John Maher: Hi, I’m John Maher. I’m here with Lauren Muise, manager and wedding planner at The Essex Room in Essex, Massachusetts. Today, we’re talking about a wedding planner’s thoughts on being engaged. Welcome, Lauren.
Lauren Muise: Thank you so much for having me.
John: Sure. So, Lauren, tell me a little bit about your job as a wedding planner and the coordinator for The Essex Room.
Lauren: It’s pretty fun when people get engaged. Obviously, one of the first things that they do is look at different venues so that they can narrow down their dates. So, with the couples that book here, we’re really involved from the very beginning of their engagement, and their journey to getting married. So, I’m really here right from the get-go. I give them initial tours of the space, we talk food, we talk bar, we talk all the decor and fun stuff. When they book with us, we schedule tastings, I’m here to help them navigate booking their vendors and all that kind of stuff, help them orchestrate the rehearsal if they’re going to do a ceremony with us. Then of course for the day of their wedding, I am here to make sure that everything goes smoothly and based on the timeline that we have come up with over the months of planning, and all that kind of stuff.
A Wedding Planner’s Role
John: Right. So, you let them know, hey this is what’s coming up next, or if they have any questions, you’re the one that they’ll come to and ask the questions to and that sort of thing.
Lauren: Yeah, I’m always here if they have questions, because sometimes you have shorter engagements where we have to get information really quickly, or you have stretched out ones. So, we do have a general timeline of when we set up appointments to go over specific things, but I’m always here in case they have any questions and stuff like that, but we do follow up with them to make sure that they’re staying on the right track throughout the entire process.
John: Right, right. I understand that you’re engaged to be married now yourself, so congratulations.
Lauren: Thank you very much.
John: As a wedding planner, what is that like to now be planning your own wedding?
Lauren: It is a little odd, but it is very exciting. Obviously, I’ve dreamed about getting married myself, and it is very special to be a part of other people’s days. I think it has really helped me connect with people when they’re here for tours, is very exciting to talk about my experience, and I do think a lot of people do enjoy hearing about how my engagement experience has been.
Expert Wedding Planning Advice
John: Right. Do you find them asking you like, well what are you choosing to do, or what’s your wedding day going to be like so that they can like get that idea? They figure probably you’re going to make all the right choices, and they’ll maybe want to do what you’re doing.
Lauren: I think that some people do have that initial thought. I think a lot of questions get asked about vendors, so obviously if they book here with us, you have to bring in like your DJ, photographer. We don’t have specific people that you have to use, you are free to bring in your own vendors. So, they definitely ask me about where I found out information, and who I would recommend. That’s one of the first questions people always ask me is have you booked your photographer yet? Have you booked your DJ? All that kind of stuff, but I think overall, it’s really helped me connect more with the potential clients.
John: Right, right. You have a little more in common now.
Lauren: Yeah, exactly.
Narrowing Down Wedding Choices
John: Do you think that having experience as a wedding planner is making it easier, or harder to plan your own wedding? Is it almost more difficult that you have so many ideas, and so many different things that you’ve seen over the years?
Lauren: I think that it is helping a lot. I think there’s definitely pros and cons, but mostly I do think that it has helped me. I think I have a good sense of what my style is, and what is really important to me when it comes to the weddings. So, when it comes to seeing so many different styles, that hasn’t really complicated anything, but it has helped me some specific things I have thought of are, like, budget. I think I’ve had to see a lot of people navigate what’s important to them, and I know price point of rental specifically. So a lot of our clients consider bringing in like china and linens and all that kind of stuff, so when I was building my budget initially, since I’ve actually had to place those orders and coordinate them, I knew realistically what I would be able to spend or how much it was going to cost me, which I think a lot of brides and grooms initially they have these visions of their dream wedding, but they have no idea what it’s going to cost them.
So, that helped me come back to reality a little bit about okay, this is really what I’m willing to spend, and I know what things are just going to cost way too much money and I have to realize that that’s just not going to work realistically.
Spending Money on What’s Most Important
John: Right, right. You probably have some ideas of like maybe with the china thing, I don’t know. Some ideas that like okay, I know that that’s an expensive thing to add on the fancy china, but I’ve seen the regular place settings that we have here at The Essex Room, and I know that they’re totally fine and I don’t need to spend that extra money.
Lauren: Totally. Totally, exactly and that’s honestly what I do with the clients that have conflicts about that. I can help them see where the added value is. Again, when I’m planning my own wedding, it’s been easier for me to see where the value is and things, because I know how important it truly is to the day or how not important it is to how the day is going to turn out.
John: Like nobody is even going to notice that or see that thing.
Lauren: Exactly. Exactly. Yeah, but I think also it has been a little bit challenging because specifically with like food vendors, I’m having a hard time knowing who I want to pick for a caterer if I don’t go with Woodman’s, because I know how good we are when it comes to service. So, it’s like my expectations are so high, so it’s like I don’t even know how I would choose anybody else, because I know what we do when we host weddings.
