Jennifer Savage of Emery has always been a planner. From dipping her toes into event planning in Colorado. to moving back to South Dakota, she has combined her experience and passion in the form of Plan to Party—a full service event planning company.

Located in Lennox, Savage travels all over, working with couples on creating their unique day. 605 Weddings chatted with the entrepreneur on planner misconceptions, the latest trends, and how she “runs on praise and Diet Coke.”

“I think under-planning and underestimating the right of budgets for each wedding category is a big mistake that a lot of couples get caught in.”

Where do you get your inspiration for planning and design?
It always starts with what the couple is dreaming of and envisioning. From there, I look to make a perfect combination of details that are unique to them, but still timeless. I don’t want them to look back in five or 10 years and hate the style of their day. I also am a strong believer in simple statement items that won’t break the budget, but instead deliver a big bang for the buck.

For those who are unsure, what are the benefits of having a wedding planner?
Where to start? The benefits are different for each couple, because each wedding is unique, but there are a few biggies that apply to every wedding. From helping to keep the wedding on a budget to making sure that you have reliable, quality vendors who will deliver what they promise are just a few benefits of working with a planner. Planners live and breathe wedding details, so when a bride tells me that she is stressing about forgetting something or missing an important detail, I can assure her that with me on her side, nothing will slip through the cracks.

What are some of the biggest misconceptions about wedding planners?
I think two biggies are that a planner will “take over” your wedding. If we wanted to just “take over” and make your wedding into our dream, every wedding we did would end up the same, and that would be so boring.

Assuming that you can’t afford a wedding planner is another huge misconception. A better question is how can you afford not to hire a planner? As an example, you spend thousands on a DJ or photographer or venue or catering, only to find out that they have a horrible reputation or don’t uphold their contract or don’t show up on your day. If you had invested in partnering with a planner, not only would we have directed you to the best vendors for your budget, we would also have be your advocate to ensure that you got exactly what you paid for. In many cases, I have saved my couples enough money to pay for myself.

What do you love most about working with weddings?
Literally, everything. It sounds cliché, but no matter how many weddings I do, when the bride starts down the aisle, I get teary. I’m also an unashamed people pleaser, so serving others is truly a joy for me. I joke to my husband that I need a shirt saying, “I run on praise and Diet Coke.” Helping my couples and those close to them fully enjoy their special day without worry is incredibly fulfilling to me.

Plan to Party’s Tips For Booking a Planner

+ Don’t just price shop. If you’re considering hiring a planner, sit down for coffee with one. There is so much value in investing in a planner that it is impossible to quantify it with just a sticker price.

+ Meet with at least two different planners. Just like every wedding is unique, each of us has our own specialty and will speak to different couples.

+ Ensure you’re hiring a professional. Make sure that your planner is legitimate with references, reviews, and reliability. One of my brides thought she had a had-of coordinator hired from Facebook, only to have the planner disappear a month before her wedding.

What was a moment that stood out for you during a wedding?
One of my favorite moments was just recently when I had the opportunity to help pull off a surprise for my bride. Her mom and I worked to organize a balloon drop during her first dance. Pulling the cord to drop those balloons and seeing her face full of such excitement and joy was a goosebump moment that I won’t ever forget.

What was a moment where your emergency-planning skills came into play during an event?
There is a moment in every wedding where I have a chance to step up and catch a problem before it becomes a disaster. Some past examples are pulling together a last minute bridesmaid bouquet, stepping in when the venue informed us that they didn’t have as many chairs as promised, adjusting plans to accommodate weather (extreme heat, wind, rain, and bouquet-killing cold temps, to name a few), tracking down a back-up makeup artist, sewing a bridesmaid into her dress, and washing 250 chargers by hand the night before the wedding!

What is a wedding/event trend you’re loving right now?
I’m actually loving the fact that there really are no rules anymore. Pancakes instead of a wedding cake? Go for it! Bridesmaids all in mix-and-match dresses? Heck yes!

Some of my other favorite trends right now are the super small, intimate weddings where couples are indulging in their favorite things because they have the budget freedom to do so with a small guest count. I’m also always going to be an advocate of focusing on guest enjoyment, and I see more and more couples looking to really host an incredible celebration instead of sacrificing guest experience for other details (example: cutting out favors to spend on great food).

What is your favorite part about planning weddings in South Dakota?
My favorite thing about South Dakota weddings are the amazing people. Not only do the vendors deeply care about serving their couples, but my couples are so kind, loving, and giving to their friends and family who come out to celebrate with them.

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