Expert wedding planner Jacky Grotle of Event Success has created weddings and events of all kinds throughout the Pacific Northwest, and she's especially experienced in working with venues that aren't traditionally use to host events and required off-site catering, rentals and decor. In other words, she knows the ins and outs of building a wedding day from the ground up, when everything needs to be brought in from the outside! To get a little bit of her event planning insight, I recently chatted with Jacky and asked her all about her life as a wedding planner...
Christy: Jacky, tell us a little bit about your background and how you came to be a wedding planner.
Jacky: I graduated from Washington State University with a BA in Business/Hospitality. I also completed a Hotel Management School Certification in Switzerland. After many years of working within hotels, resorts, off-site catering and private clubs (always involved in weddings), establishing Event Success was a natural transition.
Christy: What are the things you love most about your job?
Jacky: I love how no two days are ever the same. Sometimes I meet with clients, other days I am researching new products. I am always scoping out new venues and meeting with vendors that can provide my clients with beautiful spaces, unique products and superior services. Another great aspect about my job is that I'm given the wonderful opportunity to get to know some amazing people, both vendors and clients. But, what I love most about my job is how truly passionate I am about my craft. To me, the planning process is like breathing - it's something that I can't imagine living without. Despite having planned hundreds of events, I still find immense joy in watching each individual event develop.
(Images above by April Greer Photography
Christy: Your company tends to do a lot of events that require off-site catering, rentals and decor. Could you tell us about what that means and what some of the pros and cons are of these different types of venues?
Jacky: Our degree of expertise is definitely most utilized with outdoor weddings. Hosting a garden wedding with tenting may not be more cost effective than a ballroom reception, but a special, natural setting makes for a more unique, personalized and memorable event for the couple and their guests. Tenting, power, lighting, tables, chairs.....yes, even the kitchen sink, is sometimes needed. We have designed custom spaces within backyards, vacation properties and even on remote islands. Challenges are plentiful and there are A LOT of variables, but a well executed outdoor wedding is MAGICAL.
(Images above by Joann Arruda Photography
Christy: Tell us about a wedding or two of yours, that required everything be brought in from outside the venue, that really had spectacular results.
Jacky: A couple living in New York wanted to host guests at a family property on Lopez Island - a remote island between Seattle and Canada. The groom had grown up visiting the island each summer, so the setting held particularly special sentiment. Planning was done through phone, e-mail and video chat, with only two in-person meetings. The gorgeous event spanned four days with multiple celebrations, including a barn dance, ceremony, cocktail reception, sit down dinner for 200, after hours party and next day brunch and Chinese tea ceremony to celebrate the bride's Chinese heritage. One of the largest challenges was finding lodging for the guests and vendors. In the Northwest, weather is always a foremost consideration, so we had a plan B and even a plan C on standby. Though a couple of years have since passed, I still get rave reviews for that amazing wedding.
Another example: A couple took me to a 15+ acre property for a site inspection. To take advantage of the landscape's many features while not overwhelming guests with its expansiveness, we created spaces and zones so we could choreograph the event's flow while still showcasing the beautiful setting. Finding flat areas for tenting, mowing and even filling in rabbit holes were just a few of the many measures taken to assure the space was wedding-ready. Our preparation and planning resulted in a wonderful full day and night experience with the celebration lasting from 12pm to10pm. This simply would have not been possible at a traditional venue. Being an Indian/American fusion wedding, we created some fantastic attractions that just are not possible at an indoor venue - for example, we featured outdoor grilling stations, the groom rode in on a horse for the Baratt, the groom's traditional Indian entrance, and they even had a sparkler departure.
(Images above by Joe and Jill Photography
Christy: What are some tips that couples should keep in mind when choosing a wedding venue?
Jacky: We love working with Seattle's top venues, but the number one thing to always consider is whether they have enough space for your group. We have been hired a few times where the guest count could fit in the space - but only without dancing, the band, lounge or anything other than the tables. Give yourself space to move with your guests.
For outdoor weddings, weather is the most significant element that you have no control over. Be sure to have a plan B should the weather not be in your favor. Other things that often slip clients' minds are: flooring, power, lighting, parking and transportation.
(Images above by Joe and Jill Photography
Christy: Is there any other wedding planning advice that you always find yourself telling the couples you work with?
Jacky: I cannot stress enough the value added of a professional wedding consultant. Hiring a consultant is worthwhile insurance for your investment. If your budget is a foremost consideration, then you should hire a planner to implement your vision on the week or day of your wedding. For brides who opt to DIY, write out a detailed schedule with all tasks, noting the responsible party for each. Make sure that everyone involved in your day is clear on what is expected of them. Pick a point person (a trusted friend or family member) who can handle the vendors, the schedule, the flow of the event and any issues that may arise. Be sure to let go and enjoy your day!
Thank you so much Jacky! We wholeheartedly agree, and love hearing your expert knowledge on all things wedding!
Readers, you can learn more about Jacky and her Event Success team on her website, and if you're planning a Seattle area wedding, don't forget to check out our Hotlist of all the most talented and passionate wedding professionals in the Pacific Northwest!!