Beaufort, North Caroline, I told you has my heart. I have made the sweets contacts, and they are slowly becoming friends. Oftentimes, you meet people and think you know them from a past life, and you could be wrong. But sometimes you could be dead on. Zena, from the moment I met her, I felt the energy. Something familiar. Her energy was warm, inviting, and just helpful. Then I found out she was a wedding planner. It made perfect sense. You need those qualities to plan someone’s event—for some the ultimate party of their lives. It can be the most stressful moment, and most peaceful moment of one’s life.
How can one occasion test every single one of your emotions and put it on public notice? I don’t know, but for some of us, we would do it over and over again. For others, we just want to watch it. Others wish for it. While others just plan the event that brings out the most testiest of emotion: Love. But we all would be nothing without it. Or at least nothing useful or positive in my opinion. So in this article I celebrate the wedding planners. The Ring Leader, The Lord of the Rings. Without them, you would have to deal with your self-proclaiming accountant father watching the budget, your controlling mama, your opinionated aunt, your drinking uncle, your catty cousin, your super model best friend by yourself (maybe I am describing my family). And lord knows… on your wedding day you just shouldn’t have to. So, I cornered Zena and asked her some questions, and boy she is a prize!
Full name: Zena Heverly Underwood
Occupation: Event Planner
Position: Owner, Knot a Second Thought Weddings and Events | Event Planner, Celebration Cottage | Event Planner, Bluewater Weddings & Events
What inspired you to get into your field? I really just enjoy being involved in the whole process of making a special day; planning my own wedding helped to begin this love for me.
How many weddings a month, year do you plan? I average 40+ a year. I have a great team of ladies that help make this possible—assistant planners, day of coordinators and friends.
What is the process of hiring you? Totally depends on the client. Some clients I do all via email, Facebook, and text; sometimes we don’t meet until rehearsal. With other clients, we meet and chat, go over contract, etc. Whatever works best.
When it comes to the final decision of taking on a wedding do you chose your clients or does your client choose you? I guess a little of both. It needs to be a good fit. In the end, some of my clients talk to me more than their best friend, fiancé or mom. We need to be comfortable talking to each other about things, tough things like budget and guest list.
What inspires you—the couple, the venue, or the theme? All of the above. I love helping to make their vision come to life, come together. I will help with as much or little as they need, so my inspiration varies from couple to couple.
How far in advance should you be hired? Whenever they are ready. Most couples hire me and book the venue about a year in advance.
Do you have to put your foot down when couples come to some unrealistic request? Gently, if I need to, but that rarely happens. Most things are achievable, or at least a realistic version that is similar.
When do you find it important to tell a couple that something is just not in their best interest or that of their guest, or do you just do it anyway because they are “paying you”? Well, we start planning from the get-go, so any logistic or etiquette questions can be answered in the beginning and all along as we go. I always help to guide them along to make sure they are making the best choices for both them and their guests.
Name 5 qualities that make a great wedding planner invaluable.
Knowledge – Make sure the planner you pick knows what she or he is doing. Find out if the planner has worked at different venues, with different vendors. Read reviews!
Responsiveness – You want a planner that is quick to respond. In this day and age, texting, emailing, social media… it is so easy to connect; your planner should be able to respond to you pretty quickly.
Patience – Your planner needs to be able to breathe through the tough moments and think on his or her toes. Sometimes things happen and you need a planner that can keep the situation calm and collected.
Creativity – The whole planning process leads up to the Big Day. You definitely need a planner that is able to be creative, make it look the very best possible and keep it all in your vision. Help you create and sculpt the beautiful design of your day!
Passion – Your planner should love what she’s doing and you should be able to tell. Smiling faces, joyful attitudes and excitement with you when you are planning. From chatting color schemes, to layouts and tablescapes, you want a planner that is passionate about what she is doing; it will all just be a lot better!
What is one thing you can’t do without as a wedding planner? (tool – e.g. calendar) My phone! Oh my word! It drives my husband nuts, but it is a total necessity for me. It is constantly ringing or buzzing and I am ok with that! Busy, busy and I love it!!
Who planned your wedding? Me! My husband and I have been together since right out of high school. He came on vacation here after he graduated and met me; I was a hostess at a local restaurant. He stayed longer (had a cousin that lived here) and it was a total summer whirlwind romance. Young love. Summer came to an end and I had to go back to college; he came with me to the mountains of NC, and we lived the next few years there then ended up back here at the coast. After years of saying we’d never get married, one day my hubby said, “Okay, let’s do it.” I planned a little backyard, sunset ceremony with just a handful of our closest family and friends two weeks later! It was amazing, sweet and intimate and beautiful! I had friends that all pitched in and it was just right for us. We just celebrated 7 years of marriage, 13+ years dating and have 2 little ones now.