How long have you been a Wedding Planner?

I started working with my first client in early 2008, and my first wedding was in September 2008.  I have personally planned and executed over 400 weddings since then.  Briana has worked with me for 8 years, and Johnny has worked with me for 3 years.  We have over 700 weddings collectively on the team.  Daaaaaamn, that's a lot of weddings.

what is your biggest piece of advice for couples planning their wedding?

Hire. Professional. Vendors. Yes, it will cost more money, but it’s worth it. Oh, is it worth it. If one of your main priorities is having a smooth, low stress wedding, really consider hiring the most experienced professionals for your particular budget. As you are looking at Wedding Planners- are most of the pictures on their website without people in them? Those aren’t real weddings. They can plan a pretty “photoshoot”, but do they have the experience of hundreds of weddings in order to think ahead and know what will happen, know how guests will react to something, know exactly how long a family style meal for 160 guests takes? How about your DJ? You want a dance party, but want to hire your buddy who works mostly at clubs in Miami and has to rent all his equipment here… hire a professional, non-cheesy wedding DJ instead, and your experience will be a million times better, I promise.

 

how/why did you become a wedding planner?

I've always been very organized, empathetic and a bit bossy - all qualities I thought would make me a good Wedding Coordinator & Planner.  It wasn't until after my own wedding in 2007, where I had a wonderful Wedding Coordinator and saw what the profession entailed, that I really decided to give it a go.  I decided to start my own company right out the gate, so I could make my own rules, and never interned or assisted with another company.  I learned quickly with some serious fake-it-til-you-make-it.  It's been a wild ride since then, and I'm super confident that I can handle anything and everything your wedding (or Mom, or crazy Aunt) throws my way.  I think my calm demeanor and sense of humor helps out a bit too!

About 4 or 5 years ago, I decided to really niche down and focus only on the weddings that give me the most life; truly unique celebrations, big dance parties, dinners in the middle of the desert or long tables with a view of the beach at sunset, and really, just helping clients incorporate their own relationships and quirks, without feeling like they have to adhere to traditions that don't make sense to them.  Sometimes I feel like a Wedding Life Coach.  I love being there and giving clients "permission" to opt out of things they haven't enjoyed at other weddings.  No garter toss?  Sweet.  You don't want a cake?  Cool, how about an ice cream sundae station or fresh churros tray passed by sexy servers during dancing?  Let's use Pinterest for inspiration, but come up with some new ideas, too!

 

Can i see your portfolio?

Yes, all photos on this website, the BLOG, and the PORTFOLIO are from recent events I have personally planned and/or styled and/or coordinated.  AtE's work has also been published on several national wedding blogs such as STYLE ME PRETTY, 100 LAYER CAKE & 100 LAYER CAKE, CARATS AND CAKE, GREEN WEDDING SHOES, & much more.

(all caps are clickable- check 'em out!)

 

What is your favorite part of planning weddings?

I love helping each client plan, create, and discover his or her version of their best day ever.  Every single one is different, and they should be.  We attract really awesome, fun, and unique clients who themselves are versed in hospitality, and I feel like that's a testament to our reputation and personal style- bar managers, restauranteurs, hair & makeup artists, graphic designers, fine art photographers, CEO's, hotel managers, tattoo artists, wedding vendors, & a bunch of really cool lawyers, too - our client list is vast and for the most part, creative.  Having guests seek out me or a member of my team during a wedding and telling us it is the best wedding they've ever been to, or that our execution was flawless, is the proverbial icing on the (wedding) cake.  I mean... mic drop :)

 

are you licensed and insured?

There is NO licensing body for Wedding Planners, so you should probably question anyone saying they are a "Licensed Wedding Planner".  Our team is fully insured (please do not hire a Wedding Planner who is not!) with a $1m general, $2m aggregate liability policy, which satisfies any venue requirements we've ever encountered.

 

where are you based?

We are based in North San Diego County, but we operate locally in both San Diego and Palm Springs, meaning no travel fees are assessed for either location.  We've done hundreds of weddings in both awesome cities!  My personal goal is to someday relocate to Palm Springs, for at least for part of the year.  San Diego is home, but Palm Springs has my retirement lifestyle-oriented heart. 

 

We certainly feel we can execute a wedding wherever you are willing to take us!

 

what about DAY-OF coordination?  I JUST NEED SOMEONE TO COME AND SET STUFF UP.  It'll be really super simple & easy, i promise!

I really, truly, and wholeheartedly believe that no successful wedding was created in just one day.  Due to high demand, we have recently implemented a "3 month" package with Associate Coordinator Johnny Montes called The Big Day.  It's a coordination hybrid that will cover all your bases, and give you some pre-wedding access to Courtney as well.  2 for the price of 1!

Professionalism and experience comes at a higher cost, and I think of securing a professional (not hobby-ist, not friend) Wedding Planner as an investment into one of the coolest and most fun days of your life, an insurance policy of sorts. 

My team and I pull it all together, and manage the pieces of a wedding day with ease and grace.  We are prepared for everything; and I do mean everything.   Just know, with any package you choose, I am NEVER looking to take over your wedding.  It is still YOUR wedding.  My team and I just help to make it the best it can be.  

