No-Nonsense Advice from Wedding and Event Guru Sasha Souza

Wedding and event designer Sasha Souza is an event scholar, designing events and weddings the same way a Broadway producer approaches a play. While the Napa Valley-based guru counts Uncle Buck as her favorite movie and family as a priority (when we spoke, the last person she’d texted was her mom), her uncanny ability to create memorable weddings and events is what put her on the map. In between speaking at conferences and appearing on television shows like “Whose Wedding is it Anyway???” she had time to write a second book, Signature Sasha: Weddings and Celebrations to Inspire filled with pictures and ideas to take your event to the next level.

In preparation for the Signature Sasha bridal event on March 26th, we chatted about planning tips for new brides, making your guests happy, and a DYO (design-your-own) project that won’t make you tear your hair out.

On planning your wedding:

Don’t spend all your money on your venue. “Weddings are a dance,” says Souza. On average, most engaged couples have around 40 vendors contributing to their big day, so make sure you’re leaving enough in your budget to cover all of your other expenses. As a guideline, your reception (including food, beverages, rentals, and site) should be between 40-50% of your expenses.

Don’t take everyone with you to buy your gown. Take your mom and your bestie, or the two people closest to you who will be encouraging and honest. “It’s a two-person deal,” says Souza.

Similarly, you don’t need a group for ALL of your vendor meetings. Flowers, invitations, and especially tastings at the caterer or bakery should include 3-4 people, tops. When it comes to selecting a caterer, Souza recommends narrowing your selection down to a few potential caterers, then starting with one tasting. “If they nail it, why look further?”

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Image courtesy GWPR

On putting together a great event:

Accentuate the positive, ignore the negative. If you don’t like the carpet at your venue, that can be changed with lighting. If you don’t like the walls, that can be changed with drapes. “Décor makes a difference!” says Souza. Even if a guest has been to multiple events at that venue, yours will be unique because the feeling and energy is different.

Know your guests. To entertain your guests, you have to understand what they like. Souza points out one wedding in which a bird flew to the altar to deliver the rings. The same couple hired a jester to engage friends and family during the ceremony. “Focus on making the guests happy,” says Souza. While jewelry-toting avian may not be for everyone, the point is that the people at that wedding had a great time because the couple considered their interests.

On easy (no, really!) DYO projects:

Create a photographic memory lane. Gather photos of you, your fiancé, your families and your guests, and add them to a ribbon. Hang the ribbon from a tree (if you’re outdoors) or pipe-and-drape to tell your story in a way that includes everyone.

Try a fragrant herb toss. Buy herbs like chamomile, lavender, or mini dried roses in bulk, and display them in unusual glass containers or apothecary jars. After the ceremony, guests can scoop a few different varieties into small paper cups to toss as you exit the venue.

If you’re interested in more of Sasha Souza’s tips and advice, you’re in luck! She’ll be part of a live Q&A in Dayton on March 26th to answer questions and sign copies of her book. Register online at eventbrite.com.

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