A friendship begins, then dating, love grows deeper, he proposes and then she says “yes!!!”. Once that “yes” is said, wedding planning begins. Some brides know what they want but most have no idea where to begin and who to contact, but either way the process of planning a wedding is way more work then they realize. As a wedding photographer I want only the best for my couples. I want them to enjoy the months of planning. I want them to know that they can have the wedding of their dreams and they don’t have to DIY their wedding to make things easier or cheaper. (Don’t get me wrong their are artists and other creatives who can do DIY, but most aren’t cut out for it, and I mean that in the best way). I want them to be stress free and fully confident that their wedding day is going to be everything they hope for plus some!!
As a photographer I work along wedding designers, coordinators, florists, DJ’s, food vendors, locations vendors and the list goes on and on. How do you know who to hire or why? Where do you begin? That’s why I am sharing this series! I want you to know the best and why! For me, weddings are always the best when you have your favorite vendors by your side on a wedding day. I know that my couples are being taken care of and that the stress level is so low that you can breath and laugh on your wedding day! My favorite vendors are the ones that all have the same heart for the couple, esthetically are on the same page and who give their best and are willing to go above and beyond! This blog post begins a series of interviews with the vendors I trust, that I am inspired by, and vendors who I believe are some of the best in the industry!!
So to all my couples, this is for YOU! This series will make your engagement a bit more freeing and will give you opportunity to enjoy the last day’s of dating before marriage begins!! These people will make all your dreams come true!!! No one deserves anything less!!
Amy is kicking of the series. Amy is a dream come true to me and to New Mexico and beyond. I can speak for fellow photographers, florists and more! Her and I read each other on a level that gives us goosebumps. Esthetically we get each other. Her attention to detail is brilliant. Her love for her couples is true and she goes so above and beyond for each of them. Weddings/events designed by her are truly beautiful to photograph. You will not regret hiring her and you will probably walk away with a forever friendship.
Here is more about Amy with For the Love
Tell us a little about yourself and how you got to where you are:
Oh gosh, that’s always a tough question to answer. In the context of this interview I am a wedding and events coordinator & designer in the “wilds” of the southwest high desert (located in ABQ) but on the daily I am mama to two intensely creative and beautiful kiddos and wife to the most supportive fella a girl in this profession could possibly hope for. I am a simple, earthy girl at heart. Denim is one of my love languages and it’s a rare day that you won’t find me in vintage Levi’s, a cozy tshirt, linen apron and moccasins. I feel like all decisions (good and bad) lead us to our current place but I can not deny that there has been an element of serendipity and luck that has landed me where I’m at. Also, I believe that you reap what you sow (perhaps due to my great affinity for plants and gardening) – I put my heart and soul into everything I do and I honestly feel that the mindful intention I put into my work is reflected in my output. Plus I just really love my job! It’s a great honor to work with people preparing for their wedding day. And being there in those really special and intense moments with them?…there is nothing better!
When did you first identify your talent for wedding/event design?
I think I have an ambidextrous brain so I am incredibly well suited for this profession! I can process and execute all of the organizational and logistical components of this work but I am also very creative and have a trained eye for form and visual ordering. Plus I seem to thrive under high stress scenarios and am known for maintaining my calm under pressure. I totally just get my Zen on. 😉
I fell into this work purely out of luck and circumstance and met many like minded folk (like Tish) that supported and understood my vision from the start. I feel like I draw a certain client and those clients are always the ones I want to work with. It most simply and lovingly is a case of “it grows as it goes”.
What is a common misconception about wedding/event designers? What is the difference between DIY and hiring a designer?
