Susan Bjorklund has lived in Bellingham since 1988, and has worked at Lairmont Manor for more than 12 years. She has been involved with more than 1,000 weddings there since 2001.
Q: What's the best part of your job as wedding consultant at Lairmont Manor?
A: I enjoy many aspects of my job, such as hearing at the end of the day all the wonderful comments from the bride, groom, parents and guests who rave about how spectacular Lairmont Manor is. However, the most rewarding is the day of the wedding, after all the hard work of planning, setup and decorations, to see the joy and admiration on the faces of the bride and groom as they make their commitment to each other.
Q: What's your advice to a newly engaged couple on planning their wedding?
A: Plan ahead as much as possible, and try to imagine the day step-by-step. The most important is to set a budget, pick a venue, a caterer and, if possible, a wedding planner, because they are familiar with details that can easily be forgotten. Don't stress the small stuff, and remember it's one of the happiest days of your life, so enjoy the experience together.
Q: How have wedding dress styles changed in recent years, and what do you expect for the next couple of years?
A: I don't see a lot of the "Cinderella" dresses, (long trains and veils). It's more elegant, vintage, strapless, lacy and couture gowns. Often, the brides choose their gowns to fit the elegance of our venue. But the trends are always changing.
Q: What should couples keep in mind when planning food and drinks?
A: Pick the food and drinks you enjoy, and don't be afraid to venture out and use other ethnic choices. Think outside the box. We have had some wonderful weddings, ranging from extravagant, catered sit-down dinners to a simple buffet.
I also caution brides and grooms to be careful on how much alcohol is provided for their wedding. Too much drinking can really ruin a great event.
Q: How should couples decide where to hold their wedding and/or reception?
A: It's important for couples to pick a style for their wedding that suits them, whether it be classic, modern, elegant, chic or rustic. That will help narrow down the venues that fit their theme.
Pay attention to what's included in the venue fee; for example, tables, chairs, china, glassware, linens, etc. What are the rules for the venue? Does it fit their budget?
Q: What advice do you have for couples who want live music at their reception?
A: I always highly recommend hiring a deejay. They help the music transition smoothly. We also encourage live bands or string quartets, but if so, make sure to designate a master of ceremonies, as most bands don't provide that.
Q: What last-minute complications are common?
A: Meeting with the bride and groom a week or two before the event really helps to avoid last-minute complications, as well as makes sure vendors and arrival times are confirmed. Lack of planning on the part of the bride and groom tends to wreak havoc on all involved.
Of course, there are always some last-minute changes the day of wedding, particularly because Lairmont Manor is in the Northwest. Weather can be an issue. Our summer ceremonies take place outdoors, but we always have a "plan B" in place.
We recently had a groom's shoes go missing; hence the first pictures were done in bare feet. Thankfully, the shoes were found before the ceremony.
Q: No need to name names, but can you share a "bridezilla" or "groomzilla" story?
A: I have certainly seen my fair share of bridezillas and groomzillas. It can certainly be challenging working with one that, no matter what you do, it's never good enough. But I always roll with the punches and do my part to make them happy and lighthearted.
When I had a groom show up the morning of his wedding and announce that the wedding was cancelled, I nearly fainted. He then proceeded to laugh and say "just kidding." Thankfully, his bride-to-be was not in the room. I don't think she would have found that humorous.
Q: What's your advice for brides on staying sane on her wedding day?
A: Keep breathing. Remember, it's your special day. We are here for you and will do everything we can to make this day special. It may be your first wedding, but it certainly isn't mine.
Q: What's your comparable advice for grooms?
A: Grooms tend to be extremely calm and normally very laid-back. Often they get very emotional as they watch their bride walk down the aisle, but that certainly is to be expected. And hoped for, really.
Q: Do you cry at weddings?
A: I hate to admit it, but yes, I often cry during the ceremony. It really gets me when the bride is just about to walk down the aisle with her father at her side and, with tears rolling down his face, he tells her how much he loves her, how beautiful she looks, and that she will always be his little girl!
The 100th year of Lairmont Manor will be celebrated May 18, 2014, with music, tours, history lectures, appetizers and beverages. The event will commemorate the manor's service to the community, including more than 3,500 weddings since 1967.
Lairmont Manor is at 405 Fieldston Road, Bellingham. For information about weddings and other renting the manor, call 360-647-1444 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.