You have been working in the event industry for more than 10 years, namely in the field of wedding organization! What is your favorite style of wedding decoration? Can you highlight your favorite details?
One of the important stages in preparing for a wedding is the choice of decor. Every bride, like any girl, scrolled through the perfect picture of her wedding day several times in her head and, of course, imagined the hall drowning in flowers. As a wedding organizer, I always try to advise one or another style of a solemn event. I am really fond of modern classics, I am always attentive to details, especially the table setting is very important: dishes, glasses, appliances, napkins – all this should be combined with the floral design of the entire hall and create a complete atmosphere of the celebration.
Wedding in the usual sense is about the classics. Can you tell us about the unique and memorable wedding that you organized?
Every wedding organized by my team is unique and memorable because we always try to make each wedding different from the other. Recently my team and I organized an incredibly beautiful wedding in one of the castles near Moscow, the whole hall and the buffet area were drowned in flowers: almost 40 trucks with fresh flowers arrived at the venue, the hall was drowned in the incredible aroma of fresh flowers, and the bride and groom enchantingly appeared in front of the guests from the helicopter, the music was amazing and the guests, had goosebumps on their bodies! It was spectacular and memorable.
How do you achieve a complete understanding with couples in order to bring their ideas to life? Have there been moments in your practice when you dissuaded a couple from certain decisions?
Mutual understanding is achieved at the first stages, as a rule – this is the first telephone conversation. Each couple, having dialed the phone number of our agency, gets to me during the telephone conversation. I find out the details about the format of the event and make a decision to deal with it personally or to give the order to the managers. From the first minutes I already understand whether there is a so-called contact with customers or not. Next, the meeting is formed. I
I need to meet a couple to analyze their characters. At this point, you’re a little bit of a psychologist.
Only after that I started to select contractors and specialists for this couple. It is important that they match.
It often happens that the bride has come up with a wedding for herself, but it absolutely does not match the format of the hall. We usually explain that there is no match, explain and offer alternative solutions.
How do you make sure that the wedding day goes smoothly? Are you together with the newlyweds throughout the celebration?
The yes! I try to be close to the bride and groom from the very first day. I control all meetings, write timings, technical tasks, optimize the budget, come up with interesting ideas that were reflected by the guys. And, of course, I’m working at the wedding. The morning of the wedding day begins with the fact that our managers go to the bride and groom, they control all organizational issues in the morning. I am on site in the morning and prepare the hall for the event. My task here is to keep everything under control so that no force majeure will darken the mood of the guys.
Very Often newlyweds, inspired by the idea of a wedding, want to do everything almost in one day. Can you tell us about the typical timing of wedding planning? How long does it take to prepare for such a celebration?
As a rule, I advise everyone to prepare for a wedding at least six months in advance. This is the time when we can calmly choose the style of the holiday, draw sketches of the decor, come up with an interesting program, meet several times with the host and rehearse the appearance of young people in the hall. But we had cases when people came to us a week before the celebration, previous organizers had let the guys down, and we promptly took everything into our own hands and created an incredibly beautiful event!
How do you cope with last-minute changes in the wedding day plan? Have there been such cases in your practice?
I can safely say that everyone had force majeure! But the first rule for me and for my team is that whatever happens we must solve it ourselves without straining the couple. There were different cases when artists were delayed in traffic jams, and dimensional instruments such as a harp, for example, could not arrive on time because the car broke down, but, fortunately, we promptly resolved these issues. The most ambitious case was when we planned a wedding in one of the parks in Moscow, but at the last moment the city administration forbade installing a tent there, but we were able to find a solution to this problem.
What is the biggest problem during the planning of a wedding?
From a conceptual point of view, I don’t see any problems. Our team can implement a project of any scale. Difficulties may arise at the stage of establishing contact with young people when they still have no idea what their wedding day should look like. However, these difficulties are our job. At this stage our main task is to understand their personalities, to find out their lifestyle, hobbies, and favorite activities. Having all the information, we are preparing several wedding day projects to choose from for our couples.
What do you, as an organizer, like most about the wedding planning process?
