If you're engaged, then you don't want to miss Garmental's Wedding Week! Looking for ideas for your big day? We've got you covered! We teamed up with our favorite Windy City wedding planner, Katie Jackson-Meara of So Dressed Up, for super chic and 100% unique wedding day style! Get great tips from our expert on the dos and don'ts, one-of-a-kind styling, gifts and delicious sips and snacks you simply can't afford to miss!
It's no big secret that Katie Jackson-Meara has a major eye for wedding day style. If you're planning nuptials, you need to meet her and will probably make her your new best friend! Katie has been obsessed with great style, darling little details and perfectly planned parties for as long as she can remember. Katie's passion for planning the perfect event, complete with every adorable detail her clients can dream up, prompted her to create So Dressed Up- a Chicago based wedding and event planning business with an obsession for perfect plans, impeccable style and darling details. In addition to perfect coordination and flawless execution, Katie believes events require an inspired approach, a thoughtful design and your statement of style, which is why we were so drawn to collaborate with the wedding day darling! She takes her time getting to know each client; identifying their style, event objectives and customizing the perfect plan for each individual client. Katie prides herself in dressing up the details to ensure your event is as beautiful and thoughtful as it is perfectly planned, giving your guests a truly unique collective experience that is the ultimate reflection of you and your personal style.
June is our dream month of wedding days and parties galore, but every couple wants to make theirs stand out, unique to their personality and a celebration that no guest will ever forget! We agree and couldn't be more in love with the gorgeous styling and wedding inspiration that resulted in our first ever Garmental Guide: Chic Summer Wedding Style with Katie Jackson-Meara of So Dressed Up! Flip through the slideshow, get in-depth information of what every couple needs to know in our interview with Katie and get inspired! We know we are...
G: Why do newly engaged couples come to you for your services?
KJM: Couples come to me because they are looking for a professional to help guide them through the wedding planning process. From creating and focusing their wedding day style and personalized details, to identifying their priorities to managing all of the moving pieces and executing an incredible day…they recognize the value of professional assistance and are looking for someone to ensure a less stressful planning process and wedding day. Additionally, they are typically looking for someone to help save time- using my contacts best suited for their style and budget instead of doing a ton of research and leg work on their own. People are looking for a guide- a professional planner and stylist that will make the day as unique and true to them as it can be all while creating a memorable and enjoyable planning process.
G: What do you think is your most significant role?
KJM: I have a very collaborative and hands on approach with my clients for all weddings and events. I think it’s important to really educate my clients- to give them their leading options, and to talk through what is best for them and offer any advice and guidance I can, giving my opinion yet ultimately allowing them to make the final decision. This is their big day, not mine! I also think one of my biggest roles is to help eliminate stress so that couples can enjoy this time.
G: What about your approach make the So Dressed Up difference?
KJM: There are a few things that make my approach different. I think the first is my collaborative approach. I really like to be involved in the planning process, in the details of the day and really want to get to know my couples. I consider it a huge honor when people trust me to be a part of such an important milestone in their families’ lives and I do not take it lightly. I want to really get to know them as people, as a couple, and have a very honest and friendly relationship with them. It’s such a personal day and a personal relationship and I want to always make sure we are having as much fun as we can. Many times, I become friends with clients after their wedding- which I just love.
Secondly, I’d say it’s all about style. Style is a huge part of what my brand is all about. For me it’s not so much attracting the same client with the same aesthetic each time. It’s really working with clients on identifying what their style really is and helping to create a day that is truly a reflection of that personal style. It’s easy to get lost in endless Pinterest inspiration or caught up in trends. I really like to help hone in on what is truly the style of the bride and groom and help create a day around that. In addition to event styling, I also love being involved in the personal styling. From the bridesmaids dresses to your rehearsal dinner dress…I love helping create a cohesive look for all of your most important people at the wedding and for you on all of your big occasions along the way.
Lastly, I hate to say attention to detail because anyone in this role has to be attentive to details. But I think my clients can attest that my attention is more like an obsession. I just love them- creating them, keeping track of them…I live for them.
G: What are some questions clients needs to ask planners when considering their wedding day?
KJM: Working with a wedding planner is very personal and compatibility is important. Don’t assume you should book the same planner your friend did just because they got along or because they are the least expensive planner in your area. You definitely want to choose a planner who you enjoy being around and working with. They are going to play a big role in a huge moment in your family’s life and it’s important you feel comfortable with your planner and that you are able to communicate well to ensure the planner can create the day exactly as you hoped for!
