CAREER WEDDING

Insider Interview: Irma Soetikno, Owner of Irma Soetikno Design & Events

 

In this installment of Insider Interview, we recruited Irma Soetikno. Irma is a regular contributor on Pinky Espresso, offering her advices and insights on 7 Wedding Planning Tips and 5 Things to Keep in Mind when Choosing a Wedding Photographer. She also helped coordinate Susan and Renee’s weddings, needlessness to say, we trust her expertise!

Wedding planning. It means so many things to so many people. For bride and groom to be’s, it is an exciting but stressful journey. For event planners, it is always a monster of a responsibility to juggle. For many out there, it is a career they dream of pursuing. It is a very competitive field, and you’ve got to hustle in order to make it. As glamorous as it looks from the outside, there is a lot of sweat and tears behind the scenes. Everyone has to start somewhere, even the top wedding planners have to start from the bottom and work hard to get to where they are. So in this post we share with you Irma’s journey as she recalls some of her favorite and not so favorite moments, while offering a few tips along the way.

All photos featured in this post are weddings Irma planned or coordinated.

 

Irma Soetikno

Caroline Tran Photography

 

 

 

 

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Irma Soetikno Wedding Planner

Wedding ceremony in Bali

 

How did you get started in the wedding planning industry?
I started my planning experience in college. I was the Indonesian Student Association Event Coordinator of my school. Then I was recognized by the Indonesian Consul General and chosen to be part of the International Student Association Event Committee. There I planned multiple sporting and fundraising events for all of California. After college, I had a few friends from USC, Woodbury, and other universities who asked me to plan their graduation banquets. It wasn’t until I planned my sisters and my own weddings that I realized I love to plan events! Then I wonder what other brides would do without an event planner? That’s when I said, I want to help!

 

When did you decide to create your own company?
It wasn’t until I moved back to Los Angeles from Toronto, when my cousin was getting married. When she asked me to help her with the wedding, I jumped on it and at the end I received a lot of praise for it. That’s when my cousins’ friends started asking me to plan their weddings. At this point my husband encouraged me to start my business.

 

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Wedding planning is a very competitive field, how did you market yourself to attract new clients?
When I started the business, it was mainly word of mouth. I was doing at least 2 weddings a year. Not too bad, plus I had a full time job so it was sufficient for me. Then I connected with people in the industry where they placed me as a preferred vendor at their venues. That was where I started doing more day of events.

The difference between me and other event planners out there is that I offer more services than most, and my pricing is a set price versus hourly fees. I also never take cuts from vendors that I recommend. I simply use them because I trust them, knowing they will do a good job.

 

Aside from weddings, do you plan other events?
Yes I do. I plan all life events, birthdays, bridal showers and baby showers.

 

What is the most rewarding thing as a wedding planner?
When I see the couple so happy at the end of the day.

 

 

 

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What were the biggest challenges you experienced as a newbie in the field trying to establish your presence?
The biggest challenge I experienced as a newbie was not knowing some of the verbiage used, like BEO, what is that? Also to prove to the venues that you are in charge and that they can rely on you.

 

Speaking of challenge, what was the most challenging wedding you've planned?
Oh boy, I don’t even know how to choose this. I think every wedding has its’ own challenges. But there is one common denominator, and that is when the bride and groom don’t communicate details to me. It creates a challenge because they may have discussed one thing with a friend, family or even vendors, and do not inform me. When the situation arises, I am left making a decision the couple may not have agreed with. What couples need to know is that we are here to make your day seamless and not have to bombard you with so many questions on the day of and leave you with surprises. Communicate all details and have all your vendors connect with the coordinator so everyone is on the same page. Then on the day of the couple can enjoy the day. If anyone has questions, the coordinator has the answer.

 

And what are some of your favorite wedding moments?
Oh I love this question… but have so many. But if I were to choose a few…..
* When the bride walks down the aisle, I love looking at the groom. Especially the ones that are trying to hold their tear but can’t. It just melts my heart to see a man shows his tear of happiness as his loved one is coming towards him. PRICELESS.
* Another favorite is when I see the newly married couple laugh and enjoy their wedding day. No really! You would be surprised. There are some couples who are just too stressed out and can’t enjoy.
* The cousins of the groom made a music video. They did a Bollywood inspired music video and the song was JAI HO. The video was shot and edited very well. It was so funny.
* And of course, I can never forget a drunk groom singing a boy band song of tune and break dancing 😉 (she is referring to Renee’s husband…)

 

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Any funny bridezilla or groomzilla stories?
Omg YES! The wedding was in Toronto, the groom was in Philly, and every time his fiancée met with a vendor, his fiancée needed to confirm with him as he was the picky one. However he would call me for every approval, while all along she thought it was him making the decisions. I just find that funny because when she said “good thing you are more detailed than I am honey, I would have just gone with anything, and the wedding probably would not have looked so beautiful.” Then he just casually brushed it off and said, “oh I always consult with Irma before confirming with you”, and we all laughed. It was more of the way he said it that made it funny. All along everyone thought he was such a picky groom. Secretly, he was, I just steered him on to the right direction.

 

 

 

 

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Any advice for those who are interested in becoming a wedding coordinator/planner?
You have to love helping people, have patience, know how to spread yourself thin while making impromptu life changing decision, have thick skin, and of course organization. Most people who want to be coordinators do not realize what the work entails. Some often think it’s all about delegating. But they are so wrong. Really follow a coordinator first before you decide on being one.

 

Planning a wedding is a rollercoaster of emotions for all parties involved, how do you deal with all the personalities?
Having a lot of patience is key to being a planner. That and always smile.

 

For all the brides and grooms, what is the one advice you would give them when going through the planning process?
Hire a coordinator or at least a day of coordinator. Don’t use your friends or family. You really want them to enjoy the event. You can include them in the planning process, but really on the day of, leave it to someone outside of your family, bridal party, and guests.

 

 

 

 

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You are always hustling, how do you relax and what do you do in your downtime?
I love to relax by hanging out with my husband and friends. Whether it’s brunch, drinks, or a movie that is what I love to do.

 

Where would you want to be 5 years from now professionally and personally?
I hope to be planning events full time and travel more.

 

Style icons?
Wow…so many to choose from. I think at this moment my style icon is Julie Sarinana from Sincerely Jules and Carly Cristman. I think both ladies’ style is effortless and chic.

 

Favorite vacation spots?
I think the best vacation spot is where ever and when ever my husband and I get to travel with our good friends.

 

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2 Comments

  • Reply
    Irma
    June 12, 2016 at 12:36 PM

    What an honour to be featured on your blog! Thank you ?

    • Reply
      pinky espresso
      June 15, 2016 at 11:33 AM

      Thanks for being an awesome contributor to Pinky Espresso!

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