Vendor Feature: RMP Chicago Events | Wedding Planning Tips
Earlier this summer, I had the pleasure of photographing Jessica and Aaron’s intimate elopement at Navy Pier, which was expertly planned and orchestrated by Rebecca Pope of RMP Chicago Events.
Because I believe in lifting up and supporting other small businesses, I’m pleased to present RMP Chicago Events as the next featured vendor in my spotlight series! I’m excited to be sharing some of Rebecca’s professional journey as well as her top wedding planning tips.
Please introduce yourself and your business.
Hello! I’m Rebecca Pope, owner of RMP events. I plan, design, and officiate weddings, specifically for couples in love.
It’s very important to that anyone I can legally marry — whether planning or officiating — that you feel supported all the way through. I love working with couples who want to plan a wedding and sleep at night!
My husband and I are originally from small towns in Iowa; we’ve lived in Chicago for eight years now, and we’ve never looked back. I love the Chicago wedding market and its emphasis on community over competition.
How did you start RMP Weddings, and what makes your business unique?
I was raised by entrepreneurs, and I worked in hospitality and customer service for most of my life. I’ve sold venues, planned social, nonprofit, and other fundraising events. RMP Chicago Events was officially founded in August 2018, but events have always been a significant part of my life…clearly something I was gravitating towards.
I try to live by my motto: I am your most efficient third wheel at your wedding. It is my job to help you plan and produce the wedding of your dreams by supporting you (the couple), your guests, and your rockstar vendor team. If people feel like they can breathe, enjoy the event, and do their jobs, then I have been successful. I should be the one sprinting between rooms checking water glasses for smudges — not the couple or other vendors. I take lot of pride in that!
Couples don’t always know what they want or need, so my job is to educate them, and helping my couples find vendors and partnering with them to make sure everything happens as flawlessly as possible is my goal. My only agenda is my couple’s vision! I rely on an educational approach, as most of my couples have not been through this process before; and if they have, they probably have some very strong likes and dislikes. I don’t believe in bridezillas — just couples who need extra support and communication. If we are nervous about something, it’s usually because we don’t have all the information.
Another unique offering I provide is that I’m an ordained minister with the Universal Life Church. I like to be a chameleon to my couples, speaking to various spiritual and religious traditions. I’m also happy to serve atheist and family-based traditions as well, and I love incorporating unique cultural elements, too.
I approach the ceremony as a blank canvas for each and every couple I serve, and I love to help couples articulate their love and share that with their loved ones, whether in person or on Zoom.
I am a one-woman band, though I often subcontract assistants who are themselves capable planners. I trust the other members of my clients’ vendor team to be experts in their own wheelhouse. I see myself as an orchestrator or conductor, and everything has their own unique expertise and talents, including the couple!
What sorts of clients and events do you serve?
Primarily, I serve proposals, engagements, weddings/elopements, and vow renewals. I work with weddings of all budgets and sizes. Having myself eloped, I can definitely understand how a lot of couples are taking a step back and reassessing wedding priorities this year. I’m currently working with a number of clients to plan a “micro” wedding now, and a “macro” reception later.
Couples getting engaged right now are lucky as they are getting ready for a wedding for the first time next year, and I’m excited to see where the industry goes in the next few seasons — trends are often driven by what couples ask for now. wedding planning tips
What does a typical wedding season look like for you?
Generally speaking, I serve about 10 “full planning” couples per year, sprinkling in lots of ceremonies in between. I’m careful to balance my time between planning and officiating because I want to be able to give 110% effort to all of my couples. Each wedding date I’m planning is sacred in my calendar! I can, however, officiate up to two ceremonies per day, which lets me be more agile and serve more couples. I just completed a stretch of thirteen ceremonies this past September!
It’s been a very different wedding seasons this year, and I’m sure next year will be different, too, for a multitude of reasons. I have lots of room in my calendar to support more couples next year!
Tell us a little about your process. How do you work with clients?
