1. Introduction: What's your story?
Hi! I'm Kaitlin Wille, owner and chief designer of Barefoot to Bow Tie events in Milwaukee, WI. I was just a young girl when my passion for event planning ignited. I was raised with a mother who is a natural born Martha Stewart, always finding reasons to throw a party! I remember standing next to her in the kitchen on a stool helping prep food, sitting on my dad's shoulders to hang decorations and finding fun and unique ways to make each event more memorable than the last.
My first job was in hospitality at 14 years old at a country club in my hometown. Every job that followed whether it was in a restaurant, at a hotel/resort, a music venue or a fitness club, I was drawn to helping people and sharing in the joyful memories I helped create just added more fuel to the fire. When I saw the euphoria on the couple's faces of the very FIRST wedding I ever planned, I knew I had hit the jackpot, my lifelong dream has begun and I wouldn't be working a day in my life!
I took the plunge to pursue my own business in 2017. Having had almost a decade of event planning experiences, immeasurable ambition and nothing to lose, the decision was a no-brainer. Couples came out of the woodwork, family and friends to start then word spread like wildfire. It is such an honor to be trusted to plan one of the most memorable days of a person's life. The relationship I build with each client during the planning process whether it's three months or 13 months, help give them added comfort and confidence in knowing that without a doubt, they're in the best of hands and every little detail will be attended to on their big day! I take so much pride in my work and I service every single wedding in the exact way I would plan and execute my own, with precision and perfection!
2. What's your experience as a wedding planner? How many weddings have you planned?
Let's see, if I do a little math here, I would venture a guess as to say it's somewhere between 200-300 weddings over the last 10 years. I would love to say that every single one was executed to perfection, but we all know that hiccups arise and there are unexpected things that can happen. As event planners and problem solvers, we do the best we can in the industry to maintain our composure, put out the fire ASAP, and find the best course of action to remedy the situation before anyone notices anything was wrong ;)
3. What sorts of services do you offer (month-of coordination, full-service planning, or à la carte planning)?
From birthdays and anniversaries to bar/bat mitzvahs and holiday parties, all of our services are customized based on exactly what each client needs. Our three basic packages are month-of coordination, partial-service planning to give couples more guidance yet let them hold the reigns, then full-service planning for those who just don't have the time to plan the wedding of their dreams or would prefer to entrust and expert to get the job done better than they know they could do it themselves.
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 pricing is based on a flat fee. If after a consultation with a couple we discuss different elements that need to be added in addition to what's currently included in each package, a la carte packaging comes into play. We'll do anything from helping plan the rehearsal dinner to a post-wedding brunch and everything in between and all of that can be accounted for and added on.
For 2020 and 2021, it was almost a tie between our month of coordination and our middle service package, but 2022 is taking us by surprise. Our full service planning has taken the lead. More and more couples are looking to have someone take the reigns and managing the planning process for them. Perhaps work requiring more hours or maybe it's the added stress of planning on top of their busy family and social life, but it appears people are finally realizing that they just want to enjoy the planning process, make decisions when asked to and just show up on the big day knowing everything will be taken care of for them! It's a win-win situation!
**Remember, we as planners are there for you from day one, to help pull it all together, create that aesthetic you've been envisioning and are there for you on your big day for at a minimum 10-12 hours to execute everything so you can just relax and soak it all in. Compare that to your photographers, DJs and florists who work their butt off for 1-2 days of work, but haven't been there from the start, I promise you we are worth every penny! :D
5. Who else is in your team and how many people on your staff will be at the wedding?
I am the sole full-time employee with my company; however, I have a solid team of people who are there for me through thick and thin if asked. I only take a limited number of weddings a year so I can really focus my time, energy and detail on those particular weddings. Our pricing may appear higher, but it's because I am now able to dedicate that much more time to each particular event.
If it happens to be a larger wedding, a wedding with a very short setup timeframe, one where a quick room flip is involved or there are just lots of different elements and moving parts, I will gladly call up one of my teammates to be an extra set of hands to help get things done more efficiently. I would trust any of them to execute my own wedding in a heartbeat!
6. What happens if you're sick or otherwise unable to be there on the day of the wedding?
I'm one of those odd creatures who gets sick once every 7 years. Knock on wood, I've never been sick for a wedding or unable to make it for any reason, but SHOULD something unfortunate happen, again I have an amazing team of coordinators who I would trust to facilitate any event. I'm still the main planner who has been working with each couple since day 1 (although a 2nd coordinator is always kept in the loop) so should I be laying in my bed with the covers up to my chin with icy hot on my chest, sipping on a cup of bone broth, I'll still be there with the phone by my side to answer any questions the moment it rings!
7. How many meetings will you have with the couple and how will they be involved?
The number of meetings depends on the final package purchased. Every wedding will always come with one complimentary walk-through of the reception space so I can get a feel for how the event will flow and how everything will be laid out.
I'm happy to answer questions via email or a quick phone call at any time, but attendance to meetings begins with the middle package. If you want me there for every single vendor meeting, I am happy to be there for every single meeting and I am more than willing to create a custom package to reflect that. Almost anything is possible so all it takes is some good communication and we'll be there for you, through thick and thin.
8. Will you handle the invitations, from wording and ordering to the addressing and mailing? What about guest list coordination and RSVPs?
I am not a graphic designer; however, I do have some graphic design experience so I'm happy to create some basic invitations/RSVPs, signage, menu cards, etc. There are additional fees for the paper and shipment directly to our client and from there they are able to address and send out at their discretion. If they would like us to address and mail their invites, we are happy to do so, and again this can be figured into a custom package.
Our full service package includes RSVP management to an extent, whether it's online RSVP or physical RSVPs. We have an RSVP template that we send to our clients that makes it very easy to keep track of all guest responses, entrée requests, and dietary restrictions. Clients may also use this shared spreadsheet to designate seating arrangements. The more detail compiled into one location the better the result and ease of access for all.
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?
We are happy to find and recommend vendors for our clients. We will work directly with vendors and rental companies to order the items our clients need and negotiate accordingly. We will read through the contracts to make sure everything is kosher, but the client will be the one to sign the contract.
No matter which package is purchased, we always contact our client's vendors and email out a timeline in which we request a return response confirming they have received it and agree with everything on it. We will make sure each vendor has the information they need so they can execute their services successfully. Team work makes the dream work!
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?
One of the first things I do after a couple signs by the X is create a shared document with a generic timeline on it and as the weeks and months go on, details get nailed down and everything gets finalized. Our more detailed timeline will list more vendor specific information (arrival times and departure times, setup and teardown times, etc). I'll cut out a lot of information and leave only the information that pertains to the bridal party. 1-2 weeks prior to the wedding, that timeline will be as close to concrete as possible then both copies will get sent out to the appropriate parties and can be distributed accordingly by the couple.
I always have the contact information for someone (maid of honor, best man, mother, father, etc) who will be with each the bride and groom so I can stay in direct contact with them all day, but without bothering the couple. They know they they can reach out to me with any questions and I will check in on them throughout the day to ensure things stay on track. I am in close contact as well with the photographer because their timeline is just as important for the day to flow smoothly.