Friday, November 19, 2010

Interview with a Wedding Planner - Occasions by Emily

I am so very excited about today's post!   The lovely Emily has agreed to stop by and answers some burning questions I had while sharing some of her wedding wisdom with all of us on this Happy Friday.

For purposes of this dialogue, since we share such a fabulous name, I will hereby refer to us in the manner that John did during our wedding planning sessions.    He called us E squared.   I was E1 and Emily was E2.  

<--- E2.  Photos of Emily and her team by Nick Breedlove

And now you can imagine E1 and E2 sitting in a sweet little cafe in Paris, sipping drinks and eating perfect little pastries.  The weather has chilled up a bit, but we sit outside anyway, wrapped up in pretty little scarves, chatting while the rest of the world passes by.

We'd love for you to join us.   Grab a cup and pull up a chair.

E1: So Emily, tell me, how did you get into the wedding planning business? 
E2:   Event planning seems to be part of my genetic makeup.   As a child I dreamed of joining the foreign service, living at the Biltmore House and planning parties for all of my friends and random strangers.   I now speak French, plan weddings and occasionally get to work at the Biltmore House.   Does it get any better?

E1:  I'd say that is pretty great!   I'd love to hear what makes a wedding by Occasions by Emily unique and special?    I've experienced it first hand, but I'd love to hear your thoughts. 
E2:   Details, details, details.   We are very organized about the details, big and small, which takes stress off our clients.   However, we're also "touchy feely" when it comes to the details.   We like to help our clients think of ways to make everything unique to their personality and vision.

E1:  What has been your favorite wedding or moment that stands out to you and why?   I love hearing stories about different weddings!
E2:   I planned a wedding this summer that was mainly family and a few close friends.   It was a second marriage for both the bride and groom and they each had a set of children.   The bride had asked her young teenage son to sing "It's a Wonderful World" during the ceremony, but he got nervous and a little choked up when he began singing.   He made a desperate plea to the audience to sing along.  The minister (same one you had, by the way), began to sing out whole heartedly, the audience joined in and the violinist picked up the accompaniment without being asked.   I had tears in my eyes watching such a sweet family, friends and relative strangers join together to create a happy moment that the bride and groom will remember forever.   It's fun to have yummy cake, gorgeous flowers and a great band, but the really important things is the covenant being made the the people who share the moment.

E1:   Now I'm a little teary eyed, which, as you know, is not that difficult to make happen with me lately, but what a touching story!     I will certainly never forget that one.    Let's change topics slightly, I'd like my readers to get to know a little about you.   What do you like to do when you are not planning weddings?
E2:  Read, read, read.   It's one of the few things I can do to make me stop thinking about weddings for half a minute.   Can't help it.  :)   I also love being with my three kiddos, but I seem unable to divide work and family life.   Case in point:  My four and six year old daughters were recently worried about an upcoming family wedding where there is no assigned seating as it is a dessert reception.   The six year old wanted to know how people would know where to sit without place cards.   I may have ruined my children....

E1:  That is hilarious.  I see a future planner in your family!   Now for the 20 questions part.   Favorite part of job?   Most rewarding?   Most terrifying?
E2:  I love helping clients define their vision and then orchestrating it for them.   This can happen through the invitations, florals, lighting and even things like glassware.   It's fun to look through the photographer's photos a few weeks later and think about how we helped the bride and groom take a vision from concept to reality.

I am most terrified when trying to send a processional down the aisle.   There are all these people whom I've never met before in my life who need to be seated by ushers I've only just met at rehearsal.   The order of the processional is so important that I can't bear to mess it up, and of course the rest of the guests are watching the whole thing.   It's very nerve wracking and there's no do-over button!   Thankfully the nerves keep me on my game and I can't remember ever messing this up too badly.   No comments, please...

E1:   Well, I'm very happy to report, that my little mini processional was absolutely perfect (Thanks, Liz!).   Now, getting my dad to loosen the grip on my arm as we walked down the stairs is another story... :)     Okay, how about some advice for anyone who may be interested in event planning as a future career?
E2:   Go to college and get a degree in something, anything.   Assist with the events for whatever social groups you join or jobs you hold.   The more you do, the better prepared you'll be for the future.   If you're ready to pursue a career in events, start by getting a job in food service, particularly special event catering.   It's a perfect place to learn about customer service, timing and the ins and outs of making a great event happen.

E1:  Great advice!   What about advice for brides who are just starting the planning process?   Any particular words of wisdom for where they should focus their time and/or money?
E2:  Make a list of priorities with your fiance.   This will help you know how to set your budget.   Seek out a planner early to help you have a realistic expectation for costs.   A planner will also help you know all of the categories you need to consider.

<--- That's Liz, on the left!

E1:  Any interesting trends in the industry that you love or conversely would love to see brides leave behind? 
E2:  Yikes.  This is true confessions!  I'm not a fan of the garter toss, mainly because it seems to embarrass people and my goal as a planner is to help people feel as comfortable as possible at the wedding.   I suppose the groom needs something to balance out the bouquet toss.   Hmmmm... I need to think of a new tradition to suggest here.   Maybe a shoe toss?

E1:  Another non-fan of the garter toss here.  On the other hand, a shoe toss could be a little dangerous.   I'm sure you'll come up with something!    Okay, one last, but very important question before we end today.   Many brides consider going on their own when it comes to planning their wedding.   What value does a wedding planner bring that the bride may not be thinking of when she is making this decision? 

         E1, very happy to have worked with E2, 
photo by her wonderful Aunt Lori----->

E2:   I'm so glad you asked this.   Brides normally want to go it on their own for two reasons:   1. They think they have enough time and skill that they don't need help.   2.  They think they don't have enough money to get help.   In response to the first reason, I think no matter how much time or skill in design/event planning a bride may have, if she's never planned a wedding, then she is in for a stressful surprise.  Weddings are a really big deal and like no other event known to mankind.   For this bride, it's best to consider the planner a partner.   The planner will support the bride through the planning process, allowing the bride to do as little or as much as she pleases.   Then the planner will be there on the big day to make sure the plans are carried out while the bride just enjoys.   For the bride with a small budget, a planner can save money--really.   I tell the truth.   A planner knows where to "shop" for vendors in all different price ranges, and can suggest ways to cut budget to make way for items that are more important to the bride and groom.

E1:   You know, I couldn't agree more with what you've said.    As a (self confessed) 'minor' control freak, while hard to let go, it was a huge relief for me to have someone else running the show so I could just totally be in the moment, enjoying my new husband and spending my time with family.     And I lied, I do have one more question.   How should interested brides get in touch with you for more information? 
E2:   Just give me a call at 828.808.8888 or email   I love to talk about weddings and get excited about each new client because every bride is unique and has fun, new ideas.   Oh, and I'm a HUGE facebooker.   Please join the fan page "Occasions by Emily".   I post new ideas, photos and more almost every day, sometimes several times a day!

E1:   This has been so fun getting to know a little more about you and the business!     I really appreciate you taking the time to sit down and talk with us.   It truly has been a pleasure.  

I hope everyone enjoyed our chat today!   I know that Emily would love your comments and / or questions.    Feel free to post them here or send directly to her.   

Wishing everyone a fabulous weekend!


  1. Lovely interview...really well done!

  2. Hello, I LOVE your banner, those colors are so happy!! I'm following from the Etsy forum. I would love it if you followed back. : )


  3. Finding the right catering company can make any event a breeze!


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