REAL ADVICE FROM A REAL INDUSTRY PROFESSIONAL
It's safe to say that Joan Cinquegrani is a bonafide Woman About Town in the Chicago wedding scene. If you are a fellow vendor, chances are that she or one of her colleagues has helped make your day a lot easier at a booked event, or that you've bumped into her at her monthly Therapy Thursday industry meetup. And not only does she know the scene like the back of her hand, but she is one of those uncanny minds that will recall that she met you 3 years ago and actually remember your name. It's no surprise that brides and grooms from far and wide entrust Joan and her Rolodex to help curate their wedding day dream team. Read on to learn a little more about Joan's story, how to balance planning and fun, and what it's like to be possessed by a passion for color coding.
As someone who has cultivated a team of six expert and on-the-ball planners, you must have an eye for the qualities a great coordinator should have. Can you tell us some of the traits that a first-time bride or groom should look for when shopping for their spirit-planner? In your opinion, is there an over-arching list of characteristics to look for, or is it more of a “to-each-his-own” type of process?
I think the most important thing is finding a planner YOU PERSONALLY jive with. That's going to be different for each person. If you feel you have a good connection with your planner, then you've found a right fit! It may go without saying, that your planner should be organized!
It seems like you knew you were genetically-inclined to be a planner from a very young age. What would you say the biggest personal evolution has been for you since you officially dove into this line of work as a professional? Was there anything in particular that offered an especially interesting learning curve?
I definitely lean toward the linear :). I think the biggest thing for me was learning that sometimes the best choice is relax the rules sometimes. Flexibility is something I have had to teach myself: there's a little coach in my head telling me when to be hard-lined and when to just let it go.
I had to laugh at the story I read about you planning your family vacations since age 13, as my sister Erica (the other half of GLT) and I are always receiving eye rolls from our family for our overzealous vacation itineraries. (Note to self: 6AM surf lesson followed by 8AM ziplining is not recommended!) I must ask, do you think the planning gene tends to skip a generation? And how does a Type-A Italian relegate herself to a packed Google calendar, yet still make time for La Dolce Vita?
Well, little known fact, I am NOT Italian! Cinquegrani is my married name. Regardless, now that organization is essentially my career, my homelife tends to be much quieter (or as quiet as it can be with two little kids!). I try to make sure I'm not out more than two evenings per week, and as often as possible reserve my non-wedding weekends for family, rather than client meetings.
I know that as a DJ, technology is always tweaking the process of the music-planning process. Tools like Spotify playlists and hotspot music downloading have really enhanced our process. Have you been employing any new tools to help the modern bride/groom stay organized and stress-free throughout the planning process?
Google drive! The ease of sharing information and ensuring there are no "old versions" of documents floating around has been so helpful.
With the rising popularity of things like the Konmari Method and blogs like Apartment Therapy, it seems that the cult of organization is suddenly en vogue! Do you have any other lesser-known blogs or pieces of literature on the topic that you might recommend for extra curricular reading?
I LOVE Konmari--and have been employing her de-cluttering technique in my home and it has been a life-changer. I am in the midst of a Whole30 which is kind of like an internal declutter right now, and would highly recommend that!
Non-planning question: What albums/artists have you discovered over the past year? Anything we should add to our playlists?
Ok, please don't laugh, I do not listen to music. I love it, AND I HAVE A BACHELORS OF MUSIC IN VOCAL PERFORMANCE, but I just never find my own. It's terrible. Most of my listening is to podcasts. Big on Reply All right now :).
No sweat, Joan! We've got you covered on the music front here at GLT. :)
Want to work with Joan and the Five Grain Events team? Read more HERE!
We cannot tell a lie: We are obsessed with our nests and thusly longtime fangirls of Apartment Therapy. Who else better to trust when going down an endless rabbit-hole on the best Scandinavian throw blankets, or why every civilized human should keep a squeegee in their shower?! So when the fine writers at Apartment Therapy asked us to share some wisdom about curating the perfect wedding playlist, we were thrilled to join in on the convo.
