Planning Tips

Jacky Grotle of Woodinville's Event Success answers our questions about planning the perfect wedding.

After graduating from Washington State University in business and hospitality and studying hotel management in Switzerland, Jacky Grotle was sure she was on the road to be a general manager of a hotel. Instead, she was bitten by the wedding-planning bug, and after 11 years of designing unique, boutique-style events, launched Woodinville-based Event Success in 2000. Now she offers do-it-yourself brides her expertise and one-of-a-kind ideas so they can craft their own customized events.

Do you have any do’s and don’ts for couples who are thinking of hiring a wedding planner?
You definitely want to meet the planner in person and feel comfortable with them from the start. Your planner is the person you are going to be counting on for your special day, so you also want to make sure that they have enough experience to carry out that responsibility. I think it is better to have nobody planning your wedding than somebody who won’t do a good job. Your wedding day shouldn’t be a training ground for a planner who doesn’t have experience. There is too much invested, both financially and emotionally, to risk on a planner that you are not confident in.

Once you have met your clients, where do you begin planning?

We always start with budget. Once that is settled we begin working on style. I have a huge resource of books and magazines that showcase a range of design ideas. A couple can get inspiration for their wedding style from places such as nature, interior design and fashion, among other things. There are so many ideas out there that I need to get to know my clients quickly to be able to start determining what suits them best and be able to pinpoint exactly what kind of wedding they are envisioning. I have couples go through my collection and pull out things they are attracted to, and then I help them see the patterns within their sense of style and we find ways to incorporate that into their event. Then there are the obvious elements like lining up vendors and finding a dress.

What makes planning a wedding in the Northwest during the spring and summer months unique, and how do you prepare for the challenges?
The Northwest has outdoor elements that simply cannot be beat in the spring and summer months. The beauty of nature adds a unique depth to the wedding that you can’t get anywhere else. It is the sunshine, the warmth you feel on your face, the beautiful greenery and the mountains. All these true Northwest elements can really help to shape an event. However, the weather in the Northwest is so unpredictable that you have to have a Plan B and be as prepared as possible for the chance that the weather is not cooperating on your wedding day. Even more important, though, is that it has to be a Plan B that the couple can be happy with after their wedding is over.

What advice would you give brides who are planning their own wedding?
If at all possible, hire somebody for at least the week of your wedding to take things off your shoulders so that you can relax and enjoy this time in your life. If you can’t afford that, then pass along those duties to a friend or family member that you can trust. Write down everything that needs to get done for the day of your wedding a week before, and give it to the person you decide on. This includes arranging payment of vendors, transportation, and picking up the necessities for the wedding such as the cake and flowers. The point is that the bride lets go of the responsibility so she doesn’t have anything that could possibly stress her out on the big day.

Do you have any favorite do-it-yourself  ideas for brides?
I strongly believe in having a personal touch on your wedding day. However, it should be something that can be done beforehand so that it does not put any added pressure on the day of. I think making handmade favors, for example, has become extremely popular and can be great. Brides can also make the menu cards or place cards. Anything that can be done well in advance is a wonderful opportunity to put your own touch on your wedding.