Maya Devassy Tarach | Preoccupied Bride | Small Business Owner AMA

Maya Devassy Tarach
May 11, 2018

Hi there! My name is Maya and I am the owner of Preoccupied Bride. I love planning and turning my clients’ visions into realities. My creative nature and skills as a former project manager—communicator enthusiast, a stickler for deadlines, and an insanely organized and detail-obsessed planner—made wedding and event planning extra appealing to me. But it was planning my own wedding from start to finish that sealed the deal.

I loved planning so much it only made sense for me to become a certified wedding and event planner and do it for other busy people who want the wedding or event of their dreams, but are crunched for time.

Planning is just half my job. Being a small business owner has been a great learning experience, exciting roller coaster ride and the most rewarding part of my career.  I would love to share my journey and answer any questions you may have. 

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Conversation (54)

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What was the last event that you planned within your family?
May 18, 2:54PM EDT0

The last event I planned within my family was in March. I planned a destination 10-year wedding anniversary party in Mexico, and it was a blast!

May 23, 11:37AM EDT0
Do you think you will ever switch or transition from this line of business? Yes or No and why?
May 18, 8:34AM EDT0

Never say never is one motto I go by. Right now, I love my line of business and hope to do this for the years to come, but I’m open to transitioning to different things if and when the time is right. I think switching or transitioning into different careers can be a natural and great thing since we as people evolve with time, but I can’t say for sure what is in store for me. I’m open and excited for what’s to come!

Last edited @ May 18, 1:38PM EDT.
May 18, 1:38PM EDT0
How joyful or hectic is it to be a small business owner? How many people help you on your journey?
May 18, 2:25AM EDT0

It’s certainly both. When starting out, it’s hectic in the sense that as the owner you’re pretty much doing every position in the business—sales, social media, marketing, etc.—so the responsibilities can get overwhelming. But at the same time, it’s wonderful because as the owner of your own company, you’re creating this business from scratch and it’s all yours. You do what you want, when you want, and actually love your work! My husband, family and close friends have been a great support system, and even the professionals I meet and network with have a lot to offer. They all give me great ideas and input on my business, so I see things from different perspectives.

May 18, 1:31PM EDT0
Do you have any special wedding or event planning hacks that you often use to get everything ready for the right day?
May 18, 2:00AM EDT0

Wedding planning hack: Since the first major wedding day activity is hair and makeup, I always add more cushion time in the wedding day timeline for that. If hair and makeup is delayed everything else on the timeline will be delayed, so it’s better to have more time allotted to those services than not enough. And if hair and makeup is done on time or even early, the photographer has more time to take bridal party pictures, so it’s a win-win!

May 18, 1:01PM EDT0
Do you see any trends in the industry at present or with your current clients?
May 15, 5:57PM EDT0

One trend I’ve noticed with my clients and in the industry is a wedding dessert replacing the wedding cake. Couples are replacing the traditional wedding cake with cookies, cupcakes and other sweet treats. For the couples who do keep the wedding cake, I noticed it’s much simpler in design and smaller in size. They aren’t large, extravagant cakes like how they have been in the past. Another trend I’ve noticed with my clients and in the industry is adding more greenery to the décor. Flowers are still popular but expensive, so couples are opting to add more greens to their floral arrangements and decorations to cut costs but also create a more natural design that compliments all kinds of weddings from rustic to chic.

May 16, 1:13AM EDT0
Is there a rough order or process of how things should work with a planner?
May 15, 10:20AM EDT0

Generally speaking, there will be a consultation for services between a couple and a planner (either over the phone or in person). If the couple wants to book the planner, a contract is signed and a deposit is paid to hold the wedding date. Depending on how involved a planner is with the couple’s wedding, they might get started with the planning process immediately following the signed contract and paid deposit, which can include vendor recommendations, décor meetings, a list of tasks to get done every week, consistent check ins to make sure everything is on task and more. If the planner is going to act strictly as a day of coordinator then the planner’s responsibilities with the couple may start anywhere from 4-6 weeks before the wedding. In that case, the planner is working with the couple and their vendor team to figure out the logistics of the wedding day timeline. The process can take more or less time depending on how involved the couple wants the planner to be.

