Ever wondered wtf industry pro’s do when it comes time to plan their own nuptials? I bet you think we do it all with no stress, no bridal meltdowns and with such ease. Ha, think again. I mean, don’t get us wrong… we are a few steps ahead of the game for sure. For example, knowing what to expect in regards to the financials of it all – super helpful in preventing any sticker shock side effects. But, being prepared doesn’t take away from the fact that you want your day to be true to your style or anything less than fanfu##ingtastic.
We recently had the opportunity to chit chat with one of our favorite photographic geniuses in the event + fashion industry to get her perspective on the planning process now that she is a bride to be!
Shannon Michelle is a 5 year veteran in the photographic creative consulting business… she has been featured in many local mags for her Boudoir / Beauty Photography. Shannon has also appeared on MTV’s MADE + is a Mercedes Benz NY Fashion Week Veteran! (I mean, she has literally stood shoulder to shoulder with some of the most kick ass, fashion designers/models/muses that many of us just see in our dreams… or on the rack… or in Vogue! Oh, and not only is she totally bomb.com BUT she also teaches others how to work their inner photographic guru-ness via teaching seminars + workshops and by selling her secrets via educational products, ahem, world wide ya’ll!
Ok – so now you get a brief synopsis of this rad chick so it is officially time to share our “interview” with you! It goes a little something like this: We hug, we kiss-kiss, I drool over her ring (details below!), she drools over my new baby (who happens to drool by default) and we catch up on all things personal and most things professional…
lolagrace: Give us a snapshot of your love story!
Shannon Michelle: We met in high school. I transferred in for my senior year. I was only there for a year. We reconnected 14 years later thanks to facebook and the rest is history. I went home (to VA) for a couple of days and went out with him the night before I returned to Boston. Didn’t think anything would go anywhere because we lived so far away but he called me every single day for a month until I came back the following month. From then, we dated for 10 months long distance until he moved to Boston where we now live together! I really believe that I was brought to that school (for just that one year) so that when we were ready for each other, 14 years later, we had a reason to reconnect. It’s really amazing how things work.
lolagrace: How did the proposal go down?
Shannon Michelle: At home, in his boxers! It’s actually quite more romantic than that. We had set a date before my custom made ring came in and so I had a dress appointment scheduled as we are getting married in May, I needed ample time to order a dress. Although I knew I just couldn’t wait, I told him I really didn’t want to be one of those girls trying on dresses without a ring. He made sure I was not! I was getting ready that morning and when I came out of the bathroom, he presented the ring to me. I got my ring at 7am that morning and my dress by 1pm that same day!!!
lolagrace: Ummmm can you please describe that GORG ring of yours!!??
Shannon Michelle: I chose a pink Morganite and Diamond Ring. Total weight is 2.5 carats. The center stone is round and placed in a cushion halo setting. It’s exactly what I wanted!!!
lolagrace: What is your desired wedding vibe, style, energy – ya know, what’s your plan?
Shannon Michelle: “Wedding in a backyard; not a backyard wedding.” – Tented backyard, blush pinks & champagne with pops of metallic gold. Food truck/s featuring things people really want to eat like sweet potato fries, deep fried mac n’ cheese and deep fried Oreos (groom’s fav) just to name a few. Open tent concept (weather permitting) to feature indoor and outdoor entertainment space, chandeliers, club music featuring house / pop mash ups for dancing all night long! We are polar opposites and I often describe our relationship as Mossy Oak meets Manolo Blahnik. I think that’s what makes us perfect together and the wedding will reflect that. We will have designer gowns and shoes and a beautiful tent and lighting and big centerpieces and an amazing cake! But it’s also taking place in our small, country hometown, at a place (his dad’s house) we both feel so comfortable. Because we are not at an official venue, we get to make our own rules so the options are endless and we want people to relax and just have fun. There will be close family and friends playing corn hole I’m sure, drinking out under the stars, we’re planning to carve our names and wedding date in one of the trees on his dad’s property and have a tree swing made just for us as well.
lolagrace: Ok, lets talk planning perspectives…. BUDGET: GO!
Shannon Michelle: I had an idea of what we could spend and then I know what I can afford to spend over the next 6 months so I’m trying to get the big things done with “what we could spend” and using the next 6 months to pay for those extras like rings, shoes, gifts, decor, alterations, veil and tuxes etc. I know how much things cost as I have been in the industry for some time now so I decided to pick and chose a few things that REALLY mattered to me and put the money there first and then adjust my approach on some of the other stuff. That way, anything we can afford to add on between now and then is a bonus!!
lolagrace: Any advice to our antibrides out there on how to deal with the sticker shock??
Shannon Michelle: Sticker shock is normal when planning your wedding. I understand what goes into putting on really large productions and the cost of running a business and that these vendors are providing a personal service. There’s only one of them and they can’t be in two places at once so that is unique in and of itself. I definitely was more aware going into it than others, I think, about what things cost regarding a wedding. But weddings are a LOT of work. I don’t think people jack up the pricing just because you say wedding. It really is a lot! And by knowing that you are hiring trusted professionals, you can really relax a little and know things will run smoothly or at least that they can handle it if they do not run smoothly. At the same point in time, I understand what we can and can’t afford. So I almost have a budget within a budget. I say, ok a photographer will cost “x” amount of dollars and a cake will cost “x” amount and then find the best option within that price point, or as close as you can to it. If you need to cut costs, I would cut on things that are not a personal service (again…trusted professionals), like where you get your linens from or what kind of chairs you get, or option for a less expensive veil or no veil…even the location. A destination wedding doesn’t have to be Hawaii, it can be someplace like Virginia (things cost less outside of the bigger cities).
lolagrace: How did you select your color palette?
