LoveToKnow welcomes master bridal consultant and owner of The Queen of Hearts Wedding Consultants, Mark Kingsdorf, for this wedding planning advice interview. Kingsdorf discusses the company, its success, and offers tips for couples who are planning weddings.
About Master Bridal Consultant Mark Kingsdorf
A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, Mark Kinsdorf is the former owner and chef of America Eats, Inc. Kingsdorf has 30 years of event planning experience and is an award-winning wedding consultant. In 2009, Kingsdorf earned the title of master bridal consultant.
The Queen of Hearts Wedding Consultants
The Queen of Hearts Wedding Consultants is a wedding planning and bridal consulting company located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and serves the Greater Philadelphia, Southern New Jersey and Delaware regions. The company offers full-service wedding planning, partial planning, wedding day planning, and destination wedding planning as well as individual consultations. The company also offers graphic design and invitation and stationary services in-house. They also specialize in planning green weddings for couples who want to plan an eco-friendly wedding.
Wedding Planning Advice Interview with Mark Kingsdorf
Mark Kingsdorf started his career as a chef and event planner. Now he is a master bridal consultant and runs one of Philadelphia's leading wedding planning companies.
From Chef to Bridal Consultant
LoveToKnow (LTK): What inspired your interest in professional wedding planning?
Mark Kingsdorf (Kingsdorf): I literally fell into Wedding Planning - a photographer I was dating asked me to meet with their clients, who were having issues with their caterer and the contract…being that I had an extensive catering background I was able to help them work through the issues. Couple was happy, photographer was happy and the caterer was able to showcase a new venue with great images of the wedding. It was a win-win-win.
In the end they asked "Why aren't you doing this for a living?" At the time I was ending a relationship with business partners in a restaurant. This was the perfect opportunity for me to have my own business, work from home and utilize the skills and relationships I had developed as a chef and caterer.
LTK: How did your work as an event planner and your role as owner and chef of American Eats, Inc. lead to a career as a professional wedding consultant?
Kingsdorf: I think, honestly, my experience in food and beverage that go well beyond American Eats, Inc. all helped to form the wedding consultant I am today.
I had worked in country clubs, Hyatt hotels in Dallas, Texas and Washington, D.C. as well as chef and catering manager at several museums of the Smithsonian - all showed me different catering skills and all taught me how to deal with different types of clients and industry professionals.
I had dealt with large events of several 1000 people as well as intimate events of 25 or 30 - each had its own personality, issues and dynamics - much like every wedding.
Founding a Wedding Planning Business from the Ground Up
LTK: What is the founding story of The Queen of Hearts Wedding Consultants?
Kingsdorf: I think the story of founding The Queen of Hearts is that I knew what I didn't know. Coming from a great food and beverage background and having done events on that side was an amazing foundation - I knew I knew nothing about gowns, veils and flowers.
I interned with a bridal salon and learned about gowns, veils, headpieces and shoes - I met designers and learned about custom measurements, shipping times and alterations; it's been a HUGE help to me in this industry.
I then worked with a flower shop - I scrubbed buckets, prepped flowers and wrapped cut flowers; but, I also got to learn about bouquets, boutonnieres and centerpieces. Knowing how that all comes together, about names of various flowers, when things are in season and how to combine colors and textures enables us to help our couples and communicate with florists and decorators.
I think many of the relationships I formed early on were with caterers and catering sales managers at hotels and venues. I speak the same language and understand what they deal with. About 50% of the average wedding budget is food and beverage and knowing how all of the details come together is really an important skill to have and I insist that our team all learn the behind the scenes working of food service.
The Queen of Hearts Bridal Services
LTK: What separates The Queen of Hearts Wedding Consultants from other professional wedding consultants?
Kingsdorf: Definitely our relationships and attention to detail. We meet every wedding professional we refer to. They have to be a good match for each couple so we need to know them well and also want them to know as much as possible about our team and how we work with clients.
We're very, very hands on - especially the wedding day. We communicate well, pay close attention to our couples' needs (and their families as well). We strive to look 2-3 steps down the road to anticipate any bumps and avoid them.
LTK: How does The Queen of Hearts Wedding Consultants personalize weddings for couples?
Kingsdorf: We always keep in mind "This is not my wedding." We want everything to reflect each couple.
We have an extensive questionnaire to find out as much as possible about each couple's likes, dislikes, allergies, hobbies and family dynamics. We make suggestions along the way to help infuse elements we've found from those questionnaires into their wedding.
Planning a Green Wedding
LTK: How can you help a couple have a green, eco-friendly wedding?
Kingsdorf: Green and eco-friendly wedding are not an all or nothing proposition. For some couples it might mean that we show them some beautiful invitations which happen to be on recycled paper.
For others is might be working with the caterer to source some locally produced, seasonal foods to incorporate into their menu. Some might be looking to source as many local, organic, seasonal or recycled items as possible or minimizing or offsetting their carbon footprint.
Dealing with Wedding Stress
LTK: If you are dealing with a stressed couple who are nervous about the wedding details, how do you help them calm down and enjoy planning their wedding?
Kingsdorf: Each couple gets a customized planning calendar with month by month, date by date assignments- seeing the planning in small bites helps to put them at ease.
Narrowing down each of their choices (2-3) for each wedding professional based on their specific tastes, needs and the availability of each wedding professional helps to keep the couple from getting too overwhelmed.
We always suggest a date night or wedding free zone so that they can continue to socialize and do fun things without making it all about wedding planning for the entire year.
Reminding them to breathe as well as reminding them "how do you want to remembered by family and friends at the end of the wedding," helps to level them out a little.
Advice for Hiring a Wedding Planner
LTK: What is your advice to engaged couples who are considering hiring a wedding consultant?
Kingsdorf: Look at a planners work online. If it all looks the same, you can expect a cookie cutter wedding.
Meet with the planner in person. See if you click. We have a sign in the office "It never gets any better than the first meeting" and it's really true!
Don't base you decision solely on price. You usually get what you pay for. Too many times if they're cheap, it's for a reason.
Discover The Queen of Hearts Bridal Consultants
For more information about The Queen of Hearts Bridal Consultants and Mark Kingsdorf or for wedding planning questions, visit the company's official site.
LoveToKnow thanks Mark Kingsdorf for the insightful interview and helpful wedding planning advice.