Sunbursts & Stardust specializes in all aspects of wedding and event planning, from initial styling and design story creation to timeline creation and being there on your big day to make sure everything that needs to happen, does. Sunbursts & Stardust works tirelessly to ensure that your vision and needs for your big day are met and exceeded, all while becoming your event advocate, stress reliever, and magic-maker.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve ever faced while planning an event and how did you overcome it?
A couple’s cake had some issues during transportation and arrived to the venue a bit mangled and not standing up straight. Instead of informing the bride and groom and stressing them out, I decided to try to remedy the situation myself. I scrounged up some spatulas and knives from the kitchen and I and my assistant went to work in performing “cake surgery”. It was very technical and there were some close calls, but ultimately we fixed it so that it was beautiful once again and standing on its own. Any time I can fix a problem that pops up without letting the couple know and stressing them out, that is a win!
What are 2 trends in the event planning industry that you’re excited about?
I LOVE the surge in backyard weddings that I am seeing. A lot of couples are switching their weddings from a traditional venue to a backyard option, so as to have some more freedom with Covid restrictions. Lots of these couples see it as a “plan B”, but I think backyard weddings are so magical, unique, and personal.
I also love how more couples are embracing “non-traditional” elements for their big day. I always say there are no rules for your wedding – it is YOUR day and you can do and include what YOU want. Bring on the food trucks, ice cream buffets instead of cake, and cocktail party vibes over a formal sit-down dinner. Again, there are no rules and your day can be whatever you want it to be.
What are some tips for creating an elegant and memorable event on a tight budget?
Know what vendors and elements to nix. A wedding video is nice, but realistically you’ll watch it once in 20 years. Save those thousands of dollars and put them into your food or decor – the elements that the guests will enjoy AT the wedding. In addition, you don’t need printed menus or ceremony programs. These are things that the guests will glance at for a few seconds at best and then not remember.
In this case, it’s important to determine what elements and vendors are important to you and your fiancé. Allocate more of your budget on those aspects and cut down on others. For example, if you and your fiancé are foodies, it’s okay to splurge on the upgraded cocktail hour package. To offset this, maybe ditch the extra lighting package from the DJ.
It’s also important to know your guests. If you know your crowd aren’t huge drinkers, see if you can save some money by doing a wine and beer only bar, no liquor. Or, if you know your family and friends tend to tap out early, don’t opt in for the optional extra hour of your reception.
If you had unlimited resources, what would your dream client and event look like?
Whew – what a fun question. As I mentioned before, I love a backyard wedding and I think that comes from me loving a total transformation. I prefer “BYOV” (bring your own vendor) event locations that don’t typically function as a venue. I’d love to take an indoor/outdoor space such as a garden or winery and work some magic to transform it into the wedding venue of my client’s dreams. My dream client would be open to out-of-the-box ideas, have an idea of their vision but willing to accept input and suggestions, and not afraid to take risks to make sure they and their style are fully expressed for their wedding day.
How important are your relationships with vendors and what are some ways that you successfully cultivate and ensure good rapport?
Of course, I can work and plan an event with vendors I have not yet met or worked with. However, the experience tends to be so much sweeter and more rewarding when working with “friendors” aka other vendors you have an established relationship with. This is because you know how each other works in terms of their communication and planning style. When you work with vendors that you have an established rapport with, it’s like collaborating with a friend and each using your strongest skills and talents to make your client’s day amazing. Overall, it becomes such a pleasant experience. That said, don’t be afraid to work with new vendors, as there are always new connections you can form.
What advice would you give someone who needs to plan a fundraiser but isn’t sure where to start?
I don’t currently work in the non-profit world, but I was heavily involved in one in college. In addition, I have several close family members who are career-long fundraisers. From these experiences, I’d say it’s extremely important to really hone in on your mission and articulate WHY you are raising money and WHO you are raising it for.
Transparency is also extremely important when talking to potential donors, show and tell them where exactly their money will be going and how it will be used to help those in question.
What’s the most exciting thing on the horizon for you personally or professionally?
Being an entrepreneur, I’d say the line between my personal and professional life is extremely blurred. So for both aspects, I have the same answer: growing my business. Like most people in the event industry, 2020 was a rough year with the pandemic. But now that we are on the upswing in terms of getting out of this mess, it is so exciting to see more clients booking and planning events for the future. I am just so excited for the world to move past this pandemic and to create event magic that was gone for a year.
What inspired you to launch your own company in the event industry? How long did it take from initially having the idea to setting up and starting to attract a client base?
I always wanted to have my own wedding planning business, but it definitely took time, experience, and patience to get to this point. I started my journey by getting as much experience in the wedding industry as possible – from assisting various wedding planners for day-of coordination to working in the bridal retail industry, to working for an actual event venue. The road wasn’t easy and the path wasn’t straight and I definitely got frustrated at times, but ultimately all of the experience I gathered along the way made me stronger and more qualified to run my own business.
What’s the first event you can ever remember planning and how did it go?
The first event I planned was a fundraising trunk show for a clothing boutique I was working at. I was the one that proposed the idea of hosting a trunk show to the client, then once they accepted I helped with all of the details and execution. This involved tailoring the show to the specific customers and figuring out travel logistics. We ended up raising more money than we anticipated, so I definitely look back on that event as a success.
What are some things you wished you knew before starting your businesses?
I wish I knew to learn the value of myself, my knowledge, my experience, and my work. I started really undercharging for my planning services just for the sake of getting the clients. This sounded fine in theory, until I found myself doing countless hours of work for a ridiculously low compensation. I wish I could go back and tell myself to not undervalue myself from the beginning and set my rates based on the value of what I can deliver to my clients.
What’s the most surprising or unusual request you have ever received from a client and were you able to fulfill it?
I’d say planning a full wedding, in a pandemic, in under 5 weeks. It was a lot of full-steam ahead days of work leading up to it, but ultimately I and the couple pulled it off. It just became a matter of locking in the right vendors, asking the right questions, and making sure all of my t’s were crossed and my i’s were dotted before the big day.
Anything else you’d like to comment on while we have you?
I am so excited to be a part of the EventPros interview pool!