You could call this article the start of a mini-series on the Gallery 1028 Blog where we interview event planners from the Chicago area to get some juicy details and perhaps help you make decisions regarding your own event. I don’t want to spoil the series for you, but it is going to be pretty great.
Without further ado, our first interviewee is Shannon Gail from Shannon Gail Weddings and Events!
Gallery 1028: How did you get involved in the event planning industry?
Shannon Gail: My family is in the catering industry, and has a venue in the suburbs so I worked various hospitality-related jobs growing up. In high school, I worked at a bridal gown shop and also did hair for brides. After graduating with a Finance degree and briefly working with futures at a trading firm, I knew I wanted to be my own boss. I pieced together my love for the wedding industry with my ability to forecast and plan large-scale budgets, and SG was born.
G1028: What is the most rewarding event you have ever planned?
SG: Honestly, my first wedding ever. I remember it clearly despite it being almost 9 years in my past. There was so much build up and anxiousness to prove to myself that this was something I could do well, and that would make me happy as my career of choice. I ended up being on site for about 16 hours because I wanted everything to be perfection, and finishing that wedding successfully was exactly the confidence I needed to hit the ground running.
G1028: Would you ever plan your own wedding? Or would you even be able to? I know personally that I wouldn't want to plan my own wedding, but I wouldn't be able to stay out of the planning process.
SG: 4 of the 6 planners on our team are married, including myself! We did all plan our own weddings, but not without immense help from the rest of the team! We conceptualized our ideas and what we wanted, and then really relied on our team to execute. There is not much that can go wrong with 5 wedding planners on site the day of your wedding ;)
G1028: What are some challenges that you commonly face, and how do you overcome them?
SG: One of the largest challenges in the industry these days is truly unrealistic expectations. Unfortunately, nationwide publications or blogs sometimes give clients an untrue idea of what things cost, and what is within reach in terms of event planning. Combined with countless styled shoots on Pinterest, etc. that show glamorous set-ups that would not be scalable over 20 tables and you often get clients wanting much more than they can feasibly attain. Though we hate to do it, the best way to overcome it is simple honesty. We explain the logistics it would take to achieve the idea/look or even obtain quotes to show exactly what it would take to do it, and then give our clients more realistic alternatives to do something similar.
G1028: How many hours can go into planning an event?
SG: Countless. In fact, I prefer not to always count. Our team does not limit time spent planning an event or meeting with/speaking to a client. To me, it’s one of the cardinal rules of hospitality. We do not price our services hourly, and we never want our clients to feel limited or rushed.
G1028: How do you handle a bridezilla?
SG: Listen and execute. A bride or groom who is slightly difficult to work with is not trying to be difficult for you; he/she is likely just very stressed and on edge emotionally. The best thing to do is really listen to what is causing the stress and do your best to assure he/she that it will be okay and is in your hands.
G1028: Do you have any memories of events that you still laugh about to this day?
SG: Oh absolutely. With hundreds of weddings under our belts, we definitely have some stories. Out of respect for our clients, we won’t share specifics, however be on the look out for my book release as soon as I retire ;)
G1028: What are some of the current wedding trends in the Chicago area?
SG: Couples in Chicago are starting to break rules, and we love it! We have always been an advocate of planning events that are tailored to our couples, and it’s really refreshing to see couples ready to restructure the typical wedding timeline or inclusions to do so. Maybe it’s moving cocktail hour before the ceremony and then going directly into dinner after the I Dos or ditching the typical dinner for a 10 course small plate and wine pairing. We encourage couples to reflect on what they love and plan an event that tells that story.
If you want more information on all things Shannon Gail, head over to ShannonGail.com. There you can find even more out about the lovely Shannon Gail team, inquire about event planning services, and learn about the beautiful events they have put on in the past.
cover photo by Cristina G Photography