Meet-the-Maker • Carly Totten

 

We're so excited to introduce you for today's Meet-the-Maker, because this lady is extra special to us! Carly from Carly is Inspired is both a writer and event planner, and is also a contributor to Red Oak Weddings! Carly's passion for weddings, and more importantly, her couples, shines through in everything she touches. From floral styling to day-of coordination, her talent and eye for detail are impeccable, and we're so honored to have her sharing her story with us today!


Tell us a little bit about you, and how you got started!

My grandparents were married for over 70 years, and I was incredibly close with them. They helped to shape me as a person, and they definitely shaped my views of marriage, love, and serving others. They inspired my brand and my heart for what I do, and I keep them in mind at all times. 

I’ve always been fascinated by events. I always had to walk by ballrooms and conference centers while visiting hotels when I was younger, and I loved looking at event boards to see what was happening. The funny thing is, I still do all of these things years later! I knew I wanted to work in the event industry, but I wasn’t sure which road I would take. 

When I was a senior in college, I decided to intern at Brides Local Magazines in New York City. I loved my experience. From there, I started working for other editorial sites as a freelance writer. A highlight was attending Bridal Market as a Junior Editor for WeddingWire and covering fashion shows from the wedding industry’s top designers. My experiences as a writer have lead to me working with sites, such as Red Oak Weddings and Every Last Detail, and creative businesses to create digital content. 

As much as I love writing, I also knew I wanted to plan events too. Whether I’m assisting at a wedding, coordinating the entire day, or designing the flowers, every experience gives context to my writing. Weddings also allow me to be creative in a hands on way, and I love to serve couples and allow them to truly enjoy their wedding day. 

For the modern couple planning their wedding in NY, NJ + PA. Real weddings, engagements, inspiration + more!

Photo by: Alicia Lacey Photography  

What services do you offer and/or what do you specialize in?

As a wedding planner, I love working with couples as a month of planner. Couples who choose to work with me for this service have mostly planned their wedding day, and they turn to me to tie everything together so they can be fully present. To me, serving people in this way is incredibly rewarding! 

I tend to be onsite from the moment the bride and bridesmaids start getting ready until the last gift is packed up at the end of the night. Throughout the day, I act as Team Captain to the other vendors, and I also want to become best friends with each couple’s family. I’m there to make sure the couple knows they have a friendly person on their side at all times and to make sure everything runs smoothly. 

I also specialize in floral styling. I grew up gardening with my grandparents on my mom’s and dad’s respective sides, so my love for flowers is definitely from them! I believe the bride’s bouquet should make a statement. I also love making moms, bridesmaids, the groom, groomsmen, and dads feel special by designing gorgeous pieces for them. Everyone needs flowers on a wedding day! 

I definitely have perfectionist tendencies, but flowers also have a mind of their own. Designing a bouquet, boutonniere, or centerpiece is not about my own vision, but about working with the movement of the flowers. It can be humbling! But, I’m always thrilled when the final piece is something that’s beyond the couple’s biggest dreams. When a bride wants to save her bouquet forever, that’s when I know I have succeeded.   

For the modern couple planning their wedding in NY, NJ + PA. Real weddings, engagements, inspiration + more!

Photo by: Antrim and Spruce

What makes your business unique?

I serve both creative business owners and couples. Not many people work on both sides, and I love that I have that unique ability. I think it allows me to fully understand everyone on a wedding day!

For the modern couple planning their wedding in NY, NJ + PA. Real weddings, engagements, inspiration + more!

Photo by: Carly Fuller Photography  

What is your favorite part of working with couples?

I love building a relationship with couples. I’m a listener at heart, and I tend to ask a ton of questions. I’m always trying to find common ground between myself and my couples and clients because that’s where a deeper connection can form. I think when we realize we like the same things it allows couples to realize even more how much I understand them and am forever on their side! 

I also love getting to know each couple’s family. I understand your mom’s emotion just as much as I encourage your dad’s sarcasm (and vice versa!). I love when family members realize they can turn to me for anything they may need just as much as the couple can. I’ve had the great honor of having couples say they want to be friends with me and parents say they want to adopt me. The feelings are always mutual from my perspective too!

For the modern couple planning their wedding in NY, NJ + PA. Real weddings, engagements, inspiration + more!

Photo by: Meg Brock Photography  

One piece of advice for couples?

Enjoy your engagement, know your marriage is more important than the details, and…hire a planner! Unlike a photographer who provides a tangible product, a wedding planner provides an experience. That can be difficult to understand unless you have been in a wedding party where a planner guided you through the day or received encouragement from a friend who either hired a planner and loved it or didn’t and wished she had. 

Hiring a planner allows you to be fully present on your wedding day and enjoy it rather than continuing to be the point person for all questions and problems. A planner will always have your best interests at heart and will still consult you on bigger questions, but your planner will also problem solve on her own. I once changed a transportation plan in five minutes because a water main broke at a hotel that prevented guests from getting ready. The couple had no idea what had happened, and they kept taking photos with their photographer completely unaware of what had just transpired. The costs associated with a planner are definitely worth it in my opinion!

For the modern couple planning their wedding in NY, NJ + PA. Real weddings, engagements, inspiration + more!

Photo by: Reiner Photography 

Childhood career aspiration?

I always wanted to be an artist, but I only ever associated “artist” with “painter” when I was really little. That career aspiration switched to interior design for a long time, and then I switched again to writing, event planning, and floral design. My aspirations have always evolved, and I hope that continues for years to come!

Coffee or tea?

Iced coffee always looks delicious, but I just don’t like the taste of coffee. I wish I did! I’m a tea drinker instead. To this day, “put the kettle on” means there is a problem, exciting moment, or much needed catch up session about to be solved or shared in my family. My grandparents are from England, and their heritage has very much extended to my mom, aunt, cousins, and me. I love it because it’s the same thing my Nana always said when I visited her while growing up. Tea is definitely comfort.

Hidden talent?

My driver’s education teacher taught me how to parallel park like no one’s business. I’m still so grateful for him 10+ years later! It’s a skill that has definitely come in handy when I have to unload flowers in a city or hope to park close by to a venue.

For the modern couple planning their wedding in NY, NJ + PA. Real weddings, engagements, inspiration + more!