Tips & trends
Lawrence wedding consultant Carmen Hocking shares a few tips and trends she's seen, both in town and through her connections with the Association of Bridal Consultants:¢ The most competitive pricing comes from three areas: caterers, photographers and florists.¢ The latest trend in wedding ceremony colors is the combination of chocolate brown and light blue.¢ Couples are using open versus planned seating at receptions.For more information about Hocking's services, visit her Web site, www.abeautifulwedding bycarmen.com.
Carmen Hocking's approach to planning weddings the last 20 years has been nothing if not flexible - she's secured everything from bagpipes to English translators to accommodate her couples' needs for the big day.
Yet one of the Lawrence consultant's most unusual requests came from a bride who worked for the Secret Service.
"She called and said, 'I can't tell you where I am or what my job title is, but I'd like you to plan my wedding,'" Hocking recalls. "She told me that she traveled a lot, but she would e-mail me when she could."
That's the nature of a wedding planner's job - conducting a sort of "mission possible" for couples who are looking for either trendy or unique big-day details, or want someone to negotiate with vendors, or who want a beautiful ceremony and reception without the stress of planning it themselves.
"I work with people when it's their happiest time of their life," Hocking says. "When couples ask what I can do for them, that's a good question. I can do everything for them, or if they want a lot of control, then I'm just on hand to help them make things as perfect as possible."
Chris Krogh-Singer, of Lawrence, was one such bride with pretty firm ideas of what she wanted for her November 2005 wedding. She credits Hocking for helping her plan the lavish ceremony and reception of her dreams.
"I hired a wedding planner because I'm nearly 50 and I can't keep up with the new stuff, and I wanted a wedding to end all weddings," she says. "I knew what I wanted, but I didn't know where to get it.
"If it weren't for her, this wedding wouldn't have happened," adds Krogh-Singer, who was ill and unable to travel a great deal while she planned her ceremony.
Though Krogh-Singer's budget was about five times that of the average bride's - she estimates spending more than $100,000 for the ceremony - she credited Hocking with saving her money where it counted.
"I think she helped keep me from getting cheated by some vendors," Krogh-Singer says. "And a couple of times we bought products from the vendors, but we didn't use their services.
"She watched for hidden charges and raised questions, or talked with me about what we could do ourselves," she says. "The money I paid her, she saved me twice over."
Hocking emphasizes that hiring a wedding consultant shouldn't come at an additional cost to the bride and groom.
"One thing I tell couples is that I actually become part of the budget - I am not an added expense," she says. "It's my job to do the very best job at negotiating pricing. I may be able to get special deals that extend offers on to bride and groom."
Tamara Burton, whose wedding was in January, is another client of Hocking's.
"My mom had eloped, and this was my first wedding, so we thought it would be easier to have someone who knew what they were doing," she says.
"Having Carmen there throughout the ceremony and reception, coordinating everything - it was a great comfort to us and made it possible for me to enjoy the day."