Spill it: Debi Hake, wedding planner

Friday, March 21, 2008 | 3:00 p.m. CDT; updated 12:57 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Debi Hake plans weddings from her basement office in her home in Columbia. She said she is as involved in the wedding as brides need her to be, in some cases just helping the ceremony run smoothly, helping pick out the cake and even creating the invitations herself.

A bad experience with last-minute details when planning her own wedding led Debi Hake, 29, to realize that wedding planners were an indispensable resource to brides.

She turned a hobby into a business in 2003 and is currently the only full-time, independent wedding planner in Columbia.

Describe "wedding planning."

Making sure the bride get what’s she wants and is able to enjoy her day.

Why should people use planners?

A lot of people have great ideas but, when it comes down to the wire or down to the day, if there is not somebody to help pull together the details, things can happen that you didn’t foresee. Things don’t arrive, your cake doesn’t come, a musician doesn’t show. I fix it.

Something every bride needs to know about dealing with her wedding planner?

We are not here to take control of your day. We do not want to plan our wedding again. We want to help you make your dream wedding come true. A lot of brides are afraid of that.

Advice you have for every bride?

Spend your money to get what you want, not how you think others will see you. I encourage people to stick with a budget even if they think money is not an object. It lets you know to spend more money on the things you really want and to cut that extra cost in areas you care less about.

Do you work with only brides?

I’ve had 99 percent brides. I’ve only had one groom who was the main person planning with me. A lot of times the groom has come along, and their input is not exactly what the bride wants to hear. It’s easier for the brides to do what they’re dreaming of.

Where is the best location in Columbia to get married?

If you’re OK with an outside wedding, Les Bourgeois, the vineyard, is very beautiful. They have a really neat setup out back that overlooks the bluff. And any of the downtown churches. The older, historic ones are really beautiful.

What does the average wedding in Columbia cost?

Most brides are spending at least $20,000. The biggest chunk of that goes to reception food.

Is there a reception trend right now?

Anything that is not your normal buffet. Stations are really popular, with different international type foods at different stations. When we first started, we did a lot of traditional sit-down, chicken and potato meals. I haven’t done that in two or three years.

Is your job anything like J. Lo in the “The Wedding Planner”?

Some days it feels like that. It is definitely a crazy, fast-paced, high-stress job. The wedding weekend is a 24-hour, three-day event. I get very little sleep. The glamour, probably not so much.

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