Shannon Michelle: I kinda just browsed around in magazines and on Pinterest and realized what I was drawn to real quick! I love a monochromatic pallet so I liked the idea of blush pinks but as a creative I understand that I wanted a darker color to offset and stabilize such a light color all while adding dimension to the room, so the added champagne color was perfect. We are not sticking with just two colors. We may have pops of gold or even a darker color pink here or there but there is a basic color scheme.
lolagrace: How did you go about researching vendors in Virginia while living + working in Boston / New England?
Shannon Michelle: I started with Google. And lots of google. I am also now taking vendor referrals but it’s a lot of work online. I check out websites (branding does matter a bit to me. I understand not everyone has the perfect website but their branding gives me a good idea of what their taste level is), reviews, ask my vendors if they have worked with so and so and once I make a decision, I stop looking! Being a photographer, I really looked at how my photographer had pretty consistent lighting in various locations and with various people. I liked the poses and details and I did not look at the people or the dress or the hair and make up….. Sometimes that can be distracting but you need to look at what you’re there to look at. Same with DJs. I’m looking for online sampling or downloads of their mixing skills. We also are looking at DJs who are resident DJs at some of the D.C. area night clubs. Many of them happen to do weddings on the side so they are familiar with the formalities but they don’t market themselves in that way and we understand that completely. We really want house music as well as mash ups and many wedding DJs we talked to don’t do mash ups so this was an alternate option for us.
lolagrace: What role does the “communication” play when making a decision about who to hire?
Shannon Michelle: Communication is key! If I feel like if a vendor and I don’t communicate well, I will probably not be booking them. Phone consults are helpful but once we have that in place, everything else is done through email, Facebook or online questionnaires they have for me.
lolagrace: Long distance planning can be a challenge… how did you overcome that?
Shannon Michelle: I was lucky enough to have met my photographer at a bridal show before I was even thinking of being engaged! I was there as a vendor thinking that if my fiance and I kept dating long distance, perhaps I should book some work in VA. When I was looking online, I found her again, remembered that I really liked meeting her and so that helped to make that decision. Everything else has been online or over the phone so far. The biggest obstacle is food and cake as we won’t be able to do a tasting until we are home again for the holidays and we don’t want to miss out booking our fav vendors. We have asked our cake person to overnight us a sample box as she’s the one who has just one or two openings left that month so that’s how we are handling that. There’s usually a way around it but it is a little difficult sometimes. Our parents did the walk through with the tent company and we have reserved linens with the ability to cancel up to 2 weeks prior to the wedding so when we go home, we will take a look at the options in person and still have time to switch them up if need be. Family has been very helpful and knowing the area has been helpful. If you are planning a destination wedding without those elements, I would definitely schedule more time to visit and/or hire a planner or consultant in the area.
lolagrace: What has surprised you most about YOURSELF + about the process while planning your wedding?
1. The massive check list I have going of things that need to get done in under 230 days!
2. How supportive my mom has been. Despite any little family arguments or budget concerns or taking 3 phone calls a day or rushing over to a tent meeting while making dinner, she has just done it and is helping to take care of those things I can’t be present for.
3. I really did have a hard time seeing myself as a bride when I went dress shopping.
4. How many traditional opinions my fiance has! (Like I said….opposites) I’ve actually started calling him ‘my bride’…LOL. That said, we have been able to compromise or come up with a solution for just about everything. We really do work well as a team!
Essentially, I am realizing that it really is about marrying the one you love and celebrating with those who matter most to you. That may sound funny but when brides used to say to me, ‘It [details, dress etc] really doesn’t matter. What matters is that I get to marry the one I love’ I used to think to myself “You’re lying! Keep telling yourself that; of course it matters!” And I do still think the other stuff matters but as long as you do the best you can with what you’ve got and are pretty happy with what you’ve chosen, knowing you’ve made the best decision with what you have, you can really focus on the fact that you are getting to marry the most special person in your life! Or at least the one you settled for (I’m so kidding!!!)
When I think about what my day will look like, I really do focus on him and getting to see him at the other end of the aisle. Who knew?!
lolagrace: What advice do you have for engaged couples as they plan their wedding?
Shannon Michelle: Come up with a plan, stick to it but be flexible, have fun and do the best you can with what you’ve got!
WE COULDN’T AGREE MORE…WITH ALL OF IT!
For a complete list of Shannon’s wedding vendors please contact Rachael@lolagraceEVENTS.com OR Shannon@Shannon-Michelle.com
Photo credits: Engagement Photo: Jaclyn L. Photography, Event Images were taken from Shannon Michelle’s wedding inspiration board via pinterest.com, Engagement Ring Photo: Shannon Michelle