We met Erica Greenwold Reisen through our most favorite wedding planning podcaster, Aleisha, over at Bridechilla. Erica helps moderate the Bridechilla community—a task she handles with wit and grace—but she also has an event planning company based in Chapel Hill, North Carolina: Folie à Deux Events. We chatted with Erica about how she got started, what she loves about weddings, and what joy means to her!
How did you get into wedding planning?
I started out in Fashion Design actually. I had a small business designing custom wedding gowns in NYC. When I moved to North Carolina in 2014, I wanted to take a break from sewing for a living, but I didn’t want to give up the wedding industry. So I began looking into wedding planning! I have always been the kind of person to throw over the top theme parties, and I had assisted with two weddings of close friends by this point.
I also spent some time doing dance, theater and costume design, and in a way, wedding planning has a lot in common with theater production. I still design wedding gowns occasionally too, but I am so glad I made the move into planning and event design with Folie à Deux Events because it allows me to flex my creative muscles and problem solving skills in new ways!
Describe your style in one sentence.
I feel “eclectic” best describes my personal style, but in my events I like to identify the couple’s style and express that through the design of their wedding!
What’s been your favorite experience as a wedding planner?
Last June, a couple I worked with had a Celtic Handfasting officiated by a family friend from Wales. It was honestly the most moving ceremony I have ever seen. I always feel pretty close to my couples, planning weddings does that, but that ceremony really stuck with me. It was emotional and authentic. Not too serious or mushy-romantic either… It was just the perfect encapsulation of the couple and their values.
When was the last time you cried at a wedding you coordinated?
OMG, like every time. But most recently was actually at a Styled Shoot where the couple modeling surprised us all by doing a pop-up vow renewal during the photoshoot! It was so lovely!
What do you love most about planning weddings? Why do you plan weddings in particular?
I believe in the power of relationships and partnerships but I am not blinded by the wedding industry rhetoric about “the perfect day” or love being “forever.” I feel that it is important for more people in the wedding industry to move away from language like that and instead help the couples we work with get off to a good start. I love a good party and all the pretty things for sure, but in all of that, it is important that we don’t lose sight of the real reason we are doing this, the commitment being made by the couple.
I also plan weddings because I want to be there for the folks who feel left out or left behind by the wedding industry. People who don’t fit into the limited scope of the Princess Dream Wedding. I love that I can help guide couples through the process of planning a wedding that truly represents their relationship while also (I hope) setting them up for a successful marriage!
Where is the most interesting place you’ve planned a wedding?
My favorite venue is Motorco Music Hall in Durham, NC. It is a bar and concert venue, and very “un-weddingy.” I had my own wedding there and then planned another wedding there this year! I am also working with them on a styled shoot soon. I love this venue because it speaks to my little punk rock heart.
What have been your favorite wedding favors?
At a wedding earlier this year, the couple made a custom blend of earl gray tea in cute little bags that were ribbon-embroidered by the groom’s mother! So unique and beautiful!
What’s been your biggest wedding day challenge?
At a wedding last fall, the groom’s grandmother fell and we had to call the EMTs. She had to be taken to the hospital less than a half hour before we were supposed to start the ceremony. Shortly after the ceremony we received an update that she was doing alright, and everyone was able to relax a little, but it was super emotional for the couple and family.
Who are some of your favorite local vendors to work with?
Kenna and Cynthia of NC Secular Weddings are my favorite local officiants and I work with them on a TON of weddings. Kenna also helped me break into the planning business by giving me my first few referrals! I cannot thank her enough! She actually officiated my own wedding, which is how we met!
What piece of advice would you give brides and grooms to ensure that find a wedding planner who will ensure their big day goes off without a hitch?
Even if all you need is a Wedding Coordinator, try to find someone who will be there with you the whole way. I work with my clients from the moment they book to make sure they are set up with the tools they need and the resources to plan their wedding. I can follow along with their progress and then as we get closer to the wedding, there are no surprises!
How have you seen technology make weddings easier or harder?
Online Planning tools have made such a huge difference on weddings for couples, so that is a big plus! Also online RSVP and website services like Joy offers… I absolutely love it! Social media on the other hand… I think it causes a lot of stress for couples. The emphasis that is put on being featured on wedding blogs and impressing not only your guests but also the internet with your wedding leads to a lot of stress for couples. I think the pressure to impress has always been there, but it feels a little extra lately.
At Joy we believe that even though a wedding lasts a day, joy lasts forever. What does that mean to you?
The wedding planning process is the first step in your life as a married couple and it can also help you prepare for married life! I also feel that a wedding should be a reflection of the couple’s personality and a celebration of their commitment to each other. The little details are less important when you look back, so I believe its better to focus on making awesome memories with your friends and family!
If you weren’t a wedding planner, what would you be doing?
Designing bridal gowns! I actually would love to get back into that side of the biz someday, but the idea of having a bridal salon or a event venue is also really tempting. I am one of those folks who just loves to be creating and am never completely happy with just one thing!