I have been a full-time wedding photographer for 8 years now- shooting most of my weddings here in Lubbock, so I figured it was high time to start featuring some of the awesome people I have the pleasure of getting to work with wedding after wedding. It takes a special individual to feed off the unique mixture of stress and excitement that a wedding brings (I never thought I would love it so much, actually!)- and this is where you will find some of the people that make it all happen- the vendors!
On a wedding day, there will be at least 1 thing not go as planned. This is normal, but it's not something that most brides put into consideration during all those months they spend planning their big day. Enter my personal hero of the wedding day- the wedding coordinator. And today, I am introducing you to one of the very best- Jill Leven, with Eat, Drink, and Be Marry. Jill also owns Little White Invite- where she creates beautiful custom stationery for her couples. I always love photographing her work!
I have had the pleasure of working with Jill on some of my favorite weddings ever. Why are they my favorite weddings? Quite possibly because of this wonderful woman. Jill is not only a very nice person (it matters!), but she is a true professional and always, always executes with excellence-- curating weddings that are special, creative, and fun. I asked her a few questions, so enjoy her responses below!
What made you want to be a wedding planner?
I wanted to be a wedding planner because it was a good blend of the creative side of me and the organized side. I always had a knack for taking a large amount of stuff, people, chaos (LOL), *whatever* and turning it into something that was organized and efficient for everyone. I also wanted to own my own business. I come from a long line of entrepreneurs and wanted that for myself.
EDITOR'S NOTE: I'm sure Jill had no idea I was shooting these images of her- I was most likely checking my light/exposure and happened to capture that face of PURE CONCENTRATION. :) Please know we'd all been on our feet for at least 8 hours at this point. Sorry, Jill- not a glamour shot but it does prove that you work your tail off!
How long have you been a wedding planner?
I officially opened my business in 2007, but I started out doing corporate event planning in 1999 (and organizing pantries, closets, etc. since birth--LOL!)
What is your favorite part about your job?
I actually have four favorite things:
1. When I get to say "It's time!" before the ceremony starts to the bride and groom. Their reaction is priceless. Everything that we worked for has led up to that moment and it's at that time that it really "hits" them...this is really happening. I LOVE getting to say those two words.
2. At the end of the night, just before I open the doors to send the bride and groom out for their grand exit through their guests and give them a hug and thank them for letting me be a part of it all, they tell me that what just happened was the greatest day of their lives and they couldn't imagine anything more perfect! How cool is that?!?!
3. When a random guest hunts me down at the reception to ask if I'm the wedding planner and they tell me that was the best wedding they've ever been to! Woo hoo!!! I love that!
4. Telling whomever is paying for the wedding they are under budget. LOL! But seriously, it makes them really happy.
What do you feel is the most challenging part of wedding planning for brides?
Hands-down, the guest list. It is so much work to gather addresses for everyone, make sure they don't overlook anyone, and if they have to cut guests for budget reasons/space reasons, it becomes a big challenge to have to pick and choose people that are close to them.
What is your favorite wedding trend this year in weddings and/or wedding stationery?
My favorite trend really isn't a trend; it is when something is consistently carried out throughout the wedding. Whether it's a monogram, design, pattern, etc.…little details like that that carry through from the Save the Dates all the way through to the favors at the end of the night, makes a big impact to me. I also like things are just a little bit different, like a dessert bar instead of just cake. Or a midnight snack to take home at the end of the night. Little unexpected details always make for a great event.
What is something that is on your wedding planning bucket list?
Well, a bride and groom departing in a helicopter was #1 on my list, but I got the pleasure of checking that off my list this past summer. As for what's still pending...a HUGE (and I mean H-U-G-E fireworks display send off), a sky lantern release, a wedding in the woods where a sit down dinner takes place before the ceremony, a popular rock star/band surprising the bride and groom to perform their first dance song, to have (at least) one of my weddings featured in Martha Stewart Weddings magazine, and to have my own reality TV show about my businesses and my life. Yeah, I dream big! ;-)
(To check out the rest of the helicopter-exit wedding, click HERE.)
Anything else you’d like to share?
I want everyone to know that I take it as a huge honor when someone books me for their wedding. To me, it's a once-in-a-lifetime deal and I want to make sure every aspect of it is right in every way for the couple, their families, and their guests. (And I love exclamation points! Anyone that's ever emailed me or texted me knows this is a given! See, there I go again!)
Thank you so much, Jill! And brides, PLEASE call her. You need her, I promise!
Jill Leven, CPWP