Who’s ready for another episode of “Wedding Secrets Unveiled!?” We’re so excited to share that our 5th episode is now live, and we’re talking to the incredible Katie Ryan McLauglin. Katie is a co-owner of Leila Ryan Events here in Newport, RI and is an amazing event planner! Today she’s sharing her expertise to help couples hire the perfect wedding planner for their big day.
Meet Katie! How did you get into wedding and event planning?
Honestly, I kind of just fell into it! I went to school for business – I wasn’t thinking that I would want to be a wedding planner. I’d been in the hospitality industry since I was 14 years old and once you start, you just kind of work your way through the options. I went from restaurants to hotels and into marketing. While I was in Florida, I planned some of the Boat Shows and kind of realized that it could be a job. When I moved back to Newport, I began planning smaller events. I had a job with Longwood Events in Newport, Rhode Island, and by the time I moved to New York City, I had over 950 weddings under my belt.
At that point, I went into planning corporate events, fashion shows, movie premiers – that kind of thing. So, I have large variety of events under my belt! I think I stopped counting at around 1,000 events. But, I love it. Every single event is different. And, as much as you think you know how to plan or know what you’re doing, there’s always something to learn.
Let’s pick your brain: what would you tell a newly engaged couple who’s all excited about planning?
I’d tell them a few things! The first is the most important to remember: really enjoy your engagement and don’t rush. It’s a super exciting time as things come together, but just try to enjoy every moment of the planning. The second thing is to NOT plan right away. I know it sounds funny from a planner but couples read all of those wedding planning lists and they’re just not accurate. How you plan your wedding will really depend on where you are, what you want, and your budget.
Honestly, the best thing a couple can do is sit down and have a discussion first. Decide what you want as a couple – not what everyone else wants – and then you can figure out what’s important. As you start planning, you can go back to that conversation to remind each other what really matters to you in the process. Oh, and keep the parents out of things! Once you know what’s important, you can have the budget conversation with whoever is paying – but until then, try to keep things between you two.
Without getting too into a discussion about budget, how do couples know how much to budget for each “category” for their wedding planning?
Well, that’s where a wedding planner comes into play! Once you’ve got a budget and a guest list (which will help inform your budget!), determine if you need a planner. Planners are here to help you figure out what goes where based on your must haves and inspiration for the wedding day. And, having a planner with you as you start to see venues can be helpful. We have experience that allows us to make sure we ask the right questions and ensure nothing is forgotten.
When it comes time to look at venues, what would you tell couples to think about?
I think being open is the key when looking at venues! Be open to other possible days of the week as it can impact price. And, be wary of the idea that a private home wedding or backyard wedding is cheaper. It’s often just as expensive (if not more) than a traditional venue because there’s so much you have to bring in for the event. Finally, remember that an event specialist from your venue is NOT a wedding planner. They’re not helping you pull the event together or there to support you the same way a wedding planner is.
Let’s talk about wedding vendors. There are SO many options out there to choose from, how or when do couples start this process? How do they know what vendor is best for them?
Well, let’s talk about preferred vendor lists first. I want people to know that they need to remember these lists aren’t always created with a couple’s best interests in mind. Sometimes they’re friends of the owners or something – so, just be mindful and do your research. Ask your wedding planner what they think instead of booking blindly. When you find someone you’re interested in, hop on the phone and talk with them. You’ll know quickly if they’re a good fit for you or not.
Also, if you have a wedding planner – USE them. Ask for recommendations based on the style you love. Often I can look at my couples’ inspiration boards and budget and know exactly who to send them to. It takes so much stress out of the process. And, I think that’s also a good tip – TRUST your vendors. They’re professionals and here to help you.
If a couple is not working with a planner what are some important things they should keep in mind to make their planning as stress-free as possible?
Not working with a planner? I wouldn’t suggest that! Just kidding. Honestly, the biggest thing is to trust your vendors and not micromanage them. This is what they do for a living. Let them help and take care of you. And trust them when they say XYZ won’t work that they aren’t being mean. It’s from experience. Also, just be mindful of their time. These vendors are often juggling many clients and events each weekend, so pay attention to what you signed as part of your contract. If you find you’re constantly “bugging” them for help, maybe you should consider a planner.
Also – just be kind. Remember, while you’re interviewing a vendor, they want to get to know you, too. And, sometimes, you aren’t a good fit. That’s no one’s fault. But, make sure to reach out and tell a vendor if you aren’t booking them. They spend time talking to you, writing proposals, and all of that – and to hear nothing after it all can be super hard. Honestly, rejections help us do our job better!
Wrap Up Question!
What are some key points that couples should be asking an event planner when they are inquiring to make sure they are working with a professional planner to ensure that their wedding day is a perfect event.?
-Read their reviews
-Ask for references
-Ask how many events they’ve planned
Links Mentioned in the Episode
You can see find Leila Ryan Events HERE!
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