What happens behind the scenes at Happily Ever afTer
A beautiful, perfect wedding seems to go so smoothly. Everyone is where they need to be. All the vendors arrive on time. The day flows perfectly and everyone is happy as the couple begins their new life together.
A wedding without any major hiccups - the limo driver getting lost, dinner being served 30 minutes late, or the DJ having the wrong day - seems like it would be easy to plan. When everything runs almost effortlessly and stress is at a minimum, wedding planning appears simple enough. However, there is so much that happens leading up to the big day that helps create the magic of a couples wedding day.
Carolyn Scholfield and her team at Happily Ever afTer Wedding & Event Planning #HEAWeddings make it their mission to make weddings look easy. They don’t want the bride or the groom to see or feel stress on their big day and work quietly behind the scenes to make sure the day goes exactly as planned.
But this requires a bit of work.
Creating a plan
Carolyn meets with the couple even before she has been hired to make sure she knows the when and where, what services they would like her to provide and what the process will look like. “I am open and candid about everything,” Carolyn says.
Once the contract has been prepared and signed, Carolyn knows what the couple is looking for from her business and gets to work. For couples who are looking for a wedding day coordinator up to full-service wedding planning, regular monthly meetings will be set up with Carolyn and the bride and groom. These meetings allow for decisions to be made as well as the couple to better get to know Carolyn and Carolyn to better get to know the bride and groom. While it may seem like a lot, it is necessary to make sure every detail is covered so there are no surprises or details overlooked.
As the big day gets closer, the meetings increase and the topics become very specific. With more than 20 years of experience wedding and event planning, Carolyn knows the importance of covering each aspect of the wedding, from rehearsal dinner to reception in an orderly, methodical fashion. There are many moving parts in a wedding. Many people, possibly several locations. It is important to go over every detail to ensure everyone is on the same page with the same information.
The week before the wedding the bride and groom meet with Carolyn one final time before seeing her at the rehearsal dinner. This is when final details are discussed and everything is set and ready to go. Carolyn says it is at this point she can see the relief and gratitude the couple have for hiring a wedding planner. “I can see a heaviness being lifted,” she says. They are excited about their wedding day and feel the stress of all the details around the day being put into the caring and very capable hands of their wedding planner.
Also during this time, Carolyn is contacting all vendors to make sure they know the date and time of their arrival. She makes sure she has contact information for all important people involved in the ceremony and reception and she creates a detailed timeline to keep both the rehearsal and wedding day on track.
Quietly working behind the scenes
While the wedding day morning and afternoon (depending on the time of ceremony) is filled with hair and makeup appointments, final touches on bridesmaid dresses and enjoying the jitters of moments before the couple says ‘I do,’ Carolyn is making sure everyone is where they need to be, when they need to be there. If the wedding has more than 100 guests, she brings along her assistant Nickie. While Carolyn is mostly with the bride, Nickie is attending to details of the reception. #DreamWedding
“There is a lot of back and forth communication,” Carolyn says. Not only between herself and Nickie, but also with vendors and a main contact that has been chosen well in advance. This is not the bride or groom - they are to be focused on getting ready and enjoying every moment - but a parent of the bride or groom that can help make sure all the groomsmen are present, or the photographer has taken the pre-wedding photos.
“I am always trying to work five steps ahead,” she says.
At every wedding, Carolyn comes fully stocked with an emergency kit. This includes a sewing kit, pain relievers, tissues, a first aid kit and “anything anyone would need.” This helps take care of the little unexpected issues that usually pop up, like a chipped fingernail or blister from new shoes.
Photographers are essential to a wedding because it is so important to capture all the memories! Carolyn makes sure that all pictures the couple wants to be taken are taken - from first look (if the couple decides that is what they want) and family pictures, to photos taken at a special location. All these photos are decided well in advance at a planning meeting and then are given to the photographer so they know what to take on the wedding day. Carolyn also has a checklist herself, so a photo with grandma doesn’t get missed in all the excitement.
Then comes the reception. Carolyn wants the bride and groom - and everyone else - to sit back and enjoy the party! However, there is quite a bit of timing to coordinate. Carolyn and Nickie work with the photographer, DJ and caterer to ensure everything happens in order and on time.
Always a professional
If there is a delay or issue, Carolyn is there to handle it. The bride and groom can enjoy talking with their friends and family while Carolyn quietly works to keep the evening moving while adjusting to changes. “I want to make sure no one knows when something comes up,” she says. Her years of experience helps her to know that five minutes can change the flow of the evening, so if the catering is a little late getting ready she can quietly move the speeches up to before the meal, rather than during.
Sometimes the schedule needs to be adjusted or flipped, but that is why having a schedule (as well as a person in charge of the schedule) is so important! Carolyn knows that while having a schedule is extremely important, it is also important to be a bit flexible and move and adjust at a moment's notice.
“I want to be professional at all times,” Carolyn says. “Any problems or issues that come up I handle with grace and most importantly I try to keep the bride and groom out of it.”
During the months of preparation Carolyn becomes close with the couple, however, having that professional distance helps to ensure that no feelings are hurt. “I adore my couple, but at the end of the day, this is my job. I am a professional.” She says not having that emotional connection like a family member or friend helps make sure the couple is getting the day they want. “There are decisions that happen throughout the day that may upset someone, but I know my couples and I know what they want.”
Carolyn says she always takes time to make sure the couples get something to eat during the reception and will quietly get their attention and ask them to look out at all the people who are there to celebrate and support them. “I want them to stop and take it in,” she says.
So when you think “I'll just ask my aunt or friend to help me plan my wedding,” ask yourself, how many weddings have they helped plan? Who will they turn to for questions? How will they handle problems that pop up during your wedding day? Will they be offended if you don't choose their suggestions? If any of these questions give you pause, it would be a good idea to consult with Carolyn or a local wedding event planner in your area. You want your day to be everything you have always dreamed. Carolyn and Happily Ever afTer can make that happen!