Exclusive Interview with Celebrity Event Designer Colin Cowie

Recently we had the amazing honor to interview the world’s leading event designer and     extraordinarily talented Colin Cowie. You can imagine our excitement level when he agreed!  Not only is Colin known for orchestrating the most spectacular celebrations across the globe, he is also an authority on living and style, an author, interior designer, and a celebrated television personality.  With a show on HSN Network selling home decor and eight best-selling books, Colin has earned his reputation as a leader in the industries of design and lifestyle. His impeccable attention to detail allows him to execute the most gorgeous and flawless events!

On top of all that, he has planned gorgeous events for high profile celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey, Jennifer Lopez, Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman, Jennifer Aniston, Bruce Willis, Kelsey Grammer, and many more!  He truly is an outstanding individual and aspiring entrepreneur.

See below for his insightful interview

You have established such a successful business and are sought after by many celebrities.  How did you get started and when did you realize this would be your dream career?

I started as a one man show — chief chef, waiter and bottle washer. I used to wake up at 6 am and go to the flower market, arrange the flowers, do the marketing, then head home to cook the meal. I’d set their table, cork the wines, pour drinks, serve the meal, and do the clean up. And I put 120 percent into everything I do. It’s kept me at the top of my field. My favorite days are always the day of the party or opening of a project. I never set out doing what I’m doing now. One step led to another and the dream has come to life.

The weddings and events you orchestrate are beyond gorgeous!  Are there certain design elements you rely on to make all your celebrations extraordinary?

I like to work within a family of color, using a limited amount of materials to weave a thread of style throughout…from the invitation to the thank you notes.  It creates a cohesive vision. My events are always executed with tremendous attention paid to every detail and with great production value. Every party has a well thought out beginning middle and end, before a guests looks at their watch wondering what’s next, it’s already happening.

You have a remarkable sense of style that shines through in each event you create.  Where do you find inspiration?

I’m inspired by many things: my travels, my friends, magazines, movies, the stores I shop in and many that I just browse.  I love food and find inspiration from the many great chefs I’m fortunate enough to work with. Most importantly, everyone wants something personal and I love learning about my clients tastes — their likes and dislikes, then creating something that reflects their personal style and always exceeds their expectations.

What has been the most memorable wedding you designed and why?

The next one I’m working on, that’s really how I feel. Each is so different, I’m able to start with a blank canvas and go from there.  Bringing a vision to reality and seeing it all come together is like weaving a thread thru a needle, there are so many moving parts that must come together seamlessly, with only one take; it’s like live TV.

What three things do you feel are most important to having a remarkable wedding?

It needs to be personal. A remarkable wedding should be entirely about the bride and groom, their likes orchestrated into a celebration that’s uniquely and personally theirs, in ever detail.  From the type of party the host to the color scheme, the food served, the cocktails offered, the music playing and of course the décor,

Production value. There is an art to throwing a wedding and it’s all in the timing. A well-produced wedding has a distinctive beginning, middle and end with everything smoothly orchestrated without down time. Guests are never looking at their watch wondering when the next thing will take place. Whether it’s the ceremony, which always happens within 15 minutes of invitation time, to cocktail hour being just that, one hour from start to finish which means 45 minutes of cocktails with guests ready for dinner and seated by the end of the hour.

The food and beverage plan. What’s served and how it’s presented are of equal importance.  A delicious piece of grilled chicken that’s properly cooked is much better than a fancy dish with a sauce on top that no one recognizes.  If it’s a seated meal, it should be served within an hour and a half with no lag between courses, appropriate music playing in the background to enable conversation when guests are seated around the table.    I consider lighting and sound to be fluid and constantly adjusted to control energy and ambiance. In the end, everyone leaves saying it was the best party ever and they can’t believe it’s already over; the reason being it moved along so smoothly and elegantly.

From your experience what advice would you give clients on a restricted budget?  For example are there any cost effective and unique ways to pull in fabulous design that won’t deplete a budget?

Pick three things and do them well rather than 5 things on the skinny.  Spend your money on what your guests will get the most out of, offer a better cut of meat and quality of wine instead of party favors, serve a delicious 3 course meal including dessert instead of an elaborate multi course menu.  Offer a signature cocktail instead of the proverbial red wine, white wine and water, save them for the meal service.  And rather than hiring a band, book a DJ…find one who understands how to work the energy in the room so when its time to party everyone is on the dance floor.