Last edited @ May 16, 1:04AM EDT.
May 16, 1:03AM EDT0
How do you really get the ideas out of brides so that they explain to you effectively their vision for the final day?
May 14, 7:58PM EDT0

To fully gauge my brides’ ideas so I completely understand their vision, I like to have a design meeting to discuss what exactly they’re looking for. I ask my brides to provide images of their ideas if they have any, and I’ll also put together images and samples to get a better idea of what they do and don’t like to make sure we’re on the same page. I also ask them to provide in detail what's important to them. For example, if a bride answers that the flow of events is important to her and her fiance then I'll ask more questions about the little details that affect the flow (from ushering guests from one location to another to the lighting in the venue depending on the time of day and so on).

May 16, 12:37AM EDT0
Are you always on site the day of the wedding or do you work with a team? How big is your team?
May 12, 11:50PM EDT0

Yes I’m always onsite for every wedding I plan, and I usually bring an assistant with me as a second set of eyes and hands to help with the wedding. I may bring additional assistants depending on the size of the wedding. I have a group of five assistants I work closely with if I need extra help.

May 16, 12:19AM EDT0
Have you ever had difficult requests from clients while planning their weddings? Can you share some?
May 12, 8:25PM EDT0

Yes definitely. I had a couple ask a few weeks before their wedding if I could pick up and deliver their wedding desserts from the bakery to their venue on their wedding day. Another couple asked a few days before their wedding if I could buy drinks and food specially requested by their band for the wedding day and they would reimburse me after the wedding. Another couple asked for me to ensure their 100+ guests didn’t use their phones during their ceremony. Every planner is different and may try to accommodate all of their clients’ difficult requests, but I make it a point to be very specific about what requests I will and will not fulfill by spelling them out in my contract. For the requests I won't fulfill, I try my best to give couples alternate solutions so they get the results they're hoping for. 

Last edited @ May 16, 12:03AM EDT.
May 16, 12:02AM EDT0
Can you work on various wedding projects at the same time or is it not advisable?
May 12, 7:00PM EDT0

It really depends on the types of weddings booked, how much you can handle and how big your team is. For example, if you have two day of coordination weddings over the same weekend or even a week a part, the month leading up to both events might be more stressful than they usually would be because of the overlap. Talking to two different sets of vendor teams can get chaotic and confusing if you’re not paying close attention. On the other hand, if you have a partial service planning client and a day of coordination client who overlap it may be okay because both clients are in different stages of wedding planning—one is in the middle of planning their wedding while the other is at the end. Not to say it wouldn’t be hectic, but the clients being in two different stages would make it easier to work on different wedding projects at the same time.

May 15, 11:32PM EDT0
What is the biggest wedding you’ve done? Yours?
May 12, 1:44PM EDT0

The biggest wedding I’ve done so far was 300 guests. Fun fact: That wedding was actually my first client’s wedding! But I have a wedding coming up in a few months that will be 450 guests!

May 15, 11:07PM EDT0
What did you do before becoming a wedding planner?
May 12, 10:34AM EDT0

I was a project manager for a web design & development company before becoming a wedding planner. Some other positions I had before that included freelance writing and managing social media for a restaurant.

May 15, 10:56PM EDT0
What do you need to do to become a certified wedding and events planner? Do you have to study?
May 12, 10:09AM EDT0

There are many online and local college course options available to become a certified wedding and event planner, but formal education or certification is not required to start a career in wedding and event planning. Courses will usually have reading material, quizzes and projects to complete that help students learn the skills needed to become a planner. Getting certified shows a person is serious about getting into wedding and event planning, but it isn't necessary.

