We all know planning a wedding can be very stressful. {you can say that again!} But oddly enough, there are people who thrive at it and do it for a living. We know them as wedding planners and Holly and Mia of Feather + Rock have it down to a science. They are truly a well-oiled machine. Of course, I was a little nosy and wanted to ask some questions. See their interview below!

YENW: Please tell me about your individual backgrounds and the genesis of Feather + Rock?

H: I’ve been hustling & planning events for longer than I care to share, but my love of event logistics started with a catering job I had to support myself thru college in my 20’s. I learned all about what goes into executing a flawlessly-timed event and eventually ran my own team (employing many of my broke college friends!). That catering job led to an internship with an event planner, which is where I met Mia! We became fast friends, bonding over our love for the details and I knew then we met for a reason.

After graduation, I applied my love of event planning and communications degree (Shout Out Montclair State University!) and landed a global event planning role at a fast-paced & growing corporation. My time spent managing budgets, creating unique client experiences and planning corporate events, has helped to shape me into an organized, forward-thinker, who always has a plan B.

Having a background in “Corporate America” also gives me perspective into the lives of our busy clients. I understand why it is so important for us to help them prioritize their time and energy because let’s get real — there are only so many hours in the day and no one needs the extra stress of planning every wedding detail while balancing their 9-5 gigs!

M: Like so many other creatives in the event industry, my story starts down a different career path and my very first gig was as a make-up artist. I just loved playing with colors and connecting with people, but I always felt like something was missing.

After a while of being bored and working the makeup counter, I was asked to help with wedding day make-up for a bridal party and found that I really connected with the bride. This kick-started my focus on doing wedding day makeup, and during trials with the brides, I always found myself asking what their big day was going to look like. Then one day, a bride was showing me pictures of the flowers she wanted and said she was stuck on where to go from there – and it was like a light bulb went off in my head because I knew exactly how to help her get the look she wanted! I should have put it all together sooner, as I am the daughter of an artist and Martha Stewart enthusiast, and I have always had an ingrained love of entertaining, crafting and knew how to create a tablescape at the age of 6! That day was a game changer and I started to look for jobs in the event industry.

Eventually, I got a new job as an assistant planner and threw myself into learning all there was to know about events and weddings. As time went on, I realized that I loved creating the look and feel of an event way more than organizing Excel sheets and logistics.

While I was working at this job, a young girl mailed in a very creative resume to our office. I open the package and I knew she was special and we needed to meet her. That girl turned out to be Holly and we connected right away. I always knew I would never go into business on my own, but if Holly was game, I would totally go on an adventure and here we are!

Over the years, I have made it a priority to stay creative and take opportunities that help to round out my design background. So, in addition to being the creative director of Feather + Rock Events, I also style for one of the top rental companies on the east coast. My experience as a stylist helps me to understand not only what looks good to the human eye, but also what looks good behind the lens. Needless to say, weddings with styled vignettes are my jam!

Holly is the sprinkles to my donut and I am the olive to her dirty martini. We are opposites in so many ways, but together we balance each other out and that’s how our company name came about. Feather + Rock is the balance of opposites.

Oh, and if you are wondering…Mia is the Feather and Holly is the Rock.

YENW: Do you remember your first event that you two worked on together? Did everything go as planned?

H: Funny enough, as I said previously, we met while working for another event planning company. Our first job together was a Sweet 16 and man, it was unlike any other Sweet 16 that I’d ever been to! It was a black-tie affair with couture gowns (children and adults), a custom-painted dance floor, and a birthday cake that was taller than me! The event was beautiful, well-planned & the guests had a great time – the only “funny” moment of the night (which we can say now, only because we survived) was lighting ALL the tall, heavy, tapered birthday candles during a rather long-winded birthday toast. We watched in horror as the sticks of FIRE melted & tilted towards the wooden dance floor! Thankfully the speaker wrapped up the speech just in the nick of time, and the birthday girl quickly blew out the candles before we all went up in flames! PHEW! Sweet 16’s are NOT for the faint of heart!

M: Oh my gosh, I had almost forgotten about this! Seriously, Sweet 16’s are NO JOKE! I remember in that moment of sheer terror seeing those candles slowly tilting toward the floor, that Holly and I communicated to each other with one single distressed glance (and maybe a touch of telepathy) and we both knew exactly what our plan B was if the speaker didn’t zip it quickly. I knew then that Holly and I were event soulmates!

YENW: Why is it beneficial to know about a couple’s love story when planning their wedding?

H+M: We are suckers for a great love story and value not only getting to know our clients on a surface level but really connecting with them. When taking on new clients, we ask a lot of questions, like:

  • Where did you meet?
  • Where was your first date?
  • Who asked who out?
  • What movies do you watch together time and again?
  • What song would you use to describe your relationship?
  • Are you early risers or late sleepers?
  • What are 3 words to describe you as a couple?
  • Do you prefer a cozy night in together or are you social butterflies with full calendars?
  • Who proposed and how did you do it?

Some of the questions may seem silly because they are meant to be silly to get the conversation going and shake the jitters out. We find by asking questions and really listening to the answers, it helps us to learn important information about the couple & their journey together. You’d be surprised how often during our client meetings that we discover an awesome anecdote like, “actually, we met thru a mutual friend while we were both traveling in South Africa!”, then we work with our talented network of event pro’s to weave those collected details from their love story into their wedding day in special ways.

YENW: Do you advise clients to go on Pinterest?

