#003 Planning an Amazing Wedding with Crystal Adair-Benning of Distinct Occasions

In this episode of the Wedding Insider Podcast, I speak with Crystal Adair-Benning of Distinct Occasions. She is a Toronto based “Wedding Dream Translator and Planner-of-Once-In-A-Lifetime Awesomeness.” Her blog at http://www.distinctoccasions.ca/blogged is full of tips and thoughts that only a wedding planner of her caliber could write. She is awesome and this interview is packed with useful information. Enjoy!

In this interview Crystal shares these tips:

  • how to find amazing vendors (even if you don’t hire a wedding planner)
  • how to find the perfect wedding planner for you
  • 2014 wedding trends (and her absolute favourite trend)
  • lots of other amazing things that will help you make your wedding planning less stressful and more fun

Audio only:

You can subscribe to this podcast on itunes: click here.

In this episode, we mentioned the following resources:
Southern Bride Magazine
Wedding Cake Pinatas
Emotionally Engaged: A Bride’s Guide to Surviving the “Happiest” Time of Her Life by Allison Moir-Smith


How to Plan an Amazing Wedding
with Crystal Adair-Benning of Distinct Occasions

Justin Jacques: Hey there, everyone. Justin Jacques here from the Wedding Insider Podcast. Today I have Crystal Adair-Benning from Distinct Occasions. She’s a wedding planner. She’s awesome. We worked together before, and I thought she would be a fantastic person to kind of give you a good idea of where to start your wedding planning and just some general fantastic tips on how to make your wedding awesome because she does an amazing job planning. So to get started, Crystal, how did you get started in wedding planning?

Crystal Adair-Benning: Oh gosh.

Justin Jacques: It’s such a weird thing to get started in, I think, and like most people have an interesting story, so let’s hear yours.

Crystal Adair-Benning: Wow! Well, I guess most people I know kind of started in wedding because they got married, and I’m kind of the opposite. I jokingly, but in all seriousness, fell into it because I needed money.

Justin Jacques: Nice.

Crystal Adair-Benning: Yeah. I was a university student at the University of Stirling in Scotland, and I very quickly found myself as you do when you’re a student, out of money very, very quickly, and I’m not very good at living on haggis. So I very quickly realized that there were people all around me in the university that were getting married and getting engaged, and one of my friends at the time said, “Hey, I know you plan events. Any chance you want to plan my wedding?”

Of course, I was like, “Oh my gosh, a way to get rid of haggis from my life. Yeah, okay, book me 00:01:38.”

So my very first wedding was, by fluke, it was just I was working in events and somebody asked me and I really didn’t want to eat haggis anymore.

Justin Jacques: Cool.

Crystal Adair-Benning: I was like, “Absolutely. Well, I can afford French fries now. It would be awesome.”

Justin Jacques: Nice.

Crystal Adair-Benning: So that was how I fell into it, and then I moved back to Toronto, and I was like, “Oh my gosh, what do I do? I have this business in Scotland.” I ended up keeping both and opened our Toronto office about a year and a half after the Scottish office I guess technically started, and here we go, and then it just kind of seemed to snowball, so now we have three. So now, we’re in Scotland, Toronto and at Perth, Western Australia, so it keeps us…

Justin Jacques: Wow! Yeah, that’s super cool.

Crystal Adair-Benning: Yeah.

Justin Jacques: And how many weddings have you done?

Crystal Adair-Benning: Oh my gosh. I do about 30 weddings a year.

Justin Jacques: Wow!

Crystal Adair-Benning: When I first started, I did like 40 weddings a year, which was absolutely mad. It’s complete insanity, why anybody would want to do that, I have no idea. So now I really try and keep my numbers to about 20 to 25. That’s kind of the magic number for me. But I have a team of staff that also take on their wedding so all of us together we probably do about 50 weddings a year.

Justin Jacques: Nice. That’s super cool.

Crystal Adair-Benning: Yeah.

Justin Jacques: And we were talking just before we started this, and you’re doing weddings pretty much all over the world, right?

Crystal Adair-Benning: Yeah. I’ve been really, really blessed. Wedding planning has afforded me the opportunity to travel the world, so I’ve been to Bali.

Justin Jacques: Cool.

Crystal Adair-Benning: And I’ve gotten to Borneo and Thailand and Australia and New Zealand, and you name it and I’ve kind of tried to do it. I think the only place left is Africa really. I think I need to go there. So if anybody is getting married in Africa, totally I’m on it for you, no problem, but I think it’s all I’ve got left in terms of places I’ve undiscovered.

