Introducing VA Wedding Planner Kolena of Blue Sapphire Events
I absolutely believe in the mantra “community over competition.” Without other wedding vendors adopting this philosophy, my business would never exist. The support of like-minded wedding professionals and photographers is what helped launch my business this year. So I want to give back!
Every week, I am going to be highlighting a local wedding vendor and professional. I’ve interviewed a number of local vendors about their business and what they love most about serving couples in this area.
Choosing the right vendors can be the make or break of your wedding day. My hope is to provide you and your fiancé with a resource that helps you build your wedding day dream team!
To kick off this series, I am so excited to introduce you to Kolena Thomas, owner and lead planner of Blue Sapphire Events.
I was first introduced to Kolena over Instagram. I can’t remember exactly how we found one another, but I just remember LOVING her feed and feeling really eager to work with her. After checking out her website, I just knew I had to feature her on my blog.
Let’s jump in and chat with Kolena!!
Hello! My name is Kolena Thomas, and I am the Owner and Lead Wedding Planner at Blue Sapphire Events located in Arlington, VA. I serve couples in love throughout Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, D.C.
My clients are couples who know what they want, but value a professional to help guide them through the process. They don’t sweat the small stuff, and they love unique design, curated details, and enjoying the moment!
Events are all about the experience so I truly look for clients who not only want a beautiful wedding but want to create a memorable overall experience for their guests.
I have been in business full time just over a year, although I have been planning weddings for much longer!
I have been working in the events and hospitality industry since I was 15 years old. I fell in love with the hospitality and service industry during my first job at a local Arby’s. I loved the way that simple interactions and acts of kindness with customers could really make someone’s day!
I majored in Hospitality and Tourism Management at James Madison University. During my time there, I worked for their special events department executing a variety of university events from fundraising galas to football tailgates. After each shift, I was always so invigorated and pumped up from working the different events.
I would literally drive around in my car and blast music because I was on such a high from the experience. That is when I knew that I loved events! After college, I went into events management for a large private club in the D.C. area and did around 425 events a year (and many stunning weddings!)
Following this role, I worked in corporate events and strategy and lead a team to build a robust portfolio of fundraising events in the D.C. area.
I offer two primary packages: Full Planning and Design, and Month-of Wedding Coordination.
The full planning and design package is great for couples who have a very distinct vision and need help putting together a realistic budget and the best vendor team to execute their distinct vision.
My Month-of Wedding Coordination package is great for the couple who has hired most of their vendors and wants to be heavily involved in the details. But they need a professional to build a timeline with them and manage their vendor team and the wedding on the day-of.
The one unique thing about my business is the knowledge that I am able to bring to the table as it pertains to events. I started in the events industry as a banquet server. I understand intimately exactly how a banquet server is going to set up your event, serve your event guests, and the things a banquet staff need to be successful.
I have also worked as a catering sales manager for a venue. I understand the sales side and what venues do on the back end to make your wedding a success! I have led a catering team of 35 employees, so I understand the challenges venue managers have when it comes to staffing for your wedding and how they manage their staff throughout your wedding or event.
I also have had the opportunity to work with hundreds of vendors in the D.C. area. Very rarely is there a catering company I have not heard of or worked with personally.
Yes, your wedding should be beautiful, but logistics and expertise is what will make or break your event. Having a professional planner who understands the ins and outs of each facet of your wedding is so important.
The ability to create a realistic timeline and the ability to manage a variety of vendors is imperative. I love wedding design as much as the next planner but that is the easy part! Anyone can create a beautiful event but the overall experience is what your guests will remember!
Put together your guest list before you visit venues. This will save you from falling in love with a venue that is way too big or way too small.
I also highly encourage couples to put together a budget based on the area they live in! You can do some quick research on sites like Wedding Wire and The Knot the get an idea of vendor pricing, and then build a realistic budget based on this.
Also, if you’re seriously lost on how to put together a budget, you may want to speak with a wedding planner. They can help you get a better idea of what couples in your area are spending on their weddings.
I don’t pick favorites! Every event and wedding is super special to me!
One of the biggest planning tips I always follow, and followed for my own wedding, is not to hire vendors as one-offs. Use your vendors as sources for finding other vendors you may need.
Why is this important? Because on your wedding day, your vendors need to work as a team! Not as single entities. Finding vendors who worked together before & enjoy working with each other is only going to make your event that much better!
Right now, I am really trying to work on my SEO and marketing! I find the marketing side of the business so fun, but challenging at the same time. So I am always looking for new methods and ways to reach my target clients.
I think one of the things that always is a huge win for me is when a client leaves me a review saying that they will miss having me around or that they felt like they were working with a friend more than a hired planner! I love that I am able to create these relationships with my couples. It honestly is the most rewarding thing ever watching my couples walk down the aisle & say “I do.”
I love that my job is basically creating memories.
Thank you for sharing your heart and tips, Kolena!! It is so fun to support other wedding professionals like yourself.
I also enjoyed getting to know you better as a VA Wedding Planner, and learning more about your business.
After reading through Kolena’s website, I learned that she named her business after her gorgeous engagement ring! She wears a beautiful blue sapphire instead of the traditional diamond, and honestly I absolutely love it!
Want to start assembling your dream team today? Kolena and I are both eager to work together. Contact me to talk details about reserving us both for your special day!!
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Looking for wedding inspiration, pro tips and a look into my life and business? Connect with me on Instagram – where my friends call me Em.
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