Jodell Larkin is a wedding planner and Missouri native, serving the St. Louis Metro Region. She is happily married to David Larkin and has two married children with families of their own.
Jodell graduated with honors from Lindenwood University in 1994 with a BA in Marketing. She spent some time in the retail industry, most recently with IBM. She spent 16 years as a senior contract negotiator and administrator.
Jodell received her Wedding and Event Planning Certification from the Wedding Planning Institute, located in Roseville, CA. With this certification, she has the knowledge and tools to provide the quality and details needed for a memorable event. Jodell is an active member of the Association of Bridal Consultants, adding to her knowledge of the wedding industry by attending several events per year.
Throughout her career, Jodell has belonged to many for-profit and non-profit organizations, which provided her numerous opportunities to plan large scale events. With the experience and success of these events, this led to her decision to enroll and complete a superior wedding and event planning certification program. She is excited to be your wedding planner for your big day!
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve ever faced while planning an event and how did you overcome it?
The largest challenge I have ever faced is actually the Covid-19 crisis. The virus has tapped my resources in many ways. Besides working with my May through July couples in postponing weddings, I’ve been contacting vendors and venues to firm up new dates. This is an ongoing process since we don’t know if our fall weddings will also need to be postponed. I’ve found it to be very time consuming, but I think will be well worth it in the end. Besides getting new contracts or addendums from vendors, there are several other details that need discussion with my couples.
I also started a new activity by touching base with all my couples once a week to “check-in”. I basically want to calm their nerves, get updates, and answer any questions they may have. They all seem very appreciative of my new process.
How important are your relationships with vendors and what are some ways that you successfully cultivate and ensure good rapport?
Working with vendors has proven to be one of the most beneficial opportunities within the wedding industry. When I have a client who selects a larger package, I help choose most of their vendors. This sometimes gives me the opportunity to choose from my selective group of vendors. I typically like working with vendors from ABC or vendors that I have worked with before. I’m always open to learning about new vendors since this gives me a chance to start a new relationship and see if they are a good fit for my couples.
When attending Wedding Shows, Association of Bridal Consultants events, and other industry events, I collect information about vendors to add to my files for reference. When a client asks about a particular category, I pull information and tell them what I know about the vendors. I am also in several on-line vendor groups where we discuss different opportunities to help each other when a problem arises. This helps in forming and maintaining a successful relationship with several vendors in the surrounding area.
What advice would you give someone who needs to plan a fundraiser but isn’t sure where to start?
Before I started my business, I worked with several for-profit and non-profit companies that had annual fundraisers. While I had a lead role with the American Sewing Guild, we scheduled fundraisers throughout the year. I now work with a couple of main fundraisers per year, sitting on their committees giving them advice.
When starting on a fundraiser, your main people involved need to sit down and determine a date, time, place, theme, and how to gather helpers. Basically, you need to figure out the “who, what, where, when, and how”. This may take some research, especially, the where, since you will be trying to book a venue.
The next step is to develop committees. You will need people for marketing/advertising, figuring out how you will raise money, (i.e. large gifts, silent auction, etc.), entertainment, food, etc. You will need to have several other committees, but these are some of the main committees for a fundraiser.
A fundraiser should be started at least a year before your scheduled event, meeting on a monthly basis. It is also beneficial to have a follow-up meeting after all funds have been collected, to discuss if the fundraiser was successful and what changes need to be made for future events.
What inspired you to launch your own company in the event industry? How long did it take from initially having the idea to setting up and starting to attract a client base?
I’ve always loved weddings! When I was a little girl, I used to cut pictures of brides from the newspaper and kept them in a shoebox for scrapbooks. As I moved into adulthood, my love for weddings progressed to helping brides make their wedding day as beautiful and stress-free as possible. I took a certification course, which provided the knowledge from starting a business to planning every detail of a wedding.
After graduation from my course, I made a major move in obtaining a company to create my website. This is a must in this industry. I joined the Association of Bridal Consultants, which gave me the confidence to do my job well. Working with other vendors in the industry also gave me the ability to meet other people in the wedding field.
This whole process took a couple of years to really get established within the St. Louis wedding industry.
What’s the most surprising or unusual request you have ever received from a client and were you able to fulfill it?
A couple of years ago I had a very unusual “Beetle Juice” wedding. The entire wedding was one special request after the other. My couple had a theater background, so was very creative. Many of their decorations were handmade, which needed extra time for execution. They had the “Beetle Juice” house as their alter (done in plywood) with sandbags to hold it up. The entire venue was decorated in handmade paper flowers, large and small. We had flowers at the entrance, around each table centerpiece, and at each place setting. The card box was the cutest handmade “Beetle Juice” three-tier hatbox, with various clay bugs attached. The dessert and candy table matched the theme perfectly.
But the most challenging part of the day was the bride. She was on medication for fainting when she got nervous. As the planner, it was my duty to make sure she took her medication and I was to look over her, among all else during the day.
I think everything turned out amazing since I got a huge hug at the end of the day. All in a day’s work, I guess!