Today, an interview with one of the DC area's very best wedding planners - Laura Auer of Wish Special Events. Laura is seriously focused on perfection, which makes us kindred spirits. Even her business cards list her title as "Perfectionist." Okay, Laura - here we go!
How did you get started in the wedding business?
I have a business degree and majored in special events at JMU. While the degree is great and all, I really got my start by volunteering for brides who needed wedding day help. I coordinated their wedding day in exchange for positive comments on local message boards and telling their friends. That was over four years ago and the rest is history!
What do you do when you are not working?
Working. Really! When you enjoy your career it's a pleasure to go to work every day. I recently picked up ballet lessons after a 10-year hiatus. I also have a husband, a parrot, and dog who keep me busy!
How would you describe your approach to weddings?
Most of the brides and vendors I work with tell me that I'm a calming force on the wedding day. My job is to be as cool as a cucumber so the bride feels like everything she planned is working perfectly. Of course that's never the case....there's always a handful of minor emergencies at EVERY wedding! I'm a busy bee on the inside but a calm and collected professional on the outside. I'm thrilled to say that the folks on my team are that way too.
What inspires you in your work?
Weddings are great because each one is different and reflects the bride or groom's personality. The people who hire me are the first source of inspiration. I always love when a client wants to incorporate some personal touches into the ceremony or reception. I recently had a couple who vowed to share their sushi, their umbrellas, and their bedroom comforter as part of their ceremony. Another couple had musician friends who performed an acoustic set for the cake cutting ceremony and the father/daughter dance. It's the little touches that keep life interesting and inspire me for the next event!
What do you find the most rewarding about your job?
I'm blessed to be constantly surrounded by happy people. The vendors I work with are successful folks who are pursuing their lifelong dream of running a small business. My clients are recently engaged and planning a wedding...one of the happiest times in most people's lives. How can you not feel great when you see love everywhere you turn?
What’s the one thing you wish everyone knew about you or your business?
A lot of brides don't realize that you can hire a wedding planner just to make sure the big day goes smoothly. Our Wedding Day Coordination service is very reasonably priced and provides great value for those brides who are comfortable planning the little details but don't want to manage things while the party is going on. It breaks our heart whenever we hear about a bride who had to resolve problems with the caterer, call the limo company, or set out her own place cards on the wedding day. After all that money you spend on the ceremony and reception, why not invest a little more so you can relax and enjoy it?
What do you think sets your company apart from other wedding planners?
Wish is unique in that we are a true team of planners. We have a staff of nine here in the DC area and are constantly working 'behind the scenes' with each other on problems. When one of us gets stuck for ideas or needs inspiration, we can rely on the team to help us out. Ultimately this provides a great planning experience for our brides as they get nine heads instead of one! It also allows us to book more weddings than other companies. That means we've worked with nearly every wedding vendor and venue in the entire DC area. Having that insider information and familiarity has really worked to our clients' advantage.
What do you love about weddings?
Weddings are such a joyous occasion and we're thrilled to be a part of them every weekend. The trends change quickly and keep things fresh so each event is different. It's a lot of quick thinking and creative problem solving. What's not to love about weddings?!
What do you hate about weddings? Haha - I knew this question was next! While every wedding has unexpected surprises, not all the surprises are good ones. I fondly remember the "snake wedding" where we had to chase Kingsnakes from underneath the tent before the reception began. I've also been caught in the pouring rain, put out fires caused by lawn decorations, and politely refused drunken advances from inebriated wedding guests (this unfortunately happens more than you think).
What is the coolest thing you’ve ever seen at a wedding? I remember one wedding where the bride and groom invited their guests to join them in a Second Line during the reception. Their families were from New Orleans and it was a great way to incorporate a little bit of home. Another couple wrote letters to each other and put them in a 'five-year box' to be opened and read on their fifth anniversary. More recently, Splendid Fare Caterers brought a cotton candy machine to a wedding and passed mini cotton candy sticks as a midnight snack. It's one of the bride's favorite sweets and all the guests were shocked!
What’s the best piece of advice you can give to couples planning a wedding? Budget, budget, budget! So often we see couples making poor financial decisions when booking their vendors. We had one bride who spent so much money on her venue that she couldn't afford a caterer! Decide on your guest list, figure out your budget, and only then should you start looking at venues, caterers, and photographers. There are a lot of great choices out there who provide phenomenal value but aren't as publicized or well-known. Just because you have a small budget doesn't mean you can't have a fabulous wedding!
Who is your favorite artist or band? Man, this one is a tough question! I'll just give a few of my favorites...Queen, Jimmy Buffett, Jack Johnson, Jason Mraz, Eric Hutchinson, Matt Nathanson, Brett Dennen, Matt Costa, Donovan Frankenreiter, The Beatles, The Beach Boys, Roy Orbison...the list goes on and on but that's a start. If you ever pass me driving you'll see me lip synching one of those guys. The top three songs most played on my iTunes are apparently "Presents to Send You," "Migration," and "Tin Cup Chalice." Parrotheads would be proud!
What is the worst song of all time?
I tend to hear "Brick House" at almost every wedding. I'm not sure why it's a popular reception song but I really can't stand it! Can anyone explain the appeal?
Open mic, final thoughts:
We recently just opened a new wedding planning company that's serving more cities. We're looking for weddings in Los Angeles, San Diego, or New York City and are offering great introductory rates. BlueCanaryEvents.com has all sorts of information on our planning services. I'm very excited to see where it goes!
Thanks, Laura! Fabulous information and advice here, we really appreciate it. You can see what Laura's latest adventure is on her blog, at http://www.wishspecialevents.com/blog.