Spotlight Vendor

Our certified vendors share their insight into the wedding business and tips for an exceptional wedding experience.

Wedding Planner Rui Mota Pinto

Markets Served: All Europe, Brasil, United States for Destination and Elopement Weddings in Portugal, Japan

Owner: Rui Mota Pinto

Professional Services Offered: : Wedding Concept, Design and Planning, Destination Weddings, Elopement Weddings, PopUp Weddings, Wedding Advise

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Wedding Industry Experience (owner): 25 years. Begun at 18 opening a company for corporate events, marketing and advertising. One year after start organizing weddings. At the age of 26 got my Wedding Planning specialization. Actually with 43 years old I am 5 times internacional awarded at Belief Awards (juri award) from the Wedding planners community Belief IWP, 3 times awarded in Portugal for best Wedding Planner at portal (couples award) and awarded at Ziva Awards (online voting) from ZankYou Portugal for best Wedding Planner.

Questions & Answers

How did you get your start in the wedding business?

I started my very new career at age 18 by starting an advertising and events company. At the time most geared for corporate events. I made my first wedding from a couple my friend who asked me to organize their wedding and did not hesitate to accept the challenge.
That day I realized it was where I had to be. Weddings was what i had to do. That my passion was marriages.
There was a “click” something inside me that like magic “sealed” my future and my path.
Over time I realized that it was not enough to be a professional that organized wedding The passion I had for this area and that still defines me, led me to risk going further and wanting something more that did not exist in Portugal and I took a Wedding Planner course. There I specialized, I grew up as a professional, I learned from those I consider the best in this area.
I returned to Portugal and started my project Wedding Planner Rui Mota Pinto exclusively dedicated to the conceptualization, planning and organization of weddings, with a very “American” vision of this function and how I wanted to develop it. Something very dedicated for the integral conceptualization of a marriage. Since the first moment.
Today, 25 years after starting my career at age 18, I am what I define as a true and pure Wedding Taylor and Planner

What do you love about weddings?

As a creator a love the stories. I love the couples, the reasons that they fell in love and the reasons that they decided to get married. More than everything is those two persons in front off me that makes me fell in love in each wedding.
Catching the “soul and essence” of that love story and making it real in one day, in unique moments is something that makes me every day more passionate about my work.
The conceptualization of the all day, the creation of the ideas, the moments, the décor to make that story come to live is something simply indescribable.
Watching all the emotion in the day of the groom watching the bride walking down the aisle, hearing the “yes”, seeing all the guest smiling and complimenting the couple, watching the first dance and all the emotional moments is something that even today 25 years later drive me to happy tears. It is a amazing feeling to see everything happening as we created and planned and all that is making two persons the happiest persons at that moment. This is something that really drives me every day and keep me so motivated and passionate about weddings.
The emotional side is very important for me.
Then all the creation and planning. Creating every detail and thinking on how to make it real and how to make it happen. What is the best way to do it and what is the way that will make the couple happier. Planning all that with all the staff and vendors is something that I simply love.

In your experience, what makes a great wedding professional?

I think creativity set us apart. We can be a great wedding professional without creativity being an excellent technician but I do believe creativity is what set apart the great from the outstanding professionals.

But for being a great professional creativity is not enough. We have to be dedicated, passionate, totally focused on the couple and on what is our service.
It is needed a great communication ability, a huge sense of commitment, and a truly appeaser personality specially for a planner.
We need to know the trends and to be always updated on what is new and what is up to come next year.

Also a great professional should be transparent on his work policies and prices.

A major characteristic of a great wedding professional is the constant need to grow and learn each day. A professional that exchange learning, ideas, experiences with other professionals, that teaches and that constantly seeks for new training and specializations is for sure a better professional each day.

Finally, but maybe the most important ethics. We can only be a great wedding professional if we have ethics. We cannot sell what we do not know what to do. We have to respect our colleagues and competitors. We have the obligation to give to the couple all the true info on our work, our experience and our path on weddings.
We have to be true to ourselves and to the market. We have to defend major human principals. And I do believe we can only achieve being a great professional when we have also a real action in the market with innovation, ideas and activism.