You also have show on HSN showcasing fabulous Home Décor with endless options from dressy and classy to sleek and chic.  Have you always be into interior decorating?

Each wedding I design is like an interior design project unto itself.   I don’t have a signature look, my personal tastes are minimalist, but I love the classics.  By being versatile I’m able to design products that I know will appeal to the HSN costumer, just as easily as I can design a hotel or private residence.  I always start by understanding the end user and their needs.

How do you manage to look great with such a demanding job that keeps you traveling a majority of the year?

Last year, I spent over 250 days traveling. There was this one week when I was in seven different cities in five different countries meeting the different Colin Cowie Lifestyle teams and working around the clock. I wake up and head right to the gym by 8 am. Breakfast is eggs, wheat toast, a smoothie, a hand full of vitamins, and no tea or coffee (only water when the sun is up), and then the day begins.  Tequila is my cocktail of choice on the weekends.

Lastly, what do you feel is the meaning of true style?

True style has nothing to do with what you wear or how much money you spend.  It’s about how you treat yourself and those around you.  I treat people with respect and am grateful for everything, they’re the foundation for how I live my life.

Thanks again Colin!

xo, Jenn

Interview with Samantha Goldberg

Many of you know the amazing Samantha Goldberg from “Whose Wedding Is It Anyway”  She is super friendly, fun and has a great sense of humor beyond her unbelievable talent.  I can testify she is truly one of the sweetest women in the wedding industry.  See for yourself right here.  Enjoy!

1. What is the best part about your job?
The best part of my career is working with so many different types of people and events. Obviously many have watched certain brides of mine on television. They would exceed what I mean about different. And do make me rethink my career choice at times ha! The industry is so exciting in that it allows us to create just about anything for anyone. Everyday is something new, and nothing is ever predictable. I think I love this the most! Most rewarding moment? The most rewarding moment would be watching everything you have orchestrated come together. Some would call this the reveal. I love watching that sigh of relief on my teams face (I’m kidding) on our clients face when they are able to visualize what we have been working on.

2. When did you realize you wanted to become a wedding planner?
I have to be honest, I did not grow up with the wish of being a wedding planner/designer. I didn’t really care for the “all in white typical bride”. I started my career in the Professional Beauty and Fashion industry. I was usually in management designing trade shows, events and education for that special world. Helping orchestrate events for shampoo aka “bubbles in a bottle” was so beyond exciting. Our celebrity stylists would cut hair while hanging upside down..etc…And yet every one would walk away with an amazing style. Go figure? With blaring music and flickering lights you just cannot imagine wanting to be any where else but there…I still have videos of events we put together and dance along with the music. I know hard to believe people dancing with shears…It’s true and dangerous I don’t suggest it for those who can’t cut. :) It wasn’t until I was about 5 years into the market where I was asked to plan “personal” events on the side. I dabbled in all kinds of celebrations. It wasn’t until 1999 when I decided to start my own side “gig” called Gold Events. This company was designed with a friend of mine whose last name was Goldstein..I was in process of becoming Goldberg. Hence Gold Events came into fruition. The rest is history..Or a really long story and can be found on our website…I like to skip around “the story” as I know most of your readers might get bored in about 5-10 seconds..Isn’t that the average time frame for readers? Ha.

3.. What trends are you seeing in 2010 for weddings?
I see many great things ahead for 2010. We’re starting to dabble in many bold colors such as deep purples and bright yellows. I love that some clients are open to color because this year does offer this option in many great ways. You will notice more lighting than ever..Candles are VERY big…Embellishments on them..Lighting on the walls. You will also see dandelions and carnations being used..Who would have thought? They can look amazing with the right combination. Linens with texture is definitely a bonus this year too.. (Lighting and linens are my personal favorites to work with). You will also notice that bridal attire is not so structured anymore. Bridal parties may work with a particular color but the style for the Bridesmaids dress can come in many options. This is apparent with Vera Wang, David’s Bridal and Nicole Miller to name a few. I wish this was offered years ago. It would have saved many friendships and not having to invite a backup bridesmaid or Maid of Honor last minute. I did have a client who took the throne away from one of her Bridesmaids and tried to ask her “backup” to wear the dress she had chosen for the one she fired! Yes, that was fun to watch! Is that bad of me to say?

