The owner of two wedding businesses, Christine is so calm, in control, and easy to talk to that you’d never guess she’s fielding zillions of calls a day from stressed-out wedding folk. Here’s her insight into the biz and some advice to keep you from fleeing to Elopeland, USA.
Christine Greenberg is unspeakably busy–what with her bridal boutique, Urban Set Bride and her thriving wedding coordination business, Wood Grain and Lace. She specializes in the off-beat, the crazy-in-love, and the fed-up-with-wedding-planning folks, and she will not hesitate to tell you what’s up. But not in a scary way.
It’s tough to know what you really want to do when you are Type A, organized, logical, AND creative. Growing up, it seems like you are either supposed to be strong in math and science or artsy and great with creative tasks. I grew up as an Army brat and moved every two years (mostly in Germany) my whole childhood, so I became very adaptable and made friends easily. I could never really figure out how you can successfully be creative, but not an “artist.”
Weddings are a perfect creative outlet that allows my inner German to really shine. I can make you bunting flags out of vintage maps while managing a Google spreadsheet and keeping you calm so you don’t murder your future mother-in-law. Half creative, ¼ therapist, ¼ boss lady.
In 2011, I rented an apartment to my very first planning client. She worked in a powerhouse DC contracting job and was super fierce, organized, and amazing. She is the ultimate boss babe and I still strive to be like her today.
We bonded immediately and she quickly realized that her insane work schedule wasn’t conducive to wedding planning. She asked if I’d be willing to help them find a venue and help them along the planning process, and the rest is history.
Hiring a wedding day support team can be within anyone’s budget, and our goal is to pay for ourselves in vendor discounts and mental health.
Since their wedding in 2012, I’ve planned 36 weddings, opened up a bridal shop with my mom, and hired three more coordinators for my company.
Most people assume hiring a wedding coordinator is reserved for big budget weddings. The majority of wedding celebrations can benefit from a wedding coordinator in some capacity–you just have to recognize what your style is and make sure that your coordinator really gets that. You can’t swing a chivari chair without hitting a wedding planner in this town, there will be one out there that can help you plan and save you money.
My company focuses on keeping things simple, fun, and relaxed. If you need guidance with DIY elements, staying in budget, booking vendors, reviewing contracts, etc. we’ve got your back. Hiring a wedding day support team can be within anyone’s budget and our goal is to pay for ourselves in vendor discounts and mental health.
What do you like about the wedding industry?
The wedding industry is a few things rolled up into a big ball of glitter:
- An amazingly collaborative group of women (and some men) that lift each other up, cheer each other on, and create warm, fuzzy feelings every day.
- A weird vacuum of trends that you have to repeat year after year because there is always a new client that thinks mason jars, burlap, and lace is the most amazing wedding décor idea on the planet. And even if the phrase “rustic chic” makes you want to implode, you have to smile and realize it makes them happy and they are paying you to knock it out of the…barn.
- A struggle between tradition and off-beat. The industry struggles with this in the same way that our clients struggle with it. You want to be classic, timeless and respect tradition, but you also want your wedding celebration to reflect your own style and tastes.
What effect do you think sites like Pinterest and wedding blogs have had on the industry?
Le sigh. Pinterest is like an ex-boyfriend that you are totally over, but you still go back and lurk their Instagram to make sure they are still alive and not dating someone hotter than you.
Don’t get me wrong. Wedding blogs and Pinterest are amazing tools for clients and wedding professionals to stay organized, focus creative energies, and source awesome ideas for DIY projects, style guidance, and general advice.
BUT, a secret that most wedding professionals don’t want clients to know is that a lot of the images you see on Pinterest and/or on wedding blogs are styled photo shoots. These are photo shoots that serve as a way for event stylists and coordinators to flex their creative muscles. They work with bridal shops, photographers, florists, calligraphy artists, rental companies, etc. to setup a fake wedding. Those weddings are then published on blogs like Green Wedding Shoes and Style Me Pretty, and everyone explodes with wedding envy.
