dc wedding coordinator

Abby and Scott's Carnegie Institution for Science Wedding

Photo by Sam Hurd

Photo by Sam Hurd

I really love December weddings. And I especially love December weddings at Carnegie Institution for Science, a venue so gorgeous, you don’t care if it’s cold outside! Abby and Scott got married this past December. After a first-look and some photos both at the hotel and the venue, they signed the ketubah and then were off to get married. They opted for an in-the-round ceremony which beautifully highlights the Carnegie’s rotunda. After cocktails they had a lovely dinner by Design Cuisine - I adored all of Abby’s choices for linens and design. She brought in some great green colors that accented the season, but also didn’t go to far into the wintery route and brought in some lovely blues as well! Enjoy these romantic and stunning photos by Sam Hurd, and enjoy dreaming of that cozy, cold weather that will be here before we know it!

Abby and Scott’s Vendors:

Venue: Carnegie Institution for Science, Washington, DC

Coordinator: Katie Wannen, The Plannery

Caterer: Design Cuisine

Photographer: Sam Hurd

Music: DJ Mark Maskell

Florist: Highway to Hill

Make-up: Alison Harper & Co

How do you want to feel on your wedding day?

Photo by Shandi Wallace

Photo by Shandi Wallace

I recently talked on my InstaStories about exercise, and how tangentially that related back to wedding planning (check my ramblings out here in my highlights, if you want the original source material!). Basically, I was thinking about how I, as a typical type-A person, suffer from anxiety and I’ve recently been using exercise to help manage my mental health, keeping me feeling good and happy.

I was then thinking about all you poor couples out there - brides and grooms who are so often marketed to about how you’re going to LOOK on your day. How to lose the weight for your wedding, fit into the dress, all that bullshit (including this recent NY Times article that sent me into a rage spiral). And not only that, but what items you’re going to have at your wedding that can be photographed and then blogged about. What the centerpieces will look like. What the venue looks like. Looks, looks, looks, looks, looks.

Which brought me back to feelings (cue “feelings…”). At The Plannery, as much as we care about how things look and that your florist or event designer is doing what they should and everything looks as you want it to look, what we actually care about, and what I consider my JOB - is that you feel good. Our main priority is how you feel, NOT how you look. If you’re feeling calm, relaxed, stress-free, able to have fun and in the moment then I have done my job.

Photo by Go Kate Shoot

Photo by Go Kate Shoot

And so though how you feel is what I believe sets us apart as wedding planners, that’s really hard to Instagram. I don’t have a lot of pretty pictures to show you what feeling good on your wedding day looks like (though I certainly can try, and sometimes the awesome photographers I’ve worked with capture just that!). But I’ll just ask you to step away for a moment from the social media, the wedding magazines and blogs, the mood boards (though we do love ourselves some mood boards), and think about this question that very few people ask you: how do you want to feel on your wedding day?

And then hire people who will make the process of planning a wedding, and your actual wedding day, feel really damn good.

Photo by Shandi Wallace

Photo by Shandi Wallace

Hire the best and trust your wedding vendors

Photo by Sam Hurd

Photo by Sam Hurd

I recently write a blog post in which I discussed how important communication is to a stress-free wedding. I had one of my favorite wedding friendors reach out and say that the real key to a stress free wedding is “hire the best and trust your vendors.”

I loved it. Especially as a planner, and therefore someone who guides couples in that decision-making process. So I thought I’d dive into this topic a bit, cause it’s a good one - and one that a lot of wedding vendors don’t often talk about, but should.

Having a good wedding vendor team is essential to eliminating stress on your wedding day. Why? Because if you truly trust your gut in the hiring process, and find vendors that “get” you and ones that you feel confident in, then your work is done. You as the couple getting married get to lean back, relax, and let them do their thing. By letting go and trusting (which I realize, is not always easy), you also let go of the stress and worry on your wedding day.

So when choosing a wedding vendor I urge all of my clients to move past the numbers (though I always stay within their budget!) and really look at the person. Do you not only like their work, but them? Did you choose them just cause they were randomly recommended or did you really read reviews about them, and those reviews spoke to you in some way? Did you feel at ease and comfortable when you spoke or met with them? Or did some red flags get raised, but you pushed those away cause you just wanted a decision to be made so you could move on?

Photo by Jessica Crews

Photo by Jessica Crews

Wedding vendors have all dealt with couples that hired them and then didn’t trust them. And let me tell you - that’s not easy from our end, either. So I urge you all to take your time and listen to your gut when hiring wedding vendors. Better yet, hire a planner that you trust who will then recommend vendors that are a good fit :)

And it’s actually quite interesting that for this huge day, this day when you’re marrying your person, your partner who you will commit to and vow to trust, that you also need to apply that to the other relationships. Though they’re not romantic ones, they are important ones. So hire the best and then trust them to do their best so you can sit back, relax, and enjoy your wedding!

