Monday, March 15, 2010

20 Questions...with Sumer Schmitt, owner of Simply Perfect Weddings

Continuing my quest in honoring successful women business owners, I now bring you, Sumer Schmitt, wedding planner extraordinaire, and all around great gal!
I have had the privilege to work along side with Sumer on many weddings and she is like a breath of fresh air, bringing a young, fresh approach to the ever growing world of wedding planning....
Meet Sumer!

20 questions with Sumer Schmitt, wedding planner and owner of Simply Perfect Weddings.

1. OL-First of all...what does a wedding planner do?

SS-This can vary depending upon what the client hires us to do; however, since most of our clients hire us for full-service wedding planning, I’ll speak to our all-inclusive planning services. Starting with the very first consultation, we are with the bride every step of the way assisting with everything from budget preparation, vendor recommendations, etiquette advisement, to accompanying the bride to her final gown fitting. This sounds cliché, but we can assist with as little, or as much as the client needs. Every client is different; therefore, we tailor our services to what the client is looking for. 

2. OL-Why does a bride "need" a wedding planner?

SS-The average wedding can take 200+ hours to plan and execute. Many couples today do not have the time to devote to coordinating the hundreds of details that go into planning their wedding day. A professional planner will provide expertise in order to successfully plan and execute an event from start to finish; they will also provide knowledge and advice on the latest wedding trends and proper etiquette. Personally speaking, 99% of my clients are either busy professionals, or are planning from out of town, and need to rely on a wedding planner to be their eyes and ears when they can’t be present for meetings. Since this is my full-time job, I am available to meet/speak with vendors during the middle of the day, when my clients are not. Whether they just need a simple question answered, or need a complicated problem solved, we’re there to take care of it right away. When my clients arrive home at night, all of the “leg work” is already done for them, and they have all of the information they need right in their inbox!

3. OL- What made you decide to become a wedding planner? Why brides?!

SS-Simply put, I am passionate about helping people plan the biggest day of their lives! 

4. OL-Describe your typical day!

SS- Well, that varies greatly depending upon the time of year! During “planning season”, most of my time is spent in my home office on my computer. At any given moment throughout the day, you’ll either find me answering emails, making phone calls, looking over contracts, writing blog posts, and other various office activities. On days that I schedule appointments, my iPhone is my best friend! Some days I will have meetings with clients and vendors that will require me to be on the road for 8+ hours. During “wedding season” my days get a whole lot more interesting! I’m running errands for clients, conducting final venue “walk-thru’s”, coordinating rehearsals, and on the day of an event or wedding, I’m spending 12+ hours running the show! My life never gets boring, that’s for sure!

5. OL-You are a newlywed, how did you and your husband meet and...did you plan your own wedding?!

SS-My husband and I actually met online if you can believe it! We met during my senior year of college, and were engaged a year and a half later! I was just starting my business at the time; therefore, I chose to plan my own wedding. We opted for a fairly simple and intimate dinner reception atop Mt. Washington here in Pittsburgh.

6. OL- Have you ever played match maker, too?!

SS-I actually have! Although, I haven’t played “traditional” match maker in quite some time, I do encourage my single friends to give online dating a try! I get asked a lot of questions about how online dating works, and am more than happy to give advice when asked. I think online dating is a great alternative to meeting people if the “bar scene” isn’t necessarily your thing.

7. OL-Tell us about your business and being a young, successful did you get started?

SS-Throughout college I would plan events for my university and local businesses. I never realized at the time that I could make a career out of event planning, so I went on to pursue my degree in business management and finance. After a few years in the finance field, I just knew it wasn’t for me. I’ve always had a passion for events, and after beginning the planning of my own wedding in the fall of 2007, I became quite disappointed with the level of customer service I received from various vendors (rest assured though, I ended up hiring some fabulous vendors in the end). It was at that time that I realized I wanted to do my part to change the wedding planning process, and alas, Simply Perfect Weddings was born, and we’ve been going strong ever since!

8. OL-What advice do you have for young women wanting their own business?

SS-Find out what motivates you, and don’t look back! Be sure to understand the building blocks of running a business before opening up shop – write your business plan, look into tax laws, draw up a solid contract, and put an accounting/record keeping process into place. I know these tasks may seem mundane at first glance, but things like these are crucial elements to the success of owning a business. Don’t forget to DREAM BIG, and never stop learning! 

