Laura Ferrick is the creative genius and dreamer behind each event at Eclectic Affairs. Out of her love of art and design paired with a clear opportunity to create real joy, Eclectic Affairs was created. She values each relationship she's able to build with her clients. Laura and her team take their work very seriously and want their clients to remember the planning stage of each event as fun. At Eclectic Affairs, every client deserves to experience an event they will never forget on their budget.
What inspired you to enter the wedding industry?
I've always been a very creative person with the ability to see any space for what it could be. I started dabbling in creating event designs for organizations I volunteered with and then discovered that I was passionate about creating new designs, each with its own unique style to fit the client. I'm also a very organized person who loves a challenging deadline. I decided after a few years of planning for personal pleasure that I'd dive into event planning after meeting a local planner who took me under her wing as she retired.
What inspired you to start Eclectic Affairs?
I began working on events on my own with the intent of working with a minimal amount of clients a year. I was excited to create what I felt my clients were envisioning and found it exhilarating when their excitement met mine. It was exciting to design something creative and unique for each couple but there was something more. It was being a part of such an intimate day, to build a relationship with them and their families. Within two years I decided that this was my passion and Eclectic Affairs was born. It has had its challenges, especially this year. Yet, with each challenge comes something wonderful and I would not trade a day.
If you could change one thing about the weddings and special events industry, what would it be?
As I look at how this industry has grown and changed over the years, I think about how we could improve it. I would love to see more local networking between event professionals that are not focused on training but simply sharing. We work very hard and spend a lot of time training, we need to be social with each other. I think it would work to build solid friendships in the industry and tamper down any feelings of competitiveness. I hold my peers in very high regard, I couldn’t create all of this without them. I wonder sometimes if we tore back the fear of intimidation some professionals seem to feel if we could open doors to new levels of creativity.
How does using Aisle Planner help you deliver an excellent client experience?
When I first began using Aisle Planner, I was immediately excited. I had been creating different documents in the office to piece together a professional way to include clients in the planning documents. It was not working well and I was exhausted from it. Let’s be real, we are creatives and we detest paperwork. We have ideas to bring to life! I have the ability now to create a lead, send out a contract, send out invoices, and create a planning arena all in one. Aisle Planner has completely transformed the experience for my clients as we begin working together as well as allowing me to focus on the design of the event. I now use it for weddings, conferences, fundraisers, and any event in between.
What's your favorite Aisle Planner feature?
I have the next six months at home to really dig deep into the features of Aisle Planner but right now my favorite feature is the contract and document template area. I can create anything there and the ability to have clients give a signature online has been a game-changer. This was a tough question because the editable checklist has been a wonderful asset to my clients and to me.
What would you tell someone who is thinking about becoming a wedding and event planner?
If you want to truly be a part of this industry and creative community then you must jump in with your whole heart. We are not just here to coordinate the details and design a beautiful setting. We are here to listen to the personal challenges the couple may be dealing with. We are here to deliver the dream but also to mop the floor, help other vendors, solve any disagreements, crack a joke to calm the mood, whatever it takes to assure our clients never feel the stress of any part of the day. We are very personally invested. If you are ready for all of this then I say be sure to work under a mentor but jump in. We welcome the highly creative, giving people who are truly passionate about this industry. This is an industry built with people leading with their hearts, there is no other way.
What do you think will change about the weddings and special events space over the next five years?
Before the onset of the pandemic this year, I was seeing a trend toward crafting more of a guest experience during receptions and conferences. This included separate areas for things such as palm readers, elaborate games, hand-rolled cigar bars, and other fun options. The guests were able to leave feeling as if they had a totally new experience than what they were expecting. I am actually seeing that become a staple now with COVID restrictions because it allows guests to socially distance themselves and have fun. We had to fill the time in with something besides a dance floor, we had to create a complete experience for the entire schedule. I do not think any of us saw this year’s challenges coming but I am very proud of the way the event community has handled itself. I think in the next few years you will see a shift to more elopements with a large focus on streaming for family and friends. This will also mean clients for the wedding industry will want a very elaborate setting for the elopements, with a focus on an experience unique to the couple. I believe the business event industry will shift toward incorporating more electronic-based experiences which will allow for social distancing in the event that they need it. We will adapt and create a way for events to continue.
