Wedding Planners of Park City
October 21, 2016
"The worst thing that has happened to me at a wedding has to be lighting my hair on fire," said Emily White, owner of Haute and Hostess event planning in Kimball Junction.
While talking to a bartender, she leaned over a few romantic candles, igniting her dark brown locks. The singed hair smelled of burning tires and White escaped to the kitchen to chop off three inches of charred ponytail.
White said there will always be unexpected problems at weddings. Contrary to popular belief, her job is never glamorous, at least that's how she feels.
Wedding planners have to move tables, haul heavy decorations, and run, not walk, until the venue is perfect.
Kristin Spear's boss told her not to quit her day job when she started working as an event planner.
"This career is not your dream," he said to her.
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Six years after purchasing Soiree Productions in Park City, Spear agrees.
"Expect to stay up all night and give up your weekends," she said.
Of the many interns Spear has mentored, only one has continued in the field.
"I didn't think this kind of service could exist outside of Los Angeles or New York," said Spear, who continues to be amazed at the demand for wedding planners in a small ski town. The average wedding cost for Spear's clients is close to $100,000.
Park City's endless mountain vistas and countless lavish resorts have made it the destination wedding capital of Utah. Of the 28 weddings Soiree Productions organized this year, only one couple was local. Spear believes a wedding planner is essential when it comes to destination weddings.
There are many unique obstacles Park City poses for wedding planners, such as moving a nine-piece band and wedding cakes up the Red Pine Gondola.
No matter how strange the problem, White feels there is always a solution. "You just have to figure it out," she said.
Although venues such as The Montage Deer Valley, The St. Regis, and Stein Eriksen host weddings all year, many couples are getting creative with where and how they tie the knot.
The current weddings trend is ditching tradition for a much more personal, signature experience.
"If you don't like cake, you don't need a wedding cake," White said.
One of her favorite non-traditional weddings was for a local couple who insisted on getting hitched in City Park. Because the area is a public space, she couldn't reserve its gazebo or lawn. Also unable to set up a tent on the field due to sprinkler lines, all White could do was pray it didn't rain.
Throwing permits to the wind, White and the couple woke early on wedding day to commandeer the space, setting up chairs and a stage for music, crossing their fingers no city official would intervene.
The ceremony was a success and the couple rode away on their bicycles, string-tied cans clanging behind their rear wheels.
"The bride's dress got caught in the chain, and she didn't even care," White said with a chuckle.
Spear has also noticed new fads occurring in the wedding world. Social media sources such as Pinterest and Instagram are now influencing the way people envision their weddings.
"Trends change much quicker now," said Spear, who can remember a time when brides would rip out individual photos from magazines and email them to her.
Whether it's a new trend or old one, wedding planners like to push the envelope.
Kasey Stanislaw Aune, founder of Harvest Moon Events in Park City, is always thrilled to push the bar for what's possible for her clients. Whether it's getting a few live llamas, hiring a Mariah Carey impersonator, or building a skate ramp in the mountains, Aune and her team of "Mountain Event Specialists" aren't afraid of a challenge.
Aune began her event planning career in Las Vegas at the Monte Carlo Casino. After one too many crazy, late, late nights, Aune swapped slot machines for chairlifts and returned to her hometown of Park City.
Now, she knows how to fit a floral arch in a Snowcat and how to keep flowers from blowing away in a blizzard.
"It's amazing how the wind has a way of picking up right around the ceremony," Aune said.
Although the peak of wedding season is over, Aune, White and Spear are now prepping for a winter full of snowy weddings.
The three women agree that the worst thing about being a wedding planner is the stress.
When you're the one in charge of the most important day of someone's life, you really feel the pressure, Aune said.
According to a 2016 article by Forbes.com, event planners have the fifth most stressful job behind police officers, airline pilots, firefighters and enlisted military.
When asked about "Bridezillas," both White and Aune said they've been lucky.
"Park City attracts a certain kind of couple," Aune said. "Everyone I've worked for has been so down to earth."
Despite the stress that comes with the job, all three women feel sharing one of the most personal days of a couple's life is worth it.
White's favorite part of every wedding is stepping back and realizing she's "created a memory, not an event."
Aune shares the same sentiment.
"I feel so much joy when it all goes well and I never expected that," she said
As for her own future wedding, Aune said she'd prefer to elope.
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