 

Do you offer design packages?

I feel like so much of design in the wedding industry is regurgitating events (fake and real) found on blogs and Pinterest, and telling clients what their wedding "should" look like, and I am not about that life!  It's YOUR wedding, not John and Jessica's wedding from Pinterest.  You may not realize it, but you already know what you like; you might just need a little help pulling it all together, and my planning packages include all the help you need to create the look you want within your particular budget.  It's truly all about finding the perfect vendor Dream Team to achieve your dream wedding style.  Working with me and your chosen florist and rentals provider, much of the "design" will be done.  I'd be happy to weigh in on linen, napkin, glassware, flatware, table and chair choices.  If you are still feeling lost, or truly have ZERO idea what you want, I am happy to offer a design package (The Look Package) at $1K.

While I know so many Wedding Planners are design focused, and that is an amazingly fun part of the job, most of my clients come to me to help them plan their wedding, design an overall experience & weigh in on logistics and wedding day management, rather than JUST focusing on the pretty stuff.  Let's talk about what you want your wedding to look like, AND what you want it to feel like!  AtE is best known for flawless execution and the most fun weddings in the biz.

 

do you take commission from the vendors you recommend?

Never have, never will.  Vendor recommendations are based on performance, style, budget, and personality.  This is a good question to ask potential Wedding Planners, it's a shady little industry secret.  If and when I am offered a commission, I always respectfully request that it be passed on to my client in the form of a discount.

 

How many people do you work with?

I always bring at least one Assistant Coordinator to every wedding with over ~40 guests.  The rest just depends on the individual wedding, and what it entails!  We always make sure we are fully staffed to execute the wedding as it needs to be executed.  My “assistants” are actually trained Wedding Coordinators as well, and are fully capable of taking over a wedding at any time, if necessity arose.

 

Do you have experience with same-sex/LGBTQ weddings?

My crew and I are extremely experienced with same-sex weddings.  All of the planning literature we have crafted is inclusive, and we like to challenge heteronormativity and gender roles in the wedding industry on a regular basis.  As a company, we have a strict rule that we would never recommend a vendor to ANY of our clients that wouldn’t work with ALL of our clients.  

 

Do you do weddings in __________ {insert city or place here}?

We welcome destination weddings and creative celebrations anywhere in the world!!   If you are looking for someone to execute a smooth, memorable, and fun event, while helping you add your own personal style and twist, please consider adding us to your vendor team, no matter where you are getting married.  Destination weddings are not always about finding someone local to direct you to their vendors, it's often about appointing a Manager to your vendor team who can lead the day with confidence and ease, and make you feel like a guest at your own wedding!

 

What is the average guest list you work with?

As far as guest lists go, as a team, we have done weddings ranging from no guests (seeeecret elopers!) to 450 guests.  I would say our average guest list is anywhere from 60 to 200 guests, but again, I am confident that we can manage just about anything.

 

i love it all... but yeahhhh, let's negotiate your price! 

I feel that our team's pricing is fair and competitive for the level of service provided. The package prices originate with my 10 years of experience planning weddings, the amount of hours that I put into each event and client relationship, and the fact that this is my full time job, which quite frankly allows me the time and ability to be there for my clients much more than someone who does this as a side hustle. I do not and cannot compare my pricing to that of other Planners, and will not be able to price match quotes from other service providers.  We all offer something a little different.

 

The truth is simple, I don’t want us to be the cheapest, I want us to be the best.  no wedding is a success until a guest seeks us out and tells us it was the best wedding they've ever been to [happens every time].

 

Please feel free to take advantage of my free consultation to see if we are a good fit for each other.  That way, you can more closely examine if the investment is worthy for your wedding.

PS... My favorite wedding-related "get what you pay for" image is below, courtesy of a local rental company- top photo is what a client of theirs wanted, and the bottom is what they got when they used a bargain company.  You can apply this to almost any aspect of a wedding.

day of.jpg

 

 

Can I afford a Wedding Planner?

It may sound cheesy, but can you afford to NOT have one?  You are more than likely spending a good chunk of money on your wedding day.  Having someone there to guide you, help you stay organized, recommend tried & true vendors, establish a timeline that works, flows, and makes sense, manage the wedding day, be your advocate, and so much more, is a small price to pay for your sanity.  And no, your Venue Coordinator is not the same thing.  I’d be happy to give you some examples of how they vary, while still being an important part of your day.  A large majority of my clients have said that my fees were the best investment they made for their wedding, and the best engagement gift they gave themselves. 

 

Are there any extra fees in your packages or pricing listed on your website?

No.  As long as the services you are wanting fit within the package parameters (and most people find a perfect fit in one of the packages), they are all-inclusive and you will not incur any additional fees.  Custom packages  are available as well, as long as you meet a minimum for full sized weddings, and especially for small weddings and elopements.  Always feel free to ask!

 

What is your payment schedule?  

I require a non-refundable retainer fee to secure your wedding date- up to 50% of your chosen package price.  It gets submitted along with your signed contract, and it retains services for your date.  The remaining fees are due 14 days before the wedding.  

 

 

As always, if you have any questions about package pricing or anything else, feel free to contact me!  

Don't be shy