Blueprint’s Wedding Expert Spotlight: Wedding Planning Q&A with Here Comes The Guide’s Jolene Harrington

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Jolene Harrington was engaged, happy, and well, clueless of where to start when it came to planning her big day. Then, she found Here Comes The Guide, planned her ultimate beach wedding with her honey, and scored a job writing location profiles for the site. Fourteen years later, she’s still working her dream job as Director of Creative Content for Here Comes The Guide, doing everything from developing web content to discovering the freshest sources for bridal fashion.

We love her story and think anyone who can simultaneously land the guy and the career she always wanted, has some serious knowledge to share. That’s why we sat down with this driven diva to talk wedding trends, relationship advice, and everything in between. Read on and you’ll see just why we think she’s so awesome.

BPR: What does your company do?
Jolene: Since 1989, Here Comes The Guide has been profiling wedding venues and services in a practical and engaging way, starting with our groundbreaking “big books,” and later with HereComesTheGuide.com. We’ve always kept it real, and relate to our audience as if they were our close friends and family. We focus on providing the nitty gritty details, but still offer plenty of inspiration. We want the HCTG experience to be streamlined and easy, and totally anonymous if that’s what you prefer.

Blueprint: Tell us a little bit about yourself. What do you do?
Jolene: I’m a So Cal Gal with a background in education, entertainment and writing. When I got engaged in 1995, I was in my 30s and there was no internet. Imagine the Dark Ages! I was a clueless bride on a budget…and then I found the 2nd Southern California edition of Here Comes The Guide. Everything fell into place. I planned my dream wedding and ended up with a fantastic job at the same time! Truly a magical result. I began at the company writing venue profiles for our books, and expanded into creating online content. Over the years, I’ve become an industry expert, and one of the favorite parts of my job is consulting venues about ways to enhance their appeal to today’s couples.

We love this past cover of Southern California's Here Comes the Guide!

We love this past cover of Southern California’s Here Comes the Guide!

BPR: Tell us a little bit about your wedding. Where/when were you married? How would you describe your wedding day style?
Jolene:
When I got engaged, I knew I absolutely had to say my vows on the beach—that was my deal breaker. I wasn’t fussy about the rest. Thanks to HCTG, we found a beachfront bistro that today is The Sunset Restaurant in Malibu, September 1996. We opted for a Retro Hollywood theme, simple elegance with nostalgic flair–think Rat Pack Supper Club. To achieve the look and feel we envisioned, I had to get creative: For centerpieces, I floated gardenias in glass bowls, a sophisticated period touch that was also affordable. And I tapped some favors–a family friend baked the wedding cake. My brother, a professional musician, put together amazing entertainment and my husband sang to me during our first dance. I’m melting just thinking about it!

Jolene and her hubby on their wedding day.

Jolene and her hubby on their wedding day.

BPR: What is one thing you know now that you wish you knew when you were getting married?
Jolene:
I wished I’d hired a professional wedding photographer. We ended up with some great shots, but sadly, they are still sitting in a box. Today the best photographers make sure your day is captured beautifully, and they will even put your album together for you. I’ve seen some terrific photography packages that make me regret not investing in that aspect of my wedding.

BPR: What is your favorite thing about working in the wedding space?
Jolene:
It’s romantic, beautiful and happy! Who doesn’t want to spend their day swooning over vineyards and ballrooms, gowns and cakes, and photos of people looking at each other with love in their eyes? Pinch me!

BPR: What do you think will be the biggest wedding trends of 2014?
Jolene:
We’ve been talking about this among ourselves at HCTG, and we think we’re going to start to see a return to classic elegance. Not in an ostentatious Kardashian sort of way, but a soft, tasteful way. A dash of sparkle…the whisper of silk…you know, quality details.

BPR: What is a piece of advice you would give brides and grooms as they create their wedding registry?
Jolene:
Don’t cave in to pressure and put items on your list that others insist you “should” include. Register for things that you and your fiance really love, and fit into your lifestyle. If you know for a fact that the formal Noritakke china will only be used once every two years when you host Thanksgiving, but the jazzy set of luggage has you dreaming of your life full of spontaneous weekend getaways… Well, go for what inspires you!

BPR: What do you think is the key to a happy relationship?
Jolene:
Showing your love through your actions, every day, in every way. The little things add up over the years, and it helps build connections that endure the test of time.

Jolene and Eric enjoying a date night out at a concert.

Jolene and Eric enjoying a date night out at a concert.

BPR: What is one wedding trend you wish would go away?
Jolene:
Mix CDS!! A successful wedding needs an experienced MC to function as a stage manager at your wedding. A live DJ or band (or both) gives a sense of excitement and occasion, even to the most laid-back get together.

BPR: What is the most memorable wedding gift you received?
Jolene: My husband surprised me with a set of sapphire and diamond earrings to match my engagement ring. He literally chose the stones himself and had the jeweler make them up for me. I was blown away by his thoughtfulness, and his ability to deliver on my personal style.

Leave a comment or question for Jolene here and be sure to check back on the Blueprint Registry blog for more insider interviews with our favorite wedding experts!

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