Relax, Celebrate, and Enjoy with Mary Bradley

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interview by Kendra Broomer

photography by Kay English Photography

Mary Bradley Events offers event coordination for weddings, parties, and corporate functions throughout the United States, as well as destination locales. Mary offers a bevy of à la carte services, so that clients can relax, celebrate, and enjoy on their special day. With Bradley’s background in interior design and 20 years of event planning experience, she is the perfect candidate to ensure that clients remember their wedding day as “the best day of their lives.”

After saying ‘Yes!’ what would be the first step you suggest the Bride/Couple take?

MB: The first thing a couple should do is to discuss budget.  After a budget is set, the first step should be to book a venue.

When you first meet with a client to start planning an event, what are your first steps?

MB: I usually like to hear what their expectations are from the beginning of their day to the end.  It’s important for me to get to know what a client really wants, so I can make their day exactly what they envision.

When it comes to choosing the perfect location for a wedding, whether local or destination, what advice do you give brides?

MB: If they want to keep their costs down, a destination wedding can be a good idea, since less people attend.  If a couple is willing to go somewhere off season, they can find some great deals as well.

If the wedding is local, choosing a venue where DIY is encouraged, and transportation is not needed can really save on costs. The best type of venue  for DIY is one where you can start decorating the  entire week before.  Choose a venue that does not have a wedding the night before or is available for set up at least three or four days prior to your event.  Then, you nicely ask your friends and family for help setting up (don’t forget clean up the next day as well)!

What is your favorite venue in New Jersey? 

MB: I have many: Jasna Polana, Bonnet Island Estate and The Liberty House are my top three.

What are the most important things for a bride (and groom) to remember on the day of their wedding?

MB: To enjoy their day and be flexible! Sometimes things don’t always go as planned (like the weather) and they need to remember that they set the tone for the day. For example, if it’s raining, and the couple is not bothered by it one bit, their guests will follow suit.  If they are upset, their guests will also be upset.

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Any great stories from working with a client?

MB: I’ve had some really nice couples. Recently, I had a bride who in the middle of getting ready with all of her bridesmaids, immediately stopped everything when she saw that her grandmother needed some assistance with her makeup. She sat with her grandmother and patiently helped her in such a loving way. Oftentimes, girls get so caught up in what they are doing, that they forget what the day is really about.

Are there any trends that you absolutely love or would love to see the brides leave behind?

MB: I always love the dances with the parents (even if I have parents who are reluctant) or we ask the whole wedding party to join in. It’s a touching moment.

What is your current favorite color combination?

MB: Soft blues and grays.

What advice can you give to couples who are in the midst of planning?

MB: Get help! Planning a wedding can be a big undertaking. Also, it’s nice to have someone else who can lead the way and to bounce ideas off of.

What’s the hardest part of your job that no one sees from the outside?

MB: I think my job is a lot more time consuming than most people would guess.  That is the comment I get most often when someone is truly paying attention to what I do in a day!

What types of projects excite you the most?

MB: The details and helping really nice people.

Do you have an all-time favorite past project?

MB: I was fortunate enough to be able to do a wedding in Charleston, South Carolina last year. It was held at a family plantation and the details were amazing.  We had a children’s game and craft tent, a bagpiper processional, a Baptist choir recessional, authentic Church pews in the middle of a meadow under a canopy of oak trees, and professional fireworks to end the night!

My recent favorite project was my beautiful niece’s wedding at Jasna Polana. Seeing her happy was the best feeling!

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Walk us through your typical day: Are you often traveling for work? Meeting with clients? Checking out venues in person or shopping for decor pieces?

MB: Yes, all of the above.  My day-to-day varies, but usually I meet with clients at the venue or a client’s residence. I also shop for décor. Then I frequently check in with vendors to make sure that we are all on the same page.

During all of your years of experience, what have you come to identify as the key ingredients for a great party?

MB: Honestly, the best events tend to be completely organized, yet still often evolve on their own. It’s good to have structure, but you also want the event to feel free-flowing. Sometimes, the best moments are not planned, or at least, don’t seem planned!