Adam and Ryan's Carnegie Institution of Science DC Wedding

Photo by Justin McCallum

Photo by Justin McCallum

Adam and Ryan signed on to work with me back when I was about to have my 2nd baby! I helped them get started - nailed down the venue and some of the major vendors, had my baby (!), then came back to help them out with the rest of their planning. And I’m SO blessed and thankful that they took a chance on a very pregnant woman. This might have been one of my favorite weddings of all time. They were so much fun to work with and I knew that their love and their wedding would be so special. Justin McCallum’s awesome photos capture every moment, big and small. They started the day with some photos around the Carnegie Institution of Science. Then after signing the license with friends and family, they had a beautiful ceremony in the round. One of my favorite details was that they’d ordered two custom gobos - one for during the ceremony (which listed both of their “maiden” names), and one after, pronouncing them, The Hunters :)

After the cocktail hour, their wedding party had some of the most fabulous entrances I’ve ever seen, including their officiant walking in to Like a Prayer, the ring bearer dancing, and of course, Ryan clacking that fan.

Dinner by Main Event Catering was delicious, as was their stunning custom cake (which incorporated their married logo) by Fluffy Thoughts.

And then… it was the best part of the night. Adam and Ryan did their first dance to Beyonce’s XO, and then announced the incredible Riley Knoxx. This infamous Beyonce performer surprised the guests with a 20 minute set and kicked off the dance party like no one else. (and BTW, she also appears in Taylor Swift’s new music video!). It was legit one of the best weddings I’ve had the honor of being a part of - I need more Beyonce in my life (who doesn’t??).

Thank you and congrats again to Adam and Ryan for allowing me to help plan and organize this awesome day! And a special shout out to Scorpio Entertainment. They not only kicked ass as DJ but had a ton of other elements to coordinate - like Riley’s performance/lighting/sound, the special logo lighting, etc - and nailed it all.

Adam and Ryan’s Vendors:

Planner: Katie Wannen, The Plannery

Venue: Carnegie Institution of Science

Caterer: Main Event Caterers

Photographer: Justin McCallum

DJ, Lighting, and Sound: Scorpio Entertainment

Florist: Highway to Hill

Cake: Fluffy Thoughts

Hair/Make-up: Ebonie Jones

Performance! by Riley Knoxx

What does a wedding coordinator actually DO?

Photo by Jess Latos

Photo by Jess Latos

This week we're talking about wedding coordinators!

What to look for in a wedding coordinator? I firmly believe all wedding vendors should make the PROCESS (not just the day-of) easier. Look for a coordinator who is a clear communicator, easy to talk to, friendly, real and who also reflects your values (#loveislove folks!)

Does a coordinator only help out on the day of? NO! We are usually involved months ahead of time, to help couples with their timeline, look for any red flags in the structure and organization of the day, coordinate all details with all vendors, and do a final walk through of the venue. There's no way to do a good job on the day-of without prior planning and involvement.

Coordinators are also important because we help run the rehearsals, along with your officiant. We help line up and organize all wedding party members, talk through (and physically put them!) where they'll be during the ceremony, and cue both the music as well as the actual processional and recessional. All those small logistical details matter!

One of a coordinator's most important jobs is to make sure everyone else is doing their job! We are there at load-in to make sure the caterer, venue, sound/music, lighting and all other vendors are there on time, setting up as they're supposed to, and everything is going according to plan. Trust me, you want someone ELSE worrying about whether the DJ is an hour late (which has happened to me - it all worked out) :)

So what does a coordinator do during a wedding? I always say we think of it as a cueing system - we're always 5-10 minutes ahead of what's actually happening, thinking ahead to the next transition and what needs to happen to make it run smoothly. So why have a coordinator? So your DJ doesn't announce the toasts while the bride is in the bathroom (something I've seen happen at a wedding I didn't coordinate!). A coordinator helps all those seemingly effortless moments happen.

How to start planning your wedding

Photo by Jess Latos

Photo by Jess Latos

Talk about your wedding priorities

So you're engaged! Now what? This week we're discussing the first steps every couple should take to get started planning their wedding. First step? Talk to each other and any other family that will be involved (generally parents). It's important to set aside time to really discuss what matters most to you - your priorities and expectations when it comes to vibe, location, and the number of guests. Take notes and see what type of wedding it's shaping up to be!

Establish a wedding budget

So you know your priorities and expectations - what's the next step in getting started with planning your wedding? Budget! Everyone's favorite subject. If you don't have a planner (like us!) to help you, there are lots of sample budgets available online to help you get started. My main piece of advice is to be realistic about both what you CAN and what you WANT to spend. Budgets are also where your priorities come in handy - you may need to cut corners here or there, so decide what matters most so you know where to allocate the most funds

Create a wedding guest list

The third step in getting started with wedding planning is creating your guest list! Create a guestlist spreadsheet with your partner so you can see who you (and other family) really want to invite. You can't pick a venue before you've finalized your guest list - no one wants to find themselves in the bad situation of having to disinvite people because they won't fit, or having too few folks in a huge venue!

Wedding venue

After you've narrowed down your priorities, guest list and budget, the next step is the venue and location. Local wedding cause all family is local and you have a huge family? Destination wedding to a location that matters to you both? Your hometown? Indoor or outdoor? Consider and talk through all the possibilities and what matters to you and your family.

Hire a planner!

The final step in how to get started planning your wedding... is hire us! :) Seriously though - it doesn't have to be us, but a wedding planner is truly a wonderful resource that can help you get started - we help you navigate all the conversations (from wedding vibe, guest list and location), we help you create a budget, and we help to narrow down your options so the whole process isn't overwhelming