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Vendor Interview: Laura Auer

April 19, 2008

Back to vendor interviews! Laura is the owner of Soiree Special Events and is a great wedding planner. I met her at a wedding we did at The Ronald Reagan Building in DC. She’s got a fun blog with tips and ideas! Check it out.

Laura Auer of Soiree Special Events

How did you get started in the wedding business?

Believe it or not, Soiree actually started as a senior project in college! I was supposed to find a management internship but had already done that the summer before. Instead, I thought I’d try to start a company. My first few weddings were done for free. I charged $50 for a while and then was making the big bucks when I reached $100. Three years and 9 employees later and I still love what I do

What do you do when you are not planning weddings?

Not planning weddings? What?

Hubby and I like to escape to Wrightsville Beach, NC. J. Michael’s cheesesteaks there cannot be beat. We’re ‘road trip’ people and also enjoy all the outdoor activities in the Shenandoah Valley. Other than semi-local travel, I enjoy bad movies from Netflix, playing with my pet parrot, and spending time with my family.

How do you approach the wedding day?

I like to be as organized as possible but also be flexible for last-minute changes. I check in with all the vendors before the wedding so we’re all on the same page and keep them updated through the wedding day. That way we can keep some structure to the event without having to boss people around.

What are your influences?

Any planner will tell you that they love Grace Ormonde, Martha Stewart, and any other wedding publication that comes up with different ideas. However, I think that real life is really the most inspiring! If the couple enjoys sailing, work in some canvas decor, seafood appetizers, and a sailboat-inspired monogram. If a bride is from New Orleans, how about incorporating a fleur de lis motif through the wedding and offering a beignet fry station with dessert? If they are hosting a lot of out-of-town guests, why not welcome them to Washington with some DC-inspired goody bags, tickets to the Spy Museum, and a welcome tour around the city on Friday night? Personal touches are always appreciated by guests and never go out of style.

What inspires you?

I’m continuously inspired by entrepreneurs who enjoy the work they do. I don’t think you should have to balance a career and a lifestyle….they should be the same thing! I’m also inspired by my parents, who have owned a small business for over 30 years.

What do you think sets you apart from other wedding planners?

Soiree is cool because we are a team of planners. We constantly share ideas, resources, and inspiration with each other. We’re also great at logistical problem solving since there are ten heads instead of one. We also work remotely from our own offices so we’re extremely flexible in corresponding and meeting with our brides.

What do you wish you could tell brides about wedding planning BEFORE the wedding day?

All brides should have their seamstress bustle their gown off the floor! There is a great popular seamstress in the area that loves to leave a little bit of ‘swooshing’ fabric touching the floor. Unfortunately, that’s the piece that gets stepped on and pulls out the bustle. I cannot tell you how many times those brides have to leave the dance floor to get re-bustled with safety pins.

Oh, and also….trust our opinions and advice. That’s why you hired us!

What website or blog do you frequent often?

Way too many. Ready to waste some time? Here are some of my favorites:
http://abbyjean.typepad.com/style_me_pretty/
http://junebugweddings.com/blogs/what_junebug_loves/
http://eluckydesigns.blogspot.com/

What do you love about weddings?

I get an emotional high from weddings. Everyone is happy, the guests attend because they want to be there, and there’s tons of hugs and kisses all around. I come home each Saturday night with a new outlook on life. I also love the clients we work with….brides are the best customers!

What do you hate about weddings?

My schedule is a bit awkward with meetings and weddings outside of normal business hours. However, I still wouldn’t trade the job!

What is your favorite memory from a wedding – good, bad or funny?

One of my brides chose “My Girl” as her processional song. It was so perfect for the couple and you could feel 130 smiles immediately beam from the audience. I think a few of them sung along, too. I rarely cry at weddings anymore but that moment got me pretty good. I had to hide with a tissue after she got to the altar!

What do you suggest for an emergency kit?

You can find long lists online but here are the basics: scissors, safety pins, bobby pins, tissues, hair spray, tylenol, Shout Wipes, mints/gum. Every Soiree coordinator comes with an emergency kit that includes all of these things (plus more!).

If your event is outside, consider bringing bug spray. If you have tons of buttons down your dress, pick up a crochet hook from Michael’s to help get the loops around the buttons.

What are common mistakes couples make on their wedding day in terms of planning?