Justin Jacques: I see a safari wedding trend coming in the near future.

Crystal Adair-Benning: Lamping in the safari with lions and tigers and bears, oh my. You can ride in an elephant. I will make that happen.

Justin Jacques: You will. I know that you will.

Crystal Adair-Benning: I’ll make the giraffe…

Justin Jacques: I would not doubt it.

Crystal Adair-Benning: It will be great honestly. If somebody should do this totally, and I will plan it for you with no problem.

Justin Jacques: Okay. So let’s say, I know you have offices all over, and that you do weddings all over. But let’s say somebody is looking for a wedding planner right now, and for some reason, they can’t contact you.

Crystal Adair-Benning: Yeah.

Justin Jacques: Or they can’t work with you specifically, how do they find an awesome planner? Like what should somebody be looking for in an amazing wedding planner?

Crystal Adair-Benning: Well, I think it’s varies depending on the client. I think really, first and foremost, when you’re looking for a planner, you’re looking for somebody who’s personality matches with yours. My title, the credit that myself and my team have is that we are planners of once in a lifetime awesomeness, and our goal is always to give our client something random and creative, but they’ve never seen or experienced before at another wedding. That’s kind of how we built our business and our brand.

It’s who we are. If we’re not having fun with your wedding, chances are your guests aren’t so we really, really want to have fun with your wedding. So for us, the right client is always that client that they may want something traditional, but they want something with a little bit of edge. They want something a little fun, something different. That’s kind of our clientele and that’s who we attract.

But there are other planners out there that are very fashion focused or very focused in on do-it-yourself products. They’re focused in on being budget friendly or cost conscious. There are all kinds of planners out there.

Justin Jacques: Yeah.

Crystal Adair-Benning: There is literally for every single bride. So really what you want to do is start with their website and you can see what they’ve been doing. Take a look at it. Do you like their style? Because at the end of the day, everything you see has a little bit of us in it. Do you like our style? And then read. I know, it’s a hard thing to do. People like it spontaneous, but read their websites. Honestly, it will give you tons of insight into who we are.

I mean, I talk about the fact that I have a puppy and a hedgehog, and that we travel all the time. So if you’re somebody that’s like minded, you’re a dog person, you’ve been all over the world, we might be a really good fit. We might work well together, and really for a wedding planner, that’s what you’re looking for. You’re looking for somebody who’s an amazing planner, but also somebody that you’re going to like because of all of your wedding vendors, they’re the one you’re going to deal with in the entire planning process.

You need to know that you can get in touch with me, that you feel confident telling me things. Because at the end of the day, I see everything that goes on. I see the stress and the frustration you have with the bridesmaid. I see those happy tears over dad seeing you in your wedding dress for the first time. I get to see all the confusion over picking a menu and choosing wine. I see all of it, and if you’re not comfortable sharing that with us, it’s going to really impede the process and make it not nearly as much fun for you.

Justin Jacques: Yeah, that’s cool. I think it’s important with every vendor, but I think it’s especially important with a planner is to have that matching personality because it’s a really important day, and for a planner, you’re working very intimately with that person. If you don’t match personality wise, then it just isn’t going to work.

Crystal Adair-Benning: Yeah.

Justin Jacques: Where do you think people should start their search like I know you said? How do they initially find that website to check out and to read?

Crystal Adair-Benning: Okay, so I think the first thing that happens when you get engaged is you get wedding magazines. You start looking at blogs. You start looking at website, all that kind of stuff. I think really, like I said, there’s a feeling. If somebody has branded themselves well, they are their brand. So again, I don’t pull punches. Like I travel all the time. I have a hedgehog. I have a dog. I have a boy. Like we travel all the time. We like doing things. I have an obsession with glittering Kate Spade. You’ll find that all of this information very clearly on my website.

Justin Jacques: Yeah, I saw it.

Crystal Adair-Benning: I don’t hide it, it’s there. The same thing in any of our promotional materials. Like we put out a magazine that we actually give to some of our vendors and it showcases like different weddings we’ve done and all that sort of stuff. As you start to see that, you’ll start to know whether you can envision yourself in that wedding, and if you can, that’s a really good start for kind of knowing where you’re at. So you sort of have to do your research and then talk to people.

Maybe you didn’t start at looking for a wedding planner. Maybe you’ve got really excited and went straight for a dress which happens a lot, right?

Justin Jacques: [Agrees]

Crystal Adair-Benning: Or when you’re in trying on your dress, maybe you’re talking to the person who’s having you trying dresses, they know wedding planners. We’re in there all the time. So ask them and oftentimes they can point you to somebody they think might be a good fit for you.

