Hey JCM Photography friends, fam, and followers! For this blog we wanted to switch it up a little bit and put the focus on one of our dear friends and her amazing business! Introducing Allison Taylor with WNC Weddings & Events! We wanted to do something helpful and outside the box for our couples and prospective clients currently in the planning stages of their wedding! We were fortunate enough to sit down with Allison and ask her a few questions interview style for this blog! So read on, take notes and if you have any questions we did not cover, be sure to contact Allison through her website at: http://www.wncweddings.net/home.html
JCM: Allison, first off, thank you for taking the time to meet with us, as we know you are tremendously busy this time of year with weddings and other events here on the rise in Asheville! Let’s go ahead and hop right in because I know our readers want to know what you know and that is, how to better plan their wedding!
Our first question to get things started, Allison, you don’t have to convince Jenny and I as we have seen the amazing difference a wedding planner can make throughout the process and on the day of when it comes to a wedding, but naturally, Why hire a wedding planner?
Allison: "Most people don’t plan a wedding every day, and there are so many moving components to a successful event. We know the area, and we know vendors, so when we refer to vendors, the clients can be assured that they are getting true professionals that do an amazing job. Planners help in organizing all the details, and assuring that every aspect of the event has been thought through - from the rental items and decor, to the vendors, to the timelines, and making sure that any gaps that aren’t provided by the venue are fulfilled. Then, on the day-of, we are there to be the point of contact for vendors, an to make any executive decisions needed so that the bride, groom, and their friends and family can relax and enjoy the day. There are almost always unexpected challenges that pop up at every event, and we are there to calm any chaos, and to provide solutions to those challenges."
JCM: This next question may seem counterintuitive to some as many of today’s brides and grooms are paying for everything themselves, but our second question, is how can hiring a wedding planner actually end up saving you money?
Allison: "We work with our clients to determine what their budgets are, and to make recommendations to vendors that fit within those budgets. We also make sure that there are not any unexpected expenses that can blindside a couple. For example, when choosing a venue, it’s not all apples to apples with pricing. Some venues include tables, chairs, place settings, and linens. Others do not. So, even though the venue may be less expensive, by the time the rental order costs are added in, the overall cost could be higher. We also have experience working with creative solutions to cut costs, depending on what’s most important to a couple - some find the food to be more important, while others would rather splurge more on decor. We want to do our best to help a client find the resources that they need within the budget that they have allowed - and our years of experience give us the insight needed to balance those requests."
JCM: Allison, one of the things we’ve seen with some of the venues in Asheville and the surroundings areas, is that they will offer day of coordination services. This question is a two-parted but would you mind explaining the difference between wedding planning vs. day of coordination and would there be a benefit to having both or would it be overkill?
Allison: "Although day of coordination often includes at least a little pre-planning, wedding planning tends to include more services such as assistance in making a venue selection, vendor referrals, assistance in developing rental orders, assistance with design and decor, communicating with vendors and the venue regarding logistics prior to the day, providing checklists to clients who are managing any aspects on their own, and much more. WNC Weddings & Events works with each client to develop a customized package, and we can offer as much (or as little) assistance as might be required. So, it is certainly not overkill to have both, depending on the client’s specific needs. We frequently collaborate with venue-provided day of coordinators to fulfill any gaps in services provided. It’s also worth noting that many venues that offer an on-site coordinator, do so to cover any venue logistics (such as parking, power, lighting, facilities, etc.), which is much different than coordinating setup and decorating, the ceremony, and the reception."
JCM: By the time you add up the venue, wedding photography, wedding planning/coordination, catering, cake, hair, make-up, dress, etc. most couples find that a wedding can become expensive rather quickly. In your professional experience, for a couple trying to do a “Do it yourself” project for their wedding to save money, what would you say is generally the easiest thing to take on without necessarily hiring a professional?
Allison: "Well, I wouldn’t necessarily say that it’s easy, but one great way to cut costs is to come up with DIY centerpieces. Which can be a lot of work, but for the right clients, it can be a fun project. This can include having friends or family arrange fresh wildflowers for the tables, rather than having a florist manage that aspect. Another option, if the venue offers a nice sound system, is to have a musically inclined friend manage a play list. I’ve seen too some great successes with DIY favors for guests, and family-hosted dessert bars in leu of cake. I’m also happy to work with what I call “volunteer assistance” (friends and family) who what to assist with setup/decorating and breakdown/cleanup to save costs with my staff."
JCM: Weddings and the wedding industry are constantly evolving, what are some of the current trends you are seeing now with weddings vs when you first started?
Allison: "This May marks my 6th year in business, and I’m always excited to see new trends appear. It’s fun to mix things up and to help couples come up with unique approaches to their special day. I definitely see more non-traditional touches that really personalize the experience for everyone. I am also excited to see golds and rose golds, geometric shapes, and varying textures and patterns in the decor and the linens - versus the burlap, mason jars, and lace that dominated the scene around here for several years."
