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I've been lucky to have photographed quite a few weddings and continue to work with some of the most amazing wedding industry professionals in New Mexico. There is SO much work that goes into a wedding whether it be a small elopement or a larger than life wedding party.
Brides and Grooms to be, weddings are HARD WORK.
There's so much effort, organization, patience, and dedication that goes into planning the wedding of your dreams. And as much fun as it sounds to go cake tasting or look at pretty floral arrangements, there is so many other things that go into wedding preparation that are not so much fun. Wedding Planners know what to look for when choosing a wedding vendor, create and help you stick to timelines and deadlines, help you budget accordingly, know what to do if things don't go accordingly, and just so much more. And, they are more than worth the investment (I can promise you that)!
I asked my good friend and one of NM's best wedding planning services to help me shed some light on why you NEED to hire a wedding planner! :)
The ever so amazing Lauren from Just Lovely Wedding & Event Planning was kind enough to answer a few questions that I thought would benefit my brides and newly engaged couples starting to plan their most special day.
Why is hiring a wedding planner important?
Hiring a wedding planner is important because there are so many details & decisions that go into wedding planning… many that people don’t even think about until they’ve started! Some questions to ask early on are:
What style of wedding do we want? Do we have a theme?
What is our budget?
When will we get married?
Where will we get married?
How many guests will we invite?
These are just a few decisions that should be made early on, as they play a huge role in many of your future decisions! Hiring a wedding planner can save you time, money, and headaches through expertise and guidance, as you answer these questions and move forward with planning your Big Day!
What made you pursue a career as a wedding planner?
I’ve always been into planning things… my favorite time of year growing up was always when my dad would take me to the store to pick out a new planner for the school year. A few years ago I had a job at a spa where I was responsible for the scheduling, and I had to work with the massage therapists to plan their schedules out and ensure that there weren’t any discrepancies. I loved all of the details and planning involved! Right after that I found a job as a hotel catering manager, where I got to work with weddings. As soon as I did my first wedding I was hooked and knew that I’d found my passion! I worked for a few different venues over the next 3 years, and am grateful to have had the opportunity to work with so many amazing couples. After leaving the last venue I decided that it was time to embark out on my own, planning weddings and doing what I love!
(Also… I’d be lying if I said that movies like Father of the Bride and The Wedding Planner didn’t have some influence on my decision to become a wedding planner! :))
What kind of planning do you offer?
At Just Lovely Wedding & Event Planning, we offer three package options: Month-of Wedding Coordination, Partial Planning, and Full-Service Planning. We also offer a la carte options for individual services, such as timeline planning or rehearsal dinner planning. All of our packages include wedding day direction in addition to the coordinating and planning that is done in advance, and all of the packages include styling services. We also use an incredible wedding planning software called Aisle Planner that makes for a really collaborative planning experience with our couples!
What should a client expect from the experience of working with a wedding planner?
The experience of working with a planner varies based on the type of service selected, (for example, month-of coordination vs. full service planning), but overall the client should expect to feel more at ease and in control of the planning process. Since there are so many details involved in wedding planning, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by everything that needs to be done at any point in time. When you work with a planner, their goal is to plan as much as possible in advance with the goal of giving you and your family a seamless wedding day, knowing that everything that needs to get done will get done. At the end of the day, we want you to completely enjoy your wedding day with you partner, family, and friends… while we take care of the details.
Will you handle every aspect of the planning or can the client do some things on their own? In other words, what parts of planning will they be responsible for?
This is a great question! I’ve had several brides tell me that they aren’t hiring a planner because they want to be able to plan their own wedding. I can’t speak for every planner, but most planners that I know of do not want to plan the whole wedding by themselves… we want to bring the couple’s ideas to life! When I start the planning process with a client, I love taking the time to learn about their vision and ideas for their wedding day. I can then make recommendations and offer additional ideas and insight that I feel my client would like! Through the Aisle Planner software we are able to save images to design boards, (which is sort of like built-in Pinterest!), and then I can share these images and ideas with the other vendors that are going to help bring the event to life. So, the client is responsible for telling me what they like, and what they have in mind so that I can help bring the event to life and make sure that I’m giving them what they want. Can I make all of the decisions for a wedding? Sure, but the wedding isn’t about me, it’s about the couple. And the wedding day should be a reflection of the couple and what they’ve envisioned for their special day.
