Local event planner creates 'a Polished plan'
Updated 11:44 am, Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Sarah Taggart's skills as an event planner were tested when the eye of Hurricane Irene came roaring through Greenwich. The wedding she spent months planning took place on Saturday, Aug. 27, right on the Sound at the Belle Haven Club -- in the path of the storm and steps from the water.
Damage control ensured. A tent was cancelled, everything was brought inside and quite a few people were unable to make the wedding.
But regardless of these last-minute changes, the event was successful and very memorable.
"It actually ended up being fabulous," Taggart said. "It was a stressful 48 hours, though."
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These are the types of last minute issues an event planner deals with. It's a high-pressure, stressful, yet exciting job. It's an area Taggart first explored in an event planning student group at the University of Connecticut, where she majored in marketing; from there she worked in fashion merchandising at the TJX Companies, but she always remained a fan of event design. She took a job at Wee Burn Country Club in Darien and stayed there for four years, handling numerous events during all seasons. This prepped her for a chance to do it on her own. After single-handedly overseeing all of Wee Burn's events for a few years, she discussed the idea with a fellow event planner and decided to start her own event-planning company, titled a Polished plan.
The business launched in March. Taggart created a business plan and a website. She drew on her experiences and was hired through word-of-mouth by a few Fairfield County brides who wanted her to create the wedding of their dreams.
Taggart decided to start her own business because she wanted to do what she loves and express her creativity through event planning.
"I like to plan creatively," she said. "This job gives you freedom and flexibility. I decided now or never -- do it now and give it a shot."
Taggart's process begins when she meets with her client. Although she's been charged with mostly weddings, she is emphatic that she enjoys planning other types of parties -- birthdays, corporate outings and special events. She recently did a 60th birthday party where she was able to use a more flexible creativity in her designs.
"It's fun; you have more creative ability," she said. "It's not just wedding etiquette."
Taggart and her client decide how much help she can be. She can be there every step of the way -- meeting with vendors, setting up contracts, suggesting ideas and planning the overall vision for someone who isn't sure what they want. She can also help at the very beginning and end portions of the process -- getting everything together and then helping out as the approaches. She offers what she calls a "month-of" service to help with final details, like things the bride hasn't even thought of, and on the weekend of the wedding she is at the client's disposal, making sure everything runs smoothly.
"I have my checklists, iPad, BlackBerry -- a planner is a problem fixer," she said. "Some people just want to be the bride and need someone to take the last details off her plate."
One bride who has Taggart's present attention is Darien resident Christine Flynn. The 2004 Darien High School graduate is marrying Joseph Devine at the Country Club of Darien next week. A recommendation from her photographer led her to Taggart's business.
"We wanted someone who could help us with a lot of the logistics, coordinate everything, work with vendors and give us advice," Flynn said. "We wanted an expert in this kind of stuff who we could hand it off to. Our photographer said she'd be a great resource -- organized and diligent. She's been that and more so it's been really great."
Flynn believes having a wedding planner take a lot of the pressure off the bride and allows her to enjoy the moment.
"Her organization had kept me really at ease and kept it fun instead of being a giant burden of stress," she said. "[Taggart is] extremely helpful and allowing me to enjoy the process."
Taggart knows what the Fairfield Country bride wants. Trends are apparent here on the Gold Coast.
"The Fairfield County bride is preppy and nautical," she said. "There are a lot of beautiful venues here so people are keeping the decor simple; you don't need a lot."
The venues in this area make Taggart's job easier. They are often equipped with everything needed to make an event a success -- experienced staff, tableware, linens, seating and catering are often included. Taggart makes sure everything is up to par for her brides, but overall she's happy with venues she's worked with, which include Wee Burn, Country Club of Darien, Country Club of New Canaan and Greenwich's Belle Haven Club.
"They're very well equipped -- for a planner that's a beautiful thing," she said.
As for her own wedding, which took place last year, Taggart was able to play the part of both the planner and the client. She loved being able to make all the decisions and let her creativity run free.
"It was a lot of fun. It was a chance to be 100 percent creative on my own," she said. "When you're a planner you look at things objectively. [But with my wedding] I got wrapped up in it; I was a bride true to heart. I just wanted to have a perfect day."
She chose a nautical theme -- her husband is in the Coast Guard -- and was married in a non-denominational church in New London with a reception following at Harkness Memorial Park in Waterford. Do-it-yourself details, another big trend right now, personalized the wedding. She designed the escort cards: old postcards with names and table numbers written in calligraphy and hung from clotheslines. She designed the programs and put together a candy bar for her guests.
"It was really fun," she said. "DIY is a huge trend -- 20 years ago you wouldn't say you made anything yourself. But now people are wowed by it. It's the economy -- getting more for your money."
Next up for Taggart is a Flynn's classic yet modern wedding at the Country Club of Darien next week. She is in the final stages of the planning process and is excited about the turnout.
"The wedding has a lot of greys, smoke, whites and lime green," she said. "It's Oct. 8 but you don't have to do fall colors. You can make a unique event with a still-seasonal neutral palette."
She enjoys working with ideas and visions that constantly challenge her, but her favorite types of wedding are rustic and vintage affairs. A "casual but gorgeous" approach is her favorite. The only thing a bride needs to make her wedding perfect is a plan and the ability to execute it perfectly. That's where a Polished plan steps in.
"The word `polished' is fabulous; it popped into my head [when thinking of a company name]," she said. "It explains how most brides want their day to be -- put together, seamless and cohesive. A gorgeous, polished affair."
Visit Taggart's website at www.apolishedplan.com.