We are so excited to have Heidi from Ira + Lucy with us for our Feature Friday interview. Turning it over to her-
Hi! I’m Heidi, owner and Principal Designer and Coordinator of Ira + Lucy. Our business is named after my husband’s great-grandparents, Ira and Lucy. We began as a vintage rental business, which is where the name is rooted from. Some of the curated items that are part of our rental inventory were once Ira and Lucy’s, so they share a significant part of shared life story, and that means something really special to us. We believe that being part of clients’ weddings and special events continues that idea of being part of a beautiful life moment that becomes part of their unique life history. As Ira + Lucy evolved, I found myself organically growing in the areas of design and coordination and it was clear that we had to start offering full design and coordination services to our clients. I have a BA in Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, a background in advertising and sales and also run our other business with my husband, Wight House Creative, a graphic and web design business. We are currently located in Nampa and travel to all parts of Idaho, WA and Oregon and are always amped for destination weddings and travel! Growing up in Western WA and living some time in Portland, we have quite a few connections, friends and family in those areas, so we especially love those destination weddings. Being a small business owner is terrifying, but so rewarding. It allows me to be a stay at home mom with our son, Jagger and work next to my husband. Setting aside all the planning and design “stuff”, what I love most is the relationships we have with our clients and that I get to mentor the team members that work for me. My goal in all that we do, is that we are a blessing to others. As simple as that. It’s not about me. When I’m struggling under the stress load, I remind myself that what we do, we do because we are so passionate about it and God continues to bless us with such incredible experiences and people.
Image by Stephanie Mballo Photography
What is the process for working with brides?
No matter how big we get, I don’t ever want to lose the personalized small business feel we offer our brides. It is important to me we maintain a boutique feel. We recently redesigned our website and focused on creating tools to help streamline the process. Brides often email us via our website using our contact form and we immediately follow up. The process then begins with a hands on customized approach for each couple. After we get some preliminary pre-consult information we then set up an in-person meeting or a virtual meeting if they are out of state. Once we finalize the services they want we start to dig into the coordination and design process.
How far into wedding planning should brides be looking to hire you?
For Full Coordination couples, we prefer they hire us 12-16 months in advance. This allows us to help them navigate the many, and often overwhelming options, from the get-go, saving them on time, unnecessary stress, and management of their budget. For our “Enhanced Day-of” couples, we get involved with their planning 3-months prior to their wedding, but they should still book us ideally, 8-10 months in advance. We are booking up faster and faster as more couples hear of us and now that we are preferred coordinators and designers for a lot of venues and wedding businesses. Currently we are booking 16 months out. I get a little nervous booking out much further than that. I have been blown away by our growth and the demand for our services. I found myself having to turn down bookings this season as I was just overloaded with clients. I have hired more team members and have phenomenal Senior Coordinators now on our team that have and continue to be trained by me that are able to take on weddings of their own as part of the Ira + Lucy team, so that will help out with the demand.
What tasks do you help brides accomplish as their coordinator?
What I like to help our couples understand is that we don’t just make a timeline and tell you when to get down the isle… It is much much more than that. Instead, I want them to think of their wedding as a symphony and each vendor plays their specific instrument. The Coordinator is the conductor, we even help write the sound of that symphony, the song that is unique to the couple. Without the conductor you have a lot of noise… there is no one to lead and orchestrate the musicians. That is what we do. We handle vendor management, their specific needs and logistics. We troubleshoot problems that arise, screening the couple and their parents from stressful situations. We keep the momentum and timeline moving and keep all the specialized moving parts working well together. We specialize in creating custom designed weddings, unique with design boards, picking out fabric swatches and unique rentals and decor. We constantly check in with the florist and lighting team to ensure our design plan is cohesive. We support the photography and video team by including them in the timeline process to allow buffer time for detail shots. This is just a snippet of what our team provides. Some couples utilize those services with full services and others opt for doing partial services. Our team is a minimum of one Senior Coordinator and two assistants and for larger more detailed and full coordination weddings, one Senior Coordinator and 4 assistants.
How do you find inspiration for your weddings? How would you suggest brides find inspiration?
First and foremost is sitting down and meeting the couple. I like to know the unique details about their life, their relationship, heritage, special traditions, their favorite date spots etc. Getting to know them on a more personal level tells me quite a bit about their design aesthetic. I also have them share with me their pinterest boards, even their “home” and recipe and activity boards – I like to get a well rounded feel of them as people. Then we build from there. We discuss what style and feel of their wedding they want. I like to know what is the most important aspect of their wedding for each of them. Then I start pulling together idea boards, my couples’ don’t see these. These are private and a place for me to just start pulling ideas together, nothing I have to feel committed to, it’s just the brainstorming part of the process. We do the exact same thing for our Graphic Design business when we work on logos. It’s very similar. Idaho can sometimes feel too isolated for me. I miss the ocean and the greenery I grew up around, so traveling helps me a ton with creative inspiration. Jonnathan and I love to travel and experience new things and Jagger seems to be loving it too. Music and literature inspire me. I will fully admit I’m obsessed with Instagram. I love seeing what other artists are doing and I feel more exposed to what is happening outside of Idaho. Brides can easily get confused with inspiration for their own weddings. With technology, they are so unbelievably exposed with eye candy! It’s everywhere! Every photographer is now doing styled shoots, there are hundreds of wedding blogs, Instagram and Snapchat are feeding them with new concepts every second and Pinterest sucks them in with a vengeance! I highly encourage brides to shut all that out for a little bit and journal or chat with their fiance out to dinner over a cup of wine and talk about the feeling they want at their wedding. They can look at their own relationship for inspiration. Are they outdoorsy and love the mountains? Are they quieter and love talking about literature and world issues? Are they passionate about music and the arts? The last thing I want for any couple is a wedding that doesn’t represent WHO they are in any way… even if it’s stunning! The wedding should reflect the couple.
Do you have any advice for brides about anything wedding related?
Before you do anything, purchase anything, book any vendor…. discuss and decide on a budget. Every single vendor will want to know this information, not to exploit you, but to know what you are working with and how they can best fit and guide you with that budget on your options. An elusive budget can cause a world of issues, tons of stress and some major headaches. Don’t be embarrassed about whatever that number is. Don’t go purchase crazy at Hobby Lobby and other stores where you are buying trinkets and little details, that Mr and Mrs Pillow, that cute chalkboard sign, those fun cake stands… those items add up quickly. First, once you get your budget decided, start figuring out how that budget will be divided. This is where an experienced Coordinator can help! I know many brides are saying, “well how do I divvy up my budget if I have no idea what things cost?” – Either dig in and start researching or hire a Coordinator. No matter how excited you are about all the fun details, remember this day is about marrying your best friend. Don’t lose sight of that and a good Coordinator that truly cares about you will help you remember what truly matters most.