JCM: Obviously the right couple, hiring the right planner can make all the difference, but with your experience, what would you say is the thing you see most as sort of an “ah haa!” moment for couples on their wedding day. I.E. What is the one thing that most often occurs that they didn’t necessarily plan for?
Allison: "The biggest thing I see consistently is that couples greatly underestimate the amount of time and energy that goes into setting up the reception - especially with venues that do not offer the tables, chairs, linens, and place settings. So, having a professional involved to assure that enough time and staff are available make sure that the setup is complete on schedule, and that friends and family aren’t exhausted before the ceremony has even begun. Aside from that, it’s more of the accumulation of all of the smaller details that most people don’t account for, and that a professional planner will make sure that the client is aware of. And then, there are always the unexpected challenges that need to be dealt with during any part of the day, and it most certainly helps to have a professional on hand to navigate the options for resolving those challenges without upsetting the bride and groom."
JCM: In addition to hiring a professional planning company with a stellar reputation, like WNC Weddings & events, what would you say are the other biggest things to not skimp on in order to ensure you not only have a beautiful wedding, but also an great experience?
Allison: "The most chaos I’ve seen at weddings tends to stem from sub-par catering, so that’s where I really stress choosing a company with a stellar reputation. Not all caterers are created equal, and one with lower costs might be skimping on staffing or quality to provide that lesser cost. So, that’s where I encourage my clients to ask lots of questions, and to focus on all aspects of that service - the quality of the food, menu options, staffing and services provided, and even the presentation of the food. When guests have to wait too long to eat because the food service isn’t ready on time, don’t have proper assistance in clearing plates after the meal, or can’t find beverages such as water when needed, then the experience definitely suffers."
JCM: With all the weddings and events you’ve been a part of over the years, you must have seen it all by now! (lol) What are some of the little ‘behind the scenes’ things you do on the day of a wedding to ensure everything runs as smooth as possible?
Allison: "Oh, goodness - that’s a tricky one because there is so much that goes on! Throughout the day, we are constantly coordinating with vendors and the venue to assure that everyone’s details are coming together. We distribute any final payments to vendors so that the client’s don’t have to keep up with that. We are constantly watching the time and the timeline to assure that everything possible is being done to stay on schedule, including prompting the bride and groom for those primary reception activities (first dance, cutting of the cake, etc.). We help bustle dresses after the ceremony. We keep a kit to provide any items that might be needed - safety pins, duct tape, bobbie pins, hammers, scissors, twine, zip ties, chalk, etc. We pitch in with filling water on tables or clearing plates if needed. We’ll hustle to make any last-minute changes to accommodate weather needs. Basically, we’re on hand to do anything and everything needed that might pop up - either expected or unexpected."
JCM: This one is less business, more personal, but what is your favorite thing about a wedding day?
Allison: "I’d have to say that my favorite thing about a wedding day is similar to most people who work in this industry - seeing people who love each other celebrate such a special milestone amongst their friends and family. The positive energy that swirls though the air during such a celebratory event is contagious. Aside from that, I’m kinda an OCD person, who loves attention to detail and organizing things. So, my second favorite thing is seeing all of the vast array of details come together for an organized event. I also like calming chaos, so keeping everything moving along with a positive attitude, despite those unexpected challenges that always pop up, is also something else I love."
JCM: Holy cow! Are we at 10 questions already? When we came up with this idea, I thought for sure I’d run out of questions but now I think I have more (lol). Allison, forgive me for the cliché of our last question, but what is the one piece of advice you would give to any bride/couple currently in the planning process of their wedding?
Allison: "I don’t know that I can narrow that down to one thing! First and foremost, I suggest that all couples spend at as much time planning their marriage as they do their wedding. The wedding is one day only, and no matter what happens during that day, the marriage is what really matters when all is said and done. On the actual planning front, my other piece of advice is to choose vendors who you trust. These people will be working together to deliver the very best for the couple’s special day - and a wedding is such an intimate look into that couple’s personal lives. Having professionals by your side to help you throughout that process will make all the difference."
JCM: Allison, thank you again for your time and willingness to help all of the amazing couples out there currently planning their weddings! I know we name dropped your website as a route of contact earlier, but are there any other platforms/options for others to get ahold of you if they are wanting to know more about your services or they have a question for you?
Allison: "Absolutely! In addition to my website, you can also follow us on Instagram (@wncweddings) and Facebook (Facebook.com/WNC Weddings). Or, contact me directly at 828-553-7718 or email@example.com."
JCM: Perfect! I'm sure you got plenty of people thinking tonight, so expect some emails!
Thanks as always for following along and we hope this has been helpful in your planning process!!!
-Joe & Jenny