Behind the scenes blog posts are annual favorites of mine, and I’m excited to share a peek back at Stephanie Shaul Events wedding days in 2021! With weddings in Raleigh and Charlotte, I was able to produce and bring to life so many stunning, special wedding days for the very best couples.
What a year for weddings, y’all. 2020 was the hardest year imaginable for weddings (as a bride/groom and as a vendor), and 2021 was likely the busiest year imaginable for weddings… most vendors were working double time to make up for all of the canceled and postponed weddings of 2020. I am so proud to be a part of the wedding community and to watch my friends and fellow vendors and creative partners give their all to serve each and every couple with the most love, heart, and talent, even while working around the clock to produce and deliver seamless weddings. Most of my photographer friends are still buried under a mountain of editing (since so much of their work is done post-wedding), and many of them have been shooting sessions every day and upwards of three weddings every weekend. It’s awe-inspiring, crazy, and hopefully the end of the busiest year on record. There’s a fine link to walk and a balance to attempt when describing what this year (and last) has been like for the wedding industry and for small businesses and small business owners! So much of our 2020 work was either canceled altogether or postponed til this year (or clients had two weddings, which is double the work), and this year was overflowing with new bookings/clients and those remaining and carried over from last year. I think we’re all hoping 2022 levels out a bit, because this year’s level of busy-ness and unbelievable hours/amount of work is surely not sustainable. All that to say, it was quite the year!
So many of my 2021 clients were ones that booked me back in 2019, I planned intimate weddings for them in 2020, and they had their large wedding celebration in 2021. I am grateful that I LOVE, love, love all of those clients and their families, because 2+ years is a very, very long time to be working together to plan and produce not one, but two weddings!! I’m sure they’re plenty glad not to see my name pop up in their inbox every day now – ha! I am blessed by the relationships and friendships formed with so many of my amazing brides and grooms (and their families!), which made a very full year more manageable and even fun. And, I have to say, it was so, so special getting to celebrate so many of my couples not just once, but twice. Seeing them thrive in their first year of marriage is a special experience, since we spent so much time together post-first-wedding, and I feel like these 2020 couples have such a unique experience to share with fellow couples and with their own future generations. What a way to share your family’s legacy: by having two weddings! I loved being a part of these stories double-time, seeing these couples renew their vows, seeing them focus on their marriages, and finding ways to celebrate and love on their community, their families, and their friends. It was a very special year, and cheers to that, forever and always.
In many ways, it’s been a very hard and long year to be a wedding planner and small business owner. But as I reflect back on this year, I am also incredibly overwhelmed and deeply grateful for all of the lessons learned, the wonderful and kind couples and families I’ve worked with, the flexibility, resilience, strength, and beauty that I’ve seen firsthand, the wedding industry’s tenacity & heart, the wildly talented vendors and friends I get to serve alongside, and the hope that I know deep in my heart. It felt so good to be back celebrating again, and celebrate, we did!
I gathered some fun behind-the-scenes shots from throughout 2021 that I wanted to share, as they’re a very real-life capture of some fun moments throughout the year on wedding days. I hope you enjoy taking a peek into what my side of wedding days can look like!
A few 2021 wedding day highlights:
- In case you didn’t know, I put in about 400-450 hours of work for each and every wedding (many more, of course, if I’m planning two weddings for a couple!), and wedding days themselves are at least 16 hour work days. I am there first thing in the morning when the first rentals arrive and as setup begins, and I’m the last vendor to leave once everything has been broken down, packed away, and cleaned up. It is a very, very long wedding day where I have to be 100% “on” 100% of the time, but wedding days are simply my favorite. I often feel the weight of the world on my shoulders (or at least the weight of producing a flawless, perfect wedding day for my couples, their families, and their friends!), but I think I thrive the most here. There’s nothing like it!
- I love, love, love those precious quiet moments alone with my brides before their first look or before their walk down the aisle! This is most definitely one of my personal favorite parts of the wedding day. I love being able to love on, encourage, and celebrate my brides, as they’re usually the most nervous at these points. I’ve had some of the sweetest moments, and I cherish these times so much! Several of my couples did a private last dance of the night this year (we did this at our wedding, too!), and I similarly adore witnessing these really intimate, emotional, quiet moments before the excitement of their sparkler exits.