So many couples don’t properly budget their money or their time. The reception (venue, catering, alcohol & rentals) should run about 50-55% of your total budget. The remaining half is for photography, flowers, attire, transportation, invitations, and all the little tiny expenses that pop up along the way. When planning weddings, this is one of the first conversations we have with our clients so we all get started off on the right foot.

What is your favorite wedding trend right now?

I’m loving all the green & eco-friendly options for weddings. Caterers are starting to offer organic and locally-sourced menus, rental companies offer tables that don’t require linens, and brides are donating money to charities or offsetting carbon footprints in lieu of favors. The choices that brides make are helping the planet. I love it!

What is your least favorite wedding trend right now?

Would chair covers please go away and die? They’re so expensive that renting new chairs is sometimes a cheaper option. Plus, the fake satin fabric they’re made out of just looks cheap. I’ve never been a fan and hope that brides will start to move away from them.

What are you reading right now?

I just finished Khris Cochran’s DIY Bride. She also writes a great blog www.diybride.com. Now that wedding season is picking up, I probably won’t be on the market for another book until December!

What are you listening to right now?

For some reason I have a new thing for the hippie version of George Harrison. I’m also a huge Parrothead and enjoy Jack Johnson, Queen, and Jason Mraz. My iTunes is all over the map. Have y’all heard Yael Naim’s song, New Soul? It’s one of my newer favorites….the video on YouTube is adorable!

What would you do with $1 million dollars?

I would love to offer my staff full-time positions and open a real office complete with a planning library, craft area, inspiration room, and vendor meeting area. I’d also love to support one of my favorite charities, Making Memories. Someday we’ll get there!

One goal you have for 2008:

I hope to go paperless and keep everything electronically. My condo’s too small for all these papers!

Open mic, final thoughts:

Not everyone can afford or needs to have a full, traditional wedding planner. Most planning companies offer day-of coordination where the planner will run the rehearsal and wedding day to make sure everything goes smoothly. I highly highly recommend every bride at least consider a small investment in a DOC (day-of coordinator). I hired my own staff to do this for me at my own wedding! Every bride deserves to enjoy every moment of her wedding without worrying about the details.

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10 Comments leave one →
  1. April 19, 2008 11:47 am

    Yeah!!! I heart Laura!!! Great interview.

  2. Suzanne Thompson permalink
    April 19, 2008 10:33 pm

    Laura! It’s awesome to hear that things are going so well for you- I’m so happy but of course everyone knew you’d be great! Great interview- yay you! 🙂

  3. April 19, 2008 10:50 pm

    yay! great interview with one of my fave planners!

  4. April 19, 2008 11:46 pm

    Pretty picture, Laura! Great interview!

  5. Rebecca Dick permalink
    April 20, 2008 10:36 pm

    As one of Laura’s super awesome assistants, I have to agree with the other comments here. Laura is an awesome planner, and I have been honored to work with her and hope to continue to do so for many weddings to come! Congrats, and great interview (and awesome pic, of course!)

  6. Trish permalink
    April 20, 2008 11:59 pm

    We love Laura! She’s been helping us plan our wedding for about a year and couldn’t imagine doing this without her!

  7. April 24, 2008 10:47 am

    Laura is so great at what she does. I see a bright future for her! But most importantly, she’s a wonderful and beautiful person inside & out!

  8. soireelaura permalink
    April 24, 2008 10:49 am

    Hey Kim! Thanks so much for posting this!

    You’ve been tagged! Check out this blog post for more info: http://soireespecialevents.blogspot.com/2008/04/tagged.html

  9. May 16, 2008 7:03 pm

    Hi there,

    My sister is getting married and it sounds like I have lots to learn from Laura.

    Laura- I have just started a new business, http://www.KuraDesign.com and would love to talk to you about some small bags I have that can be used with electric candles for centerpieces and for putting bridesmaid gifts inside.

    Have a great one. Hope to meet you soon!
    Margo Schlossberg, KuraDesign handbags http://www.KuraDesign.com

  10. October 10, 2008 2:38 pm

    For you fans of Soiree…

    Soiree Special Events has partnered with the Dandelion Patch to create Wish Special Events – a cool new look for the planners you know and love. Follow Laura and the gang on their new home (http://www.wishspecialevents.com/) and blog (http://www.wishspecialevents.com/blog/).

    We look forward to reading you as Wish!

    Cheers,
    The Wish Team

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