Happy Wedding Wednesday! It's that time again...time to put one of our super-talented Coterie members on a pedestal. Each week we go in-depth with one wedding vendor, giving you a peek into their world. This week, it's all about Crystal of Crystal Layland Events. She's a wedding planner based out of Wisconsin that travels internationally and has a strong focus on multicultural weddings. In this interview, you'll find out why multicultural weddings are so special to her, and what her plans are for the future. Meet Crystal.
Tell us a little about your background and how you got started in the wedding and events industry?
Event planning has always been in the back of my mind but yet pursued business which I thought was the only way for me to go. My inner creativity and drive were eating away at me. It was through my master’s degree program that I decided to explore the possibility of event planning as a career. What excited me most were celebrations and my passion for amazing weddings. I immediately joined the ABC, got connected with other industry professionals and haven’t looked back since.
You specialize in multicultural events. Tell us about the challenges and pleasures involved with planning a multicultural wedding.
Very unique elements are factored into planning a multicultural wedding and I certainly love the challenge. There are endless ideas to style a wedding and like many brides, they have a difficult time sorting through all of the “likes” to make it make sense. For multi-cultural brides, add two or more sets of cultural traditions to that mix. But wait, the challenges do not stop there. Now consider the sets of families and their wishes or perhaps lack of understanding of the others' traditions. Then, consider the guests, are they all accustomed to each culture? The guests’ level of awareness can greatly affect their overall experience. As a planner, I want to make sure that they walk away with an amazing memory.
Commonly, the couple wants to have a wedding where they are the spotlight and not their culture so their actual level of cultural elements may vary, however, we still need to plan out how and what will be incorporated. A great example would be planning crafting the ceremony--we definitely have to consider if the couple wishes to blend their cultures into one ceremony or host multiple wedding events.
As a multicultural planner, I get to know the bride, groom, their family and their cultural traditions and who their invited guests will be to create a culturally enriched experience for all. Taking into much consideration the above mentioned challenges, I developed a wedding planning process called Culture Fusion™, exclusive to multicultural weddings.
What did you do before Wedding Planning?
A little bit of EVERYTHING!! I have a diverse professional background including accounting, bookkeeping, law office management, legal administration, higher education and instructing. Total bookwork and education addict so I just keep learning.
What are your dreams for your company?
My dreams are to spread my wings and continue to move on a national level as a multicultural wedding expert, planning and designing multicultural weddings and perhaps dabble in events.
What do you love most about your job?
Truly, it is about getting to know my brides and their families. They trust me to listen to their vision, plan all of the details and manage their day. We work closely over the course of planning their wedding – it is a very personal service. Excitement rushes over me waiting for them to see the reception for the very first time on their wedding day. Another aspect that I absolutely love is when we get the chance, after the wedding, to reflect on what an amazing time the couple and their guests had.
In your area what are some of your favorite venues and why?
A majority of my weddings have been outdoors on private property and have been a lot of fun to plan. Outdoor weddings are definitely a lot of work with having to create Plan A and an equally gorgeous Plan B, but I truly appreciate the uniqueness of each experience. If I were to select my favorite, nearby venue, I would have to choose the Cargill Room at the Waterfront. The venue itself is gorgeous but the view of the river is impeccable. Norskedalen Nature & Heritage Center is another favorite. I worked with a couple from the West Coast who, immediately upon visiting Norskedalen, knew that they wanted to get married there as it reminded them of Northern California where they have roots. I tend to be attracted to the more non-traditional venues so I cannot forget The Warehouse night club in Milwaukee that hosted a fabulous wedding in 2011. It was so much fun, very unique.
What trends are you seeing with 2012 and 2013 brides?
Definitely seeing the rustic and vintage themes continue for the upcoming seasons.
Have you ever had a last minute wedding disaster and how did you resolve it?
I have yet to experience anything too serious but when in “action” mode you learn to think on your feet and reflect later. Recently, one of the coach buses carrying dear friends of the bride and groom was running super late to the ceremony. I had four staff members present at the time, tending to behind-the-scenes tasks while I was running back and forth assuring the groom, the bride, and the bride’s father that we will be starting shortly. We were waiting quite a bit. To avoid the awkward, late start, I suggested we begin without the last group of guests and arranged to have them view the ceremony from inside. Because of logistics, it made perfect sense. Although they would not have had the same experience as the guests below, they would have had an amazing view of the ceremony and couple. As I was walking back to initiate the “go-ahead” the bus showed up and we proceeded as planned. There are unforeseen challenges that come up. The key is to problem-solve quickly and without interrupting the enjoyment of the guests or couple all while keeping your composure and of course a smile on your face.
What would you say to brides-to-be who are on the fence about hiring a wedding planner?
A wedding planner is totally worth it! Ask yourself, who is going to ask the right questions? Who is going to tell you when you are diverting from your vision? Who is going to bring your ideas live and execute your vision? Who is going to locate the best vendors that match your style? Who is going to take care of all of the details over the course of the next few months while you and your honey are working fulltime? And on your wedding day, who is going to set up the décor? Who is going to answer questions and resolve last minute issues while you are putting on your gorgeous gown?
Why should brides choose you as a planner?
As a consumer, I often reflect on the stores, restaurants, vendors, and brands that I love and those who provide excellent customer service to me personally. I ask myself why…why do I visit the same coffee shop darn near every day—because I love the experience that I walk away with even on my worst days. Even further than that, there are brands that I select over the other when it comes to certain material things. Why do I love this brand over a generic brand, because I value the quality, craftsmanship, and the feeling I get when it is in my possession. I relate this back to my business. I love what I do. When I began in the industry, I made a promise to myself that I will too provide that excellent customer service to my couples leaving them with that same positive experience. Making them feel connected and important throughout the planning process. Being available when they need me is especially important to many of my long-distance brides. Even if it is simply answering that 90 second call, mid-week, to vent about a non-wedding related topics.
What's in your handbag right now? Great question! There is very little contents in my very large bag--my iPhone, keys of course, headphones, dandelion-yellow Moleskine notebook, a pen and my fav, Bobbi Brown Pink Blossom lip gloss.
When you're not planning weddings, what's your favorite thing to do on the weekends? You can find me catching up on my reading and spending time with my children.
iphone, blackberry or android? iPhone
Mac or pc? PC
If you could travel to any location right now, where would it be? Today it would be somewhere tropical and sunny!!! I would love some relaxation time right about now. Ask me again tomorrow and it might be a spontaneous train ride with the kids to Chicago. Traveling is definitely a pastime I greatly enjoy.
Favorite song? I love all sorts of music – don’t make me pick! God In Me by Mary Mary motivates me daily.
Guilty pleasure? My morning must-have is a Starbucks DoubleShot, Breve. Oh yes, it is a guilty pleasure I sneak out of the house for…daily. And of course anything CHOCOLATE!!!