8 Random But Useful Wedding Planning Secrets From Philly Wedding Pros

There are some things you can only learn from years in the industry.

wedding portrait dog

Schulson Collective’s Jackie Kemp on her wedding day. Photo: Emily Wren

Welcome to Real Talk Week at Philadelphia Wedding, where the pros behind the city’s most stylish weddings dish on how they handled getting hitched themselves. We’ve spent the past few days sharing first-person tales of everything from how a wedding planner budgeted for her own nuptials to how a bridal salon owner shopped for her wedding dress, so today we’re taking a slightly different approach. Read on for how Philly wedding pros handled a variety of wedding planning conundrums while getting ready for their own Big Days. 

How Did You …

Add a touch of old-school flair?
“I put out a few Ilford disposable cameras, and the photos that came back were hilarious and amazing. I wish I’d put out a bunch more for the late hours of the evening. There are some real gems.”
— Hope Helmuth, owner of Hope Helmuth Photography

Make use of your go-to wedding-day tool?
“Tombow rolling tape is small, so it’s always in my “always pack” crate. Sometimes couples bring their own signage or props but don’t think about how they’ll be placed, so it’s a nice emergency item. I use it to mount anything, anywhere, and it’s also come in clutch for wardrobe malfunctions, since it’s essentially a tacky adhesive. For our wedding day, I used it to keep smaller signs on outside tables from flying away.”
— Nicole Hutnyk, owner of Rabbit Rabbit Crew event planning and paper goods

Incorporate your story in a meaningful way?
“Instead of favors, we opted to provide a donation to a cause that was near to our hearts. We boxed up slices of wedding cake for guests to take home, and the cake-box tag said: ‘A donation has been made to the Rena Rowan Breast Center, where Jackie was treated, so that more women can eat cake at their weddings.’ It felt so much more personal that way.”
— Jackie Kemp, director of development and creative services at Schulson Collective [Editor’s note: Jackie has been in remission from breast cancer since 2015.]

Save on hotel rooms?
“If you’re doing a destination wedding, a huge way to save is to book rooms for you and your vendors off-season. We booked a large chunk of hotel rooms in February, when there were three inches of snow on the ground in Bar Harbor. Many hotels have great off-season deals, even for in- season dates.”
— Sara Michener, co-founder of Sara Rea Design event planning

Put your industry knowledge to work?
“I was struggling with music — a DJ didn’t feel right for our setting, but neither did a huge band. We’d seen a group called Stella Ruze play at a bunch of Manayunk events. They had a great sound and played a lot of covers, but they’d never done a wedding. So I said, ‘Would you want to? You give me a little bit of a deal, and I’ll help you get into the wedding industry.’ I worked with them on equipment, event flow, announcements and crowd control. They absolutely killed it.”
— Caitlin Maloney Kuchemba, owner of Clover Event Co.

Approach the design process?
“We planned just about nothing for the first year we were engaged. We brainstormed, got on the same page about details and budget, and just enjoyed ourselves. It allowed questions and ideas to come up organically. When we sat down to actually look at dates, venues, vendors, etc., we were really in sync with our decisions.”
— Kate Boyle, co-owner of Sara Rea Design event planning

Inject some fun into what can be a way-too-emotional day?
“I bought vintage-looking handkerchiefs on Amazon and had them embroidered with funny sayings like ‘No Ugly Crying’ and ‘Hot Mess.’ I imagined guests picking them up thinking they were sweet handkerchiefs and being surprised when they opened them.”
— Kristyn Rudnet, owner of Shimmer and Spice makeup

Reconcile with something you thought you’d never do?
“The first time I wanted my fiancé to see me was walking down the aisle. That was non-negotiable. But once we started to process the timeline … it was just so much less chaotic to do a first look. It was the one traditional thing I really wanted to hold onto, but with us having two kids, it will let us just spend time together and make it about ourselves. When you’re parents already, it’s more difficult to have those intimate moments.”
— Monet Malatino, owner of Mari Mi Bridal 

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