That is for me a real great wedding professional.

What do you feel differentiates your business from the others in our industry?

I am more a creator of weddings than only a planner of weddings. My conceptualization, my creative mind is a very strong mark in all the weddings I create. That is the strongest difference from other business in our industry.
More than the 25 years experience, all the certifications and knowledge I have accumulated over time, my passion for my work and for love stories and for unique moments and my creative mind is what best describes me.
I start all my work with a couple with a blank sheet and a pen. No photos, no Pre-conceived ideas. Only the love story of the couple, who they are as persons and as a couple and then I create the concept of the wedding. Only then we start looking for venues, décor etc. That comes from my creativity.
That is the big difference of my work. I am truly a wedding creator. A wedding Taylor. Then all the technical knowledge allows me to make everything a reality by planning the wedding as few people in the industry. That comes from experience.
Maybe that’s what defines me and sets me on the market. This very own way of thinking, conceptualizing and creating a wedding.
Personality, identity and fingerprint is what I consider essential for a marriage to be truly unique.
Personality of the bride and groom, the couple’s identity and the creator’s fingerprint.
And that’s what makes the difference.

Why did you join the National Wedding Council, and in your opinion, how do they protect couples from unprofessional vendors?

I always believed rules are necessary in every profession and market.
Also ethics is a major issue for me regarding my profession and the way I deal with couples, other vendors and competitors.
I think that having organisms that allows the couple to get true information on the vendors, that makes possible to get references and to know that the Certification of that organization obligates the vendors to a code of ethics and that only accepts real professionals that have proved their professionalism and quality is a huge help for the couple.

This was the reasons that made me join the National Wedding Council. Knowing that I would be part of a group of great professionals that beyond all the amazing work they do are also dedicated to offer to the couple an ethic service. A true and dedicated service and that they are worried about what the couples are getting in the market.

Of the things that really impressed me was that to join it is not only necessary to pay as it is in most of the sites and organizations. To be approved it is necessary a personal interview where the professional is asked for is experience, for is position on the market, for is ideas and for what he stands for. This is a huge step ahead in what the market can offer and should be. A certification can not be only someone that pays to have a “seal”. It has to be earned by quality, by ethics by professionalism.
That was what really impressed me at National Wedding Council and that made me join.

And I do believe that this is how we can really protect the couples. By a guarantee that all the vendors are really professionals, that they stand for our ethics code and that they are really top quality vendors.

Another way of helping the couples is by the dispute resolution that gives the couple the trust that if something happens they will have the council helping on the resolution.

By keeping up the standards, by having ethic vendors and by helping the couples on the process of resolution the National Wedding Council gives a major help for the couples to have the day that they always dreamed of.

Since the industry is filled with both professionals and amateurs, what business practices should couples be wary of when shopping for vendors?

I think mainly the couples should really think when the prices are very low. Planning a Wedding takes a lot of time, lot of knowledge and a real professional will ask a fair price for his services. If the prices is very low comparing to all the other professionals the couple should at least ask why.
In my opinion it is also important for the couple to ask for real wedding portfolio and not for styled shootings. The real wedding portfolio is the actual work that the professional as done and it will give a real perception for the couple of what is the real value of that Professional.

Can you share a favorite moment or two from previous wedding experiences?

I have to share last year when the groom from a Wedding with the Concept of literature decided to write a book for the bride and asked me to write the preface. It was a very emotional and special moment. At the end of the wedding the couple offered me their favorite book with a pen inside. All my sketches are made in paper and pen so those two moments where very special and emotional and created a very strong connection with this couple.

Other special moment also last year was when the couple asked me if I could join all my sketches from all our reunions and create a Scrip for their wedding that was in the day for the guests to see and that today they have in their home.

Some years ago I made a wedding in the new years eve. It also was a amazing experience and we had a great time because we celebrated the wedding and also the coming of a new year. It this wedding the cocktail was serve in the famous Lisbon Trams. The guests where invited to make a Tram tour in Lisbon and as they passed in historical places in the city the cocktail was served with typical Portuguese food.

But there are so many moments that it is impossible to described them all.

