April 11, 2009

Planning a Wedding in 14 Days

Many people have asked me what was shortest lead time I've had to plan a wedding. As of early March this year, my answer was 2 months. That was my swanky pink and black soiree at the Four Seasons Hotel in San Francisco. Well, just a few weeks ago, I was approached with one of the biggest challenges of my career as a wedding planner.....

Friday, March 20th, 2009. It was one of those super busy days at the office for me when my phone rang. I was in the middle of a really important project for one of my clients so I didn't pick up. A few minutes later, it rang again. Determined to stay focus, I let it go directly to voice mail once again only to then hear my cell phone ringing immediately after.

Okay, I thought to myself, this person obviously needs to reach me right away as I leave my cell phone number on my voice mail greeting for emergencies. I answered in my usual cheery phone manner.

A really sweet voice was on the other end. 'Hi, my name is Maria. My fiance and I are trying to plan a wedding and I would really like to know more about your services.'

I ask the first question that I always ask. 'Have you set a date yet?'

'Yes,' Maria answered. 'April 3rd'.

I quickly pulled out my Outlook Calendar and scrolled down to April 3, 2010. 'Great!' I responded, 'Saturday, April 3rd. I'm still available!'

I sensed a slight pause on the other end.

'Um...no, I meant Friday, April 3rd 2009.'

I raised my eyebrows, but ofcourse Maria didn't see that! 'Oh!' I replied. 'That's coming right up in 2 weeks! Can you tell me more about your wedding plans? Where will it be?'

I sensed another slight pause from Maria. 'Well, we don't have a venue yet. We actually don't even live in the area. We're in Mexico City.'

Now I was really raising my eyebrows and trying to understand what exactly was happening in this conversation. Could it really be that this sweet bride-to-be from Mexico City was asking me to plan an entire wedding for her in TWO weeks?

I asked the question that anyone would ask ofcourse. 'May I ask why the hurry to try to plan this wedding?' I wasn't trying to pry into her personal life but as a planner it's important to know these kind of things. Maria explained that she and her fiance were childhood friends and their families have known each other for over 50 years. They are already like a family, so there is no point to have a long engagement. They had plans to be in San Francisco the first week of April with their families, so they want to get married while they are there!

Next important question. 'Do you have a wedding dress yet?'


'How many guests are you anticipating?'

'About 70'

Our conversation continued for the next hour as I tried to gather as much information from Maria as possible. Finally, I assessed her needs as an out of town couple trying to plan a destination wedding in downtown San Francisco for 70 guests. Their ideal ceremony venue is one that is rich in architecture and representative of San Francisco. For their reception, they would like a setting that is elegant, traditional and ornate with an Asian inspired menu. They will not be in town until a few days before the wedding, so much of the planning will be dependant on me as their planner. They will be calling each of their guest to personally invite them to the wedding, and would like to provide a fun type of transportation for everyone. They want the ambiance of the wedding to be low key and intimate, focusing on their love for one another and their love and respect for their families.

For the next 13 days, my Production Lead Amanda and I worked diligently to pull this wedding together for Maria and Fred. There is no 'simple' wedding--even simplicity has to be well thought out and planned. We quickly found the perfect venues for them--a ceremony on the beautiful fourth floor of San Francisco City Hall, followed by an elegant dinner reception inside the French Parlor at the Palace Hotel (which, by the way, is one of my all time FAVORITE event space and a 'best kept secret'). Making sure we worked within their budget and around their priorities, we pulled together an amazing team of vendors for their wedding day.

From dresses to flowers to transportation to marriage license, we left no stone unturned! When I finally got to meet Maria and Fred for the first time, two days before their wedding, they were prepared to make some final decisions and we were set to go for their wedding!

April 3, 2009 was a gorgeous day, filled with love and laughter as Maria and Fred tied the knot in the heart of San Francisco. Guests flew in from all over, to celebrate this special day with them. In 14 days, we planned an entire wedding from scratch--we proved it was doable!

I'll post more details about the wedding day when I get more photos from the photographer. For now, I just had to share a wonderful note that I received from Maria and Fred shortly after the wedding...

Dearest Jubilee and Amanda,

Maria and I want to thank you very much for making our wedding day a success, memorable, and, enjoyable. You both have done so many countless and wonderful things for Maria and I, our bridal party, and all of our guests. Our sincere and greatest gratitude for all of your hard work, excellent coordination, persistance with decision making and prioritizing, and fantastic guidance of excellent vendors of superb high quality.

Jubilee, you and Amanda have gone above and beyond for Maria and I and all of our guests and we can not thank you enough for making all of this happen in just two short and amazing weeks. When I asked you what you thought of our short and aggressive time line of 14 days, you mentioned, "you like a good challenge." Indeed, it was more than a challenge and you executed flawlessly and professionally.

We are forever grateful for your wonderful assistance and professional guidance in making our special wedding day so much more special and amazing for us and all of our guests. Let us know when you plan on coming to Chicago and Mexico. We look forward in showing you around and making more special life long connections.

With love and gratitude,

Fred and Maria

Thank you to my wonderful team of vendors who made it happen:

Ceremony Venue--San Francisco City Hall
Reception Venue--Palace Hotel
Photography--Sarah Peet
Videography--Royal Weddings
Transportation--Cable Car Charters
DJ--Carl Mindling
Flowers--Nancy Liu Chin
Ceremony Musicians--Rudolfi Artists in Music
Makeup/Hair--Get Your Do Up


  1. Gloria Wong Tritasavit10:35 AM

    AMAZING!!! You guys rock!!! Thanks for sharing the story. I found it extremely entertaining and impressive.

  2. Wont you think, its a challenge means planning & arranging wedding event in just 14 day?? Strange but you did it a gr8. Awesome!!!!!!!!!
    Wedding Venues

  3. Anonymous4:15 PM

    Great. I'm glad for this story. I know these things can happen but when executed by a professional team it's great to be shared. You're definitely great planners. All the best.



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