Behold! For your reading pleasure, please insert our interview with wedding planner/floral artist/author/eco-warrior Katie Martin into your mind. Katie is the CEO of Elegance and Simplicity Wedding and Event Designers, and a longtime friend. Katie's work ethic and business savvy are really remarkable, it seems like she has a million different things going on all at the same time -- it's jaw-dropping. In addition to running a both a full-time wedding consulting business and a full-time floral design firm, she's also currently authoring a book (or two, I think!), as well as being a featured public speaker on eco-friendly weddings and running seminars to help companies "go green." She's also the founder and director of the Washington DC Couture Wedding Consortium, the national US Green Wedding Consortium, and the national US Couture Wedding Consortium, as well as providing leadership and guidance for the more than 15 city and region-specific Couture Wedding Consortiums she's helped establish across the country. Katie, I hope you're ready for some tough questions, here we go!
How did you get started in the wedding business? This is always a long story, but I will try to summarize. My love for weddings started when I learned how to make wedding cakes in 1994 and made them for friends while I was a missionary back (1996-98). When I returned back to the States in 1998, I had 3 friends who were getting married – so I decided to help! Helping turned into the Elegance & Simplicity brand!
What do you do when you are not working? Bikram yoga, walking, reading, writing, baking and home improvement stuff. My favorite thing to do – spend time with my family! Most of my friends and family will tell anyone that I have a hard time sitting still – I love being active!
How would you describe your approach to weddings? My approach is simple – I listen! We like to work with other wedding professionals like we are all a team the day of a wedding. I always take the time to get to know the vision of each couple (and their families), find out their favorite wedding elements and get to work! The tricky part is matching the right wedding professionals to the style, budget and vision of each couple.
What inspires you in your work? Color and personal items! I love the use of color and weaving it through all the elements in a wedding! I absolutely adore it when a bride brings in a family heirloom and wants to work her wedding around this one tiny object of her affection. In the end – it really is the couple that inspires me; it’s their wedding day!
What do you find the most rewarding about your job? The most fantastic thing about being a wedding planning is fulfilling a bride’s dream. However, as a sentimental kinda gal, I love being the first person who gets to congratulate the couple as they walk down the aisle after being “just married”. It is a thrill like no other! They will always remember that moment!
What's the one thing you wish everyone knew about you or your business? I wish everyone knew how much heart and soul I put into my work and how my staff works so hard. All of us take each and every one of our weddings personally. No matter if we are working 5 hours or 22 hours straight on a wedding day – we love the thrill of creating new things every single weekend!
What do you think sets your company apart from other wedding planners? We are the only wedding planning firm in the DC metro area & the Dominican Republic that does both event planning and floral designs in-house with an eco-friendly & stylish edge. We focus on providing design advice to create interesting and stunning events while reducing waste at the same (without compromising a bride’s vision, style or budget).
What do you love about weddings? I LOVE doing multi-cultural weddings and being a part of someone’s love story. There is a certain privilege in being part of someone’s wedding day. Just like the invitation in the mail to the guests, I get excited about working with a couple to help make their vision a reality!
What do you hate about weddings? The hardest thing for me as a planner is to see people in uncomfortable situations. Weddings are the one place where everyone comes together (for better or for worse) - other than births and funerals. I wish I could take away awkward situations for extended families at weddings. I hate to see people in pain at weddings (especially the bride) when it comes to any kind of family rift or general uncomfortable situation.
What is the coolest thing you've ever seen at a wedding? The coolest thing I have ever seen at a wedding was an amazing group of Zimbabwe dancers doing a traditional dance while singing along with just one amazing drummer. Beautiful clothing, voices and artistry in motion. Wishing I could bottle that kind of beauty.
What's the best piece of advice you can give to couples planning a wedding? Make sure you take at least 5 minutes prior to your ceremony alone to breathe in the absolute beauty of the day (yes – even if it is raining). After all the vendor meetings, confirmations, tastings, planning and dreaming... be sure to see the reception before your guests enter. Take another 5-10 minute break alone with your new spouse. You will never have that day back again!
Who is your favorite artist or band? Not a soul will ever be able to touch Sade when it comes to love songs. I don’t have one specific favorite artist – as I really fall in love easily with lyrics more than the artist. A few artists that I have been diggin’ lately – Sara Tavares, Iron & Wine, Fonseca and of course, my brother’s band Boxcar Collision!
What is the worst song of all time? I hesitate to say this – as almost every wedding band and DJ plays this (at a bride’s request) – but I cannot stand Journey’s Don’t Stop Believin’at a wedding. I like the song – but the lyrics are completely inappropriate for a wedding!!!!!
Open mic, final thoughts: Always remember not to take your wedding so seriously that you forget the day you got engaged! Stay excited with butterflies and your marriage will likely follow suit!!!
[EVAN] Thanks, Katie! Some sage advice there, I think sometimes the planning part gets so stressful that people forget to have fun with it. Thanks for taking the time to do this interview, and we'll see you at the next wedding!!