Any last advice for couples planning their wedding?

When I first met a couple I usually give them a first advice so we can start thinking about their day:
“Turn off the internet, erase the photos you bring from reference and think of one another, your love story, the reason that made you fall in love with each other and the reasons that lead you to take this important step.” This will be my “gateway” to know them, to really understand who they are, and what defines them as people and as a couple.
Then on my blank sheet I draw my sketches that I call “my dolls” the way I view their story and how I idealize the way we should put this story in a wedding day and in unique moments.
This “approach” of the bride and groom usually creates an enormous synergy and a complicity so unique and so strong that it turns the day into something truly unique and personal for them, truly identified with who they are.
More than seeing photos on the internet or come with a pre-defined idea of what they want.
To me a wedding is “a past, a present and a future”. A past of who is each of those people that is in front of me, a present of who is that couple that decides to marry and a future of who they want to be as a couple in the future. This is the story we will tell together on the wedding day.
This is for me a marriage- This is is soul, is genesis.
After that logically the photos, the internet is an inspiration to the concept that we created but this one is always created according to the story that I tell.
That is why my weddings are always so different. The only common thread or common identity that exists has to do with my own way of thinking, with the way I see the world. This is something that defines me as a professional.
My background, my identity as a person and professional, the locations and sounds that inspire me are something very striking in the way I think about a wedding.
But it all starts with the fact that the couple knows their story and with a blank sheet we think of what marriage they want.
I am very conceptual in the marriages that I create and the grooms who seek me are indeed those who want something unique thought effectively for them and without anything predefined.

My advice for the couples is never to forget that a wedding has to have “soul” something physically intangible that only those who are there that day live and understand. Something that goes beyond photography and video. Something that only memory will not let die. This is to me the “soul” of a marriage. The reflection of the couple in moments, in feelings, in fragments of memory that we retain after experiencing the day.

Basically, I’ve always believed that all of us somehow want to leave a “creative legacy” something that lasts beyond us. A way to “live 2 times” – the moment we created and the moment someone lives or revisits our creation. Weddings are my very own way I chose to leave this “creative legacy.”

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FB Events

Markets Served: Primarily Massachusetts and Rhode Island

Owner: Frank Baptista

Professional Services Offered: Disc Jockey, Lighting, and Photo Booths

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Wedding Industry Experience (owner): 15 years

Questions & Answers

How did you get your start in the wedding business?

I first started in the business as an assistant to my cousin who was a well established wedding dj.

What do you love about weddings?

Seeing all ages coming together to celebrate!

In your experience, what makes a great wedding professional?

Someone who is willing to constantly learn.

What do you feel differentiates your business from the others in our industry?

What sets FB Events apart from other companies are several reasons. First, we treat each event as if its our own. All of our couples are treated like family because we care about them and their special day. Second, we continuously keep up with the latest technology and trends in the wedding industry. We are one of the first companies in our area to offer a modern style approach to dj entertainment. Lastly, we stay humble!

What recent trends are you noticing in your practice?

There are many new trends happening to the wedding industry in 2017 such as themed weddings like a roaring 20’s theme where the music and attire match the theme. From a dj’s perspective, modern and trendy couples are looking for more club style dj’s for their weddings.

Why did you join the National Wedding Council, and in your opinion, how do they protect couples from unprofessional vendors?

We joined the National Wedding Council because we believe in being professional, trustworthy, and being responsive to our clients in order to provide them with ultimate wedding experience. We wanted prospective clients to feel confident choosing FB Events. The National Wedding Council protects couples from unprofessional vendors by uncovering: “fake online reviews, pricing games, bait-and-switch tactics, service misrepresentations, stolen images, and subcontracting”. Proper verification and a rigorous set of qualifications will endorse vendors who wish to be wedding certified. Utilizing their expanded resources, the National Wedding Council will ensure vendors with certified status are authentic and provide the quality services that are expected.

Since the industry is filled with both professionals and amateurs, what business practices should couples be wary of when shopping for vendors?

Couples should be wary of vendors by reading contracts and asking questions before signing. The least expensive option is not usually the best and weddings are a place where experience matters. Read reviews and ask for references. Find out what contingency plans are in place if an emergency arises.

