Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Secrets of Wedding Planning: Shannon Foster


Shannon Foster of Social Savvy Weddings & Events talks Pinterest, her wedding day tacklebox and new trends she's loving


I met up with Shannon Foster of Social Savvy Weddings & Events for a delicious and long overdue lunch. Her sunny demeanor lets the conversation flow easily, as if we're old friends. She walks me through her story of growing up in Canada before a whirlwind courtship and marriage to her husband of 10 years; how her degree is in education and has nothing to do with event planning; and how she's now been planning weddings and events for three and a half years around Louisville. Her summarized tips below are smart, practical, fun, and of course, savvy.


What is the process you go through with your brides? 
I start with understanding your vision and budget for a wedding. What means 'vintage' to you might not mean 'vintage' to someone else or what I'm thinking. Pinterest is great because it offers so many resources and ideas, and I can get a visual of what you are imagining. Then, the first few months involve booking your vendors. I give recommendations based on who I think you'll mesh well with and who will match your style. You'll usually get somewhat of a break after this step, and then in the weeks before the wedding, we're figuring out the final details.

What do you rely on in your job?
I use Dropbox to organize contracts and pictures and Gmail groups for vendor lists and contact info. I also use Excel spreadsheets sometimes to track budgets and finances. I show up on wedding day with my phone (and all that information on it); my tacklebox, which contains all sorts of emergency items you might need last-minute: scissors, glue, Sharpies, various tapes, pins, velcro, an all-purpose tool, floral wire, etc.; my tool belt, which carries Chapstick, mints, a lighter, anything you might need on the go; my clipboard that holds my detailed timeline of the day; a couple of Red Bulls; and three pairs of shoes – black running shoes for setting up, nicer shoes for the ceremony and reception, and flip-flops for teardown.

What are your favorite new trends for weddings and receptions? 
I love anything that's a bar – popcorn bar, mashed potato bar. I love sparkly belts on dresses – it just adds that extra bling. Different styles of invitations – they're not as serious and traditional as in the past. Weddings with themes, and how people are finding ways to make it personal.

What does a bride need to remember in the planning process? 
It's easy to forget about your guests. Yes, it's your day as the bride, but you're also inviting 200 people, so you need to think about their comfort as well. Is your wedding in August in 90 degree whether? You need some fans. Is your wedding at 6 p.m.? Yes, you need to provide dinner. Brides also tend to underestimate the time it takes to do things, such as go through the buffet line or order drinks at the bar. And the third thing they underestimate is cost. For example, brides see big, beautiful flowers on Pinterest, but when they take that picture to the florist, they're floored by how expensive it is. It's better to have the mindset that says, "What can you do that's similar to this within this budget?"

What's your advice for young couples in the wedding planning process? 
Girls can be tempted to think more about the wedding than the marriage. That's probably because there's a lot of pressure, and you've been thinking about this day your whole life. Grooms don't really have that, and they remember that they're getting married, not just having a wedding. When you're planning a wedding, it's really important to remember the promises you're making. Marriage isn't easy. The wedding planning process is a good time to practice planning together, communicating together, making financial decisions together, dealing with family together. Your process is kind of like practice. Also, women tend to go into wedding planning – and marriage – expecting men to know what they want without telling them. The thinking is, "If you love me, you would know." But reality for guys is, "I love you, so please tell me what will make you happy, because I want to make you happy."

Tips for the budget-minded bride? 
The number one way to reduce the cost of your wedding is to trim the guest list. But, making a guest list and seating arrangement can often be the most stressful part of planning. So many people have opinions on who should be there, and some of that depends on who's paying for the wedding. 

Some of the first questions I ask my brides are, "To you, what would a successful night be?" and also, "When you go to a wedding, what do you notice most?" The answers to those questions define the priorities of the event. Once you know the priorities, you can budget accordingly to meet those things that are most important while trimming back what's less important.

Three other thoughts from Shannon:
  • "When you don't pay for professionals, you can't expect professional work."
  • "My favorite part of wedding planning is when the bride comes down the aisle. The half-hour to forty-five minutes before that moment are most hectic. But when she's down the aisle, she's happy. The rest of it is not going to matter so much."
  • "If you really have your heart set on something, don't ask for opinions about it!"

— Jessica Smith, assistant editor/designer
Photo source: socialsavvy.me

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