How does the wedding planning process work?
A great place to start when planning your wedding is with the questions that were mentioned above:
What style of wedding do we want? Do we have a theme?
What is our budget?
When will we get married?
Where will we get married?
How many guests will we invite?
If you’re unsure about any of these elements, you should call a wedding planner first because they can help you answer all of these questions. These questions should be answered as soon as possible since they will influence all of your other decisions.
The planning process usually begins about a year in advance; it’s perfectly fine to start planning more than a year out, but be prepared for a lot of vendors to ask you to call them when you’re closer to the wedding date. When I am working with a client whose wedding is more than a year away, I always let them know that we can begin pre-planning, (such as sharing ideas, sending vendor recommendations, etc.), but that official wedding plans will begin closer to the one year mark. This still gives ample time to make all wedding plans! The first vendors we work on securing are the venue, caterer, photographer (engagement photos can be used for Save-the-Date cards!), videographer, florist, cake designer, and entertainment. These will make up most of the budget, so it’s important to begin working on them early.
What has been your most challenging wedding planning experience and how did you work through it?
I am so happy to say that most of my wedding planning and coordinating experiences have been very positive and enjoyable for all involved. One thing that has been a little bit challenging is doing weddings at venues that are in remote locations, where you don’t get cell phone service… that’s pretty stressful because you can’t easily make a phone call to check on a vendor who might be lost. How I’ve worked around this is by sending detailed directions to all involved in a particular wedding, and asking them to not rely on their map app to get them there, but to print out the directions. I’ve had pretty good luck with this, and I believe that communication is the key.
What advice do you have for potential brides to be?
My advice for any bride or groom is this: don’t get so caught up in planning the wedding that you forget why you’re getting married. Even if you have a wedding planner, planning a wedding will be stressful at times. Sometimes, despite everyone’s best efforts, plans may have to change. Take a step back & breathe. Try to keep things in perspective and remember all of the love that you and your partner have for each other, and that that love is more important than anything.
Written by Lauren Mestas
Certified Wedding Planner and owner of Just Lovely Wedding & Event Planning LLC
Scott was born and raised in Santa Fe, New Mexico. At the age of 10 his mother suddenly passed away of a Glioblastoma brain tumor, which was unknown until after her passing. His father Patrick raised him and his older brother Jason, who were both very active in sports at St. Michaels, Scott played baseball and football.
Scott attended New Mexico State University after graduating from St. Michaels in 2007. While attending NMSU he was active with his fraternity Lambda Chi Alpha and met his wife Courtney. Scott graduated with a bachelor degree in Criminal Justice in December of 2012.
After Graduating College Scott and Courtney moved to Gilbert, Arizona where Scott started working in the mortgage industry. September 19, 2013 Scott and Courtney got engaged and on April 25, 2015 they got married in Mesa, Arizona.
On July 8, 2015 Scott had a seizure as he pulled into his work parking lot, during the seizure he was able to get to help, where the ambulance was called immediately. He had another seizure on the way to the hospital, when emitted to the hospital he was in an induced coma. Scott spent six days in ICU at Chandler Regional Hospital while ongoing various test, scans, and biopsies to determine the condition.
The initial biopsy showed that Scott had a stage 3 Astrocycoma. The tumor was located on the left lobe of his brain in his speech area. The next step would be an immediate brain surgery. Mary Hasted- Shields a close family friend of the Sealy family was insistent upon Scott coming to Santa Fe for her husband Dr. Philip T. Shields, Neurosurgeon, to operate on his brain and remove as much of the tumor as possible.
