WILMINGTON NC WEDDING PLANNER INTERVIEW
Welcome to the first of many interviews I’ll be posting on my wedding photography blog. I decided to have a candid conversation with the top Wilmington wedding vendors about why they do what they do. I think this will be a great resource for brides to use when they’re deciding on who to hire for their big day.
With so many choices, it’s important to do your research! By doing all the interviewing ahead of time, I can point my clients to any one of the upcoming posts and they can get a glimpse into a business owner’s personality. This will save so much time instead of having countless hour-long phone conversations only to be overwhelmed and undecided!
I’ve known Melissa since the first week I moved to Wilmington, and she’s always been at the top of the industry. Not only is she super sweet, but she’s one of the hardest working planners I know. If you’re in need of a planner, you really can’t go wrong hiring Melissa.
She agreed to come up to my studio for a portrait session and interview with my intern Kim.
Without further adieu, here are the top 15 questions for Melissa Burton, owner of Knot Too Shabby Events.
MA: WHY DO YOU DO WHAT YOU DO?
MB: “You have to have a passion for this business or you’ll never make it. It’s easy to get stressed out and overwhelmed by this industry, but as long as you love it and you keep getting refreshed from all the events you do it keeps you wanting to come back and do another.”
MA: HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A WEDDING PLANNER?
MB: “I started working weddings in 2011, but I did not start my company until 2014 and officially started planning weddings as Knot Too Shabby then.”
MA: WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO BECOME A PLANNER?
MB: “I would say the feeling that you get after the wedding is complete, or later into the evening when you’re able to see how well everything went and that you made a difference and contributed to someone’s special day. It definitely is a stressful job, but that rewarding feeling makes me want to keep doing it again, and again, and again. The stress of it all goes away when you get to see how perfectly everything turned out, and then it makes it all worth it.”
MA: WHAT MAKES YOU DIFFERENT?
MB: “I am professional in my business, but I am also relatable to the bride. I try to find something to relate to them on to where they see me as their planner, but I want them to feel like we’re friends. Ultimately, I think all planners are different in a lot of ways, but it comes down to a bride picking us based on our personality. Just like I’m not the perfect planner for every bride, because we might not mesh well together personally, however other brides I might be a great fit for because we can relate to things such as similar styles and music tastes. I normally try to find something with each person to relate to them on. I think that having that ability to do so makes me special. I’m just very much a people person. I can get along with just about anybody.”
MA: WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF YOUR JOB?
MB: “The portrayal that everything is under control. Making the client know, understand, and believe that you can handle it. There are a lot of things that come up on the wedding day that we have to use our problem solving skills to fix and figure out. You don’t want to stress the client with those types of things.”
MA: WHY IS WILMINGTON NC SUCH A GREAT PLACE TO GET MARRIED?
MB: “People want water. We have the riverside, the beach, we even have nearby places with lakes and ponds, and I think that water is a big selling point. People want to get married with a pretty backdrop, and Wilmington has a lot of those. It’s also historic, so there are a lot of charming buildings and unique finishes. There’s plenty of things for guests to do while here, such as the Battleship, Airlie Gardens, even some of the walking tours. I even had a bride get married here just because One Tree Hill was filmed here. The film industry has definitely helped bring attention to our area.”
MA: WHAT IS THE BIGGEST THING YOU’VE LEARNED DOING YOUR JOB?
MB: “The biggest thing I’ve learned is respect and appreciation for vendors. Everyone has to start somewhere in their profession, and it’s important to respect those who have been doing it longer. Also to always pay attention and learn from each wedding. I’ve made a point to sit all my girls down after each wedding and say, ‘What did we do really well? What did you do really well as an individual? What could you have done better? What could the team have done better?’ I’ve realized that we are always learning and can always improve.”
MA: WHAT IS YOUR MOST SUCCESSFUL CLIENT EXPERIENCE?
MB: “My most recent wedding. I met this client over a year ago. They live out of town and they hired me as their full service planner, which is my highest package. They told me their style and budget, and I then suggested and booked vendors for them. We worked together throughout the year to do everything but, ultimately, I was the one who suggested their photographer, their florist, and helped pick the menu.
