With the big day comes big stress, as Christine Hart knows all too well.
As a wedding planner, Hart, 28, has been soothing anxious brides, grooms and parents for five years. Through her business, Events by Hart, the Ferguson Township resident makes sure tying the knot is memorable for all the right reasons.
How did you come to be a wedding planner?
I started at a bridal shop 10 years ago; I was 18 years old, and loved what I did, really enjoyed it, and kind of wanted to branch out and see the bigger picture of weddings. ... I always knew that if I was going to do something different, in weddings, I was going to do it on my own, start my own business, not go work for a florist or another wedding company.
What attracted you to wedding planning?
Really, I do work well under a lot of pressure and stress, and I kind of thrive on that. Certainly at the shop, on a very busy weekend, very challenging weekend, where the store was extremely busy ... I kind of oversaw a lot of it. I really handled that stress well; I thrived on that. So I felt weddings were going to be the same way. ... If I could handle a screaming bride on the phone, I could most certainly handle her when she’s standing in front of me, a screaming bride and screaming mother. We had it all in the store. I just felt if I could handle that all, I could handle the big picture.
What’s the key to your work?
You have to be able to read people. I’ve had brides who are completely uptight on their day and just can’t even see straight, they’re so all over the place. And others who are very, very calm. They’re OK. If something bad happens, they don’t necessarily freak out. They’re not the typical brides, though. ... The rule for me — again from the dress shop — learning how to read different personalities, and how they handle the stress themselves, and how I can then, in return, calm them down. “I will handle this. Don’t make that phone call. I’ll go and do that for you.”
How do you cope with the stress?
I think I do buy into the stress, but I’ve learned to handle it well by putting on a smile, by knowing that at the end of the day this couple is going to get married and then they’re going to have their life together. So I feel, maybe because I’m married myself, that I have perspective. They may not necessarily see that in the moment, which is why it’s nice for me to be able to say: “You know what: Everything’s going to be fine. I can take care of it for you.” It’s not that I’m lying to them, but there’s a sense of security, and they can just relax, and then you can say, “By the way, you’re marrying your loved one today, and at the end of the day, you’re going to have a great wedding, and then the wedding will be over and done with.” ... A lot of times, even when I meet brides before their weddings, I tell them things may not go exactly perfectly. It all depends on the bride. I don’t tell that to everybody.
What’s the most difficult situation you’ve had?
The most difficult is when the bride is not able to — and I’ve had a couple — where they’re not able to let go of that control. Where I’ve said, “OK, I know exactly what you want done. We’ve been talking about it for months, and you just enjoy your day.” And then the day of, I’ve had some that just can’t. I actually had a groom, and he would call me every couple of minutes: “Are you at the church yet? Did you pick up this?” ... to where, even at the reception, his eyes were darting back and forth.
What’s one of your memorable wedding surprises?
All of the bridesmaids lived all over the country, so everybody’s ordering their dress on their own, basically. ... So I show up in the morning, they’re at the hotel room. All of the girls are in there, doing last-minute touches on their hair, and they’re getting their dresses out. ... The bride was getting dressed, and all of a sudden I hear this, “Oh my God,” and I turn around and one of the bridesmaids, she’s like, “I ordered the wrong color. I have the wrong color dress.”
They all had a very light lilac purple; she had a darker purple. So with that, of course, the bride, her eyes are bugging out, and her jaw is dropping. And I said, “Well, what order are they in here?” So, five bridesmaids, it worked out perfectly. We just had her standing in the center, so at least with the five, it looked somewhat uniform. And the bride was like, “OK. It’s all right.” I mean, I was ready to run out the door and buy her a different dress. ... It worked. Luckily, it was very sunshiney that day, and everybody was outdoors. You really couldn’t tell. It was a little off, but ...
So besides calmness and intuition, a wedding planner needs to think on her feet.
Oh yes. More than anything, you have to be able to come up with a solution really quick. ... Then the bride’s mind is off the issue and on to other things.