Hmmmmm…I think the face of every wedding planner/designer I know shows ALL THE THINGS that they’re thinking about/planning for/conceptualizing…honestly it’s a heady job! And a heavy job too as in long hours, tedious, laborious and often at the mercy of so many uncontrollable circumstances that require our quick and immediate action. I think the current social media clime has mostly eliminated some prescribed J Lo wedding planner idea but some may still be surprised to learn that there is dirt underneath our perfectly manicured nails and a whole lot of sweat to our grind. This work isn’t for the faint of heart! Just a few weeks ago I was lugging a cart full of candles and a large wicker peacock chair over my head through a wilderness just to help create a beautiful photograph…I’m not sure that’s how most perceive this work but it is for sure the reality of the job.
What is your process when talking with a bride/groom or someone looking to plan an event?
Honestly it’s different for every couple but this is one of the many areas I’m hoping to refine. I feel that so much of what I do is based on a very personal connection with my clients, I really want to get to know them – how they met, when they fell in love, what the proposal was like… And from there I dive into things like favorite movies, music, food, where they shop for clothing and home goods, personal style, and then of course more specifically the vision for their wedding day. I find that latter part has a tendency to change (often drastically) over the course of many months so it’s often a matter of really uncovering their personal sensibilities from the layers of pinned images and wedding blog inspiration to get at what is truly meaningful and important to them. This typically takes place over several coffee or cocktail dates (or over the phone, Skype if planning from a distance) where we sit together and really get to know each other. It’s also important to me that my clients receive realistic information about their budgets and estimated expenses, I spend a lot of time with them figuring out how to get the most bang for their buck. I have some what of a cheat sheet for the focus areas that I’ve found to be the most consistent formula for a well rounded, well executed event. Each of these “categories” touches on a sensory impression that I feel allows guests a more full and jubilant experience. I try not to miss any available opportunity to engage, entertain, and elevate guests to that same magical plane that my bride and groom are at. I find that the time I spend with them, which may in abundance of the norm, really helps me hone in on exactly how to make that happen. It’s a special thing to create these sorts of memories for people and I feel very honored when I’m hired to do so.
How would you describe your aesthetic?
Very earthy, eclectic, somewhat minimal. I draw a ton of personal inspiration from nature and my desert surroundings. I’ve heard my wedding style regarded as boho which I suppose I can own to a certain extent. I would also say some buzz words are Organic, Artful, Layered but refined, and on occasion kinda Hip. 😉
When planning a wedding, how do you go about staying true to each couple individually?
Well, given the above and my belief that like draws like, I would say that I vibe pretty strongly with the people that hire me, so those infusions of my own personal aesthetic are often what they’re drawn to in the first place. But I stray true to each couple individually by really listening to and honoring their voices in the design and planning process. I like to remind them that I’m simply the conduit through which their ideas flow and come to life. I will often advise for or against ideas if they aren’t realistic within a certain budget or if it’s not something that would fit within the confines of a selected venue. I will also 100% advise my clients of situations that have and have not worked at certain venues or with particular vendors – I’m pretty candid in that regard. I want them to have the best experience they can possibly have and I have no problem speaking up when they’re headed down a path that I know from experience to be a bit bumpy. All weddings are a magical experience that highlight a love story between two people and ceremoniously bonds them to each other. I just help bring it to life.
What are three tips of advice that you can give to a bride/groom or someone planning their wedding or event?
