It’s 2015 everyone! I recently celebrated my 5th year of being a professional photographer and 3rd year of being a full-time business owner. I’m so grateful for all my clients and fans who’ve helped me come so far. And I’m also equally grateful for my “friendors” in this crazy awesome industry in which I work: the wedding industry. Which is why for 2015 (and hopefully beyond!), I’ll be featuring one of my favorite fellow wedding vendors every month. These are real colleagues in the wedding industry and we’ve worked on real weddings and projects together. No one is being paid or applies to be chosen for this coveted spot. This ensures my clients and theirs that our relationships are genuine. Simply put, I trust these people with my reputation and would recommend them to my clients in. a. HEARTBEAT. So without further ado, “Miss January” is the lovely Kristen Scott of Kristen J. Scott, Day of Coordinator!
First, tell me a little about yourself outside of the wedding world. Who is Kristen J. Scott? What are some things you love?
I am an eternal optimist and I am energized by personal interaction. I will make friends with a brick wall. Honestly, it’s a gift!
I live in blue jeans and high heels. I work very late into the night and make my bed every morning. Marriage, family, and faith are priorities in my world. I believe in good manners, handwritten notes, reading great novels and giving time to charities. I have an unhealthy obsession with movie theater popcorn, chia tea lattes, and children’s cereal. I adore Sunday morning gospel music and every New Year’s Eve my neighbors turn my kitchen into an 80’s dance party.
How did you get into this business? I’d love to know the story that led you to coordinating weddings and how long you’ve been in business. Do you only work on weddings?
Becoming a day-of wedding coordinator was a very happy accident. Five years ago, after gifting my services to a neighbor’s two daughters, the referrals started rolling in. Day-of wedding coordination was a fairly new concept in the industry and not well-defined, which actually worked in my favor. With no prototype to follow, I developed my craft in a way that I felt it should be done. It has proven to be a very successful model and has propelled me into a world of which I never anticipated being a part. That’s a pretty happy accident, yes?
I am a “stay-in-your-lane” kind of person and only work weddings as a coordinator. I know my strengths, work with passion, and do what I do exceptionally well. It keeps me pretty busy!
Take me through the process of what you do. When should brides first contact you? What happens after they’ve hired you?
Ideally your coordinator should be part of your initial planning and budget proposals. Too often a bride calls just a few months out from the wedding date frazzled, stressed, and wishing she had eloped. The challenge then is either I’m booked or she doesn’t have room in her budget for my services. My advice is to plan and budget for a DOC from day one.
Once contracted with a couple, it is important that we spend one-on-one time together. Whether we chat over coffee or by Skyping, I need to fully understand what’s in their heads; and more importantly, in their hearts. Every bride has a vision and I want to bring it to fruition.
What is the difference between planners, event designers, in-house coordinators, and day of coordinators like yourself?
Day-of (sometimes called month-of) coordinators are still a bit of a mystery for couples. For the plan-it-yourself bride or groom I become a support network throughout the planning process to insure their wedding day vision is executed flawlessly. Based on their needs, I provide a customized all-inclusive price which provides for unlimited communication, vendor logistics, contract review, itinerary creation and execution, rehearsal direction, and full day coverage on your wedding day. Not every DOC approaches it this way, but I believe in the process.
So what differentiates my services from others? Planners are an essential resource for the couple that has neither the vision nor the time to devote to nuptial plans. A planner takes you from start to finish and handles every detail on your behalf. In-house coordinators are generally provided by your venue and have limited interaction with the couple. Although they can assist with the evening’s timeline their priority is to insure that the venue and staff run smoothly.
Event designers are dedicated to the overall design concept and execution, but do not involve themselves with ceremony and reception logistics. In an ideal world I love working with event designers as our skills and services match up well – think inspiration boards vs spreadsheets. It makes for extraordinary wedding days!
Do planners/coordinators have any special certifications that might set them apart from others?
When shopping for a planner, certifications are important. Day-of coordinators are not subject to certifications or yearly educational requirements.
What are your thoughts on the Pinterest world we live in these days? How has it helped/hurt the wedding industry and brides’ expectations?
Pinterest is fantastic . . . and so much fun! However, I caution every bride with the following two suggestions:
- Use Pinterest for inspiration; not duplication.
- Once you’ve chosen a venue, start a new Pinterest board and be selective about what you post.
But honestly, it’s such a great tool to enable a bride to communicate her visions to designers, hair stylists, florists, etc.
How heavy of a hand do you have in helping a couple choose other vendors? Do you receive any kickback for these referrals?
