Advice: Make It Work

Be sure you have a solid plan of action for keeping the big day on track

0113-advice-sheenaSheena kalso

Owner, The Invisible Hostess 

After juggling host and guest-of-honor roles one too many times, Sheena Kalso started the Invisible Hostess in 2005 so others wouldn’t have to run around behind the scenes at their celebrations. Kalso’s day-of coordinating and staffing services allow couples to make big-picture decisions about planning and décor before passing the reins to her team, who see to it that the ideas are perfectly implemented.


Q | What do you say to couples considering asking friends or relatives to take on coordination duties? 

A | Friends and family are exactly that, friends and family. They shouldn’t have the responsibility of keeping the wedding on schedule. The coordinator also will not have emotional ties to various family dynamics, allowing a professional distance between the two.


Q | What sort of couples need a wedding coordinator instead of a full-on wedding planner? 

A | Wedding planners are highly involved in the entire process of producing the ceremony and reception. Couples who don’t have time to devote to planning, don’t have many strong visions for décor and timing, or just need someone else to take initiative should consider this option. Wedding coordinators, on the other hand, make sure that the couple’s plans run smoothly. They stay out of the decision-making and design process, entering in about two months prior to the wedding to familiarize themselves with what the couple envisions. I recommend a day-of coordinator for those couples who want full control of the planning and décor process, but don’t want the day-of responsibility.


Coordinators stay out of the design process but familiarize themselves with the vision to make sure plans run smoothly.


Q | One time-consuming aspect of going DIY is handling vendor selection and hiring. What advice do you have for couples who are daunted by this task?

A | When it comes to service staff for the reception, ask if the company’s teams are in-house or outsourced help. Consistent, in-house training makes a big difference. Check to see if the vendors you’re considering are real experts; do they offer helpful planning tools? If they do, check to make sure the literature isn’t just copied and pasted from some other source. And always read reviews online. If you see a distasteful write-up from a past client, ask the company what they did to rectify that particular situation.


Currently Crushing On

Colorful dresses
I wear black all the time when working, so when I’m a guest I like to be as colorful as possible.

Classic party libations
A dirty martini

Energetic live entertainment
Cover bands allow guests to connect to the familiarity of the music while feeding off of the energy of the band.

0113-advice-adreanneAdreanne Lewis

Pan Pacific Hotel’s senior catering sales manager

Wedding numbers have doubled each year at the Pan Pacific Hotel in South Lake Union, so senior catering sales manager Adreanne Lewis must be doing something right. Having personally walked through the planning process with each of the property’s couples during the past four years, the Washington State University alumna has a lot to say about staging modern weddings and organizing seamlessly beautiful events.


Q | What are the first questions you ask couples during the initial meeting?

A | We like to know if they want their ceremony and reception at the same location, how many people they’re expecting, their ideal catering setup—brunch, appetizers, dinner—and what date they’re hoping for. We like to know the budget also, and if there are constraints I typically suggest Fridays or Sundays, when our rates and fees are lower.


Q | If a couple has creative ideas for stylistic themes or spatial use, how is that accommodated within the hotel’s space?

A | Pan Pacific’s walls and décor have a neutral beige finish, so a variety of colors work well for decorations, flowers, and centerpieces. The spaces available—a large ballroom, a side room for the ceremony or cocktail hour, and a private outdoor terrace—allow for easy customization for each element of the celebration. For example, if a couple wants the ceremony and the reception in the ballroom, our seasoned staff rearranges the space behind closed doors while the party continues in the side room, making an easy and stress-free transition.


Communication between outside planners and in-house coordinators spares family any issues on the big day.


Q | What do couples need to know about working with in-house caterers?

A | Pan Pacific Seattle uses Seastar, our in-house restaurant, exclusively for all event catering. Familiarity between the restaurant and hotel staff makes things really easy. And if special cuisine accommodations are desired or required—such as kosher ingredients or an emphasis on ethnic specialties—Seastar works to accommodate. On the other hand, we’re not limited; if a couple wants special wine or customized desserts, outside vendors can be used.


Q | Do couples need to hire an outside planner when booking with venues that have a coordinator working in house?

A | Yes. That way the communication goes directly between the vendor and the venue’s point person, sparing the bride, groom, or family members from having to deal with distracting details or issues during the event.


Currently Crushing On

Cool color palettes
Gray with mints or coral. It looks modern and can be used year-round.

Literary references
Art deco décor schemes; it’s all about the return of The Great Gatsby.

Haute cuisine reception menus
Seastar’s signature ahi tuna deviled eggs, sprinkled with truffle oil.