Wedding Pros

Wedding Planner: Maria Bartolome, Owner of By Your Side Events

Wedding planners are amazing. They are on the front line and I love the absolute creativity and style that the best planners bring to each wedding. I’ve been following Maria at By Your Side Events on Instagram for a while. I love her work. I think you will too. Based in Napa, California, she also travels to wherever her couples are planning their destination weddings. Here’s our interview with Maria at By Your Side Events:

TSF: Tell us a little about you.

Hey everyone! So, this is my first blog post…EVER, I’m excited and a little nervous, but that’s usually the way all great adventures begin, right? I’m so excited that I get to share my thoughts and ideas with you and to hear what you think! I already have so much I want to talk to you about, but let’s start from the beginning.

I am so lucky that I started my journey with a feeling. I didn’t set out to be a wedding planner in the beginning, in fact I thought I wanted to be a teacher. In 2006 I moved from my hometown of Ann Arbor Michigan to Santa Rosa California, I needed a break from the snow, and I guess I was looking for a new adventure. That “break” turned into a permanent residency, and 13 years later, here we are! My passion for events came from a seemingly unlikely source…lesson planning. IT turns out that teaching really wasn’t my thing but planning for my lessons and activities and scheduling out the day made my heart race. I didn’t know what do to with that feeling but I wanted to feel it more, so I kept finding things to do that made my heart happy, (or did they find me?). Lesson planning turned into BEO’s for winery events, which turned into Day Of Timelines which is where we are now. That feeling that I got from planning has now taken on a life of its own, when I get to work with someone on their most special event, and to see their faces on that day it fuels me. It fills my tank and gets me excited to do more.

TSF: What’s Been Your Favorite part of being a Wedding Planner?

I have been asked a few times over the years what my favorite part of the job is, and I can’t say that I do have a favorite part exactly, in fact, I have two. There is something so magical about watching a bride float down the aisle. After I give her dress one last fluff and whisper, “go ahead” she is off; all of the months of planning, phone calls, emails, texts, facetimes, schematics, laughs, sometimes tears and hugs is all happening, it is so cool to see it all come to life!

Also, you know how they say to brides and grooms all the time that your wedding day will go by so quickly, don’t forget to enjoy it? I always tell them don’t forget to EAT and enjoy it, but it is true, and it’s also true for me and my team, just before the ceremony begins it is show time and it all fly’s by in a blink, thankfully we have photographers to help us remember how it all looked and the way we felt on that special day. When I get the pictures back from my couples’ events it’s almost like I get to experience the same feeling that I had with them on their wedding day all over again! I love being able to revisit everything – the getting ready shots, photos during cocktail hour, the first dance and all of the amazing faces that people make during toasts (those are some of my favorites 😊).

TSF: Best piece of advice to give couples planning their wedding.

Ok, well this is going to sound a bit bias and I really don’t mean it to be but hire a planner! I don’t necessarily mean your best friend’s sister or your co-workers friend’s daughter (unless they really are planners) but an actual licensed, educated, professional planner. Here’s why: chances are you have never done this before; planning a wedding is different than planning a birthday party or dinner party. This is the biggest dinner party you are ever going to throw; all of your family and friends are going to be there to celebrate with you and the last thing that you need or want is for something unknowingly preventable to go wrong. We didn’t order enough glasses – your planner would have warned you that you will need extra glasses if your venue doesn’t provide them. Our guests were running to their cars for jackets they were so cold – your planner would have reminded you that your cocktail hour would be outside after the sun set in March and would have added heaters to your rental order for you (and probably saved you 10% – 25% with your rental company because they are a preferred vendor). Our DJ was horrible and just talked the whole time and didn’t play any of the songs on our “play” list – your planner would have made sure that you were matched with the right DJ for your style they would have made sure that your DJ was playing what you wanted to listen to, not what they want to play.

TSF: What is By Your Side Events specialty?

We specialize in planning, coordinating and executing successful, magical events, while having fun along the way! I mean it when I say we will be by your side, we are going to be your wedding planning bestie, not just for the brides but the grooms too.

TSF: Weddings can be stressful. How do you keep yourself relaxed & energized?

My calendar reminders are my lifeline in staying organized, the second I schedule an appointment with someone – boom – it goes on the calendar. If I need a reminder to reach out to someone at a specific time – boom – it goes on the calendar, and most importantly, when I book an event! Boom – It goes on the calendar. I am super blessed that I get to live in such a beautiful area of California and I realize that I take it for granted sometimes, but driving up and down the Silverado Trail or HWY 29 through the vineyards and the hot air balloon parade in the mornings is one of the most relaxing things I never knew I needed! Then when I’m really feeling adventurous, I get to see the Golden Gate Bridge or the cliffs on the 1 after an hour in the car, or even snow after a few hours. Also, wine and just some good old fashion wine and girl talk do the trick too.

TSF: What inspires you professionally?

My couples do, every one of them is different and I have a special bond and unique experience with all of them to where no two events are the same. That means that I get to create or discover something new all the time! Making new discoveries, creating and learning is so inspiring and motivating and fun! It’s really cool to be a part of my couple’s ideas, and it is super interesting to see what is important to people and what their interest are.

TSF: Biggest pet peeve with modern technology in wedding planning?

Just when I feel like I am getting the hang of something, a different something will come up that is the newest, latest and greatest and I have to start all over again. Don’t get me wrong, I am all for evolving, just give me a minute to catch up please!

TSF: What one superpower would you want for your work?

Cloning. I want to be everywhere all the time, there are never enough hours in the day right? On a personal note though, I’ve always been jealous of Snow White, I would love to have conversations with animals!

I do have some other favorite things that fill my tank. When I am not planning weddings or events you will find me in my other happy place, Disneyland (I’m a complete Disney Dork and I don’t care who knows it!) with my daughter, singing wherever I can, going on adventures or being crafty on the couch. Of course, living in Napa, I never pass up a chance to go wine tasting, R and D right?

I can’t wait to share more of my thoughts about all things weddings, events, parties, life, and more with you and to hear some of your adventures too! Talk soon,

-M

By Your Side Events
By Your Side Events

There is no single route to finding the best planner for your wedding.  Both WeddingWire and The Knot have great lists of suggested questions.  If you have a question you’d like to ask Maria about her wedding planning business, or her opinion on anything wedding related, please ask it in the comments below or send us an email.

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