Wedding Planner Bruce Pittman Shares His Expertise
“Planning a wedding is a full time job, which most couples already have.”
No truer words could sum up why wedding and event planner Bruce Pittman is such a highly recognized and valued resource for couples planning a wedding in Nashville. He adds, “Teamed with their current jobs and life’s obligations, most couples come to me with a heightened level of stress. At times, it may just be about venue selection or their budget. But many times wedding stress can run deeper.”
Pittman says he notices sometimes stress can be brought on by other family members. “I always tell couples to loop me into any conversation and situation if a family member may be overwhelming them with opinions, or if communication is difficult due to a specific family dynamic.” He adds that it can be helpful to introduce a neutral, unbiased person to serve as a mediator.
In other situations, one or both individuals may become uneasy with a third party planning their wedding. “For those who find it hard to [delegate] planning to someone else, I typically tell the person or couple to think of me as an executor,” he says. “And for those who simply don’t care for planning in general, relief is seen on their faces at the end of our initial meeting.”
Pittman stresses that choosing licensed, insured, professional wedding partners is vital to the success of a couple’s wedding. “‘Favors’ can flop, ‘friendships’ can become acquaintances and ‘great deals’ can turn into ‘worst nightmares.’ Creating your ‘A Team’ of wedding partners sets up a couple for peace of mind and a positive wedding experience.”
First: Establish the Wedding Budget
Creating a wedding budget is a top priority, since it serves as a guideline during the planning process. “I create the initial wedding budget which includes an estimated dollar amount for each category – venue, catering, bar, wedding cake, etc. – based on the couple’s estimated guest count,” says Pittman. “Each category includes potential wedding partners we will meet with and adding their quote amount for review and final selection.
“Interestingly enough, most couples who contact me have already selected a venue or are in the process of making the selection. But sometimes the couple is either stressed from the experience or confused in the middle of the selection process.”
Next: Choose a Venue
Pittman notes that venues need to be categorized based on two factors: style and inclusions.
He explains that some couples lean toward a classic/traditional venue such as Cheekwood Botanical Gardens. Other couples enjoy the more southern, relaxed feel of The Cordelle and some fall in love with a picturesque plantation or farm such as The Barn at Sycamore Farm or Carnton Plantation.
“With any venue of interest, it is vital to know what is included in the rental fee, if the venue is open to the couple working with their vendors, and if the couple can provide their own alcohol,” says Pittman. “Obviously, the more that’s included in the rental fee, the better for the budget. And, anytime a couple is allowed to provide their own alcohol for a wedding, many dollars will be saved.”
Choosing the Best Hotel for Guests
Pittman says when it comes to selecting a hotel for wedding guests, he looks at two things. “I break down hotel room block quotes by the area(s) in Nashville the couple wants their guest to say, and into blocks requiring attrition versus blocks that are complimentary.” He explains that attrition means the couple is responsible for filling a set percentage of the rooms each night contracted, or they must pay the difference to meet the required percentage. “I am an advocate for couples contracting mostly complimentary room blocks, which means they do not have any financial responsibility unless the block is cancelled entirely,” Pittman notes. “After gathering information, I review options with the couple to assist them in selecting the best option(s) for their guests.”
Over 50 percent of the weddings Pittman plans are destination weddings in Nashville. “Music City has gained popularity with its growth and publicity and the wedding industry has felt it,” he says. “Couples have brought wedding tradition from their part of the country to Nashville. It’s been vital to learn about these regional trends, and make sure our wedding partners are educated to meet their expectations that may differ from a traditional Nashville/southern wedding.
“We live in a Pinterest world. Social media is at our fingertips, and because of this, each couple I meet is now fairly, if not very, savvy about what they want and what resources are available to them. I tell each couple that they are the CEO of their own wedding and I am really in the role to ‘catch’ what they tell me, ‘review’ to ensure it makes sense logistically and ‘present’ scenarios and options for them to evaluate and approve to ensure they are set up for success.”