The marriage of a couple – whether it’s a man and a woman, two men or two women – is a joyous occasion. It’s a celebration of love, respect and commitment. But the perfect wedding day requires a little forethought and some deft attention to detail.
One of the best ways to make sure that perfect day comes off without a hitch is to hire an event planner. We spoke with three of Oklahoma City’s top organizers, and while each has his or her own unique approach to weddings, they all agree that following your hearts is the simple key to a perfect day.
“The best advice I can give someone is to start by hiring a wedding planner,” says Camden Chitwood with Emerson Events and Design. “I am not just saying this because it’s what I do – I promise. A wedding planner will prioritize your needs, (and) keep you relaxed and on track. Aside from that, start by creating your guest list and that will help you determine your venue and, ultimately, your budget.”
Chitwood says friends and family often will give their opinion on how to plan a wedding, but a couple needs to remember this is their day. Putting too many cooks in the kitchen can be a recipe for disaster. Hire vendors you are comfortable with, and remember early on to decide how much you want to spend. A memorable day doesn’t necessarily need to cost thousands of dollars.
And for those planning a same-sex marriage, Chitwood says there really isn’t much of a difference when it comes to weddings.
“Besides the obvious differences of having two boutonnieres, or two bouquets, at Emerson Events all love is the same,” she says.
Factor 110 is one of Oklahoma City’s trendiest event planning companies. Christina Ford, one of their leading designers, says her first piece of advice is to choose a venue and a date.
“That helps set the tone in many aspects of the wedding: theme, budget, what is needed or not,” Ford says. “Once you have a better feel of what the venue may have to offer, you can then start looking into what furniture and décor is needed and what your catering needs will be.”
It’s also wise to start planning early, she says. Many venues book so far in advance that if a couple has their eyes set on a certain place, planning early ensures a better chance of getting it. Staying calm about any unforeseen obstacles is also a wise move.
“If any last-minute issues arise, keep them in perspective,” Ford says. “Things may not happen exactly as planned, but they always have a way of working themselves out. Just take a deep breath and remember – you are marrying the love of your life!”
Every couple has a different idea of what their perfect day will be, along with certain expectations and dreams. There’s also the potential for a snafu to arise, so it’s wise to be prepared.
“Remember, your guests bring with them the human element, which is what makes the party,” says Kindt Steven Myers, event designer and creative director at Kindt Events. “Make sure your plans include a little margin for the unknown.”
Make a solid plan to ensure gracious hosting, Myers said, and remember to have plenty of help on hand within whatever your budget allows.
“There is a margin for error with any event, but true professionals can help mitigate the differences when the unexpected happens,” he says. “They will be able to deflect this from you as the host, so you can continue to enjoy and entertain your guests while the pros troubleshoot any issues behind the scenes.”
Hosting can quickly become very expensive, and shortening the guest list will increase the opportunities for your guests to make lasting memories, Myers said. Consider what is most important to you at the end of the day and begin there with your budget.
“Two regrets we hear most on national panels of former wedding clients is that they wish they had budgeted differently, to make allowances for hiring a wedding planner,” he says. “A great wedding planner can work themselves into your budget, and likely will still save you money. Make the decision to have help early. Party planning should be fun. So remember to have fun and make memories, both during the planning process and especially on your big day.”
► Do This, But Don’t Do That
Advice from the pros
So you’ve met the love of your life, you’ve set the date and now you want to share the celebration of your love with family and friends. Here’s a list of the top dos and don’ts from Camden, Christina and Kindt that will help you make the most of your big day.
Camden Chitwood, Emerson Events and Design:
•Make the wedding day reflect you as a couple. Add small, personal details that will make people walk into your wedding and say, ‘‘Wow, this is so fabulous!’’
•Keep perspective about the small things.
•Invest and hire a good, reputable team of vendors.
• Let other people’s advice get in the way of what you want or envision for your wedding.
• Focus too much on what you can’t control, like the weather.
• Let planning the wedding get in the way of what is important.
Christina Ford, Factor 110:
• Be flexible and organized.
• Delegate when possible.
• Send thank you notes.
• Sweat the small stuff.
• Have too much time between the ceremony and the reception.
• Most important, don’t forget to enjoy yourself.
Kindt Steven Myers, Kindt Events:
• Write a budget.
• Hire true professionals and not hobbyists.
• Host in the most generous ways you can host.
• Charge your guests for items – host in the way you would host in your home. You would not hand anyone a glass of wine in your living room and then ask for a five-dollar bill.
• Overestimate the amount of time you’ll have on your wedding day – make a plan to delegate and hand off duties so you can relax and enjoy your friends and family.
• Worry about the things out of your control. If Cousin John will wear blue jeans when the invitation clearly says “Formal Attire” – if he’s there, he’s come to celebrate you, so allow him to celebrate you in the best way he knows how.