The wedding itself was absolutely gorgeous. It was one of the prettiest weddings I’ve ever done. The reception turned out better than I could have imagined. The couple was blown away and could not have been any happier. It was just kind of a perfect wedding. I was happy that they were happy, and proud of myself for how all the colors looked together, and it was just beautiful. But I could say that about a lot of weddings.”
MA: WHAT ARE SOME OF THE NEWEST TRENDS IN THE INDUSTRY?
MB: “For 2017, you’re still going to see a lot of gold. Obviously greenery is the pantone color of the year. Brides are kind of going away from having a lot of flowers and would rather have a long greenery runner with just some floral blooms mixed in. Different shapes and texture are really popular instead of a basic poly blend. They’re looking for different patterns and fabric textures. I see smaller bridal parties. Instead of having seven or eight bridesmaids, they might only have three or four. When it comes to food, stations are still popular versus a buffet or plated dinner.”
MA: HOW DO YOU PLAN TO EXPAND YOU BUSINESS?
MB: “Slowly but surely. You don’t want to expand so fast as to where you can’t keep up. I plan to expand outside of Wilmington which can lead to coordinating outside of Wilmington. It’s important to expand in the right amount of time as to not overwhelm yourself. It takes a long time to grow a business and to build a reputation.”
MA: WHAT ARE SOME BENEFITS OF HIRING A WEDDING PLANNER?
MB: “They have the advantage of having someone with experience, because it’s often the only time they’ve done this, and they do not know where to begin. Having someone guide you through it is very helpful. One of the biggest things we as planners can do is to help match up the right vendors for them. Brides can look online and google photographers in Wilmington all day, but they’re going to find 400 different options and not know where to begin about their skill level, experience, and pricing.
I try to match bride’s with vendors not just on price and style, but based on personality as well. I’m basically creating a group of friends for this bride on her wedding day. I want her to feel comfortable with and love all her vendors, and to have a good time with them. To be proud of them. That’s a big part of our service; helping put a supportive team together for the couple.”
MA: TELL US ABOUT YOUR PACKAGES.
MB: “Our starting package is a month-of package. That is designed for couples who have pretty much planned the entire wedding themselves, and then wanting to hand it over to us in the last month. In this package we have our month out meeting where we learn everything about their wedding, including their timeline, how they would like the room setup, and all their vendor information. We help make sure they haven’t missed anything and also to fix anything that they may have forgotten through their planning process. We do the rehearsal the day before and we’re there on their on the wedding day to setup and manage the whole wedding.
We have a partial planning package that includes the month of package, but it allows us to work with the client from start to finish. It includes unlimited phone and email, along with design and vendor recommendations. We help them pick their vendors and suggest what would look good together.
The difference in the partial and the full service packages is that in the full service we do those things for them in the sense of calling the rental company to reserve the tables, chairs, and linens we need. Going to the florist to tell them what design we would like. If it’s a partial planning bride, we have those discussions with them, but then they have to go and do that task themselves. Then they just check back in and update us.”
MA: WHAT SHOULD A BRIDE ASK A PLANNER AT THEIR CONSULTATION?
MB: “One thing I would want brides to ask me is ‘Why do you do what you do?’ so then I can explain to them why I do it and why I love it. And although we do forty-five weddings a year, I want the bride to know their wedding is still important to me. I want them to feel like that’s the only thing I’m thinking of at that time.”
MA: ANY QUICK TIPS FOR BRIDES AND GROOMS?
MB: “Number one thing to do when they get engaged, before you start looking at venues, is come up with a budget and guest list. If they do anything other than that, they’re going to find that they fall in love with a venue that’s too small, or they’re going to fall in love with a venue that’s out of their budget. If all else fails and they fall in love with a venue that’s too small, they may end up cutting their guest list in half to have their perfect wedding.”
MA: IF YOUR JOB DID NOT EXIST, WHAT WOULD YOU DO INSTEAD?
MB: “No idea. I really don’t know what I would do, because I feel like this is what I was meant to do. I know that sounds cheesy, but I’ve been party planning since I was a little girl, I’ve always been super organized and detail oriented, in the customer service industry, and I’ve always been a people person. I just feel like it was meant for me.”
That’s it for Melissa’s interview! Keep checking back for more interviews of local venues, planners, and dress shops!
If you liked what Melissa had to say, you can visit her website here.