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Ask an Expert: Celebrity Event Planners JOWY Productions

Jodi Cohen and Sarah Lowy have both been in the event planning business for a combined 19 years and have now combined forces and created JOWY Productions. They focus on created memorable events that are affordable and to your exact liking. During their careers in the event industry, Jodi and Sarah produced notable events all over the world including: Opening of the Atlantis Dubai Hotel and Jumeirah Island in Dubai; The opening of the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa; Oprah Winfrey’s Legend’s Ball; Cash Money Records’ Grammy Party; Mattel’s Barbie’s 50th Anniversary/Birthday Party; Royal wedding for 2000 in Qatar; The Cove Atlantis hotel opening in Bahamas and many more. Today we ask them about how they got into the business, why, and things all about-to-be brides should be aware of before the big day.

Marriage.com: Why did you get into the business?

JOWY Productions: Both of us were working in other industries when we realized our passion was the event production side of what we were doing, where our creative juices could meet our business interests. There is something about watching an event come to fruition, after seeing it for months on paper. It’s a magical feeling watching all the elements fall into place and beyond rewarding.

Marriage.com: What’s the most rewarding thing about your job?

JOWY Productions: Creating a wedding from a bride and groom’s vision. When a bride come up to us at the end of her wedding and says, “Thank you, this is exactly what I always wanted. Everything was perfect and I had the best time of my life” we feel so lucky to have been a part of such a momentous event.

Marriage.com:  What’s the key to planning a meal that everyone will enjoy?

 JOWY Productions: What are the bride and groom’s favorite foods? Each element of one’s wedding should represent the “loves” of a couple. Serving unique favorites in conjunction with crowd pleasers are sure to create a menu that everyone will enjoy and remember. If oysters are a treat for the couple, create an eye catching oyster display, perhaps paired with vodka or Champagne (and note that Prosecco is a very good, less expensive bubbly to serve during a wedding). Keep appetizers fun and interesting; we like to offer one main, elegant protein as an entrée and have a non-meat and vegetarian option available for guests’ who would like the second option. You can serve a plated dessert and/or tray pass cake as your dessert to keep everyone on the dance floor.

Marriage.com: What are the TRUE benefits of having a wedding planner? Do they really get cheaper rates?

JOWY Productions: You should be a guest at your own wedding. If you can afford to hire a wedding planner, your wedding journey will be beyond enjoyable and effortless. Planners should be able to leverage their relationships with vendors across the board to maximize your budget and negotiate the best deal for your big day. The relationships we have built with our team of vendors help extend best pricing to our clients and maximize one’s budget. We can offer our expertise on where to spend a little more and a little less in order to get your desired wedding look. Besides saving you money, wedding planners can cohesively design your event, assist you in making informed decisions, act as a family counselor during stressful situations and organize all of the details so that you can enjoy your wedding day.

Marriage.com: What are the latest trends in wedding dresses?

JOWY Productions:

* Romantic dresses consisting of tulle and lace as well as embellished gowns are big for 2010. People want a little more fairytale and a little less reality.

* Party Dresses for the wedding reception: More often, we are seeing tea length, and even shorter, dresses to dance the night away. Receptions are less fussy and more stylized which require a more stylized, glamorous dress.

Marriage.com: What are the latest trends in weddings for 2010?

JOWY Productions:

* DJ’s instead of bands: Couples can create eclectic personal dance mixes that reflect their personality while selecting a DJ which is more cost effective than a band.

* Photo Booths: 2010 is showing a newer version of this old favorite with high definition photo booths to capture guests throughout the party. With HD technology, everyone looks amazing in the photos and some booths come with a plasma screen to loop the photographs for all to see during the reception along with the prints that your guests can take home to remember the evening (prints can be personalized with the wedding date, your wedding logo and/or names).

* Eco-Friendly Elements: Green invitations, organic floral arrangements, and biodegradable, compostable, chic china.

* Blue: this will be the most requested color for 2010

* Personalization: Weddings are becoming increasingly more unique from wedding invitations to décor to guest favors. Select a theme, color or element that becomes the common thread from the invitation to the event.

Marriage.com: How important is the “chemistry” between the bride and the planner?

JOWY Productions: The chemistry between bride and planner is vital. Weddings are personal and should be about the bride and groom as a couple. It is the wedding planners job to capture the brides’ vision and bring it to life. When hiring a planner make sure to bring a list of questions so you can get a feel for their personality, aesthetic, and manner. The planner should ask plenty of questions, as it’s a mutual feeling and a connection when planning such an important day in your life. It is essential that the planner and the bride are on the same page.

Marriage.com: What has been the biggest fiasco you’ve dealt with and how’d it conclude?

JOWY Productions: We strive to be beyond buttoned prior to the wedding day so we are available, on-site to tackle last minute issues that may arise. Once, on a destination wedding we worked on, a local vendor was delayed (due to unforeseen circumstances) with our ice bar top for the seafood display. We were able to design an aesthetically, pleasing display in which guests devoured the bites without knowing what was missing. Being proactive and resourceful is very important.

Marriage.com: How do you deal with “bridezillas?

JOWY Productions: Bridezillas are never a pleasant experience yet weddings don’t always bring out the best in brides. We take a deep breath and remember that though this may be the umpteenth wedding we have planned, it’s the bride’s first. Usually bridezilla behavior comes from stress so we do our best to counsel the bride (and family if necessary) to find the source of the stress and alleviate it as well as be beyond accommodating to cater to every whim. The word “no” is not in our vocabulary and we come from the school of “whatever it takes!” The difference between a good wedding planner and a great wedding planner is that great wedding planners don’t take things personally, they find solutions to problems in an efficient, resourceful and, in the case of a bridezilla, nurturing manner.

Marriage.com: What’s the most important thing a couple should consider when hiring a wedding planner?

JOWY Productions: A couple should hand the details of wedding planning over to a planner if they don’t have time to plan the wedding, need help staying on budget, are not sure where to start, want an intermediary to alleviate stressful family situations, or want help handling all the small details that go into a successful wedding. When interviewing planners make sure to ask plenty of questions, get a written contract and most importantly, make sure you like the demeanor of whomever you hire.

Marriage.com: What is the most stressful part of the job?

JOWY Productions: Assembling the “right” talented, team of vendors to deliver their best for each particular job. Trust is a big part of team building. We can do all of the preparation prior to the wedding day, but we have to rely on our team of vendors to deliver their finest work, at each event, per our direction and collaboration.