Life of a Planner

Life of a Planner: Meet Suzanne Halaska of Couture Events

Suzanne Halaska is the founder of Couture Events, a Chicago-based event planning company specializing in highly personalized events at any budget. Not only do her clients rave about her services, but she has also been featured in industry-trusted sources such as The Knot, boasting five-star reviews across the board from happy customers. We are thrilled to share her perspective, both as a top-notch wedding professional and also as a member of the Timeline Genius community. Read on for details behind the success of Couture Events, and the role that Timeline Genius plays in Suzanne’s wedding planning process today!

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Wedding Industry Biz

4 Ways Event Pros Stay Inspired

By Meghan Ely, OFD Consulting

Working in the events industry means that a big part of our job is to be innovative thinkers that are consistently coming up with new ideas and trends for our clients. This is often much easier said than done, because being creative can be a challenge.

So, how do event pros stay inspired? We’ve got some top industry experts answering that questions below:
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Life of a Planner

Timeline Genius: Tara Jones

Timeline Geniuses,

Do we have a touching story for you today: We all know that sometimes our clients drive us crazy, but at the end of the day, they are the meaning in our work. We do it all for them. And every now and then, we get so lucky, our clients lift us up and inspire us.

Sometimes the timing of this sunshine is exactly what we need. Tara Jones of Simply Southern Weddings & Events shared a very personal story with us, that she has given us permission to share with you.

On Christmas Eve of 2015, Tara’s mom went into sudden cardiac arrest, and after being in a coma for four days the neurologist confirmed that there was no brain activity. Tara, her brother, and her sister had to make the hardest decision of their lives: to remove the woman who had been with them their whole lives from life support. Their mom was buried on New Years Eve. The holidays would never ever be the same.

From Tara:

“Upon returning home from the funeral, I was tasked with going through all of her important details since both my brother and sister worked outside their homes. While doing so, I came across a lot of her journals she wrote from the time we were all teens. Some made me laugh and reminded me of a lot of happy memories I had unfortunately forgotten; while others made me cry as she poured her heart out about tragedies she experienced, how our rebellious teen years drove her insane, and hardships we never even knew she was going through. The thought of that hit me hard.

It was during this time that I was trying to decide whether or not I wanted to move forward with my wedding planning business. Mainly because I knew no vendors and I hadn’t even begun to start advertising in VA, then I saw Amanda’s post.”

Amanda and Ryan were looking for a wedding planner through a Facebook wedding group. Tara responded to her post, and the two hit it off immediately. Tara describes her bride as incredibly sweet and extremely bubbly, and took to calling her “my Ray of Sunshine”, a nickname that has stuck to this day.

“I am and will always be thankful for finding her post because when she hired me, it pulled me out of mourning and jumped started my desire to continue my passion of helping brides have their dream weddings.

After driving to Leesburg to officially meet her, Ryan and her parents, and touring the beautiful Rust Manor, I was so thrilled to be back in the game! This wedding will always have a special place in my heart because it helped me realize that no matter what tragedy we are going through, we can’t allow it to alter our true passions. Even though we have to put it on the back burner for a small period of time, we need to never let it escape our minds.

I can’t imagine where my thought process would be right now had it not been for this wedding and my Ray of Sunshine!”

We’re thrilled for Amanda and Ryan of course, but also for Tara, who, with the help of love and sunshine, was able to continue growing her business even through the hardest of days.

This is why we love wedding planners and want to support all they do! We see so much strength, kindness, and love in our industry, and that makes it all worthwhile. Enjoy some photos from this very special day, captured by Samantha Martin:

Life of a Planner

5 Things To Thank Wedding Planners For

Dear Timeline Geniuses,

It’s that time of year: the time to focus on what is good in our lives, what we are grateful for, and who we have to thank.

We want to thank you, the wedding planners. You are the reason that we exist. Your tireless efforts to bring joy to others drives us to make your work experiences easier, smoother, and better every day.

