For ten years, Alex Fisher has run Lucky Penny Creative, a busy event-planning company based in Asheville that frequently works on Triangle-area nuptials. We spoke about the state of the industry, what's changed, and what endures.
INDY: In the past decade or so, what changes have you observed in the wedding-planning world?
Alex Fisher: I've seen a shift from the standard wedding traditions, like the father giving the bride away, just a general shift in the way that couples want to celebrate their unions. There's less garter tosses, less bouquet tosses, less singling out of all of the patriarchical standards. Definitely more money spent. The average wedding budget in North Carolina is usually around sixty thousand.
What do you think has precipitated these changes?
People are getting married at older ages, so they're less inclined to use family money or parents' money to pay for everything. What I always recommend to folks is to choose one or two things that you definitely care about—like food and photography—then budget way more for those things, because you will remember them the most. Everything else we can totally work on a smaller budget.
That's just what my wife and I did. We said food and music were our priorities. So that hasn't changed much.
Not particularly. There are a handful of folks who, in the age of Pinterest and wedding blogs, feel a bit of pressure to have the picture-perfect wedding with regard to massive floral and décor and the best food ever and an incredible live band. And there are people who live up to those expectations, but I think more and more you're seeing couples wanting to do their own thing. It's less about the image and more about, "We legitimately want to celebrate our love, so this is what we're going to do."
What else is trending right now?
I've seen a huge trend in wanting to think outside the box as far as venue. It's very common, at least for the couples that we work with, to ask a coffee shop if they can have the ceremony there, or an art museum or art gallery, stepping away from the traditional church wedding or even the traditional wedding venue. The clients we work with, maybe we just end up with very creative people, but they're getting married in private homes or in gardens or up on a parkway somewhere.
A parkway? That sounds kind of unusual.
For the Piedmont area it's definitely unusual, but we do a ton of weddings up in Asheville, and everybody wants a small elopement or a small, intimate ceremony on a mountaintop. In the Triangle, I've seen a big trend toward private homes. People want to get married in a household that's significant to their life story or their childhood or something like that. Coffee tourism is huge, and so I've had a couple folks get married in coffee shops—and breweries.
What are some pitfalls to avoid?
This isn't just because we offer day-of coordination services, but every friend of mine, family member who has not hired a day-of coordinator has after the fact said it is the one thing they wish we would have done. If you don't have it in the budget to pay for a full-on planner, just hire somebody for eight hours to be there and be the point person so that you're not having to care about all the logistics and whether the cake showed up on time.
Any budget? There has to be a cutoff point.
I absolutely care about people enjoying their wedding day, so if you're working on a five-thousand-dollar budget, awesome, let's rock and roll, and maybe I'll do a little consulting along the way and they can figure out the rest, even just a tiny window of professional assistance to make sure you're asking all the right questions and getting all the appropriate information from all of the vendors you are working with.
Do you think the party barn will be a big thing in the area in the future?
Absolutely. And I hesitate to pick sides, but the more local small businesses, the better. In Asheville there are at least twenty if not more barn-type venues that have either been new construction or refurbished dairy barns, and there was a bit of backlash up front, but it has completely changed the economy for those smaller offshoot towns outside of Asheville. I'm a firm believer that if you are bringing folks into that rural part of town that they otherwise wouldn't have even attempted to visit while they were there, that's so awesome. They're getting a slice of that bigger city that they wouldn't have otherwise seen, and I think it can only benefit those rural communities. In the Triangle area particularly, it's fairly untapped, so I think you're going to see a trend in that.
This article appeared in print with the headline "The Wedding Planner."