John: Right. It would be just this unknown factor if you went with somebody else.
Lauren: Exactly. Yeah, but I guess that’s a good thing too.
Don’t Get Overwhelmed
John: Right, right. What are some of the other things that you’ve learned from coordinating so many weddings over the years, and seeing so many wedding days play out? What are the things that are now informing those choices that you’re making for your own wedding day?
Lauren: I think that there’s two kind of brides. There’s brides who just breeze through in the day of, they just go with the flow. They’re not meticulous about how certain things have to be. Then there’s some brides who are very, very structured and organized. I think I’m more of one of the structured and organized brides. Obviously being a planner, I think that that’s important. So, based on my experience on seeing how brides have handled the day, I think it’s going to be super important for me to just have my list of things that are important, and have a team like bridal party that’s going to help me accomplish that. One of the biggest issues I’ve had is deciding who is actually going to be in my bridal party. I’ve seen some brides here who have had these big huge parties, and it just ended up overwhelming them in the day. So, I think for me it’s important to just have a small intimate group that’s going to know what’s important to me on the day of, and helped me get those things accomplished.
John: Right, right. So, keeping it a little bit smaller and not letting the wedding party get out control in terms of size. That’s one thing.
Lauren: Yeah, exactly. I think a lot of couples do have that conflict. They know and love so many people that they want to be in that group, but I think you have to sit down at the end of the day and be like, they’re obviously going to be at the wedding so hopefully it’s not an issue to not have them actually walking down the aisle in this kind of situation.
John: There’s probably ways to get them involved in your wedding day as well, without it necessarily having to be a part of the wedding party. There’s lots of other things that are going on, whether it’s at the ceremony, or doing readings say or some things like that. So, you can get people involved and you can find a way to get them involved, but they don’t necessarily have to be in the wedding party.
When to Hold the Rehearsal
Lauren: Yeah, for sure and I’m definitely taking that into consideration when planning my own. Another thing that was important to me again, based on my experience I see a lot of people get nervous about having the rehearsal like a day or two in advance. They want to do it just the day before. I think it’s so nice to have a couple of days between the rehearsal and the ceremony, because that gives you a couple of days to unwind, go and get your nails done, do any last-minute things. People cram that in all at the end and think that that’s just the traditional way of doing it, they rehearsal the day before. Nowadays, we actually are recommending brides and grooms do them a couple of days before and I think again, based on my experience, it has helped them so much and I really see a big difference.
John: Right, because then the night before the wedding, rather than having to deal with we’re having a rehearsal, we’re having a rehearsal dinner, all of that, they can just spend that night before the wedding just relaxing and doing any maybe any last minute things that they have to do, but just not getting all stressed out about it.
Lauren: Yeah. Maureen Woodman, she was the one that told me about that and that’s what she did for her daughter’s wedding. Since then, we have been encouraging our couples here to do that. Again, I’ve just seen people always say how they really enjoyed that part of it because again, you don’t overwhelm yourself in that 24 hours. You get to really unwind and enjoy it, versus stress about getting so much done.
Planning a DIY Wedding
John: Right, right. Any other aspects of your wedding that you’re planning based on your experience?
Lauren: DIY-ing is something that I’ve always dreamed about doing, and so many of our couples here are again, with budget they’re trying to design a lot of it themselves. That’s something again that I’ve experienced here as a planner, so I think I’m picking up where it’s worth DIY-ing based on my experience and where it’s not, it’s worth having professional help come in. So that’s something that I’m trying to navigate that if it’s worth spending a little bit extra money, so I make it easier on me in the long run. Some of our brides, they build their centerpieces themselves, all that kind of stuff. It is a lot more work, but you get to save money. So, it’s more, I’m trying to find the balance between that right now.
John: Right, right. Where is it worth me spending the extra time or getting people involved and helping me, and where do I just want to spend the money and just get it done.
Lauren: Yeah, exactly.
John: Anything else or any final thoughts on planning your own wedding as being a wedding planner?
Lauren: Right now, I’m not getting married until a year and a half from now, so I’ve gotten my professionals booked for the most part. So right now, I’m just in a little bit of a leeway where I’m waiting to really start digging into the decor aspects. Right now, I’m just soaking it in and enjoying working the weddings that I have here at The Essex Room, and learning more through the process. Then once I get a little bit closer, I’ll start diving into the fun stuff.
John: Right, right. So, you have a lot of weddings coming up this summer, and I’m sure you’ll be watching those weddings with maybe a different kind of eye, where you’re looking at what’s working and what’s not working.
Lauren: Exactly, yeah. I’m taking notes for sure.
John: All right. Well it’s great to speak with you today, Lauren, and congratulations again and good luck with planning your wedding.
Lauren: Thank you so much.
John: For more information, you can visit The Essex Room website at EssexRoom.com or call 978-768-7335.