Practical Advice from a Wedding Planner Jolene Greenbaum Peterson

Jolene Greenbaum Peterson
Event design by Laurel & Rose. Photo by Our Love is Loud. Floral design by Lale Florals

We should just come right out and say it: We are pretty much obsessed with anything event planner (and owner) Jolene Greenbaum Peterson of Laurel & Rose touches. If we had our wish we would get to live inside one of her gorgeously planned weddings, which somehow manage to always feel spectacularly unique down to the tiniest detail. The Denver/Boulder-based Peterson–who has previously worked with celebrity planner Mindy Weiss Party Consultants and the Patina Restaurant Group–is one of those completely down-to-earth planners who will take your vision and make it a reality, as well as introduce you to so many things you never even knew you wanted! With a highly-curated yet practical approach to weddings in Colorado, California, and across the globe, we reached out to Peterson to see if we could not only get some of her design mojo to rub off on us, but also answer some of the questions a lot of you brides have been wanting to know. Read on to read Peterson’s SUPER helpful wedding planning advice!

Jolene Greenbaum Peterson
Jolene Greenbaum Peterson of Laurel & Rose. Photo by Alison Vagnini Photography

This is one question we get asked a lot that doesn’t always have an easy answer: What advice would you give to couples who are wondering what to Save On/Splurge On?​

Jolene Greenbaum Peterson: When asked about splurge/savings, I always turn to the couple to see what a “dream vision” is for their big day. First, I suggest that couples pick their TOP 3 PRIORITIES together. This can be a great band, a farm-to-table feast, an outdoor dinner, an open bar all night, orchid centerpieces, a ceremony by a lake…whatever it is just make sure you pick your top 3 priorities and that you understand these 3 things are non-negotiable, but that everything else is fair game for compromise. Base your budget around your top 3 priorities and then assess what you have left. If your “big splurge” priority was a 10-piece band for the reception, think about having recorded music for the ceremony and cocktail hour. If you splurged on an expensive coursed meal for guests, think about cutting back on the cake and desserts. Try to get creative with your “cut back” items – bring in an ice cream station or donut bar instead of a 6-tiered cake. While the “splurge” items are going to be very different for every couple, some of the areas I recommend considering a “cut back” are:

  • Champagne toasts (not everyone drinks champagne … just let them toast with whatever they have chosen as their drink of choice. This will save a pretty penny!)
  • Try to re-use any flowers if possible (if you have 10 bridesmaids, have your wedding planner snag their bouquets after photos and re-purpose them at the dessert bar, cake table, etc. Just keep in mind this may not be possible in all situations and guests may observe the transfer)
  • Don’t splurge on favors (for some reason, couples sometimes feel that treating guests to a weekend of food, drink, and celebration isn’t enough?? Unless your “favors” are very meaningful and/or practical, don’t waste time, energy, and money on something that will likely end up left in the hotel room)
  • Try to use what your venue provides (some venues include tables, chairs, linens, china, etc… If you are OK with the included options, there is no need to splurge on additional rentals)
  • Plan a practical timeline (Work with your wedding planner to make sure you are not stuck paying for extra hours for the band, photographer, videographer, etc. If you have a realistic and well-planned timeline, you should be able to fit all of the fun into the allotted amount of time with the venue and each contracted vendor)
Jolene Greenbaum Peterson
Event design by Laurel & Rose. Photo by Our Love is Loud. Floral design by Lale Florals

How do you help a client come up with a cohesive “theme” for their wedding?

​One of my favorite parts of the planning process is really getting to know my couples. The first question I ask them is : “What is the best party you have ever been to, and why?” ​This really helps me understand what they love, the atmosphere they are most comfortable in, and the setting/decor that they are drawn to. The better I get to know a couple, the more enjoyable it is to help “design” their wedding weekend and the more personal it becomes. ​A lot of times people get overwhelmed with Pinterest and don’t consider what makes sense in their venue or their time of year, so it is very important to sort through the “dream design” and make sure it is also a realistic design. I always ask couples to consider a few things when considering the theme of the wedding weekend: consider your guests and their needs, consider the weather, consider the budget, and consider the priorities (again). I love to play on the natural setting of a wedding and try to use as many local vendors as possible that really understand the surroundings and local inspiration. ​

Jolene Greenbaum Peterson
Event design by Laurel & Rose. Photo by Our Love is Loud. Floral design by Lale Florals

Your weddings are so gorgeously creative. Where do you find new sources of inspiration?

​It sounds cliché but I truly do find inspiration in just about everything – from local restaurants and bars to interior design blogs to art to architecture to history. I think it all goes back to the couple because I want their wedding to be about THEM and not something that was pulled from Pinterest. I try to let my couples give me their inspiration first, and then build on it with ideas that will create a cohesive look and incredible guest experience. I really do not believe in trends and think a wedding should be a timeless affair and a genuine celebration. I want my couples to look back in 5, 10, 20 years and be really happy with the location, the colors, the meal, and most importantly, the bodies that filled the room. When a wedding is truly representative of the couple, I think the creativity comes naturally because every person is so different and every wedding should complement that unique couple. ​​At the end of the day, I am really inspired by people and want to help them build a celebration that is tastefully and artfully translated from their vision. ​

Jolene Greenbaum Peterson
Event design by Laurel & Rose. Photo by Our Love is Loud. Floral design by Lale Florals

What are you loving right now in terms of anything from food to centerpieces to wedding music?

​Being based in Colorado and Southern California, I love anything that can take place outside. I even have a few winter weddings in Colorado that insist on an outdoor ceremony so my job is to remain true to their vision, but also consider the comfort of the guests. For one wedding ceremony, we are providing large, wool Pendleton blankets for guests to bundle up in during the ceremony. And, instead of a standard “water station,” we are offering hot cocoa (with both spiked marshmallows or regular ones) so guests can warm up with a treat before and during the ceremony.

In terms of other recent obsessions, I am loving textures of all types right now in unexpected places. For example, bringing in local elements that may have previously been overlooked (coral on the table at a beach wedding, rocks at a mountain wedding, cacti at a desert wedding, sheepskin at a winter wedding….). I think decor should make sense and be a reflection of the location the wedding is being held. Using natural, local elements will not only look appropriate, but can also save costs. Ask your florist to “forage” for local elements to incorporate into your bouquet or decor…

Jolene Greenbaum Peterson
Event design by Laurel & Rose. Photo by Alison Vagnini Photography. Floral design by Lale Florals

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

​Oh, the ultimate planner question! My one piece of advice is three-part (ha!):

1. Hire a wedding planner so that you, your family, and your friends can be guests at the wedding… Having a professional act as the “project manager” allows you and your guests to be present and enjoy every moment of the celebration.

2. The details are important, but don’t lose sight of the big picture (and reason you are getting married in the first place), and…

3. Weddings bring out strange emotions in a lot of people. Don’t let others ruin your excitement because you can never (and will never) please everyone.

Visit the Laurel & Rose website for more awesome ideas and advice!

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  1. says: Danni Black

    I really like our tip “try to use what your venue provides.” That seems like a really great way to save some money on chairs and different things. My fiance and I are currently looking for a venue for our wedding so I’ll have to keep this information in mind. Hopefully, we will be able to find something that works for us and our budget!

  2. says: Sarah Smith

    I’m trying to plan my wedding and need to get a venue. Thanks for the advice about using what the venue provides so that you don’t have to rent extra things. Another thing to consider is to pick a venue that is large enough to house all of your guests, but that is still within budget.