LI: So what is your job?
Betty: I do event and wedding planning, and my role is anything from planning birthday parties to helping a wedding couple find the venue, to just day-of wedding coordination. Destination clients are primarily full planning, which is recommended—the wedding can still be hands-on for the couple, but destination planning is a lot more work, so it’s easier to hand it off to someone else who knows what they’re doing and has done it before.
LI: What sort of destinations do you normally work with?
Betty: I frequently help plan a lot of wine country weddings, up in Santa Barbara and Napa Valley. Napa is where I myself was married!
LI: How is Type A Planning unique from other planning services?
Betty: My demeanor is very laid-back and flexible, and my style revolves around simple elegance. Brides tend to appreciate my low-key approach to designing events for them that have classy looks but a casual air. I think it helps absorb some of their stress.
LI: What inspired you to start planning events?
Betty: When I was in high school back in Massachusetts, my younger middle-school-aged siblings had a lot of friends who were having bar and bat mitzvahs and hosting special parties when they turned thirteen. Even though we aren’t Jewish, my parents decided to try the same thing, sort of like a “Sweet-Thirteen” party, so my brother and sister wouldn’t feel left out. We rented a room at a local country club, hired a DJ, entertainment, et cetera, and helping put those together really turned me on to large-scale event planning. You can imagine by the time I planned my own wedding, it was like a second nature to me!
LI: What are some of your favorite things about event planning?
Betty: I really love helping people, and I just get a really good feeling from seeing the final product. It’s so fun to put together this vision that the client has in their head, and use my expertise to flesh it out. I like coming up with little ideas that I can tweak to fit the bride and make the event they dreamed of really happen for them—it’s great when we have chemistry and the concepts just “click!”
LI: What kind of profile do most of your clients fall under?
Betty: Obviously I can work with anybody, but it seems like I meet a lot of young professionals who need a planner to help them handle details that they don’t have a lot of time to deal with, particularly for destination events.
LI: What would be a dream event to plan?
Betty: Something off-the-wall, like recreating a miniature city inside the reception venue, or a putting together a full set for the event. And of course a client with the budget to pull it off! I also really love wine-centric events, which is maybe why I’m so drawn to wine country weddings. Wine is like my second passion, so it would be amazing to do a wedding in a legendary wine location like Bordeaux, France.
LI: Do you have any advice for people out there who are looking to save money on their event?
Betty: I know it sounds self-serving and maybe event a little counter-intuitive because it costs money, but in fact a good event planner can save you money; they have resources not available to the general public, as well as a network of vendors who will work for lesser rates for them. It’s sometimes hard to grasp in an era where so much self-service is possible that hiring someone to do something that you can do yourself will decrease the overall cost of the event, but it’s true. Especially when your time is worth more than what you pay your planner, because planning can eat up weeks of time!
I also recommend prioritizing what’s important to you. Hire and pay for the aspects of the event that you value the highest FIRST, so that way if the budget starts getting tight near the end of the process you’re not stuck compromising on things that are of the utmost importance to you.
LI: Do you have any exciting events coming up?
Betty: My parents’ 40th Anniversary party, because it’s going to be a fun, special, personal project for me. They had a very modest wedding when they got married 40 years ago, and I want to give them the fancy event they didn’t have due to their means back then. As a planner, I have resources and expertise that my family can use for this event, so it’s going to be a big deal…because 40 years of marriage is a big deal!
LI: How do you help your clients select vendors?
Betty: I try to get a good sense of the clients’ style and recommend to them vendors who I think would be a good artistic and personality match. It’s not about me and who my buddies are…it’s about the client and who in my network of professionals would work best with them and their style. This kind of customized, objective recommendation based on really knowing the client is something you can’t get by searching online for vendors.
LI: What would be your professional suggestion(s) for a festive, stress-free event?
Betty: Keep it simple, keep it light. If you’re obsessed with the font on the dance floor gobo or the exact, perfect color roses, then you’re not really going to have much fun, especially if something falls short of your high expectations. If your vendors are professionals and you trust them to deliver something you like, then understand that they’re going to try their best to please you, and really that’s all anyone could ask for from their wedding plans!