Local wedding planner celebrates 20 years in businessWritten by Sarah Ottney | Managing Editor | firstname.lastname@example.org
Whether it’s a last-minute vendor cancellation, broken-down limo, guest with an uninvited plus-one or red wine stain on the bride’s white dress, Bee for the Day owner Brooke Lauber-Cobb and her team of 16 “bees” have the experience to quickly solve any wedding emergency.
The Archbold native has been in the wedding coordinating business for 20 years.
“I like the anonymity of being the person who takes care of problems behind the scenes,” Lauber-Cobb said. “The feeling of accomplishment you get when you solve a problem and no one else even knows you’ve done it. It’s such a rush.”
For most of her career, Lauber-Cobb has held a day job, building her wedding planning business on the side by word of mouth, but about four years ago, she started operating Bee for the Day full time. Her past experience includes political and nonprofit fundraising and event planning, catering, waitressing, 9-1-1 operator and the criminal justice field.
“I’ve always been in problem-solving positions and in the service industry,” she said. “We really try to stay ahead of any problem that’s going to come up. We want to be your problem-solving people.”
Bee for the Day is the only local company that specializes solely in wedding planning, Lauber-Cobb said. Day-of coordination is the most popular service. Bees can also accompany clients to vendor meetings, offer vendor recommendations, look over contracts, tweak invitation wording and more. Bee for the Day also collects information from each vendor and organizes all the schedules into one master schedule.
“We say we wear black and stay in the back,” said coordinator Heather Bertz, who has been with Bee for the Day for seven years. “If we can stay behind the scenes and let everybody think ‘Oh my gosh, Susie and her mom planned the most amazing event and it just went off without a hitch,’ that’s our ultimate goal.”
The average cost of Bee for the Day services is $1,500 to $2,500, said Lauber-Cobb, who bills by the hour rather than offers packages so that couples can more easily customize the service to their needs.
“The biggest false statement about wedding planners is that you can’t afford one,” Lauber-Cobb said. “Honestly, I think you can’t afford not to.”
Bertz said it’s satisfying when a client — often the father of a bride trying to reign in a budget — admits the expense was worth it.
“My favorite part of the night is when dad comes up to me and says, ‘I thought my wife was crazy for hiring you, but I am so glad you were here to spend the day with us. You were the best money I ever spent,’” Bertz said.
Marybeth Monaghan Hughes of San Diego and her mom Randi Monaghan of Toledo hired Bee for the Day, on the recommendation of a family friend, to help coordinate Hughes’ Dec. 14 wedding in Toledo.
The three Bee for the Day coordinators who worked the wedding were unobtrusive yet available, Hughes said.
“I wasn’t ever walking around and bumped into them, but it seemed like throughout the evening, the second I felt I needed anything, one of them was right there ready to help,” Hughes said. “Plus, they work with wedding professionals all the time and it was nice to have an extra advocate on my side when there were questions or issues.”
The bees averted a food allergy crisis, took charge of a vendor issue, fixed a problematic bustle and had dry socks ready for the groomsmen after a snowball fight photo op. They also dismantled and loaded all the reception centerpieces into the family’s vehicles — even brushing the snow off the cars, warming them up and turning them to face the exit, Hughes said.
“It was absolutely worth it,” Hughes said. “They exceeded expectations for sure. I’m sure both of my sisters will be using them for their weddings when they get to that point.”
Monaghan agreed, saying the bees made it so she and her husband could enjoy the reception.
“My husband … said it was the best money they spent,” Monaghan said, laughing. “Instead of having to check on every little detail, we were able to enjoy our party. I told my husband it was almost like attending someone else’s wedding. I’m sure we could have managed the day without her, but it wouldn’t have been nearly as enjoyable or run as smoothly.”
Bee for the Day is based in Perrysburg, but coordinators will travel anywhere. The company has done weddings in Columbus, Chicago, Las Vegas, Hawaii and more. The business coordinated 50 weddings in 2012 and 75 in 2013, with a limit of five weddings per weekend.
Lauber-Cobb’s business is growing in other ways as well. Two years ago, she launched sister company Bee at Ease, which specializes in “life celebrations,” such as funerals, bridal and baby showers, graduations, birthday and anniversary parties and bar/bat mitzvahs.
“It’s the same as planning a wedding, but it’s in a shorter period of time,” Lauber-Cobb said. “People have the same sense of worry and frustration and are out of their element. To be able to pull everything together and take care of things in an immediate fashion, we can offer a sense of assistance where you may not have known you needed it. We can offer the peace of mind that everything is going to go well.”
There is also a Bee for the Day office in Dallas, which started a former Toledo employee moved to Texas and opened her own business there.
When hiring a wedding coordinator, Lauber-Cobb recommended looking for someone experienced, enthusiastic and calm under pressure.
“I don’t want anyone to think my job is not fun. It is fun. But there’s a lot of stress and it’s more than going to parties and dressing nice,” Lauber-Cobb said. “There’s a lot of work to it too.”
But Lauber-Cobb and Bertz both thrive on helping families pull off the perfect event.
“I think people are surprised by how much they rely on us and how much we offer them that they didn’t expect,” Lauber-Cobb said. “My favorite line is when someone says to me, ‘I couldn’t have done this without you’ I always say, ‘You could have, but I’m glad you didn’t because it would have been a lot more stressful.’”
For more information, visit www.beefortheday.com.