Lisa Stoner Events
Lisa Stoner is a native New Yorker who is creatively driven, and overall excels in her craft as an event planner. She is based in Orlando, Florida, but is always enthusiastic when it comes to planning events and weddings outside of the area. I feel so lucky to have had the chance to ask Lisa a few questions regarding her typical day on the job, how she manages to reflect a couple’s vision on their wedding day, along with much more!
I love overhearing guests tell one another, “That was SO them!”
Q. How did you get started in your profession as an event planner?
A. It was a bit of serendipity, actually! At the time, I had my youngest daughter enrolled in a ballet class, and her teacher became engaged to be married. She asked if I would mind helping her with some details, and little did I know, she was an Orlando Magic dancer in which many of her fellow dancers and Magic affiliates attended. The wedding was on her parents’ horse farm, I had it tented, had a big band attend- the works. It was a hit, and I received referrals immediately from my very first wedding!
Q. Being from New York, do you think this has shaped your work ethic?
A. I have to believe that it was in great part to that, and of course in great part to the structure in which I was raised. My grandparents came from Puerto Rico, enrolled in an English class and my grandfather started his own business. It was by that example that I learned that business isn’t just handed to you; you have to work outside of that 9-5 realm, and be content doing so.
We all lived in the same apartment building in the Bronx, and my grandmother watched me on the weekdays while my mother worked. It was first hand that I saw these practices in motion. My mother also commuted endlessly to Midtown and for hours at a time completely dedicated to her job for 40+ years. You get nowhere without that hustle, and I’m forever grateful to have learned that lesson as a young girl, and impart those same sensibilities to my two daughters.
Q. What is a typical work week like for you?
A. First of all, there’s nothing typical about being a wedding planner, at least for me! Because my family has to endure some whacky hours related to work schedules, (the Mister is in the wedding industry too), we work diligently to employ a great deal of structure in the household. A work week for me must always have work/family balance. Always.
Q. What is your absolute favorite part of your job?
A. Goodness, there are too many! Honestly, a good design collaboration with a productions company can keep my spirits soaring for days on end. I love to take classic elements and reintroduce them in a contemporary way that is reflective of the couple and their style. When I recruit someone to join me on that venture, and everything clicks, it’s magic!
Q. What do you consider to be the most challenging aspect of your job?
A. The weather! Trust me when I say, I want my clients’ outdoor wedding dreams to come true, but it’s the one thing I truly have no control over, but lament about the most. I often joke that I am one degree shy of my meteorology degree with all of the apps, dopplers and weather systems I follow and can often predict!
When working with a client who has any outdoor venues in mind for their wedding, I always have a heart-to-heart about the realties that it poses not just for them, but for their photographers, video, floral design and set up, etc. It can be a domino effect if not planned carefully, and so I design a Plan B that can be realized where it (almost) always make the couple just as happy.
Q. Are there any common misconceptions about what you do.
A. A few would be that you only need a wedding planner for larger weddings, that a family relative or friend can do a wedding planner’s job or, my least favorite, the venue has an on-site coordinator that can manage the details. Trust me, the on-site venue coordinators are my biggest referrers! They have a minutiae of details to manage with food and beverage and the venue’s priorities, that they feel overwhelmed with the suggestion of pulling together style details, floor plans and vendor logistics.
Q. Do you stay with your clients throughout the whole wedding process?
A. Absolutely! Early on in my career, I made my business model very niche-specific. I am a full service planner and designer; I don’t take on any day-of weddings. In the “About” page of my website you will see me. I feel so strongly about close, personal service, that the proverbial “buck” begins and ends with me. I playfully tell my couples that I practically tuck them into bed the night of the wedding!
Q. Is there a way that you make sure the couple’s personality is reflected on the wedding day?
A. From the very first meeting, I ask my couples a series of very insightful questions. I want to know what their home looks like, what the family dynamics are like, favorite places to travel, etc.
One of my favorites was a wedding I had done along with Kristen Weaver Photography where the bride had a life-long affinity with Jeremiah’s Italian Ice. It was brought up in our first meeting when I asked, “So when you’re not working, and it’s down time, what do you two like to do?” Their response was a good dinner out, followed by a drive by to Jeremiah’s on the way home. Well, you know we had that distributed to guests to enjoy as the couple made their grand exit. I love overhearing guests tell one another, “That was SO them!”
Q. Could you give me an example of a time when a couple has been glad they brought a wedding planner on board?
A. I have exceptional experiences with all of my past and present couples, so I would venture to say that there are many applicable examples.
My favorite post-wedding ritual is to have a wine or coffee meet-up with them to recall not only the wedding day, but their overall experience with me, and with the team we built together. It’s fun to reminisce the poignant and the silly, but I often hear that I was always 10 steps ahead of them either with planning details or day of wedding logistics. It’s a very rewarding feeling to know that I offered them not only great service and peace of mind, but that we’ve built a personal relationship along the way.
Q. Are you seeing any trends in the wedding industry currently with your clients?
A. I genuinely steer clear of using the term “trends” with my approach to designing weddings. I understand it’s a fun buzz word for the wedding industry to latch on to, and I am as game as the next person to see what’s rolling out next.
My belief is that in sticking to the classic elements such as I mentioned earlier, while sticking to the couple’s style and sensibility, the result is a home run. I often explain that in 30, 40, 50 years, you don’t want to look back at your mementos as think, “That was my modern, Pantone declared purple phase,” or the year that heavy use of bling, arrows and honeycombs were all the rage.
In my mind’s eye, Classic+ Timeless, and will transcend any trend.
Q. Lastly, do you have any advice for couples who are looking for a wedding planner?
A. There are many planners in our area and beyond who can and will do an excellent job for you, and I am fortunate to call them colleagues and friends!
First of all, you need to truly connect with this individual and have a great, comforting sense that they are listening to your needs and expectations. They should also be able to boast a client referral list as a testimony to all of the things you are looking for in your perfect-planner match.
Next, you are making a considerable investment in not only your wedding planner, but your overall wedding experience. Look for an individual who has consciously and deliberately made that same investment in their business and themselves. What does their website, proposals, collateral look like? Do they have a private office space where you can thoughtfully and quietly meet? How is their conduct and personality in person and online? Remember, your planner often has to plan, meet and communicate with your immediate family and close circle of friends, as well. Your first decision was to bring home “the one” to meet the parents. Next, it’s your planner! *wink!