INTERVIEW: Barbara Wallace, Wedding Expert and Author

Barbara Wallace is an award winning and accomplished wedding planner now full-time publisher/author AND a personal mentor to me since I first entered this industry.  Beautiful Bride from Every Angle is the newest wedding inspirational book collaboratively written by Barbara along with seasoned fashion stylist, Annie Withers, and acclaimed international photographer, Lars Wanberg.  My interview with Barbara introduces us to their visually stunning and informative book and she also shares some of her personal applications from experiences as as one of California’s premiere event planners.

Please share what led you to become a wedding planner?
I worked in the corporate world for 11 years. One day my daughter called me and said I should look into a career that she’d read about in a book of unusual careers because it would be perfect for me – it happened to be Wedding Planner. I didn’t even know what they did then but looked into it and it was quite a perfect fit and officially started in 1997.

Please introduce us to Beautiful Bride from Every Angle
It is a lovely, hardbound book with over 300 pages and 340 photos- most of which are in color. About 95% of the photos are of real weddings- we had just one photo shoot to illustrate certain points we couldn’t get at a wedding.  The book is divided into three sections with each co-author sharing their philosophy then discussing planning a wedding from their “angle.” We want our readers -both brides and grooms- to focus on developing their personal style and reflecting it into their wedding day so that as the guests walk away they will know whose wedding they just attended. No cookie-cutter weddings here- I like to say that couples should put their thumbprint on their wedding. We have a full section for the groom, too, which all three of us wrote part of. While we doubt many grooms will run out to buy the book for themselves, we know they will benefit from their bride sharing it with them.

Any particular “a ha” moments that left a lasting impression on you while in the industry?
That a wedding is like a one performance play with no rehearsals. In other words, we only have one time to get it right and if it’s not- we could ruin a couple’s most special day. There has to be impeccable planning and a very professional vendor team to effectuate this single “performance.” It must be stellar.

What are some of your absolute MUST wedding tips for couples?
Be sure to have your budget in place before even purchasing one thing for the wedding. Apportion what you have allotted for the wedding into reasonable amounts and put it on paper- into a spreadsheet preferably- and stick to it. As an example, I once had a bride who had $75,000 to spend for her wedding. Before she hired me she had purchased a wedding gown for $8,000. Obviously that was far too large a percentage of the budget for a gown but there was no turning back. We had to work very hard to stay within her allotted amount and she didn’t get to have all the things she would have liked. Remember, it’s not the vendors’ problem if the couple has overspent so they should not be expected to reduce their prices to accommodate the couple’s extravagance.

Top seven components an ideal wedding would include in your opinion… 
1. a detailed timeline (not micromanaged but keep it moving so there are no lags during which guests will become bored or impatient)
2. a few minutes set aside for the bride and groom to have time alone right after the ceremony. It may be the only time they have alone together all day.

3. the music during dinner being played softly enough so guests can talk (crank it up for dancing but please don’t make people shout across the table while they dine)
4. a manageably- sized wedding party. Parties of 10 or more take more time to mobilize and move around which can cause delays in photos, ceremony line-ups and grand entrances
5. First dance of the bride and groom upon entering the room for the first time- the guests attention is on them and if they have taken dancing lessons- it’s a very exciting presentation then an upbeat song or two following the first dance and inviting all guests to the dance floor. This works off their cocktail buzz and really starts the party.
6. Short toasts!! No more than 3 minutes each.
7. a group of professional vendors who realize the value of being a great team.

Random facts and tips?
Make the planning process fun and not work.
Don’t try to do much DIY. If you don’t pace yourself you might end up swamped at the end and you’ll be exhausted during the one of most important times of your life. 
It is also tempting for a couple to want everything they see on TV and in magazines and a planner needs to help them focus on the things they consider important while staying within their allotted funds. It’s very easy to spend money – anyone can do that. A true accomplishment is having a lovely wedding and staying within their financial parameters.

Thank you Barbara for your thoughtful insight and congratulations on an amazing publication!  The official release for Beautiful Bride from Every Angle is TODAY and copies are now available at or and major retail bookstores.   

** All photos courtesy of Beautiful Bride from Every Angle 2011 ZinGiBer Publishing **

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