Over the years we have featured so many talented vendors, so in honor of Throwback Thursday we are going to feature one of our favorite event planners, Meagan Gilpatrick of Maine Seasons Events. She has such a kind way about her, and an enthusiasm that captivated us as she detailed her process and inspiration below. Settle in and fall in love with Meagan, too.

Maine Seasons Events<br><a href=http://www.breamcdonald.com target=_blank>photo by Brea McDonald photography</a>

L&L: Tell us a little about you, your background and the history of Maine Seasons Events.

MSE: I have been designing and coordinating weddings for 10 years, and officially launched Maine Seasons Events in January of 2006.  In 1999 when I was planning my own wedding, I encountered many obstacles that took some of the fun out of the process.  It occurred to me that I would love to use my creativity & background in human resources management, customer service, project management, design, and hospitality to help others create visionary weddings that feel representative of who they are.  My goal was and continues to be, making the wedding process fun and organized, efficient, pleasant and part of the journey.  I planned weddings for several friends, and word spread.  After a few years of planning events on the side, I left the corporate world to focus full time on the one profession that never felt like a job to me.  Of course, there are budgets, logistics, music, food selections, contracts and timelines to consider, but at the core of what I do, the journey of how we come to be married is important to me.  This journey is unfortunately often overlooked, or hurried through during the wedding planning process.  I like to think of myself as a professional tour guide (and tactical commander, logistics task force, expectation manager, emotional translator, friend, designer and client advocate), guiding my clients to the celebration of joining their lives together, ensuring they really experience and are present for this important part of the journey and that the event we plan is a uniquely memorable and special occasion for everyone attending.

Personally, I grew up in mid coast Maine with Southern parents in a 200 year old farm house (artist/designer mom is from Mississippi and mechanical engineer/outdoorsman/retired Navy pilot and Captain dad is from Georgia. In 1970 dad wanted to come back to Maine where his father and grandfather are from, to marry my mom, start a family and subsequently raise my sister and I). My current grown up life is filled with a scrumptious and inquisitive 2 and a half year old daughter, my junior high school sweetheart husband (we had a paper route together in our neighborhood in 8th grade!), a century old house, more gardens than I can keep up with, 3 cats and the constant hum of creative activity.  Some of the things you might see happening on any given day at our house?  Knitting, baking, gardening, sewing, reading to our daughter, restoring a vintage camper, painting, redecorating, bird watching, building, welding, renovating, cooking, entertaining and maybe a little sleeping when we can squeeze it in.

Maine Seasons Events<br><a href=http://www.breamcdonald.com target=_blank>photos by Brea McDonald photography</a>

L&L: Describe the range of services that you offer. What is the bulk of your work?

MSE: Maine Seasons Events is a design & wedding planning company specializing in Maine weddings.  We also provide staging and styling for editorial photo shoots, such as wedding and home/interior design magazines, blogs, advertising campaigns and merchandising displays.  Our wedding planning services are designed to be customized to the needs of each unique client.  For one client, the service that best suits their needs could be full event planning and design, and for another client, hourly consultation and day of event coordination services. Offering the flexibility to choose different levels of customized service has been an important feature for our clients.

After designing, coordinating and executing over 125 weddings, one of the things I hear the most from my clients, is that we brought style, order and calm to what would have otherwise been a hectic and stressful day.  Our attention to detail, industry knowledge, experience, caring for our clients, diligence, organization and consistent professionalism are some of the fundamental elements of our client’s experience when working with Maine Seasons Events.  The majority of my clients are from out of Maine and need full design and logistical planning services and about 25% hire us to provide hourly consultation, design and day of event coordination services.

Maine Seasons Events<br><a href=http://www.breamcdonald.com target=_blank>photo by Brea McDonald photography</a>

L&L: How would you describe your style? Where do you draw your inspiration?

MSE: My professional working style is approachable, friendly, enthusiastic, sincere, caring, capable and focused.  I want clients to feel comfortable working with us and for them to trust us, we work to build relationships with each of our clients from the very start.  My design style is varied, I like things from many different styles, but overall, I am madly in love with incorporating ordinary things into design in extraordinary ways.  I love old things, things that had a life before I happened upon them.  I love to listen to clients tell me their stories and I pick elements that are important to them and bring those things into their wedding design in some way.  It may be the bride’s fondness for her grandmother’s antique silver collection, that I translate into using vintage silver pieces as centerpiece containers for flowers and silver trays collected at antiques shops for cocktail tables, with silver sugar bowls for flowers in them.  It may be a couples’ southern roots, an old family barn, or an heirloom family quilt, but any little thing that is special to my clients, can become and be imagined into, inspiration for wedding design.  I am inspired by junk shops, flea markets, yard sales and the holy grail of antiques: Brimfield Antiques Show.  I am inspired by the puzzle of making a real and special celebration come to life from only ideas and imagination.  My toddler daughter inspires me with her sense of wonder about the world around her, the night sky inspires me, vintage fabrics, my grandparents’ house, my garden, the way the leaves on trees blow just before a thunderstorm… The shadows on the kitchen cupboards in the afternoon inspire me, architecture, doorknobs, rusty lamp posts, street signs, fabric, color, the seasons, I am very aware of all of the tiny and special details around us that often go unnoticed, these little details light me up and inspire me.  I have journals and folders of ideas, lists, things of note that I have experienced and noticed, I often draw upon this idea bank when putting together a design proposal for a client.  I look for ways to incorporate the clients’ personalities, style, favorites and special memories, so that their wedding design feels like them, to them and to their guests.  I am inspired by little surprises in life and in design, it is fun to work a few fun little surprises into a wedding.