You can read the official article HERE, and perhaps accidentally spend the next hour brainstorming playlists, or pinning 100 different farm sinks to your Dream Kitchen board. Don't say we didn't warn you! ;)
REAL ADVICE FROM A REAL INDUSTRY PROFESSIONAL
We had the pleasure of picking the ever-active and innovative brain of LEAP Weddings' own Jack McClain. In case you haven't had the pleasure of working with the LEAP crew, they're of the dive-on-your-knees-to-get-the-perfect-shot kind of videographers that every bride and groom is on the prowl for. Read on below to figure out how to spot a killer videographer, look your best on film, and even keep the romance alive when a stampede of Santa-Con enthusiasts turn up on your wedding day....
For first-time planners, do you have any rules of thumb to help separate the men from the boys when it comes to selecting a videography team? Any suggested questions to ask?
In my opinion, the most important element in hiring any vendor for a wedding day is to hire people that will honor the experience of the bride and groom and their guests as the most important priority of the day. It doesn't matter if the most amazing wedding film is created if it is done at the cost of negatively influencing any one person's experience. Bottom line - if the bride and groom are not having fun than I am not doing my job.
As a camera-shy person myself, I know I can sometimes come across as uncomfortable on video. Is there a trick that you pass along to clients to help get over that hurdle, and ensure a more natural, fun cinematic memory?
As a camera operator, I feel as awkward pointing a camera at someone as they may feel being on camera. There's an element of acknowledging that common bond which can serve to "cancel-out" any fear. But, more importantly than any of that is to establish a good rapport with the bride and groom before their day. We accomplish this by meeting with the clients in person a few weeks before their big day. This offers us an opportunity to fully dissect the itinerary for their day and to gain a sense of trust amongst everyone
At Green Line, we've accidentally discovered that musicians tend to make great DJs. Would you say that your musical background has also somehow informed your shooting/editing aesthetic?
My musical background has played an enormous role in shaping my approach to documentary/wedding filmmaking. Being able to improvise is crucial because, as much as i may know about the itinerary for the day, something is always there to surprise me. Being in the right place at the right time is the name of the game and the only way to do that is to be aware of my surroundings. I relate this to playing music because, being a member of a band, it is important that everyone is listening to each other and working as a team rather than trying to be the star of the show.
A few of the impossibly picturesque shots by LEAP Weddings.
After working hundreds of weddings and events, I feel like I've seen it all (Mark Twain impersonators, Drag Queen Kicklines, Star Wars Wedding Processionals, etc.). Can you tell us about one of the funniest or most unique events you've filmed?
On a few occasions, we have arranged "first looks" to take place on busy public streets and, immediately after the bride and groom see each other, something spontaneous happens. One time it particular, a mess of 30 or 40 people dressed as Santa doing a bar-crawl walked by our bride and groom while the B&G were making out during their first look. [See video below at ~1:00]. It was completely unpredictable and hilarious. The best part is that we caught everything on film and were able to weave it into their wedding film.
See if you can spot the white-bearded wedding crashers at 1:00 in.
Another unforgettable moment captured by LEAP!
As a new dad, are your kids going to have the best home videos of all time, or will it just be all the more fodder to embarrass them with at their pre-prom get-together? Or have home videos become an antiquated concept in the onslaught of social media?
I must admit that the majority of my home videos are captured on my cell phone. Children can be hard to predict so having my "real" camera on-hand is generally not the case. I feel like the quantity of videos that I capture is an average amount compared to the majority of people that I know with kids. It's too easy to pull out a phone and grab hilarious slo-mo footage or to capture all the many times that my three-year-old breaks out into song. The one thing that I enjoy more than anything is sharing photos and videos instantaneously with my family via the family sharing function on iCloud. I get to see updates from all my nieces and nephews every day and it feels great to be connected with them.
