10 Questions with Amber Martinez

WeddingRule Interviewed one of the most passionate and highly sought-after wedding planners in Colorado, Amber Martinez of Out West Events. Colorado Springs based Amber is the founder and owner of Out West Events.

Out West Events

Planner - Amber Martinez

10 Questions with Amber Martinez

1. Introduction: What's your story?

Hey! I'm Amber, founder and head planner at Out West Events. For the past five years, I have been planning events in the higher education industry: planning and executing large-scale events like New Student Orientation, Family Weekend, and alumni events at a number of different institutions across the country.

I've always had a passion for event planning, but in 2020 I spent a lot of my COVID-quarantine down time planning my own wedding. I loved absolutely every second of the planning process. In fact, I found much of it to be cathartic: checking items off my to-do list, creating something totally unique to myself and my husband, and making it all "our own". Then, August came and went, my husband and I said our "I do's", and with no in-person events to plan for my full-time job, I found myself in need of something to occupy my time that would keep me motivated. Then, one day on the beach during our honeymoon in Mexico (with a jalapeno margarita in hand, or course) it dawned on me that I could actually turn wedding planning into a career and do everything I loved so much about planning my own wedding ALL THE TIME, but with other people! Literally, there couldn't be a more perfect job for me, right!?

So - I came home from Mexico, messaged a couple of planners in the area, and found someone who was open to meeting with a total stranger just to chat through how they got started and the rest is history. I hired a business coach who walked me through the process of starting my own business and I have loved every second of it since!

2. What's your experience as a wedding planner? How many weddings have you planned?

I officially started this business in October of 2020 with a goal of planning 5 weddings in 2021 - "just to get my feet wet". Here we are one year later and I have 15 weddings under my belt plus so much more knowledge and confidence in planning than I did a year ago today.

To be honest, my experience in wedding planning before starting Out West Events was minimal. Sure, I'd planned my own, but that was the only leg I had to stand on as far as wedding-specific experience goes. However, with years of large-scale event planning under my belt, I felt pretty confident that the skillset I'd built upon in higher education would transfer well to weddings and overall I would say that assumption was pretty accurate.

That being said, there were still so many things I needed to learn about weddings. For me, the best way to do that is to learn by experience and to learn from other folks who are great at their jobs. Thankfully, I was able to join the team at Creekside Event Center in Colorado Springs as a contracted coordinator and learned from some well-experienced planners who took me under their wing and showed me the ropes. If anything, working with Creekside gave me the confidence to spread my wings and do the work on my own. I had my "a-ha" moment after my first solo wedding and realized that this is the kind of work I was made for. I truly never realized I could spend every day LOVING what I do until I started diving into weddings!

3. What sorts of services do you offer (month-of coordination, full-service planning, or à la carte planning)?

Out West Events offers full planning and design, partial planning, and two month of coordination package options. We also offer a la carte services that include: rehearsal dinner planning, proposal planning, bachelor + bachelorette party planning, and bridal shower planning as well.

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?

Our Full Planning and Design Package is our most popular package offering. This our most "hands-on" package and it includes:
Initial planning & consultation meeting to identify vision, budget, and needs
Unlimited check-ins thereafter
Design assistance: includes wedding day vision board, theme, and color palette
Vendor and venue sourcing, interviewing, contract review, negotiation, and vendor correspondence
Budget projections, management, and payment tracking
Custom monthly checklists to help couples stay on track through the planning process
*Includes full Premium Month of Coordination package

Our Partial Planning Package includes:
Initial planning & consultation meeting to identify vision, budget, and needs
Unlimited correspondence and consultation thereafter
Vendor sourcing, interviewing, contract review, negotiation, and correspondence for your choice of up to 3 vendor categories
Custom monthly checklists and frequent check-ins to help couples stay on track through the planning process
*Includes full Premium Month of Coordination package

Our Premium Month of Coordination Package includes:
Access to our preferred vendor list upon booking
Access to our planning checklist upon booking
Planning meeting (45 days out) to discuss day-of needs
Detailed day-of timeline for bridal party and vendors
Customized checklist of to-do items
Main point of contact for all vendors
10 hours of support on your wedding day
Manage all deliveries and set up for vendors
Set up and breakdown of wedding day decor pieces
Day of timeline management
Wedding rehearsal coordination
Vendor payment and tip distribution
Collection of gifts and cards to be placed in a safe and secure location
Full access to day-of bridal emergency kit