So if you don’t have the luxury of having checked out a website, trust referrals from other vendors you trust. We’re not always the first person hired. Oftentimes the client will choose a venue and a date before they choose us, or they’ll choose their dress before they choose us. So a lot of times they come from other resources, and that’s totally okay too. You just need to do your research and find out what’s the right fit, and then don’t be afraid to kind of quality control it, so don’t be afraid to meet with two or three planners.

My advice for any vendor is three. It’s the rule of three. If you don’t want to be overwhelmed and crazy, three is your number, write it down, memorize it, stick it to your forehead, three is your number because when you meet with three, you’ve got a really good comparison of what’s right, what’s okay, and what’s definitely not right for you, and you’ll figure it very quickly because again personality comes into play here.

It’s not always about price point. A lot of times it’s about who connects and who gets you and you’ll figure that out very, very quickly if you only meet the vendors. If it’s more than that, you start to get confused and go, “What vendor was that we saw? Where were they? How much was that?” It gets confusing so three is your magic number for happy, I promise you.

Justin Jacques: Yeah, that’s a great tip because I think it is easy no matter what you’re doing, especially when you’re getting excited about something just to keep going and going and finding lots of people to talk to, but if you do talk to three people, I think you’ll be able to find somebody that’s going to work well, and not overwhelm you, so for sure.

Yeah, I guess I know there is an obviously huge range, and it’s the same for me in deejaying, but what’s like the typical cost of a wedding planner? I’m not even actually sure what somebody should be paying and what they shouldn’t be paying, and obviously, there’s a huge range and quality and everything like that, but what do people typically pay?

Crystal Adair-Benning: So there are basically two ways that planners work, and I’m just talking more specifically across Canada than anywhere else.

Justin Jacques: [Agrees]

Crystal Adair-Benning: But in Canada, there are two ways. There’s either a set-floppy, excuse me, which means that you pay one price upfront. That’s our full fee, and there’s no additional charges. Or secondly, you can pay a percentage-based rate.

I don’t like percentage-based rate because it means that it’s in my best interest to send you the person who’s most expensive if I’m making commission, right?

Justin Jacques: Yeah.

Crystal Adair-Benning: So for example, and you’ll appreciate this, Justin, if I was looking at DJs and I was working on a percentage-based, and you’re quoting me 800 and somebody else is quoting me 2,000, I’m better off pushing the person who’s quoting 2,000 because I’m going to make a better commission cut there.

Justin Jacques: Yeah, for sure.

Crystal Adair-Benning: So I don’t like that really. I much prefer to do everything on flat rate fees for full planning. Generally, you’re looking at somewhere between 3,000 and 8,000 so it’s a huge garnish point.

Justin Jacques: Yeah.

Crystal Adair-Benning: But it depends on the average wedding, so the way that we price for example as our base rate is about 5,500, and that would be for your average wedding, banquet hall under 200 people, pretty standard. If you are having an at home or private wedding or an estate wedding or something like that where we have to bring in tons and caterers and florals and linens and chairs and washrooms and valet and all this staff, then the fee goes up accordingly depending on that.

Justin Jacques: Yeah.

Crystal Adair-Benning: So that’s how full planning works. Then there is the service called partial planning. Partial planning is like having a full planner, except you’ve done a lot of the work on your own, you just need to finish off with a few items here and there, and you need some referrals, but you don’t necessarily need us to negotiate your contracts for you, things like that, and it ranges depending on where the client is in their planning. But as a general rule, it’s kind of $2,000 to $4,000 is kind of what you’re looking at that. So you’re looking at about half or so of what full planning is.

Then you have day/month day of coordination 00:12:55, which even if you’re a bride who doesn’t want a wedding planner, please, please heed my advice and hire a day of coordinator, not only for Justin’s sake, but for your sake. Day of coordinators are amazing because they really kind of come in at the last, like six weeks prior to your wedding, and help you organize the itinerary, review your contracts, make sure you haven’t forgotten anything, make sure that the floor plan is correct and all the information you’re giving to your vendors is correct, and then they’re there to oversee the wedding and make sure that it all runs smoothly.

Those people generally start kind of 800 to 2,500, again, base range. My staff, for example, are about 1,500, whereas I charge 2,500 just because I’ve been doing it longer. It’s a little more time consuming for me. So there’s a vast difference in what you’re getting, but it’s everything from the person who’s new and just started out in the industry to the person like me who I feel like I’m an old wartime vet. I got my multi-hats going on and my stripes are on my sleeve, I’m good. So it depends on where you are in the industry as to what you’re charging, but I would estimate if you’re looking at partial, full or day of, there’s a wide range, but you do get what you pay for in the industry.

