Dempsey & Carroll’s Austin Ackles sat down with bridal consultant, Amy Nichols, to talk about working on the East and West Coasts, her favorite venues, and more.
AA: You’ve worked extensively on both coasts. What’s easier about working in New York and what’s easier in the San Francisco Bay Area?
AN: That’s a great question! I think transportation is easier in New York — everyone fends for themselves and knows how to get places. In the Bay Area for weddings, clients usually coordinate transportation for their guests, which might mean several hotel pick-ups and multiple vehicles to book! For San Francisco, I’d say sourcing flowers is pretty fantastic here, since so many of the growers are local or in California.
AA: To generalize, do you find that your West Coast clients differ much from those on the East Coast?
AN: Not really — in general, my clients tend to be smart, professional and generally quick decision makers! They’re busy in their work lives, and while they enjoy the wedding planning process, they often have limited time to plan, so they make a decision and move on, rather than going back and forth on 10 different shades of pink. They also trust me and value my recommendations, which makes the process go smoothly!
AA: Please tell us about your favorite classic and elegant venue and would you mind sharing a hidden gem that we might not know about?
AN: Hands down, Beaulieu Gardens in Rutherford is the epitome of classic and elegance. I remember seeing a wedding at Beaulieu Gardens when I was a teen in Town & Country. I had no idea where it was (or that I’d become a wedding planner!) but when I saw beautiful lights under a tree arbor, I knew it was a special place. In terms of a hidden gem, I have always been obsessed with the South (my grandmother was from Georgia). Two places I’d love to work at Pippin Hill in Virginia, and Lonesome Valley in North Carolina.
AA: We’re seeing a return to understated yet still opulent wedding papers and even an uptick in requests for the most traditional fold-over invitations. Are you seeing any new recent trends in wedding invitations?
AN: I think that understated and classic wedding invitations never go out of style. There is something so timeless about thick ecru paper and gorgeous calligraphy, but couples can add their own spin with a color they love or a motif.
AA: We always love hearing about an incredible logistical challenge. What was your biggest and how did you turn it into a success?
AN: Early in my career, I had a client get married at a stunning estate in Montecito (near Santa Barbara), and all vendors and all guests had to be bussed in. There literally was not room for more than maybe 2 or 3 cars next to the house. A lot of vendors and guests are used to planners saying there is no parking, but there truly was no parking! This meant that every single vendor was trying to unload (imagine a band with 12 members, each carrying their instruments), a caterer, a beverage company, etc. all wanting to arrive and set up at the same time! We had a strict schedule of when everyone could access the space to unload and booked several vans to get the vendors to/from a nearby parking lot. And then we repeated the whole procedure at the end of the night. I learned a lot at that wedding!
AA: When you pack for a client’s destination wedding, what are the first five items that go in your bag?
- Sunscreen! Not just for me, but for guests who forget it, the bride & groom, or anyone else who needs it!
- Scissors. I use them at every wedding. And I like to have one really sharp pair for cutting ribbon
- Hopefully a bathing suit in case I get a few minutes to relax after the wedding or event!
- iPad mini for airplane reading, Pinterest, etc.
- Camera, which these days means an iPhone 6 so I can document the day, my travels, and hopefully post a few pics to Instagram
AA: If you got to pick the next destination to design for, where would it be?
AN: I have a serious case of wanderlust right now, I have travel on the brain! I’m dying to work on a wedding in Europe — Italy, France or Spain would be amazing. But a few domestic weddings outside of California would be amazing. On my short list — Nantucket, Montana, and anywhere in the South!
Photo credit: Gertrude & Mabel