- As always, you can commonly find me on the ground styling invitation suites! The best light is typically by windows in a brightly lit room, and the best vantage point for photographers is to style on the ground. Whatever it takes to be able to beautifully and cohesively style all of the couple’s personal, gorgeous details, paper goods, and meaningful bridal objects. I love when my interns or the photographer snap shots of me in my element on wedding days. I have the deep privilege of getting to work alongside incredibly generous and talented photographers who often come early on weddings days so that they can serve our couples best and so that we would have ample time to style and photograph details together without rushing — such a treat!
- As a wedding planner, I get to do it ALL on a wedding weekend… the glamorous, the not-so-glamorous, the “yes, I will gladly do absolutely anything possible to make that happen or get it done with a smile on my face” girl. Someday I should write a book (or at least a blog post – it’s coming!) on all of the fun, dirty, random, wacky, selfless (I hope!), crazy things that I’ve done on a wedding day to ensure it’s the most joyful, flawless day imaginable. I also got to store 21 Christmas trees in my guest room for a few months for a magical winter wonderland wedding just last week… and I also got to surprise the bride and groom with snow for their last dance of the night! It’s not every day you test out snow machines in your yard and set up 21 Christmas trees in 45 minutes. There’s a lot (a whole lot!) of hard behind-the-scenes work that goes into the execution of a beautiful wedding. But boy oh boy, there are countless special moments that I get to witness firsthand, and I adore my job!
- Reception reveals! After so many months of planning every single detail of a reception, it’s surreal to see it all come to life even better than imagined… and to share that moment with my brides and grooms! I love building this quiet, exciting moment into the timeline of every wedding day so that each couple gets to see their dream reception before it’s filled with all of their guests. It’s so special and so surreal to see it all come to life — and to savor it for a moment without anyone in the space. Priceless! And so many happy tears!
- Can I brag on my utterly phenomenal team of wedding day assistants?! Because they are the very, very best, and I simply could not produce and execute these wedding days without them!!! I do 100% of the planning and design, but I bring 3-4 assistants with me to each and every wedding day, and these incredible ladies are invaluable to me (and to my clients, I know!). They all represent SSE and the mission & values & heart of my business so, so well, and they serve my clients, their families, the guests, and the other vendors with such hard work, such kindness and grace, and with so much dedication. Two of my dear friends from articles club even offered their services at one of my weddings (they thought it sounded fun & exciting!), and they even painted their nails hot pink since my nails are always pink – talk about a dream team! Grace, Lauren, Megan, Ginna, Stacy, Rebekah – thank you, thank you, thank you for being the very best team I could ever ask for or imagine!! I am deeply thankful for each of you, and you are all so appreciated.
- I love getting to work alongside my favorite vendors (and meet new ones too, of course), and this year I had the privilege of spending wedding days with the most talented, kind, gracious, and hard-working men and women in the wedding industry! They’re an endless source of inspiration and encouragement, and they constantly pull off stunning work and serve our clients so well.
- Some of my favorite wedding-related blog posts of 2021 include: 7 years of SSE, trusting your wedding vendors, a marriage Q&A, Caroline & Anders’ intimate wedding (published!), Dani & Bradley’s intimate wedding, dusty blue & green wedding inspiration, and grandmillennial wedding inspiration. Many more wedding day blog posts for my incredible clients are coming soon!
- To the wonderful, resilient, flexible, and understanding couples I had the pleasure of working with this year (and many of you, since 2019!), thank you for reminding me why I love this work, love serving you, and love seeing your marriages begin. These couples chose to focus on their unending love for one another, their marriages, and the bigger picture. They’ve chosen to celebrate their love stories, to be gracious and flexible in the midst of hard decisions, to choose meaning and intention, and to remember what truly matters most. I am deeply grateful for each and every couple and their families as we navigated this year and their weddings. So much love, appreciation, and heartfelt thanks to y’all!
If, at the end of the day, I have glorified God in all that I do and have served my couples to the very best of my abilities, then I will count this year (my 8th in business!) as a win. And I sure am glad celebrations have returned in full force!
Thanks for following along with a fun little peek into what wedding days look like for my team and me! It’s not always glamorous but it’s always SO worth it and incredibly fulfilling, especially after the busy-ness of planning these events. And, as always, follow along on Instagram for a constant look into what’s going on!