Today on Wedding Secrets Unveiled!, Sara interviews the Real Deal Wedding Insiders—Jeri Solomon and Edna Dratch-Parker. These incredible women are so passionate about helping you plan your wedding that they just released their first book! Guide to Smart Wedding Planning is your step-by-step manual to planning the perfect day. They are here to share some wisdom with you! From building a budget to managing the expectations of loved ones who got married 30 years ago and so much more, grab a notebook and let Jeri and Edna’s wedding planning tips transform your experience! Make sure to pick up a copy of their new book too! It is available on Amazon or anywhere you buy books, and for this week only, we are giving away a copy of Guide to Smart Wedding Planning on our Instagram! So head on over to @SaraZarrellaPhotography for your chance to win this secret weapon of wedding planning!
Meet Jeri and Edna!
I’m Jeri Solomon and my company is Jeri Solomon Floral Design. I design flowers for weddings, mostly in the Boston area and I mostly serve clients that love a classic, timeless style.
I am Edna Dratch-Parker and my company is called EFD Creative Event Planning and Design. I’m a wedding planner and designer and I work out of Boston, all around New England. And, I work with clients that want to have exceptional events and have fun doing it.
So tell our listeners what brought you together and why are we here today?
We’re here today because as collaborators in business and through our developing friendship, we created the Real Deal Wedding Insiders together. We wrote a book called Guide to Smart Wedding Planning, too. We have a lot of history together, too. We’re both event professionals in the Boston Market and we really had a lot of conversations about what was going on and how we could best get information out there. We have built a friendship, but through that came this book and this brand.
Where can listeners find a copy of Guide to Smart Wedding Planning?
We are available on Barnes & Noble online and in select Barnes & Nobles in the Boston area. We are on Amazon and we are in the Paper Store and online at the Paper Store. It’s also in select Paper Stores throughout New England – and wherever books online. Just type in the book (Guide to Smart Wedding Planning) and you’ll find us!
Perfect. And then for our listeners, we are giving away a complimentary copy of both Edna and Jeri’s books. So, hop onto our social media and see how you possibly can get your hands on a complimentary copy.
Tell me a little bit about how you got into this collaboration and how you even begin to even think about writing the book.
Well, we’re both event professionals and are great friends. We talk a lot about what’s going on in the industry. Both of us hit a point where we were just frustrated that people weren’t getting the right information. Frankly, there’s so much information – how do you go through it and figure out what’s right for you? So, during this conversation, we said we should write a book! We still don’t know who said it, but we agreed. We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into. It wasn’t an easy journey, but we wanted to take the knowledge that we have and pass it along. We’re the professionals – in the trenches every day – and we see what’s going on. We wanted to share that.
I love it. That’s sort of kind of how I started the podcast, right? It’s the same thing. I’ve been in an industry for 20 years and I just wanted to bring something to my listeners direct from the industry insiders. Tell me more about your book!
So, the main reason for this book is to give people who are planning a wedding a foundation of where to start because we find that so many people are just overwhelmed by the process. We wanted to break it down step by step. “Guide to Smart Wedding Planning” really takes someone from the moment of their engagement through walking down the aisle. We wanted to give them step by step instructions on how to make the process a little easier and things to look out for. We also wanted to make them feel like they are a more educated consumer so that when they speak to vendors, or look at venues or talk to parents, they’re a little more prepared for how the journey might go.
This book is really meant for the individuals or couples who are actually planning a wedding and something that they read prior to walking down the aisle.
Exactly. You can be at the beginning of your planning process – and this book will be amazing. Or you could be halfway through it, but the book will still work for you. Just find where you’re at and go from there. Find what’s applicable to you and thumb through the rest!
I think it would also be helpful to other people that are involved in the planning process, for them to understand how weddings have changed. We actually have a whole section about that. And really, if they’re part of the process, it will help them as well.
So ladies, why is your book called “Guide to Smart Wedding Planning”?
For two reasons: one, we want to help people be smarter and make smarter choices and be smart about their planning process. SMART is an acronym that stands for: specific, manageable, articulated, realistic, and timely. We set that up in hope that our couples have all of those pieces when they’re making all the various decisions that have to be done in their wedding planning journey.
Can you give listeners a little nugget from the book?
We have the three C’s of wedding planning in our book. The three C’s can apply to anything in your life really, but they are: communicate, comprehend and calculate. it’s really important to use those three C’s for whatever you’re working on. Have you communicated with your partner or with other important people with your vendors? Do you comprehend or understand who you’re hiring and what the contract means? Then calculate is definitely important – do you understand how much you’re spending on XYZ?
I think you just hit a big one: calculate.
That is the biggest pain point for couples planning weddings! The budget is the biggest hurdle that we see as wedding planners because people come to me and have these big expectations. They have a chunk of money and are so excited. They’ve seen the opulent and extravagant weddings on Pinterest. I always feel like the bearer of bad news. I have to sit there and explain that’s not how the budget works. Obviously, this depends on the market you live in. But Boston and New England have some of the highest wedding costs in the nation, outside of NYC and LA. There’s a huge learning cost when it comes to funding a wedding. That’s another reason we wanted to write this book because these conversations about budgets are important and it’s so hard to hear the disappointment in their voices. That’s something we take pride in: how can we figure out how to give them the wedding they’re dreaming of with the budget they have? How can we think outside the box?