4. Do you think brides will be spending more this year on weddings than last year?
I wish I could say yes…I actually think you will see smaller budgets but the option of affording more with what they have. Many vendors nationwide are coming up with better packages that work with any budget. Thus allowing even the smaller budgets to have quality workmanship. I have to mention that the average budget on the East coast is about 25K..It was 33K about 2 years ago…While the numbers have changed, you can actually afford more today with a lower budget. The guest list plays a big part of how you can keep your wedding classic and an amazing experience. We still receive many requests for weddings at 10-15K for 200-300 guests. Come on people….Seriously? Unless you are serving Ramen noodles or items off the dollar menu at Wendy’s how can you manage to fit it all in? It’s not about quantity it’s quality. If you want to wow your guests, you will have a difficult time doing it this way. Less is more…We have worked with many celebrities who have the funds but don’t want to spend them…They would rather have a smaller crowd at a quaint restaurant or even at their home. They don’t serve Wendy’s by the way. I do love the big W…Just not for a wedding…Rehearsal dinner could be a possibility! Can you imagine how fun it would be to pipe and drape Wendy’s with lighting and candelabras? I think I just came up with another idea…LOL…

5. On average how many weddings do you coordinate a year?
On an average we plan about 60-70 weddings and about 20-30 various events.
And what is the average budget wedding you are coordinating?
The average budget I work with is about $90,000 and up ( I may work on 5-6 weddings annually that range from $150-$1,000,000)…However as a team we would say our average is about 30-40K per planner with 150 guests. Back in the “olden” days..Ha I always wanted to say that…I would actually attend about 80% of our events. Due to my dabbling in many facets of our industry, I just can’t do this. It has nothing to do with budget and everything to do with trying to grow in other directions while my team works on developing their skills with planning and design. I love being an advocate/expert for events. Being an educator for those who are interested in planning is so fulfilling. I love hearing success stories from students who have their work displayed in a local or national publication. I feel like a proud mother! I have never been afraid to share my pearls and try to pass this thought process on to our students and staff. We are so different and we all have something special to bring to the table. Well, most of us do…I do question what I see out there at times. Wondering if certain people became educated from a Cracker Jack box..I say this with a smile because I know we have all been there…Yet most would be afraid to admit this publicly. I don’t have that kind of edit button. :)

