Interview with Cristina Maria Special Events

Today I'm sitting with Cristina Curcio, a fabulous wedding planner in Washington, D.C. Let's ask her a few questions and pick her brain:

Jonathan Mervis: What made you want to become a wedding planner?

Cristina Curcio: I've always enjoyed helping others. Wedding planning came to me through my many years of event-planning experience. People came to me and just begged me, "plan my wedding, plan my wedding!" The greatest joy of being a wedding planner is being able to help others during such a joyous time and make the process as stress-free as possible. The biggest payoff is the day of--letting the bride just soak up the experience and not have to worry about the details.

JM: What is one of the first things a couple should do after they get engaged, to start the planning process?

CC: Firstly, just sit back and relax! Enjoy the engagement and the moment for all it's worth. But, once you start the actual planning process, it's best to start with your budget. Before you even start talking to vendors, consider your guest list. More often than not, couples will solicit vendors before even thinking about the wedding size, the money, who's invited, etc. That's a mistake. The budget and the list size go hand in hand. Set that first and it will be a cornerstone of the rest of the planning. It makes everything easier.

JM: How is a couple meant to arrive at a reasonable budget?

CC: You need to determine how much you can allot, and how much will be allotted by third parties, like parents or other family members. Be realistic with a working budget. It's best to give yourself a 10% cushion. Even with the most thorough planning, there's always stuff that will come up at the end. There's so many great resources available out there now, with DIY projects and whatnot, that you can do a wedding at any budget!

JM: Are there any rules of thumb regarding budget, as in '2 months of salary' with a ring, or anything similar?

CC: No, because some people have decent savings and some don't. The average wedding nationally is $25,000. Around DC, or any metropolitan area, it skews upward. But that should give you a starting point. Also, talk to others! Ask friends, ask wedding planners! Don't be afraid to ask questions.

JM: Knowing me personally, what kind of wedding do you foresee for me?

CC: I like to do events that are uniquely about the person. I know you're very invovled with family and so that shoudl be a part of the wedding. And maybe something with South Africa, whether that's with decor, the invitation, or whatnot. The overall feel would be elegant and casual, but very friendly. People should walk in and say, this is totally Jon. The wedding would definitley be all about fun. The dance floor would be crazy.

JM: What are some of the most unique wedding concepts you've done?

CC: I did a destination wedding in Puerto Rico... They wanted to tie-in the destination into the wedding. So they did miniature bottles of Bacardi with a mojito hammer (used to crush the mint) and a recipe card as party favors. It really represented the couple because they like to travel a lot. But also the groom is a graphic designer and he personally designed the recipe card. The guests loved it!

JM: How long it did take before that bottle of Bacardi was empty?

CC: I'm a pack-rat with party favors. Lol. I still have it. They represent each event I work on. I still have it unopened.

JM: Thanks! Cristina's website is