Creative Control
When it comes to taking the plunge, having the right planner at your side can determine whether the wedding is a swan dive or a belly flop


“Every couple wants their wedding day to be remarkable,” says Shelby O’Connell, a certified wedding planner and professional bridal consultant, “but I’ve heard and seen some get so wrapped up in the planning and ‘making it perfect’ that they forget what that day is really about: the marriage, the commitment, the lifetime. Sometimes the wedding day and its meaning can be taken for granted.”

Wedding planning is like running a marathon. No matter how much someone wants to do it, most underestimate how difficult it really is. Conversely, couples who realize the amount involved in throwing a superb event are often reluctant to bring in a professional due to cost. Others believe bringing in a planner for your wedding is cold and impersonal, akin to letting nannies raise your children.

  So Chic Events
Mendon, MA

Luckily, hiring a wedding planner does not have to mean a more costly or less personal wedding, especially when the planner is versatile. O’Connell is a perfect example, merging her love for hands-on creativity with years of wedding planning experience. So Chic Events, her full-service event planning and consulting business, is widening its selection of customizable décor and accessories more than ever this year. Personalized touches give So Chic’s weddings an extra layer of charm, plus the convenience of handling more elements without involving additional parties.

A details fanatic, O’Connell realized she was onto something after finding her own wedding planning experience fun and exciting. She laid the groundwork for her business for two years before beginning. The same thing that made her hesitate in the beginning, the significance of the wedding planner’s role, is the reason she loves it now.

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“I get to witness them saying ‘I do,’ I get to see the reaction when they first look at each other that day, I’m there at the very beginning of this new journey. Everyone wants to find that one person to love and spend the rest of their life together with. So when they find it and I get to be a part of it, that is an amazing feeling,” says O’Connell. A distinguished graduate of the Association of Bridal Consultants’ Professional Development Program, O’Connell also is a mother and designer, a juggling act that highlights the very organizational skills wedding planners need to excel at their jobs.

“I created a lot of things for my wedding. I didn’t want it to be ‘cookie cutter,’ I wanted it to be different and for people to remember it, not just for it being fun but the details too,” says O’Connell.

To give others the same attention, So Chic is expanding its focus on personalized items. Just a few of the areas for embellishment include invitations, programs, menus, luminaries, table cards, tents, labels, tags, ring pillows, bridal card bags, banners, signs and table runners.

A monogram or logo designed for the couple is a simple personal touch with elegant results, while So Chic’s more colorful specialty décor includes candy buffets and personalized carved pumpkins.

“Plus, I’m always up for a challenge, so if [clients] think of something they want me to try I’m all for it,” adds O’Connell.


For couples beginning the planning process, O’Connell advises they start by determining a realistic total budget, choosing the three wedding elements most important to them and allocating funds accordingly. She also recommends considering wedding insurance.

“Things happen that are sometimes beyond our control and if something happened, say to your venue a week before the wedding, you wouldn’t lose all of the money you put down already,” O’Connell says. “Lastly, and possibly the most important of all is stay connected to each other. Make time for each other, go on dates and talk about anything but the wedding!”

Acknowledging that different couples have very different needs, So Chic offers a wide range of options to clients: hourly consultations (two hour minimum), one of three distinct packages or Full Service Coordination. Usually the decision is a practical one. Her full package is the most common choice among couples with busy work schedules.


“It allows them to enjoy their engagement in the hours they’re not at work. They’ll have a planner to help them through the entire process,” says O’Connell.

Although the cost of services varies widely depending on the specifics of each wedding or event, So Chic automatically applies a 25 percent discount for any additional events and services.