Kendall and Nic’s High Country Wedding at the Camp at Eseeola in Linville NC

It was intimidating planning an event for a professional event planner, but I couldn’t ask for a better experience! Kendallwas a pleasure to work with. She expertly conveyed direction and expectations so I was never left guessing.  From the venue, to thelinens, to the band, Nic and Kendall’s personalities were visible in every element. The color palette was very Kendall; greys, silvers, creams, and pops of pink and lavender. The flowers and dresses, and table settings captured the colors radiantly. The cake pops and lots of indirect lighting were Nic’s requests. Stage diving to the band, We Got The Beat, was the way this couple partied. The night ended with a sparkler send off, followed by a surprise firework show arranged by Kendall’s mom.

The Camp at Eseeola in Linville NC

The Camp at Eseeola in Linville NC

Vendors

Planning and Coordination – The Whole Shebang, Flowers – Callista Designs, Reception Music We Got The Beat(East Coast Entertainment), Photography - Fletcher and Fletcher Photography, Transportation - Air Haven LimoVenue and Catering and Cake - Eseeola Lodge, Makeup – Beautiful Bride

Yasemin and John’s Wedding at Chetola in Blowing Rock, NC


A calm and serene bride and groom, and a seamless, sunny day. Yasemin and John were lovely to work with. She has an elegant style, that shone through in the color choices and decor. Soft pinks and greens complemented each other, and the freshness of the spring day. The atmosphere was relaxed and unfussy relying on simple beauty of well chosen flowers, lots of candles, and a string trio.  The mood shifted once the ATL Groove stared up. Their sound, stage presence, and energy brought everyone to the dance floor. Even the groom’s mother was dancing on stage!
Vendors – Planning and Coordination – . Floral Design - , Photography - , Reception Music - , Ceremony Music -Amanda Tant Trio, Transportation - , Cake – , Venue and Catering –



So you want to be a Wedding Planner…

I wanted to take a few minutes to jot down some thoughts I have on what it takes to be a wedding and event planner. I have students and aspiring event planners approach me all the time either wanting to intern with us or shadow us on weddings or just pick my brain about how to break into the industry. They want to know what kind of background they need to have and if they need to get certified, take a class etc. Yes I think if you’re new to the industry a course on wedding planning is definitely helpful but that’s no match for actual hands on experience. I’ve listed a few key points to consider if you’re thinking wedding planning might be a good career choice for you.


Service Industry, Service Industry, Service Industry -
If you haven’t waited tables, do that first. You will learn much of what you need to learn for wedding planning through either waiting tables, bartending or working events with a caterer. You learn how to deal with customers, think on your feet, get along with co workers and crazy owners and kitchen staff. It’s the fastest way to develop a thick skin and it teaches you diplomacy. Those are all key ingredients in wedding planning.
I truly believe that if you hate restaurant work, you will not like wedding planning. If that’s the case, that’s fine! There are so many avenues to the wedding industry that you may be well suited for but at the end of the day, wedding planning is so much like working in a restaurant you just have to try that first and see if you like it.


Marketing –
You must learn how to put yourself out there and not spend a ton of money doing it. Especially in the beginning when you have more time than money. I learned a lot about self promotion doing real estate. That was very helpful when I went to launch my own business. I think the key is blogging/writing about what you know so that potential clients can get a feel for you as a person and whether you are a good fit for them.
Getting involved in your local bridal association or group of wedding vendors is key as well. You have to get to know your sphere of local vendors face to face.



