Today, we sit down for a chat with Washington, DC area wedding planner Sara Bauleke of Bella Notte. We've done quite a bit of work with Sara over the last few years, and she's always great to work with! Sara, I hope you ate your Wheaties this morning -- it's question time...
How did you get started in the wedding business?
Well, we have to go back to my childhood (seriously, we do!). My mother’s a minister, so I grew up with weddings. My mom would always come home and give me a run down on how the wedding went. It’s great now, because some of my cautionary tales are from her - like the time the groomsmen drank a little too much before an outdoor ceremony and ended up fainting during the ceremony from the combination of alcohol and heat.
Jump ahead 20 years, to when I’d recently finished grad school. I discovered in my last semester of school that I didn’t actually enjoy the job I’d been anticipating going into post graduation. I had quite a few friends and acquaintances getting married at that time, so I ended up assisting them to fill the time until I got a job. To make a long story short, I never got another job but instead switched careers completely. I’ve been planning weddings ever since!
What do you do when you are not working?
I tend to be very low-key when I’m not working. I like to hang out with my friends and family, read a book by the pool or catch up on what’s on the Tivo. My newest obsession is playing tennis – I’m learning some actual technique and skill (limited skill, though!) that I never learned when I got basic instruction in high school.
How would you describe your approach to weddings?
My approach is very focused on each individual couple that I work with. I try to make each wedding into the ideal party for those specific clients. I spend time learning what each client’s definition of a great party is, since I don’t want to impose a certain event style or design aesthetic on my clients. Instead, I work with them to create an event that they are very comfortable with and that is reflective of their personalities.
What inspires you in your work?
Excited clients, especially those that want to try something a little different, inspire me. There’s nothing like being able to help clients create a wedding celebration that’s an expression of their own personalities and then seeing them enjoy the event on their wedding day.
What do you find the most rewarding about your job?
I’m always honored to bear witness to clients’ weddings, since a wedding is such a personal event. I’d say the most rewarding part of my job is watching the bride and groom relax and enjoy all the little moments that make up their wedding day. It’s wonderful to know they can relax since they’re confident that I have all the logistical details under control.
What’s the one thing you wish everyone knew about you or your business?
We’re fun! Seriously, I want my clients to actually have a good time when they’re working on their weddings and especially on the day of the wedding. These days it’s easy for brides and grooms to become stressed out by all the details that go into planning a wedding. We’ll work with you to get all that wedding planning minutia taken care of, but we’re going to make sure we have fun while we do it!
What do you think sets your company apart from other wedding planners?
There are a number of good wedding planners in the DC area who can handle the logistics of planning and executing a wedding (including us, of course!), so what sets us apart really is our philosophy and personality. We do offer a personal approach to each and every client we work with and really strive to create an event that’s reflective of the personalities of our clients. And, as I mentioned above, we really strive to make sure that the planning is a fun process while we’re guiding clients through it.
What do you love about weddings?
Weddings are often the only time in your life that you have all the people who are important to you from all the different phases of your life gathered in one place. I love seeing couples surrounded by all the people who have impacted their lives as they start a new phase of their life together.
What do you hate about weddings?
Couples spend a lot of time trying to please different people, including their parents, attendants and guests, which becomes overwhelming. I hate it when a couple becomes so busy addressing others concerns that they lose sight of the fact that their wedding day should be a celebration of the two of them, not an event that satisfies preconceived notions of what a wedding should be.
What’s the best piece of advice you can give to couples planning a wedding?
As clichéd as it may sound, don’t sweat the small stuff. Everything won’t go exactly as planned, but don’t worry about those things. If you enjoy yourself then your guests will too, and when a great time is had by all that’s a successful wedding.
Who is your favorite artist or band?
I have very eclectic music tastes and enjoy a variety of artists. Lately I’ve had Green Day and the most recent Kid Rock CD on rotation in the car, but I’m also a huge fan of Edie From Ohio, which is a local Virginia band.
What is the worst song of all time?
Oh, how do I even begin to choose? I have a hatred of group dances, so the songs that accompany them are up there. I really hate the Chicken Dance (unless you’re at a roller rink!) – does that count as a song?
Open mic, final thoughts:
It’s so easy to get overwhelmed by preconceived notions of what a wedding should be and what elements it needs to have in it, but the wonderful thing about getting married now is that you have the option of ignoring many of the traditions that may not appeal to you. Before planning your wedding you should think about what type of event you would like to have, and then go about planning that celebration, even if it’s not what might traditionally be considered a normal wedding. If you plan a day that you will enjoy, the fun you are having will be contagious and your family and friends will enjoy it as well!
[EVAN] Thanks, Sara! That's some great advice. I've always admired how you're willing to put yourself "in the line of fire" and deal with a difficult parent or guest or vendor for your brides - it really does help them stay stress-free. Thanks so much for talking with us, and we'll see you out there!!