettes for a fun and classy way to add in some personality

-- Less is more! Its about a few key impact pieces verses too many little details that won't make much of an impression when you're on a budget

-- Creative entertainment – it's not all about just a DJ any more. Bring in exciting entertainers from dancers, acoustical musicians, we even brought in a lip print reading psychic before to tell guests what their kisses meant for their future!

Here are some add-ons:

1. What is your biggest lesson learned as a wedding planner?

That you need to focus on who your client is and then listen and communicate with only them, not their mother, friend, aunt, etc.. When too many people try to get involved it becomes a game of telephone and things get lost in translation. I now tell my brides YOU are my client and not anyone else trying to help out. This is YOUR day! Lets make it all about YOU. I communicate with grooms as well of course, but I do like to communicate with them separately so that they feel they can speak freely and incorporate fun elements that represent them as well.

Also, learn not to sugarcoat the truth. If you feel they are making a bad decision speak up! (in a gentle way of course) That's what they are paying you for - your discriminating taste and experience.  When you have a bride on a limited budget that wants an incredible design vision, but also wants (or is being pressured by parents) to invite everyone including her mother's sister's, bridge partner's postman twice removed, make them see the big picture by prioritizing their guest list. Then make it clear that she can either create the vision of her dreams by removing the bottoms on the list or she can water down her vision in order to invite these people that may not have any personal relevance to them. What brides don’t always understand is that more guests isn't just more catering per head, it's more tables, linens, chairs, centerpieces, cocktails, etc.. It adds up fast!

2. Best piece of advice you could give to a new planner?

Know your strengths and weaknesses. I know that my strengths are in design, so I surround myself with people that are strong at coordinating and logistical planning. Don't try to be everything to everyone. If you have no design background, don't call yourself a designer! Be a planner or coordinator that hires great designers and vendors that will make you come off as someone much stronger who can delegate with great taste verses trying to be something you're not.

3. Best piece of advice you could give to a couple planning their own wedding?

Hire a planner!! So many brides have come to me only a few months out from their wedding date mid-panic attack and bring me on to pick up the pieces of their attempts to bring together a cohesive design, completely create a new design direction or even start over from scratch from venue and date and everything. While it can be tempting to 'DIY' (Do It Yourself), my motto is actually 'DDIY'! (Don't Do it Yourself!) Learn to ask for and accept help and don’t be ashamed when you need it. Professionals are professionals for a reason. We have the skills and know-how to make your big day look, run and feel as wonderful as you may have had envisioned in your head, many times even better! Also, working with a planner from the start can end up actually saving you money since we have so many tricks up our sleeves, industry discounts and creative ideas to cut costs.


Melissa Barrad I Do... Weddings!

San Diego, CA

What were your biggest lesson(s) learned in 2012?

Many vendors and service providers will come and go, but true professionals learn, adapt and become even more creative as the wedding industry continues to change. Being more mindful of social media, is a great example. However, balance is key. We enjoy showcasing our work and letting clients and potential clients in on events and projects we work on. However, our first love will always be weddings, and we don't ever want to have other elements of business take over this love.

What are you looking forward to in 2013?

We are really liking the shifting trend towards a more modern wedding. While modern vintage

Do you have any predictions for 2013 (i.e. trends, etc.)

Utilizing old materials in a new way. We love the inclusion of bronze and other metal containers for centerpieces. Also, minimalism! With all of the great style blogs and Pinterest, most of our clients included a significant number of details in their decor. However, we believe we will see a move to less decor, that is more impactful, with a focus on what guests will truly notice.

What is your biggest lesson learned as a wedding planner?

Balance! Balance means giving attention to all of your clients, and learning to be proactive, rather than reactive. For us, it is about quality over quantity. We really like to spend our time getting to know our clients, and their love story. We find we can really personalize the day by learning about our couples favorite things.

Best piece of advice you could give to a new planner?

Be prepared to work harder than you've ever worked. However, a great work ethic often results in great rewards.

Best piece of advice you could give to a couple planning their own wedding?

Hire professionals that you trust implicitly, and share similar approaches to the planning and creative process. Give perimeters and tons of feedback, but also give you vendors a bit of creative license. It is always nice to have small surprises on the wedding day!


What do you think...Do you have any ideas or tips to add?

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