Friendor Feature: Monique Pirtle, MLP Events
This week's Friday Friendor Feature focuses on Monique Pirtle, vivacious owner and chief wedding and events planner at MLP Events based in downtown Downers Grove, Illinois. After running into Monique at various wedding events and vendor get-togethers, I decided this boss chick was one I wanted to get to know.
I visited Monique at her office, which is located in the wedding powerhouse that is Studio I Do located on the second floor of 5121 Main Street, Downers Grove. (Fun Fact: Studio I Do also houses Greenstar Paperie, a stellar stationer which this blog has not seen the last of...)
Right off the bat, I was struck by how easy it is to talk to Monique. She makes you feel at ease, comfortable in her role as the interface where concepts become ideas and finally reality. Her passion and enthusiasm for creating memorable weddings is evident in her whole personality and effusive way of discussing new planning concepts and ideas.
This woman never stops. When coordinating a wedding day, she accessorizes a pretty dress with running shoes. I have respect for a woman who's not afraid of serious footwear to facilitate the creation of beauty elsewhere. As a wedding photographer, I've watched plenty of wedding coordinators struggle in stilettos. This planner is different. Monique is not there to show off how pretty she is. She's there to show off how pretty her bride is.
I had lots of fun with this feature, so I hope you find it enjoyable too!
Where do you find inspiration when you're creating a cohesive style for a wedding?
"When planning a wedding, I like to step back and consider the atmosphere a couple wants to provide for their guests. I ask clients to think about their guests' sensory experience:
What will guests hear when arriving at a ceremony?
What will the dominant taste be at the cocktail hour?
What will be the visual focal point of a reception: a 5 tier wedding cake or a lucite candelabra?
What type of chairs will your guests feel honored to sit in?
Considering both the clients' personalities and the guests' sensory experience gives us the ability to craft a truly memorable day- not just a pretty day."
What drives you, and what keeps you coming back for more as a wedding planner?
"Making my clients happy! I work for the smiles on people's faces during a meeting when they realize I understand their vision, a hug from a parent when their son or daughter lights up after seeing their reception hall or even an email from vendors who appreciated my follow up with them. I've even gotten a text the next morning from couples just to say "you were awesome!" I love that my passion and dream makes people happy and helps them create lasting memories."
Describe the process of how you plan a wedding with a couple!
"Understanding my clients is key for me. I start with an in-depth questionnaire to get an idea of each unique couple's relationship and vision through exploring their favorite things, places and style preferences. I ask them questions like "What is your fondest memory from the first time you met?" or "If you had a reality tv show based on your lives, what would it be called and why?" or "Who takes longer to get ready for a date?"
This initial questionnaire is my road map throughout the planning process to create a cohesive style and color palette for a couple's wedding day."
What are your Top 5 favorite venues in the Chicago suburbs?
"This is a tough question because there are some fabulous venues in this area that suit different types of weddings, from outdoor beauty to vintage charm or traditional elegance to modern luxury!"
These are several truly unique and versatile spaces (click the names for links):
How do you keep all of the details straight?
"I love organization. I use both paper and electronic notes. I have a hard copy planner that goes everywhere I go. There's something so satisfying about hand-writing a list, accomplishing a task and crossing it off!
I also designate a binder for each specific clients' information, questionnaire and details."
What's one of the most touching moments you've ever experienced as a wedding planner?
"Last year I had an inquiry come in for a wedding that was the same day as my birthday! I couldn't turn down a chance to work with this great couple, so when they booked, we joked about it- but it wasn't something that we really talked about. My focus is always on the couple to ensure they make the best personal memories. However, the bride remembered that first conversation and put together a surprise at their reception, complete with a purple birthday cake with candles and the DJ had guests join in singing happy birthday to me! I was so surprised and touched at such a thoughtful gesture! I will never ever forget it!"
What's your Pinterest policy at MLP Events?
I think Pinterest is a great resource for planners and clients. I follow my clients' accounts so that I can get an idea of their style preferences.
However, I do encourage brides to keep an open mind. Identify patterns: if a client is pinning mostly lace bridal gowns, she should try on that style at a bridal salon. If all of her floral pins have a pale blue hydrangea, that's something to communicate to the florist. A Pinterest board not only provides an illustrated vision for your vendors to work from, it also helps them identify options within your floral/photography/decor budgets.
Do you provide different levels of planning?
Yes, at MLP Events, there are three levels of planning service for a wedding day:
Full Service Planning: Perfect for the couple looking to see their dreams come true without the hassle of planning.
This is a start-to-finish service that includes consultation, theme & color selection, budget analysis, vendor selection meetings, vendor timelines, RSVP and guest list management, rehearsal supervision, wedding day coordination, honeymoon coordination.
Month-Of Coordination: Right for the couple who has everything already planned for their wedding but prefers having someone else execute their vision while enjoying their day.
This is a service that ensures the rehearsal and wedding day go as smoothly as possible and includes consultation, vendor coordination, vendor timelines, and rehearsal and wedding day timeline and coordination.
Partial Service Planning: For the couple somewhere in the middle between needing full-service and month-of wedding planning.