6. We all know how fabulous you are in the industry and well sought after! So tell us what makes you stand apart from the rest?
Good Question and I’m still trying to figure that out…I’m giggling as I write this. First of all, I love that you call me fabulous. Not because I think I am, but because I just love that word. Did you ever notice how it makes people smile when you say it? Try it…If people smile when they think of you or the product you offer who wouldn’t want to be called that? I would say I’m different in many ways. A lot has to do with my personality but also my background. I have always worked with people. Whether it be selling, training or promoting someone or something. I have always been a person who enjoys looking for something more or different. If you ask some of our regular vendors they might tell you I try to test the “waters” on a regular basis. One of our floral designers has mentioned on many occasions that she loves working with me HOWEVER, she is always nervous as to what I am going to ask her to do next…I do come up with ideas that sound unrealistic but once they are actually built, they do look amazing. At least we think so :) Right now we are working on a June bride who wants a magical and mystical garden. I am having our designer make draping out of ivy (actual drapes) with blown open various colors of roses…Chandeliers that are solid floral and linens made from spider mums and various other floral. The centerpieces will range from 10-15ft from the tables at times….This will be televised and in one publication who wants exclusive rights. Our designer could not take on any other events that weekend or week prior. She had to rent out a warehouse for this amount of work. It will take her just about 2 days to complete the venue. Can you tell how excited we are? I do plan on video taping the whole process. It will be great fun for everyone to see this fast forward…I know they will need a few weeks off after this…Little does she know that a month later we have another large affair in Staten Island…I hope she doesn’t fire me for what I have in mind for this client ha! By the way, I have never been fired from a vendor. Yet. (Knock on wood). Any vendor that has worked with us, always has a story or 2 to share after the experience. I attract all kinds of people. I would tell you for those who really “understand” me..I know that’s hard to imagine, we have the best time working together in some of the worst situations. I love our vendors dearly. From those who gave me a chance when I first moved to the East coast and some of them who are the true pioneers in this market. I didn’t make my mark by doing weddings, trust me. I made a larger “appearance” by building relationships. It’s never been about me…If you ask many of our teammates”…It’s always about producing a successful experience for the client. I make them laugh and some cry (in a good way) They trust me with things they don’t share with their own family. My motto has always been hire me because you want me as your partner in crime. Not because of status etc…After planning for almost 19 years…If I don’t think your a good fit for my team, it has nothing to do with budget. I have sent away 2 million dollar weddings before (swallow) yes, because it’s not a good fit. Trust me, I’m doing them a favor. They should LOVE their planner for that kind of investment. Even though I think of all of the wonderful things I can create. It won’t be a happy experience for them or us. When you hear me call this a “Job”..Tell me to turn my keys in…Please. This is still fresh for me as we’ve just turned this down..I still pout…But know it was the right decision. I know that several people want to see our work…I don’t post many events on our website and I don’t show things off in our showroom unless a client of that caliber wants to see it. Lately, I have been calling clients from 7 years ago asking them to say something on some of the popular websites. Honestly, we receive great thank you cards and thought this was enough…But now, I was told I should have past clients say something nice about us online…So if you see recent posts with some weddings from the dark ages, just understand I’m slow with these things. Honestly if I didn’t have to display a website I wouldn’t. What a pain in the butt! Updating….OEY! Can’t I just show you the books? I never want any client to feel less than any other. Money is really just part of the process and doesn’t mean that only the hefty budgets can “wow” people. I have wowed many with $5,000. It’s how you distribute the funds..Many designers cannot work with such means. It’s not in their make-up.. In my opinion, that’s how you can tell a good designer from one that blends with the rest. IE… Always doing the same type of wedding. You can figure them out in magazines by just looking at the decor. If you look at some of the other great designers such as Colin Cowee or Preston Bailey they are gifted individuals who never do the same thing twice. They are not predictable and your always wowed. I have to be honest, I wish I was gifted with the ability to work with floral hands on. They have all been there and can create an actual demo to show their staff. I on the other hand, have the great ideas and good luck to you in figuring out what the chicken scratch is…Actually, the designer who I scare, we have kept all of our “fun” wedding designs along with the actual centerpiece photo to compare how good she is with following my direction. Kudos to you Lisa…I call it fancy penmanship! It’s UNBELIEVABLE how they look exactly like the drawing. Keep an eye out for a book in the works! No one has done this yet. I doubt anyone will. It’s way out there…But definitely something you should see. Did I tell you I have my first book deal in the works? Well. it’s taking a really long time. Probably because I’m spread too thin. I get that…

7. Describe the most elaborate wedding you have thrown for a couple?

The most elaborate wedding I orchestrated was one in NYC..The theme was Asian and a touch of tropical flare. The floral budget was about $250,000 when everything was said and done..I haven’t had one that surpassed this with budget. Still hard to believe it was that much in floral. It was amazing though!! Sadly, I cannot show this..But the one in June is going to be featured Internationally…That may open Pandora’s Box for us, I still want to be known as the fun planner who works with anyone…I just like a challenge! I don’t mean with a brides personality, let’s be honest, you’ve watched me handle this on Style. Face it, I failed…But would really love to tell the “real” stories behind the shows…You’d be surprised..Or possibly not…Anything goes today right?

