J. Bailey Occasions | Featured Wedding Vendor

Tips for Brides

Since this is prime wedding planning time, I want to feature fabulous wedding vendors in the River Valley and Northwest Arkansas area.  I will be posting vendor interviews once a week to help my newly engaged couples with their wedding planning.  I have several wedding designers, florists, videographers, and cake shops lined up for interviews.  I am so excited to interview all of these great vendors!  It is so important to do your research before hiring a vendor.  Vendors have to be able to work well together to collaboratively make your wedding day as spectacular as possible.

First up is a fabulous wedding planner.  Jenessa Bailey is the owner of J. Bailey Occasions.  Here’s her adorable family.

*Photo by Benfield Photography (who is awesomely talented!)

What made you want to be a wedding planner?

You should ask my mom about this one! I have loved the wedding industry since I was a little girl and began pursuing experience in event planning as soon as I could.  I have always loved how weddings incorporate my logistical, math brain and also my creative, design brain.  I worked in different fields planning a wide range of events, and when the opportunity arose to begin working with brides I jumped right in.

Describe the most challenging wedding you planned and how you handled problems that came up.

The most challenging wedding that I have planned so far was one where everything changed just six weeks prior to the wedding.  When I say everything, I mean everything from venue to flowers to rentals and food.  We started from scratch just weeks out from the wedding, so we worked diligently to get the job done. We simply set our priorities, made our to-do lists, and delegated tasks among our crew. By focusing on each task at hand we were able to make it all happen on time, and it was a great success for the bride and groom.

How long have you been in business?

J.Bailey Occasions has been open since 2007. Wow! I can’t believe it has been 4 full years already! I have been professionally planning events for 7 years now.

What kind of services do you offer?

We offer full scale planning, which includes anything from managing a bride’s budget and to-do list to designing the wedding and choosing vendors, and every little detail in between! Services are custom tailored to each bride’s needs and timelines.  We also manage the execution of the wedding weekend from start to finish.

What do you feel is the most important element that a bride should incorporate into her wedding day?

Before beginning their planning, I recommend that each bride set her priorities.  Yep, make a list and rank the items in order from most to least important for your wedding day.  {Be sure to do this with your groom!}  The most important thing a bride can do is give priority on her day to the highest priorities.  Set aside the time, money, labor, and any other resources necessary to make those top priorities shine on your day.

Most important, to me, is that you focus not only on the beautiful-to-look-at side of the wedding but keep the marriage and the promises you are making to each other the reason for the day.

The wedding day goes by so fast and the bride and groom so often feel like it was a blur. What advice would you give to the bride and groom so they can enjoy their wedding day the most?

You’re right! Many brides and grooms {and moms & dads} say that the wedding day just blows right by.  In my experience, one of the best ways to have special time for the bride and groom is to choose to see each other prior to the ceremony.  This allows you private time together {which you really won’t have otherwise}, and many other places where you won’t feel rushed if you choose to have pictures post-ceremony.  For instance, you typically can be the first to the reception to have a peek at the room before any other guest walks in.  These kinds of moments throughout the day are those that help you soak it all in.  I know that if you asked my brides this same question that they would agree.

(I 100% agree with this!  At consultations, I always explain how a First Look works and why it is beneficial to the wedding day!)

What are the biggest wedding trends at the moment?

One of the biggest trends right now is a simpler, more homespun wedding design.  Brides in our area are choosing the collected, sweet, simple design over grand scale, glamorous looks.

Brides and their guests are always looking for fresh, new experiences at weddings.  I am seeing big city weddings providing some form of non-traditional entertainment at the reception.  I love to keep guests guessing at what’s coming next!

What is your number one tip for brides planning their wedding?

Remember the priorities list I mentioned before?  Stick to it! Keep it in the front of your planning notebook.  When you get in a crunch and have to make some tough decisions {don’t worry, every bride has to!} you can refer back to what your priorities are and it truly helps to get things into perspective.

I would also say to always remember the big picture. You’re getting married! What could be better?  Maybe that flower in your bridesmaid’s bouquet is the wrong shade of pink or the groom’s tux sleeves are an inch too long.  Roll with it!  Hopefully you have someone on hand, like your wedding planner, to work through these little hiccups in your day so you won’t stress over them.  And in nearly 99% of these cases, no one else would ever know that you asked for cerise instead of fuschia.  🙂

Any advice on how brides can cut costs and still have a beautiful wedding?

The number one way to save is to trim your guest list.  I always explain it this way…If you can cut 8 guests off of your list, you are saving on 4 invitations, 8 programs, 8 meals, 8 pieces of cake, and most importantly one table {just to name a few things}.  If you eliminate a table, you eliminate 8 chairs, a linen, a centerpiece, candles, dishes, glassware…it goes on and on!  When I average the cost of weddings that I coordinated in 2010, the average amount spent per guest was $204.  Imagine how much you can save by trimming your numbers.

There are some things that I think you can live without that many brides still choose to have in their wedding days.  I think that you can skip the wedding favors.  It’s the one thing that almost every wedding can live without.

Another cost saving tip is, if you are serving alcohol, to offer only wine and beer or champagne rather than a full bar.  Liquors are where the greatest expense is when it comes to alcohol.

You can also choose to have your wedding at the time of day where you don’t need to serve a meal, and save some of the budget on food.

What would you like to see more of at weddings?

I would love for brides to think outside the box.  The ones that do have the weddings that are talked about, published, and enjoyed the most by their guests.  The same ol’ same old wedding gets boring.  Hire a coordinator or designer that can help you to bring fresh ideas to your wedding, and then TRUST them that they aren’t crazy!

What is the most exciting project that you have worked on?

I would say that the most rewarding experience I have had as a coordinator was working with a bride who had less than $15 per guest to spend on her wedding.  If you saw the numbers I mentioned above you would know that this wasn’t my typical client.   We made our list of priorities, and we chose to spend money in areas that made big statements.  The transformation of the venue was so exciting, and something that I knew the guests had never seen before.  I stood at the entry of the reception to hear the guests’ reactions, and they were priceless.  I loved the challenge of working within such a tight, tight budget and the reward of the beautiful wedding and reception for the couple.  It felt so good to pull it off!

Thanks so much, Jenessa, for taking the time to do this interview!


Brides, to get more information, please visit her website or pick up the phone and give her a call!

J. Bailey Occasions
479-521-4239

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