Knots ‘N Such’s blog writer sat down with Amy Wurster, PBD Owner, to get answers to some FAQ. Read all about this Raleigh wedding planner & florist…
- How long have you been in business?
Poppy Belle Design was born shortly after my own wedding in September 2003. A girlfriend and I had previously toyed with the idea of opening a wedding business combining our talents – hers for baking scrumptious little desserts and mine for making all things organized and pretty. But she moved to NYC and I got married instead. But after my own wedding, I realized that having a wedding coordinator isn’t an option, it’s essential! So I started offering services to everyone I knew and met, so produced my first wedding in March 2005 in Colorado.
I was a bit of a gypsy, so moved as often as my husband would allow, so word of mouth was my only form of advertising. As a result, I produced weddings in Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Virginia, and North Carolina. I eventually started procreating so put down roots here in NC (and now never want to leave). My wedding career here in NC began in 2012. And once I abandoned my corporate career in software sales, and my babies got out of diapers, I started advertising, so I could pursue my dream full time. That was in 2014.
- What services do you provide?
We provide full and partial service planning, coordination, event and floral design. We also offer décor and linens rental. Our décor inventory is eccentric, fresh, and unique. It includes vessels of all types, signs, easels, lanterns, candle holders, and more. And our linens are from two companies out of Florida who have the most gorgeous collections I’ve seen anywhere. Their lines are quite diverse – everything from a basic satin to luxury fabrics.
- What do you use to stay organized and efficient?
I have many different tools and methods. But the one I feel is most valuable to my clients is my planning software. I can give my clients access to it, so they can always see what’s going on. It has tools like checklists, timelines, RSVP management, budget management, seating, floor plans, and more. I. LOVE. IT. With my background in software, I’m a total electronic based person and business. And I’ve been able to customize the system over the years, so have tweaked it to near perfection.
- Do you have a minimum total wedding budget requirement?
Absolutely. As a planner and coordinator, I can only help ensure a smooth experience if we have a fully professional vendor team. If there are holes in the team, so to speak, the purpose is totally defeated, so I may as well not be there. In this area, I’ve determined that a minimum of $25,000 is needed to hire a professional in the major areas for 100+ guests. If I’m hired for full service, a minimum of $30,000 is needed for 100+ guests. However, some of the most amazing weddings are small and intimate, so I’ll go below this minimum if the guest count is smaller. It’s the recipe for success!
- Do you have a minimum spend for floral design?
Not exactly. Floral design fees are so customized based on number of guests, number in the wedding party, and so many other factors. So I take a different approach, I require exclusivity. I’ll take any size wedding, so long as I’m doing all the floral design. It’s the way I protect my reputation. Guests and other vendors don’t know which flowers I designed and which ones Aunt Sara designed. No offense to Aunt Sara, but she likely doesn’t have the training I do, nor the style. It’s important to me that the wedding have a cohesive feel, and this can only be accomplished if my studio has sole ownership of the design.
- Do you provide event design with your full-service planning package?
It depends. I have full service clients who want me to handle logistics only. I still consider them full service because I’m doing all the planning. My packages are fully customizable, so one full service client may get logistics only while another added in design services. Floral design and rentals are totally separate line items.
- As the planner, do you sign contracts and make payments on behalf of the client?
No, I leave that final detail to the clients. I help coordinate the process only.
- Do you have recommended vendors?
Absolutely. This is a major benefit of hiring a planner. I’ve worked in the area for over 5 years, so I have reliable and trustworthy vendors in every category imaginable. I look for vendors who not only take great care of you, have amazing products and services, but also work well with other vendors as a team. This is crucial. The best vendors know that we all have the same goal, no matter our role, and that’s to make the couple incredibly happy.
- How is the couple involved in the selection process of vendors?
You can be involved as much or as little as you’d like. I have some clients who prefer not to attend meetings and trust me to make the final decision. But I have others who want to be involved and present, so they can make the final decision. I totally understand both perspectives, so have no preference.
- What’s the biggest wedding mishap you’ve encountered and how did you handle it?