8. We all know you for your humorous fun loving self on Whose Wedding Is It Anyway! Have you enjoyed doing the show?
Are there any downs to being on television? I am so glad you watch the show this way! This is exactly how I would want anyone to view it. I have enjoyed doing the show. It’s been a great stepping stone for me. I have been on and off camera for many years. It started with participating in a commercial for Dodge when I was 3! I have no idea what I said, but I do remember being in a studio with BIG hot lights on me..Ah hem.. this was many years ago… With Whose Wedding I have participated in 7 seasons out of 10. I was able to work on the pilot of “Whose Destination Wedding Is It” which later changed to “Married Away”. It’s been an experience… When you say “enjoy” do you mean for every show I was on? Ha! I think we all know the answer to that. Remember reality television can be cut and paste. You cannot change the story line and you cannot make someone say something….But you can change when it was said or done…I have said things after answering a question (from the producer) and what it looks like without the producer’s voice asking me….OOOOO not so good…. I’m sure everyone remembers the episode where I was unable to make it to a wedding. I fell ill. I need the music to make this sound more dramatic… OK. I do want to set the record straight. I did not have internal Poison Ivy or my period…It was a bit more complex..And yes, the bride did know I was in the hospital. I spoke to her on the way and when I arrived. The event was not handled at the last minute by the venue. All vendors were prepared and knew exactly what to do without me. Seriously folks, do you think someone could come up with those designs, layout and lighting etc in 2 hours? If you find this person, I HAVE to meet them. As I’ve mentioned, my vendors have watched my back in many situations and I know that any client who works with them is going to have an amazing experience. They don’t need me watching over them to do their job..if they do, I have totally picked the wrong people to work with. Yes. I have picked some that were not a good fit for us. You learn.

9 Do you have any knew projects in the making for 2010 that you would like to share with us?
Well, I do! I did sign for my own show! This has been going back and forth since last Summer..Finally casting for it! I cannot give specifics just yet…But hope to in March! I did start my first book deal…As I said this is taking a really long time. I have an amazing co-author Mike Sion who has made this so much easier. I hope to have some EXTREMELY good news in the next week or so. As you know I have been working as Hilton’s Celebrity Spokesperson for “Guestiquette” their new online tool..I was the Author for this as well…My goal is to be part of a brand and to brand myself (not with a hot torch..) I mean a product. :) It looks like I may have found my home with a very large company who has never had a spokesperson before..I am so excited about this opportunity. Having a REALLY hard time keeping it to myself..You have no idea. It could be as early as tomorrow and as late as the end of Feb…It seems like forever..But totally worth the wait. I’m also excited to announce that I was asked to be one of the chapter presidents (Midwest Region Chgo) for a new non for profit called “Wish Upon A Wedding”. We are the first organization that will offer weddings for those who have a terminal illness and have a last wish to wed the one the love before they pass. I cannot think of anything more appropriate for me than this. Again, if you have been following me, you know I would do just about anything for anyone. When you add love into this equation, it just seems like the right fit. We launched the website on January 15th 2010
www.wishuponawedding.org and will begin taking wishes on Feb 14th. I’m speechless with how heavy this is on my heart. I hope you will go to the website and see what we’re all about. It’s just amazing.

10 So if you weren’t a wedding planner what other career path would you have embarked?
We’ll don’t laugh, I did attend college to be a Kindergarten teacher. Yes, for some this probably explains everything. I do have a childlike behaviour. (all in good fun)..I have to tell you, this is how I survive. Not just weddings, but everyday life. I have a daughter who’s 6 and she brings this out in me. Actually she’s much more mature than I am. Sydney has already told me she isn’t getting married, doesn’t want a wedding and doesn’t like my career. She’s going to be a “Fashion Designer”. I hate to tell her, that is kind of what your mommy does…And you will have more drama than ever before..I think I will save this for a chat when she’s older~

11. Any celebrity clients you have worked with or weddings you have coordinated?
I have worked with various types of celebrities. Some I chat about and some I don’t. I am sure that other designers can appreciate this. We have to sign NDA’s that state when or if we can discuss their wedding, show photos etc..I have certain clients who have also ask that we do not disclose photos or budget. Some of the weddings/events I have planned/designed have leaked out..I would be happy to list a few…John Stamos in Chgo..This was when he was Blackie in General Hospital dating Paula Abdul…(Have you guessed my age yet?), Malinda Williams to Derrick Jones who were gracious enough to share there planning experience with Essence Mag via blog..(I had to wait to chat about hers as she had exclusivity with Essence first. Sadly my sad attempt for “no exposure” before her wedding was presented in a chat room..and well, that was rather intrusive. I have no idea how some people find out things that are not readily advertised! It was on the Style website I believe. Kathy Griffin (not a wedding), various Colt’s players, Giants, Chgo Bears, Dallas Cowboys…And other silverscreen scarlets.. I look at it this way, I don’t need to prove my experience to the public…How many brides would want some of their original ideas to be chatted about before she actually does them? It’s the same for a celebrity. I don’t share information with anyone unless you’ve given me permission to do so. Honestly for those who come into our offices are welcome to browse through hundreds of weddings. All different in design and budget. Again not listing information about cost etc..I don’t aspire to only work with celebrities. I like working with all kind of people. I have also worked with some Senators and Govenors on the East coast as well as a bride who’s secret service agent , protecting Palin and McCain duirng the election. We tried to get her wedding on Style, but were sadly informed that since government from D.C was possibly going to come, they would not allow airing of their presence. This happened during the taping of a show..It was not a good place to be in after 3 days of taping. Sorry Style….We tried!

