L&L: Tell us a little about your history and how you got into the wedding planning business.
HEATHER: I actually came into weddings through politics. I worked my first campaign in 2000 and was involved in a lot of field organizing, logistics, and fundraising. In December of 2006, I went to New Hampshire because Barack Obama was making his first trip to the Granite State, I was the advance person that was planning Barack Obama’s book signing in Portsmouth. He shook over 900 hands in an hour and fifteen minutes! It was crazy! At the end of the day, he asked if I would join the campaign, if he decided to run…. the rest is history. It was through my campaign work that I really found my love for event planning and all of the detail and forethought that has to go into every decision.
L&L: When did that love of political event planning transfer over to weddings?
HEATHER: The daughter of a friend on the campaign was getting married on Peaks Island, right off the coast of Portland, Maine, and he asked me if I knew of anyone who could help with day-of coordination. I told him I didn’t know anyone and got off the phone. Then I paused and thought to myself, wait a second, if I can handle planning events for 15,000-20,000 people with 3-5 days notice, then I can handle a wedding. Needless to say, I called him back.
L&L: What was your first wedding like? Any major hiccups or memorable moments from the whole experience?
HEATHER: Fortunately, there were no major hiccups, but there have been some funny moments since. I remember one time right before bride and groom were announced into their venue on Peaks Island, there was a bat in the ceiling, and I had to get the groundskeeper to capture it, all without the couple ever knowing.
L&L: How early do you prefer that people contact you?
HEATHER: My business is a small boutique firm, which allows me to be very agile. It really depends on what the couple is looking for. Some couples I work with for a whole year, others for just a few months or weeks.
L&L: How involved are you in the weddings that you plan?
HEATHER: My involvement level completely depends on what the client needs. I offer full design, floral, month-of coordination, full planning and more.
L&L: Where do you look for inspiration?
HEATHER: I look at Pinterest and at other events that I attend. I’m also a big fan of antiques stores and walking down the aisles of fabric stores. I try to really listen to what my clients are saying, and showing me and what ideas are coming from them, and then condense and clarify those ideas for them. My clients inspire me.
L&L: How do couples normally approach you with ideas and inspiration?
HEATHER: Everybody has a Pinterest board now. It’s one of the first things that they send me. It’s so funny to see how much a bride’s Pinterest board changes between when she first starts planning and what the final inspiration board looks like.
L&L: What is the first decision that you normally ask couples to make?
HEATHER: I encourage people to meet with their paper vendors first because it changes EVERYthing. And then I ask them to put together their budget.
L&L: Paper? Really? Not colorschemes?
HEATHER: Yes! It’s counterintuitive, but colors and textures don’t always come before paper. I’ll give you an example. A couple came to me last winter and said, ”Heather, we want our wedding to be black tie, very modern.” I said, “Great!” And then I had them sit down with Papier Gourmet, *laughs* and they ended up picking out a very beautiful yet pretty casual invitation that was charcoal with hints of poppy. They said, “Wow, we can’t do a black tie event with these.” I agreed. As you can see, paper changes everything. That wedding was great. The look ended up being quite formal but having small rustic touches which made it feel like you were at a lovely dinner party, much lower key.
L&L: Are there any styles of weddings that you particularly enjoy planning?
HEATHER: My niche is island weddings, and along with that I do a lot with the Nautical style. The wedding that I mentioned before, though, is one of my favorite styles: Classic, elegant, and yet you wouldn’t feel uncomfortable sitting at that table. I really enjoyed a wedding I planned in that elegant relaxed style which A Brit & Blonde photography captured. A slideshow of it can be seen below:
L&L: We hear you are participating in the BESWOON showcase this coming February…
HEATHER: Yes! I went with my daughter to it last year and loved it, so that’s why I’m participating it in this year. I’ll be designing the Secret Garden room. My daughter is even going to be a flower girl in my room this year!
L&L: Thank you so much for giving us an inside peek into Cairn Events! If readers want to get in touch with you, what is the best way to do so?
HEATHER: hcuzzi@CairnEvents.com or the contact form on my website are both great ways.
*All photos are from weddings planned by Cairn Events. All photography by emilie inc.