As an aside, I can't help but imagine myself sharing the father daughter dance and giving speeches at the weddings of my two girls. I have certainly imagined a recap video of their childhood that could be played at those events as well. We'll see if they give me permission when the time comes.
Are you working on any passion projects at the moment?
I am currently working on a video for an organization in Kansas City called BoysGrow. They are an organization which focuses on educating intercity youth on agriculture, woodworking, entrepreneurship and a number of other skill sets. This is a passion project for me because I value the importance of understanding agriculture and the food that we eat but also because BoysGrow is an all-around good organization and I look forward to telling their story.
Non-video related question: What is the song you never get sick of hearing these days at events? (Or what song do you wish the DJs would play more of?)
One of my favorite songs/performances of all time is Stevie Wonder's version of "We Can Work it Out," by the Beatles. I know it's not a new song or anything, but hey... I'm old fashioned. It is super danceable and who doesn't like Stevie Wonder?
Want to work with Jack and the LEAP Weddings team? Read more HERE!
It's not every day you get to set up your office between a vintage fighter jet, and a life-sized faux bois moose! We were lucky enough to spend the day hanging at the gorgeous and ever-distinctive Artifact Events yesterday, as part of one of our favorite events of the year, Wedtoberfest, Chicago! For those of you who are newly betrothed and planning, we highly recommend checking out the vendor list curated by this illustrious crew.
It was great meet Chicagoland's sweet and freshly engaged couples, peruse the funky antiques, and catch up with some of our favorite vendors. (Special shout out to our pals at Leap Weddings & Big Delicious Catering!)
For those of you who missed it, keep in touch, and come join us this February for IndieWed! Til then, happy planning!
We are so excited to be part of the Chicago Indie Wed Expo this coming weekend! Please come join us and meet other likeminded vendors in the area to help plan your perfect stylish (and no-cheese) wedding! The event will take place Saturday February 6, 2016 at the Ravenswood Event Center from 11AM - 4PM. Come by, say hi, and have a snack with us!
Happy new year, everyone! Just when we were feeling a little groggy and overloaded with one too many seasonal cookies and hot toddies, we opened our inbox to find Green Line Talent has been granted a Couples Choice award from WeddingWire for 2016! This means we are ranked in the top 5% of Chicago area vendors in the wedding industry, which makes us feel humbled and excited to say the least. Thanks to everyone on the crew for helping us along the way. We look forward to another great year together!
- Elissa & Erica
REAL ADVICE FROM A REAL INDUSTRY PROFESSIONAL
We had the pleasure of visiting the workspace of Katie Cochara, masterful papersmith, all-around classy gal, and founder of Bluebird Paper Company. Known for their luxe, textured print work, and uniquely minimalist and vintage design, the crew at Bluebird has truly set themselves apart in the world of high-end paper production. Whether you want something simple and elegant, or you'd prefer to be bejeweled with fleur-de-lis foil stamps, the Bluebird team can work with you to create a line of print products to elevate your wedding or special event. Read on for some hot tips on how to make your wedding look great on paper!
Can you tell us a little bit about your background and how you found yourself in the world of custom paper?
To be honest, I sometimes find myself wondering the same exact thing! I got my first taste of graphic design during my junior year in high school when I enrolled in a Media Arts class. This was by far my favorite class in high school, and this is ultimately where my interest and education in artistic design really began. I loved my Media Arts class so much, I would visit the classroom (and my favorite teacher, Mr. Riley) during almost every free period that I had. I would even stop in during my lunchtime to hop on the computers and do some work! This class also encouraged me to join the Yearbook Club where I continued to learn about content layout and basic graphic media. While I didn’t continue on an artistic path in college at James Madison University, my love for art and my creative passion never faded.
