Fans of The Wedding Planner might recognize this litany of phrases that Jennifer Lopez recites to magically calm and placate anxious brides. Words that also echoed in a young ten-year-old’s impressionable mind. Local wedding planner, Sara Ledo of Sara Michelle Weddings recalled watching the romantic comedy as a young girl, discovering that she too wanted to help create a bride’s dream wedding.
Ledo recalls, “Watching The Wedding Planner kind of opened me up to the idea that wedding planning could even be a possibility of a job.”
Throughout high school and college, Ledo continued with studies but wedding planning was always in the back of her mind.
Says Ledo, “I started doing wedding planning for family and friends about six years ago. And then I started working for another gal who owned a company here in town. In March of 2018, I decided to start a business. Within nine months I was actually able to quit my job that I was working and go full-time in the business.”
Not only has Ledo successfully transitioned into full-time work, but after hitting the one-year mark, Ledo was able to have her husband join her, also working at full-time capacity. Working in the wedding business - with a spouse - gives Ledo a unique insight into helping their clients.
“Being married, and having gone through our own wedding, we can help alleviate the stress side of it that brides and grooms go through because we understand them on that level.”
Are there other benefits to working with her husband, other than the free labor?
Ledo explains, “We’ve been working full-time for almost two years now. There was definitely a learning curve in the beginning. But because we are so different, we are able to pick up on each other’s strength and weaknesses, we both know what we each of us has to do.”
The result of this combined strength: A very smooth wedding day.
Ledo adds, “Since I am the one that does all the planning, designing, coordinating, and my husband is more support on the back end or on the day of, so we’ve created a system that works well. We actually really enjoy it now.”
Now as owner/planner of her own business, Ledo has had years of weddings under her belt. And despite each wedding being as unique as her clients and their needs, there is one common fear: something will go wrong.
Yet, in the age of Covid-19, when all things that could go wrong, actually not only manifested, but became part of the everyday conversation, how does a wedding planner mitigate an anxious couple’s real concerns?
Not surprisingly, Ledo has a few tricks up her sleeve.
“In May, we had a couple that decided to postpone because of Covid-19, as the bride was high-risk. What we ended up doing - a month before the initial wedding date - was to help them elope.” Ledo continues, “We ordered the photographer, the videographer, and we did a whole setup for them - up near Bogus Basin, near the mountaintop – their pastor was there as their officiant, and their two best friends. And that was it!”
Says Ledo, “It was so personal. You could just feel the love even though it was so different than what they originally planned. And we were so touched. Everyone was crying, as it was so emotional and special for them.”
Though the pandemic has added challenges, they are no match to the will and fortitude of a resilient wedding planner.
Ledo states, “Large weddings don’t really work (this year). We’ve had to postpone many weddings for our clients. But for those who moved forward, some have eloped and elected to do a reception later. We’ve also had weddings where it is just the couple and their immediate family.”
In order to stay within health and safety protocols, Ledo has been utilizing other techniques like social distancing seating areas during the ceremony and reception. Also, they strongly encourage the use of facial masks and decorate the tables with reminder pamphlets of important hygiene practices.
As someone who is ‘behind the scenes’ at all times, Ledo also needs to keep herself and her husband safe and healthy. This includes their own mask-wearing and social distancing practices. And In keeping with many other businesses during this unique period of history, they also have been utilizing technology as a way to reduce exposures. Online video chats have replaced face-to-face meetings. But her best service still remains unyielding: Being there for her clients.
Says Ledo, “We understand how heartbreaking postponing can be. But we are here for them. Listening, giving support. Reassuring them (the couple) that they are making the right decision to keep everyone safe.”
A good reminder for future brides and grooms is that they are not without hope. There are other avenues that can work, too.
“We offer options like eloping and rescheduling receptions at later dates, we can make these happen. There are lots of pieces and moving parts but our goal is to make this work together. At the end of the day, they are going to be married.” Ledo adds, “And if it looks a little different, that’s okay. They are going to be married – and that is the most important thing.”
After all, as the jilted Massimo told Mary Fiore (J-Lo) in The Wedding Planner, “Love can't always be perfect. Love is just love.”
For more information, go to SaraMichelleWeddings.com