Everything you should know before hiring a wedding planner
Please introduce yourself to our readers.
Hi, I am Luba Gankin, and I’ve loved weddings since I attended my first one at the age of 3. I still remember the bride in her wedding dress and the glass of Champagne I was trying to get for myself, fascinated by all these bubbles! I am a certified international events and weddings planner, a certified luxury wedding planner, and a certified wedding & events design specialist.
I am relatively new to the wedding scene: I was a scientist and a managing director in my previous life (which also included a lot of planning and organizational skills). But I’ve already won the Couple’s Choice Award 2018 from Wedding Wire and have many great client reviews published there and on the Knot. I am an eager learner and love participating in seminars and conferences which are relevant to the wedding industry.
I am in love with Italy, speak fluent Italian, and organize weddings there for my couples.
In addition to be the owner of Primavera Dreams, I volunteer as an organizer of cultural events for the Russian-speaking community of Greater Boston and am on the board of Hebrew Senior Life – an organization that takes care of the elderly. I volunteer there by organizing different celebratory events for their patients and have done so for many years. My children are also involved. I have three daughters, a son, and an affectionate husband. We love our family and friends, love traveling together, and I am so pleased that all of them share my love for Italy!
”Weddings to me are an epitome of a happy, beautiful, emotional and meaningful event for the couple and their guests. Weddings create an unforgettable feeling of pure joy.”
How did you become a wedding planner?
I have been a planner from birth I have been planning all kind of events for as long as I remember myself: at school, at university, at work. I am a scientist by vocation and was always involved in planning scientific conferences and meetings while conducting research, simply because I really liked it. I also love celebrations: I believe they help us balance daily routines and the sad news we hear on a daily basis.
Weddings to me are an epitome of a happy, beautiful, emotional and meaningful event for the couple and their guests. Weddings create an unforgettable feeling of pure joy. My job as a wedding planner allows me to be a part of the process: to help my couples create this day (or even several days) and then to be a part of it, share in this feeling. It gives me a lot of energy and satisfaction, especially when I see that my participation was worthwhile.
What are the differences between your wedding packages?
I offer 3 types of standard packages but always remind my couples that these are customizable, depending on the couple’s needs. Some couples come to me without knowing where to start, while others are already mid-way in their planning process.
My most comprehensive package is created to help couples who are really busy or out of town, to make sure that everything will be taken care of. It is called Platinum. Helping these couples takes a lot of my time as I am basically taking care of so many important things, big and small. By the end, I know every little detail and it helps to make sure everything goes well during the wedding as I know perfectly what should be happening at every moment – and often simultaneously.
Then I have Gold, which is my most popular package, and includes full-scale planning but implies that the couple is taking care of many things too. This works well as most couples want to play an active part in their wedding preparation: it is an interesting and exciting project!
I also offer a “Month of Coordination” package. Weddings in Italy, my specialty, are full-scale planning, which is customized and priced individually. All the details and some pricing information are available on my website, www.primaveradreams.com.
”I would say my preferred wedding planner style is classic, which embraces modern technology but is not exhausted by it. I love airy spaces and prefer light colors over dark, outdoors to indoors, weather-permitting of course. I love when nature takes a part in the backdrop.”
How familiar are you with the most popular wedding venues?
New venues are constantly being added to my list. I continuously visit venues in my spare time to get my personal impression and to meet with the venue managers. Many venues have open houses for wedding professionals, which I attend. I am also a member of New England NACE. This wonderful organization holds monthly gatherings in the most popular venues in Boston and its surroundings. In Italy, I have great connections and visit new venues there 2-3 times a year to get first-hand experience.
How many weddings have you planned and which was the most memorable?
My business is relatively new, I’ve been a wedding planner to a little over 20 weddings so far. My agency is boutique-style, meaning I value quality over quantity. I give my heart to every event I plan and want to make sure that my couples have plenty of my time and attention.
The most memorable was probably a wedding of 2 widowers, each in their 80s, at the Taj in Boston last Summer. It was incredibly touching. They looked so happy, young and beautiful. It was a charming, life-affirming, event that was full of love. As the bride’s granddaughter said: “What a treat to be the maid of honor at your grandma’s wedding!”
Do you have a preferred wedding style?
Yes, I do. I would say my preferred wedding planner style is classic, which embraces modern technology but is not exhausted by it. I love airy spaces and prefer light colors over dark, outdoors to indoors, weather-permitting of course. I love when nature takes a part in the backdrop.
For these reasons I really love Italy, which offers an incredible choice of venues, where you have trees, flowers, sea or gardens as well as fountains and sculptures, naturally blending into your wedding design. However, I consider myself an open-minded person and respect my clients’ preferences as a wedding planner, which may be quite different.
”It is extremely important to establish confidence and trust from the beginning. I believe that the couple and their planner have to like each other to successfully work together.”
What is important to you when working with a client?
It is extremely important to establish confidence and trust from the beginning. I believe that the couple and their wedding planner have to like each other to successfully work together. I also champion regular communication, scheduled meetings, as well as spontaneous communication, as it helps to plan everything with minimal stress and on-time.
Wedding preparation can be an intense and sometimes overwhelming process for couples: people may become emotional, family members may start to interfere, etc. When a couple has a wedding planner they trust, and there is a clearly established planning routine, it feels much less stressful and helps to navigate through the occasional issues.
What usually happens when you and a client disagree on an issue?
These situations are not frequent, especially when you maintain regular communication and have a selected set of priorities, but they may arise. I usually try to understand the cause of the disagreement and listen to my clients, so they can fully express their feelings and thoughts. Quite often it is related to some extra services I am suggesting, or which they want to add. I might see some services unnecessary or, vice versa, needed.
Unless my clients are my family members and are making a real mistake from my wedding planner point of view, I would not insist on my way of doing things. Usually, there are indeed many options, and each is acceptable, so why should I push for what I prefer? In the end, this is their wedding, not mine.
What I try to avoid is when a bride decides to do something time-consuming and complicated (i.e. floral décor) on her own and it’s clear to me that it will not work well, will not look good, and will make her feel tired and frustrated – as these are not the feelings we want to experience at a wedding.
I would say that there is probably no wedding that would not require an improvisation of some sort. The ability to react quickly while keeping calm is an important quality each wedding planner should have.”
How do you handle difficult family situations?
Most difficulties usually arise if some close family members do not talk to each other (for ex, divorced/remarried parents, estranged siblings, etc.). In most cases, these issues are well-known beforehand. If a couple asks for advice, I recommend that first, they review the situation together and mutually agree on what roles the relatives in question should play to make the wedding go smoothly. Sometimes it can be as simple as some smart seating. But it can be more complicated.
In this case, I recommend they meet/talk to each of the people involved in order to avoid conflict way ahead of their wedding day. For example, if your parents are not talking to each other, it makes sense to meet with each of them in private and explain your position while reconfirming that you love them and want them to be present on your special day. In some situations, other vendors should be made aware of specific details, (such as the photographer who takes family pictures).
Was there ever a time you had to improvise?
I would say that there is probably no wedding that would not require an improvisation of some sort. The ability to react quickly while keeping calm is an important quality each wedding planner should have. The most dramatic situation was probably when a couple decided to rehearse their first dance while the guests were already waiting for the reception to start. At this moment the couple realized that the wedding gown is longer than the dress in which they rehearsed previously and that the groom kept stepping on the gown. The both started panicking.
Thankfully I can sew, and had some needles and thread in my emergency kit! I literally tied the knot of the hem of the gown from the back and fastened it from the inside. It lifted the gown 2 inches from the floor and allowed them to dance the first dance without any issue. The couple still remembers it!