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The Planner Plans

By Molly Dolinger | Photography by Kristin Vining Photography

Posted: Friday, Jun. 21, 2013

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This March, Tiffany Ratliff switched gears, stepping out of her role as wedding planner with Weddings and the City to take her own turn on the aisle. We went behind-the-scenes to see just how a planner goes about planning her big day. So from Tiffany to you, here is some insight to help you relax, enjoy, and learn to let go:

The Point of View: The biggest difference between planning my own wedding and planning someone else’s was that I’ve never had problems making decisions. If I gave my brides three choices, I always had my favorite. For some reason as a bride, I found that very, very difficult. So I gave my vendors a lot of free rein. I just kind of trusted that all of my friends would deliver.

The Vision: I’ve never really had a dream wedding in mind because I love so many different styles. If it had been a December wedding, it would have been totally different than a March wedding. If it had been in August, I probably would have done more color. Sometimes a lot of my dreams express themselves through my client’s weddings. I knew I wanted it to be a tone-on-tone palette, neutral, clean, but other than that I didn’t really have a dream.

The Bachelorette Party: For the bachelorette party, my maid of honor, Lindsey, got us rooms at The Market Pavilion Hotel in Charleston. It was February and the weather was phenomenal. It was in the 60s so we were able to sit out on the rooftop and relax. It was probably one of my favorite weekends ever, just a chance to hang out with all my girlfriends, no drama, and let loose. It was awesome, it really was.

The Planning: The planning I did myself. For the designing, Kristin [Vining], Lindsey [Regan Thorne] and I had a brainstorming session at Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar one day. We sat down and sort of hammered everything out.

The Vendors: My vendor selection was pretty easy. I already knew who I would choose for what. For food, Best Impressions, hands down my number one choice. For photography, Kristin Vining, hands down. For music, Split Second Sound, hands down. The only thing I didn’t know was the venue, and that was it, really. I feel like I had the best of the best of the vendors in Charlotte. I never had a fear or a concern that I wasn’t going to love what they would do for me.

The Food: As far as the food, I’ve worked with Best Impressions a lot in the past. Of course, I have my favorites from over the years. Rudy and I and his mom went to the tasting and loved it all. Needless to say, we ended up having a lot of food at the wedding. My favorite was the fajita bar—they served miniature margaritas and baby Coronas. It was so cute. For a late night snack we had little sliders with Parmesan cheese string fries and strawberry milkshakes.

The Style: Lindsey is my best friend. When it came time for hair and makeup, I said, “Whatever. I totally trust you. Just go for it.” We did my bridal portrait the Thursday before, and I loved it. I normally don’t like my hair up, but I absolutely loved it, so we recreated the same exact look for the wedding day.

The Photography: Kristin was my bridesmaid and my photographer. I feel like she is superwoman, so she can do anything. “Look, Kristin,” I told her. “I know you’re going to want to get a camera and get up in there shooting. But I want you there first and foremost as my friend.” I think she did a phenomenal job of doing both.

The Dress: The dress shopping was fun. We went to J Major’s, and there was one dress that the owner, CJ, had said, “Oh, this is the one. I know it is.” I walked by a dress on a hanger and said, “Oh my gosh, I love this.” I had no idea it was the one CJ had picked out!

The Weekend: I know how important it is to have someone there to make sure everything goes smoothly the weekend of the wedding. Katrina from Come Together Events had reached out to me about doing the weekend-of. I had heard nothing but great things about her, so it was pretty easy for me to trust that she would do a great job.

The Reception: For the reception, [my husband] Rudy had the idea to get shutter shades and some other fun accessories. At the end of the night, we had all these boas and caps and things. One person went and got something, and everyone was like, “Where’d they get that?” By the end of the night, I think everybody dancing had something on.

Letting Go: I have to tell you that the days leading up to the wedding or even the weeks leading up to the wedding, I had a really hard time letting go. I’m used to being the go-to person, the project manager. I wasn’t doubting anyone, but that’s just the planner in me. When it came to that weekend, I let it all go. I didn’t even worry one bit. I don’t know what happened those two days, but all the control I wanted, I let it go. I knew all of my friends would do a fantastic job because they always do.

My Advice: My biggest piece of advice for brides planning their own weddings? I have two things. First and foremost, you can’t make everybody happy. You have to plan your wedding to be the one you and your husband want, not what everybody else wants. My second piece of advice would be to have someone help you on the day of. I can’t imagine me, alone, having to coordinate all that on the day of, and being able to enjoy time with my bridesmaids, and getting my hair and makeup done.

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