Bobbi Rice took that old adage — “when life hands you lemons, make lemonade” — and turned her “lemon moment” into a career, becoming one of the area’s most sought-after wedding planners.
A canceled wedding two days before she was to walk down the aisle combined with a stint in the Junior League taught her a lot about planning big events.
She does a maximum of 20 events a year and prefers weddings, with each being a three-week process. The typical wedding budget Rice works with is $30,000 to $50,000.
One of the biggest budgets she’s worked with was a whopping $5 million extravaganza that took place at Houmas House Plantation in November. It was a destination wedding for a Dallas bride.
“Every detail was taken care of, including the invitation design and calligraphy,” Rice said. “I had 40 staff members.”
She even did the flowers. A self-admitted control freak, Rice obtained her floral design license so she could do all the flowers for her brides if they want.
If money is tight, Rice suggests a ceremony for close family with a good photographer and then having a party later. In fact, hiring the best photographer you can afford is her No. 1 recommendation when working on the budget, which she recommends every couple have before the first plan is made.
“Don’t skimp on the photography. Everything is going to be a blur, you’re not going to remember,” she said. “Give some sincere thought to your 10 must-have photos and give your photographer some instruction, but don’t give them this long list you’ve filled out from some website.”
Coming in No. 2 when doing the budget is the band. The No. 3 spot belongs to the food. Fourth is the flowers and fifth is the planner.
“For some people, it’s not about the décor but the party,” she said. “People won’t be talking about the flowers after the wedding, but they will be talking about how much fun they had and how good the food was.”
Today the bride and groom typically plan their wedding together, but it’s not unusual for Rice to just work with the groom.
“I’ve had weddings when I’ve only spoken with the groom because the bride was in medical school so he planned the whole thing or he was the one with the money so he did all the planning,” Rice said. “Sometimes it’s just the mom and the bride. And, sometimes, whoever is planning the wedding will say the budget is tight, and with today’s economy the budget can be challenging.”
And, when that’s truly the case, Rice offers a simple consultation for $500.
“I help them with their own budget,” she says, “and that helps them to go from there.”
Editor’s note: This story was changed on April 22, 2015, to clarify some of Rice’s remarks.