6 Tips to Planning Your Best Engagement SessionRead More
Next up for a Q-and-A is my dear friend and insanely talented event planner Candice Mock of Patchwork Planning. Based out of Northeast PA, Candice has a traveling heart. Her magic touch has been found on weddings and special events across the country and I know she's itching for her first international experience! Here she talks a little about her start, what she loves most and why a wedding planner is SO important.
When and how did PP begin?
I first started giving tips and advice while I was planning my own wedding in 2013. Word was getting out that we were going to have this incredible DIY wedding for $3,500 and people couldn't figure out how. After our wedding went off without a flaw and we had the best day ever, my engaged friends knew I needed to be there for them on their wedding day (and I wanted to!). So, I operated under "Candice Mock Wedding and Events" and did some "partial planning" and "day of coordination packages for some friends. In fact, our first wedding we got to really be a part of was in Georgia, then our second was in Idaho in the Spring of 2014. We were stoked to have one of our first PA weddings at Friedman Farms right here in Dallas (Pa.), which was such a joy to be able to work with actual local vendors. In the Fall of 2014, I knew I wanted to take this on as a serious business and so I rebranded and became officially Patchwork Planning in December of last year.
Why did you decide to become a planner?
After seeing how many details were involved, and how costly things can get, I wanted there to be another way: Another way for a single mom who is working to provide for her kids, let alone trying to save for and plan a wedding; Another way for the bride who has planned it all but wants someone there to make sure the days of is as beautiful as it can be. I wanted to recreate the image that wedding planners are only for large weddings that have lots of money. I guest when it comes down to it, I want to help people, couples, families, on one of their most beautiful days of their lives (and what could be one of the most stressful days as well).
Tell me a little bit about what you do for your couples and clients -- what are the different options for your assistance? What's the most popular type of help wedding couples need?
We start out with three different packages: Full planning, which can start as soon as they get engaged; Partial Planning, which is a customizable package starting a minimum of four months out, and our most popular and most inadequately-named Day-of Package. As mentioned, our Full Planning Package can start right off the bat. It can include anything that it needs to, from recommending and selecting vendors to attending fittings. It includes monthly checklists of things to do (or things couples would like me to do) and a lot more. I call it the "whole enchilada" because that's really what it is. Our Partial Planning Package is for those that might have booked some vendors, but still need help finding some others. It can also include help with RSVP management and other details that come up in the last three months of planning. Our last package, though called Day Of, starts one month out with a meeting with the couple to get caught up on all the planning they've done. After a venue run-through and a vendor list we put together, we put together our most vital part of the wedding day -- the timeline. This ensures everyone will be on the same page, from bridal party to the DJ. It's also called "Month of" Package and "Peach of Mind" Package. Because each wedding day is so different, we want to be as customizable as possible. That way, you are paying for what you need, and not anything extra. Have something crazy we need to do? (Like making sure your dog can be kenneled during your wedding day?) We can add that, and anything else, to the package.
What are some of the biggest challenges you face in planning?
As movies have pointed out, there is always the chance we will have a "bridezilla" on our hands -- the most pleasant bride ever, until one small detail can set them off. I think the challenge is, especially because people are so different, is finding what can not just calm them down but bring everything back into perspective. We've dealt with screaming mothers, drunk grooms, late caterers and the list goes on. But at the end of the day, it's reminding the couple that they will be married. And no matter if it was the perfect day they imagined or due to things beyond our control it wasn't the ideal day, they will still be married.
What three words would best describe you/your style/your business?
What's been the best compliment you've received?
We've worked with a lot of incredible people, from couples that we've planned every detail with to couples we've met one month prior -- and not to mention some awesome bridal parties that we might only have known for two days but still talk about. One of my favorite compliments was for a couple that I planned almost every detail for while they lived in an entirely different country. Though there's more to it than I can say, after the ceremony, the father came up to me and said, "I can't thank you enough, you've truly brought our entire family closer together." I was flabbergasted and may have shed a tear. What can I say to something like that? It is an honor, an absolute honor, to work with couples on such an important day of their lives.
What is this 100-plus item emergency kit? What are some of the strangest things you've had to find/use?
A fellow wedding planner was gracious enough to send me her emergency kit list. As I bought the different items, (everything from aspirin to fake rings), I realized I was going to need a suitcase. Now, when I head to different venues, I call it my "Mary Poppins bag" and everyone is always surprised when they need something and I say, "Oh, I think I have that." One of the first weekends I had the bag with me, I used almost half a bottle of aspirin, medical tape and an ace bandage. Strange because it was a wedding drinking festival and if I didn't have those items, I don't know what I would have done. I truly feel prepared for almost everything.
What about your job brings you the greatest joy?
At the end of the night, hearing the "We couldn't have imagined the day without you" is something that always resonates with me. We hear it at every single wedding we have done, and sometimes multiple people at the event repeat it. It's such an honor to be a part of someone's most special day. Sometimes you might not have known you needed a planner, or maybe you are a bride-to-be and don't think you need an extra hand. You will never know how much easier, smoother, peaceful, etc, your day could be with one.
