1. Introduction: What's your story?
Hi! My name is Diana and I am the owner of At Your Side Planning. After earning my Bachelor's degree in Social Science from San Diego State University, I knew I wanted to help people. I also knew I loved planning. I worked at the time at San Diego State full time while putting myself through college. I was on a team building committee for my department and was also volunteering in non-profit and helping friends with their weddings. I began the Meeting and Event Planning certificate at Professional Development / Extended Studies at the college and saw, I had a passion for event planning. It was something that I could do, that really did not feel like work. After I completed the program, I took as many business classes as I could and launch my company in the summer of 2004. At the time, I paid for leads on a website and booked so many weddings! It was intense and I loved it!
2. What's your experience as a wedding planner? How many weddings have you planned?
I have 17 years experience as a wedding planner. Our company has planned over 500 weddings and counting! We not only have many weddings under our belt but we are multi-cultural as well. Our team is very diverse and each brings their own unique qualities to the company. We have planned Jewish, Middle Eastern, Chinese, Vietnamese, Mexican, Christian, Catholic, Indian and more. Wedding experience has also crosse borders and for many years, we planned and coordinated in Baja California. We have always had bilingual coordinators too. We have also planned several destination weddings in Hawaii. If you check out our galleries, you will see how diverse our couples are as well!
3. What sorts of services do you offer (month-of coordination, full-service planning, or à la carte planning)?
We offer so much! We plan weddings as intimate as small elopements for just the couple to elopements with up to twenty guests. We have three elopement packages to offer. After that, we also offer Micro Weddings which include everything in our large elopement package plus assistance for couples to find their perfect venue. We have five wedding planning packages. We offer a Wedding Day Management as our base package. After this one, we offer our Month of Package which begins a few months out from the wedding day. We have two partial planning packages which assists couples who have their wedding date, venue and some vendors. Our Full Service package is great for couples just starting out and assists with venue research and presentation, vendor referrals, a planning timeline, budget management, hotel room blocks, design and making all appointments for the couple.
4. How do payments work (a percentage of the wedding budget, a flat fee etc.)? What are the different packages that you offer and which one is your most popular package?
For payments, we require 1/3 down to secure the event date with a signed contract. We have three San Diego Elopement packages starting from very intimate ceremonies. Elopement packages begin at $1099.00. Our top elopement package includes an officiant, the location with permit, up to 20 chairs, a sound system, floral and ceremony decorations. We have five San Diego Wedding Planning packages starting at $1500.00. Our base package is the San Diego Wedding Day Management and we also offer a San Diego Month of Planning. For our partial planning packages, we offer two packages which are perfect for couples who have began their wedding planning, have a date with location secured and some vendors. Our Full Service package is for couples who are just starting their wedding planning!
The most popular package we book is the San Diego Month of Planning package. This package begins a few months prior to the wedding date, provides a preferred vendor list, a venue walkthrough, preparation for the wedding date and execution of the wedding rehearsal as well as the wedding day.
5. Who else is in your team and how many people on your staff will be at the wedding?
At Your Side Planning is a team of 5 San Diego Wedding Planners. We have two wedding planners at each wedding. Those planners will only book one wedding for that weekend. Diana Romero is the owner and lead planner for At Your Side Planning. Kendra Grant has been a wedding planner with us since 2016. Diana and Kendra both have their Bachelor's degrees and Certificate in Meeting and Event Planning from San Diego State University.
Robin Alcoba has been with us since 2010. Robin received her Bachelor’s Degree from The University of Phoenix in Business Management with an Emphasis in Hospitality and Tourism. Shauna Casale who is also our resident officiant has been a planner with us since 2013. Shauna obtained her wedding and event planning certification through QC Career School. She is enrolled at San Diego Mesa College with a Major in Hospitality Management & an emphasis in Event Management. Ricagin Elejorde is our assistant day coordinator and joined our team in 2018. She acquired her Bachelor’s degree in Marketing with an emphasis in Integrated Marketing Communications from San Diego State University.
6. What happens if you're sick or otherwise unable to be there on the day of the wedding?
We are a team of five planners so this is never a problem! Our wedding day coordinators are Kendra Grant, Robin Alcoba and Shauna Casale. Ricagin Elejorde assists on most weddings. Diana Romero is always available as a backup in case of any emergencies. Being such a close knitted team, we are able to help one another out whenever needed too! We have had one instance arise where one of our day of coordinators was stuck in traffic and could not make a rehearsal. One of our other planners stepped right in and caught up with the details of the ceremony and ran the rehearsal for her!
7. How many meetings will you have with the couple and how will they be involved?
Our elopement packages include on virtual meeting as well as the in person rehearsal or walkthrough prior to the ceremony. For our San Diego Wedding Day Management package, we include one virtual meeting and the rehearsal prior to the wedding day. For our San Diego Month Of Planning package, we include two in person meetings and the rehearsal prior to the wedding day. For our Partial Planning packages, we include 3-5 meetings as well as the rehearsal prior to the wedding day. For our Full Service package, we include 10 meetings as well as the rehearsal prior to the wedding day.
We assist in vendor selection for our Partial Planning and our Full Service packages. We do provide a preferred vendor list for all other packages. For our Partial Planning and Full Service Packages, we recommend that after couples have their venue selected, they begin to meet with vendors which would only book one wedding that day. Those vendors would be the officiant, photographer, videographer as well as DJ or live musicians. Couples interview these vendors directly whether virtually or in person to make sure they are a fit for their wedding vision. After these vendors are selected, we work on the wedding design together. Wedding vendors for the design are secured such as the florist and rental company. We then move onto securing all other things including cake and wedding day print!
8. Will you handle the invitations, from wording and ordering to the addressing and mailing? What about guest list coordination and RSVPs?
We have amazing print vendors that are able to help couples with their wedding invitations, including the wording and ordering to addressing and mailing. We personally do not handle the invitations as this is a specialized skill that one of our amazing print vendors is able to do. We do not handle guest list coordination and RSVPs in our packages.
9. Do you handle rentals? Will you coordinate delivery, arrival and set up times with the photographer, the florist, the musicians and the caterer/banquet manager?
Yes, we will coordinate the delivery, arrival and set up times for the rentals as well as with all the wedding day vendors. Part of every package we offer includes reviewing all vendor contracts, confirming all details with the vendors and creating a detail day agenda for the wedding day. In our agenda, we begin with a detailed beauty schedule so that anyone having hair and makeup done, knows what time to go and where to go! After the beauty times, we note what photography will happen, for which parties and the location. After the pre ceremony photography, we note all details for the ceremony, cocktail hour and dinner reception. Times and locations are always designated so that all is clear. Any event for the wedding is noted in the day agenda as well. Event would be inclusive of photography schedule, ceremony processional, ceremony details, ceremony recessional, grand entrance, toasts, special dances, cake cutting and tosses.
10. Can you create a timeline that tells everyone involved in the planning process (other pros, members of the wedding party, to-be-weds and families) what to do and when to do it? How will you make sure everyone sticks to the schedule?
Yes, I created a timeline that tell everyone involved in the planning process what to do and when to do it. This is part of our detailed day agenda. We confirm details with all vendors prior to the wedding day to ensure they understand the schedule and to ensure we understand their commitments for the wedding day. We have a wedding day coordinator who will manage the day and ensures all are cued and ready for the next event for the wedding. They will have a point of contact for each vendor as well as for the bride and groom.