Ask the Experts: The Planner
“Be wary of planners who work on a commission basis with vendors. In essence, they get paid twice.”
Describe what you do for your clients.
I present them with three vendors in each category, source proposals, set up introductory meetings, finalize the vendor team, liaise, and manage the wedding through the day-of. We do no more than two receptions a month.
Do you organize the events surrounding the wedding too?
Yes. A lot of weddings start on Thursday night and carry on to Sunday. Thursday night is usually a welcome-cocktail-and-hors d’oeuvre party, which the Campbell Apartment is great for. Friday there’s usually a bridal luncheon. Friday night is the rehearsal dinner, which you can keep small by inviting just immediate family and your bridal party, and then invite all out-of-towners to join at, say, ten o’clock for drinks and dessert. For that, I love the 21 Club. Sunday is the send-off brunch—Cipriani’s in Grand Central is a nice option for that.
To what degree is this all obligatory?
None of it is, and be careful not to overschedule your guests. Do put together the room block—and airfare information, if applicable—before your save-the-dates go out. Check periodically with each hotel to see if you need to add rooms. Also, provide guests with a gift bag at check-in.
Is getting married over a long weekend advisable?
Only for a destination wedding. People have so many commitments; their holiday weekends are precious.
The buzzword in weddings now is “personalization.” What have you done for your clients that’s unique?
For one couple—both writers—we sourced antique typewriters to use as centerpieces; for a literary-agent groom, I propped the bar with stacks of antique books and the escort cards were miniature bookmarks.
What have you done that’s specific to New York?
Save-the-dates that were custom-designed maps of New York City. New York-themed welcome bags, which included mini black-and-white cookies from Greenberg’s on Madison and a booklet of the couple’s “NYC Favorites.” Before the wedding, guests took a neighborhood walking tour led by a Broadway singer who sang the history instead of lecturing! After the ceremony, double-decker buses took them to the reception, where an a cappella group from Columbia University greeted them.
Does it help to look to the season for inspiration?
Yes. For a winter wedding at the New York Public Library, the escort-card table had a magnificent gingerbread re-creation of the library as the centerpiece. For one wedding at the Frick Collection in autumn, we had waiters greeting guests with trays of warm apple cider and cinnamon sticks.
Some wedding traditions, like the bouquet toss, have gone the way of the dodo.
True. Instead, I’ll have the bride present her bouquet to the couple at the wedding who’s been married the longest.
Does irony have a place at a wedding? For instance, how do you feel about a choreographed first dance?
Oh, I had a couple who did a double first dance: They danced to a slow song, then switched on a Justin Timberlake song, which cued their five kids to join them on the floor in a choreographed hip-hop dance.
What’s your dream wedding?
A destination wedding. And I’d plan it myself.
Little Blue Book Photo: Courtesy of Tiffany's
From the Summer 2008 New York Wedding Guide