Can you share a favorite moment or two from previous wedding experiences?

One of my favorite moments from a recent wedding was watching the groom’s elderly grandparent dancing to a modern hip hop song and him turning to me with a thumbs up!

Any last advice for couples planning their wedding?

Enjoy every minute of the planning process! Its goes by quickly. Also, choose vendors you feel comfortable working with. I understand price is a very important factor but the least expensive isn’t always the best choice and that goes for the most expensive as well. Connecting with your vendors ensures a great working relationship! Lastly, Congratulations and I wish you all the best!!!

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Uplift Photography

Markets Served: Primarily Connecticut, Hudson Valley, and New York City, but we also travel for weddings and have shot in many locations including Maine, New Hampshire, Bahamas, Boston, New Jersey Shore, etc.

Owner: Jade and Tim O'Connell

Professional Services Offered: Photography, Drone Videography

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Wedding Industry Experience (owner): We are a wife and husband photography team and have been shooting weddings together for the past 9 years.

Questions & Answers

In your experience, what makes a great wedding vendor?

Aside from all the regular things, like being on time, or being responsible and courteous, and good at a craft, there is something else that really takes a wedding vendor up a level.  We think the core of what really matters in a wedding vendor, or what makes a good wedding vendor great, is really about how much they care.  Do they care a little?  Are you just one of their many weddings taking place that weekend, or does your wedding matter to them?  Do they take pride in their work, and their work at your wedding?

To us, caring for each couple and each wedding is what feels absolutely normal and essential to us.  We have a specific style and way of handling weddings – as every wedding vendor does – but we take care to ensure that our style matches your style, and that we can work together to make a wedding day great.  I think the relationship between the couple and the vendor is definitely what takes things from good to great, and to us, that is what really matters.  And, we hope that shows in our photos!

How did you get into the wedding business and why do you love it?

I used to shoot photographs as art only.  Galleries in Manhattan, private homes, and travel photography were my mainstays.  In 2006, a friend asked me to take some photographs at her wedding and I was hooked from that moment on.  Tim assisted me at our first ‘official’ wedding by carrying the bags but felt uncomfortable standing around, grabbed a camera, and started shooting with me.  That’s where our photographic partnership was born. Almost 10 years later and we still compete for the best image daily.  Tim and I are happy, glass half full people and that’s why we named our company Uplift.  Uplift is a philosophy and a reminder for us to always see the positive in things regardless of the negative.  We love photographing love, and making lasting memories for people – especially capturing moments that they might miss during the course of a busy day.

What are the Wedding Trends in your field? (Styles or services gaining popularity for the 2016 / 2017 seasons)

I’m not sure if this is a wedding trend or not, but I hope authenticity becomes a trend!  I think it is – especially in the way of ‘making a wedding your own.’  I think most couples try to put their personalities into their day and I hope the trend is moving away from copying ideas on Pinterest, to using Pinterest and blogs as a source of inspiration.  I love when couples add details that are uniquely their own to a wedding, things that fit their personality and life, whether or not they are popular.

It is the same with wedding photographs.  We encourage all of our couples to laugh, smile, have fun, and be themselves, rather than trying to make their photos ‘be’ a certain way or have a certain look.  Be as you are and the happiness will shine through.  Everyone is Pinterest-worthy on their own!

How do you feel the National Wedding Council helps protect couples?

I think the National Wedding Council will help couples gain a sense of security that they might not otherwise have – not only does the site have reviews, but the site itself requires a background check.  That says something.  You just can’t pay to be a part of the NWC.  Vendors have to be accepted and be a professional in their field.  This definitely helps give clients a sense of security in a world of endless professional, semi-professional, and non-professional wedding vendors.

What business practices should couples be weary of when shopping for vendors?

