She is one of the most fun, inspirational, and talented people in the wedding industry: Jo Wittmann! Jo founded Witt & Co. Events in 2015, and recently celebrated being a phenomenal Fox Cities entrepreneur for a successful five years! Not only has she celebrated her five year anniversary, but just launched a chic, new website and is about to welcome her second child into the world! Keep reading for more about Jo and her passion for planning weddings.
My values are: service above self, family focused, and overall hard work. I love making other people happy, and make sure couples don’t have to worry about the stress of the day. That is definitely a big one for me. I really think that all these events in life should be celebrated and everyone involved should be able to celebrate. I do my best to create the best events possible with the kind of planning we offer.
Jo’s Most Rewarding Parts of the Job
I think Sara feels the same way too—and I think anyone in this industry will agree—it is a lot of hard work, a lot of long hours, and can be awfully stressful! But at the end of the day when someone comes up to you and you get a simple thank you card, or a hug, or tears that say, “you were the best decision I made, and this day wouldn’t have been possible without you” is super fulfilling to me. I guess being a people pleaser, that is the most rewarding part. The second most rewarding part is that I meet some pretty freakin’ cool people! There are some couples I still text with, and now get to see their families grow, and see baby announcements! It’s the coolest thing to know that I was a small part of their wedding and their love story.
More than a “Day of” Coordinator
A “day of” coordinator—or what the industry is trying to change it to: a “day of” manager or not even “day of” but an “event manager” in general—we can’t just show up that day and execute a wedding, we have to do some sort of planning ahead of time. So, some people call it a “month of” management or “weekend” management coordinator. I used to offer that, but not anymore. The difference is that I’m more involved in the planning, with the vendors, wedding pros, and knowing the ins and outs of everything regarding the wedding. I know RSV counts rather than just getting a number from the couple. I can see their invite list and see who chose what meals. I really get the nitty-gritty of the planning, resulting in more involvement with the design of things.
I help the couple come up with a variety of color pallets, source the different types of rentals, and just present different options that maybe couples didn’t think of right away. Day-of coordination is basically included in my full planning, it just starts a lot earlier and I am definitely more involved. I begin planning events up to sixteen months in advance and we basically start out talking about their overall vision for the day, I help them create a budget guideline, and we meet monthly to go over any of the progress. I have a planning account I use online, which allows us to communicate back and forth on specific tasks and planning items. They have full access to me during the entirety of their planning, not just once a month. I will respond daily to people if need be, so we can keep things on track, give them checklists, help develop things ahead of time, and to make sure all the wedding pros have all the information that they need (hopefully!). Then I will show up that day, make sure everything is taken care of, wrap everything up at the end of the day, and even follow up with them after the wedding to go over any last details.
A Walk-Through with Jo
When I book a client, we start out with the contract; they sign everything electronically, and there is a deposit that retains my services. Most of the payments are done early on because the majority of my work is doing the planning. Once that is all taken care of, we meet to do their design session. I ask a whole bunch of questions about them and their vision. Things like: what kind of clothes do you wear, who are the designers in your closet, and do you prefer savory or sweet food for desserts? Things like that just to get to know them as a couple so we can present that in their wedding and really tailor it to them. I ask other questions like, if they have color preferences, if there is one show-stopping element that they would love to have if they had an unlimited budget? So that’s the design session.
After that meeting, I put together an outline of a budget. At our next monthly meeting, we go over that budget and we can tweak it any way they need it. From there on out, we do meet to talk about the planning process, different upcoming tasks, things I’ve taken care of, and things they need to do for the next month. I will meet with any of their vendors that they request me to. We build the best vendor team for the couple.
Once we get to the five-month mark, we’ll detail the timeline. Then, I will generally reach out to their photographer and their venue to make sure that their timeline is good on both ends. I never want to rush a photographer and tell them, “you only have 15 minutes to do family portraits” when the couple really wants everyone like their aunts and uncles and all those people for their formal portraits. So I help them detail that, and help them think about the minor things they haven’t thought about.
We do a final walk through at the venue, help them create diagrams and the flow of the day. About four weeks before the wedding, I ask if all of their RSVPs have been submitted, and we meet one final time to go over the timeline, wrap up any last minute decisions, and then talk about the items they’re bringing and what needs to be set up. I make a list—a very detailed list—of which linens are going on which tables and which group of pictures that the couple is bringing are going on what table, and if they have a guest book to remind them to get pens! They can deliver their décor to me the week of the wedding and I will bring it to the venue. We go over all the really tiny things that some people might overlook in the grand scheme of things.
When it comes to the wedding, I am there for the rehearsal, and then of course for the day of the wedding. I am there early, helping make sure everything is set up, and checking in with the bride and groom usually via text. If I have time and the couple is getting ready off site, I stop by. But I usually stop by to say hi in the morning just to make sure they’re having fun and reassure them that they don’t have to worry about what’s happening at the venue.
When it comes to the ceremony, I do the same thing as the rehearsal. We walk through it, get all the timing right, make sure all of the guys have their ties straight (and their zippers up!), and no cell phones! And then I make sure their photographer is able to get photos of the couples and make sure everything isn’t too rushed during the ceremony. I cue everything; I don’t need everybody thinking and worrying about, “Do I go now? Are they ready for me?” I will tell them exactly when they need to start walking! I also transfer items from the ceremony to reception if they need me to.
I cue all the dinner activities as well. So, when I get a really good DJ, someone that I like working with, they kind of wait on my cue for when everything is, so I can make sure that photographers, videographers, and everybody is ready for things. That includes having all the parents seated at their table and not wandering around, so they don’t miss any of the speeches! At the end of the night, I help with clearing and packing up personal belongings. Then we meet once more to go over how everything went. That is pretty much start to finish, everything that I do!
Preferred Number of Clients
My first year, I did 25 weddings, and then I backed it down to 15. I did 15 weddings for a couple of years. And now that I’ve changed my service offerings and my packages are much more involved where I’m not just doing the weekend management, I generally will take no more than 10 weddings a year. Especially because my specialty weddings are more the outdoor/backyard weddings—kind of hard in Wisconsin to fit more than 10 in during one summer/wedding season! So, 10 is my maximum, but I’d prefer to do more around 8 because it lets me get to know people a lot more, focus on their weddings a bit more. I’m also expecting another baby coming up in June, so we’ll see how that goes. Just kind of trying to give my best to everybody!
Fun Facts about Jo
I am left handed, so yes I’m creative—that comes up a lot! I married my high school sweetheart; we’ve been together for I think 15 years this year. I grew up on a farm, and we live there now. I’m a total tomboy at heart, but I love dressing up and being girly!
Visit Witt & Co. here to learn more!