H+M: Yes! Pinterest can be a great way for brides & grooms to determine their wedding day style. We find their curated boards filled with ideas and hand-picked images as a great starting point for us to learn and ask questions about WHY they picked that image, which then helps to guide our overall design direction. However, we have also found that Pinterest can leave clients feeling overwhelmed and confused by all the great ideas that can be found on the interwebs!

We always remind couples that there are NO RULES for what your wedding day is SUPPOSED to look like! Typically, we find that giving clients that freedom helps them to feel more connected to the design and comfortable sharing important and, sometimes vulnerable, details about themselves. Those details help us to understand more than just what they want the wedding day to look like, but more importantly, how they want it to make them feel.

We have found that using Pinterest has become an important part of our design process. We use it as a tool to get to know our clients better and learn more about their collective and individual styles. As the first step in their design journey with us, we have couples collect their ideas on a private pinboard and advise them to show us images that are all about them and their unique styles…we tell them we aren’t looking for just a typical wedding board.

This collection of their ideas and images quickly gives us an insight into their lives and helps us to get to know the couple on a different level. We then take that information and infuse bits of their shared and individual personalities, styles, and love story to create an overall unique & cohesive wedding day design.

YENW: How does social media influence couples planning their wedding and how are vendors using social media to grow their business and reach clients they wouldn’t otherwise reach?

H+M: Social media has definitely influenced couples who are planning their weddings. We meet clients in all stages of their wedding planning process, and most are on the hunt for the biggest and best wedding ideas and we feel it is due to the sheer amount of imagery out there. Social media has most certainly given engaged couples greater expectations for how their big day should look and feel.

In terms of businesses, we have seen social media open TONS of avenues for vendors to reach prospective clients. Prior to the internet and social media, future brides + grooms only had magazines for inspiration and information on vendors. Now, small + local shops can use social media (inexpensively) to showcase their work, quickly connect with their audience/prospective buyers (all over the world) on multiple platforms and convert followers into dollar signs! It is truly an amazing time to have & support small businesses.

Our only advice is to do your homework & research (or ask us for recommendations!), check reviews and make sure that you have clearly communicated your expectations and you are 100% comfortable working with a vendor before finalizing all transactions!

YENW: When is it essential for couples to hire a wedding planner?

H+M: Well, isn’t this a loaded question =) Honestly, we do not believe in adding extra pressure to couples planning a wedding, the process can be stressful enough and everyone’s journey is different!

When we sit down for a complimentary consultation with prospective clients, we do say the sooner they hire us, the sooner they can eliminate stress, relax and enjoy the process of planning their dream wedding. We can certainly plan a wedding in 6 weeks (been there done that), but we find the more time we have with a couple, the more they enjoy the experience because it gives us time to craft an event that truly tells their love story.

YENW: What is the single best feature that your clients love about Feather and Rock?

H+M: Personal connection. We poll all our clients after their weddings and the resounding response is that we connected with them and that is what they loved most about working with us. Think about it, we can sometimes spend more than a year working with couples to plan & design their wedding day, so, establishing trust and becoming friends early on is a vital part of our process. We place a high value on connecting with our clients to fully understand their specific needs, we listen to their priorities and work hard to consciously connect them to the right event professionals, who we know will help to bring their visions to life and allow our clients to fully enjoy their wedding planning + designing journey.

YENW: Biggest Lesson you’ve learned? The biggest mistake you’ve made?

H+M: Never overlook the smallest details!

YENW: What do you like to do when you have a weekend off? 

H: Hang with my husband Jon & 2 kiddos (Kaylani & Aliana). Our weekends off are ALWAYS pretty jam-packed with fun activities like the zoo, aquarium, parks, and hiking. We also love to try new restaurants (I have tons of NJ, NY & Philly recommendations – if anyone needs them), but what we like to do the most, on a quiet night off, is to cook!

My husband is an AWESOME cook, who is always trying new recipes, so, he cooks & I open and drink wine. Lots of wine! =)

M: Spend quality time with my husband Frankie and our three fur babies, Mr. Buff-N-Stuff, Zeppoli, and Whiskey. We love taking long drives to check out breweries and wineries with close friends and scavenging at flea markets (well, I do the scavenging and Frankie is just super patient!). When we are embracing our inner homebodies, I like to work on a DIY project while my husband spins some records. I always need to feed my creative heart!

YENW: Please share with us a random talent or fact that we would be surprised to know!

H: Tough question, I don’t necessarily think I have a “talent”, but does being the queen of having at least 25 internet browser windows open at any given time count?! Haha, hmm, maybe a random fact would be better. Recently, we posted an IG story where we played the game “2 truths and 1 Lie”

My truths are:

#1 Truth: I am deathly afraid of Andre Agassi

Seriously, he was a “bad guy” in a reoccurring childhood nightmare that I used to have and I would probably pass out if I ever saw him in person

#2 Truth: I am the star of my own YouTube channel

True Story, it’s called Holly Hates It, and for at least a year, my husband Jon would videotape me eating & reacting to food that I HATE! The Banana Episode is a fan favorite!

My Lie Is: I like donuts

FALSE, while I would love jump on the apple cider, glazed with sprinkles and chocolate dipped donut bandwagon, I can’t! I do not like donuts because they give me heartburn, every. single .time!

M: I am not sure I can top Holly’s fear of Andre Agassi, but I was once an accomplished handbell musician…in Jr. High.

Holly and Mia, we can’t thank enough for going into such detail about your business and partnership. We truly appreciate it!

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