Justin Jacques: Okay.

Crystal Adair-Benning: So if you have a really complicated wedding, expect to pay a little bit more money versus somebody that’s just having a simple 20-person or less event or small restaurant wedding or something like that.

Justin Jacques: Yeah, that’s a great overview. I mean, obviously, there’s a huge range, and it’s hard to do it in a couple of minutes, but I think that just gives me actually a better idea of what people are paying with. I agree with the date of coordinator especially if you’re not going to go with the wedding planner for the rest of your wedding, like it’s just so nice to not to have to…

Crystal Adair-Benning: It saves you more.

Justin Jacques: Like at the end of the night, I am seeing like families pack up, and it’s just so nice not to have to worry about that stuff. It can be such a – I don’t know. I’m sure people are happy to do it, but it’s just so nice not to have to think about asking your mom at the end of the night to clean up your decorations…

Crystal Adair-Benning: Mom should have a drink in their hand and a smile on their face.

Justin Jacques: Yeah, exactly.

Crystal Adair-Benning: They should not be worrying about where your guestbook ended up. That’s my job.

Justin Jacques: Yeah, I know. I totally agree. So I’ve got a couple of questions, so if a couple hires a planner, like what can they help you guys do to make sure that you guys can do your best job? Does that make sense?

Crystal Adair-Benning: Yes, and it’s the most complicated answer I’m going to give you. It’s trust.

Justin Jacques: Yeah, that’s a great answer.

Crystal Adair-Benning: That’s the very base of what I do, it’s trust, and that’s why I push really, really hard on the “you need to seriously like my personality, you need to like me” because at the end of the day, you have to entrust me with everything that we’ve planned, and then I’m going to do the best I can to make sure that it goes according to plan, and I can tell you from experience of doing over 500 weddings now, that nothing ever goes completely according to plan.

When it does, I’m usually in the background going, “All right, what’s going on that I don’t know about?” Because it never runs as smooth, and it’s not that we planned poorly, it’s just that you can’t take into account human nature or Mother Nature, road accidents, traffic, all those sorts of stuff. There are too many details to account for. There are things that come up and things happen, and that truly is the essence of why you have a planner. My job is literally to manage incidents.

I know that brides really don’t see it that way. You’re thinking that I’m going to hire people for you and make it all good, and that is a big portion of my job, but the portion of my job that’s most essential to you is actually what happens [00:16:53 audio cut]. It’s literally problem solving. It’s my job to plan everything, figure it out, coordinate it, and then problem solve it literally to tee without you noticing. Because I can guarantee you that there is something in the background going wrong that I’m wracking my brain going, “Okay, how do I fix it? How do I fix it?” And I fix it, and if I’ve done that successfully and you don’t notice, I’ve done it amazing, and that’s what you hired me for.

If you noticed, that’s when I’m like, “Oh, sorry, sorry, sorry, it’s our fault.” And a good planner will admit it when things are their fault and they’ve done something incorrect.

Justin Jacques: Yeah.

Crystal Adair-Benning: But that’s really what you’re hiring us for. So as long as you trust us, that certainly goes a long way, and then it’s sort of an after the fact situation, but if you are grateful and thankful for the work that we do, let us know. It sounds funny, but like there are so many couples out there, and I’m sure you see this too, Justin, that they get married and then we never see them again, they disappear. I hate the disappearing act. I spend so much of my life talking to you, that you are part of my days.

Justin Jacques: Yeah.

Crystal Adair-Benning: And so when they disappear, I feel bad because I’m like, “Oh my gosh, what happened to them? Do they not like the wedding? What? Like was there something wrong?”

So definitely contact us and let us know what happened, and if you were happy or not much, we’ll always try and fix things for you. That’s our job. We’re fixers by nature. But it’s really great to hear feedback as well, positive or negative, to change it for the next person.

Justin Jacques: For sure.

Crystal Adair-Benning: So…

Justin Jacques: Yeah, it means a lot.

Crystal Adair-Benning: Yeah.

Justin Jacques: I mean, I have thank you cards on my desk…

Crystal Adair-Benning: That you just go…

Justin Jacques: That I like to look at, and I haven’t been doing too many weddings over the winter, so it’s from a while ago, and it’s just I greatly appreciate it when people are grateful for sure, because I put a lot of effort into everything I do and I know you do, too, for sure, and you think a lot about people’s weddings and you just try your absolute best to make it awesome so it’s great when people are really appreciative. It really does make it worthwhile.

