I wish I knew that reaching out to other planners is invaluable in this industry.

Meredith Corning

Owner/Wedding Planner

Location: Rogers, Arkansas

Photo Cred: Art/Photography by Sydney Rasch

Meredith Events is a wedding planning and consulting atelier based in Northwest Arkansas. Meredith Events has built a distinctive brand and a reputation for creating conceptualized editorials and curated bespoke events.

With a background in fashion editorial and styling, Meredith Events approaches every project through that of a lens of an artist and writer, visualizing a narrative that speaks both to the Renaissance age and modern southern hospitality. The work continues to break convention and focus on the story, the emotions, and the style of their clients.

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve ever faced while planning an event and how did you overcome it?

We were on location for a wedding in Vernantes, France at a chateau in the Loire Valley region. The bride had been dreaming of an outdoor reception and although we had a rain plan, she was not keen on it at all. Well, lo and behold, the day of the wedding the forecast was calling for a 60% chance of rain. She made the decision to set up the full reception on the front lawn as planned, so we did. This set up was a full set up of tables, chairs, tablecloths, place settings, silk runners, candelabras, florals…the works.

About one hour prior to her ceremony, it rained…and rained…and rained. Everything got wet and after it calmed, my team and the chateau staff began moving everything inside, drying it off, placing tablecloths and runners into the very small dryers on-site (in fact, only one tablecloth would fit per dryer).

We held the ceremony in the drizzling rain in a dense forest as planned, while the full reception was being moved and reset. Guests came inside the parlor for cocktails and hors d’oeuvres after the ceremony while we finished arranging the reception for dinner.

I should mention in the midst of all the running around, large grounds to walk to and fro, massive setup and rearranging, I sprained my ankle, which swelled to the size of a golf ball.

All turned out lovely and the images are still some of my favorites from our portfolio, but it was the only moment I have ever had at a wedding where I felt myself starting to cry by overwhelm. I held back the tears and soldiered on, swollen ankle and all.

Nothing scares me anymore. Bring it on!

What are 2 trends in the event planning industry that you’re excited about?

I started a virtual planning package three years ago and it is becoming more and more common now, especially in light of our current pandemic situation. Virtual planning streamlines processes and I am truly excited more engaged couples are opting for this option.

Design-wise, I am happy to finally see some color returning. Ivory and greenery dominated the past few years and while it is beautiful, color gives me life!

What are some tips for creating an elegant and memorable event on a tight budget?

Hire a wedding or event planner! We know all the secrets. That photographer you love that costs $7,000, while I am sure is worth every penny, may be out of budget for you. As a professional wedding planner, I know who may have a similar style for half the price. This is just one example of how a planner can save you money…we have all kinds of tricks up our sleeves.

We want your wedding or event to be just as beautiful as you do – the outcome reflects on us as well.

If you had unlimited resources, what would your dream client and event look like?

Oh, tough question! Well, I love all my clients, but I guess my dream client would have some unique visions, be willing to take risks, and allow me to take the reins on design with no budgetary constraints. We all want that, right?

I would love to incorporate holograms, large-scale ice sculptures, and giant topiaries curated to reflect the couple’s personalities (like Edward Scissorhand style!).

How important are your relationships with vendors and what are some ways that you successfully cultivate and ensure good rapport?

Very important, but not so important that I don’t speak my mind when needed if that makes sense. I base all my relationships with vendors on work ethic and hope they do the same for me. My relationships with vendors are not surface or whether or not they enjoy having coffee with me. It is a mutual respect for one another because we work hard together to make our clients happy.

What advice would you give someone who needs to plan a fundraiser but isn’t sure where to start?

Create an outline. I love outlines!

Start with the basics: goals, dates, venues you desire, partnerships you already have established…etc. Create a vision for how you would like to present partnership opportunities to other vendors who may be able to help you cut costs by becoming a sponsor of the event.

Everybody likes to do nice things, but it takes a great pitch to secure the right people, so don’t start asking for favors until you have a solid “why” and plan in place.

What’s the most exciting thing on the horizon for you personally or professionally?

Professionally, we have some amazing weddings coming up that I am thrilled to execute!

Personally, my hubby and I are planning to build our dream home in our dream town within the next couple of years.

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 started out by volunteer event planning for nonprofits. One year, I planned a boutique bridal show and partnered with a local nonprofit. We asked couples who attended to bring gently used formal dresses to donate at the door, which would be handed over to a nonprofit called The Glass Slipper Closet. The Glass Slipper Closet provides prom dresses to underprivileged youth.

This event got me hooked on weddings and I eventually became a wedding planner.

What’s the first event you can ever remember planning and how did it go?

The first event I held was to collect pillowcases for a group of local fashion designers I had assembled who would transform the materials into little dresses for girls living in Africa. It went amazing! We sent 100 dresses that year to Africa and Korto Momolu from Project Runway even attended our event.

What are some things you wished you knew before starting your businesses?

I wish I knew that reaching out to other planners is invaluable in this industry. We are all going through so many similar ups and downs and can be a big help and support to one another. Community over competition, but sometimes you have to make the first move, so don’t be shy to reach out.

What’s the most surprising or unusual request you have ever received from a client and were you able to fulfill it?

I plead the fifth!

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