INSIGHTS AND TIPS FROM A WEDDING PLANNER
If you’ve ever wanted to pick the brains of a wedding planner, you’re not alone! In this interview, we sat down with Carling from Withasee who shared her experience and insider tips to help you plan your big day!
Thanks for chatting with us, Carling! Can you tell us about your experience as a wedding planner and how long you have been in the industry?
Sure! I entered the wedding industry in 2004 at the age of eighteen (I’ll let you do the math). I started working casually at a bridal resource centre whilst studying at uni. For those who weren’t around back then, it was a physical shop couples would visit to collect wedding brochures and price lists! Prehistoric, I know. But this was before online packages or Pinterest even existed. I also coordinated bridal exhibitions and a wedding venues magazine, before moving into a role as the Wedding Coordinator at a well-known golf club and function venue in Brisbane. Fun fact: that’s where I first met Beau!
For those that don’t know, Beau is Factory51’s Founder and General Manager!
Yes, we go waaay back. After coordinating 400+ weddings, I segued into corporate events for some time, started a family, and then launched my business Withasee in 2018. It’s a mix of weddings, events, marketing, and copywriting. So, I still get to journey with couples through wedding planning which I love, as well as support the bridal industry and other clients through marketing, and then balance it all with family life.
We’re guessing that would have been helpful during Covid times?
Oh, absolutely. Weddings were nearly non-existent for a long while there, so being able to keep my business afloat with other projects whilst home-schooling a Preppie and keeping a toddler occupied was definitely helpful. I’m so glad to see the industry’s bounced back and people are able to celebrate with their loved ones again!
How would you describe your signature style or approach to wedding planning?
I definitely have a more relaxed style and pared back approach to weddings. Often couples are understandably stressed, so it’s important for me to bring a sense of calm and confidence to their planning. I ultimately want to free them up to enjoy the experience and focus on what really matters… their love!
Wedding planning sure can be stressful. What’s your number one tip for reducing stress when it comes to planning the big day?
Go on a date! Honestly, set time aside to go on a date, and ban all talk of the wedding. It is incredibly easy to let wedding planning take over all of your spare time, and before you realise it, you haven’t connected properly in months. Plus, it’s actually more difficult to make wedding-related decisions when you aren’t connected emotionally, intellectually, physically, or spiritually. So, go on a date… maybe to an Italian restaurant in Coorparoo…
[Laughs] Good call! We see a lot of people coming into the restaurant for dates…
As they should. Pizza, pasta, wine, in a festoon lit area… Factory51 is the best dinner date location!
We couldn’t agree more! Speaking of unforgettable dates, what are the key elements that make a wedding day truly special?
For me, it’s two-fold. It’s the little touches that help a couple feel connected throughout the day, as well as the overall guest experience. Your wedding day genuinely goes by so fast, so finding little pockets to connect is so important. Whether it’s a sweet note before walking down the aisle, a private moment to take in the fact you just got married, or even ducking out of your reception for a sneaky pash! When it comes to the guest experience, I’m all about including the senses. What are your guests seeing, hearing, tasting, touching, and smelling. A silent room can feel empty, and no-one wants to eat a bland dish! Factor in all the senses, and you’ll be on your way to delivering a complete wedding day experience.
That’s a great point, as weddings are usually so focused on the look and sight of everything…
They are… and so even if guests don’t realise it at the time, ensuring all their senses are covered adds the finishing touch to their experience. Think scented candles, interactive Sip and Solves, or cultural wedding drums. There’s so many ways to incorporate the senses in ways that are meaningful to the couple.
We love that. Do you think the latest wedding trends and industry developments help towards that complete experience?
They can do, for sure. I admit I’m a little picky when it comes to the latest trends. I certainly love seeing what vendors create and couples respond to, but my encouragement to brides and grooms will always be for them to have what they love, over something that happens to be “in” at the time. Saying that, I’m a little obsessed with flowy fabric signage and communal dining at the moment.
We offer a mouth-watering share feast!
I’ve heard! And I love that it’s back in. Communal dining with your nearest and dearest is not a new thing, but it’s nice to see it taking centre stage once again at weddings. I think couples are craving that connection, not only with each other, but with their guests too. And, that of course adds to the overall intimacy of the experience.
How can couples create that intimacy during a wedding?
The common misconception is that you need to have a micro or small wedding for it to be intimate. By nature, smaller numbers will help, but it’s possible to create a warm and close environment with hundreds of guests too. Lighting plays a massive part, as does the setup of the space you’re in. For a cosy feel, turn down the house lights, add ample flickering candles, and seat guests on long tables. If the room is quite spacious, close it in with the help of dreamy curtains, a hanging installation, or dedicated lounge areas. Give your MC and speakers permission to share jokes and personal stories, which will loosen up formalities and assist in creating an atmosphere of intimacy.
These are great and practical tips! Any final advice when it comes to couples planning their dream wedding?
Oh, I have lots! But here are two of the most important principles which I think will help couples along the way:
First, hold things loosely. What I mean is, there are two of you entering this marriage, and it’s likely you will each bring your own ideas and desires as to what your wedding will be like. Communicate these as thoroughly as possible, and be prepared to compromise or place your fiancé’s desires above your own (a life-long marriage tip really!). Holding things loosely will also be helpful if you need to make adjustments to suit your budget or timeline.
Second, if you aren’t the organised type, are strapped for time, or have no idea where to start, seek help from a professional! Wedding planners can offer everything from a simple consult to point you in the right direction through to complete coordination and on-the-day delivery. They possess the knowledge, experience, and industry contacts to make your wedding planning journey a positive experience. I’d love to chat with anyone who’s after some assistance, so don’t be shy!