Early this Fall I welcomed Claire Tilney to the Shannon Leahy Events and she's been helping me plan all our fabulous 2012 weddings and events!
To get to know her better here's a little Q&A with Claire:
What made you want to get into planning weddings and events?
"I've always loved to entertain and host events. I've planned every vacation, birthday party, Christmas party etc. for as far back as I can remember for family and friends. I love the coordination aspect of event planning because I'm quite organized and enjoy being able to facilitate things for people they couldn't do on their own. I also love the creative process of figuring out elements in an event that give it a wow-factor - something guests will love and remember.
My career started in Finance, but I was (obviously) really drawn to the event planning aspect of most of my finance positions (client events and company Christmas parties); it was the fun part of the job! After planning my own wedding I realized what a special and creative industry wedding planning is and am thrilled to now be a part of it. I'm really excited to be doing something that doesn't feel like work and being able to help people realize their dreams on one of the most important days of their lives."
What was your favorite detail from your own wedding?
"I liked the big rosettes on the bottom of my dress that became a motif we carried throughout the event (cascading down the cake and in flower arrangements). My family is really big into singing & entertaining so it was really fun to have my sister write and sing a song and two of our other friends perform that evening. I think the performances made the evening very memorable! My mom's band also played on the Thursday night before the wedding at a big Southern themed party we had at my parent's house. That party really set the tone for a big, fun, music-driven, Southern wedding."
What is the best piece of advice you have heard (or given) about planning a major event?
"Regarding weddings, having now been to many for friends and family and having helped plan quite a few, I love when brides & grooms add lots of their own personal interests & personality to their big day. I think it's great to have your guests arrive and really feel that they are at your event, not just a random event. Whether it's choosing a ski town for a winter wedding because you love to ski together or a having trivia night on your rehearsal dinner with questions about the couple, or incorporating meaningful things from your family or life together as a couple, I think it's really important to personalize your wedding and make it obviously yours."
What's the biggest lesson you've learned so far working in weddings?
"I had no idea about the behind-the-scenes work that goes into weddings when planning my own. I've found that one of the most important aspects of wedding planning is the vendor relationships you cultivate. As a wedding planner, it is sooo important to be able to call on florists, photographers, caterers, etc. that you know well and trust. Knowing what to expect on the day-of and feeling comfort in knowing that our brides & grooms are receiving top quality service is key. We refer a lot of vendors to our clients and know that these vendors are going to do an amazing, professional job - which helps us sleep at night!"
If you could have a destination wedding anywhere in the world, where would it be?
"The place we went on our honeymoon called Nihiwatu was insane. It was kind of a trek to get there but if I could rent the whole resort out and have my closest family & friends there - that would be amazing. Everything from the amazing cuisine, the activities (scuba diving, hiking to waterfalls, tours of primitive village towns, surfing, horseback riding, yoga, riding jet skis, etc), the cute bungalows for accommodation, and the beauty of the island and resort would create a guest experience like no other."
Most memorable wedding detail/event?
"I was really blown away by light fixture we designed up for Joey & Jeff's Durham Ranch wedding last year. Everything about the dinner setting in the barn was perfect; from the soft peach/white lighting to the gray & pink flower arrangements with hints of teal. The light fixture was such a cool complement to the overall look. When guests walked into the barn it was a really impressive piece."
What's one fun/quirky thing we may not know about you?
"Fun: I'm obsessed with traveling (not that uncommon). I studied abroad twice in college, both times in different parts of Spain and learned Spanish. I got the itch again when I lived in New York and moved to Buenos Aires for 5 months. I really love the idea of going places on your own and making friends with all sorts of cultural backgrounds. I love trying different foods and seeing new parts of the world. I'm dying to do an around-the-world trip (to stop and visit lots of places) at some point.
Quirky: I love to sing but am not very good at it. I'm not allowed singing in public with my musical family :) But for better or worse I really love karaoke!"