So you're engaged—congratulations! Planning your big day is an exciting time. But where to start? Let's start with Lara Kreutner of Sealed With a Kiss Events. I was so lucky to work with her this past summer at the Danielle Poff Photography Workshop in Carmel, California. She took the concept of Spanish bohemian and ran with it in a creative, unique way. It was such beautiful style! I caught up with her recently to get some valuable advice for soon-to-be brides on why you need a wedding planner and how to find one who is right for your big day.
Tell us a bit about yourself and why you decided to become a event designer and stylist. Why are you drawn to weddings?
I have been pursuing this job since I was a kid. I think I just realized how much I loved romance, and taking leadership roles (yes, even in elementary school) so in my very young mind being a wedding planner made a lot of sense. Every job I’ve had since I was legally able to work had to do with weddings. I knew I wanted to be resourceful to my clients at a very early age and planned accordingly. While in college at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, I realized it was time to turn my childhood dreams into reality and started my company when I was just 20 years old. I have been offered jobs in corporate events, but weddings are my passion and always have been.
As a stylist for a wedding, what kinds of services do you provide for your couples?
As a stylist, my goal is to transform something the client has in their head into something they can walk into on their wedding day. Of course the biggest battle is the budget, which everyone has, big or small. The key with budget is to figure out where the priorities are, and work to compromise on things that aren’t as important. My favorite part of styling is figuring out what elements will come together to complete the feeling the clients are looking for. From looking through thousands of photos of bouquets to finding that perfect gold flatware, to the best font options for the invitation…I do it all.
What should a couple know when they are looking for a stylist for their wedding?
The client should know two things when looking for a stylist:
- The style they are looking for—inspiration photos really help, but no, I don’t like to copy things straight off Pinterest.
- A general idea of budget—it is really important to know that you may splurge on one item, and find a great deal on another, but when you talk to a stylist they will give you a realistic expectation after talking to you more about what you are looking for.
Before they hire a stylist, I recommend they meet in person if they can, it is really important that you hire someone you can trust with making decisions for the big day. Find someone you click with, and be OK with giving up control to them.
How does your work help a couple in planning their big day?
When someone hires a stylist, then we already know that the way the day looks is important. My job is to make sure that it is a romantic, well-thought-out design that fits the couple’s personalities and preferences. The creative part of planning a wedding impacts the logistical part, and the logistical part can sometimes affect the creative. (i.e. time for set up at a venue space, photographers limiting the number of hours of work, venue restrictions on décor etc.)
What do you love most about your work?
I love my clients. I love making them happy. I only take a select number of weddings each year so that I can pay as much attention to my clients as possible, and make sure they have a good experience. If the client has a great experience on their day because of work that I put into it, then that brings me great satisfaction and joy. I love love, families, and making sure things are running smoothly and people are happy. I can’t imagine having another job. And yes, putting together beautiful things is certainly a perk. There are certainly some negatives that come along with planning weddings and having your own business, which some people don’t recognize. It is really hard work, and I love what I do.
What advice would you give to a couple that is planning their wedding?
Oh man, I have so many! Even as someone who loves details, pretty tables, lush flowers, and a dynamite dress…I would really urge couples to focus first on their relationship. Planning a wedding is oftentimes the first time a couple will be making a lot of decisions together, have family input that may create conflict, and pressure because of budget and “it is the only time we are ever doing this,” which can be conflicting ideas. It is like a tornado that sort of takes over all of your free time and date nights. I learned this firsthand when I got married!
I would also encourage the couple to really think through the ceremony. Some couples get married in churches, which have very regulated ways of performing a ceremony, but if your friend is officiating or the officiant is open to ideas, then change it up! Make it what you want it to be. Often, the clients focus so much on the party and not the reason they are having the party, so think through the vows before the day of the wedding, think about the commitment, and maybe even consider getting some pre-marital counseling where you can walk through potential issues you might have in marriage.
I swear I am not saying this because I am a planner, but you should really consider hiring one. It is an investment in a more relaxed version of your wedding day for all involved. Who would be doing everything they do if you don’t hire one? Day-of coordinators who work at venues have different priorities than my job has. They focus on many events throughout the year (maybe even three that very same weekend!) and you are pretty much just a date to them until a few weeks before the wedding. With me, I have about 30 clients that I think about day and night, usually get to know really well, and become personally invested into making sure their day is amazing. You care more about a friend than a stranger, right? And no one wants mom or aunt Sue running around with no time to enjoy anything that day, right? Catering shouldn’t be doing anything but cooking you great food, the photographer should be able to just take pictures. Hand it over to a professional planner, and you won’t regret it.
Lastly, “you get what you pay for” is a good thing to remember. Using shoes as an analogy, you can’t be shopping for Manolo Blahnik shoes with a Payless budget. Not going to happen. Sure, you can find knock-offs, but the actual high-quality shoes—you need to pay for them at the retail price. Many brides will shop around for the best prices, which, as I mentioned before, is understandable since you have a budget. Finding a high-quality vendor at a low price is rare. In my experience, vendors who are the lowest price the bride could find, or even friends, can lead to a more stressful situation than a trusted and known vendor who has a lot of experience in the industry and is priced accordingly.