*This is a paid post from an APW Sponsor*
When APW first took the (incredibly tentative) step of taking on our first wedding planner as a sponsor, I just wasn’t sure how it would turn out. The last thing I wanted to do was to send the message that weddings are by their very nature so complicated that you need a professional to do it for you. But I also know that lots of us have busy lives, and complex weddings (logistically, location-wise, or just interpersonally) and need help. It turns out I had all the wrong worries. It turns out y’all wanted a really excellent APW planner in every location. Whoopsy. So, in true APW style, readers have picked up on the call. You guys have started your own small businesses to fill the need, and that is such a joy to watch happen. So today, I’m thrilled (beyond thrilled really) to introduce Meigh of Lula Mae Special Events in Washington, D.C. Meigh has been part of the APW community for ages (which we’ll discuss below), is a talented and experienced planner, and is also just flat out a nice person who you want to have at your wedding (I know this for a fact, as I met her on book tour).
First, let’s kick this off with Meigh’s APW story, and how she started her business. It’s a really good story. (She’s the redhead getting married up there, and those are her rather excellent decorations too). I’m going to let Meigh tell it:
Lula Mae Special Events, An APW Story:
APW saved my sanity at least a dozen times when I was planning my own wedding. Finally someone was talking about weddings and marriage from a fun, feminist, sane perspective I could actually relate to. The phrase “Did you see [x] on APW today?” came out of my mouth so much I think my friends and family started reading it in self-defense. I was stuck in a frustrating job working on corporate events, and I had been wistfully dreaming about starting my own business. Meeting the D.C. APW community convinced me that there actually was an audience out there for the kind of work I wanted to do: helping couples have authentic, creatively designed, and completely joyous celebrations. So you could say APW was the Petri dish that incubated the amoeba of awesome that is Lula Mae Special Events, if that’s not too icky a metaphor. I went from fan, to wedding graduate, to sponsor, in less than two years. (Oh, and this doesn’t cover the part where Meg and Kelly Prizel conspired to save our wedding when our photographer ran off with our money. You know, how you do.) I owe a lot to Team Practical for fostering a community in which I could do the work I’m passionate about.
My embarrassingly gushy adoration for the APW community has been pretty well documented, but I can definitely go on some more about how amazing it is to have a whole community of clever, hilarious, and wise women (and men!) who want to talk about weddings and marriage. What kind of crazy person wouldn’t want to work with clients like that?! I think my style and philosophy (which I’ve lovingly termed, “Love your wedding; ditch the crazy.”) are particularly well suited for the APW community. I create sane, budget-friendly, and emotionally authentic events, and these are business values that I’ve developed in part as a devoted reader of APW.
The great thing about Meigh, and Lula Mae Special Events is that she’s not just one of you, she’s also seriously skilled. Meigh’s background is doing huge corporate events, so she’s taking her serious events chops and applying them to something she really cares about (your weddings), which means that everyone wins. She describes the way she works this way: “The thing that sets me apart as a planner is that I genuinely care about my clients and making sure that they’re as relaxed and stress-free as I can make them. This is not just a paycheck for me; it’s a passion. I’m not the bored-looking, black-pantsuited lady with a clipboard barking at guests who move too slowly through the buffet. (Not that there’s anything wrong with a pantsuit. And I do have a clipboard.) I show up fully for every event and treat my clients the way I would treat my friends. (And in the best cases, they turn out to be both!) Everything I do on an event is about freeing the couple to enjoy the moment.” The idea that Lula Mae Special Events is about allowing you to fully experience your wedding (with her skillz!) instead of selling you the perfect pretty expensive wedding, makes me so happy.
