Secrets to Successful Event Planning from Laura Clausen of Dish Wish

By Enjoius Staff

In the 7 years since she launched Dish Wish, a rental company with vintage and modern items for the table, Laura Clausen has garnered wide acclaim for her exquisite styling of tablescapes, as well as her social media influence. Enjoius caught up with our Tastemaker, who’s based in Manhattan Beach, California, to ask for tips and advice for those looking to plan weddings and other events.

What are the trends you’re seeing in weddings and large events?

While people still want opulent, over-the-top events, there’s also the extreme where it’s very simple. Where you’re not seeing many flowers on the table, but instead maybe a potted plant or a candlestick, something unconventional or personal to the couple. It’s like what you’re seeing in interiors - more of a pullback to the raw wood, Swedish, minimalist lifestyle. Not necessarily rustic, but more simplistic and natural. The price point can be high though - sometimes the simpler weddings are actually quite expensive!

How does all the visual inspiration affect the planning process?

The hardest thing for the client - and anybody who’s helping the client - is honing in on what they want and what’s realistic. You collect pictures from all over, from Pinterest or wherever, but those pictures may not be realistic within your season, your budget, or even your actual kind of event. It’s hard for the average person to know how much the individual items in that picture cost and add up.

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Laura Clausen of Dish Wish
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Laura Clausen of Dish Wish

What are examples of items that might cause sticker shock?

I think flowers are really tough. You may show a picture to your vendor and they may not understand that you just like the color, or the shape, or think the vessel is cool. And the vendor will quote based on what’s in the picture, which is $325 for one arrangement, and you need 15 of them. It’s hard for clients to think what the real cost would be. With events, when they’re ordering in bulk, florists have to overbuy and there’s a lot of loss.

Venues are another area where couples get a bit of sticker shock as far as what things cost. For a venue that comes with nothing - no plumbing, no electricity - the average price is $8,000 if not $10,000 in Southern California. Venues can go up to $20,000, depending on where it is. So when people have a $50,000 budget, that money goes so fast. It all comes down to perception in the beginning, when clients look at that picture and don’t know what that picture would actually cost.

How can you make the most of working with an event planner?

A lot of people think, “I can do research on my own, or I can plan my own event.” That may be true. But what you’re really paying a good event planner for - when it comes to weddings or a birthday party - is you want to be able to enjoy that event. The day before, the day of, and the day after, you don’t want to have to do anything. If you’re the one taking stuff to the venue and executing things that day, it’s guaranteed that something is going to go wrong and you’re going to be stressed out about it.

Also, you’re paying that person for their expertise and their guidance. It doesn’t necessarily help if a client comes with 2 dozen links to, say, heater companies that they’ve researched online. There’s only so much you can know by looking at a website. It becomes a bit more work for professionals to help the client understand that not everything is applicable just because you see a picture of it online. There is expertise that goes into selecting these things and putting them together.

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Laura Clausen of Dish Wish
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Laura Clausen of Dish Wish

What mistakes do you see clients making?

The worst client for vendors or planners is a client who is consumed by their event, to the point where there’s no end to the research and imagery and information they’re gathering. So this event takes on a life of itself. At some point, you have to settle on what the event is and be okay with it. And trust in the people you hire to execute it. It’s not just weddings; I’ve seen people get obsessed with their kids’ parties, or a shower for someone else, or even a party for themselves that someone else is supposed to plan. Keep it in perspective. Does it truly matter if there are edible flowers in the ice cubes?

What advice would you give to someone planning a wedding or other event?

My personal advice is that less may be more - meaning less people. If you have over 100 people, or maybe even over 60, you will not be able to see and interact and engage with those people. That will also limit what you’re able to do, in your choice of rentals or decor or the venue itself. We’re seeing somewhat of a trend of people transitioning from really large affairs to something more intimate. I think it lends itself to a lot less anxiety for the bride and groom because they’re able to have a real connection with the people who are there.

One of the best weddings I’ve ever done was with a chef who met an ER doctor in his restaurant. Their wedding was a 16-course pairing menu and each plate was very specific to the bride and groom’s story. And they only had 23 people. It was beautiful and so personal for everyone involved. And they wouldn’t have been able to have that same vibe if they had 100 people. I’m sure feelings do get hurt, but at the end of the day, ask yourself what it is that you want.

For more inspiration and tips from Laura Clausen, check out her gorgeous Moroccan Celebration party plan.

Cover image by Laura Clausen of Dish Wish

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Moroccan Celebration

Moroccan Celebration