Yes, I absolutely agree with you. One of the first things I still hear is sticker shock. People don’t realize how much everything costs. Especially parents who don’t realize how much things have changed. But, it’s normal and it’s okay. So, you cover where to start with the budget in your book?
It’s funny that you mention about how wedding used to be. We have a section in the book about how weddings used to be – even 30 years ago – and how they are now. So many parents that we work with got married in the 80s and 90s. It was completely different then. And the budget becomes this huge, monstrous thing because of that. But it’s important people really understand they have to take time to think it through and figure out the budget together.
The budget chapter is our largest chapter in the book. Now, it’s very broad, because we recognize that a wedding in New England is going to be different than a wedding in another part of the country. But we really try to break it down in such a way that the information is helpful, no matter where your wedding is going to be. Fundamentally, you have to look at the budget the same way no matter what kind of event you’re planning.
It’s said about 50% of couples go over budget.
Definitely – or more. And no one wants that to happen. People think they have to have this grand wedding because that’s what they see online. But we want people to understand their priorities. We make suggestions on that as well.
Let’s do a little myth busting. Do you believe the idea of “it’s my wedding and I can do whatever I want”?
It’s not true. As a wedding planner who is on site, I can tell you it’s not. The wedding is for everyone who’s there and you want to make sure your guests are comfortable. The timeline has to work and there’s so many elements that have to work together. You can’t just say I’m going to show up now and do make up then and so on. Timelines exist so we can fit everything in that you want on your wedding day (or as much as we can). But you can’t just let things run amok, running around and doing what you want. It’s really important that you take the time to create and follow your timeline.
I would also say that if somebody else is paying for the day, they become invested too. It’s a day for them as much as you and your spouse. It’s the beginning of your lives together, but it’s also a day for all of the people who are there celebrating with you. In “Guide to Smart Wedding Planning”, we have a chapter about your wedding committee – the people that are helping you plan your wedding, whether you like it or not. You have to respect the people that are contributing, especially if they’re doing so financially. There’s also the quiet voices. You have to make decisions based on the importance of people around you and making sure you’re doing the right thing by those people. That might be a grandparent who wants the couple married in a house of worship. The couple may not be that interested, but they do it to honor family tradition.
One of the beautiful things about a wedding day is you are getting everybody together. You’re literally bringing your two families together, so there’s a lot of trains of thoughts. You want to make it the best day but you also have a budget. So talk to me about the committee that you mentioned.
We break it down into bank roller, and VIPs. Then we also have a special category called judgers, because there’s sometimes people who have opinions that maybe are uninvited, and yet, they’re always going to have their opinions and you have to be ready for them.
The reality is that you’re celebrating the start of your life together – that you can have that future together. I always try to sprinkle that thought in, because people can get so stressed during this process. You’re making all sorts of decisions and everyone’s emotions are heightened. I want to bring people down and say: let’s get our feet back on the ground. Remember that you found your person. That’s really exciting and if things don’t go exactly as planned, it doesn’t matter, because you’re going to have this amazing life together.
That’s such a great reminder. What else do you have planned for your brand beyond “Guide to Smart Wedding Planning”?
We are the Real Deal Wedding Insiders. So, we see ourselves continuing to give real solid advice to couples who are planning weddings. We have a workbook in the works and we’re building out our website. We’re only just beginning, and we’re really excited about it because we feel it’s really needed.
What are some key points to smart wedding planning that couples can take away from reading your book to ensure that their wedding day is an absolute perfect event?
Keep your food, beverages, and venue under 50% of your budget. People tend to spend more than that – and it happens right at the beginning. Then they wind up without enough money for everything else they need.
Build your guest list early in the process – before you do anything else. Create your A and B list so you know who’s coming… just make sure you don’t tell anyone they’re on the B list! Really take your time and include everyone on both sides of the family. Then you can trim down from there.
Make sure you’re hiring really good wedding professionals that will do a great job for you. Review their reviews and understand the overall themes. One bad review doesn’t mean someone is a bad vendor. Don’t forget to ask your vendors who they like to work with, too. It can be helpful to expand your search list. Trust your gut – even if someone has really great reviews, they might not be the right vendor for you.
What We Discussed
Meet Jeri and Edna (2:21)
Why they wrote Guide to Smart Wedding Planning (5:35)
Budget tips for wedding planning (9:36)
Can you really do whatever you want on your wedding day? (14:12)
The Planning Committee (22:08)
Wrap-Up Question (26:07)
Links Mentioned in the Episode
Find Edna & Jeri: Real Deal Wedding Insiders | Real Deals Wedding Insiders Instagram | Real Deal Wedding Insiders Facebook | Jeri Solomon Floral Design | EFD Creative Planning and Design | Guide to Smart Wedding Planning
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