Apologies for the radio silence as of late - the hubs and I are in the midst of a pretty epic move. We are fortunate enough to be selling our condo in Astoria and purchasing a little HOUSE ten minutes away on the other side of the neighborhood. I'm beyond excited at the prospect of setting up shop there, and envision writing blog entries from the urban privacy of the deck in our backyard very soon! But this week has been a frenzy of packing!
Without further ado, and in the midst of all of this, I'm thrilled to welcome my newest couple to the Stephanie Gatton Events family - STARSHA & ANDREI!
FUN FACT! Starsha and I met in 2005 - in our collective former lives in theatrical stage management! Fast forward to 2017, when Starsha is marrying her lovely man (and papa to their adorable daughter, Zora), back in Brooklyn (they now call Chicago home).
Starsha found me - after all these years - crazily enough searching Instagram for #weddingshoes, and saw a recent post of mine. It was meant to be! As she wrote, "I have been very skeptical of my own ability to shut off the producing mode at my wedding. Then I saw you [on Instagram] and got VERY excited. I need a day-of coordinator and I already trust you implicitly because you taught me everything I know!!!"
That was just two weeks ago, folks. After planning the entire shindig, Starsha and Andrei will be getting hitched one week from tomorrow, on August 5, and I couldn't be more excited to have the privilege of being entrusted to carry their plans through to the finish line! I'm honored to join their team as the coordinator for their DIY, laid-back wedding at the Brooklyn Society for Ethical Culture. Let's do this!
Well, it's confession time - this post was planned to be another Welcome Announcement on the blog back in late April - and then life - both personal and professional - intervened in a major way, and it never saw the light of day.
Still, it was written, and I want to acknowledge this lovely couple, and so, it'll get posted anyway, as an extremely belated (the couple were married last weekend!) Welcome Announcement. What can I say? I've been a busy gal!
Without further ado, here's what I wrote about six weeks ago:
This one’s special, you guys - special for several reasons! But first, here’s the gorgeous couple - LISA & PAUL!
SPECIAL REASON #1: Lisa and Paul came to me as a referral from one of my oldest and dearest friends, Melanyann. Seriously, Mel and I have been in each other’s lives since the fourth grade, back when we were involved in a daily friendly competition between who had the longest hair, the biggest role in the Drama Club musical, or who had the best grades (answers: me, her, and it seesawed back and forth for four straight years!). Melanyann is one of the few people left on this earth who knew me before my mother passed away, when we were in the sixth grade. She’s seen me at my first emotional and stressful moment of my life, and watched as I came through in one piece to the other side. So, when Mel recommended me to her friends from her church choir, her opinion counted. A LOT.
SPECIAL REASON #2: Lisa and Paul live in San Francisco. Astute readers may note that I do NOT live in San Francisco (well, not anymore - I did spend two glorious and formative years in the Bay Area right out of college). But what’s a little distance or jetlag got to do with anything? We connected on a terrific Facetime call, hitting it off immediately, and the rest is history!
SPECIAL REASON #3: There’s no reason more special than that Lisa and Paul are awesome, in love, and want to share a joyous day with 320 (?!?) of their closest friends and family. That’s the most special reason of all!
I'm honored to join the team as their coordinator for their May 2017 wedding at at their local Catholic church, followed by a reception on Cal’s campus in Berkeley, my old stomping grounds. Let's do this!
PS - Lisa and Paul are just one example of how distance does not necessarily prevent me from helping you execute the biggest day of your lives! The Bay Area is just one of many cities across the country (and around the world) where I’ve got generous friends not-so-secretly stashed away, who are more than happy to let me stay with them while you fly me to town to take care of everything for your wedding weekend. (Here’s another secret - for trips like these, I’m willing to slash my fee to make the investment worth your while!). Whether it’s Berkeley, San Diego, Boston, Philadelphia, D.C., or even London, I’ll be there for you!
It’s been a busy winter - and feels like AGES since I’ve added to this series - but I’m back with a vendor spotlight you are sure to love! (Be sure to check out previous installments in this series if you’re looking for a classical guitarist or stylist for your big day).
This week, I bring to you an amazingly talented colleague of mine, Eric Mann, owner of Unreel Films. Eric and his team are a dream to work with, and he brings such an effervescent energy to the room! Read on - and view on - to learn more about how he can capture the essence of your wedding in stunning fashion.
Q: What led you to weddings, specifically, and how long have you been in the industry?
A: I first came to New York as an actor, performed on the National Tour of A Chorus Line, and worked both regionally and in New York. After about three years in between acting jobs, I had all this creative energy but nothing to put that energy into unless I was hired for a job, and so I picked up a camera one day, taught myself filming and editing, and found an incredible passion for telling stories through film. I also grew up painting and I always think of film/videography as a mesh between painting and acting/storytelling, so it truly is a perfect fit! After about a year of playing with a camera, I started my company Unreel Films, LLC in 2013, and have filmed, directed, editing, produced, and written over 300 individual promos, commercials, short films, documentaries, dance/music videos, and weddings. We also are so lucky to work with The Juilliard School on a regular basis for a lot of their promos. Within the first year of starting my own company, I filmed my first wedding (for a friend) and absolutely loved it!
