Pearl Thomas loves to see people in love

Pearl and her daughter, Ruby, run their wedding planning business from both the brain and the heart. They love to watch people start their lives together, and they love all the nuts and bolts of the process.

Photo by Eunique Jones Photography

Rubies & Pearls is one of Richmond’s jewels–a mother-daughter wedding planning combo who have so much experience that it’s hard to imagine them being outmatched by any possible challenge. Pearl Thomas and her daughter, Ruby, get asked to do weddings all over the mid-Atlantic, and it’s easy to see why. Even communicating with Pearl via email is reassuring, warm, and totally efficient–I want to ask her to coordinate my everyday life.

Pearl’s Story

Years ago…even before I had any thoughts about starting an event and wedding planning business, I was asked to help with a wedding. I have been involved with planning many kinds of events ever since I was in high school, but a wedding…that was different! To be able to witness the beauty and love of two people being joined together in holy matrimony and see the joy and happiness on their faces–knowing that I had something to do with that moment is priceless!

That continued throughout my college days, through my early working career, marriage, and even when my husband and I started a family. When my children started school, I assisted with planning programs at their school while helping to plan dinners for my husband’s business events. As they children got older and I was considering entering the “working force” again, I decided that I wanted to do something I really loved.

So I decided to start an event and wedding planning business, Rubies & Pearls LLC! This was in 2001, and by this time, my daughter had assisted me with many events and, after college, she started working with me full time. We now have more than 14 years in the wedding business and we still love it!

What effect do you think sites like Pinterest and wedding blogs have had on the industry?

Pinterest and wedding blogs have been a help and a hindrance to brides and the wedding industry. It is helpful to brides to see great wedding ideas and pictures on Pinterest and to read about them on wedding blogs.

As we all know who are in this business, brides are visual people. Most of the time they have difficulty visualizing a certain look or decor in their mind and need to “see” it. Pinterest and wedding blogs as well as Instagram has helped planners assist brides with “seeing” what their wedding day will look like.

The hindrance is, brides feel like they can have/do anything they see posted on these sites, all by themselves, not needing help from any family or friend…or a planner. Unfortunately, by the time they realize they do need help, it is usually so late in their planning, that they have spent unnecessary time and money planning their wedding.

What are some things you think that brides and grooms worry about that they really shouldn’t?

Most brides and grooms worry about their budget! And I can’t say they shouldn’t, but as a wedding planner, one of our main jobs is to help our couples plan their wedding on their budget. Many times that means bringing them “back to reality” about what they have asked for and what they can actually afford.

Many brides, especially in the Pinterest age worry about collecting tiny details: taking on way too many DIY projects, buying odds and ends because they may need them at some point or another when really all of those little purchases make a big dent in a budget…having a planner and a focused goal can help with unnecessary stress and expenditure.

Who are some of your favorite local vendors? And why?

Pearl Thomas in her natural habitat, keeping things moving smoothly. AJ Gonzalez Photo

Pearl Thomas in her natural habitat, keeping things moving smoothly. AJ Gonzalez Photo

This is a difficult question to answer because there are so many vendors that I enjoy working with. A few to mention are:

These are vendors that we have enjoyed working with; we know are good at their trade, are reliable and fair, and we would not hesitate to recommend them to our clients. There are so many more that we could mention because we have been fortunate to work with some wonderful professionals.

Tell us your very favorite wedding story, whether it’s a horror story or a moment of beauty.

My favorite wedding was my first “contracted” wedding–the daughter of my best friend. What better client to have than your best friend and her beautiful daughter? It was also one of the reasons I started my business.

Ruby (left), Pearl (right), and happy customers (middle, obviously). Photo by AJ Gonzalez Photo

Ruby (left), Pearl (right), and happy customers (middle, obviously). Photo by AJ Gonzalez Photo

The wedding planning process gave me opportunities to explore every aspect of a wedding. I was given the freedom to offer my ideas and be heard, the experience to meet top wedding vendors from Richmond to as far away as New York City; the largest wedding guest list I’ve done to date; the opportunity to work with famous actors and actresses and a top recording artist. The wedding was magical. It gave me the boost to start my business and I am so grateful for that opportunity.

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Susan Howson

Susan Howson is managing editor for this very website. She writes THE BEST bios.

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