Where do you begin when you need to find a wedding or event planner? How do you figure out who to contact and what you need to find out about them? These are the questions that inspired me to interview and write about a number of event planners. The first is Tracy Taylor Ward of Tracy Taylor Ward Design, a smart and extremely well-organized professional who has quietly taken the event industry by storm.
When I met Tracy, she struck me as a stunning, gracious, enthusiastic woman with impeccable taste, who truly knows and loves what she is doing. A chat about her background helped me to understand why she is so well-suited for her work. It's as though she was apprenticing for the job all her life and didn't know it until a few years ago.
The Back Story:
Tracy grew up in New York City where she developed a taste for fine food, fashion and music. Following in her father's footsteps, as a child she discovered her passion for music and sang in television and radio commercials. She learned about interior design from her mother, Lauri Ward, the founder of Use What You Have Interiors, after graduating from Northwestern University. Upon returning to New York, Tracy worked on and off-camera as a decorator at her mother's design firm after receiving her certification in interior decorating. She also became MTV's dorm decorator, transforming college student housing on camera, as well as a host/decorator on HGTV's hit series, FreeStyle.
The next building block that would eventually become Tracy Taylor Ward Design was meeting and falling in love with Matthew Carrigan, a graphic designer and illustrator, at an open mic night for singer-song-writers where they were both performing. When the couple became engaged in 2009, they decided to pool their talents and design their own wedding. It was during this time that Tracy discovered she loved researching and coordinating vendors, negotiating contracts and overseeing the entire wedding planning process.
At the same time, Tracy volunteered to facilitate planning for her best friend's wedding in Miami so her friend could be with her mother who was hospitalized. A year later, in 2010, when both weddings took place, the pictures of the events were posted on social media sites and quickly spread. Emails and phone calls started pouring in with requests for Tracy to design weddings and within months Tracy Taylor Ward Design was launched.
Inside Tracy Taylor Ward Design:
Beneath her gracious demeanor, Tracy seems to be a very determined, proactive individual who accomplishes what she sets out to do. She takes tremendous satisfaction in making her clients happy by providing great value, both with her in-house services and industry connections. While the company is growing rapidly, Tracy is careful to limit the number of large events the firm contracts to ensure that she and her staff can provide unparalleled customer service. Although the company began as a wedding planning business, satisfied clients have brought Tracy and her team into producing a variety of other events as well. The business has grown predominantly by word of mouth. Typically, new clients have attended one of her events or have received her name from someone in their social circle. The firm's clients are successful professionals with discriminating taste.
Based on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, but producing events worldwide, Tracy Taylor Ward Design develops, coordinates and delivers full-service, full-spectrum design rather than outsourcing most aspects to various vendors. While Tracy handles all design consulting and planning with her team of coordinators, Matthew heads Paper With Benefits, the company's graphic arts division, which helps clients create one-of-a-kind designs for their invitations, reception stationary and artwork. Tracy's in-house production team handles all styling, flowers and décor, including customized furniture.
The company's style would best be described as elegant, classic and chic. Tracy sees to it that each event is so personalized that guests leave feeling they know the couple better than they did before attending. Her clients are able to look back and feel they would make exactly the same choices, again.
One of the things I liked most about Tracy was that she is as focused on the quality of the planning process as she is on the event itself. Clients quickly learn they can trust her because she removes any uncertainty by keeping them well informed each step of the way. She saves her clients time, helps them to establish and stick to a realistic budget, and then secures the best value with each of their vendors. Above all else, she strives to make the process fun and relaxing for her clients; from the day they hire her until the event is over. Recent bride, Christy Ely, said:
I cannot tell you the number of people who told me that it was the most beautiful wedding they had ever attended and who called it 'magical.' It truly was everything and more than I had hoped it would be. I knew that the day would not be anything less than spectacular with Tracy's hand guiding it, and that gave me the security to relax up until the very last minute!
There is no doubt that Tracy Taylor Ward means business and by consistently exceeding her clients' expectations; it's no wonder that her sought-after firm has quickly earned a stellar reputation.