It's Friday, and it's time for another wedding vendor interview!  Today, we talk with Maria Cooke of Ritzy Bee Events and author of the highly-acclaimed Ritzy Bee Blog.  Maria always seems to be on the cutting edge of everything - news, trends, you name it! This should be really interesting. Maria, I hope you're ready - here we go!

Maria Cooke of Ritzy Bee Events, Washington DC Wedding Planner

How did you get started in the wedding business? I have always had a love for parties and planning!  Even as a small child, I would give input to what my birthday party details would be.  After graduating from James Madison University, I worked as a corporate event planner and friends started asking for help with planning their weddings.  It quickly took off from there and I discovered how much I loved weddings! I decided to launch Ritzy Bee Events full-time, and I still love every minute of it.

What do you do when you are not working? I take full advantage of relaxing when I can!  I love decorating my place, spending time with friends/family, trying new restaurants and love shopping for event props/decor.  Relaxing at the beach with a good drink is bliss too!

How would you describe your approach to weddings? I believe I take an open minded approach and do not make any assumptions to what a client will like and want until I get to know them.  The wedding should be an expression of the couple -- not just a vision a planner has. I also believe every wedding should have at least one unique thing that guests have never seen before. These touches all make the event memorable and that's what I want most for my clients!

What inspires you in your work? I find inspiration for wedding planning in many areas... a color on a paint chip, an old book...  I am inspired by the entire story of the wedding couple -- their personalities, likes and style... and finding ways to reflect that in the details of their big day.

What do you find the most rewarding about your job? The biggest compliment I can receive from a client is that I helped make their day stress free and everything they imagined... that, to me, is the most rewarding part.

What's the one thing you wish everyone knew about you or your business? Even if someone is not able to work with us directly, we love being able to help planning couples {everywhere!} with ideas and inspiration on The Ritzy Bee Blog.  Wedding blogs have taken off in the past year and we are so fortunate to be among the top wedding blogs readers go to for inspiration.

What do you think sets your company apart from other wedding planners? I believe hiring a wedding planner is a luxury, but a wise investment -- you can't put a price tag on your wedding day peace of mind!  There are so many wonderful wedding planners in the DC area and we all are unique.  I really love the fact we approach weddings with a calm, fresh perspective for each couple and a focus on making the planning easy for our clients.  A big part of what we do is to act as a "sounding board" to our clients and that is key with making sure they get exactly what they want!

What do you love about weddings? Right after the ceremony, when the couple walks down aisle I love seeing their joyful expressions!  After months of planning I know they are both relieved and excited.

What do you hate about weddings? Guests who demand to be seated elsewhere... it's just plain rude and unnecessary!

What is the coolest thing you've ever seen at a wedding? Oooh tough one... I would say one of my favorite things was surprising guests leaving a late night wedding with a concession trailer outside where we served mini-hamburgers, fries, milkshakes & funnel cakes. People loved the treats "to go" after a long night of celebrating!

What's the best piece of advice you can give to couples planning a wedding? It's so easy to feel overwhelmed with all of the options and "eye-candy" out there, but you need to select what makes sense for you and your budget.  Put things into three categories: what you need, what you love and what you can live without.

Who is your favorite artist or band? I love music so it's a big range... everything from the Black Eyed Peas and Beastie Boys to Wilco, The Samples and U2.

What is the worst song of all time? "The Cha-Cha Slide" by Mr. C...  I'm convinced it could be a form of torture.

Open mic, final thoughts: I think it's easy to forget but so important to remember what a wedding is really all about... the marriage. It is so easy to get wrapped up in the planning and all of the fun details, but at the end of the day it's a celebration of their love!


[EVAN] Thanks so much, Maria!  That is some sage advice, I really appreciate you taking the time to share it with us.  Our brides love your blog, and you obviously love what you do!