Keri Ketterer Walter decided she wanted to be a wedding planner when she was just 12 years old. “I came home from school one day and told my parents,” she recalls. “I think they looked at me like I was a bit insane because most kids say things like, ‘I want to be a doctor, or a policewoman.’” Still, Walter remained determined: After eventually completing a degree in hospitality and event management at Boston University, she founded the Boston- and Cape Cod–based planning company Always Yours Events, which specializes in private-estate and tented weddings with what Walter calls a “romantic, ethereal, and floral-forward aesthetic.” “I just really love the magical feeling at these events and the love stories being told,” she says.
What’s the key to planning a wedding that “wows”?
One thing that makes a wedding extraordinary is when the guests can feel the couple’s love story through meaningful details. So, to provide this, I make sure that I develop a deep understanding of who my clients are. We start off by sitting down and chatting over a glass of wine or a cup of coffee. We’ll dive into their love story, who they are, and what their style is. I also have couples fill out a questionnaire. Some of the questions pertain to the wedding, but many are just about their lifestyle—what their dream house looks like, or what’s on their coffee table.
How do you bring those personal details to life?
There are so many different ways [to bring guests into a couple’s love story]. I once worked with a bride and groom [who met in college]. Before they started dating, she made some cookies and left them at his dorm, and about an hour later, he sent her a text message saying, “Marry me.” So as a favor at the wedding, we included those cookies in a box at each place setting with a little tag explaining the story.
What’s different about planning a tented wedding?
The biggest difference is that these venues are blank canvases and you can make them look exactly how you want them to. But there are also a lot of logistics that you have to be ready for, such as permits, restroom trailers, parking services, and knowing where power and gas lines are. It’s a different animal.
How do you handle a day-of weather crisis?
You just have to be really prepared. A couple of years ago, we had a 260-person private-estate wedding where the weather was looking terrible the day before. They were even talking about possible tornadoes. With that many people, we couldn’t just say, “Everyone in the house!” So we had plan B, moving all the furniture out of the house to fit all of the guests inside, and plan C, finding another location. The next day, we ended up just getting rain, but it’s always good to have solid contingency plans in place. What are some of your favorite wedding trends? There was a time when pretty much everybody was doing farm tables, which are beautiful, but I love that people are getting excited about linens again. I’m also really happy that people are getting a little more creative with color. Right now, I’m working with a couple who is mixing shades of blush and deeper pinks and reds with greens and pops of dusty pale blue. It’s such a unique and interesting palette.
You recently got married. Congrats! What did you learn from planning your own wedding?
The wedding goes by in such a flash, so you have to do everything in your power to soak it up and not sweat the small stuff. Don’t worry about that one flower that looks like it’s drooping. Don’t worry about that one photo you didn’t get. Don’t worry about the one moment you thought you were going to have and didn’t. Just take it all in and enjoy every second!
Keri Ketterer Walter shares tried-and-true pointers for booking the perfect venue.
Plan Your Guest List
This will tell you a lot about the type of wedding you want to have. If it’s a very long list, host it somewhere that’s easy for people to get to. If you want something more intimate, you could consider a smaller venue or jetting off to a destination.
Choose Your Location
Think about picking an area that holds a lot of meaning to you and your love story. It’s amazing to bring your guests there and have that as the backdrop. For example, I have a lot of couples who want to get married at a family summer house on Cape Cod, where they’ve made so many beautiful memories, so we’ll put up a tent there.
Do Your Research
Call the venues, learn about guest capacities, food and beverage minimums, and where each part of the day will take place. Look at all of the venues on paper first.
Visit Your Favorites
It’s super overwhelming to go and look at 10 to 12 venues, so home in on three to five that you’re most excited about and plan to visit those.
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