As a wedding planner, Rachael Gross has some advice to Kate and William on their impending royal wedding: don’t stress; know that there will always be opinions from friends and families on how the ceremony should proceed; and most of all, turn off the TV to avoid getting sucked into the media hype. Whether it’s the royal couple or the boy and girl next door, Gross, proprietor of lolagraceEVENTS, a Boston based boutique wedding and event planning firm, said, “It’s important to do what you want and not worry about how others react to the addition or subtraction of a tradition.”
Gross’ own personal motto, which carries her through the often stressful process of wedding planning, is based on the British World War II motto, “Keep Calm and Carry On,” a sign posted prominently in her Boston office. It’s a saying she had to keep repeating to herself one day when a vendor accidently smashed a glass table being delivered for a reception that was planned to start in just two hours. “My insides were crawling,” said Gross, 29. “I very calmly said to the driver, ‘OK, you need to have a replacement table delivered here from New York, and I prayed they wouldn’t hit any traffic on the way.” The table did show up on time, and the remainder of the reception went without a hitch.
Gross, who focuses on “anti-bride,” out-of-the-box ceremonies, started her business over a year ago on a shoestring budget and with a little advice from her father, an entrepreneur himself. “I had worked with a lot of traditional brides, following the A-Z of what society says a bride is supposed to do, but it was a little routine and boring,” said Gross, who has a degree in communication and design. “At the end of the day, you’re throwing a party because two people fell in love. It’s not brain surgery.”
Q: Do you encounter your share of bridezillas?
A: You’re working with clients on one of the biggest days of their life, so even if they’re not being a bridezilla, they have a huge financial investment and understandably, want things done right.
Q: What goes into your job that people may not realize?
A: One bride asked me to hold her dog’s leash during the ceremony. Here I was so focused on making sure the bride got down the aisle, and she was more worried about her dog. I never expected to be a dog sitter during that time.
Q: What are some current trends in weddings?
A: Couples want photojournalistic pictures rather than the standard family portrait, and cupcake bars and candy stations are popular. There is a vintage and eclectic approach to attendant wear, with fun colored shoes and funky headpieces. I did one wedding where the gentleman all wore bowties with bumblebees on them. How cute is that?
Q: You have a degree in communications and design. How did get your start in this business?
A: I started in the hospitality business as a waitress, hostess, and restaurant manager, and then worked for a catering company. It was a great training ground and a good way to enter this industry since it helps develop a sense of urgency and the ability to ‘read’ customers.
Q: Do you ever get to attend a party and enjoy it, or are you always thinking about it from a planner’s perspective?
A: I often have the perspective of a planner, and can’t help seeing that the tablecloth is not laid on table correctly or that napkins are missing the correct fold. But it usually doesn’t take away from my enjoyment of the event.
Q: You’re not married yet. Will you use a wedding planner?
A: Ever since I was a little girl, the big fairy tale for me hasn’t been the actual wedding but finding the man of my dreams and living happily ever after. I go back and forth on whether I would use a wedding planner. I contradict myself, because I think everyone needs a professional to help them coordinate all the details, but after all the weddings I’ve planned, part of me just wants to elope to Vegas.