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Here are 5 things we have to thank wedding planners for:

  1. Doing the Dirty Work
    Anyone outside of the industry sees the job of a wedding planner as nothing but beauty and glamour. While you do get to be up close and personal with the beautiful dresses, flowers, and decorations, wedding planners are also the ones who swoop in to help when the best man gets nauseous before his speech, and stay until all remnants of the party are cleared out. Behind the scenes is not always so pretty, and we thank you wedding planners for taking care of it all!
  2. Making It Look Easy
    Ever notice how when an event runs smoothly, no one notices? The less there is to notice in terms of glitches or lulls, the more you can be sure there’s a great planner behind it. We know that our event coordinators plan everything to a T (we’ve seen the timelines!), so that on the day, the event seems to run itself like a machine. This takes huge amounts of effort and vigilance though – so here’s to the planners who show up with a smile and make it look easy!
  3. Absorbing All the Stress and Emotion
    There’s giddiness, nervousness, love, anxiety, even sometimes jealousy or other tricky dynamics on a wedding day! We see our planners out there, talking to couples, families, and guests alike. By listening to concerns and absorbing all of that emotion, planners allow everyone to have a good time – especially the couple tying the knot!
  4. Creating A Space for Love to Flourish
    Even while taking in the stress of the day, wedding planners put out the most beautiful energy, creating magical spaces where the happy couple and their loved ones can celebrate without a care. Whether involved in the design, overseeing the execution, or both, planners create the spaces that hold everlasting memories.
  5. Holding Together All the Details
    From the arrival times of all the vendors to every detail of the setup, wedding planners are the ones who keep track of it all. By doing this, you allow each vendor to focus on their specific duty, and allow each guest and bridal party member to think only about having a wonderful time.

Happy Thanksgiving wedding planners! We don’t know where we’d be without you 💖

Life of a Planner

Olive & Belle on Styled Shoots

Happy Monday Timeline Geniuses!
Whether referred to as Inspiration Shoots or Styled Shoots, you’ve seen them on every popular wedding blog. The vendors involved are usually not getting paid for this work, but do it to display their creativity and inspire their community. If you’ve never put together a styled shoot but are considering it, here are the gals from Olive & Belle Events, sharing some insight from the set of one of their beautiful shoots.
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TG: Styled shoots look like a lot of work! What are some things that make it all worthwhile?
Styled Shoots are a great opportunity to connect with vendors and showcase your style. By showcasing your style, you better attract the type of brides and clients that resonate with your style and will be overall more satisfied with your work for them. Creative Vendors are appreciative of a professional planner organizing a Styled Shoot and pulling together a cohesive vision because it makes it more successful for all parties involved. Building those symbiotic vendor relationships are the cornerstone to a healthy wedding planning business.  
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TG: What are some of the biggest challenges in putting together a Styled Shoot?
One of the most difficult parts, and the most common pitfall, of a Styled Shoot is thinking through an end-to-end marketing and submission plan. You can have the most beautiful images, but if you don’t have a locked-in publication and thought-out marketing plan, the images will be lost in the wedding industry clutter. Creating a marketing plan is difficult and time consuming, but worth it to get the best return on your time and money (a lot of both are put into a Styled Shoot). Plus, your contributing vendors will be that much more thankful and eager to work with you again.
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TG: How do you start the process of planning something like this?
 
This varies shoot-to-shoot, but usually it starts with an inspiration or a concept. For example, this Styled Shoot was inspired by Eliana Bernard’s Marbled Collection plates. The rest of the shoot came to life around her artistic vision. It is also a good idea to consider Seasonality. If you are shooting a summer Inspiration shoot in August, you may have less likelihood to be featured because most blogs are preparing for the Fall Season. Timing is everything. 
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TG: What was the concept behind this shoot?
 
