Planning a wedding is really about creating a narrative of a couple in love that will be remembered for a lifetime, says Christopher Confero, an Atlanta wedding planner.
“There are few peak days in your life and your wedding is one of them,” he says. “Your wedding day is about emotions and making memories. When I plan a wedding I am telling their story as a couple.”
To tell the story means getting beyond a couple’s favorite colors and favorite flowers. It means getting to know them as people, he says.
With wedding planning, Confero says he tends to attract what he projects.
“My clients – we would be friends outside work,” he says. “I get to know them very well.”
A first meeting between Confero and a prospective couple takes place over afternoon tea or an evening cocktail, in a place and time where people are comfortable, loose and willing to share, he says.
“A lot of it is asking the right questions. I push beyond those little circles of what they know and love,” he says. “But it’s just as important to know what they don’t like.”
Many clients will have a few ideas of what they want for their own wedding after looking through magazines or websites. Confero says it is his job to find out exactly what they like by drilling down to specifics.
“I want to know where do [my clients] go on date nights, where do they shop for clothes, what their house looks like,” he says. “I want to get to know the clients in a relaxed setting. It is an interview – they are interviewing me and I’m interviewing them as well.”
As a “theater kid” who grew up performing in show choirs, Confero says he’s always had a performance side to himself, which he brings to every wedding he plans. When hired by a so-called boring couple, Confero says he interprets their story for their wedding into a really well-executed day, down to finite details.
“’Boring’ translates into classic. I had a couple who were both accountants. Their wedding was classic and well done. We had the chairs edged perfectly to the table,” he says.
When he brings in the couple to see the reception area for the first time, “it’s rare I don’t get tears and screams,” he says. “My favorite part is when they see their vision over the past nine months come to life.”
Knowing your audience is also about telling a great and memorable story, Confero says.
For the wedding of Dale and Brooks featured on page 24, Confero knew gay men would be impressed with the tiniest details, including monogrammed hand towels in the restroom.
“The guests loved it; they were taking them home,” he says.
A pet peeve for Confero is grooms that wear the same suit.
“Grooms should not match,” he says. Instead, wearing complementary suits is best for telling their story. Dale and Brooks, for example, had custom suits made.
“From the invitations to the cake to the flowers, I am telling one cohesive story and I have to make sure every detail ties in and works together,” he says. “The script of a wedding … is almost like a pattern, but with each couple I’m coloring with different crayons,” he says. “And that they really trust me with such an important day in their lives is humbling. It blows my mind but I deliver every time. I’m not modest but I am gracious.”
Christopher Confero’s 12-month Wedding Timeline
Set the date, draw up a budget, find a venue.
Choose the wedding party. Gown/tux/suit shopping. Tip: Men should not wear the same suit on their wedding day. Custom-made suits are nice so it’s important to find a tailor.
Finalize guest list, finalize budget, host engagement party.
Book your photographers, caterers, bakers, florists, stationery and entertainment.
Mail out save the date cards, find wedding party outfits, launch wedding website.
Renew passports if necessary for honeymoon; secure honeymoon plans including transportation and lodging.
Order wedding rings, check budget.
Order wedding cake, host wedding shower, hire day of transportation and rent menswear for grooms if doing so.
Mail invitations, come up with a seating chart, call vendors with a final guest count, create wedding program, order welcome gifts for guests.
Apply for marriage license and check on bridal/groom party.
Call DJ/musicians and go over playlist.
For women, get hair cut/color. Give the photographer the “must have” shots, secure passports, change currency (if traveling out of country), check tickets.
Give caterers a final count of those attending, put in flower orders.
Host bachelor/bachelorette party, have table/seating chart finished, confirm with vendors, get formalwear, men get haircuts.
Write checks for vendors.
Host rehearsal dinner; introduce site manager to the maid of honor or wedding planner.
Day of wedding
Breathe and have fun.
Plan for someone to take care of gown/send back tux, send thank you cards, keep in touch with photographer and videographer.