Tip #1 – Pinterest is not the end all be all when it comes to planning your wedding. And having said that I should add that I have a love/hate relationship with the platform but I do still use it because it is a fast, organized and efficient way to visually communicate ideas. However, what I’m experiencing is a severe disconnect in the glossy images we’re being served as inspiration and the available budget to create these types of scenarios. Often it’s incredibly high end weddings that are the desired examples (which don’t get me wrong, if you have the budget WE CAN TOTALLY GO THERE) but the reality is 99% of people cannot afford these types of weddings and it’s really frustrating for someone in the business of creating dreams to let my clients know the reality of what their budgets can afford. SO, my advice – start with a clean slate. If you’re going to pin things as inspiration for your wedding pin images that stir your soul that have NOTHING to do with weddings. Pin food, pin interior inspiration, pin travel destinations you’ve been to or would love to see, pin textiles, clothes, colors, objects from nature and then as you start to plan your wedding pull from that source of inspiration for color palettes, design influences, menus, entertainment, etc… it is an incredibly organic process and will allow for you to make decisions based on what truly moves you and not what Pinterest is telling you is trending. Which leads to…
Tip #2 – Choose your vendors wisely for they are the creators of your vision. This really can’t be reiterated enough. Be extremely mindful and observant of their aesthetic, does it jive with your own? Are you choosing a certain vendor because they are cheaper than another that may be a better fit for you? This is me being completely frank and candid here but there is a definite demarcation of vendor types – if their body of work only showcases ballroom weddings and you want a farm to table reception in the middle of a field they are not the right vendor for you! Do not be afraid to reach out and communicate to the vendors doing the type of work you like, even if they are more expensive than the others. I speak from experience, if I really vibe with a client that may not be able to afford my full asking price I have no problem creating a rate that works for both of us. If you love them, they’re likely to really love you and be willing to work with you!
Tip #3 – As someone who once said that I would never get married and if I did I would elope (which I sort of did..but that was long before I got into this biz, lol), I understand how the stress of planning a wedding can supersede the fun and excitement of it. But I hope you will never lose site of the reason for the occasion. It’s all for the love. And it is absolutely 100% my goal to take any stress from the planning process off your shoulders. But I do think it is important to do your homework regarding the local wedding market and understand the average cost for hosting a wedding within that marketso that your budget goals for your wedding will be built upon a realistic foundation. Hiring industry professionals to assist you may seem like an unnecessary or extraneous expense, especially if your budget is tight, but we are very skilled at finding creative solutions that may end up saving you in the long run. Also, hosting an event is a numbers game. The more people you invite, the more money it will cost. Often I advise guests to pare down their guest lists if their budgets are stretched so far that hosting a larger wedding will result in a less than satisfactory experience for themselves and their guests. Possibly the best tip I can offer (and I CANNOT emphasize this enough) – hiring professionals to help you manage things on the DAY OF your wedding (if nothing else) is worth it’s weight in gold!!! I have set up weddings in all sorts of different venues and under every imaginable circumstance and it is always a ton of work, even the simplest set up requires accurate timing and strategy. I’m never one for scare tactics but I have seen one too many DIY weddings go south – centerpiece flowers wilting, vendors not showing up on time or at all, and stressed out family members/couples trying to do it all only to look frazzled and tired in their wedding photos. Hiring professionals to help manage your day will insure that you have the opportunity to focus solely on what you’re there to do. Get married.
Why should they hire a designer?
For the sake of clarification there is a difference between an event designer and a wedding planner/coordinator. Event designers assist in creating the visual direction for an event – from designing paper goods, menu of food items, entertainment acts, curation and fabrication of backdrops and displays and everything in between! Coordinators/planners help assist with more of the logistical components – time lines, vendor management, budget assessment, and of course being on site the day of the wedding to make sure all flows smoothly. Luckily my company can do both! I have different packages available based on the needs of my couples and what services they would like. I believe I’ve probably drilled home the importance of hiring a day of coordinator but hiring an event designer is also really important from a visual standpoint because we are charged with keeping ALL the various details in check while also making sure there is visual continuity and consistency through out. Weddings are so much more detailed than ever before and the sky truly is the limit when it comes to creative applications for invitations, welcome gifts, backdrops and escort card displays, place cards, favors, clever food service and the over arching vibe of an event. From that stand point I think couples that hire designers to help with their wedding have the benefit of walking into a magical environment created just for them and their guests that, from start to finish, well represents their union and who they are as a couple. As I mentioned, I have a bit of a formula that I use that helps insure that my couples and their guests are having the time of their lives – and not to say that all weddings that do not hire a designer are flops but you can sense the difference in an event where guest experience is well considered.