What’s your personal philosophy on becoming a great wedding and event planner?
My personal philosophy is, each client needs to be personally invested in. Each event should capture who they are and they should be able to see the love you have for this industry in the smallest of details as they enjoy their event. You can only do this by leading with the heart.
What lights your creative fire?
I am asked often what creates the fire to create as the years go by. How do I create something fresh and new after so many years of creating? I am actually very inspired by architecture and discovering new places. There is generally something in the lines of a building or a texture of a new place that grabs my attention. I get very excited when I accidentally stumble upon a color combination in a new place or see a new way to layout a room because of a space I see.
Is there anything you are particularly excited about working on this year?
I am working on a book at the moment that I have been taking notes on for twenty years. With the downtime this year, I have been able to really organize those notes and begin creating something that resembles a book. I am very excited about this project.
Just for Fun
What’s the most used tool in your emergency kit?
The most used tool in my kit is by far, glue dots. We joke about the sheer number of these little dots we go through in a season. They are used for everything from a dress that needs a little hold, to keep from having a wardrobe malfunction, to keeping place cards in their spot. I do wonder sometimes if I am the only coordinator out there using these things everywhere.
I’m dying to design a wedding or event in…
I am dying to do an event in Fort Point San Francisco. I visit this location constantly and sketch out ideas of what I could do there. It is a very beautiful brick structure directly under the Golden Gate Bridge which is my very favorite city. I am not just imagining but planning to do it somehow. I made a list three years ago of places I would love to create in and as of October of last year, I completed the list. I was truly happy about that but now I must create a new list. An event at Fort Point will be at the top of that list!
What’s one trend you hope to see more of?
I would love to see a trend of clients having a more intimate experience rather than inviting large numbers. I do see it more and more lately, and these events are always a great experience. Everyone feels like they have personal time with people and they leave feeling excited.
What’s the coolest thing you’ve ever created for a wedding or event?
We created a surprise party in 2018 for a client who had everything. We were able to create this over-the-top party which included bringing in guests from all over the country. We had no budget limits which enabled us to create an entire evening of fun for everyone. We created this lush, fun party that the guest of honor could not believe. He was stunned as he was lead in by two flappers in his arms. Two live bands played through the night as guests enjoyed a full casino, custom cigar bar, a full red carpet experience, and several nice gifts as they enjoyed themselves. It was a night to remember!
During your time as a wedding and event professional, what’s the biggest mistake you made and how did you recover from it?
I love telling the story of the biggest mistake I made and it is a common one. I decided to plan a vow renewal for a long-time client. I decided I could also be the florist, the video technician, and the decorator. It was early on in my career and a truly bad idea that I never repeated. On the day of the event as the temperature went well above one hundred degrees, things began to become stressful. My staff was overwhelmed and not very happy with me for giving them more tasks than they could possibly accomplish properly. As I finished the wedding cake and moved it to the walk-in freezer, I dropped it. I was beside myself and I knew the stress of the day and this cake on the floor was my fault. Thankfully, I am a mad baker with cakes in my freezer and gallons of buttercream. It took two hours but I built another cake and swore I would lay in bed and drink wine until I floated away the next day. The evening was a complete success and not one person outside of my staff knew about the cake or the stress. That day I learned a valuable lesson about what my role was as the coordinator and just how dangerous and overworked staff can be when pushed. I adore them for sticking it out with me and I have never attempted that again.
Want to find out more about Laura and her work with Eclectic Affairs? Visit their website: www.eclecticaffairs.com