Maine Seasons Events<br><a href=http://www.breamcdonald.com target=_blank>photos by Brea McDonald photography</a>

L&L: Walk us through the process of booking you for a wedding… do you typically meet with clients before they book, do a site visit, etc? How far in advance should a bride book you for her wedding day?

MSE: Typically, I receive an e-mail or phone call from clients and I ask some detailed questions to get an idea of the type and size of event they are planning and to better understand their wants and needs.  I always schedule an initial phone meeting to get to know each other better and determine if we are a good fit for each other.  During this time, I encourage my clients to ask any questions they have, and to feel comfortable being open and honest with me, I will ask a lot of questions about their style, their vision, their must have elements and must not have elements, their family, their story and their budget.  From there, when a client decides to book our services, I create a custom contract for them and there is a booking deposit due.  Once we are signed and official, the fun begins and I get to work organizing their event.

As the majority of my clients don’t live in Maine, I typically “meet” them over the phone, and we start planning from there.  Sometimes I meet my clients for the first time at their ceremony rehearsal!  But we have spent hours on the phone, sent countless e-mails and have a strong relationship by that point, there are often hugs, tears and laughing when we finally meet in person.  I can work independently, visiting venues, doing site visits with other service providers, communicating with the other vendors on the wedding team, without my clients present, as is often necessary, but I also like to include my clients in this process if they choose to visit or want to be involved.  I sometimes schedule a group of meetings with other vendors over a 2 day time period when my clients are coming to Maine, so they get to meet their wedding team, it is always fun to spend some time together before the wedding, working together, to get a better sense of each others’ personalities, and style.

Typically about 95% of my clients book 12-15 months in advance of their wedding and about 5% book within 12 months of their event.  Styling and staging services are booked much closer to the event date, sometimes only a few weeks in advance, but preferably a month in advance!

Maine Seasons Events<br><a href=http://www.sharynpeavey.com target=_blank>photo by Sharyn Peavey

L&L: What is the most popular trend you are seeing at weddings this season? Is there a particular color palette that’s most popular?

MSE: I am seeing a lot of Mason jars-as centerpiece containers, lanterns, votive candle holders, drinking glasses.  I love it when a simple everyday item makes it’s way into such a special celebration in an extraordinary way!  Gray is the big color for my clients in 2010, as the neutral foundation color and I am using it everywhere from table linens, to bridesmaids’ dresses, to ink on invitations and ribbon and rocks in the wedding designs.  I am making a lot of custom table linens this season, scavenging a lot of unique (and familiar all at the same time!) and vintage elements to accent my clients’ weddings.  2010 is a year I am particularly excited about from a style and design standpoint.  Every single wedding I am working on this year is exceptional and most importantly, special and exciting to my clients.

Maine Seasons Events<br><a href=http://www.cunninghamphoto.com target=_blank>photo by Cunningham Photography</a>

L&L: Do most clients already have a vision for their wedding day when they come to you, give you free reign or do you mostly work together to create their event?

MSE: I always ask my clients detailed questions about their wedding vision, their ideas, and their likes and dislikes, I ask a lot about their personal style, sometimes asking to see pictures of their house, asking the names of their favorite home stores, where they buy their clothes, what kind of car they drive, their favorite foods and colors, songs they like, books they read.  From all of this, I can get a sense of their style, and who they are.  This is where the design process starts for me-the client.  The majority of my clients have a few magazine clippings or blog photos as inspirations, and for 98 % of my clients, I create a comprehensive design proposal incorporating their ideas and completed with other elements that create a cohesive and meaningful design.   Most of my clients have an idea of how they want their event to look and feel, but don’t have the detailed and big picture vision to pull it all together, and this is something they specifically ask me for.  For every design client, I create detailed design presentations, with photos and notes so they can see how each element in the wedding will look, the materials we will use and the colors and textures.  Translating ideas into something that can be replicated sometimes 200 times realistically, is a specialty of ours.  Sometimes clients come to me with a picture of a lamp, or a post card and ask me to design their wedding around that.  The translation is one of my favorite parts of the process, answering the question, “how do I incorporate this element, or the feel of this element, on 25 tables, or 200 place cards,  realistically?” is the best challenge. 

