QSaltLake’s wedding winners, Amanda Brown and Jessica Engel, couldn’t have pulled off their wedding without the help of Jacque Riehl, an all-purpose event planner who leads the team of graphic designers, decorators, stylists, etiquette coaches and more who make up the company that bears her name. From managing guest lists to helping the women choose their wedding outfits, Riehl (pronounced just like “real”) was there at every step of the wedding, to make sure that the couple’s day went off without a hitch.
“My job is very chameleon,” said Riehl. “I get to change every day with what I do.”
Because her mother was a wedding planner, Riehl got an early introduction to the “chameleon” world of event planning, and found that she loved every aspect of it. And it was to these roots that Riehl returned after deciding that she didn’t particularly want to pursue a career in interior design or architecture, in which she had pursued her education.
“One day my now-husband said to me, ‘If you could do anything in the world, what would you want to do, no matter the money, or time or any of the things that a typical person thinks of with career.’” At the time, Riehl had been toying with the idea of starting her own business, and her boyfriend’s question made her realize that event planning was the perfect direction in which to take that business.
Shortly after making that decision in 2003, Riehl took a job as Metropolitan Restaurant’s event coordinator. “It was nice because it was going to let me see what the industry was like,” she said, noting that she had just moved to Utah two years before taking the offer. “I didn’t know what the industry was like here, and I wanted to feel it out and see how I felt about the whole situation.” She then got her business license and began researching the local wedding and event scene to see if there was a niche that hadn’t been filled.
The niche turned out to be in event planning.
“The industry here is a little convoluted,” Riehl said. “There’s a lot of crossover. Like caterers who do décor or who own bridal shops. But there wasn’t [anyone] who I would call an event planner who was independent of anything else in the industry, so I did that.”
“I wanted to make it different,” she continued. “The East and West coast are about three to four years ahead of Utah. [They just have] a different style in fashion trends and interior design. People hadn’t seen the things that were going on the East and West Coast and in Europe, and I wanted to bring that fresh look and way of doing things to Utah.”
As an event planner, Riehl offers her clients four different services: planning, production, décor and design. In the planning stage, Riehl will meet with a client and work out a detailed budget plan. At this time Riehl will recommend vendors such as florists or caterers who fit into the budget and negotiate contracts. On the day of the event, she and her staff will then step in and produce the day, from the moment the doors open to when the last guest departs. They can also create Web sites and stationary for the event and build items such as backdrops. Their service even includes picking clients up to meet vendors and, for weddings, attending dress fittings.
“Literally we become the client’s personal assistant, available to them 24-7 so everything and anything they need we’re onboard to do,” Riehl said.
Clients who want less “hand-holding” can also choose any combination of these services. Additionally, Riehl can also consult clients who only need things like vendor suggestions and help negotiating contracts. For this she charges an hourly rate of $75.
Although Riehl and her staff have planned weddings, birthday and anniversary parties, fundraisers, corporate events, outings and even small concerts, Brown and Engel’s wedding was the first lesbian wedding they have put together (Riehl noted that she has planned weddings and commitment ceremonies for gay male couples, however).
She hopes that she can assist more same-sex couples in the future.
“A wedding is a wedding to me. It’s about the love and the couple. I don’t differentiate between [gay and straight couples],” she said. “I very strongly believe in same-sex marriage and the fight for what’s going on now.”
Visit Riehl Events online at Riehlevents.com.