But even better, Lula Mae Special Events is your affordable Washington, D.C. wedding planner. I mean, seriously. Girlfriend’s rates are good in a I-think-this-can’t-possibly-last kind of way, so I recommend booking her NOW for your wedding, you know, next year. Get a bargain on awesomeness while you can, this is my motto. Meigh explains her pricing this way: “I have three pricing levels that are tailored to each client based on size and complexity of the event. The ‘Make Stuff’ level (Ed: we’ll get to more details on that in a second) starts at $60 and includes set-up, supplies, instruction, and clean up for you and whichever of your nearest and dearest you round up to help. The Day-of Coordination level, which ranges from $700–$800, includes timeline consultation, vendor confirmation, rehearsal coordination, and unlimited time on the day of the event. I make sure the event is stress free for the couple, allowing them to devote their full attention to enjoying the day. Full and Partial Planning packages start at $900 (for small events and month-of coordination) and range up to $7,000 (for clients who want the whole shebang: design, execution and management of a truly memorable event). Plus, I’m offering Practicals 10% off if they book before December 31.” You guys. $700–$800 to have someone awesome and talented run the whole show the day of? I mean, let me put it this way: if you happen to have the money to spend, this is possibly the best money you’ll ever spend on your wedding. If you’ve read my book, you know my motto: throw money at problems to make them go away. And in this case, you get to cheerfully toss money in the direction of someone truly lovely, who’s building a business, and the result is you don’t have to worry about wedding day logistics. (What could be better?)
But don’t take it from me. Actually, seriously, don’t take it from me. When taking on a wedding planner as a sponsor, we check up on their skill level and ask for testimonials. Because we want you to work with people that don’t just have a good philosophy, but also have what it takes to make your wedding run. So take it from recent clients:
“Meigh was an amazing resource for all aspects of our wedding. She has an amazing eye for what will look good, and she helped us shop for and put together the decor for our reception. She was happy to participate in a crafternoon with me and my husband, putting together paper medallions and a dozen other decorations. When planning talk inevitably turned into me venting about all the drama that other people were trying to foist onto the day, she listened, and more importantly, helped remind me how to tune out all the static and focus on what actually mattered. On the day of the wedding, I’m pretty sure she borrowed a time-turner, because she seemed to be everywhere at once, taking care of a million little things. She paid attention to every detail that I didn’t have energy or space in my head to care about, leaving me free to just deal with the monumental task of focusing on marrying my sweetheart. The highest compliment I can pay her is that I didn’t even find out about some of the problems that she solved until days or weeks later. We had a lovely, stress-free reception—one where we got to eat and relax with our guests instead of scrambling to fix the speakers or finding the drinks that got accidentally covered up. To me, that makes Meigh the perfect kind of wedding coordinator.”—Melissa and Dan
There are, for the record, more testimonials where that came from, but I figure once you’ve worked in a Hermione reference, you should just quit while you’re ahead.
Before we wrap this thing up, I wanted to talk about Lula Mae Special Events‘ crafting package. As you know, we are huge fans of lazy-girl crafts here at APW. It’s not, exactly, that the APW staff is lazy. It’s that we are crazy busy, work virtually non-stop, and we want our crafting to be… simple. (Sound maybe like your life?) And Meigh gets that. She says, “I’m a firm believer in the idea that things don’t have to be expensive to look fabulous, and a little DIY/DIT can go a long way. People sometimes seem to get intimidated by making things themselves, but it can make the wedding so special to have a piece of your heart in it in such a visual way. I come from a Southern family, and I’ve always loved the way that everybody pitches in to make a wedding happen. That said, it’s way easier and more fun for everybody to do their pitching when there’s someone to handle the details, so I have a special ‘Make Stuff’ rate for folks interested in exploring handmade wedding design. It includes set-up, supplies, instruction, and clean-up, and is separate from my planning and coordination packages, so clients can choose what fits their needs. I love sharing my fondness for crafting and design in a way that really means something to people (and also looks fantastic!)” And since that package starts at $60, and can be bought totally separately from her other packages, you totally just got yourself a crafting friend.
When we first started taking wedding planners at APW, I was wrong. You guys were fully capable of deciding if you needed one or not, and you were not going to waste time feeling judged if someone made a different choice than you. But you did want really awesome, really skilled planners. Turns out, I wanted you to have them too! Not only did they make your lives better, but APW planners send me stories of the coolest weddings on the planet. Tiny ones, big ones, super creative ones, and always, reduced-stressed ones. So I am actually, literally as I write this, wiggling my toes with excitement over seeing the magic you and Lula Mae Special Events come up with together.
Photos: Kelly Prizel Photography (APW Sponsor), Kelly Prizel Photography (APW Sponsor), Whitney Huynh Photography (APW Sponsor), Joe Foley Photography, Lula Mae Special Events, Whitney Huynh Photography (APW Sponsor), Joe Foley Photography