Crystal Adair-Benning: And you just wonder about what happened to them afterwards.

Justin Jacques: Oh yeah, that too.

Crystal Adair-Benning: Sure, they went on a honeymoon, but like we’re curious because we’re people-people. We’re more people-people. Wow, we are people-people by nature.

Justin Jacques: Yeah, for sure.

Crystal Adair-Benning: Like my job is to know the intricate details of what’s going on with you, so I want to know that everything is okay and that you guys are so good, and nothing, I kid you not, makes me so happy that when a client adds me on Facebook and keeps me on Facebook and tells me when they’re happy.

How crazy it is when we got invites to their baby showers? That’s pretty awesome. I like that, and it’s not that I can always go or whatever, although we do plan them occasionally, but it’s to be kept in the loop. Like the first email I send as soon as a client books us is, “Welcome to the Distinct Occasions family because you are part of our family now.”

Like once you are a client, you’re not a client, you’re part of the family. Welcome then, don’t be surprised if I invite you over to my house sometime and you’ve eaten my cooking and play with my dog, and we’re probably going to have puppy days if you have another puppy. Like you are part of the family and that’s really what I want for my clients, so staying in contact and being able to talk and trust us, all of that is super, super important for us.

Justin Jacques: Cool. That’s a great answer. So I think I let you know, but I hope you have something that you can come up with if I didn’t. What are some wedding trends for 2014? Did I ask you that already, or were you ready for this?

Crystal Adair-Benning: You didn’t, but I’ll come up with an viewpoint.

Justin Jacques: Okay, cool.

Crystal Adair-Benning: Okay, so the color of my lipstick is supposedly the big trends.

Justin Jacques: Nice.

Crystal Adair-Benning: It’s cool and radiant orchid for the man in the room. It’s essentially a purple. It’s like a bright orchidy colored purple. It’s an amazing color. It does not go with everything, fair warning to brides who think that they can just throw it into their wedding and they will be trendy. Not quite. But it is a great color.

Something that I’m finding really trending, and sorry, Justin, for this one. My husband doesn’t like me anymore than you do for it, but bands. Bands are totally the wedding trend of 2014.

Justin Jacques: I saw that on your blog.

Crystal Adair-Benning: You can tell. I don’t mean to break your heart, but it’s true. The good news is that oftentimes, and it’s very smart and wise to do this, that the brides are hiring band and DJs, because realistically, a band has to take a break, whereas the DJ, well, as much as we love them, we don’t give them breaks.

Justin Jacques: Oh yeah.

Crystal Adair-Benning: But we love you. So hiring a band and a DJ at the same time is definitely a part of the trend, but bands for sure are coming back in a really big way for weddings in 2014, and then there’s a really big switch in weddings, which I’m kind of appreciating and enjoying right now. It’s just that weddings are getting a little bit smaller and more intimate, and the word “romantic” is coming up a lot more often now for weddings. So rather than have a big showy event, and even the people that do have the big showy event, they’re still trying to find ways to add that romantic element into it, whether it’s personalizing their vows, getting a dress that’s really detailed or adding something, a piece of jewelry that their grandma wore, things like that. But brides are really trying to up that romance factor and really make their day something memorable to them as well as to their guests, and I think that’s a really cool trend that we’re starting to see.

Justin Jacques: Cool, yeah. Yeah, I mean, that’s kind of the space I play in, but I don’t see as wide a variety of weddings as I’m sure wedding planners do. I have a pretty specific…

Crystal Adair-Benning: We run the gamut.

Justin Jacques: What’s that?

Crystal Adair-Benning: We run the gamut…

Justin Jacques: Yeah, yeah, exactly. So my trends are always like I’m seeing a lot of the same thing, but I don’t think it’s a general trend for me, where you can probably see those a lot more than I can because you’re working on a lot of different types of weddings.

Crystal Adair-Benning: If it’s any consolation, that lovely beautiful cake piñata you saw that we used for Amanda and Ross, the cake piñata is going to be a thing. I’m telling you.

Justin Jacques: That’s awesome.

Crystal Adair-Benning: Cake piñata is going to be a thing. I’m doing at least two more of them in 2014. I’m super excited.

Justin Jacques: Sweet.

Crystal Adair-Benning: I love eating some cakes, don’t get me wrong, but nothing is cooler than watching a bride and groom like totally smacked the hell of that thing. It’s awesome.

