I am only as good as the people I surround myself with.

Jean McGrury

Owner & Lead Planner

Location: Biloxi, Mississippi

After 18 years as one of the premier wedding planners in Southern California, I relocated with my husband to the Coast of MS in 2005. I was The Knot local wedding expert in Orange County, wrote articles for local and nationwide magazines, was a favorite speaker on television, taught wedding planning at a local college, produced wedding shows, and was one of the most sought after wedding planners in Southern California!

Everyone thought I was crazy to shut down my business in Newport Beach, CA and move to Mississippi. There were several offers to purchase my company but I said no. “I can’t sell me to another business. I am “After The Proposal”.

I planned on re-launching After The Proposal Wedding Consultants in Biloxi, had all my wedding albums, information, and everything else I had accumulated throughout the years shipped. I was so excited about starting over again, meeting new people, enjoying the traditions of the south, and learning something new. But on August 29, 2005 hurricane Katrina struck the MS Gulf Coast.

In 2013 I ran headfirst back into the wedding industry. I have met so many wonderful people in the past few years and have been lucky enough to be referred to a few brides. So I never completely left the business. I worked by referral only.

After The Proposal Wedding Consultants is available along the beautiful Gulf Coast! It doesn’t matter what the client’s budget is, we help everyone. I have coordinated so many fabulous weddings, everything from the Ritz Carlton Hotel, private estates, 100’ yachts, and beaches to Granny’s back yard complete with plastic pink flamingos! Every wedding is important. I help my clients create a budget, and then we go from there. It’s not my money to spend, but every bride deserves to have a dream wedding. As I tell my brides, it’s about marrying the one you love and spending the rest of your life with them. Everything else is icing on the cake!

What are 2 trends in the event planning industry that you’re excited about?

Statement wedding decor and sustainable weddings.

What are some tips for creating an elegant and memorable event on a tight budget?

Limit your guest count and shop around for venues. Maybe have the wedding on a Friday or a Sunday and look for off-season dates. That way you can have additional funds for the special items you would like to have.

If you had unlimited resources, what would your dream client and event look like?

Fortunately, I have been lucky enough to have several dream clients with unlimited resources. The favorite one was a couple of years ago. The bride and groom were from Texas but wanted to marry on the MS gulf coast. Her mother was an event planner and did not want to do the planning so she hired me.

It was so over the top beautiful with lights in the trees and a children’s area which included a cotton candy machine, to the dance floor under a clear tent with strings of flowers and lights. The band was amazing and at 10:00 pm we went to a silent disco so the party could go on.

One of my favorite parts was the firework show over the beach and when the bride and groom left in a vintage white Rolls Royce with more cascading fireworks down the long driveway.

How important are your relationships with vendors and what are some ways that you successfully cultivate and ensure good rapport?

Very important – I am only as good as the people I surround myself with. I show them respect and treat them like a professional.

What advice would you give someone who needs to plan a fundraiser but isn’t sure where to start?

Call event planners and just ask for advice – you will be surprised who will be there to help.

What’s the most exciting thing on the horizon for you personally or professionally?

Getting back to work after Covid-19. Reconnecting with my brides and future clients.

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 worked for a large event planning company in Orange County, CA. We planned the first wedding the company had done and I fell in love with weddings. At that moment I knew I wanted to start up my own business.

It took me about a year to really have clientele.

What’s the first event you can ever remember planning and how did it go?

I was in a restaurant and overheard a lady say she was having trouble with planning her wedding. I turned around and told her I didn’t mean to eavesdrop and handed her my card. She gave me a hug and hired me the next day! That was back in 1995 when most brides found their planner through magazines and wedding shows. I had so much fun planning Judy’s wedding and I still have a picture of us on her wedding day.

What are some things you wished you knew before starting your businesses?

Better business plan, advertising, and bookkeeping.

What’s the most surprising or unusual request you have ever received from a client and were you able to fulfill it?

My client wanted to have her first dance and make it look like they were dancing on a cloud. Luckily I worked in Los Angeles and was able to hire a special effect team and we pulled it off flawlessly!

Susan Null
Author: Susan Null

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