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!