Maine Seasons Events<br><a href=http://www.breamcdonald.com target=_blank>photo by Brea McDonald Photography</a>

L&L: How do most of your clients find you?

MSE: 99% of my clients live outside of Maine, and about 90%  e-mail or call me after having read my blog or having found my website on an internet search.  About 10% of my clients come to me from referrals from other service providers and past clients.  This year I have the privilege of working with several brides who were best friends in college, or have worked together, or grew up together, work it is starting to feel like a big family!

L by Brea McDonald, R by Sharyn Peavey

L&L: What was the most memorable wedding you have worked or been to and why?

MSE: Every wedding is special to me, because every couple, and every family is special and unique and I come to love them all for who they are.   One of my most memorable weddings was my best friend’s wedding in 2002.  I have known Katie since 7th grade and we grew up together, in junior high, high school, and after college we even worked at the same company, Katie was in my wedding, and we bought houses and later, started our families in our old home towns, 10 minutes apart.  When Katie got engaged a year after I got married, we were still in wedding mode, I was so excited to see that ring on her finger when they came over for pizza one night!   Katie chose an old Playhouse with a barn for her September wedding, and her and I set about making everything for the big day.  We made 30 foot evergreen garlands from her land, to hang on the barn beams lit with twinkle lights, the centerpieces, the place cards, the invitations, the bridesmaids dresses, (yes I sew, but don’t tell anyone!). I even made her cake and when finished, it weighed in at 70 pounds of chocolate perfection, decorated with crabapples from my yard.  We froze the leftover cake and ate it for weeks, it was so delish!  The evening was beautiful, Katie and her new husband were beautiful, it was magical to be in the company of Katie, her sisters and their parents who I had grown up with.  I cried when Katie danced with her dad, as much as I did when I danced with my father at my own wedding.  Katie and her husband are so right for each other, they are so fun together, it was a very sincere union, and it was one of the first weddings (other than my own!) that I had the opportunity to be involved in the overall design, the creating of all the special details, and from this I learned that I needed to do this kind of work to make my life complete.  That night is still dear in my memory and every September I look at her wedding pictures from my photo collection and think back to what our lives were like then and what a great experience it was.  Now that we have 4 children between us, I am about to celebrate my 10 wedding anniversary (how is that possible?!?) and Katie and her husband are about to celebrate their 8th, I am so grateful to have been a part of such an important milestone in Katie’s life.

Maine Seasons Events<br><a href=http://www.cunninghamphoto.com target=_blank>photo by Cunningham Photography</a>

L&L: You were born and raised in Maine. What “must-see” places and eateries do you suggest folks from out of town check out while visiting?

MSE:

  • Fat Boy Drive-In in Brunswick, and prepare yourselves!  No grilled cheese sandwich or onion ring will ever meet your standard ever again!
  • Any and all antique/junk/flea market shops, Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park- really the great conjunction of all things incredible on this planet, barring maybe a rain forest.  Go! Bring or rent bikes for the carriage trails, kayak, walk, swim in the ocean, the lakes, go to the gardens, drive around Northeast Harbor and see the historic incredibly beautiful old homes, go for a boat ride, camp-you might even see Martha Stewart.  It is heaven.
  • The Knife’s Edge on Mt. Katahdin in Baxter State Park, which I have been climbing almost every year since I was 10 years old, very special place.  Some of my biggest challenges between myself and my will, have happened on that mountain.
  • Sewall Beach/Morse Mountain in Phippsburg.  Bring bug repellant and comfy shoes and don’t bring anything you can’t carry for a while, and bring a stroller with hefty wheels for the babies, but the long walk/hike in to the beach is so worth it.  Quintessential Maine sandy beach, with rocky coastline, crashing waves and the view?  It is almost too much even for a native!
  • Elmer’s Barn in Cooper’s Mills-bring antibacterial wipes for your hands afterward, but prepare yourself to see some wonders of the world in this junk/antique emporium.

Maine Seasons Events<br><a href=http://www.sharynpeavey.com target=_blank>photo by Sharyn Peavey</a>

L&L: Thank you for giving us an inside peek into Maine Seasons Events. If readers want to get in touch with you to inquire about your availability, what is the best way for them to reach you.

Of course everyone is invited to visit my blog, www.maineseasons.blogspot.com, and the best way to contact me is through my website, www.maineseasonsevents.com, on the contact page where my e-mail address and phone number are listed.

 

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