I offer complimentary consultations so that brides can meet with me first hand and we can both get a sense of each other’s styles, personalities, and work habits to make sure it’s a good fit before moving forward. Take advantage of this time to ask questions and really think about if you can see yourself spending a lot of time with them. Once you determine it’s a good fit, it’s important to keep an open relationship with regular communication so that you are consistently on the same page and that no one ends up surprised. It’s important to be really honest about what you want and how you’re feeling about things throughout the process so that your planner can truly design and create the wedding you are looking for. Likewise, if you aren’t on board with something your planner suggests, don’t be afraid to speak up. They want you to be happy!
Another thing I tell prospective clients to consider when meeting with planners are commissions. Some planners take commissions from each vendor they refer their clients to on top of their planning fee, which can result in a huge additional amount of their budget being spent. I have a strong no commission policy so that clients can rest assured they are being sent to the best vendors for their style and budget, and so they can make the most of the money they have to spend. Definitely check with your planner on their policies so you are clear on and comfortable with all of their fees.
G: Are there any industry "secrets" couples need to know about in terms of budgets?
KJM: Budgets are one of the toughest parts of planning a wedding. A lot of it comes down to education. It’s easy for clients to have sticker shock since they have never done this before. Unfortunately a lot of the mass information online about general wedding budgets is just not realistic for a lot of couples- particularly those in urban areas- so that can be misleading. For example-- According to CNN the 2014 average wedding cost is $30k. In many cases that wouldn’t even cover all food, beverage and rentals for a 200 guest seated dinner in Chicago—whereas they suggest the wedding venue and catering is at an average of $13,385 in 2013.
It’s important to have a budget in mind that you are comfortable with before meeting with a planner. Even if it’s a range, from there, your planner can help you identify your priorities and determine how best to allocate the money you have to spend. There are so many ways to have a wedding- from an elaborate 450 person black tie affair to an intimate at-home dinner party. It’s important to really identify what type of wedding you want, how much money you want to spend, and then work with your planner on how to make that happen. It could mean doing the fancy ballroom wedding for less guests than you originally imagined. Or it could mean having to scale back on that gorgeous centerpiece you fell in love with so that you can include your fiance’s extended family. Very few people really get EVERYTHING they want. It’s all about compromise. I always tell my couple’ decide what matters the most. Pick three things you are not willing to compromise on and go from there. Dying over a perfect dress, florals, and invitations? Worried most about food, music and photography? Go for it! Identify your priorities, splurge there, and work with your planner on ways to save in other areas.
G: Where do couples tend to cut costs when they shouldn't?
KJM: Every couple has a different set of priorities. I personally think it’s important to limit DIY projects and to hire professionals you feel confident in across the board. It’s easy to be tempted to have your aunt do the flowers or your photography student friend take photos to help save on costs. But at the end of the day, your friends and family should be guests at your wedding. Let the professionals do their jobs and let yourself and your friends and family enjoy the big day without a single worry!
G: Which aspect or unique element of a wedding day can make the event stand out?
KJM: I am all about the darling details. Though sometimes they seem small, the extra elements of care and attention will be what help your wedding truly stand out. From incorporating your mom’s secret recipe into a course at dinner, to monogrammed cocktail napkins…Your guests will absolutely take note!
G: Any last piece of advice for newly engaged couples?
KJM: Enjoy it! Planning a wedding can be a stressful time for couples and their families. Work with your planner to make the best decisions you can and then move on. It’s important not to re-think every decision. The time goes so fast and you never want to look back and wish you’d had more fun. You’re only doing this once! And—don’t lose perspective. Don’t get me wrong-- I love a beautiful, detail perfect day more than anyone I know…but you have to remember the bigger picture. More than anything, you want to have a beautiful marriage, and this is the beginning of bringing two families together. So sometimes making a compromise on something you really wanted, or letting your future mother in law weight in on something really important to her isn’t as big of a deal as you may think.
To learn more about Katie's amazing services and talents, visit her website and contact her here - So Dressed Up
Some of Katie's favorite vendors featured in the guide:
5717 N. Elston
Chicago, Illinois 60645
Pistil & Vine
1924 N. Damen
Chicago, Il. 60647
472 W. Erie Street
Chicago, Il. 60654
La Fournette Bakery is located at:
1547 N. Wells
Chicago, Il. 60610