It's summertime and wedding season is in full swing! So a thank you is in order to event planners Leanne Silicato Prosser and Casey Keiffer for taking the time out of their busy schedules as the owners of Make My Day Event Planning (Rehoboth Beach, DE) to chat with us. They shared some unique insight into what it is they do as event planners, and why, amidst the chaos of planning any event, having one can really make all the difference.
GM: How did you get started as a professional event planner? L+C: We grew up planning events from when we were young - planning our own birthday parties (we were born three days apart) and eventually planning our family members' events. Once we returned to lower Delaware from earning college degrees (Leanne at Syracuse and Casey at University of Delaware), Leanne planned her sister's bridal shower and wedding and the rest is history. We started by doing events for free and for friends to kick-start the business in 2004 and now, almost nine years later, our business is booming, due to Leanne's enthusiasm and business-savvy approach and Casey's impeccable organization and style!
GM: What event planning services do you offer? L+C: We offer pre-planning, day of planning, full-planning and hourly consulting for all events: Corporate, Social and, of course, Weddings.
Photo Credit: Matt n Natt Photography
GM: What types of events do you typically plan? L+C: We plan a lot of Weddings (due to the destination location where our business is based – Rehoboth Beach, DE), and second would be corporate (fundraisers, grand openings etc.) and social (birthdays, anniversaries, kids parties, showers etc.).
GM: What sets you apart from other event planners? L+C: Dedication, devotion, commitment (the standard we hold ourselves to)– we treat each client like family, get to know them and their vision for their event or wedding and make them each feel like they are our only client. We will do anything to ensure that our clients’ events are just as they expect, to serve as their advocate in the planning process and on the day of the event. We are thorough in everything we do to get our clients the best deals, services and final product possible! We expect 100% from our staff and ourselves and that is what we give.
GM: What is your favorite part about being a professional event planner? L+C: The reward is the smiles on the faces of those people you have spent long days with, had endless phone calls with and to see them with not a care in the world, smiling, laughing and enjoying the event you created for them (with their vision and favorite things in mind) – it’s worth all the long nights and all the time line writing! : ) OR…that moment when the FATHER of the Bride or Groom (who wasn't sold in the beginning) says, “The women were right – we couldn't have done this without you…I can’t even imagine it!”
Photo Credit: Julie Wagner Photography
GM: How does entertainment fit into the events that you plan? L+C: Almost every event that we plan calls for some form of entertainment, whether it’s a acoustic guitarist, string ensemble, special performer, DJ, Band, vocalist etc. – all events need someone to entertain. We love GigMasters as a go-to website for this and have found some GREAT performers via this online resource – especially those that are more unique and hard to find locally in our small state of Delaware! It’s a great way to connect with musicians and talented entertainers quickly and to match clients with the types of entertainers they are looking for in their price range etc.
GM: If you could work on a specific event type more than you currently do, what would it be and why? L+C: Corporate events or corporate retreats, because it’s always great to plan events that are annual or that our knowledge of the resort area in DE can be helpful in planning, other than weddings. We have a lot to offer in this arena!
GM: What’s the biggest misconception people have about event planners? L+C: That they can’t afford them! We are FLEXIBLE, REASONABLE and want to help you within your budget – if at all possible. We encourage everyone to take advantage of a complimentary consult!
GM: What’s the one thing you wish people knew before they hired you? L+C: That a good wedding planner with great rapport with their vendors can SAVE you money with their vendor relationships and the experience/advice throughout the process of planning.
Photo Credit: Marc Clery Photography
GM: What’s the biggest mistake people make when planning a big event on their own? L+C: They don’t want to talk about the budget or money! You have to talk about this opening, upfront, and in the beginning…so make sure the decisions you are making (location you book, vendors you hire, items you are purchasing) are going to add up to a # you are comfortable with and can afford. Many people book their location/venue before really calculating their budget and what items don't come with/at the venue – BIG MISTAKE!
GM: Can you tell a story about a disaster averted? L+C: We put fires out before they happen…to be honest. Even when we are hired for our 'Day Of' planning packages (our smallest "package"), we work with clients about 1 month before the event, and we still call each vendor (of course) to confirm details, contracted services/responsibilities etc. It’s in these moments, when planning the nitty gritty details, that we “save the day” before an issue even arises. Some simple (but all-important) examples include:
- Rental orders missing key items for dinner service (because a catering rep placed the order or a client did and wasn't advised properly for needs).
- Tent orders with NO sides on the order (for weddings/events that ended up needing tent sides – to say the least).
- Events that needed a tent/lighting attendant to adjust throughout the event and they didn't have them scheduled – if we hadn't addressed this in advance the set-up and structural aspects of the event would have been a disaster in the case of inclement weather.
- No plans for insect management at locations where this can be a problem during stormy season!
GM: What’s the one piece of advice you’d offer anyone about finding a planner? L+C: Check their references (past clients)! Ask for a list of their recent/past clients and actually call a few! Don’t just trust a great “looking” website – and do your homework. This person or team will be the heartbeat of the planning process and need to be your teammate, enthusiast, advocate and organizer. They must be experienced, dependable, motivated and share your style and/or understand your vision!
Photo Credit Tania Laziak Photography
GM: What’s one piece of advice you’d offer anyone planning a party on their own? L+C: Don’t assume anything. You’re sure the caterer is bringing napkins and champagne glasses b/c they are serving food and champagne…NOT ALWAYS SO. The florist must know that they should deliver at last minute because your event is outside in the hot sun in August…DON’T ASSUME. The rental company will call you when they arrive at the location so you can meet them and direct them for proper set-up…. YEAH RIGHT! You have to make your wants, needs and expectations crystal clear verbally, in writing and reconfirm the week of your event!
GM: Anything else you would like to share? We offer complimentary consultations (these can be via Skype online) to discuss our services in detail and we customize our services for each individual clients’ needs. We have won "Best of Delaware - Wedding Planner" by Delaware Today Magazine from 2006 through 2013 and recently were voted "Best Wedding Planner" by the readers of Coastal Style Magazine! --Clearly they aren't just the icing on the cake. They are the cake... or at least the ones who expertly coordinated its arrival! To learn more about Make My Day Event Planning, visit their website or take a look at their Facebook page. You can even follow them on Pinterest!