By Jane Santucci
Special to the Tribune-Star
On the morning of her wedding, Terre Haute resident Bre Gibbons spent the final hours before she said “I do” with close family and friends. While this is how many imagine the morning of their wedding day should be, for many it does not work out as pleasantly. A good number of brides and their families are stuck putting the finishing touches on tables before guests arrive.
Gibbons was able to avoid dealing with the last-minute hassles and focus on one of the most important days of her life, because she decided to hire a wedding planner. It was not a decision she set out to make from the beginning. In fact, it happened on a fluke.
The defining moment arrived when Gibbons attended the Wabash Valley Bridal Society Show. She dutifully went vendor to vendor and eventually arrived at Spectacular Soirees Wedding and Event Planning, where she met owner Janice Board.
“I was looking for someone who could actually help me spell my name right on invitations, because there is a straight line over the “e” to make it a long “e.” I know it seems trivial, but that is how to spell my name,” Gibbons said.
That’s how she chose Board.
“She said, ‘I have never been able to have anything printed or monogrammed in my whole life because nobody gets it right. If I went with you, would you make sure everything I needed with my name on it, invitation or what not, you would find sources that would be able to do it?’ I just looked at her and said, ‘Of course I would,’” Board said.
Bridal magazines are packed full of lists of chores brides should do, should not do and even longer lists telling them when they should be doing them, as far out as two years in advance.
“I have looked at those lists, but didn’t look very long because they stressed me out,” Gibbons said.
The magic of hiring a wedding planner like Board is they basically do everything on those lists for the bride, and it starts at the initial consultation. Board says she promises every bride two things — one, that she will always be honest, and two, that their wedding day will be like no other bride’s before or after their wedding.
“Every couple is unique. Unfortunately, in our industry a lot of weddings look the same,” Board said. “Sure they may change the napkin color or runner color, but that is not what we consider design. I can’t do ordinary, I just can’t,” she said.
Board starts by asking each bride to describe her dream wedding with three words. In Gibbons’ case it was fun, organic and elegant. While the décor for her wedding may give the sense of an unrealistic price tag, many would be surprised of the actual cost.
“What I tell most of my clients, depending on their budget of course, is that my fee is offset by what I save them,” Board said.
Having sources across continents for anything from votives to table linens can not only help with cost, but can save a bride a lot of time hunting for the right vendor. Typically a wedding planner can negotiate a better price from vendors than if the bride was doing it alone.
“I work with vendor sources around the world to give my brides the best value for their dollar. I will never go over their budget. The great thing about that is, it allows me to be more creative,” Board said.
First things first
While there are far too many things slated to be done before decorating comes into play, Board likes to do a table mock-up for her clients right away. She doesn’t want the bride to have to wait until the last minute to know what her setting will look like.
“We want our client to know ahead of time what exactly they are getting. That way once we do a mock-up, they can say, ‘I love this but I don’t necessarily like this; let’s edit,’” Board said.
“There are so many details and just as soon as I started to think about it,” Gibbons said, “[Board] had an answer for it or she had a call out to somebody so it was not an issue for me to have to deal with.”
The ballroom design Gibbons’ guests saw on her wedding day was the third version bride and planner worked on. Board said oftentimes brides will go on the popular website Pinterest, see something they absolutely love and modify the design. Planning a wedding is all about going with the flow, she said.
“She has made it less stressful for me,” Gibbons said, “because there are things that have come up and it is like, now what am I supposed to do. She has been very cool and calm-headed about it.”
Up to the last minute
Less than 48 hours before Gibbons would say “I do,” she had a serenity about her. She had no checklists to check and no business calls to make. Her decisions came down to nail polish color and focusing on spending time with those she loved.
“All day today, all I had to do was get a manicure and get my eye lashes put on. Janice has pretty much done everything else,” Gibbons said.
On the flip side Board and her team started at 8 a.m. the day before the wedding and worked until the clock struck midnight setting up the ballroom at St. Mary-of-the-Woods’ O’Shaughnessy Hall. Then at 6 a.m. the day of, they were back to work.
“At 7:45 a.m. I was at the salon giving everybody mimosas, muffins and donuts, trying to get everybody riled up and excited for the wedding. I then scooted over to the church and reception hall to make sure everything that needed to be done, was done on time,” Board said.
In the final hours, Board was vacuuming up stray fibers from burlap runners with a handheld vacuum, while her staff was making roses out of burlap to attach to the back of chairs with wire. Her team then kicked back into action after the reception was over, breaking down the decorations into the wee hours of the morning.
“Wedding weekends are pretty intense, but we bring that on ourselves,” Board said.
Advice for brides-to-be
Board has a few decades of wedding and event planning under her belt. Her experience has led her to win an award from Wedding Industry Experts this year. Her knowledge lends brides-to-be with the following three pieces of advice.
• Even if you don’t hire a wedding planner, hire a week-of coordinator. That person will be in charge of developing a master schedule, coordinating all of the vendors and last-minute trouble shooting.
“The week before your daughter’s wedding, you should not be the wedding planner. You should be the mother of the bride. You should be enjoying the last one-on-one with your daughter. It is a time you will never get back. Just imagine if Bre’s mother was [at O’Shaughnessy] for the last two days. It wouldn’t have been enjoyable for her, she would have been exhausted,” Board said.
• In the two weeks leading up to the wedding relinquish, responsibilities to close family or friends that you trust will get the job done.
• Be consistent with your design. If your theme is green and brown, then everything from your “save the date” cards to your table linens should be green and brown. The invitations should set the tone for what your guests will expect when they walk into the ballroom on your special day.