9. OL- How do you handle the nervous brides & their families?

SS-Being a wedding planner is definitely more than just pretty designs and logistics. Sometimes you have to play “psychologist” as well. If I have a bride who is nervous or stressed in any way, it’s important for me to understand what is going on inside. Most of the time, they are feeling just minor nerves or “butterflies”; and while I don’t have a perfectly crafted speech, one goal remains the same…at the end of the day no matter what happens, everything always works out. It’s easy for brides to get caught up in the stress of linen colors, cake flavors, and how they want their bridesmaid’s hair to look, but it’s important for brides to focus on the end result…the marriage. After all, that is the #1 reason for the day! 

10. OL-Are there really "Bridezillas" out there?! What do you think of that show?

SS-Personally, I don’t watch it. I have seen a few episodes, but feel that most of what is seen on TV is fabricated for the “shock value”. I can honestly say that in my 2+ years of business, I have yet to have a “Bridezilla” as a client! 

OL...note, my friend worked a few episodes of Bridezilla & they wanted the girls to fight, she even was made to provoke the girls to fight! It's all about ratings!

11. OL-What was one of your most memorable weddings that you planned?

SS-That’s a tough question to answer, because every single wedding I’ve ever planned has a special place in my heart (truthfully!). I’ve planned such a variety of weddings…everything from elaborate, formal affairs to country chic themed weddings that have taken place in renovated barns. If I had to choose just one though, I would say Kelly & Phil’s wedding that took place last July at the Pennsylvanian. Such a great couple, with a team of truly talented vendors! 

12. OL-What is your favorite type of wedding to plan?

SS-Now this is an easy one! My favorite type of wedding to plan is one that the couple completely personalizes to reflect THEIR personality and style. I love unique weddings where the bride and groom aren’t afraid to try new things and really focus on infusing their personalities into the event.

13. OL-What accomplishment are you most proud of?

SS-There have been quite a few accomplishments I’ve achieved along the way that I have been proud of, but my #1 accomplishment is every time I walk away from a wedding with a happy couple! 

14. OL-When you are not planning a wedding, what are you favorite things to do?

SS-I love working out and traveling! Staying fit is an important part of my lifestyle; therefore, I try my best to work out at least 5-6 days a week. In my down time, I love weekend getaways with my husband. We both work a ton of hours; therefore, any chance we get to travel is welcomed! 

15. OL-Where is your dream destination?!

SS- I’d have to say Italy or Greece! I am fascinated by Europe, and hope to have the chance to visit Italy or Greece one day soon. I’d also LOVE to plan a Europe destination wedding for a client! Fingers crossed that I will have the chance to one day! 

16. OL-Where do you see your company in five years?

SS-In five years, I plan to continue to grow Simply Perfect Weddings beyond a boutique firm. I hope to have an associate planner working along side of me, so we can accommodate more than one wedding per weekend. I would also love to expand the business to include destination weddings as well!

17.  OL-You give such a fresh, energetic approach to the wedding you stay in touch with your brides even after the wedding?

SS-Absolutely! One of my favorite aspects of my job is building relationships with my clients. I always love to hear how they are adjusting to married life after the wedding. I stay in touch with many of them via email and Facebook, and always welcome a lunch or coffee date! 

18. OL-Who are some of your favorite vendors to work with?

SS-I have been incredibly fortunate to have worked with some truly talented vendors here in Pittsburgh, and quite honestly have SO many favorites (too many to list)! Here is just a very small sampling of a few of my favorites:

Mocha Rose (Florist), Cakes by Tammy, Autumn’s Cakes, & Dozen Bakeshop (Bakeries), Craig Photography, Leeann Marie Photography, Pamela Marie Photography (Photographers), Rania’s Catering (Caterer), All Occasions (Rentals), and On Location for hair & makeup! : ) 

OL...note, not a paid endorsement, but thank you, Sumer:)

19. OL-Do you believe in love at first sight, and happily ever after?!

SS-Hmm…I’m not sure about “love at first sight”, but I definitely believe in “happily ever after”! 

20. OL-And finally, you've seen so many brides...what advice can you give to keep the love alive in a marriage?

SS-Communication is key! It’s also important to keep things fun – plan a “date night” at least 2-3 times per month. It’s not always necessary to go out for a fancy dinner…movie night at home can be just as fun! Take walks together, hold hands, and remember to say “I love you” often!

...Thank you Sumer!
We wish you another successful bridal season & look forward to many more weddings with you!