In general, wedding planning is an amazing process. The most important, and favorite moment for me is the first stages of organizing a wedding. I really love the beginning in preparation for the celebration. I love our first meetings, when we can sit for hours with couples and share thoughts and ideas, celebration appears at this moment. I became a part of a couple’s life during a very stressful period. I must become not only a wedding organizer, but also a close friend. I would divide the holiday planning into two parts: the first is communication with people (a lot of communication) and the second is tabular and paper affairs (contracts, timings, estimates, lists, etc.). I like the first part more. Communication and people are mine. I can negotiate with anyone and about anything you want.
Of course, each nationality has different views and traditions of the celebration. Can you share examples of how you took into account cultural or religious traditions in your weddings? Have you learned a lot by organizing a wedding for couples of unfamiliar culture?
I would like to note that our team is one of the few that works with different national cultures. For 10 years of work, in addition to Russian weddings, we have organized hundreds of weddings of absolutely different nationalities and cultures. We went with the team to the Nikah (wedding) ceremony at the Mosque, organized the Sacraments of Baptism in Orthodox Churches, and took into account the traditions of such republics as Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Chechnya, Uzbekistan.
In 2022, in one wedding season, we organized dozens of Yezidi weddings, the latter, by the way, were new to us. Did I learn a lot of new things? Yes! And now I can safely say that our team can organize an event of any culture and nationality.
It is difficult to single out someone separately, but it is worth noting that national weddings are a complete tribute to centuries-old traditions. There were events where men sat separately from women, where the bride and groom could not dance a slow dance together. I remember that at a Chechen wedding on the day of the wedding future spouses were forbidden to be in the same room together. The bride was in a separate room with the guests and, according to tradition, had to stand all evening in an area strewn with flowers, while the groom was with friends in another room and watched everything through a television broadcast.
Our team is very careful to preserve national traditions if customers wish it, but sometimes we still add a touch of modernity to our unique weddings.
What is the most important factor to make a wedding day unforgettable?
I have always said and will say that it does not matter how much money you spend and how magnificent your wedding will be and who you choose as the wedding organizer. If the bride and groom feel low during this day, if they are nervous and irritated, the best organizer in the world will not save this wedding.
Sincerity and good mood are the key to an unforgettable holiday.
Young people and all the guests should be in a great mood. The wedding will be unforgettable. I can say with confidence your wedding will be PERFECT under such a condition.
Can you tell us about the cases when you had to make a quick decision during the wedding day?
Fortunately, I didn’t have to change my decisions during the wedding day. There were cases when an artist was delayed in traffic jams, or flew from another country and his flight was delayed, then I had to change the timing and time of the performance during the event, but fortunately for our customers, this was not a big problem and all the events ended with a smile on my face.
How do you deal with situations when a couple may have different views or opinions on the wedding, and how do you mediate between them? Have you ever had to resolve disputes between family members or guests?
Never. I can always express my opinion on this or that occasion, but I do not know how to enter into disagreements between the family and impose my own opinion. I do not know whether it is good or bad, but I believe that the organizer should not do this. They should solve controversial issues among themselves, and then come to us.
Have there been any cases when you had to adapt to unexpected weather conditions during the wedding day?
Sure. Unfortunately, force majeure by definition is an unpredictable event, the ultimate irresistible force. The fear of any organizer is a chance of rain during a summer wedding with live floristry and on-site marriage registration; I think everyone had unexpected rain. In this case, we always have a plan B. For each such ceremony we usually buy umbrellas and tents. Unfortunately it is not always possible to escape with umbrellas. In this case we either transfer the on-site registration to the hall, if the site allows, or quickly install a tent in.
What to do if the newlyweds want a grand celebration without having a sufficient budget? How do you ensure that the wedding idea of the newlyweds is realized and at the same time does not go beyond the budget?
You know, the concept of a «grand celebration» is different for everyone, for you and me for example, a wedding in a castle with dozens of trucks of fresh flowers and top artists on stage is grandiose, but there are couples who want something banal and it is already grand celebration to them. A beautiful and cheerful wedding is not always expensive. Our main task is to optimize the budget. I always try to tell the newlyweds what is worth spending money on and what is not.
What, in your opinion, distinguishes your wedding planning services from other services in this industry?
Once I was told: «What madness! Where are you going? In order to create your own event agency you should work for several years in this field, nothing will come out without experience».
I want to say that everything will work out for those who know how to dream and realize their dreams.
I’ve had the «excellent student» syndrome all my life, I have always wanted to do everything perfectly.
