Witt and Co. Events started as a vision in teenage Jo’s mind and blossomed into a full-fledged business in 2015. On March 22nd Witt & Co. Event’s celebrated their five-year anniversary! Congrats Jo! With over 10 years of wedding experience, Jo Wittmann has proven again and again that when she shows up to plan your wedding, she shows up! Jo designs her couple’s most amazing wedding vision, encompassing their dreams and personalities throughout their special day. Located in downtown Neenah, Jo is a wedding industry gem here in the Fox Cities. Her hard working, creative, and authentic self makes her stand out—and I personally love her!
From really early on I have always loved weddings—which is really, super clique! I ended up voicing that I wanted to be a wedding planner once to a complete stranger in the retail store I was working at, and this person decided to tell me that it was a dumb idea to do it in this area and that I would not make any money. Being an impressionable teenager, I decided that I needed to find something else. I went to the Art Institute in Schaumburg, Illinois and started a degree in Graphic Design, which has definitely played into my creative side when I design things for weddings. But part of the way through, I decided the program wasn’t for me, and ended up finding out that the Tech up here in the Fox Cities had a Meeting and Management program. I came back home and completed my Associates Degree.
From there, I did some interning, and worked at a hotel banquet hall in Neenah. So, in a way, I started from the bottom: bartending and serving tables for weddings. Then I ended up working in the sales office with my internship, and became a banquet supervisor, overseeing the events of the day. That hotel group ended up purchasing another hotel in Oshkosh, and after interviewing, they asked me to come down and run weddings at that hotel. I ran the weddings at the hotel and convention center for three years, but eventually decided that having to meet with over 100 couples every wedding season didn’t allow me to get to know them well enough. I knew my end game was to eventually own my own business and do my own wedding planning—somehow my initial childhood thoughts of, “weddings are pretty and I would love to do them” came to fruition and the rest is history!
March 22nd was my five-year anniversary, but I have been doing weddings for over ten years now.
Witt and Co. Events Planning Options
I now offer wedding coaching sessions. Basically, if you don’t want to hire full planning, a couple could meet with me one-on-one for an hour and a half to two hours or so to pick my brain about anything regarding the wedding. If they need recommendations, if they need etiquette help, or anything small like that, I can help guide them.
I also offer full planning, which would be from start to finish: from the time they are engaged through the end of the wedding, going over their budget, making sure their vendors and payments have all been taken care of, and that includes meeting with vendors, interviewing, offering recommendations, being there the day of the rehearsal, being there the day of the event from start to finish, setting up some of their décor, and doing a wrap up with them at the end. I will make sure everything is super organized so they can sit back and enjoy!
I also add décor set up and take down as an option. So if a couple comes in and has a bunch of décor that’s their own and don’t want to hire the florist to do it, or a family member doesn’t have time, or they don’t want a family member to worry about it, then I can take care of setting up their personal items. That’s not necessarily doing full centerpiece set ups, but if that’s an interest of the couple, I recommend that they hire a professional.
Creating a Realistic Budget
In our area, I charge about $4,500. There are planners that charge quite a bit more, and there are quite a few that charge a bit less. But for general wedding planning in our area, I would say plan a budget of four to five thousand.
There are some [planners] that offer partial planning (I used to and don’t anymore, because the lines are a little too blurry of what we take care of and what the couple is responsible for), and there are options that give you a little bit less with planning vs. coordinating. But expect to spend at least $4,000 or roughly 10% of your budget. If you’re ready to jump into the wedding planning, send me the details!
Payment Policy for Witt & Co. Events
I can do electronic invoices. My deposit is 50% of the service. And then three months after that, I do the next 25%. And the final 25% is not due until one month before the wedding. I also offer just a few small rental items: table numbers, candles, picture frames, easels, kind of those last things that work for everybody; but not centerpiece specific. But those kinds of items are due a week or two before the wedding so that they have time to figure out their RSVPs.
The Ideal Client
Generally a couple who knows what they want for a wedding, but don’t know how to make it happen. Their lives are a bit too busy to basically add another full time job to plan their wedding. A lot of times they’re planning out of town too, which can be difficult. Ideally, someone local to the Fox Cities. I’m not going around the state as much anymore, or international weddings.
My specialty is those couples who are coming back home and getting married in their parents’ or their grandparents’ backyards. Couples who are doing a big, tented wedding and want to celebrate all weekend long is kind of my niche. I specialize in tented, backyard weddings within the Fox Valley. I also like couples that have a bigger vision, and want to have at least one show-stopping element that grabs everybody’s attention.
I like people who are super down to earth. I don’t want them to feel like they’re coming to meet with a planner in a suit jacket. If I could, I would meet everyone in jeans and a t-shirt—for my comfort sake first of all, but for them also. I want them to feel super comfortable. Planning is super stressful enough, and couples shouldn’t have to worry about their appearances and how they present themselves when we are talking about one of the biggest days of their lives. It’s going to be amazing no matter what.