Q: Tell me a bit about the person behind the job and how you became a wedding videographer.
A: I adore telling stories through film, and to me weddings are extra special because it is such a beautiful moment in time where family, friends, and all loved ones come together to celebrate a union between two people. There is so much love there on that day, and to be able to capture that spirit not only between the couple, but also all the family and friends, is unbelievably moving and inspiring as a wedding videographer. It is always such a beautiful “story,” it’s just a real life story instead of a fictional story and that’s what makes it so much fun and why I love filming them.
Q: What do you love most about being a wedding videographer?
A: I love capturing the feel like I mentioned above, but also I love getting to know the couple the day of because the photographer and videographer help to usher them throughout the day. It’s amazing to be able to support them and create a trust with them since there is so many emotions abiding during the day.
Q: Tell me about your most memorable and fun wedding.
A: I really have loved every wedding that I’ve filmed, but one time we got to use a drone to get some establishing B-Roll shots and that was really awesome! We were filming the wedding in Connecticut, and a police car drove by when we were getting drone shots outside of this awesome Victorian home, and the crew and I froze up like we were in big trouble, but the cop came over and was like: “What drone is that?” with a big smile on his face! That was pretty awesome!
Q: What does a typical wedding day look like for you?
A: Usually, it’s a packed event for me, especially in the morning, and I’m running between the two different parties getting ready. Once the couple comes together it’s slightly less running around, but we are always moving and that’s a lot of fun.
Q: What is your favorite part of a wedding day? OR What is the best part of your job?
A: Mmm. I always love the food when we can eat it, but I don’t know if that is because when I film I forget that I’m hungry, and then by the time the food comes at the end I’m always like this is the BEST FOOD EVER! And it probably is, but it’s just heightened because I haven’t eaten! All kidding aside, I really love the ceremony, and even when I have just emailed the couple back and forth and only know them for a short while, I always get a little emotional. It’s just extremely powerful seeing all the love that is coming out of everyone at that moment and it’s really special.
Q: From your experience, what should couples ask a potential videographer in the interview process?
A: I think it’s really important to be as clear as you can be in what you want the final product to look like. I always tell people we can scale it up or tone it down to what they would like. Obviously, a very cinematic wedding video will have more elements and cost a bit more, but if that is what you want and you have the budget, I say go for it. If you need to scale back, that’s totally doable and sometimes even gets to the heart of the day more than a big production wedding video, since you are not concerned with the shots, and more concerned with capturing the essence. I feel like I always first and foremost go with capturing the essence, but sometimes it’s fun to play with cool shots, too. It’s a balance. But again, I think it’s really what the couple wants and how they want the feel of their wedding to be. That definitely informs the role that I play that day. And I always try to listen to what the couple’s needs are.
Q: On the day of the wedding, what are your exact roles?
A: The photographer runs the show in terms of logistics of shots. The videographer is there to capture the spirit of the day. Occasionally, I will ask for a specific shot, but mostly I am there to be a fly on the wall and get all the good moments!
Q: What are three main qualities that an excellent wedding videographer should have?
A: Listening (huge!), not being invasive (I’ve had many people say thank you that we weren’t up in people’s faces because it’s not my day - it’s the couple’s day and everyone who came), and having fun (guests always love the videographer and it’s important to feel like you are just there to have fun with them so they are loose around the camera and don’t tense up - although maybe not too loose!).
Q: What makes you unique from other wedding videographers?
A: I think because I do a variety of different film projects and not solely weddings, I get to come in to a wedding with a fresh eye. Not to say those who film weddings on a regular basis aren’t amazing, because they totally are, but I feel that because I make short films and documentaries and dance videos I get the sense of how to tell a story really well, and that is what the wedding video is - a short documentary of the story of two people on a particular day where lots of dancing happens!
Q: What’s the best piece of advice you can give your potential clients?
A: Make the wedding the ideal wedding for you. It’s a beautiful celebration of who you are, individually and collectively, and if something doesn’t feel right to you in terms of the event, make it unique and make it work for you. Also, it’s a whirlwind of a day (which is partially why I’m there because it will fly by), but also enjoy the day as much as you can. It’s definitely a lot and a lot to take in, but if you have a chance to just create some space in the day in your head and appreciate all the love, it will feel so good!
Q: Where do you draw your wedding inspiration from?
A: I really try and find the really touching moments throughout the day. No one is ever going to capture all of them, but I try to keep my eyes peeled for really touching moments.
Q: Tell me one thing we might not otherwise know about you.
A: I love to laugh, tell stories, dance, and obviously film. And I have an extra vertebrae in my spine. It didn’t make me taller though!
Q: Do you have any special discounts or offers for Unreel Films at this time that my readers should know about?
A: I don’t really have special discounts because I ebb and flow the budget to what the couple needs exactly, but if you are having a wedding in the Galapagos Islands, I’ll figure out a way to cut back the pricing ;) [Editor's Note: Eric and I both suffer from acute wanderlust, and I, too, would be more than happy to negotiate pricing/travel fees on destination weddings or those out of the tri-state market. Couples around the world, hit me up to learn more!]