The concept behind this shoot was Contemporary Italian Romance. The initial idea for this shoot started with the venue. I mean, what is not to be inspired by at The Contemporary at Laguna Gloria?! The whole property is piece of old history romance tucked away in the middle of central Austin, Texas. In my own styling, I like mixing bold colors with neutral space, and southern charm with a dash of modern minimalism. We played with the gold, grey, and navy palette. Like anything “styled”, a vision can easily change with each new piece you find. And that was definitely the case when we stumbled across Eliana Bernard’s beautiful Marbled Plates Collection on Instagram. She is a local artist, and an insanely talented one at that. When we came across her collection, we knew we had to incorporate it into the shoot. It was just too perfect. Her bold navy marbled plates slightly changed the direction of flowers, so we chose a more neutral palette for floral with those pops of giant golden roses. I am convinced the Gypsy Floral team are magicians because the flowers looked painted, they were so perfect. Anyway, when all is said and done, inspiration evolves and couldn’t have come to life without each of the contributing vendors showcasing their amazing talents.
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TG: What are your favorite elements about this shoot?
Impossible to choose. We are obsessed with the whole vendor team in this shoot. The vintage rentals, the stunning venue, the marbled plates, the floral artistry, the film photography…missing any one of these pieces, the shoot would not have been nearly as gorgeous.
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TG: What advice do you have for planners who might be intimidated by taking on a Styled Shoot?
Practice makes perfect. Even this Styled Shoot, we learned things we want to do differently next time. Just jump in and enjoy the opportunity to let your creativity flow. 
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We think the whole team knocked it out of the park with this shoot, and with their answers! We hope you’ve picked up some useful tips for your next styled shoot – in the meantime, here are more images from Olive and Belle’s shoot to feast your eyes on:

 

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Venue:  The Contemporary at Laguna Gloria   @contemporaryatx
Design/Planning: Olive & Belle Events @oliveandbelle
Photography: Jenna McElroy  @jennabmcelroy
Florals: Gypsy Floral  @gypsyfloral
Videography: Sharpshooters Video
MUAH: Lola Beauty @lolabeautyatx
Wedding Dress: Saint Isabel Bridal @saintisabelbridal
Rentals: Bee Lavish @beelavishvintage
Plates: Eliana Bernard @elianabernard
Cake: Sweet Treets Bakery @sweettreetsbakery
Vow Booklets: Reed Written @reedwritten
Invitations: Wondrous Whimsy @wondrous_whimsy
Scans: Photovision  @photovisionprints
Model: Kierstan Lynn @kierstanechhade

Life of a Planner

Timeline Genius | Olive & Belle

Happy Monday Timeline Geniuses!

It’s a new week, full of possibility and inspiration, and we have some beautiful bits of goodness for you from fellow Timeline Genius Olive & Belle Events.

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Olive & Belle is a process-oriented wedding planning boutique, with a flare for authentic design. They don’t just dream up pretty things, they expertly and artfully execute the numbers and logistics for a seamless and beautiful event. They are your one-stop-shop for custom wedding planning, coordination, design, and peace of mind in Austin, Texas and surrounding areas.

From the team:

Our mission is to reduce stress and distraction, so you can enjoy your big day. With Olive & Belle, you always get personal service that puts your vision first to create a wedding that is uniquely you.

And Olive & Belle knows how to express uniqueness, as evidenced by this exciting styled shoot they sent over to us! They took inspiration from the four elements: fire, earth, water and wind. You’ll see each element cleverly represented and combined in the creative shots captured by Happy Day Media. The full list of talented vendors can be found at the bottom of this post.

Take a deep breath and dive into this dreamy pool:

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Thank you Olive & Belle for that captivating project! We love when our users share their work with us – we feel so lucky to be helping such talented professionals in an incredibly creative and exciting industry. Hats off to all the vendors involved:

Styling / Coordination – Olive & Belle Events – www.oliveandbelle.com
Photography – Happy Day Media – www.happydaymedia.com
Gown – Second Summer Bride – www.secondsummberbride.com
Flowers – ZuZu’s Petals – www.zuzuspetalsaustin.com
Hair & Makeup – All Dolled Up – www.alldolledupatx.com
Model – Natasha Aldridge – @natasha_aldridge (instagram)

Life of a Planner

Interview with Brit Bertino, President of WIPA

We recently had the pleasure of interviewing Brit Bertino, a highly accomplished figure in the wedding industry. Brit holds multiple accreditations, sits on the advisory board of the International School of Hospitality, and manages several brand extensions. She does all of this while having speaking engagements and planning exotic celebrations for her clients in the United States and around the world.

