Corrine Van Arsdale – Planning with Peace and Kindness
Often wedding planners are depicted as excitable, high strung, people with over the top personalities who are always telling couples what they “should” do, even if they don’t want to. Think about Father of the Bride, with a harried Steve Martin and spastic Martin Short, or the myriad of juicy wedding reality shows on streaming media, talk about drama.
Weddings are a wonderful time in your life and something that only happens once or (ahem), twice. They are also a very emotional and high stress situation that can rattle even the calmest of couples. Adding drama to the mix is like throwing grease on a fire. This is why you need a professional to handle the situation. Enter Corinne Van Arsdale, Lead Planner, at Canvas Weddings. With a soft spoken voice, and quiet movements and mannerisms, Corinne is what Marianne Williamson would be like if she was a wedding planner. What’s her secret sauce? Corinne explained that she works with empathy and understanding using kindness and peace. She strives for those values to be part of her life and what she projects to the world.
Advice for Aspiring Planners
I had a chance to talk with Corinne and find out a little more about her process and passion. Originally from Chicago, she has a no nonsense, straight forward, midwestern style. She is easily approachable, and just plain nice. Ironically she started her career as an assistant to a divorce attorney and planned weddings on the side. It didn’t take long for wedding planning to become her passion and she has been in business full time as a planner for about 10 years.
Wedding planning is an attractive career and one that is exciting and fun. No two couples are alike and no two weddings are alike. I asked Corinne for some tips for aspiring planners and what she has learned along the way.
Her biggest advice was to not be afraid to ask for help. Corinne has had enough experience to be self aware. She admitted that when she was starting out, she wanted everything to be perfect and was also too proud to ask for help. Corinne wanted people to think that she had it all figured out. She has since learned that there is no shame in asking for support. Some examples are getting an accountant when first starting your business, asking for feedback from other vendors, and finding mentors, and shadowing more experienced planners. “There is no shame in knowing what you don’t know,” she said.
Contingency Plans, for when Sh*t Happens
Corinne and I share similar values of wanting to support women, especially moms who need flexible hours who may have trouble finding work in more traditional settings. Both of us want to be the type of people that they want to work for, kind, considerate, and championing people to be their personal best. We both know that things can happen beyond your control and while you do have contingency plans in place. Sh*t happens, and it’s your job (even if another vendor made a mistake) to make sure that the event, the most important thing, goes correctly and that your clients and their guests are thrilled.
We did talk a bit about some of the worst things she has seen as a wedding planner. All I can say is that it was a learning experience, and involved portable restrooms and a faulty hose. Corinne offers consultations with margaritas, perhaps she can fill in the details for you. She’s a trooper and I guarantee she will never let an incident like that happen again.
Difference Between Coordinators, Designers and Planners
Corinne was kind enough to explain the difference between wedding coordinators, event designers and planners to me.
Coordinators handle the logistics, they come into the process at a later point to execute a plan and design often put together by couples themselves. While a great thing to have, and requested by most venues, a coordinator can’t be responsible for mishaps that may happen by poorly vetted vendor choices and contingency plans. While they try their best to foresee any problems that may occur, it’s difficult for them to be effective when working with vendors that they may not be the best fit. Many venues will offer coordinators as part of their package. I caution that these coordinators are usually focused on the run of show from the venue standpoint and not on little details.
Event designers are creative directors, they look at the overall look and feel of the event and make sure that everything from the invitations to the linens have a cohesive statement. They are focused on the visual aspects and help pull all loose ends together.
Planners on the other hand are more like executive producers. They help couples curate vendors, review contracts and even select venues. Planners have a group of people that that they can refer couples to who they trust. As a florist, I often ask other vendors how I can improve what I am doing and what their pain points are. I hear stories about florists showing up understaffed, outdoor receptions with no rain plan (and it rained) and caterers who have plan old forgotten dates all together (ok that was one story one time, but wow). Not on Corinne’s watch. She personally vets every vendor and makes sure she refers the best and people that she trusts. She also makes sure there are contingency plans for things like rain, and some things people forget, like ice, water and restrooms.
Trends in Weddings
Some of the trends that she has noticed are that couples are looking for more of an experience with their guests. It’s one of the few times that super busy millennials can get together and hang out with friends and relatives before the next chapter in their lives (kids and other stuff). Instead of just a Saturday wedding, they want Friday hangouts, and Sunday brunches. That’s one of the things that makes the Hudson Valley and Catskills such a popular destination for weddings. It’s close to New York and easily accessible by train or car, and with a variety of things for guests to do to. It’s a great place for at a fun weekend getaway.
Planning a wedding while living in the city can be a challenge, and that is when a planning company like Canvas Weddings is key. Some of Corinne’s favorite venues are Gather Greene, Scribner’s Lodge, Hayfield Catskills and Nostrano Vineyards. Corrine also has dozens of others on her short list and knows how to find the right place for each couple.
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Corinne Van Arsdale