Fearon May of Fearon May Events –A national award recipient for best table top design by the National Association of Catering and Events (NACE). She recently received the 2015 California Excellence Award from the US Commerce & Trade Research Institute (USCTRI) for excellence in customer service.
Fearon also is known for planning weddings in Lake Tahoe, for a rock star celebrity musician or a three day extravagant wedding for an actress in Sonoma. Fearon May is known as the-go-to-person in planning a celebrity tribute dinner in Napa, for Kevin Costner and Michelle Monaghan. She has been hired by the Napa Valley Film Festival as the Vintner Circle Director where she plans all the VIP dinners for the celebrities, filmmaker and sponsors attending the festival. She has also planned corporate and social events for Mercedes Bends, Cadillac, Chevrolet, McClatchy, YochaDehe Wintun Academy and many others. She also won the President’s Award from the Sacramento NACE Chapter for her volunteer services.
BB: Hello and welcome to this episode of our program. My name is Beverly, and I am with Business Mavericks and today we have Fearon May with Fearon May Events.
Welcome to our program Fearon.
FM: Thank you thanks so much for having me.
BB: Why don’t you share with us about your background and how you got started with event planning?
FM: Sure it’s quite a funny story. I wanted to be a casting director, so when I was in college, I moved home to save up some money before moving down to LA. I started working at a golf course as a beverage cart girl and then I started doing the banquets and weddings on the weekends, so I was bartending and serving where I received working experience.
A worked a lot of weddings and events, so I was able to learn quite a lot from these weddings/events. They then moved me over to their sister location where I managed the entire event facility and bar & grill with a staff of 30. I did the weddings and booked the weddings for weekends there and this is where I met my husband. We moved to Sacramento, and I got a job at a high paid wedding event company, so there was a venue that had 3 ballrooms and any one year I think I did 1000 events, really got the education I needed and high paid.
So from there I decided that weddings and events were for me. I loved being in that industry and in 2010 I left to start my own business, I have had my business now for 6 years. While starting my business, I also worked for a prop and decor company, where I learned even more about decor and design.
I learnt a lot about the design process of weddings and I started with the best education you can get for weddings and events or being a planner. I worked from the bottom and learned how events work. I got to learn how to set the tables and what size linens go on what tables and all the fun stuff that goes into planning a wedding.
BB: Your current career as an event planner is intriguing to many but do you find yourself asking and answering the same questions again and again?
FM: Sometimes it’s the same questions again and again as far as brides and grooms go. But, once I answer the questions to everyone’s satisfaction they understand I have everything taken care of, and things will go smoothly.
BB: Is there training to become an event planner?
FM: Yes and no I mean I get asked all the time how did you become a wedding planner? I feel like there are people out there, who think that they can just plan one event or their wedding, and then decide that they want to be a wedding planner. There needs to be more education than that. You can’t just pay for a certificate and say that you are a wedding planner. There are education and experience needed. You have to think quickly on your feet, and you need to know all the details that go into it planning.
Details like how many folks get set with the courses that you are serving for the dinner. What linen size, and bartenders you need, how much staffing you need per event? All those details come from experience when working on those events, so the best education that you can get is just starting from the bottom. Intern or work for a banquet facility for some time it’s an excellent education.
BB: So what does an event planner do?
FM: We handle all the logistics and vendors in helping you book the best vendors you could book for your wedding or events. We manage the timeline, we manage floor plans, how to set everything up, working with all the vendors, making sure what time they are going to be there, what time to set up, we do a lot of the design makeup so making sure that the linens match, the flowers and match all the other décor that is going into the event.
We work with the property or venue where they event is being held at so we make sure everything is right between them and make sure that everything the venue has is what we are talking about, I am like the fairy godmother, and I make sure everything goes as planned and the event is very special.
BB: What type of events do you organize the most?
FM: I would probably say weddings; I work a lot with the Napa Valley Film Festival. I plan all their VIP and celebrity events, so it’s a mix for me of high-end corporate events, as well as the weddings that I do.
BB: Which events do you enjoy doing?
FM: Well I love the weddings, that just give me free range and let me do what I like and I take their vision and make it happen for them. I work with a lot of high-end clients that just don’t have the time to plan anything, so like here is my credit card and let’s get the planning started and just give me the free range to do that is always fun.
I also do a lot of high-end themed events, I have a couple of clients that like to throw big elaborate themed party’s so, themed is always fun to come up with different ideas, I like that too.
BB: How do you staff your projects?
FM: Well, I am kind of a one woman show here I do have some staff that comes on for events. I also have interns that help me; it just depends on the project and how many people are needed. Usually, with my events it just myself and one assistant. With the larger events like the film festival, I have a staff of almost 80 people. Also, most of the larger Christmas parties that I do, I typically bring in a staff of 6 it all depends on the project.
BB: I have been asked several times, do you carry liability insurance?
FM: Of course and every business should and if you are working with a wedding planner or any event planner or any event industry, you always want to make sure they have liability insurance if they don’t then they are not doing their job correctly.
BB: When things do not go as planned how do you fix them quickly?
FM: It’s all about the experience and making sure that you remain calm. I am a calm person in terms of things happening, and I have had everything from downpours of rain to dropped cake to all different types of things that have happened. But, as long as you stay calm your clients are going to stay calm too.
I have had an outdoor wedding where it was suddenly pouring rain. I orchestrated a plan for and moved the entire wedding inside. Then, it stopped raining right before the wedding started, so I moved at the last minute and set-up all of the table arrangements, chairs, and everything else that was needed to move the wedding back outside. I was never stressed at any time. That is why an experienced wedding planner is needed.
So, definitely things are going to happen, but it is how you handle them at that moment if you panic your client is going to freak out so it’s always about keeping positive.
BB: Why should people hire event planners?
FM: For that exact reason you need someone to stay calm and to make you feel that everything is going to be okay. An event planner has a lot more resources to make something happen quickly or fix something quickly than an average person planning something by themselves.
My job is to allow you to be able to enjoy your event or wedding and not to worry about it. So event planners are needed, and they are a necessity to every event.
BB: What is your favorite part of your job?
FM: My favorite part of the job is when the client sees the event space for the first time. Sometimes we plan for over a year and on the day of the event when the client walks into space and says wow! That’s my favorite part of the job. So many details executed and so much work but seeing a happy client and making that one day the best day ever is so rewarding.
BB: And how can our audience contact you?
FM: They can find me on my website which is fearonmayevents.com I am also on Instagram and Facebook asFearon May so yeah, please follow along and watch some of the weddings and events that we do. Also, my phone number is(707) 592-4261
BB: It was wonderful talking and learning about event planning, thank you so much for your time, and I wish you all the best.
FM: Thank you, thanks for having me.