Justin Jacques: Yeah. You can tell everyone what that was.

Crystal Adair-Benning: So essentially, the bride and groom lived in Scotland. They didn’t want a wedding cake. They were adamant that they did not want a wedding cake, but I was adamant that they had to have some kind of a cake, so we compromised, and we came up with a piñata cake. So literally a cake or a piñata shaped like a cake that we hung from the ceiling and filled full of sweets, and when it was time to cut the cake, the bride first tried to tried to break it, and when she couldn’t, the groom whacked the heck out of it, and candy fell everywhere, it was amazing. Guests loved it. It created a little bit of a mess, but what’s a good party without a little mess?

Justin Jacques: Yeah, and who needs a candy table when you have a piñata cake.

Crystal Adair-Benning: Seriously, although it has four candy tables for the banquet. We had a lot of candy going.

Justin Jacques: Cool. So I guess I’m assuming that most of the time you’re probably recommending vendors to your clients, but outside of that, is there a way that you recommend that couples find other vendors? I know, I mean, we talked already about how to find a wedding planner, but just in general, on other vendors too.

Crystal Adair-Benning: Well, I think, honestly, it sounds funny, but trust your family and friends, read blogs, check out magazines, especially if there’s one that you know kind of fits the needs of you. So for example, my obsession right now is this lovely magazine called Southern Weddings, which I’m sorry you can’t buy it in Chapters People. You actually have to go online and order from the US. It’s from the US, but I’m really digging the whole Southern Weddings thing because they’ve got a thing for like very laidback, cowboysy weddings with pies and making sweet tea on the patio, and I kind of dig that vibe right now. I think it’s kind of a neat way to celebrate. The whole Southern thing is very romantic so it fits into that kind of aspect of romance that we’re seeing with long sunset photos and beautiful things like that.

So that’s one that inspires me so I always pick it up and read it, so if I’m looking for a new vendor and I can’t find anything that’s really working for me, sometimes I’ll go through the magazine and see what other vendors are listed and I’ll sometimes reach out to them or check out their website, so that’s a really great way to do it too, and the read people’s blogs. If like somebody, chances are they write a blog because most people write a blog now, and you start going in and checking out vendors that they’re suggesting, sometimes that will just strike something with you and so maybe you can’t necessarily afford that planner, but maybe that planner wrote a blog about this trusted vendor 00:26:13 that you really like that you can afford.

Justin Jacques: Yeah.

Crystal Adair-Benning: So maybe that’s a good way to start. But I think sadly or not so sadly, you have to do your research. Try not to get wedding brain a little too much and put your blinders on, but I think that the best planners for you are going to naturally kind of show themselves if you start asking people for what it is that you want.

Justin Jacques: Yeah. I mean, I definitely think that’s true. I mean, somehow I end up working with the same vendors a lot of the time just because the people that hire me also hire those other vendors, and it just kind of works out that way. We all kind of play in the same space. I mean, it doesn’t happen all the time. So yeah.

Crystal Adair-Benning: Your chances just stand out.

Justin Jacques: Yeah.

Crystal Adair-Benning: You’ll start to find vendors that connect really, really well, and for a bride, especially if you’re not going to hire a planner, one of the tips that I have is trying to find teams that are strong already. People that already connected are really amazing because they already know how each other works. I don’t have to go into a situation and go, “Oh Justin, what’s your rig look like, and how long are going to need to set up, and when is your sound check? Blah, blah, blah.”

If I’ve already worked with you before, I can just say, “Hey Justin, so here’s the itinerary for this week. Let me know if there’s any concerns.” And chances are there’s none because we’ve already done it before.

Justin Jacques: Yeah.

Crystal Adair-Benning: And vice versa, and so especially if you’re a bride who does not have a planner, it’s really nice to work with a team that already knows each other and knows what to expect, so the florist already knows, the cake person knows that they come in a little bit later, and knows that they’re going to want flowers on the cake. That’s a nice little feature rather than having everybody kind of working separately and not really knowing each other and they show up in there and everybody goes, “Oh, now what?” And tries to do their own thing.

So if you’re not going to hire a planner, try and go for a connection with vendors that seem to know and worked with each other really well. Probably the best advice I can give to a bride is to hire a solid team that you know works all together.

Justin Jacques: Yeah, that’s awesome. I love your tips. That’s why you’re a planner. You think of all these things.

Crystal Adair-Benning: Oh, that’s sound advice.