At JMU, I earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Hospitality Management. I had originally thought that I wanted to pursue a career in event planning, which was why I had chosen this concentration. Upon graduating I began a career in hospitality with Marriott International, but I soon realized that the lifestyle associated with a hospitality driven job wasn’t compatible with the life that I wanted to live. After leaving Marriott, I played around with the idea of various career possibilities, until I eventually landed an internship at the NYC corporate office of American jewelry designer, David Yurman. There, at David Yurman, is where my education and interest in creative services kicked back in. During my time at Yurman, I also got engaged and enrolled in graphic design classes at New York’s FIT.
The major event that changed my life forever and altered my path from a life and career on the East Coast to one in Chicago happened in October 2012. In the midst of my first promotion at DY, the enrollment in graphics classes, and an engagement to my now-husband, Greg, my (future) father-in-law suffered a massive stroke that left him with lifelong disabilities. My husband, Greg, is a Chicago native and his family still resides here. When tragedy struck his family, we knew that we needed to pack up our lives in New York and move to Chicago to help his family. At some point before our move, it was my husband’s idea that I should try to put my experience to use and start my own business creating custom invitations and stationery. My first ever attempt at this was for our own wedding, where I designed and produced my own Save The Dates, Invitations, Menus, Programs, and Escort Cards. I loved working on my own designs so much, once we arrived in Chicago I launched right into my own little business and never looked back!
We love that you design a "Mood Board" for all of your clients prior to hitting the press. What kinds of things should clients think about prior to their consultation with you, particularly if they don't have a background in design?
I actually love when clients come in to my studio not knowing exactly what it is that they’re looking for. I really enjoy educating them on the various print methods that I offer (Thermography, Letterpress and Foil Stamping), and then guiding them through the creative process. When someone comes in with no pre-planned notion for the print element of their wedding, we can just start by talking about the overall vision. I also enjoy walking through their Pinterest boards with them. Pinterest is a great place to start gathering and organizing your ideas! Whether the client’s event is black tie, backyard casual, or somewhere in between, the print method and designs we choose can really enhance that overall feel.
Is there a rule-of-thumb timeline that you recommend to a couple who wants to have really beautiful paper products at their wedding, but doesn't want to get into a last-minute time-crunch? (i.e.: When do you start planning out your invitations, vs. your menus and name cards?)
Ideally, I love working with clients who come to me early enough so that I can also design their save the dates as well as their invitations. It makes me so happy when the design scheme and theme we come up with is echoed throughout all of their wedding stationery items. As far as timelines go, I always recommend sending out your Save The Dates 6 months to one year in advance. The actual Wedding Invitation can be sent out 10-12 weeks in advance, but there’s no shame in sending them a little sooner than that too! Designing and printing the menus and escort cards is really dependent on the venue. Some venues hold the right to change your menu items if they rely on locally sourced foods and seasonality, and others will stick true to the menu no matter what. Most commonly I will print Menus about a month in advance, and Escort Cards about two weeks ahead of the big day, but every wedding (and couple!) is different.
Your designs have this uniquely vintage yet sleek aesthetic. Is this a look that you personally love, and does it translate into other areas of your life? (At home, in your fashion choices, philosophically, you name it!)
Yes! I love all things vintage and handmade, so you’ll find that theme throughout my life. If you were to come to my house, you would see it's filled with flea market finds, local artisan pieces and re-purposed barn wood. I also try to mix in more modern pieces here and there too though, so it doesn’t feel too lost to the times. The overall theme of my aesthetic is to keep things light, bright and airy, and as natural as possible. Beyond my home and personal style, I also try to shop local and work with as many local vendors as I can. Even if it ends up costing me a little a bit more, or slightly raises the price of my products, I feel like it’s important to support the people within our communities. I take pride in my designs and products and the pieces made by people that I know. I love being able to tell my clients that most of my raw materials come from the gentleman right down the street, and that I’m actually friends with the artisan who mixes my inks and cultivates many of my papers. As a side note, another passion of mine is trying to live my life and run my business as “green” as I possibly can (hence my love of re-purposed and vintage items). Many of the papers that I print on are chemical-free, tree-free, or produced by wind power, for example. Everyone can make a positive impact on their environmental footprint in some way, even if it’s doing something as small as buying environmentally conscious wedding invitations or stationery products.
