A Q&A with Chicago Wedding Coordinator, Jade Shimon

Yes, another Shimon in the wedding biz.  This time it is my talented sister, Jade, who will be comin' at ya with some truths about wedding planning for our brides to be.  Jade coordinates weddings all over the Chicagoland area and really has a passion for curating weddings that perfectly reflect her clients personalities (I know, it is in our blood).  She is ridiculously good at what she does, so I came up with the brilliant plan of doing a collabo blog post (my photog skills and her everything wedding planning skills) in hopes of helping out my newly engaged couples get started on the right track to wedding planning bliss.

So let's get started.  Jade and I met at Bang Bang Pie on Damen Ave. in Chicago this past weekend to chat about some weddings we have coming up, and to put together a list of some valuable information to share with you all.  We had roughly 37 cups of coffee (free refills, mucho importante) and ordered two slices of heaven, which is really what we were there for if we are being honest.  Side note: you NEED to go to Bang Bang Pie and get some pie in your life.  It is SO cute and SO good.  Great recommendation, Shelly.  SO descriptive.  This is why I'm not a food blogger, but seriously, go try it.


You’ve dealt with lots of bridal parties and with bridal parties sometimes comes drama.  What do you suggest for the new feyonce when deciding on bridesmaids?  Big bridal party?  Small?  Somewhere in between?

Oh, man. Quality over quantity. Too many times do I hear brides feel obligated to ask someone to be their bridesmaid because ‘you can’t just have one without the other’. It is even harder when your family tries to pressure you to have your cousin or family friend you are kind of, not really, that close with. “You were inseparable when you were kids!” Okay, yes, but I am 28 now so um. And next thing you know you have 15 bridesmaids when you really only wanted five. No. Choosing your bridal party, if anything, is the number one thing you need to be selfish about. Who you choose to surround yourself with on the day of your wedding is everything. Is this person 100% happy for you AND your husband? Is this person an overall dramatic person? Is this person someone who will be popping champagne and dancing with you on your wedding day or sleeping-in? Will you look back on your pictures and still be in touch with that person 10 years down the road? I don’t mean for this to sound like the Hunger Games, but the last thing you want when you are already nervous about walking down the aisle, is a bridesmaid that stresses you out even more. I have never had a bridezilla, but I have had a bridesmaidzilla. Trust me, you don’t want that.

Why is a good wedding planner/coordinator invaluable?

Where do I begin?! Just kidding. To put it simply, the job of a day-of coordinator on the wedding day is to execute all of the hard work the bride and groom have done. A common misconception is that a family member, friend, or even the bride and groom could take on this role to carry out the plans on the day of the wedding. However, when you ask a friend or a family member to take on this (sometimes) stressful task, they will more than likely feel like a staff member rather than a guest. More importantly, these volunteers may have little to no experience in the role of an event planner. This can lead to the person feeling overwhelmed and stressed as they try to keep on top of all the many (MANY) elements that go into a wedding day. That is where I jump up and down yelling, “put me in coach!” Okaaaay, not really. But really. A day-of coordinator is there to ensure a smooth, clean, and stress-free production on what most describe as ‘the best day of their lives’.

What is the secret to staying calm during the wedding process, especially the day of?

It is so important to remember to control what you can control and forget about what you cannot. Easier said than done, I know. But if you can, it makes ALL the difference. Weather? You can’t control that. So refreshing your Weather Channel app 7,984 odd times isn’t going to make the rain go away...at least as far as I'm concerned.
I coordinated a wedding that experienced ALL weather elements in one day. Snow, sleet, pouring rain, hail, sun, sideways rain/hail/ice (I’m not really sure what that was), you name it we got it. Of course it is disappointing when you always pictured your wedding to be a perfect sunny and 75. But, well, this is Chicago. So, instead, I ran around and found matching umbrellas for every single person in the wedding party to take uniform pictures with, googled indoor venues to take photographs in, and coordinated with the trolley driver and photographer so that everyone was on the same page. And guess what? At the end of the day, no one remembered what the weather was like. The receptionist will however probably remember a soaking wet girl in heels carrying (dropping) 20 some umbrellas up two flights of stairs. Heels, Jade? C’mon.