Justin Jacques: So yeah, I think I’ve got one last question, and it’s just like what three tips can you kind of share that a wedding planner knows. I know you’ve probably already covered some of them, but try and come up with three more. If you want to use some of the ones we already use, then that’s fine.

Crystal Adair-Benning: Okay.

Justin Jacques: But three tips that a wedding planner knows on like how to plan a wedding that other people aren’t thinking about.

Crystal Adair-Benning: Please you’re asking me easy questions.

Justin Jacques: Yeah.

Crystal Adair-Benning: All right, no problems. So first of all, get it in writing. It is like my number one, especially if you’re not using a planner, even if you are using a planner. Nothing in this world is done, set or agreed to by voice anymore. Forget it, it just doesn’t happen. Put it on paper. It doesn’t have to be a contract, but get it in an email. Get it in something written that if, knock on wood, this vendor forgets or you forget or the plague happens or whatever, somebody has got some written piece of information that says, “This is what was agreed upon. Done.” So that needs to happen number one, first and foremost. That is probably the biggest concern that I had, even with my clients every once in a while who agreed on something and not get a contract, and I tell them what’s on my mind.

Justin Jacques: Yeah.

Crystal Adair-Benning: So that’s my number one.

Justin Jacques: That’s awesome.

Crystal Adair-Benning: My number two, and this is a fun one, put as much time into planning your marriage just planning your wedding. This is the big old softy, lovey-dovey romantic quote coming out, but there are so many people these days that are getting married because they want to get married and not because they want to have a marriage, and I’m here to tell you that there is a giant difference between the two. A giant difference between the two.

Sadly, marriage does not come with wedding cake every day. I know, it’s a shocker, mindblower. It just rips the lid off Pandora’s box there for you, but your marriage is very different from your wedding, and I think people need to put as much time in preparing for a positive and long term marriage as they do for their wedding, and then I think we’d have a lot stronger marriages.

Justin Jacques: Yeah.

Crystal Adair-Benning: A lot of [00:30:37 audio garbled] which is pretty great and awesome because the goal of you getting married, hopefully, is to stay married.

Justin Jacques: Yeah, for sure.

Crystal Adair-Benning: And not to want to destroy your cake toppers in a couple of weeks. So that’s my advice, and whether that’s doing things like taking marriage counseling, I know, I know, or that person or whatever, or just simply making sure that you take time out for dates and talk to one another about stuff that’s not related to the wedding, I think all of that stuff goes a really long way to building a strong and healthy marriage and not just a wedding.

Justin Jacques: Cool. Do you have anything that you help your clients? Like do you have any books or anything like that that you can suggest related to that?

Crystal Adair-Benning: Yeah. The one that I think helps most often, and it’s not just about couples, it’s about your relationship while planning your wedding, is a book called Emotionally Engaged.

Justin Jacques: Okay, cool.

Crystal Adair-Benning: But I can’t think off the top of my head who the author is.

Justin Jacques: I’ll look it up and I’ll put it on the show notes.

Crystal Adair-Benning: You got it, but it’s an absolutely wonderful book, and it basically talks about how as you’re planning your wedding, the reactions that people have and what they say and do is because of their relationships to you and what’s happening with them and not always what’s happening with you, and I think that adds a little perspective to getting married, and why your mother suddenly went nuts and your sister is not talking to you and you made all your friends MIA. So I think that that’s a great book that we keep it on our office shelf, and I often loan it out to my brides if they’re having issues with family and friends, because I think it just puts stuff back into perspective.

But I think just in terms of seriously kind of getting back into your marriage, surprisingly I don’t have a book that I necessarily suggest. It think that for everybody it’s a different kind of feeling and it’s different kind of emotional setup. So some of my couples have gone through counseling and it’s been amazing for them and they loved it. Other couples hated it. I have some couples that kind of go straight for the Bible and they find power and strength through that to get through whatever is bothering them, and then I have other couples that are just, “No, forget it. This is about us.” And they make that time to sit down and discuss whether it’s taking a vacation or planning an hour every day to just have a discussion and reconnect.

So I think your marriage kind of comes down to whatever you sort of feel best doing, but it’s something that you have to make a priority. It’s not just going to happen, and unfortunately for you, as much as I’m your wedding planner, I’m not your marriage planner.

If you think I could be, I totally could do that, but I am here to give you guidance and advice so when my clients do come to me with concerns which happens, I get to put on my little therapist hat and offer you some guidance and suggestions and advice, and coming from somebody who’s been married and divorced, and now back together again with somebody else, I think I have some perspective in that too, because I think the first time I got married, I got married to get married, or sorry, rather to have a wedding than to have a marriage because I was young and it’s just what happened. So I think I have a little more perspective as well coming from the other side of it, which a lot of the planners don’t necessarily have.