The only thing that I would really be wary of would be getting something for nothing.  As usual, the cheapest option is not usually the best and weddings are a place where experience matters and there are no do-overs!  That dark church or reception room – those will not turn out to be the best photographs by someone who is inexperienced (and to be perfectly honest, those could be trainwreck photographs by someone who is inexperienced)!  Definitely do your research and ask to see prior work.  Compare and contrast to find what seems to suit you the best.  Be careful of your friend with a camera that wants to take your wedding photos as wedding gift…you might need us to come in for some follow up photography after you get your photos back 🙂

Closing statement regarding wedding planning and vendor shopping.

We hope that all couples enjoy their wedding planning! It should be a fun experience and hopefully you find vendors that will enhance your day.  We are still friends with most of our clients after the wedding – and we love it that way.

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617 Weddings, LLC

Markets Served: New England / Boston Metro area

Owner: Jimmie Espo

Professional Services Offered: DJ Entertainment, Photography, Videography, Planning and Design

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Wedding Industry Experience (owner): 15+ Years

Questions & Answers

How did you get into the Wedding Business:

Serving as a party DJ for years, I was asked to DJ a family wedding and I instantly fell in love! The captivating look on the bride’s face as she celebrates and feeling the energy of the guests is exhilarating! Serving such a pivotal role in the execution of the most important day to the bride and groom is something that excites me and reminds me how fortunate I am to do this for a living!

What are you seeing for Wedding Trends in 2016 / 2017?

For Photography: Presentation and product development! There is a multitude of new and innovative techniques to showcase the beauty of the images captured by your artist! From metal to bamboo canvases, to three dimensional and contemporary display, product presentation is rapidly becoming a highlight of the service we provide!

Videography: Including Video in your wedding day is no longer a “late addition” to your services…it is proving to be one of the most sought after vendors! Wedding Films are showcased in shorter format, highlighting the day, with a cinematic flair woven into the love story being told. Films are now being digitally delivered, allowing receipt of product to be expedited and more convenient for sharing with your selected audience.

For DJ Entertainment: Our brides and grooms are entering the Wedding Planning Process well versed on their vision and expectations, largely due to the vast amount of resources available to them, particularly online based. Couples recognize the importance of the impression the DJ makes on their reception. The bride and groom’s focus is now directed toward not only the DJ’s performance caliber, but their presentation value. From the attire of the artist, to a desired sleek and high end appealing booth, to quality of equipment, couples are educating themselves on the merit of the overall product received.

What unprofessional things have you commonly seen other vendors do at a wedding:

Poor personal presentation is certainly the most unprofessional occurrence we have witnessed from vendors at Weddings. From vendors wearing attire that does not align with the style of the event, to performing their service in jeans and flip flops, to logos on apparel that are not their own, we have seen it all! How you present yourself at your event directly represents your brand, something our team prides itself on!

What business practices should couples be weary of:

While couples are initiating major investments in the vendors they select, they should be mindful of businesses that do not reflect such an investment in their brand. For example, businesses that lack an established location, hosting meetings instead at Coffee Shops, over dinner, or even in the couple’s home. Here at 617Weddings, we have an established full time team and office location, providing a high quality assurance that they are receiving exceptional service and care from a legitimate and reputable company.

Also, be weary of companies not willing to add the “artists” name to the contract. All too often I hear horror stories of a random DJ or Photographer being sent to an event in place of the booked talent. The old “bait and switch” is as unprofessional as it gets, be sure to have your artist’s name displayed on your signed contract.

How does the National Wedding Council help protect couples from unprofessional vendors:

The creation of the National Wedding Council and the Wedding Certified status has been something that wedding industry has lacked for years. Proper verification and a stringent set of qualifications will validate vendors who wish to be Wedding Certified. Utilizing their expanded resources, the National Wedding Council will ensure vendors with Certified Status are the “Real Deal” and provide the quality services that is expected on your wedding day.

What makes 617 Weddings a great vendor:

Our business model: to provide personalized quality service to each and every bride and groom. We have formatted our style and tools to reflect our partnership with our couples, not just providing a service on the event date. Regardless of the type of service or the number of services our company provides, our goal is to ensure that each and every couple feel as though their wedding is the only wedding we have. By hosting multiple in person meetings, to our online client portal, to providing our personal cell phone numbers, we are committed to developing relationships that will allow us to be actively involved throughout the planning and execution of their Wedding Day!

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