What is the craziest thing that has ever happened during a wedding day and how did you deal with it?

I got fully peed on by a dog. Yep. You read that correctly. The bride had forgotten her reception dress at home so I ran to go grab that among a few other miscellaneous things. The bride explained they had a dog and to not be alarmed of his ferocious, 10lb physique (hoping you’re picking up on my sarcasm here). ANYWAY, I am a huge dog lover so as soon as I got there I took a minute to say hello accompanied with some belly rubs. And then, well, my entire leg, shoes, and part of my dress was completely drenched. How? What? Oh. Had to actually take a quick rinse in the bathroom shower to not smell of urine for the rest of the day. It was great.

Talk about some of the wedding cake trends you are loving.

Actually, not having a wedding cake is so fetch right now. The whole huge wedding cake with the bride and the groom on top is phasing out. Things that are phasing in are...wait for it...donuts. I have seen donut walls, donuts stacked up to look like a cake, donut platters with all different kinds of seasonal flavors. It’s so different and, I mean, who doesn’t love donuts? My advice would be to find a local bakery somewhere near your venue. Usually said bakery will have them hot, fresh and ready to go the morning of your wedding for your day-of coordinator (me) to pick-up. Um, YUM.

What are some of your favorite DIY trends right now?

FLOWERS! When you start to look up pricing for bouquets you will probably find yourself involuntarily screaming out loud. Fear not, I am here to tell you there’s a solution to your $200 per bouquet price quote. For my sister’s wedding in the fall we actually used a local florist, Steve’s Flower Market in the West Loop, and bought a couple of buckets of different seasonal flowers. From there all you need is a little floral tape and voila. Huge, trendy, wildflower bouquets that would have cost a fortune to have made. We went in a couple of times prior to her wedding to practice and the staff at Steve’s Flower Market were more than helpful. They made floral suggestions, taught us how to put them together, and even went as far as specially ordered more seasonal flowers just for us to practice with.

What is your philosophy when working with brides?

Oh, that’s easy. Basically, whatever will alleviate any stress from my brides, I am completely down for.
For example, I coordinated a traditional Indian wedding that had a guest list of 500 people. The groom was Catholic, so the ceremony incorporated both Catholic wedding traditions as well as Indian wedding traditions.  Truly the most beautiful wedding with the two traditions coming together. However, the bride voiced that she was mostly concerned about timing. Indian weddings, she said, are usually over an entire weekend and always run two hours behind schedule. She was already fitting a traditional weekend celebration into one day so I understood completely where she was coming from. That, however, requires me to be more hands on rather than behind the scenes. I created a timeline with the bride and groom that went down to the minute. That timeline quickly became everyone’s best friend as I made sure every single vendor involved with the wedding had a copy. To keep the day moving, I grabbed the mic to run family photos, stole the bride away for her outfit change on the exact time previously discussed, personally went up to groups of people to invite them from the cocktail hour to the reception, and even had pre-written announcements for the DJ to make throughout the reception. For the record, that was just to name a few. This comes naturally for me as I am not at all a shy person. But honestly, whatever I had to do to keep that timeline running, I did.

If you could give brides one piece of advice for wedding planning, what would it be?

HIRE. A. DAY. OF. COORDINATOR.….And also Shelly Shimon Photography. Either way.

Tell us a little about yourself.

My name is Alamae from Mobile, Alabama. And I just want to say that since listening to Kanye’s workout tape, I’ve been able to date outside the family, I got a double wide, and I rode the plane (...rode the plane...road the plane).

She's special.

If you guys have any further questions, please leave them in the comments below or feel free to reach out to Jade at jade_shimon@yahoo.com!