Justin Jacques: Yeah, that’s great.

Crystal Adair-Benning: I think for me the marriage aspect comes back to it, and one of the things I love to throw at my clients is, “This decision that you’re having a hard time making, at the end of the day, is it going to make or break your wedding? Yea or nay? Is it going to make or break your marriage though?”

Justin Jacques: Yeah.

Crystal Adair-Benning: Yeah. If somebody is adamant that they don’t want something to happen and it’s going to affect your marriage, is it worth the decision?

Justin Jacques: No, yeah.

Crystal Adair-Benning: Yeah. Absolutely not. So that’s my second piece of advice. And my third piece of advice is kind of chicky and cheesy, but hire a . Do yourself a favor, just hire us. It doesn’t have to be us specifically, but hire a planner. Just make your life easy. I think that oftentimes we’re the thing that people can’t put into perspective. They don’t see the value in a planner, and I tell my clients this all the time, “That you may not necessarily see the value in me in June. You might not see the value in me in July, but probably when your wedding happens in August, you’re totally going to see the value in having a planner.” Or when “the shit hits the fan” and everything blows up and you can’t handle it anymore, you’re going to see the value in having a planner.

So while everything is going right and smooth, we don’t always get the credit that we’re due, but when things blow up and we can fix that for you, we certainly do. So put some money aside and have a planner, even if it’s just for the day of, and kind of remedy yourself of that. When you put into perspective, photographers, they’re making between 5,000 and 7,000, DJs, you’re talking into $1,000 to $2,500 range, florists can be, oh my god, sky is the limit. You have all these people that you’re paying for your wedding, but the one person that is there to problem solve and be on your side no matter what 150,000% is your wedding planner. So wouldn’t you rather pay $1,500 and have somebody in your back corner who’s got to represent you on your wedding day?

So it’s a bit selfish, but that’s certainly I would suggest, and if I can toss in one more to the first bride that can figure out how to make my adorable but slightly obnoxious puppy dog a ring puppy, I love you forever, because I’m dying to see him as a ring puppy. I think he would be so cute.

Justin Jacques: Awesome.

Crystal Adair-Benning: Just throwing it out there.

Justin Jacques: This was so good. I think like I’m really excited about this interview. I think the listeners/viewers are going to find so much value in it, and then it’s awesome. Thank you so much. Crystal. I really appreciate it.

Crystal Adair-Benning: You’re very welcome, Justin.

Justin Jacques: Yeah, thanks, everyone. But wait, actually, no. I need to tell everyone where to go to find your website.

Crystal Adair-Benning: Oh, that’s cool.

Justin Jacques: And I put up show notes so we need to tell everyone where that is after that. So if they want to find you, where do they go?

Crystal Adair-Benning: So if they want to find me, well, you can come by my house, but that would be weird. So just totally check out my website first because it’s a less socially awkward.

Justin Jacques: Yeah.

Crystal Adair-Benning: It’s www.distinctoccasions.ca or www.distinctoccasions.com. Don’t worry, you’ll find that at either direction. Or just give me a phone call because I know it’s kind of old school and people don’t really do that anymore, but seriously, I do, so 416-562-6995, or you can text if you’re that cool. I like it.

Justin Jacques: Yeah. Yeah, I’m glad you love to text these days for sure.

Crystal Adair-Benning: You know what, I love to text. I’m not going to lie. I text. If you text me, just leave something who you are in the first text, otherwise it’s weird.

Justin Jacques: Yeah, exactly. That’s a good point as well, and also just a reminder that Crystal is Toronto based, but she does travel all over the world.

Crystal Adair-Benning: I do.

Justin Jacques: So you don’t necessarily need to be here to work with her, and then I’m going to put up some show notes on my site, so it will be indieweddingdj.com/podcast/distinct. So if you want to find the show notes, you can go there, and now, we’ll wrap up. Thank you so much, Crystal, again. It was awesome. You provided so much info and I hope some people contact you even if they just have a question or two, that would be great.

Crystal Adair-Benning: I love it, it sounds good.

Justin Jacques: Thanks, Crystal.

Crystal Adair-Benning: Thanks, Justin.

End of Audio

Have Questions about Your Wedding?

Get them answered by by wedding industry experts. Just leave us a comment below.

#003 Planning an Amazing Wedding with Crystal Adair-Benning of Distinct Occasions by

Pick the Perfect Wedding Music

Speak Your Mind