The Wedding Professional: Lindsay Noonan

Event coordinator and recent bride Lindsay Noonan shares her thoughts on how to make your wedding shine.

It rained sideways on the morning of Lindsay Noonan’s wedding. The phones in the bridal suite rang with concerned family checking in. Fortunately, Noonan, an event planner and owner of Danville-based Lindsay Lauren Events, had done all the prep work herself and stayed calm as the rain pounded outside. Miraculously, an hour before she walked down the aisle, the sky cleared and her courtyard wedding went on without a hitch.

We chatted with Noonan to get her tips on throwing a great party and having a stress-free big day.

left to right: Danielle Poff Photography, Esmeralda Franco Photography, Darren Brazil Photography


Q: I just got engaged! What is the first thing to do?

A: Call a planner!

But really, the first thing is to just enjoy the moment because it goes by so quickly. Even though I love all the details of weddings, it’s easy to get carried away. Stop for a minute and celebrate, have a glass of champagne, and enjoy.

Then, get your list of top priorities going: Is it the venue, the time of year, or somewhere you can have a large guest list? Do a little bit of research. Figure out what you like as a couple—what’s most important to you on your day. That will allow you to make better decisions later. If you know from the start that planning a wedding is not your gig, look into a planner in the area where you want to get married, and meet him or her in person. Everything should be in person. You want to make sure the two of you jive—that he or she is someone whom, at the end of the day, you actually like.


Q: What are the challenges of going without a planner?

A: Lack of knowledge. Part of hiring a professional is having someone who not just hears your needs, but will carefully select vendors who fit into your vision, which expedites the process.

And stress. I’ve had brides who’ve said, “You saved my relationship with my mom.” It helps to have someone outside of the family as your sounding board—someone who can keep everyone happy and most importantly, keep you happy. You and your fiancé. [Laughs]


Q: Sometimes, a bride will have difficulty incorporating her vision with her fiancé’s. What is a way to bring these two visions together?

A: Sometimes, couples come to me with a general idea of what they want, so I ask them, “What’s your theme? What’s your feel?” You don’t necessarily need a theme, but you definitely need direction. Make lists of your favorite things, put them together, and see what you have in common. If you are both huge foodies—you love farm-to-table and wine—that’s a great thing that can evolve into a theme.

I had a couple who knew what they liked as far as aesthetics and design, but they weren’t sure how to play it throughout the wedding. By making their list, they realized that golf was huge for them both and the bride had a vintage style. So they did a vintage golf theme. Their seating chart, for example, was set up like a golf course, with each hole as a table assignment.


Q: After setting up a planner, what decisions are first?

A: Your guest list. That will dictate what direction you go with your venue. If you find a place you love that only holds 50 people and you have a guest list of 250, that’s not going to work.

And know your location parameters. Do you want to stay local? Do you like the idea of a destination? Your venue is really your canvas. Sometimes, couples make a decision about a venue based only on their budget and think they’ll bring in everything to make it true to their vision. Of course, you can change certain aspects—you can drape, you can do lighting—to enhance the beauty of the day, but it won’t change the fact that you love Wine Country but you’re inside an event center. All those decisions play into the venue.


Hazy Lane Studios

Q: How did you and your husband decide on those important touches?

A: It partly had to do with what I do. I wanted people to feel like we were grateful for them being there. Guests were greeted with a glass of champagne and we had live music, which was the biggest treat and something we loved, but also knew our guests would eat up.


Q: What is a way to deal with those moments you can’t control?

A: I always say you can’t control the weather—metaphorically and literally! So, what’s your plan B? And that goes back to the venue. Do you want a winter or summer wedding outside? What if it is a crazy day and it rains? There are so many elements you can’t control, such as traffic, a vendor getting sick, or a bridesmaid’s dress ripping. Always have a plan B!


Q: You got married a few years ago. With so much going on, and you being a planner, how did you manage to stay calm?

A: Honestly, I don’t know. I got married in September in Sonoma. It’s peak season for the weather—and it rained. Everyone thought I would be freaking out, but truthfully, I wasn’t.

What kept me sane was knowing that I had done everything in my power to control the things that were important to me. I had a great team of vendors and someone who was hands-on at the venue who could boss my wedding party around. I was able to let it go and say, “It’s my wedding; I’m happy.”

When we were planning, people told me that it goes by so quickly, and it’s so true. The little things are just hiccups, and if one thing wasn’t how I envisioned, none of the guests were going to know anyway.


Q: How do you recommend remembering the little moments?

A: Take a few minutes after the ceremony—whether it’s just the two of you or with your parents—before the madness happens. Even though the dancing and the food are important, it’s really about what you’re committing to each other. Take a deep breath, and “cheers” each other. That’s kind of my thing; just have a glass of champagne. You need it to settle down. [Laughs]

The same goes for after the wedding. Even if a couple doesn’t want to go on their honeymoon right away, they should take a night to get out and do something different, to reflect on what just happened.


Hazy Lane Studios

Q: What are some budgeting tips?

A: Food and beverage usually take up a lot of the budget, and one thing people always wonder about is whether they should offer a full bar. I recommend having wine, beer, and champagne, instead of a full bar where you have to charge your guests for drinks.

But if you like the idea of having hard alcohol, there are different options without having to charge your guests. One of those is offering hard alcohol at cocktail hour, taking a break at dinner, and then reopening the bar in the evening for dancing.


Q: As a planner, how do you feel about Pinterest?

A: It’s a blessing and a curse. There are so many wonderful things about it: beautiful designs, inspiration for couples who don’t know what they want. They can create a board that really reflects them, and I actually help with that, which is wonderful. But the challenge—and people don’t always realize this—is Pinterest is rarely realistic. There are all these amazing photos, but there’s no budget button. Sometimes, I have to pump the breaks and point out that most things in the photos are custom upgrades. That stemware doesn’t come with those gold rims.

If you keep in mind that your wedding isn’t going to look like a Pinterest board, it can truly enhance creativity and inspire people to use different ideas.


Q: Any new trends popping up?

A: Couples are getting more comfortable going out of the box. They are recognizing that ceremonies and receptions don’t have to be a certain way. There is beauty in tradition, but elements of modern ideas can be mixed in.

And the guest book. It’s not so much a book anymore. My husband and I used the top of a wine barrel, on which people wrote little notes. We also had five different wine bottles: one for our first, fifth, tenth, fifteenth, and twentieth anniversaries. Guests wrote messages and placed them inside. Last year, on our first anniversary, we went to Pebble Beach, cracked the bottle, and read the notes. It was really fun.


Noonan’s Four Musts

1. Enjoy it! Remember to breathe and soak it in.

2. Be in the moment and let someone else be in control that day.

3. Do your research.

4. Make sure to eat.