Lynda Barness, Wedding Consultant, Mother (of two Daughters), Montgomery County, PA, speaks with Marilyn Russell. As spring turns to Summer suddenly our day planners are filled with activities – graduations, Memorial Day BBQ’s, charity walks, birthdays…and of course, WEDDING Season is here! Just ask our Woman of the Week this week, Lynda Barness, who lives, eats and breathes the season all year long. She was nominated by one of her clients, Meredith Landis, whose wedding she’s planning for March ’07. Lynda’s real-world expertise and supportive guidance navigating the complexities and challenges of arranging that special day makes her one of the best wedding consultants in our area. In fact, this time last year, Lynda was planning Sixer’s President Billy King’s wedding at the PA Governor’s Mansion last August – an intimate affair featuring 180 guests.
“I asked Meredith why she felt she needed a wedding consultant and her response was this: “To be honest I was not even going to have a coordinator, but after meeting with Lynda about doing her PR and hearing about everything she does on that day, I decided that I had to have her there. I genuinely felt that all my time would be taken up talking to everyone at the wedding. I don’t want to deal with missing flowers, the cake not coming out on time or something like that. I have been to weddings where the Bride’s dress ripped or someone in the bridal party had a problem with their dress. I was also at a wedding where there was elevator music playing during the ceremony and they were unable to find the person who could shut it off. Lynda is there to make sure none of that stuff happens and she knows exactly what to do if it does. I am looking forward to having her there.”
- Lynda, where did you grow up? In beautiful Bucks County – Warrington. Warrington was still a rural area when growing up there and I even remember the general store. The family business was started by my grandparents back in 1925 and remained in business there for 80 years. That has always been “home” even though I moved to Montgomery County with my family when I was teenager.
- How many jobs did you hold before finding your niche? I worked for Senator Arlen Specter in the early 1980s. I started our in his Philadelphia office and then worked in his fundraising office. After that, I joined my father, Herb Barness, working in The Barness Organization. This was a homebuilding business started by my grandparents and continued by my father. My father expanded the business in many directions, encompassing various types of real estate development. I worked with my father for fourteen years until his untimely death in 1998. I continued the homebuilding business with a wonderful group of loyal “family” until it was sold last summer. I’m very lucky to have had wonderful work experiences!
- How much do you credit your family, in particular, your father with providing necessary guidance and support? I learned so much from working with my father, but the most important lesson had to do with priorities and attitude. Family always came first, so I think that my wedding consulting business reflects that. The wedding day is important for the two people getting married, as they start their married life together. I urge the bride and groom to step back and take a look around the room, just to appreciate the people in their lives…the guests are “their” special extended family. It is not often that we have the opportunity to share something so important with so many people we care about… And in terms of attitude, the glass is more than half full. Again, this helps in the wedding business, because little things may not be perfect, but you can still have a perfect day!
- How did you get started with I Do Consulting? Although I knew I was selling the homebuilding business, I hadn’t made a plan for my future work life…until I picked up a course catalogue from Temple University and came across a Certificate Program in Wedding Planning and Consulting. I had just helped to plan my older daughter’s wedding and since I have another daughter and two nieces, I thought it might be fun to take the courses. I did…and loved it! A friend of my daughter’s was getting married and she was my first client. She then recommended me to another bride-to-be, and I DO Wedding Consulting was born!
- What do you like best about your work? I am hopefully able to reduce stress for the bride, groom, and their families in the planning of the wedding.
- What’s the hardest thing to accomplish? Reducing friction between family members in the planning process is a challenge.
- What if (as it usually does) something goes wrong? Well, I like to think that I am organized enough that I am able to prevent anything really disastrous from happening. I always bring three emergency kits with me to every wedding. My emergency KITS are now comprised of three-tiered tool boxes on wheels! There is one for the Groom and the men (black socks for the usher who forgets and is wearing brown ones, black shoe laces and polish, an instant cold pack, wine stain remover, mosquito wipes, extra boutonniere pins- I’ve used them to pin the head of a flower back on and to close a jacket when the groomsman popped a button right before going down the aisle). There is also one for Bride and the women (white chalk to take marks out of a gown, a white towel for the bride to stand on if she is having photos taken on grass so she doesn’t stain her gown, tulle and double-sided tape to stuff the top of a bridesmaid’s gown that was in danger of falling down- don’t laugh, I’ve really used that! There’s also a straw so the bride can use it to drink water (after her makeup is done) and a general emergency kit (extra candles, matches, caution tape to prevent guests from parking where they shouldn’t, clear duct tape to tape down electrical cords so no one trips, a CD player and a CD with wedding music, “just in case” cash, calligraphy pens in the wedding colors, copies of the ceremony readings, extra place cards and, my new best friend, a glue gun and sticks. And, that’s honestly just of portion of what my emergency kits hold. It makes me laugh to have all of this, but I end up using so many of these items that I am happy to have them with me!!
- Okay, so besides ‘being prepared’, describe your philosophy and how it works with your business. My father had a wonderful saying: Every day is a good day…some are just better than others. I enjoy the challenges of creating a start-up business, including all the networking, marketing, and even the paperwork. It is different and stimulating for me and meeting with clients and helping with the details is rewarding. Even when there is something difficult, I know that I am learning from my experiences.
- What are you most proud of? My daughters and one son-in-law.
- What is the one thing you’ve always wanted to do? I like to think that I am doing just what I want to do right now.
- What’s next? More weddings!