Again, it’s an awesome way to get ideas. But it sets an impossibly high standard of perfection for clients trying to plan their weddings. Yes, we all love fake weddings that perfectly execute your “boho/fairy/rustic/vintage/industrial chic” theme, but it’s probably not a realistic representation of how real weddings look, and you’ll probably be super bummed out when you see how expensive that theme will cost to execute.
What are some things you think that brides and grooms worry about that they really shouldn’t?
Whether they notice it or not, a lot of my clients turn their wedding planning into a competition. Yes, your celebration should absolutely be a representation of you two as a couple, but don’t take this whole thing so damn seriously! I don’t care if your best friend’s sister had a photo booth, Edison bulb lights strung in the sky, and a free kitten wedding favor, if you cannot afford it, don’t waste your mental energy on it.
Also, I always tell the brides in my shop and my wedding planning clients the same two things:
- Quit worrying about what is expected of you! Martha Stewart isn’t going to pop out of a bush and smack you in the mouth just because you didn’t wear a veil or you didn’t have escort cards.
- Think of the three things you want your guests to be talking about at brunch the day after your wedding. Is it the dance-off that happened between your Uncle Larry and your sorority sister to Daft Punk? Is it the pork belly sliders you served as a late night snack that soaked up the booze and kept the party poppin’? Was it the acoustic cover of “Bittersweet Symphony” that they played during your ceremony? Find three things that you guys care about and spend your money on that. Don’t worry about all the other crap.
Martha Stewart isn’t going to pop out of a bush and smack you in the mouth just because you didn’t wear a veil.
No one cares about your hashtag being printed on your cocktail napkins, or that your bridesmaids all had the exact same shoes on, or that you spent $500 on personalized wedding favors and everyone got drunk and forgot to take them.
Have fun planning your wedding, spend your money wisely, give yourself time to do this, and hire a professional. They will keep you calm, organized and sane.
Who are some of your favorite local vendors? And why?
As I’ve said before, this industry is filled with spectacular, creative, chill people that I’m lucky enough to get to work with.
My current wedding-industry crush is Carly Romeo of Two Spoons Photography. Pint-sized yet ferocious, Carly recognized the need for an inclusive, feminist wedding publication that represented EVERYONE planning weddings, not just the typical white, straight, wealthy couples. She worked her butt off, along with Liz Susong and Jen Siomacco, to bring the idea to fruition, and Catalyst Wedding Co. was born and the magazine has officially been published! When complaints are typically paired with inaction and apathy, my heart swoons when people recognize a void and do something about it. She is a great friend and photographer to boot!
I have a vendor portal on my company’s website that serves as a solid collection of my “wedding homies.” Surprisingly, there are a lot of wedding professionals that still only focus on the traditional couple, and within that, solely cater to the bride. I strive to only recommend vendors that embrace variety and treat couples with equal regard. Assuming the groom or groom-figure is a knuckle-dragging bro who isn’t interested in celebrating love is antiquated and sexist. Love is love, weddings can be rad, stop putting people in categories!
Tell us your very favorite wedding story, whether it’s a horror story or a moment of beauty.
Oof, if you’ve ever been to a bar with me, you’ve heard the juiciest versions of my tales. I can share a tame but funny one.
Easily the fanciest wedding I’ve ever done, I did full planning for an awesome couple in Georgetown in November 2013. The groom was in charge of handling the booze, so I never questioned them about it. I was told the booze would be at the venue by the time I arrived to start setting up and the bar staff would handle it from there. I arrive at the reception space to start handling the event styling and there is no booze. Apparently, we were relying on a friend of the grooms who owned a pub and was going to deliver the booze from a local distributor. The catch was that the distributor was not open on Saturdays.
So, we have a black tie event happening in four hours for 200 guests with no booze. And in D.C., you don’t throw an accidentally straight-edge wedding for political bigwigs and live to tell the tale.
The groom had other friends in high places, so he got some liquor delivered, but the bride decided she’d handle the beer and wine herself. After their ceremony and photos, they then hopped in a car and ran to Costco. The photographer joined them and the moment was forever captured.
The R-rated stories include: a drunk stepmom strikes again, case of the disappearing groom, redneck vs. the trash bags, grouchy hipster girl/hidden goose poop, and many more! I’m the Nancy Drew of wedding planners.