Monday, May 7, 2012

Monday Meeting: Heather Sala, President HJ Planners

“This is the best job. I wake up every day with the opportunity to do what I love and help people by showing them how to navigate the wedding planning labyrinth. I work with the most committed, sincere and wonderful people. I consider myself very, very blessed.”

What is your favorite part of being an event coordinator?

The excitement when a couple has chosen their venue. There’s a relief that comes after that moment and the bride and groom start to really have fun with the planning process.

What made you want to be an event coordinator?

I’ve always felt the need to help wherever I could, in any profession. In law, I enjoyed helping people navigate through the legal process. In wedding planning, I help couples navigate the planning process. It’s so easy to get lost while planning your wedding by losing sight of the budget, what comes next, deadlines, or etiquette. I truly love being able to guide people through the creation of such an amazing day in their lives.

Is there one common piece of advice you give to all brides?

Be a little selfish. People ask me all the time if I have “bridezillas” or “groomzillas.” I really don’t – I have the opposite problem…couples that want to make their day about everyone else but themselves! My one most common piece of advice is for couples to make their decisions based upon what they want.

What do you wish more couples would do while planning their weddings?

Take their time. Planning a wedding is a marathon, not a sprint. Unless you’re planning it in less than two months – then run!

What is the biggest budget blunder you see most brides commit?

Inviting too many people to the rehearsal dinner. Many couples think that this is an event that will cost much less because we call it a dinner and not a wedding. However, food and beverages have the same cost, no matter what the event is called. The rehearsal dinner guest count should be significantly smaller than the wedding guest count.

What is the most essential tool you use to plan a wedding?

The Might Budget Sheet! Love, love, love it!

What is the strangest request you’ve ever had from a couple?

We were once asked to build another portion onto a venue by leveling the ground, laying a wood floor, then carpeting and finishing the room. It would have cost more than the venue’s rental.

Are there any unusual items would you tell brides to include in their emergency, day of kit?

Straws. Save your lipstick.

Do you have any pre- or post-wedding rituals?

I will mess with the escort card table 3-4 times before I’m happy with it. I’ve always done this; I still do it to this day.

What aspect of a wedding could you do without?

The end of it. We’re always sad when the wedding is over because the couple is no longer our client. There’s a real emotional component to this job.

What is the strangest thing you’ve ever had to do for a bride or groom?

I had to sew a bride into her dress because she lost the clasp on the back of the dress. We made it her “something blue” by using baby blue thread.

What was the strangest request you ever received from a couple, their family or their friends?

I used to be a ballroom dancer. One of my couples knew this and asked me to teach them the steps for their first dance. I was flattered.

What is the single most important piece/item of event design for any wedding?

It all depends on the venue and the budget. I would say, generally, florals. But, if there is the budget for rentals, uplighting changes an entire room and gives it a new look and feel.

What were the easiest and hardest design themes you’ve had to develop?

The easiest are basic color coordination. The hardest are ANY theme. It’s a challenge to keep a client’s interest in just one type of design once they’ve decided on a theme because of the ability to find so many different things on Pinterest, Etsy, Google, etc. The options are overwhelming, but if we used them all, it would look like a circus.

What is the most difficult part of event design?

Envisioning all the elements together without seeing them physically together.

Is there any advice about event design that you wish all couples knew?

If you have a limited budget, then lighting, linens and flowers should be your focus. Don’t worry about draping, ottomans, candelabras, etc. Those are very pricey items that won’t give you the same bang for your buck.