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We were particularly interested in interviewing Brit because she is the acting President of the Wedding Industry Professionals Association (WIPA), a fast-growing organization that’s making a positive impact in our industry…

Q: At this point, you’ve established yourself as one of the most sought-after wedding and event planners. Can you tell me how your planning career got started and how you went from being an industry newbie to being an industry leader?

A: I began my career working for a broadcasting company producing concerts and events for elite musicians… then I moved on to producing weddings for cruise lines, traveling, and planning exotic celebrations for my clients all around the world. I tell everyone that I have an amazing job. In the end, everyone has heard this… It’s all about who you know. I have done many, many years of networking and setting myself up as a leader in the event industry in order to go from the newbie to what I like to call an “oldie goodie.” Hard work and persistence truly pay off. If a door closes on you, and it will, quit bangin’ on it because another one is sure to open.

Q: You strike me as an incredibly busy person – planning events, making TV appearances, managing your own company and brands, etc. With so much already on your plate, what moved you to take on the additional responsibility of being WIPA’s President?

A: I truly want to change the wedding industry for the better. I don’t want people to think of wedding professionals as just the sister or cousin who planned their best friend’s wedding and who is now suddenly an expert at wedding planning… or as someone who DJ’d their little brother’s wedding and is now somehow a “certified wedding entertainer.” Yes, we all need to start somewhere, but WIPA is truly setting standards in the industry to qualify the best of the best wedding professionals. I want brides and grooms to look at our members and know that they are hiring the most talented creative partners for their special day. Being a part of WIPA allows me to help mold standard policies and procedures for the wedding and event industry, and that’s why I make the time to be a part of such a great organization.

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Q: Most wedding industry professionals are aware that there are several different trade associations aimed at helping them. Can you tell me what makes WIPA unique and why you think it serves a much-needed role in the industry?

A: I always say it’s best to go to all of them, as you [the professional] need to find the best match for you and your goals. What sets WIPA apart from others is we are strictly geared towards wedding professionals, and we are setting standards in the wedding industry that other organizations are not setting. We strive to have the most talented and ethical wedding leaders as members and leaders across the globe.

Q: WIPA’s members are primarily concentrated in certain areas like northern and southern California, Atlanta, etc. What steps can professionals outside of those main areas take to join the organization and to get the most out of their membership?

A: We have several chapters in formation and chapters along both coasts. If someone is interested in joining or starting a chapter in their area, they are welcome to contact national for the most up to date information. They can send emails to Corinne@wipa.org or to me at bbertino@britbertino.com

Q: Since its founding in 2008, WIPA has grown and developed a lot. Where do you see the organization going over the next, say, five years?

A: In the next 5 years, we will restructure our membership to benefit everyone from smaller businesses to large corporations. We will have the first-ever wedding certification (I’ll give this a year, as we are already in the works). We would like to continue to grow our partnerships with suppliers like Timeline Genius to bring more added value to our members. We will continue to grow our annual awards and leading educational components. We have so many goals, and the leaders at National are working hard to make these come to fruition sooner rather than later.

Q: So many wedding industry professionals are working to reach the stage you’ve reached. If you could give them just one piece of career advice, what would it be?

A: One piece of advice… Don’t ever give up. Be the best that you can be every day. And be your authentic self.

Life of a Planner

Maria Marian Talks About Timeline Genius

The above video comes from a Timeline Genius customer for whom I have high esteem and affection… Her name is Mara Marian, and she’s the owner of FUSE Weddings & Events, based in Salt Lake City, Utah.

From the first time I spoke with Mara, I knew she was a true professional. Her company has multiple Best of State wins in Utah’s BEST BRIDAL AND WEDDING SERVICES and the BEST EVENT PLANNER categories. They’ve also been been featured in print (in various local and national publications), on multiple wedding and event blogs, and on TV.

I was deeply honored when Mara recently recorded this video where she’s speaking candidly and favorably about her experience using Timeline Genius.

Thank you Mara! It’s truly a pleasure to serve amazing people like you — people who are chasing their dreams day in and day out and who are moving our industry forward and adding joy and richness to the lives of others.