Every client relationship begins with a discovery call, which I like to think of like speed dating for wedding planning. You’ll share with me a quick idea of your wedding vision and expectations, and then I’ll answer all of your top-of-mind questions to help you immediately feel less stressed about the whole wedding preparation process.
After we’ve completed the contract phase, I like to do a deep dive with my couples. I would love to meet you for a coffee date, but most of my client conversations are happening over Zoom right now. We begin our deep dive with a look at the wedding planning timeline and checklist — I prioritize this to help my couples understand the scope of what they’re getting into.
Then we jump into vendor categories: Venue, photography, caterer are usually the big three to book first, and sometimes stationery is right up there, too. It’s far too easy to get lost on Pinterest, so I use the rule of three, presenting my couples with three great options in any one category to help prevent information overwhelm. I want you to be whelmed, but no overwhelmed! I’m careful to make sure every option I present is within my clients’ budget and fits their style and personality.
For instance, I have a couple with a 300-person guest list and three wedding day locations, I’ll make sure to lay out the things you need to plan, budget, and add to the team for to make your event a success. If you’re planning music at three simultaneous locations and need a big team of DJs, or 13 hours of photography, we might need to plan for some shifts in the vendor team. I like to implement friendly reality checks: What is realistic and within budget? What do you want most out of your day?
I’m not the kind of planner who forces events like a first look or receiving line, etc. What is in your mind is always most important, and understand that your budget and plans may evolve throughout the process.
No matter where we are in the wedding planning process, I’ll help you keep the timeline in mind throughout. Tight timelines are a fact of the wedding, and we need to keep realistic expectations about things like commuting times and open hours. You want photos in the park — do you have a permit, is it actually open, and do you have time to get to your next location? With every single wedding day element, there are thirteen other pieces that make it fit into the puzzle.
Throughout the wedding planning process, I use Aisle Planner to keep us on the same page and facilitate collaboration. Couples love being able to see their progress in their online planning checklist, and you can even invite guests for input, too! Want to involve your Maid of Honor in planning the florals? No problem! And we can invite all of your vendors, too. Aisle Planner is my favorite software to stay organized leading up to the wedding day. wedding planning tips
I like to say that I am the Leslie Knope of weddings because I love waffles and I have binders for days…but now all of my binders are digital, and that allows us to be much more collaborative and I don’t have to carry around a five-pound wedding “Bible”on your big day.
What are your top wedding planning tips?
- For couples looking for photographers, my biggest tip is this: Find your new best friend and you’ll forget the camera is there! It’s so important that you can feel comfortable and have fun with your photographer. My husband and I were super awkward, but when we had a close friend taking our wedding photos, we had so much fun!
- Communication is key! When we are in a business relationship planning a wedding, we feel like there is always something we have to get done, and that can be scary. I help couples dialogue through big wedding day issues, and I think it’s important to understand how all parties involved feel about a particular option. Have you seen that this bar package might top out your budget? Let’s have a conversation about that. Or, if a couple does a gut check on a venue, I think it’s much better to talk about it now, that for them to sit on it and not be happy.
- Have priorities, and understand they might evolve throughout the process.
What do you love most about RMP Weddings?
Interviewing my couples, by far. I love having an hour-long conversation that gets into the heart of the logistics of the ceremony and the context of the relationship. It’s a sincere honor to get to know each of my couples. wedding planning tips
Do you have a favorite event, planning process or activity?
My favorite ceremony this year was Mary Catherine and Ted. They had a simple ceremony with close family and a few friends. Their dog, Garris, is a huge member of their family, so he came, too. Planning their ceremony, we clicked right away. When I found out they were wearing colorful suits, I jokingly threatened to find a crazy blazer, and they took me up on it! So, I officiated Mary Catherine and Ted’s wedding in a disco sequin blazer.
I share about 99% of the ceremony script with my couples in advance so they know what’s coming, and I leave the last 1% a surprise. (But nothing crazy, of course!) For Mary Catherine and Ted’s ceremony, I surprised them by asking Garris to take some doggie vows, too. After I read what his vows might have been, Garris took his vows by accepting a treat!