I’ve been gathering my team for a very long time. I rely on my team. I have the best production directors, decorators, lighting designers, project managers working for me. You asked me today about force majeure at weddings, and I couldn’t even remember something large-scale because we think through every detail, every step in advance so much that there can be no mistakes. I don’t even consider the possibility that something could go wrong. Weddings do not forgive mistakes.
It absolutely does not matter what budget our newlyweds have, we will work out any celebration with great love and soul. Perhaps this is what distinguishes us from our colleagues.
What advice can you give to couples who are just starting the wedding planning process?
Do not make a mistake in choosing a wedding organizer, every detail is important in preparing for the wedding. Be sure that you hired professionals.
How do you cope with stress and pressure during the wedding planning process?
The main and permanent rule at our events: «Don’t panic.»
This is always the first thing I start my training and five-minute sessions with.
We have an amazing decorator working in our team, and if I start asking a lot of questions about floristry, he always answers me: «Melina, don’t worry, no one will be left without flowers.»
In any case the wedding will be organized perfectly, the main thing is not to panic. Over the years, I’ve probably developed an immunity to this. During the wedding day I try to be relaxed enough, I don’t fuss, I don’t run and I don’t panic. As it is trendy to say now: I am in the «energy conservation» mode in the case of an emergency. I have the strength and the ability to react instantly and solve the problem with little stress. During the wedding day, I simply forbid everyone to panic, especially the managers who lead this or that project. Panic is transmitted at lightning speed and can be disabled. There are of course cases that can even shock me. I can go into the dressing room and get nervous behind the closed door.
I solve issues there and come back. No one even knows about many problems. The organizer for the couple is a friend, a psychologist, the main support in everything. If you say to the bride and groom, «Yes, I am your organizer,» be the organizer till the end.
How were you able to gather a team of professionals and trusted suppliers to ensure a hassle-free wedding day?
Probably like everyone else: through experience and mistakes.
At the very beginning of our journey, we met bad confectioners; and florists who did not always understand what we wanted. Only those who do nothing and stand still are not mistaken. We are always developing and keeping up with the times.
Currently I am no longer looking for contractors, specialists from different fields write to us and call us daily, but we are very picky in this matter. At the moment. I am 100% confident in my team. I have an amazing decorator with whom I have been working for many years, a team of videographers and photographers, directors, lighting designers, sound engineers, confectioners – these are incredibly talented people who are part of our team and whom we value very much.
What, in your opinion, are the advantages of hiring a wedding organizer?
Organizing and planning a wedding is not an easy task, it will be very difficult without an experienced specialist. Wedding planning can take a long time, especially if you have a lot of work and a busy schedule. The wedding organizer will take care of all the issues, will help to manage your budget correctly and will give you the opportunity to manage your time more effectively, taking care of all the details of the wedding day.
Can you share some tips on keeping a wedding budget?
As a rule the main budget of the wedding is spent on the banquet. Do you really want to see 150 guests? You will significantly reduce the amount of your wedding budget by reducing the number of guests.
How do you deal with difficult or demanding clients?
Attention and clarity in work. That’s what everyone wants to see, even the most demanding customer. In our work the situation of «expectation/reality» is unacceptable.
If we promised that this would be the case, then there is no other way, we will go out of our way, but we will do it.
Dozens of times the customer picked up the rendered sketch of the decor, walked around the hall and compared whether the visualization coincided with the floristry and decor that had already been in the hall.
At those moments I was absolutely calm because I am confident in the work of my team.
How do you manage to combine the business side of the wedding organizer’s work with the creative aspects of the work?
I have already told you that wedding planning is divided into two parts. The first part is the idea, beauty, communication with couples over a cup of tea, creating a holiday concept, and the second part is making estimates, tables, lists and much more. I like to invent, create something new. unlike anything else. Fortunately, I have a large team and I have learned to delegate the second part of preparation for the wedding to our managers. Our girls work hard under my control.
As a professional, what would you advise those who are just starting to work in the field of wedding planning?
Do not be afraid to make mistakes, only mistakes will make you stronger. Don’t compete with others, compete only with yourself. Every event, every project should be better than it was yesterday. Only then will you succeed!
And finally, if you were to return to the beginning of your journey, what would you say to yourself?
You did everything in the right way. Go ahead and don’t be afraid of anything.