Newly Engaged? Philly’s Wedding Experts Have You Covered

The secrets to everything from how to budget for your backyard wedding to the latest trends.

Philadelphia wedding planning

Clockwise from left: Editor Kristen Schott speaks with experts Laura Nikolich, Afrik Armando Enoh and Andi Schilawski of Musa Weddings about Philadelphia wedding planning. Video produced by John Morgera of PGP Wedding Films

On Thursday, March 25th, Philadelphia Wedding hosted its virtual First Look event. Editor Kristen Schott moderated a discussion about Philadelphia wedding planning with three local experts in the industry — Laura Nikolich, senior entertainment producer of EastCoast Entertainment, Afrik Armando Enoh, principal photographer and owner of Afrik Armando’s Studio, and Andi Schilawski, owner, chief planner and designer of Musa Weddings.

The trio weighed in on various topics for newly engaged folks, including the ever-changing pandemic environment, etiquette (particularly as it relates to working with your vendors), contracts, micro-weddings, trends and intentional choices, among other topics. Their advice spanned the gamut — Enoh’s insight about being in the moment was particularly meaningful, as was their chat about budgeting for at-home, backyard weddings.

Below, you’ll find the full video, as well as answers to some of the questions the panelists were not able to address during the event.

How do you find a month-of coordinator who won’t break the bank?
Schilawski: There is a good reason why month-of coordinators and managers are pricey. You want to hire someone who will fully and smoothly execute your day the way you’ve planned. Hiring someone with little to no experience just to save on the cost can put the whole flow of the day at risk. We don’t just get involved on the day of the wedding: There are multiple things that happen behind the scenes to ensure all vendors are on the same page prior to the wedding. Investing in a good and experienced day-of manager is the best thing you can do if you want to have a stress-free day. Budget for one as you would for any other vendor from the beginning.

How can you avoid “dead times” during a wedding day and keep the event flowing? 
Nikolich: What a wonderful question. The two people in control of the flow of your wedding are the emcee and either your venue coordinator or your planner. Pick a band or DJ who is experienced in weddings and knows how to run a timeline. There is more to being a private-event entertainer than simply being talented musically. The emcee will be making sure the reception flows based on the direction from the planner or the venue coordinator. If the kitchen needs more time to catch up to plate the next course, your emcee needs to be able to work with a changing timeline and edit smoothly so there are no bumpy transitions.

How to handle tipping all of the vendors: Cash? Venmo? Percentages for each type of vendor?
Schilawski: Cash at the end of the night is usually preferred. Place the tips in an envelope per vendor (for example, one envelope for both photographers, but if there are two, usually about $200 or so for both). Do one envelope for all servers to share (about $25 to $45 per server), one envelope for bartenders ($50 to $75 per bartender), and so on.

How do you search for and find wedding planners who will match your needs?
Use Google, read reviews and talk to previous clients who are willing to be a reference. How to pick the right one for YOU? Look at the packages each offers and see which fits your needs on paper, of course, but also see which planner fits your personality. You’ll be running a lot of advice by your planner, so you want to make sure you pick someone that you feel compliments your style and your priorities.

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