May 15, 10:49PM EDT0
How important are your communication skills when planning a wedding?
May 12, 4:29AM EDT0

Communication skills by both me the planner and my couple are extremely important. In order for any relationship to be successful both parties need to communicate well, so the same concept definitely applies in the working relationship between me and my clients. For example, I need to ask the right questions (and a ton of them) in order to get all the wedding details accounted for when I’m planning the wedding day timeline. If I don’t ask enough questions, some important details can go astray because they weren't discussed. It’s also important for me to be honest with the couple when they're asking for decor advice or if their budget is realistic for the type of wedding they want to have and so forth. On a similar note, it’s also crucial for the couple to inform me of any changes or updates on their side—budget, timing of events or another wedding detail—well in advance or as soon as possible so we’re all on the same page.

Last edited @ May 15, 7:18PM EDT.
May 15, 7:17PM EDT0
Were you always organized and strict with deadlines? Or were these skills developed?
May 12, 4:10AM EDT0

I’ve definitely had a Type A personality since I was young. I always worked ahead on assignments or projects for school and was good about meeting deadlines with work. But I also developed and refined those skills with time and the different positions I had. My education, journalism school in particular, and my past experience as a project manager certainly advanced those abilities.

May 15, 6:51PM EDT0
How hard was it for you to organize your own wedding? Were you already a wedding planner?
May 12, 12:39AM EDT0

I was not a wedding planner when I organized my own wedding. Generally speaking, wedding planning can be difficult and stressful because not only are there an overwhelming amount of details to figure out, but since most couples are planning a wedding for the first time they don’t know what exactly to expect. There were definitely times I felt like this, but because I was a project manager wedding planning was much easier for me. In fact, I actually enjoyed it (even when it was stressful!). The skills I developed as a project manager definitely made wedding planning easier for me.

May 15, 6:43PM EDT0
How important is it for you to have chemistry or a really good relationship with the bride when planning the wedding?
May 11, 10:17PM EDT0

Chemistry is extremely important to me. I didn’t fully realize how important chemistry was until I had a poor experience with a bride who didn’t mesh with my style of planning. We still worked together to complete her wedding, but in retrospect I now know that every bride and planner are not always meant to work together. Sometimes, a bride and planner are not a good fit for each other and that’s okay. If I don’t feel a strong connection with my brides when we first start talking about planning together, or better yet, if I have a feeling this relationship isn’t going to work, I will choose not to work with her and give recommendations of other planners who might be a better fit.

Last edited @ May 11, 10:56PM EDT.
May 11, 10:55PM EDT0
Being a wedding planner must be a very stressful job. What do you do to relax and decompress?
May 11, 7:24PM EDT0

I love my job, but yes it’s definitely stressful! Working out has really helped me decompress. Even if it’s just 30 minutes of exercise, I feel better and more balanced. I also love getting massages, particularly foot massages, after being on my feet for 10+ hours at a wedding. I also make an effort to catch up on my favorite tv shows and get lost in fiction books because I love reading.

Last edited @ May 11, 10:46PM EDT.
May 11, 10:45PM EDT0
How long the planning of a wedding lasts? Since you meet with the bride until the big day? What is the minimum time do you recommend?
May 11, 7:45AM EDT0

The length of the wedding planning process is dependent on the client’s needs. The minimum amount of time I recommend for planning is 4-5 weeks and that would be for a client who is looking for a day of coordinator for their wedding. For clients who need help choosing vendors, figuring out the design of their wedding or something as large as finding their venue, I would suggest anywhere from a few months to over a year, but it’s really dependent on what the client needs help with from the planner. 

May 11, 10:08PM EDT0
What is your favorite thing about planning a wedding?
May 11, 5:45AM EDT0

My favorite part of planning a wedding is being a part of the celebration of love between two people. Not only do I get to witness a couple sealing their love through the lifelong commitment of marriage, but I get to help the couple prepare as much as possible before their big day and oversee that everything goes right at their wedding, so they can truly enjoy one of the most special days of their lives. 

May 11, 10:00PM EDT0
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