Slow and steady wins the race -  
Be patient. The first year I went into wedding planning, I did 2 weddings. Then the next year it was 5 and then 10 and then 15 and now we’re at 30 plus weddings a season. It’s definitely not a get rich quick scheme. It takes a while for local vendors to get to know you enough to throw your name out there to their brides. Reputation is key and it takes a long time to build that trust. Be patient and keep another job on the side as long as you need to so that you don’t put pressure on yourself to under sell your services or book brides that aren’t a good fit because you are desperate for work. 
Now when you’re first starting out, you’ll charge significantly less than you will once you get established and that’s ok. You’re training yourself as you go along but on that same note, once you get to where you really really know your stuff, make sure you get paid for your time and expertise. Log your hours and see how much time you are actually putting in and then divide that into what you’re actually making to see what you’re making per hour. Then think about how much money you’re putting into marketing and gas and supplies on top of that...
Most importantly, don't work with clients that don't see the value in your work. Make sure that you know how to educate your potential clients about what you do and why you charge what you do without sounding confrontational. People will ask you "why do you charge more than this other wedding planner" or "can't you just do "day of planning"" or "why does it cost more for you to plan a wedding at one venue than another". It's important to be comfortable answering these questions. Think of it as educating your clients so that they see your value or your work rather than feeling like they're trying to shake you down in price. People are willing to pay more for quality service but they want to feel justified in that decision. Write down your strengths and why you charge what you do on a piece of paper that you can pull out when you are on the phone with them so that you have the talking points right there. 
Be skeptical of clients that are making a decision based solely on price. Having a "here's what I do, take it or leave it" approach will take you a long way. There are plenty of fish in the sea and if you can afford to play the waiting game and not go for those clients who are not a good fit, you will build a solid reputation faster.


Make sure you hire enough support staff to make the job look effortless -
This is something took me forever to learn. When I think of all of the years I worked by myself or with only one assistant and just ran my tail off.….I don’t think the quality of service was lacking but it was way more stressful for me. Finally I’ve learned that you can almost never have too much staff . Now that I’ve figured that out, weddings are a walk in the park. It doesn’t cost that much to have a few extra hands on deck so that you, the planner, can focus on the important stuff and not get sidetracked with random details. 



Organization -
Obviously this is a key element. There are so so many details to keep track of. Putting your systems in place is an important thing to do when you first set up your business. Your methods and checklists etc. will evolve as you go along but you need to have a clear game plan and stick to it. Be constantly figuring out new ways to work smarter and more efficiently.
It's also important to size up your client and figure out how they fit into the picture. Some clients are very involved and want to share checklists, spreadsheets etc. Some clients are more hands off and just want you to handle everything without bothering them. Know your audience. You don't want to inundate a hands off bride with lots of details...that's why they hired you. You also don't want to seem unorganized to a Type A bride that wants to see the process. I think it's important to ask what level of involvement the clients wants and what kinds of organizational methods they find helpful.


Go with your strengths -
Know yourself and learn what comes natural to you. Let that be your focus. Wedding planners come in all different forms and offer a range of services. Don’t promote something that is not your strength. For example, I don’t promote myself as a designer because I’m not the creative type. That's why I have people on my team that are! I’m a business person, I like putting all of the details together and running the show. I can’t take 3 adjectives and 2 colors from a bride and miraculously come up with a whole design concept. I have a good eye and know what looks good and what does not. I’m a great person to bounce ideas off of. I can put together the decorations that the bride sets out for me but I don’t pretend to be a visionary and I’m very upfront about that fact. Don’t pretend to be something you’re not!


Smile!!! -
You should never ever look stressed out. Your face should be locked in a pleasant expression…always. Pretend you’re a flight attendant. They can’t look worried or flustered or everyone starts to panic. Same thing with weddings.
 
This is just the tip of the iceberg of what I have to say on starting a career in wedding planning.  I’m considering writing a book called “So you want to be a wedding planner”. I don’t pretend to know everything  but I do think I have come at it from a unique angle since wedding planning is never something I ever imagined myself doing.  I was actually a Music Theatre major in college but finally realized that wasn’t the life I wanted so I mainly worked in the service industry after college until I fell into this. I think it’s actually a pretty ideal background. Running restaurants with a side of directing musicals is about what wedding planning is at the end of the day!



