For the longest time, I had no idea what a wedding planner did. Maybe I’d watched too many Jennifer Lopez movies (cough, all of them) but I just assumed a planner was someone you hired once your wedding budget exceeded a bazillion dollars and you needed someone to coordinate where all of the Swarovski-encrusted Edward and Bella statues were going to go. Now that I work weddings for a living, I’ve learned a lot about planners. And what I’ve learned is that while a wedding planner is obviously not something you need (I didn’t have one at my wedding, and I’ve worked plenty of weddings without them that went smashingly well), it turns out that there are actually lots (and lots and lots) of things that planners do behind the scenes to make your weddings function smoothly and awesomely (most of which have nothing to do with statues), and there are in fact quite a few of you out there who want to hire good, sane wedding planners just so that you don’t have to worry about those things when the day itself rolls around.
The thing is, if you do decide that you want to hire a wedding planner, finding one who you jive with is a whole other beast. I mean, not having a planner is always better than hiring a planner with their own agenda. Which is why it’s always my favorite thing when I get to work with APW wedding planners. They understand your weddings holistically (meaning they aren’t the kind of people who will hop into the middle of cake cutting to make sure you’re holding the knife right), and more importantly they get that weddings are about marriage. In fact, I’d argue the only issue I’ve ever had with APW wedding planners is that there aren’t enough of them. Which is why I’m delighted today to introduce you to APW’s newest sponsor, the effortlessly sane and down-to-earth Heather of Flawless Execution Events in Pittsburgh.
First things first, I wanted to share some of the email that Heather sent me when I asked her to share a bit about her business with you guys. She says, “My response has been delayed because I’ve been agonizing over how to make an awesome impression on APW readers, since I already love this community and want everyone to love my company just as much! APW readers are a smart bunch, so everything has to be just right!” When I read that, my heart exploded a little bit. Because while other planners might try and sell you on their services or try to convince you that you simply must hire them, Heather just wants you to like her as much as she likes you. She sets her standards to you guys, not the other way around, and to me, that’s the kind of person you know is going to take care of you on your wedding day.
So now that you know that, let’s get down to brass tacks. Which is that Heather is a funny, no-nonsense lady who gets what APW weddings are all about. When asked why she wants to work with you, Heather says, “I’ve been reading APW for three years. I was an APW bride. When Meg’s book came out, I bought five copies, just so I’d have extras to give away to friends when they got engaged. And every time I meet someone who’s engaged, I make sure they know about APW. You guys are my people. When I started my event planning business, one of my first thoughts was, ‘I hope I get a bunch of APW clients!’”
But perhaps my favorite part, she also adds, “I was at a networking event recently, talking to another planner, and I mentioned online invitations. You would have thought that I’d suggested burning down the venue with all of the guests inside. If that sort of judgmental mentality is what’s out there, I desperately want to provide an alternative for APW couples!” Which, just, exactly.
So, given Heather’s obvious dedication to the APW community and what you guys stand for, it didn’t surprise me one bit when I clicked over to the Flawless Execution Events website and found myself nodding in agreement at every single one of Heather’s business philosophies (no seriously, her FAQ page alone made me want to hire her). Heather acknowledges at the outset that you don’t need a wedding planner; she lets you call temporary dibs on a date until someone else tries to book her for it; and she won’t even let you hire her until you’ve met in person or over the phone, just because she wants to make sure you’ll be a good fit. So basically, she’s all of the help, with none of the pushy.
But my favorite part is that Flawless Execution Events understands that helping you plan your wedding means their job is about what you and your partner need, not what Heather wants. She says, “I pride myself on not having My Vision for how your party should look. I also do my best to make sure you don’t end up yielding to the pressure to adopt Someone Else’s Vision. Your event should be based on Your Vision of how it should look and feel, and I’ll work with you to make sure that happens. Especially if Your Vision involves a zip-line, because I’ve always wanted to try that.” Though she does draw the line somewhere. “Well, unless I find out you want to do something like a simultaneous butterfly release and sparkler send-off, at which point I’ll suggest an alternative to inadvertently setting butterflies on fire.” (Are you sensing a pattern here? Girl is serious about her job, and funny as hell. My favorite combination.)
And this applies to pricing too. Flawless Execution Events is totally transparent about their pricing (which I love) and offers a wide range of services, starting with DIY crafty-type assistance, which starts at $30 per hour, all the way up through Full Planning, which starts at $4,000. In between those, Heather also offers day-of coordination starting at $750 (which she says is really month-of coordination, because she ends up spending that much time getting to know you and your wedding anyway), and Partial Planning, which ranges between $1500-3000. But Heather adds, “Really, there’s wiggle room in each category. If a couple is having a 20-person wedding, their pricing will be substantially different from a 350-person wedding. And it it pisses me off when vendors charge more just because it’s a wedding. So if you’re having a 15-person wedding, expect your estimate from me to be similar to what I’d provide for any other 15-person event. I don’t see ’Wedding’ and upcharge accordingly, because that would make me an asshole.” Um, brilliant.
Not to mention, Heather is offering not one but two discounts for you guys today. First, active duty military personnel or veterans receive a 10% discount, which is a discount that will never expire (awesome). Also APW readers who book before February 28th of next year will receive a 15% discount on Heather’s services. And are you ready for the one-two-punch? Any fantastically awesome people who fall into both groups get a rockin’ 25% discount, and the knowledge that Heather feels privileged to work with you. Which, in case you’re doing the math, is a crazy awesome discount.
Oh, and while we’re speaking of couples that Heather would feel privileged to work with, Heather mentioned to me that she hasn’t had the chance to work with any same-sex couples yet, and she would lovelovelovelove the chance to work on a same-sex wedding next year. So can we make that happen?
Lastly, Heather has some pretty awesome, if not a little unexpected, credentials. She told me, “Prior to starting an event planning business, I was a veterinarian working in emergency medicine. Top that for bizarre career paths! Right around when I was getting burnt out in clinical practice, I started planning my own wedding and fell in love with event planning. Give me a stressful situation and I promise I’ll end up in some sort of zen state, making things happen without freaking out. ” So Heather is more or less formally trained in keeping her cool when unexpected situations arise. File that under awesome.
So Pittsburgh, if you’ve been toying with the idea of hiring a wedding planner, but have been struggling to fine a sane, no bullshit, APW-quality person in your area, today is the day you’ve been waiting for. Heather of Flawless Execution Events will plan the heck out of your wedding and she’ll do it without ever even breaking a sweat. Plus, you get 15% off and a front row seat to Heather’s flawless sense of humor, which I think might be worth it in and of itself. So what are you waiting for? Go browse the Flawless Execution Events website, and enjoy getting to know one of your own.
All photos by: Photo Pink or friends and family