July 30, 2015 Scott had his surgery at Christus St Vincent Hospital, 40% of the tumor was safely removed due to a large portion of the tumor being located on his speech pattern. Scott recovered quickly from surgery and was released from the hospital on August 2, 2015. Good news arrived shortly after, his pathology after the surgery showed that his diagnosis was a grade 2 Astrocytoma which meant the tumor was slower growing than initially expected. Scott and Courtney went back home to Arizona at the end of August where he was projected to complete his radiation and chemotherapy.
After a week back in Arizona, Scott was not receiving the immediate care that was needed, and the family decided that it was best for Scott to go back to Santa Fe for his Radiation and Chemotherapy. Scott was immediately scheduled for treatment with Dr. Donald Shina, Radiation Oncologist and Dr. Karen LuRusso, Chemotherapy Oncologist. September 2, 2015 Scott started both forms of treatment; he will be on-going for six weeks of Radiation and Chemotherapy simultaneously. During this time Courtney has been traveling back and forth from New Mexico to Arizona. Once treatment has been completed, he will have another MRI/CT Scan to see the progress of treatment and determine the next steps. Scott has remained so strong during the whole process and we are confident that he will continue to fight this. We are so blessed for the support system of friends and family that we have to help us through such a difficult time and are so thankful for all you have done.
Jasper Kay Photography will be hosting a special Scott Sealy portrait benefit and proceeds will go to Scott and his family in their time of need!
November will be Scott Sealy month and we will be offering $100 lifestyle sessions in honor of Scott!
They will include 30-45 minute session, 10-15 high-res digital images, a personal online gallery for you to download your images and share with friends and family, + one 8x10 print.
Let me start by saying that I feel this is EXTREMELY important to read for all brides to be. I attach a document that’s titled “The benefits of an Unplugged Wedding” to every single one of my wedding packets and sit down with my brides to stress the importance of an unplugged wedding. I had never felt the need to write an entire blog post about “unplugged weddings”, but I feel like it’s necessary more than ever with each and every wedding I go to. I am going to be as real with you all as I can be. No sugar coating it because it is such an important topic. You don’t want any moment of your wedding day ruined and in order to show you all how serious this is when it comes to your wedding planning, I have to share some tough love with you all. This is going to be looooooooong and blunt so bear with me. It’s worth the read. *HUGS*
And a HUGE thank you to the awesome photographers that shared their images to showcase the importance of Unplugged Weddings!!
First things first…
What is an “Unplugged Wedding”?
The best way I can describe an unplugged wedding is simply by turning off your electronic devices (smart phones, iPads, cameras, portable gaming devices [some people are cray cray], camcorders, laptops, tv’s, etc.) and being 110% present during a wedding ceremony or special event. I truly believe that it is extremely crucial to unplug your electronic device of choice and CHOOSE to be present in the moments that matter most. We spend so much time in our lives plugged into some sort of electronic device (I know I sure as heck do!) so we should take the time to turn them off and ENJOY THE MOMENTS THAT SURROUND US.
Some people may ask what the big deal is about guests Instagram-ing or SnapChatting the photos, but I can list a number of reasons why this SHOULD be a crucial no-no (at least during the ceremony).
Brides + Grooms: By asking your guests, family members, and friends to turn off their electronics, you are asking them to experience this day with you and be part of the most important day of your life. You are asking them to be there with you every step of the way throughout your first day of marriage bliss, rather than having them relate through their LCD screens. I encourage you to ask your guests to not only be there with you to enjoy the happiness and fun, but to be more than just observers of your wedding day.
