Ask the Expert: Q&A with Wedding Planner Mackenzie Praytor
While planning your wedding, you’re bound to receive some unsolicited advice from friends, aunts, and even overbearing grandmothers. Sometimes the advice is helpful and useful, but it sometimes it can cause friction or frustration. We’ve found that advice is a dish best served unbiased, which is why we sat down with experienced wedding planner, Mackenzie Praytor of Bliss Celebration + Design and asked her all your need-to-know questions.
I assisted Mackenzie with a few weddings last summer. She is an expert in crisis management, thorough, organized, full of ideas and information, and not the mention, the sweetest soul ever. She has planned dozens of weddings across Oklahoma and Texas and today, she is answering our tough questions, sharing her best tips and tricks and explaining how she really feels about Pinterest.
StarHill Farms (SF): Tell us a little about yourself!
Mackenzie Praytor (MP): My name is Mackenzie, and I'm a semi-retired wedding coordinator. I ran a planning/coordination business in Oklahoma before I closed that chapter and moved to Washington, DC last summer with my husband. I still love weddings and can be (very easily) convinced to fly back to help out a friend!
SF: So, for couples who are newly engaged – what’s their first step?
MP: Take time to celebrate your engagement and don't give in to the pressure to jump into wedding planning right away. One of my biggest frustrations is when a couple has been engaged less than 24 hours and well-meaning friends and family start hounding the couple about a wedding date. Hello! You haven't stopped admiring your sparkly new jewelry long enough to start researching dates! There will be plenty of time to plan the wedding and your engagement season will fly by, so just take time to soak in those special moments!
SF: Best piece of advice you can give to brides and grooms while they are planning their wedding?
MP: Vendor selection is so, so important and will make or break your event. There are a lot of factors that go into the vendor selection but here are some suggestions: Don't be afraid to interview multiple vendors in each category (planners, florists, etc.) before making a final decision. Ask a lot of questions during your vendor interviews. Go on the vendor's Instagram page and see what brides they've worked with. Reach out to those brides and ask about their experiences! It might be a little stalker-like (whoops), but that'll be the best way to find out about a bride's true experience with a vendor. Once you find a vendor that you are super comfortable with, ask them what other vendors they like to work with and could be a good fit for your wedding. It's incredible when a vendor team knows one another, has collaborated several times and can work as a cohesive unit on a wedding day.
SF: Do you have any tips for setting a budget?
MP: Early in the planning process, sit down with your fiancé and decide what your priorities are. This will be different for every couple! For some couples, the bar and the band will be a big priority. For some couples, the photography will matter more than any other vendor. Some couples won't agree on what their priorities are, and that's okay as well! Decide on two-or-three main priorities and structure your budget and your brain space around these things. When you get bogged down in details and frustrated with decision fatigue, go back to these priorities and make sure you're honoring those areas before anything else.
SF: Best tip you've learned since becoming a wedding planner?
MP: This is more of a mentality than a tip, but I've really embraced that the #1 most important thing that needs to happen on a wedding day is that the bride and groom get married. Simple, right? Yes, there are a million details that make a wedding day special and unique and memorable. Yes, I want your cake and your flowers to look exactly how you had them pictured in your head. The reality is, life happens and sometimes the day won't go perfectly. However, when you look back on your wedding day you'll remember the love you felt, the people you were surrounded by, and you'll be thrilled that you got married. That's what really matters.
SF: Is there one thing you think is an often overlooked but important wedding detail?
MP: It's usually the tiny details that get lost in the shuffle, which is why it's so important to hire an experienced planner or coordinator who can help you fill in the gaps! Some commonly overlooked details are remembering flower girl baskets and a cake cutting set (if your caterer doesn't provide). Designate someone to ensure your overnight bags make it to your getaway car before your exit. Also, be sure to ask your makeup artist to leave behind some of your lip color for touch-ups. Better yet, work with your makeup artist to decide on your lip color during your makeup trial and purchase then your own so you can have it whenever you need it!
SF: What’s your favorite part of a wedding?
MP: I love the last 10-15 minutes before the ceremony starts. It's such a high-energy, exciting time and everyone gets what I call the "pre-game jitters". Also, I've cried every single time I've sent a bride down the aisle. It never fails.
SF: Any go-to marriage advice?
MP: I can't remember exactly who told me this, but a wise woman at my church told me to not think of a marriage as a 50-50 partnership, but to think of it as a 100-100 partnership. Due to the ever-changing seasons of life, both partners won't be able to give 100% all the time, but knowing that you have someone in your corner willing to do anything for you makes marriage all that much sweeter. I'm also a big proponent of being quick to own up to your mistakes and being the first to apologize when things get tense.
SF: As a now married gal, what's one thing you would have done differently on your big day?
MP: A wedding day can feel like an all-day photo shoot if you aren't careful. I wish I would have been more present in the moment and focused on soaking in those special moments a bit more. This is something I talked to my brides about all the time—you only get this day once, so it's critical to make the most of it!
SF: What is one thing brides should avoid during the planning process?
MP: I love Pinterest, but I hate Pinterest—it's so tough. I think the platform is great for inspiration, but it can quickly lead you into playing the comparison game and make you question your decisions. I always told my brides to spend some time on Pinterest during the initial design/brainstorming phases, and then shut down their account. SERIOUSLY! Planning a wedding is so personal, and it should be based on what you like, not based on what Pinterest says is popular.