Q: Any last piece of advice for newly-engaged couples?
A: Have fun and bask in the joy of the day. Much love!!
Enough talk! Click below to view three of Eric’s favorite wedding videos that Unreel Films has produced. Ready to hire Unreel Films to document your big day? Reach out to him HERE and be sure to mention my name in your inquiry!
This week, I give to you a fairly obvious but often overlooked REASON #3 to hire a wedding coordinator:
Most people are planning their wedding with no knowledge of how to throw a large-scale event. Of course there are books and plenty of tips from well-meaning friends and family, but I have planned many events, and am here to give you access to all those years of accumulated wisdom! I know how to troubleshoot nearly any impossibility on a moment’s notice, often before you ever even realize a problem has occurred! I know what questions to ask your vendors and how to schedule the day so that you can get your photos taken, your guests fed, your speeches completed, and everyone out on the dance floor.
CASE IN POINT: Being able to throw a party does not necessarily mean you've got a knack for wedding planning. Your instincts could be dead-on and your creative ideas perfectly suited for your big day, but if you're not working in the industry day-in and day-out, you may not know which questions to ask.
When are the best times to schedule parent dances or toasts in the reception?
If you're sourcing your rentals directly, what are the correct sizes of linen to order?
Who should we tip and how much?
These are just a few of the pro-questions I get asked from almost every client, and because of my years of experience and genuine passion for the job, it's my pleasure to answer them!
I'll be back next week with another reason why a booking good coordinator can be the best wedding decision you ever make!
I hope you’re having a wonderful week! I’ve been absent from my blog - which I’ve been super sad about - because I succumbed to a nasty upper respiratory infection that laid waste to my body and soul for the better part of this past week. It’s no fun to wake up to a 102.3 fever, accompanied by aches, pains, and night sweats. No. Fun. At. All.
My husband likes to tell me that his father always told him, as a child, that it was okay to miss school or work if you were sick for one of two reasons: either you were vomiting, or you had a severe fever. Fortunately for me, it was only the latter, and the remedy was good old-fashioned REST.
I’m back this week with a quick, but important REASON #2 to hire a wedding coordinator, and it’s a simple one:
A lot of people choose not to hire a wedding coordinator because they worry it will be an additional cost on their part. What many don’t know is that I can actually SAVE you money. With a wide array of contacts across New York City and the Hudson Valley (and I’m expanding my vendor connections into the Philadelphia area as well, coordinating weddings in June and September), I can suggest to you the most reliable and reasonably priced people in the business. From caterers to photographers to makeup artists, I’ve got you covered!
CASE IN POINT: Current clients Alexis and Joe contracted me as their month-of coordinator. They also opted for an add-on to my coordination package - Vendor Services. I’m in the process of working with them to identify their vendor needs and preferences, then making careful recommendations to them for each category. I’ve already edited out vendors who aren’t available for their wedding date, so they know that my recommendations will be free on the date in question.
In building my vendor contacts, I’ve negotiated certain discounts with select vendors who are happy to extend a discount to my clients. I was pleased to recommend BAM Wedding Photography to Alexis and Joe for their needs, and thrilled to learn they selected them to capture all of the moments of their big day. It’s a win-win for everyone: I get to work with vendors I have a relationship with (making for a smooth wedding day timeline), and my clients get to receive a discount they would not normally have been given, all because of my relationship with the photographer!
Check out the photos below for just some of the vendor connections I can provide to you, and I'll be back next week with another reason why a booking good coordinator can be the best wedding decision you ever make!
This is the question I get asked most often - “Do we really need a coordinator? But the venue already comes with someone, can’t we just use them?”
I am here to tell you that no one needs a coordinator, but if you choose to hire one, believe me, that decision will pay for itself many times over! With all of that in mind, I thought it fitting to give you, my potential clients, my TOP TEN reasons for hiring someone like me to work your wedding!
REASON #1: A Venue Coordinator is NOT a Wedding Coordinator.
Back in the day, fancy hotels used to have catering captains and banquet managers to assist couples throughout their whole wedding day, but this is an easy cost-cutting measure for venues. They get to cut their staff and have them go home, but I will be the one to stay until the end of your wedding and make sure everything gets wrapped up – rentals collected, gifts and personal items delivered to your room, vendors loaded out of the space. Coordinators offered up by the venues often represent the venue, not the couple. They will help you, certainly, and in most cases will be just lovely at their jobs (my venue coordinator certainly was!). But they will not advocate for you as I would, and there are always small, imperceptible lines that they and their staff will not cross.
CASE IN POINT: At my own wedding, the venue team was happy to set up our tables, chairs, and even the basics of our centerpieces, but they would not place card our seating assignments for us. Instead, I asked my trusted day-of coordinator to handle this key organizational detail on our behalf.
As your coordinator, I will be your advocate, and always place your priorities and goals above all else.
I'll be back each week with another reason why a booking good coordinator can be the best bridal decision you ever make!