Simple NC Mountain Flower Arrangements

Don’t have a large floral budget for your wedding and have a few helpful crafty friends???? Shady Grove Gardens in Zionville right outside of Boone is just what the Doctor ordered.

You can purchase buckets of local seasonal flowers and then make your own flower arrangements.

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If you need a little extra help with bouquets and boutonnieres, they can either make them for you or host an on site class to teach you how to make them yourself.

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I went this route for my own mountain wedding and have since worked with lotsof brides who have made their own table arrangements from Shady Grove flowers. I’ve never seen anyone disappointed with the results!  ,

rustic high country wedding boone nc

shady grove gardens and the whole shebang weddings

diy floral arrangements in boone nc

hello@wholeshebangevents.com

The Perfect Edition to you NC Mountain Wedding

 These days the possibilities are endless for creative ways to have fun with your wedding decor and make it your own. With tons of places to find inspiration like Wedding BlogsFacebook and Pinterest it’s easy to get carried away.

Cake toppers are a simple and easy way to make a bold statement and tie in your cake with the overall theme of your “Big Day”. Check out these adorable ideas that I found on Pinterest

Rusticweddingchic.com

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Dreamy NC Mountain DIY Decor

This is one of my favorite Pinterest finds. Loving the DIY movement because it really complements the simple, rustic feel of the NC mountains. I could see this idea used as aisle décor, tree decoration or even in lieu of traditional kissing balls on either side of the alter.

It seems like there could be a way to get a small oasis in the center as well to keep the flowers fresh longer. Great way to accent the woodsy mountain back drop of our Boone Area venues!

Photo from Stylemepretty.com one of the best wedding blogs out there.

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North Carolina Mountain Weddings With The Whole Shebang

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The Whole Shebang continually strives to help you create a one-of-a-kind, beautiful, and creative wedding in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina.

I absolutely love what I do and there is a real joy in the process of creating a relaxed and fun environment that allows a bride to create her own unique vision of a perfect wedding day. My job is to pull together every aspect of your vision and handle all of the details so that your wedding day is beautiful, memorable, stress-free, and uniquely YOURS! Whatever your dream, I will help you find innovative ways to make it happen, and guide you every step of the way.

Born and raised along the coast in Southport, North Carolina, I'd always dreamed of living in the mountains. I found my way to the Blowing Rock area of the High Country in 2005 where I met my husband Paul and started a family. I have been involved in many aspects of the wedding industry, and was at the right place at the right time to make the leap to The Whole Shebang in 2009 when Cassandra Reed, the original owner, relocated to Virginia.

Many years in the service industry experience have given me a rock-solid work ethic and allowed me to forge relationships with many on the area's professionals, including some of the finest photographers, venue proprietors, designers, and entertainment specialists in the High Country. My love of the arts continues to be my driving force in creating a beautiful event regardless of size or scale.

I love the common thread among brides who choose to get married in the mountains. Whether you live in the area, vacationed here growing up, or attended college, there is a deep-rooted connection with nature, the outdoors, and the beauty of the High Country. Whether it's the dream of a casual, rustic backyard BBQ, or a glamorous black tie affair, the one thing all of my brides seem to have in common is that they are creative, soulful, and eager to incorporate the majestic landscape of the Blue Ridge Mountains into the overall vision of their wedding day and share it with their closest friends and family.

My favorite wedding moment is being able to stand back and watch the bride and groom... relaxed, dancing,  enjoying their moment, surrounded by loved ones, and knowing that their dream of a perfect day had come to life. It is a such blessing to witness the love between two people starting a new life together.

I invite you to take a look around, check out my blog, read reviews, and get a feel for the wedding planning services offered by the The Whole Shebang Events. Please feel free to contact me directly with any questions you might have. I look forward to hearing from you!

http://wholeshebangevents.com

828.719.9171

Thanks so much for your interest and have a great day!

-

Meris

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