Just people who kind of understand the benefit to having a planner, and truly sees the value in it. So when I meet with couples (and this is something I pride myself on), I generally book them after a consult; partially because I let them know a lot of the information up front so they know what to expect, but also because they are the people who understand the value. I don’t have to convince these people that it’s a good idea to hire a planner.
Creating the Timeline
Once we get to the five-month mark, we’ll sit down and detail their timeline. They might know when they have the ceremony scheduled or know what time they want dinner, but they don’t always think about how much time to allot for hair and makeup, how many people are involved—because that makes a difference—or how many stylists are coming—because that also makes a difference.
Vendor Meetings with Jo
Yes, I will come meet with vendors, though sometimes I’m just there to take notes. A lot of times I meet with their florist on their behalf or with them. I will attend site visits or venue tours to find the best place for them. I can do cake tastings if they want, and if they offer samples that’s great because I can share my experience with those future couples. I can also help them find photographers—hey Sara!
I also sometimes work with specific vendors, so I love seeing them and talking to them about weddings! Every wedding planner has set go-to vendors and favorite wedding professionals—there’s no shame in that. I love working with specific people because they’ve proven that they will do just about anything to make their client’s dreams a reality. They are professional and they show up! Not just on time, but with the most amazing abilities and products. I am open to working with other professionals, but I do require that the couples introduce me to them so I can give the seal of approval before moving forward. This ultimately helps me make sure clients build the best wedding team possible.
What about Vendor Issues
If issues arise, absolutely. I’m definitely working on behalf of the couple, but I’m also working on behalf of the vendors and professionals that I have recommended. In a way I can mediate between or be the voice of reason if a couple is high strung about something. If something set them off, a lot of times it’s the stress of the day that’s getting to them and they’re not thinking completely rationally; so I’m kind of a voice of reason there.
But also, I stick up for my vendors, because they’re the ones that refer me out, and I need to treat them well in order for them to perform their very best for me as well. I definitely help with issues and kind of communicate, but I don’t really do any money issues. If a couple were to cancel (knock on wood somewhere! I’ve not had anyone cancel) I can help get that started if something happened. I haven’t run into too many big issues that needed to be resolved. But I help negotiate a little bit too, where needed, between the couple and the vendors.
For example, there was a wedding client I had a couple years ago. I asked their DJ service if they could include those pin-light spots to highlight their cake table and just throw that in for them, and they happily agreed! Sometimes it’s not just about getting discounts, but it shows off the DJ, or it shows off the photographer; it makes them look good, both visually and to the couple. So sometimes I do that negotiating. I don’t want to de-value anyone’s service, because they price it out to where they deserve to be, and I don’t want to use or take advantage of that all the time or ask a service to charge my clients less—that’s not fair to anybody. But if we can throw in something that’s a little extra value, sometimes that comes across the best for everybody.
We [Sara and I] have even created a custom service for a couple coming in from out of state. There has been some negotiating and planning for custom sessions based on the client if they’re out of state and don’t need engagement photos in their package for instance.
Jo’s Involvement in the Rehearsal
Yes, I am there for the rehearsal. I can either help guide the whole thing if they have a family friend doing it [officiating] and have never performed a ceremony before. Otherwise, I just tag along if they’re at a church, and I help the priest or pastor line everybody up and time everything out.
The Day of the Wedding
Most definitely I’ll be there! We are generally the first people there, and the last people to leave. We get to the venue to make sure all the tables are where they need to be. That way when the linens get there, they can just be thrown right on. When vendors start to arrive, we make sure they can set up right away, and the florist can put flowers on the tables right when they get to the venue. Then at the end of the night, I start clearing things and packing up their personal belongings. So I am there from start to finish!
More Challenging Aspects
In general terms, the most challenging ones are where the couple just doesn’t know what they want, so their ideas change quite a bit. That doesn’t happen very often, but that can sometimes be difficult on my end. But the one I’d rather talk about is the out of state weddings. It’s not that difficult for me, but I know that can be the most challenging for couples sometimes, because they aren’t here. They can’t be with the vendors, they can’t see the property—sometimes it’s just hard to be away. When you’re thinking about and getting excited about your wedding but can’t be there, I think that sometimes is a little difficult. But usually, there are a lot of video calls and video meetings, because even if someone lives an hour away, for someone to drive that much after work is not always easy. Even just outside the Fox Cities, we can video call and take care of meetings that way.
Yes, I absolutely plan outdoor weddings! I love outdoor weddings. I’m not so much into the farm or barn weddings anymore; I think that’s run its course (at least for me). So I do the tented/backyard weddings. I don’t do out of state weddings at all. Pretty much in the Fox Cities only.
We’re excited for you and your upcoming baby! You are such a genuine person with a passion for connecting with others. For more information about Jo and her company, Witt & Co. Events, check out her brand new website here. If you’re planning a wedding and don’t know where to start, Jo’s experience will help you along the way and create peace of mind on your wedding day. She is your advocate so you can simply celebrate.