Can you tell us a little bit about a really memorable or unique project you've worked on for a wedding client recently?
Right now I am working on a really unique wedding that will also serve as a celebration of the bride’s grandmother’s 90th birthday. My clients are blending these two events so that they can honor their grandmother, have an awesome wedding, and create a truly memorable family event. Obviously this family wasn’t going to find an online invitation template that perfectly captured the essence of this celebration, which was why they reached out to me to create a custom design. I really love hearing people’s unique stories, and this is just one great example of that. It's been a lot of fun coming up with a design that represented this cool young couple, and their amazing grandmother at the same time. We haven’t printed the designs yet, but I can’t wait to see them come to life!
Tell the truth: Were you one of those kids who had the Lisa Frank binder, sticker kit, and 152 Crayola pack complete with crayon sharpener? Did your eye for design rear its head at an early age?
I totally was! I was a huge fan of this 100 color marker set, and I would sit and draw and color literally for hours. When I was about 8 I started coming up with fashion designs for dresses and things. I would draw on computer paper and then put the drawings in clear plastic folders and pile them up in a binder that I called my “portfolio.” I also discovered my love for computer graphics at an early age as well. Aside from every 90s kid’s beloved Microsoft Paint, I was also obsessed with this computer program called Kid Pix that let you create digital pictures and then assign animations to some of the graphics. I loved drawing something silly on the computer and then watching it come to life. Even in school, I was always doodling and drawing and devising different ways to be creative. Even after graduation as I was in between jobs I would just keep saying, “If I could just find a job that let me do arts and crafts all day, I would be so happy!” It may have taken some time and some figuring out, but I finally have that luxury, and I feel truly blessed.
Want to work with Katie and the Bluebird Paper Co. team? Read more HERE!
REAL ADVICE FROM A REAL INDUSTRY PROFESSIONAL
We sat down with Misse Daniel of Honey Bee Weddings to get an expert's take on planning a beautiful, unique, and most importantly enjoyable modern-day wedding. Misse's sheer love for her trade radiates as she shares anecdotes about the special days she has planned over the years, beginning with her first wedding ever almost a decade ago at a remote bison ranch. (Talk about kicking things off with a challenge!) Misse has come a long way from that day, and now works along side a dream team of smart and scrappy fellow planners at Honey Bee, known for their versatility, hands-on approach, and knack for seamlessly weaving in contributions from Chicago's many amazing local vendors. Misse's background in non-profit event planning lends a sense of practicality to her naturally fanciful planning aesthetic, so she's sure to execute the vision you want with a photo finish every time.
Can you tell us a little bit about your background as an event planner, and how you got into working in weddings specifically?
After working as a non-profit event planner, I was thrilled to be asked by one of my co-workers to plan her wedding. After that experience, I knew I had found my calling, and shortly thereafter I launched Honey Bee Weddings.
Do you have an over-arching mantra or philosophy when it comes to how you approach your planning process?
I always try to work around the clients schedules and develop a good timeline. Sticking to a timeline is so important because in this day and age, there's no set list of rules for the “standard” wedding. We have so many resources at our fingertips, and this leaves us with hundreds of options for each and every decision we make, ranging from the décor to the cake. It's an amazing era with so many options, but at the same time, having boundless choices tends to make the decision making process much more difficult, so I really try to help guide my clients, and break down the entire experience into the key elements.
What kind of things should a couple in search of a planner be looking for in order to find the right fit for their overall style and personality?
I would say the first thing any couple should prioritize is a finding a planner they feel they have a great rapport with. Being able to communicate openly and positively with your planner is essential. As a planner, I am going to be working with you all the time throughout the planning process. Couples really need to feel like they've found someone they can trust and rely upon.
