Weddings

How to find the wedding planner that’s right for you: our interview with planner Erika Sandoval

By on April 15th, 2019

What’s been really fun for us over the years is working with a very diverse group of grooms for their wedding attire needs. And something that we’ve noticed is that the grooms who have hired wedding planners, seem to coast into the final months leading up to their wedding. There’s just less stress and more enjoyment of the whole process.

Consequently, we’re always on the lookout for Colorado’s leading wedding planners. Recently, Ryan sat down with Denver-based planner Erika Sandoval to talk about what grooms should know about the wedding planning process and how to find the right planner when the time comes.

[Ryan] Can you give us a little background on how you got into the wedding planning world? Have you always been a planner?

[Erika] I have always been a planner in hindsight but I wasn’t always working my dream job. I worked for a bank as a financial advisor for many years and was successful with it but it didn’t fulfill me. I had planned weddings for family and friends as a hobby but it wasn’t until 2012 that a friend of mine (whom I was planning a destination wedding for) told me I was too creative to be working at a bank and I should plan weddings and events full time.

At the time I thought she was crazy and thought no one would pay me to do something I loved but it sparked something inside of me. I saved money, paid off some debt and quit my job to go back to school. I got my Bachelors in Hospitality, Tourism, and Events in 2016 all while having three kids and planning weddings part time. That time is quite a blur from sleepless nights studying but it was so worth it.

Now I plan weddings and events full time and I absolutely feel blessed that I get to do something I love so much for a living.

What are two key things that grooms should know about the wedding planning process?

The first thing is that this is your wedding too! I love when a groom is involved in the planning process and speaks up about what’s important to him. I’ve had weddings where I don’t meet the groom until the rehearsal day and they are happy leaving all the planning to their fiancé but I’ve also had weddings where the groom is involved more. If food is important and you want something in particular, have it!

Have a first dance song in mind that you would love to dance to? Say something! Attending meetings (even if it’s the final walk-through) also helps you get hold of the day and know what is going to happen so that you aren’t taken by surprise. This helps you enjoy the day more instead of feeling like you are being pushed left and right without knowing what is going on.

The second thing grooms should know about planning is that although wedding planning can be stressful at times, it doesn’t have to be! Take some time for both of you to get some alone time even if life seems a little chaotic at the time. Go on a date, take a weekend getaway and leave the phones behind! Recharge your batteries and fall in love with each other all over again.

If it gets to the point where you two are so busy that you don’t have time for each other because of work and wedding planning, then it’s time to call a professional. That’s what planners are here for. We take care of all the little details of planning a wedding so you don’t have to. Of course, you two make all major decisions but we help make planning fun and stress free.

Erika Sandoval Events

I understand that you tend to plan “classic” weddings, with an emphasis in the luxury market. What exactly does a classic wedding look like and why might a couple want to plan a classic wedding over something “on trend”?

A classic wedding to me is a wedding that is timeless and elegant. Although I do love trendy weddings because they too can be beautiful, classy weddings tend to stand the test of time. You can look back years from now and still love your design and photos, a wedding that if you had that same wedding 15-20 years from when you had it, it would still look great!

While classy weddings can be traditional and formal they don’t have to be. I love adding modern details to a wedding design that won’t tend to be super dated when the time comes. I also love when couples kick tradition to the curb and do their own thing. Do you have to wait to see your bride at the altar? Nope! Do a first look, have your sister be your Best Woman, skip the garter and bouquet toss if you want or have brunch at your reception if that is your favorite meal!

What has been your favorite wedding that you planned in the past year, and why?

My favorite wedding from this past wedding season was a wedding I did back in June. The reason it was my favorite was because it was a very traditional wedding but they added their own personalities to it, which made it so much fun. They got married at a Catholic church and while their vows were very traditional in this setting, they opted to write their own personal vows and read them to each other during their first look.

It was just so intimate for them and they had some time for each other before all of the “chaos” of people ensued. They also had 300 guests attending and had something to do for everyone. People danced, took photos in a fun photo booth, mingled, and played giant games during the reception…oh, and this was a day wedding too, it ended at 5:00 pm! I had never done a day wedding before but it was so much fun.

How can grooms be sure that they find the right wedding planner for them? 

I think the most important element in finding the right wedding planner for you is to be sure that you meet the planners you are thinking of hiring in person or via Skype/Facetime if an in-person meeting is impossible. It has to be a great fit for both you and it is important to know their personality and style and like them as you will spend most of your day with your planner (just as you will with your photographer).

Your wedding is such an intimate occasion and it can get awkward if you and your planner are complete strangers or you find out that your personalities don’t fit and you are stuck with them. I love becoming friends with my clients and building trust. It makes my couples much more comfortable with me being around when they know me.

Plus having them trust me is imperative for them to have a great time and be stress-free on their day. They trust and know I am going to take great care of them.

Wrap up

It’s easier than ever these days to get lost on Instagram or Pinterest searching for unique wedding themes. There are just so many different styles out there.

But what really stuck with me when I chatted with Erika was her emphasis on planning classic weddings; a wedding design and style that will still be cool looking 10 years down the road. I think that this resonated because at BE, we take a similar approach to helping our grooms find the right suit (e.g. a strong contrast lapel buttonhole might be fun for the wedding, but when you wear the suit 6 months later at work, will it just be a distracting detail?).

Did you learn something new about the wedding planning process and how to find a planner? We sure hope so. If you have specific questions for Erika, reach out to her via her website here, or DM on Instagram (@erikasandovalevents).

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Are you located in Northern Colorado, and not the Denver area? Read our interview with Casey Muller of Pink Diamond Events.