Drama-Free Wedding Planning (That Won’t Break the Bank) Meet DC-based Lula Mae Special Events, with rates starting at just $65 by Meg Keene Maybe you just started planning your wedding, and you’re feeling lost and overwhelmed. Fair. Maybe your wedding is coming up, and you’ve suddenly realized that you need someone to haul the beer, manage your mother-in-law, and set up the ceremony site that isn’t… you. Fair. Maybe you just feel like you deserve a break. The fairest. If you’re in the Washington, DC area, enter our girl Meigh of Lula Mae Special Events. She’s been hanging out at APW for going on eight years now, and she just gets you guys and your weddings. (Plus her expertise starts at just $65.) There are so many kick-ass things to say about Meigh (including the obvious: she can organize a great party). But I’m going to give her what I consider one of my highest personal compliments: Meigh is an enabler. The good kind. She’s the wedding equivalent of the friend that tells you of course you should buy that dress, or stop at the donut place after work, because you do you. In short, it makes me overwhelmingly happy that those of you getting married today can hire someone to do what I could only dream of: validate your petting zoo and food truck choices, help you with flowers, and help you find the best venues and vendors in your price range. Meigh will do something priceless for your wedding: take care of hauling the chairs and dealing with your pain-in-the-ass aunt, so you can just tune into getting married. Because Meigh is 110 percent committed to making sure you get the wedding you want, no matter what that includes: My answer to “Can we even do this?” is always an emphatic “YES!” My weddings are always client-driven; I love cheerleading their vision while organizing the moving parts so everything comes together seamlessly. Pizza truck? YES! Irish dancing? Sure! Balloon drop? Absolutely! I’m your girl for making things happen. I’m pro-whimsy, anti-drama, and just as excited about your ideas as you are. I keep planning grounded and on-task, but I am totally on board for making your wackiest idea reality. I’m thrilled to work with couples of all gender permutations (I married my spectacular wife/quasi-silent business partner back in the pre-marriage equality days, so I have a lot of insight on getting married in DC as a same-sex couple), and I am also excited I get to work with lots of interfaith and intercultural couples on creating a day that honors multiple heritages while still feeling cohesive. When it comes to implementing those plans, Meigh is eager to jump right in. She’s definitely not afraid to do whatever it takes to make the day, and maybe—what?!—even the planning process, low stress for you: I’m a DIY champ who loves to figure out how to make stuff. My clipboard has magical powers. I’m a last-minute problem solver who keeps everything moving behind the scenes. I’m not afraid to roll up my sleeves and get dirty; I haul chairs, I set up A/V equipment, I climb ladders and I make sure everyone has everything they need to make a fabulous day happen. Not surprisingly, Lula Mae Special Events’s commitment to making your wedding badass and stress free leads her clients to call her their most valuable vendor: Meigh was, without question, the MVP of our whole wedding. Prior to the day-of, she was a huge help in setting the timeline, talking over details, and giving advice DIY projects. She was both professional and down-to-earth and really knew her stuff when it came to making all the details of a wedding happen. She really went above and beyond with taking care of last-second details and tasks that we threw at her. Everything was set up just as we had planned, we stuck pretty close to our timeline, and the event ran smoothly from beginning to end. She and her assistant were present and in charge but not conspicuous. Meigh’s fees are also incredibly reasonable for the work she does (she has the best rates of the planners we found in the area, and in our opinion, is worth far more than she charges). We can’t speak highly enough of our experience with her. It was great to have such a genuine and helpful person on our team. Even though Meigh has been doing this for four years, Lula Mae Special Events’s rates are still crazy affordable, because she wants to work with as diverse an array of couples as possible. Lula Mae’s package prices range from as little as $65 for a one-hour consultation to $5000 (and up) for full planning, with all kinds of options in between. Here are some of the options she offers: Consultation: $65/hour You and Meigh chat for an hour and she applies the benefit of her experience to whatever wedding issue you have. Thorny etiquette problems solved, design dilemmas deciphered, timelines structured, hands held, advice advised. MONTH-OF COORDINATION: $1100 For when you’ve planned it all, but need someone else to do all the wedding stage managing so you can actually enjoy your own wedding. This includes: Help creating timelines and other planning documents. A face-to-face meeting one month prior to the wedding to address timeline, vendors, and special requests, so Meigh is totally equipped to make the wedding happen just as you envision. Venue walk-through with vendors and vendor confirmation prior to the wedding date. Rehearsal coordination. Full coverage from Meigh and one assistant for the wedding day, making sure everything runs smoothly from start to finish. Emergency Kit O’Sparkly Doom. **APW READER FAVORITE** PARTIAL PLANNING: STARTING AT $2200 Meigh has found that a lot of couples are perfectly capable of handling most wedding planning tasks, but want some help and advice to make sure all their bases are covered. Enter Partial Planning! Here is how it works: After an initial meeting, Meigh crafts a budget and a custom planning timeline that details everything that needs to be accomplished and when. (Kinda like those scary checklists from other websites, but tailored to you, paced out with every detail accounted for, and also not scary. So, not that much like those checklists, actually.) Meigh provides design ideas and vendor recommendations from those she trusts and loves to give you a head start. You then have regular check-ins so Meigh can offer advice and recommendations at every step of the way. Finally, the process is wrapped up with everything included in the Month-Of Coordination package above. FULL PLANNING: STARTING AT $5000 For folks who don’t have the time/energy/interest to plan a wedding, and just want to enjoy their wedding day with zero hassle, Meigh takes on a few full planning clients each year, and all packages and pricing are custom for each client. DO-IT-TOGETHER FLORAL: STARTING AT $300 You and Meigh take a trip to the flower market and do some planning and design, and then before the wedding you and your team o’ awesome friends meet with Meigh to make your table arrangements, boutonnières, and bouquets. Meigh provides supplies, instruction, and transport of the finished arrangement to the venue, and you provide the flowers, vessels, and person-power. MAKE STUFF!: STARTING AT $75/hour Got something else you want to make? Meigh’s your girl. She’ll provide instruction and supplies, you provide the person-power, and together you can get all your DIY ideas off of your Pinterest Board and into reality. There comes a point in wedding planning where you just start throwing money at problems anyway (#realtalk) and Lula Mae Special Events might be the most effective use of the “eff this” cash—whether it’s $65 for an hour of advice at the beginning to save more money and frustration at the end OR $1100 for the priceless heavy lifting of that last month. Plus, when you hire Meigh, you’ll get someone who takes care of you emotionally. Someone who really understands why you’re there. And someone who knows that at the end of the day, it’s not about the chair covers, and it’s not even about the taco truck. It’s about love and family and… life. LULA MAE SPECIAL EVENTS is offering $100 off any Month-Of Coordination or Partial Planning service for weddings taking place in 2016 AND one free hour of wedding consultation for any APW readers booking Month-Of Coordination services at any time. Meg Keene Founder & Editor-In-Chief Meg is the Founder and EIC of APW. She has written two best selling wedding books: A Practical Wedding and A Practical Wedding Planner. Meg has her BFA in Drama from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. She lives in Oakland, CA with her husband and two children. For more than you ever wanted to know about Meg, you can visit MegKeene.com.