I absolutely believe in vendor referrals! I work with some of the best vendors in the southeast and will happily refer vendors that best fit a couple’s needs, budget, and personalities. As a rule, I do not accept referral fees. Vendor referrals should be in a couple’s best interest, not mine. I do caution couples about using family or friends in an effort to save on expenses. So often it leads to disappointments, hurt feelings, and wedding day disasters (think melting cakes, drunken photographers, or no music for your first dance). Professional and experienced vendors are the absolute best investment you can make in your wedding day!
In your opinion, what is one area couples should splurge for their wedding? Conversely, where should they cut costs?
Couples should splurge on those items they have identified as high priority; but a wedding should never be lopsided. For instance, you don’t have a gorgeous ball room with chiavari chairs and then serve budget food and have a cheesy DJ. There are lots of ways I can help a couple maximize their budget, but it starts with prioritizing what is important.
Describe the most challenging wedding you’ve had and how you handled any problems that arose during it.
Every wedding has challenges, but you never let ‘em see you sweat! The most common challenge is to keep everything on schedule. Weddings are organic by nature and things just happen. I roll with the flow trusting that every problem has a solution. I’ve managed torrential downpours, flat tires, accident prone grooms, missing dresses, crying ex-girlfriends, clogged toilets, fist fights, no-show officiants, and wedding crashers to name a few. Sometimes the end of the event is a very welcomed time!
What happens AFTER the wedding? Do you help break down?
When it comes to the wedding day, I am the first vendor in and the last vendor out. My services generally conclude with making final payments to vendors and insuring that all personal items are collected and packed up. And of course, I do a final walk through of the venue collecting all the items guests leave behind. I’ve found some fun things over the years!
How many weddings do you take on in a year? Do you specifically limit the number and if so, why?
I do not have a specific number by which I limit myself. Different couples do require various levels of involvement from me, so I will gauge my schedule based on those factors.
If you had a “signature” that marks you’ve had a hand in a wedding, what would it be? Some sort of detail you insist upon even if it’s not on a couple’s wish list. Sort of like a signature drink.
My signature drink would be called “Calm in the Storm”. I don’t do drama. It’s hard to ruffle my feathers and I deal with challenges with a “show must go on” attitude. Couples, parents, vendors, and guests alike recognize this and respond accordingly.
What is the most important question most couples fail to ask you?
It is not so much a question they fail to ask; but rather a difficulty assessing the value of a day-of coordinator. The cost of my services needs to be weighed against the importance of knowing that all of the time, energy, emotion, and money they devoted to planning a wedding is in my capable hands. Consider me your insurance policy!
What is one trend you’re loving right now?
From a wedding day perspective, I am seeing a return to church weddings which warms my heart. I’m also excited about the progress of same-sex marriage legalization. I believe both of these trends encourage strong, long-lasting unions and we need more of that in this world!
From a design perspective, I am seeing lusher floral designs, elevated tableware, and textured linens all which make such a dynamic visual impact on the whole design. I love, love, love this trend!
If you could be the DOC of any celebrity couple, past or present, married or not, who would it be and why?
OK – this may sound crazy; but I am a huge fan of professional bull riding and I’ve always said I wanted work a PBR wedding. How awesome would it have been to do the wedding of Jewel & Ty Murray? I could have met all the great bull riders and musicians at one time! I get chill bumps just thinking about it.
Who is someone you look up to in this industry?
Without a doubt, it would be my daughter, Natalia. She has actually worked in the wedding industry longer than me and has taught me so much. We found ourselves both launching and growing our companies at the same time, so we tend to spend a lot of time bouncing ideas, goals, problems, and dreams off of one another. She lifts me up and definitely inspires me. And she’s been giving me style advice since she was 3 years old.
You mentioned debriefing after an event to me once. How often do you do that with the people you work with and why is it important?
A post-event debriefing is a necessary tool only if I felt something didn’t work well for a wedding. I need to know why so we can avoid it happening again. Fortunately, they are seldom required. As a coordinator, I am only as good as my vendors and rely on strong communications, professionalism, and common purpose.
Anything else you’d like couples to know about you, your business, or coordinators in general?
Just that I adore working with Leilani and Elle Golden Photography. You are a smart and talented woman dedicated to your craft. And your smile and positive energy are contagious! I want your brides to know how lucky they are to have you in their corner.
Check out a wedding I photographed and Kristen coordinated HERE. Special thanks to La Madeleine: Country French Cafe for allowing us to use their cafe for some of these photographs and Gloria of Mode Makeup for Kristen’s beautiful makeup.