10 Minutes with Washington, D.C. (And DIY!) Wedding Planner Sandy Malone

Local, MD, DC and VA, Planning Tips
Wedding Planner Sandy Malone

Photo: Getty Images

What would you say if we told you we knew someone who could make all your DIY dreams come true without all the stress? Meet Sandy Malone of Sandy Malone Weddings & Events in the Washington, D.C. area. (You might have seen her on TLC's reality show Wedding Island, about her destination wedding planning company, Weddings in Vieques.) Recognizing a growing need in the event planning industry and an opportunity to fill that gap, the pro planner decided to roll out an innovative new concept catering to crafty brides with busy professional lives: DIY wedding planning consulting services. We sat down with Sandy to get all the deets and learn why it's such a game changer for modern couples.

The DIY craze she couldn't ignore anymore
"Wedding planners never like to talk about DIY," says Sandy. "Why teach the potential clients to do something that we want them to hire us to do?" However, after planning more than 500 destination and local weddings and having to jump in to rescue far too many DIY couples mere months before the big day due to lack of organization, amongst other things, she opted to embrace the trend instead of ignore it. "The DIY craze that has swept the nation isn't going away, she explains. "And as an increasing number of couples wanted to DIY their weddings, I learned how to help them, rather than fight them."

The big test and what the typical client looks like
Prior to offering DIY planning services to the general public, Sandy and her team tested the concept. Most brides and grooms that jumped on board stat were busy professionals with a creative side. Go figure! "Some are control freaks who don't think they need somebody else to run their big day, but the key thing they have in common is that they're smart enough to realize that it doesn't take anything away from the DIY experience to get tips, advice and offload some of the grunt work onto somebody else." Um, you're telling us.

See More: 10 Minutes with Megan Ziems, Founder of Grace Loves Lace

Time is money, especially when it comes to wedding planning
Anybody with enough time can DIY their hometown or destination wedding, but as Sandy and her DIY clients quickly found out, having a little help from a professional, including sample documents, lists and spreadsheets, is truly invaluable. "It takes us less time, for example, to come up with a list of acceptable vendors at any venue," she points out. "Clients hire us for a set number of hours and have a variety of options for extending the package as the planning proceeds if they require additional assistance. It's their time and they control how it's utilized, whether that's negotiating contracts or writing their welcome letters for them, we're happy to take the task off the DIYers' plates."

Who you gonna call?
Fortunately, in the case of catastrophe, Sandy's team provides an emergency option if a DIY client decides they do need us "on the ground" at their wedding after all (granted they're available on your date, that is). Of course, you can still purchase traditional and destination planning packages, and she'll also be offering some seminar opportunities for DIYers and aspiring wedding planners in the coming months. With her new book How to Plan Your Own Destination Wedding: Do-It-Yourself Tips from an Experienced Professional coming out in March, it's clear Sandy is on a mission. "My goal is to make DIYing your own wedding a better experience for others than it was for me when I planned mine," she tells us.

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