With a professional planner in place, there should not be major mishaps at all! However, there are sometimes things beyond our control. Like a hurricane. I had 3 weddings the weekend Hurricane Matthew hit NC in 2016 – 2 on Saturday and 1 on Sunday. First, I had a great team in place. I had designers in the studio doing the flowers, while I and my lead coordinator put emergency plans into place for Saturday’s weddings. I also communicated extensively with the vendor teams so we could all be as prepared and relaxed as possible despite what was going on. Onsite, I kept the mood light and joyful, even though major decisions were being made. For example, we had to make the decision to take down a tent, which seemed to be causing water buildup near the venue. The family and vendor team really appreciated how things progressed, so I count that weekend as a huge success!
- How many staff are onsite for each wedding?
It totally depends on the event. For an average coordination job, I and another coordinator will be on site. I add staff depending on complexity and services. For instance, if the ceremony and reception are in two different places, I need a 3rd person to coordinate setup while I and an assistant handle the ceremony. Another example is if I’m hired to do floral design, I’ll always have at least one extra staff for setup, and more depending on the size of the job.
- Do you carry general liability insurance?
Yes! As well as Errors & Omissions insurance.
- Do you provide loose stems of flowers for DIY projects?
No, I don’t have a retail shop, so don’t keep stems on hand at all times. And I don’t order them for brides because I still have to pick them up or have them delivered, then I have to process them, count them, store them in the cooler, transport them to the bride, etc. By the time a bride pays me for my time to do all that must be done, she’s better off financially to go to Sam’s Club or Costco to order blooms in bulk and process them herself.
On a related note, what bride wants to be getting her nails ruined by working in flowers the day before and day of her wedding?! I firmly believe that all brides should be relaxing and drinking champagne in the days andhours leading to her wedding. And mom and other family members should be exempt as well. In my early years, I had to fix too many DIY’s that went awry! Frozen flowers. Dead flowers. Broken items. Forgotten items. The list goes on and on. It’s so much better to have a professional take care of the floral design, so all involved can relax and enjoy the weekend!
- How many weddings will you take on each weekend?
As with most floral designers, it totally depends on the size of each project. For coordination, I have a lead coordinator who takes the lead for one wedding when there are two weddings booked for one day.
- What do you do with flowers after the wedding?
I encourage the family to take them home to enjoy them. In the event they can’t, I recommend donating them. I work with a couple of local non-profits who takes them to local hospitals and nursing homes.
- What’s your design style?
Amy Style. I really can’t be categorized. I love the loose garden style that’s popular right now and have always chosen asymmetrical and avant garde shapes and lines and random pieces sticking out that no one expects. However, I enjoy a traditional cascade or rounded bouquet too, so long as I can incorporate lots of textures by adding a large variety of blooms.
- What training have you received?
I’m an education nut. I’ve been a life-long learner and have brought that into my business. I have a background in business administration and software sales. As an avid reader, much of my wedding and design knowledge is self-taught. However, I completed the Association of Bridal Consultants Professional Development Program. I’ve also studied under others, like Tonya Shadoan and Emily McCollin, both of who had businesses very much like mine. I’ve also done workshops with Holly Chapple, Amy Dunlap, and Morgan Moylan. I’ve had sessions with Ariel Dearie, Susan McLeary, Putnam & Putnam, Hitomi Gilliam, and Kelly Perry. And the list is endless when I look back at the education I’ve received as a member of the North Carolina State Florists Association and Team Flower. My most prized honor is as a Chapel Designer – I’m continually learning from this group of international designers. We continually support, share, and advise each other. It’s invaluable!
- Do you provide décor other than flowers?
Yes, I invite you to my studio in Hillsborough to check it all out!
- Can you do sketches of design ideas you propose?
Yes! I took a sketching class under the Sketchbook Series, so can do rudimentary sketches of my ideas. When projects get more complicated, I outsource the sketching to a professional.
- What are the benefits of hiring PBD for planning/coordination and event/floral design?
I try to get to know my clients during the planning process, so by the time we get to the fun stuff – design – I already have a good feel for what my couples want to see and experience on wedding day. There are monetary advantages as well. Florists charge a fee for returning to a venue at the end of the night or the next day to retrieve vessels and breakdown. Since I’m already there coordinating, I don’t charge a fee. Update: PBD is temporarily offering 10% off coordination if we’re hired to do floral design as well!