xo, Jenn

Interview: Abby Larson with Style Me Pretty

We are beyond thrilled to share the Fabulous Interview we had with Abby Larson, Editor and Founder of of Style Me Pretty. Most of you are familiar with Style Me Pretty, one of the most read wedding resources on the web. For those of you who aren’t you must check out this amazingly awesome site filled with everything from gorgeous real weddings to the most elite wedding vendors in the industry. Abby truly does an outstanding job bringing her readers the freshest most chic and style centric wedding related content! Even if you are married and still obsessed over weddings like us,we can guarantee you will be hooked on this site for life.
Thank you Abby for giving us some insight into your fabulous world! Enjoy!

1. Abby, you have such an amazing, stylish, and inspirational wedding blog. Tell us how SMP was born and was creating a wedding blog always something you aspired to do?

Style Me Pretty was actually a bit of an accident. I had recently sold my invitation design studio, Abby Jean, and I was looking for a way to stay connected to the wedding industry. And I was seriously dragging my feet on getting a real job. So, during the transition of my invitation brand, I started blogging. It started as a very intimate environment where I would design custom inspiration boards for brides, chat about color palettes for specific dilemmas, things like that. Well, that sense of personalization gave way to some really loyal readers who ultimately helped me launch SMP into what it is today. When I started, I had no idea as to how big Style Me Pretty would be. I thought that I would be absolutely blessed to get to 5,000 pageviews a month. And when I got there, I thought it would be amazing to get to 10,000. Now we’re at about 7 million and I couldn’t be more stunned, more grateful and more excited for what the future holds.

2. What does your typical day consist of? We can imagine you have a pretty hectic schedule based on the amount of fabulous weddings you post each day.

My days were a blur until a few months ago when I hired, Erin, our first additional full time writer. We split the writing duties so that I can focus on other things like business development and growth. With that said, we’re a start-up thru and thru and every day seems to be a bit of an adventure. Especially with a wild 2 year old running around all day! Any given day looks kind of like this…

6:30AM, up with toddler. Breakfast, books, playtime. 8AM, sitter comes and we start work. My husband either at our office or at the dining room table. Me in a comfy chair. I write and edit until about noon every day. Noon, lunch. A big one because soon-to-be baby boy Larson is HUNGRY. 1PM, I work on biz dev, building out new SMP products, troubleshooting, sourcing weddings, finding content, managing the 400 + weddings we have in the queue on any given day. 5PM, work stops and it’s all about Audrey. My husband and I devote our evenings to our toddler and try to put our computers down. Try is the alternative word there. After she hits the hay, we pick them back up again and work until 10 or 11.
We have hectic, crazy, never-going-to-end days but we wouldn’t trade them for the world.

Abby hard at work with her Hubby, sweet daughter in the background and cute dog!

3. What do you love most about running SMP? Is there anything you dislike? It is hard for us to imagine there would be anything negative since we are obsessed with weddings and find so much joy reading about them.

I am constantly blow away by the creativity that’s out there. The amazingly talented brides, the vendors that are so thoughtful and design savvy it’s almost hard to believe. It’s so inspiring and so motivating to pore over images as beautiful as the ones we see and know that all of these indie designers out there are kicking some serious creative butt.

As for negatives, you’re right. There isn’t a lot to complain about in this household. With that said, we run SMP as a business thru and thru. This isn’t a hobby for us. So, just like any small business, we deal with HR woe’s, software bugs, vendor issues, business management, hiring, firing and everything else in between. Everyone, myself and my husband included, wear MANY hats so there will always be parts of the job that aren’t the greatest. But really, we don’t dwell on those. We just get them done and focus on the fun stuff!

