Sarah Campbell of Pollyanna Events, in Manhattan, photographed by me in March 2016
A few weeks ago, New York City + DC wedding planner Sarah Campbell of Pollyanna Events and I met up. We selected a cozy cocktail bar in Manhattan - the Up and Up - to have drinks and chat about her career: how she started, why she loves it, and why you should consider hiring her as your wedding planner.
What's your focus as a wedding planner?
Pollyanna Events specializes in DIY events. We do everything from day-of coordination all the way up to full service planning. We offer all types of DIY to be incorporated into our packages, and you can create your own package, or purchase services a la carte.
Clients can customize services to execute what they’re thinking exactly, or they can give me a more vague idea and I can create a mood board for them. I also provide vendor recommendations if they need them, based on who I know will be a good fit.
What made you decide to become a wedding planner?
It kind of just happened. I was planning to go to law school, actually, and was a paralegal assistant for four years. It was sucking the life, money, and energy out of me! Then I got engaged along with some of my friends, and my friends were asking me for ideas. I was spitting them out off of the top of my head, and they asked, “How do you know about this stuff?!”
“I don’t know!" I said. "It just seems like common sense.” Apparently it wasn't.
Everyone was telling me I should become a wedding planner. I asked myself “Can I do this? Can I throw away everything I went to school for? How does that happen?” I mentioned the idea to my husband right as we were getting ready to move from Ohio to DC for his job, and he said, “Sure! If it makes you happy!” So I took classes in Ohio, got a certificate in planning, and joined up with other planners. I was like, alright, I’ll just try this! And here I am.
Why Pollyanna Events?
I chose Pollyanna Events because I wanted something that would stand out and be meaningful, so that if people hired me, they would immediately have an idea of what I was about. "Pollyanna" represents positivity. As a planner, you need to have this positive outlook on everything, knowing that obviously not everything is going perfect, but you can make it a positive experience for your clients.
Can you tell me a fun story of working with a client, or a time when you totally rocked.
I did have a situation where another planner hired me under her, but didn’t tell the couple! I had a few details and the vendor information, but nothing else. I reached out to the client and talked to them a bit, but the client didn’t realize that I was actually taking over day of coordination until I showed up at the rehearsal and they didn’t know who I was.
The bride started crying. I educated them on what was going on, and assured her that I was a professional with my own career. There were a lot of problems; the transportation wasn’t set up properly, the linen company wasn’t on time, and I knew that even it wasn’t my name on the event, it was gonna be my name by the time we were done! I had to smooth a lot of things over last minute.
Mid-wedding, I was in the bridal suite helping the bride do a mid-day touch up, and she said, “You have been the best part of planning my wedding, and I’m so glad to know you.”
It was so rewarding to transform that situation from something negative into something so positive, and to make it as seamless and exciting as possible.
Many times people start off thinking they don’t need a planner, then realize they need one after all. By this time, they’ve spent a lot of money making mistakes a planner would have smoothed over for them. What’s a good early indication that a couple will need a planner?
I wish I knew! I will say that many times people think they can hire a friend, and then I hear later, “We should have hired you earlier!” A lot of my clients book me for “month-of” planning, and after their wedding, their review is “We found month-of coordinating invaluable, and we should have hired you for a larger package!” I hear that over and over again. I don’t know how to bridge the gap between being pushy, and someone taking me seriously when I say, "You need me."
Hmmm. Ok, err on the side of pushy for the sake of our conversation. What is a dead giveaway you need to hire someone ASAP?
If you’re two months out from your wedding and you haven’t booked all of your vendors, you need a planner for sure. But sometimes when I email couples, breaking everything down for them, it scares them off. I do encourage couples to call me or set up a meeting to go over the details to explain things thoroughly.
Many times, too, people don't realize that a planner can actually save you money. There are people I know that will work with me at a discount because we both know that as a team, the day will run smoothly. I specialize in DIY, so not only am I going to create things for their wedding that they aren’t going to see everywhere, I’m also finding vendors I know that will save them money, too, instead of paying top dollar for something.
Plus, couples can sign up for my tips and tricks newsletter and get 5% off my planning services!
Everyone should TOTALLY do this! Ok, thank you, Sarah!
Also, any Pollyanna Events clients get 10% off on MY photography packages, because I like her!