Planning for a wedding is an exciting experience for couples. Up until the big day, many brides (and some grooms) are going over even the smallest details to ensure that everything goes right on this momentous occasion. However, this is also a stressful and overwhelming time for many, and there are many stories where a mishap or change in plans ended up ruining what was supposed to be a joyful event, resulting in reality show-like levels of drama. Oftentimes, reality is unable to live up to the scenario the couple has dreamt up in their minds.
Brittany Rogers-Hanson, founder of Run Away With Me (RAWM), a turnkey wedding planning company operating in California’s Napa and Sonoma Counties, has seen this happen many times. Prior to starting RAWM in 2012, Hanson worked for 10 years as a wedding photographer, operating a large studio in Las Vegas with her husband. She has photographed weddings in more than 10 countries, and, at one point, she and her team were doing around 100 weddings a year. Hanson then discovered that she had the special ability to diffuse just about any stressful situation. Having developed good relationships with various wedding vendors, they became confident that everything would go well if she was around.
Following a move to California and the demands of a growing family, Hanson realized that she couldn’t work as a full-time wedding photographer anymore. However, her passion for weddings remained, so she started RAWM, with a goal to change wedding planning for modern couples, providing them with a dream day with all the happiness and none of the stress. RAWM specializes in elopements and micro weddings of fewer than 50 guests, but it can also do weddings of up to 100 guests.
When couples begin planning their wedding, they are often overwhelmed by the huge amount of information from search engines and social media, leaving them not knowing where to start. RAWM helps lift this burden off them, allowing them to relax more until the big day.
“I came up with the concept of Run Away With Me to let couples have the most stress- and drama-free wedding they could have,” Hanson says. “They can just pick their venue from our list of picturesque venues in Napa and Sonoma, then choose the style, and all they need to do is show up. We’ll book the right vendors to handle all the different parts of the wedding, while negotiating discounts. We bring business to vendors that they did not have to pay for or search out. So, in return, we can get a wholesale rate. Ultimately, the couple will be spending what they would’ve had they planned the wedding on their own, but they’re getting a full planning service.”
She adds that RAWM handles everything about the wedding except for travel, invitations, and attire. But, due to its extensive connections in the wedding industry, RAWM has partnered with companies that supply these services.
According to Hanson, one of RAWM’s main advantages is having built a vetted network of relationships with vendors. She says these vendors always put their best foot forward and provide VIP service because they’re getting a significant piece of their business from RAWM, at around 60 to 150 weddings a year. With so much reputation at stake, RAWM makes sure to hold vendors to the high standards that they hold themselves to.
Data from wedding industry publication The Knot shows that most couples underestimate their wedding budget by around 54%. With RAWM’s model, the couple knows what they’re spending from the beginning, receiving a single price for the entire package, with the option for upgrades.
“I think many people don’t realize how much wedding planning can be a full-time job, so we make it our job to remove the drama of wedding planning. Most of the couples we work with are those that would rather focus on their marriage rather than their wedding. A lot of them are busy professionals, and some of them may have been married before. At Run Away With Me, we seek to change the wedding industry. We believe that all kinds of love are valid, and couples should do what makes them happy. It’s their relationship, and society has no right to tell them what their wedding should or should not be.”
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