When we imagine a team working perfectly in their element, Marsha Ballard French and her incredible team at Weddings by StarDust rise straight to the top. Their ability to take ideas and turn them into jaw-dropping realities is what makes them the most highly sought-after wedding planning team in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex.
Owner and Certified Master Wedding Planner, Marsha Ballard French, shares her expert thoughts, advice and tips for everyone involved in the planning of a wedding. So, grab a pen and paper and learn from the best. Enjoy!
The Laurel: What inspired you to start StarDust Celebrations?
Marsha Ballard French: I have always loved creating fun times for family and friends. Even as a junior high student, I was always the one organizing the booster club to go on trips or planning a really fun birthday party. I love seeing others smile from ear to ear as they attend a creative and fun event!
TL: When you and your team first meet couples, how do you know you will be a good fit in the wedding planning process?
MBF: We know it is a good fit when the couple describes what they want on their wedding day or what they expect from their planner. If they want to have a great time and turn over the details to someone else — we are a great fit. If they want their mom and family to not be stressed out — we are a great fit. If they will let our team of professionals dream with them, make suggestions and create scenarios with their vision in mind — we are a great fit! On the other hand, if we are being asked to just put out decorations or follow rigid guidelines — that does not work so well for us. We are known for organization, creativity and high touch for our couples and their guests.
TL: How do you help couples who are not sure yet what kind of wedding they want to have — specifically theme, colors, decor, etc.
MBF: We help couples by sharing photos, by creating inspiration boards that have swatches of fabric, floor plans and color swatches. Many times we visit vendors who rent furniture and props. We can take the couple with us or share photos of unique finds. For some clients we schedule a prototype day where we secure floral arrangements, linen, china, glassware, etc., all arranged as a guest table or head table. With this kind of focus on the actual items, the couple actually gets to touch, feel and even smell a little portion of what’s to come!
TL: What part of the planning do you love the most?
MBF: That’s hard to say. Helping to select music to set the mood of the ceremony, helping to plan the agenda for the reception and then the design of the room layout with florals, linen and accessories are tops on my list!
TL: What's the longest amount of time and the shortest amount of time you have had to plan a couple’s wedding? What is the average length it takes to get all the details together?
MBF: We planned a wedding for 100 guests from start to finish in 16 days, even though the couple had been engaged for over 2 years! It was so much fun, the couple were doctoral students and really just did not have any spare time. They called our team and asked if we could help them. They had booked their venue and the bride had purchased her gown, but nothing else! The longest engagement was about 2 years. A great timeline is 9 months to 1 year, but really it does not matter, we love the challenge.
TL: What is one of your favorite memories of a wedding that StarDust planned?
MBF: My favorite memory is of a family with four daughters over a four year period of time. I planned all of the weddings, helped all four find their wedding gowns and even planned all of the after parties. The brides and their grooms were all different personalities with different venues, colors, priorities, likes and dislikes. The only constant was the really fabulous family that I had the honor to work for to create their dreams!
TL: What makes The Laurel a special venue for a wedding and reception?
MBF: The Laurel facility is beautiful, the grounds are well maintained; it is one of those venues where you can play yard games, take outside gorgeous photos or host a splendid New Year’s Eve wedding reception. Yes, we have done it all at The Laurel and the clients have loved it! Of special note is the convenience of having the ceremony and reception in one location, not to mention the savings in transportation costs. The parking for guests is free, lodging is a stone’s throw away and the staff is so accommodating and gracious. Families are allowed to come early, dress at the venue and even get to experience a little of the set up! It truly is one of the best venues in Dallas!
TL: Any tips you would like to offer a bride and groom who just got engaged?
MBF: Of course! A wedding is like a family ball. As a matter of fact, in American society, a wedding is the highest form of social events. Be aware of etiquette yet be mindful of the points of etiquette that can bend a little. Have fun but be practical. The cost of a wedding can quickly get out of hand. For instance, the real cost of a wedding — if you plan on a Saturday in Dallas, is $300 to $600 per guest. If you plan on 100 guests, $30,000 to $50,000 is average! Best advice, invite only your close friends and family. But most important tip — hire a planner! An experienced planner will save you money, time, stress and become someone you will never forget. A planner is your advocate and will always have your back.
MBF: To me, listening to couples talk about their dreams and then making it happen on their wedding day is what makes me continue to love to plan weddings for over 15 years! When the couple experiences walking into the ballroom for the first time, I get goose bumps and if the parents get to share this moment with the couple, the sheer joy is unbelievable!
Thank you, Marsha, and your entire team. We wish StarDust Celebrations all the best in all the years to come!