What does your Instagram feed look like? (www.instagram.com/thepwplanner)
My Instagram is a mix of curated posts of inspiration from others in the wedding industry, our own weddings and shoots, our English Bulldog, Stacy, and adventures with my husband. Every day is different!
Why is photography so important on a couple's wedding day? What questions should people ask of a potential photographer?
Professional photos (keyword: professional) are unforgettable. So what if you don't think you're the photo type, or perhaps don't necessarily see the need right now. There may come a time that you wish you could see those photos, or that portrait of your grandma that passed away recently. You're on a tight budget? Generally, photographers will be willing to work with you to capture exactly what you want for a price you can afford.
Definitely ask first and foremost what their style is. So you like alight and airy photos? When you see heavily-edited, saturated photos, you know they are not a good fit. Ask about a payment plan! Ask how long they are there for your wedding day. She if they've been to the venue beforehand. Discuss having a second shooter. The more you know, the more you'll feel comfortable with trusting them to capture your special day.
What's your favorite part of a wedding day and why?
The end. Ha! That's kind of true (because that means everything went well and now the couple gets to focus on their marriage and not just their wedding day). But really, I would have to say the First Look or the recessional. That moment where the bride and groom see each other for the first time makes me forget the frustrated mother-of-the-bride, the jealous bridesmaid, etc. It puts everything into perspective for those few moments that really at the end of the day, no matter if the caterer is late, the flowers don't arrive or there's a hurricane outside, they are married and get to spend the rest of they lives loving each other. The recessional gives me a similar feeling, exuding so much joy surrounded by the people that love you the most.
What's the future looking like for PP? Any changes coming to your services?
Well! We have been booking 2016 for a while now and even have a few weddings in 2017. We are working on a few "full planning" engagements, which is really like planning an entire wedding. In the midst of weddings, traveling and more weddings, we are also teaming up with some of our favorite vendors (Forget Me Not Vintage Rentals and Photography by Seneca) to do at least one styled shoot a month until November.
There's a good chance we might need to hire an intern for next year's wedding season, which is exciting. We want to rewire the idea that wedding planners are only for the wealthy bride and will continue to work with brides according to their budgets and needs.
Clockwise from Top Left: Mel and Jesse from Alexander x Pat Furey Photography (http://www.longbrookphotography.com and http://www.patfureyphoto.com) / Kaiti and Jon from Mika McClurkin / Sweetheart Table from a Tribal Wedding, photo courtesy Photography by Seneca / Nell and Chandler table set-up courtesy of Forget Me Not Rentals and Kelley Spurlock Photography.
Be sure to visit Candice and Patchwork Planning at:
Don't get me wrong, I LOVE being a part of several weddings a year! That's 15 or so First Looks that I adore and more than a dozen first dance and written, personalized vows. Nearly 20 grooms who get big smiles or damp eyes when they see their bride walking toward them and nearly 20 delicious cakes and gorgeous rings. Touching speeches and fun on the dance floor and all those beautiful blooms! But. I *might* love engagement sessions even more!
In fact, that's a major reason why a complimentary engagement session is included in all of my wedding packages.
Engagement sessions are an opportunity for your true style, likes and dislikes, hobbies and interests, special locations and memories to all shine through, front and center. It's a chance to really capture the two of you in a more laidback and informal way, with comfy clothes and an entire evening of fun. By the time we're done with our two or three hours together, I know the name of your puppy, your son's birthday and things that will help me at your wedding and future sessions -- your insecurities, the way to make your fiancé smile in a really relaxed way, little DIY touches your doing for your ceremony, your family dynamics and your favorite images.
I love that my engagement sessions are an opportunity to really tell your story -- your love story.
Ben and Megan love doing things together outside, so it was only natural that we spent their engagement session on his family farm and near the creek where he proposed.
MaryAnna and Ian are very old-school with some fantastic vintage wedding touches and appreciation, so their session began at an Art Deco ice cream parlor and ended at the resort where they'll be getting married next month.
I could go on and on, but basically, engagement sessions are incredible! You'll know me and I'll understand you and we'll have some fantastic images to compliment your wedding gallery.
I love when I see family member or friend comment that a couple's engagement session really captured who they are as an individual and as a couple. That's what it's all about!
Things to expect with a Wendy Zook Photography engagement session:
- I usually recommend doing these either at the same or similar type of year, foliage, etc, as your wedding so that there's some cohesiveness, especially when we are dealing with snow, Autumn leaves and other obvious backdrops.
- These sessions are usually 2-3 hours, with about three outfit changes (at least one casual/"normal" one so it seems "you") and at locations of your choosing -- nearby park, favorite hangout, wedding venue, etc.
- We can use as many or as few props as you like. The majority of my sessions are a lifestyle approach, meaning lots of natural light and "real" moments, but I have several rustic signs from one of my favorite vendors, Samantha of The Dusty Daisy Shop. Food can be a prop -- I loved shooting Andrew and Gina through the windows or a coffee cup on a cold wintry evening. Clothes can be a prop, too, like when Heather and John donned their opposing NFL team jerseys for a mock football match during their session.
Looking forward to more love stories!