You have put a lot of work for a long amount of time (days, weeks, months, maybe even years!) into choosing every detail of your wedding day. You have chosen your perfect photographer(s) to match your style and to capture the day you marry the love of your life just as you envision it to be. Your photographer will document your love story much better than any camera phone can, I promise you. Think to yourself, when you get your images back do you want the photos to be of your guests enjoying the day or of your guests experiencing the day with their faces glued to their phones? For me, I would much rather photograph guests with smiling faces joyously watching the bride and groom walk down the aisle than big ol’ embarrassing tablets and smartphones covering their faces. It makes for much better photos. Just saying… as nicely as possible. ;)
Guests: The bride and groom have invited you to enjoy this moment with them and take part in one of the best days of their lives. By covering or burying your face into your phones, you're taking away from their special moment(s) and distracting others from what is happening. Take the time to experience those little moments such as when the bride is walking down the aisle to her future husband. Yes, it may be the COOLEST Instagram post ever that can get more than fifty likes on (I get excited for more than 30 likes per Instagram post so that’s the number I thought would be cool. Sorry, back to the point of this.), but if you use your selfie stick in the middle of the aisle to snap a pic of her and her father, she’s going to miss moments of seeing her handsome groom crying tears of joy at seeing the most beautiful thing he’s ever laid eyes on because she has to avoid the selfie stick in her way OR the groom is going to be distracted with that huge iPad sticking out of the aisle that he might not even tear up. He might just be like, “whoa! When did cousin Ted get that fancy thing!”. Seriously, don’t be “that guest”. Your post or snapchat can wait.
Let me also clarify that I don’t have a problem whatsoever with guests capturing photos and sharing them later on with the couple. It makes me happy to know there will be other pictures and photos of moments my second shooter or I may have missed or seeing things from a different person’s perspective. And I strongly encourage anyone who has an interest in photography to follow their dreams and take photos because photos are fun and memories last forever! Buuuuut, I can’t tell you how heartbreaking it is to when you are about to capture the most perfect candid moment and then BOOM, a guest steps in your way with their camera phone and ruins it (UGH!). Moment ruiner.
Ohhhh, and let me tell you about the dreaded “Uncle Bobs”. Uncle Bobs are guests, family members, or friends that have nice camera equipment and volunteer to take photos throughout the day. Uncle Bobs truly and lovingly mean well… a majority of the time. I truly feel for Uncle Bobs everywhere. Your kind gesture will not go unnoticed. Although, I totally welcome and try to work with anyone who wants to take photos, but there is a time and place for everything. During the ceremony is NOT that time. Uncle Bobs can become pushy, rude, or just annoying (sorry about it). If this happens, Uncle Bob will be asked to stop pretty quickly. Uncle Bobs are the worst photo bombers. Period.
And if you are in the wedding party using your electronic devices, it makes a photographer's job that much harder.
Now let me get to the last point of my long list of why “Unplugged Weddings” are the bees knees. I strongly advice to guests or bridal party members to NOT post getting ready photos or just any posts until the reception OR after the wedding. Imagine the groom opening his Facebook app to see a photo of his bride already ready to walk down the aisle. First look RUINED. Or what if the bride’s most favorite cousin in the whole wide world is on deployment and he decides to surprise her on her wedding day, but someone posts a photo totally spilling the beans. Guess what? Surprise RUINED. I could go on and on with examples, but I won’t. I think you guys get the idea.
Now let me take off my attempted tough love face to put on my understanding and loving face on to tell you the rest of my spiel (stay with me, guys).
I don’t advise the whole wedding to be totally unplugged. I think that having electronics out during the reception is more than acceptable. Especially if you want your guests to use the cute wedding hashtag that is just uniquely brilliant and amazeballs (WeddingWire has the BEST wedding hashtag generator if you get in a creative funk!). I also think it’s awesome for the bride and groom to have photos to look at from the day while they patiently wait for their photographs from their photographers. And as an avid social media junkie, I know how much fun I have posting things (especially my food, but we are talking about weddings here. Whoops).
While we photographers can be the first to admit this, we also realize that our love for our electronic devices can be pretty obsessive. We just strongly believe in the power of turning them off and being present in the moment.
So again, I strongly advise all of my wedding clients, brides to be, friends, and family that when planning your wedding, PLEASE seriously consider having an “Unplugged Wedding”. Your wedding day will go by in the blink of an eye, take the time to enjoy the company of those that surround you and experience your first day as husband and wife. Guests, please respect the bride and groom as well as the hired photographers. Spend the day cherishing the moments that is their wedding day with them. I promise you all that the hired photographers will do their job in capturing the day elegantly so that you can fully be present and enjoy these moments.