Confessions of a Wedding Planner
It's a simple fact -- every little girl dreams about her wedding day. Stacy Simpson just took it a little further. When she was a child, instead of playing house, she played wedding.
It all started when she was a 6-year-old flower girl on her aunt's big day. She practiced tossing petals for weeks in advance and she must have done a good job. As a reward, her aunt gave her the veil after the wedding -- and Simpson and her friends practiced wearing it while walking down the aisle during years of make-believe weddings.
It didn't change much in high school. But instead of acting weddings out, Simpson started subscribing to wedding magazines. One turned into six -- and soon she was a full-blown bridal expert. So no one was surprised when Simpson earned a summer internship with a celebrity wedding planner in Los Angeles, CA.
Weddings Make For Gifts Galore
It was just like she expected. "I loved everything -- picking the flowers, the cake, the invitations," she said. "It never got old."
Simpson's internship was a success, just like her early days of petal tossing. And after graduating from Michigan's Grand Valley State University with a degree in hospitality and tourism management, the celebrity wedding planner hired her as an assistant. Sure, the $30,000 a year gig was a little low in pay -- but Simpson says she got perks that made the 60-plus hour weeks a little easier. She stuck with the low-paying gig for about two years before branching out on her own.
"Brides are generous. They've got this money to throw around," she said. "I got a lot of gifts." Now, in addition to the gifts, the 29-year-old wedding planner brings home a tidy six-figure salary (Compare your salary).
A Few Hundred Here, A Few Hundred There
Where does her six-figure salary come from? Simpson usually earns a flat fee from the bride and groom -- but she makes extra money from all of her vendors, rarely if ever passing discounts on to her clients.
"The perfect wedding cake might be two grand," she said. "But since I use the same bakery [frequently] they might knock off a couple hundred [dollars]. I always keep the difference." Simpson says she's never had a wedding run perfectly smooth, but she'd never let a bride know there was a problem.
"There's no need to bring out a bride-zilla," she said.
"I live for this," she said. "I get to know the brides -- what they do for a living, where they grew up, how they spend their Friday nights. I know what they'll want."
She says the key to successful wedding planning is to never give the bride too many options. "If you know them well enough, you know what they want. There's no point letting them taste carrot cake when you know they want chocolate," she said.
One Last Fling: Grooms Don't Hesitate to Ask
Before you leave your groom alone with the wedding planner, read this. Simpson says that grooms never hesitate to hit on her -- who wouldn't want a final romp in the hay with a delicious wedding planner -- but she never tells the bride.
"The guys are always looking for one last fling. For some reason they think it would be hot to do it with the wedding planner," she said
"If I ever got caught, I'd ruin my reputation," she said. "Absolutely not."
So she keeps her distance from the future grooms. But that doesn't stop her from getting close to the brides.
"I've been to dozens of bachelorette parties. It's hard not to get close to them when you talk to them every day -- sometimes for up to a year," she said.
It's one of those brides who helped Simpson get her own fiancé. "I'm marrying the brother of one of my brides. He asked me to dance at her wedding last year," she said.
When it comes to planning her own wedding, though, she's not so enamored with the idea. "I think we actually might elope," she said. "I've worked at every wedding venue imaginable and I just don't want to get married at work."