4. It must be hard to choose which weddings you will feature each day since you receive so many gorgeous ones! How do you make your final decision?

It generally comes down to 2 things…the details and the photography. It breaks our heart a little when a wedding is so beautifully designed and yet the photography is not good enough for a feature. Hiring a great photographer is ESSENTIAL to getting a wedding on SMP. They don’t have to be the most expensive photographer or the most well known, they just have to shoot clean, unfussy photographs that allow the details of the day to really shine.

5. You must be an expert by now on all the latest trends in the wedding industry! Is there any on particular style/trend you absolutely love at the moment?

The best trend right now is the sense of intimacy and warmth that brides are infusing into their day. Ceremonies are more personal, receptions are more casual, details are more thoughtful. Brides and grooms are realizing that their wedding is the one day where they can really let the ones they love in and they are embracing that thru and thru. I love that.

6. If you were to design your dream wedding, what would be your vision and important elements you would include?

OMG, I have no idea! I would need to have like four dream weddings. I think that the most important thing would be a small but perfect guest list. Cutting out all those random people that just make the bill go up and the experience less personal. Next up, I’d get my dream team of vendors together…don’t want to play favorites, but I definitely have a few in mind that I’d book in about two seconds flat. Booking the right vendors is probably THE most important ingredient to a gorgeous wedding. Then, it would all come down to the details. Designing a wedding that really reflected my hubby and myself, that didn’t break the bank and induce wedding guilt, and gave our guests a window into our personalities.

Abby (isn't she gorgeous) on her wedding day!

7. Before SMP you owned an invitation company so you must adore and love paper (we do too)! Do you miss the invitation designing world and do you still dabble in that creative field?

8. We always love asking this question in all our interviews so here we go! Tell us how you balance and manage family life with such a hectic work schedule?

Not. Very. Gracefully. I’m always telling my husband that there are days where I can’t seem to do anything right. Audrey is a mess and is still in her PJ’s at noon or I didn’t spell check a post that went up so I appear to millions like a completely idiot. But you know what? Who cares! Audrey is beyond loved and our business is doing really, really great. So although I try to take the time each day to nurture both the business and our family, there are definitely days that I don’t succeed. And that’s perfectly fine. At the end of the day, we simply do the best that we can!Not in the slightest! I know that sounds terrible, but I’ve decided that I am much better at writing about other people’s talents than actually doing the dirty work myself. As much as I love getting creative and designing, I also found the process of owning a wholesale invitation brand incredibly stressful. I give huge props to the people out there that are doing it so well! Although I will admit, I do all of the paper goods for any parties or events that we have and a few for photoshoots so I do satisfy that creative craving every now and then:)

9. You are a huge inspiration to many women wanting to start and run their own business. Can you give us any tips you have followed throughout the years that have helped you along your journey?

My most important tip, and the rule that I live by, is that when inspiration strikes…jump on it. I have met so many women with SUCH great ideas, though the ideas just marinate and marinate, never coming to fruition. I know that life often makes it challenging to just drop everything and start your own business. In fact, one of my best friends is dealing with this as we speak. So make it your hobby instead of your full time job. Design flowers in your spare time for friends and family, create invitations for free for willing brides and grooms, assist a wedding planner to build your portfolio. Whatever your passion, make it happen. Don’t just dream about it.

The second best piece of advice that I have ever been given was this: know what you do…and do it really well. It’s the mantra that Style Me Pretty uses every time we decide to launch a new product or consider growth in a different way. We always stay true to the original goal and only do things that can make us better and better.

Those two little pieces of advice have literally guided every business move that I have made in my adult life….especially when it comes to Style Me Pretty.

10. Lastly, Are there any new and exciting plans in the works for SMP you can share with our readers?

The next six months are going to be FULLY devoted to honing the blog, making sure everything runs beautifully, weeding out the chaos and focus instead on the elements that really work for Style Me Pretty. We’re hoping to make the Style Circle a part of Style Me Pretty so that we manage one cohesive site rather than two. After the new year, we have a couple of directions that we are looking at…though we haven’t really made a decision yet. The forever goal is to create a site that really makes sense.  That runs easily and that can grow with gusto…all while retaining our simple, original intent: to bring wedding style to the masses!

Thanks again Abby for your inspiring Interview! xo Jenn