And last but not least, our Standard Month of Coordination Package includes:
Planning meeting (45 days out) to discuss day-of needs
Detailed day-of timeline for bridal party and vendors
Customized checklist of to-do items
Main point of contact for all vendors
6 hours of support on your wedding day (additional hours can be added on at a rate of $50/hour)
Manage all deliveries and set up for vendors
Set up of wedding day décor pieces
Day of timeline management leading up to the reception (throughout the night if additional hours are added)
Wedding rehearsal coordination
Vendor payment and tip distribution
Full access to day-of bridal emergency kit

Folks who book any of our packages pay a $250 deposit once the contract has been signed, then the final balance one month prior to their wedding date. Each package is offered at a flat fee that may include an additional cost for overnight accommodation depending upon how many miles from my home-base their wedding will take place.

5. Who else is in your team and how many people on your staff will be at the wedding?

At the current moment I am a one woman show - but not for long!

Out West Events is hoping to grow it's team by 1-2 coordinators in time for the 2022 wedding season and I can't wait to add some new creative minds to the team! By 2022, we hope to have a minimum of two staff members on site at each wedding.

6. What happens if you're sick or otherwise unable to be there on the day of the wedding?

Right now - I am lucky to say that I have an AMAZING network of other planners and coordinators in my back pocket who I can call upon that are willing to jump in as needed. While I haven't had to call upon anyone just yet - I have a list of go-to gals on hand in the event that something were to prevent me from being present at a wedding.

However, as we add to the team over the next few months, we will have on-call coordinators who can jump right in when we need them to run the show on the day of!

7. How many meetings will you have with the couple and how will they be involved?

For my full-planning and design and partial planning couples, we typically meet on a bi-weekly basis to check-in and keep things rolling on their checklist. That being said, I like to give my couples the option of how frequently they'd like to meet. Some folks who are planning their weddings on a shorter timeline like to meet weekly, and others who have a year or two to plan like to meet once a month. Not every couple is going to have the same needs and we are fully aware of that. Frequency of meetings is something we always discuss from the beginning and is something we are flexible in changing throughout the process as well!

Vendor sourcing is strongly based on a number of factors, but most importantly the couples style and budget. I have a list of preferred vendors that continues to grow who I know are reliable and amazing at what they do, and each come in at different price ranges and styles as well. Before reaching out to any vendors, I will send options to the couples first to see what they love the most, then we go from there.

As far as communication with vendors goes, I always go back to the mindset that not every couple has the same needs - so the way in which couples are involved is fully dependent upon what they are looking for. If couples want to be copied on every single email I send to their vendors, I am happy to do that! If they'd rather be left out of the back-end details and communications, I am happy to do that as well! Each couples experience in working with Out West Events is truly tailored to their working style and their needs.

For the folks who select our "month of" packages, we will have one meeting about 45 days prior to their wedding date to chat through all of their day of needs, at least one check in before their wedding day, then we join them for the rehearsal and on the day of their wedding as well.

8. Will you handle the invitations, from wording and ordering to the addressing and mailing? What about guest list coordination and RSVPs?

At this current moment, we do not offer invitation management as part of our packages. However, this is a service we hope to add as Out West Events continues to grow in the near future!

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?

Absolutely! Especially for those couples who work with us for Full Planning and Design or Partial Planning, this is all information that will be coordinated on our end so the couple doesn't have to stress over those details.

For couples who select a Month of Coordination package - Out West Events will work to build their full day-of timeline based on what is included in vendor contracts. Once that timeline is approved by the couple, we handle all communication with each vendor moving forward to coordinate delivery, set up, and strike times as it is written in their contract!

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! Timelines are included in every package we offer. Couples and vendors will receive a bridal party timeline (one for the bride, one for the groom), a full vendor timeline, and a complete day-of timeline that combines everything into one extremely detailed document. Each timeline includes a time, a "task", a location, and who needs to be involved in that task - whether it be someone from the bridal party, a particular vendor, or both.

On the day of the wedding, I carry that timeline with me everywhere I go and turn it into a checklist. It can be so easy for time to get away from folks on the day of a wedding, so my role is to complete frequent check-ins throughout the day with each vendor to make sure things are moving on schedule. If things are falling behind, we are here to brainstorm how to get us back on track and ready to walk down that aisle on time!



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