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 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