What advice can you give a couple that really wants to be able to enjoy their big day without getting too stressed out?
The last 4 months of the wedding are always going to be very busy no matter if you've planned your wedding over the course of 6 weeks or 24 months. The best thing I can suggest is to make sure all of the planning is DONE the Monday before the wedding. After that, you should only be working on minor tweaks and enjoy being in bride and groom mode. You won't enjoy your wedding if you aren't in the moment, so the best advice is to never be planning during the wedding.
Aside from working on the bison ranch, can you tell us a little bit about a really fun/memorable theme or concept that you implemented for a one of your client's weddings?
I would have to say the most unique event I've planned was a Day Of The Dead themed wedding. That one was a lot of fun!
Want to work with Misse and the Honey Bee Team? Read more HERE!
REAL ADVICE FROM A REAL INDUSTRY PROFESSIONAL
We had the pleasure of meeting husband-and-wife photography duo Karina & Michael Metts of Metts Photo at a Therapy Thursday meeting a couple weeks ago. Aside from their clear business savvy, and passion for meaningful interactions with their clients, the sheer love and admiration between the two really set them apart, and well, in the spirit of Green Line Talent, make them the kind of people you'd like to share a cheese platter with, or dare we say, have around at your own wedding! Karina was kind enough to let us pick her brain a little bit about how to create a photo album that will truly capture the narrative of your big day.
Can you tell us a little bit about your personal philosophy when it comes to telling a story with your photos?
We think that value of memories can’t be measured. We want our couples to be able to look back on their wedding day years from now and experience the same laughter and tears they felt on the day itself. That's why we take photography so seriously. When we photograph a wedding, we're focused on the key moments. These moments are distinct for each couple, which is why we really take the time to build a relationship with them. By the time the wedding day arrives we are already aware of the little details they’re excited about and what moments are most important to them. We don’t do a lot of posing during portraits. Instead, we set up the scene, then allow the couple to be themselves while we capture their laughter, excitement, and joy.
Michael and I photograph each wedding together because two perspectives tell a more complete story. We also have no time limits for our coverage, because we don’t want our couples to be stressed about time or try to cram everything into a specific number of hours.
What do you suggest to couples who aren't sure where to begin when it comes to making their list of key shots for their wedding day? Is there a general rule of thumb when it comes to the number and type of shots added to this list? Is a list definitely necessary?
We do an engagement session with all of our couples. During that time we can talk about the types of pictures they really like and the locations they are thinking about for their wedding photos. We also take time to walk through the wedding day schedule and find out how much of their time they want to spend on photos. Since communication between us and our couples is very open, there generally isn’t a need for a shot list. The only list we do ask for is a list of family photos they would like to get. We ask for a list before the wedding day so we can get through the family photos quickly and everyone can get back to celebrating.
This past weekend we worked at a wedding that had a last-minute scramble to secure rainy-weather photo locations. Is there anything else along these lines that couples might want to consider when preparing the photo gameplan for their wedding?
Something to consider when thinking about wedding pictures, is making sure the room the bride and bridesmaids are getting ready is tidy. Whether you are getting ready at home or at a hotel suite, the prep shots of everyone getting ready will be taken in that room. To make the images nicer if would be great if the background was cleaned up so it doesn't look messy with everyone's suitcases, shoes, and clothes on the floor in the background.
I once had a photographer tell me that giving your toast next to the couple makes for much better speech photos than giving it next to the DJ table. Do you have any other suggestions similar to this, regarding placement of certain activities?
I agree that having the person giving the toast to stand near the couple is more visually pleasing when it comes the photos since you are able to get the couple’s reaction and the speech being given in the same shot.
One thing I do love is when the couple’s family and friends are around the dance floor as the first dance is happening. While it usually doesn’t happen that way, it is really nice to have everyone in the background admiring the lovely couple as they share this special moment. (See Karina's stunning photo below).
Want to work with Metts Photo? Read more HERE!