Wedding planning is serious business, as Jacquelyn Aleece, the founder of The Wedding Plan and Company, notes. Since its founding in 2012, her enterprise has helped couples create their perfect wedding by providing assistance from its expert wedding planners. Although based out of Hoboken, NJ, it has since expanded to New York City, Los Angeles, Palm Springs, Palm Beach, Miami, Dallas and Atlanta. Recently, the business has decided to launch a new service called the Power Couple, the nation’s first subscription-based wedding planning service. The Power Couple seeks to give customers the freedom and accessibility of planning weddings as they would prefer while also providing them with expert advice from the company’s veteran wedding planners.
I was able to speak with Aleece in order to learn a bit more about the service, as well as The Wedding Plan and Company and her experience in the hospitality business.
1. Could you tell me a little about your company, and also how you got into wedding planning in the first place?
I actually started in the hospitality industry when I was just a child. My grandfather, who was an immigrant from Greece, owned a restaurant in New Jersey with a ballroom that hosted weddings. I started working as the coat-check girl when I was 11, just so that every Friday and Saturday night when we had a wedding, I could catch a glimpse of the couple coming in wearing their dress and tuxedos and all the flowers and everything. I’ve worked in the restaurant business my entire life and just always loved being in the hospitality industry.
Out of college, I worked at American Express for many years at the World Financial Center, and while it was a wonderful company, I didn’t see myself living in a cubicle for the rest of my life. So, I decided to take my knowledge of events and my passion for weddings and start a wedding planning business.
It was always kind of a little seed in the back of my head—becoming a wedding planner and building a company that serves multiple cities and states. It was a dream that I didn’t know I would ever dare to pursue. And at some point, I built up just enough courage. Mainly because I met my now long-time life partner, Robert. He had left a prestigious career to follow his dream of being an actor. It was something that inspired me to finally just take the leap.
2. What led you to expand the business from Hoboken to other cities like New York City and Los Angeles?
In New Jersey, there’s a very strong wedding season from April through October. As one person, there’s only so much availability per date. And within six months of opening in 2012, I just started getting request after request. The referrals really started to roll in, and we started having multiple couples requesting the same date. And so I made the decision: I was going to do my best to expand the business.
3. What factors led to the creation of the Power Couple?
There are a few areas of wedding planning. Full wedding planning, where we do everything from start to finish, with really heavy design work. Partial wedding planning, when couples come to us where they have a few things done, but still need help with a specific area. And then there’s wedding coordination. That’s really for couples that plan the wedding themselves. They hire their own vendors, plan out their own designs with local florists and things like that.
What’s so interesting about the Power Couple is that I would say that all of the couples I’ve spoken to over the last 10 years are really the people who created this for me. And I can’t believe it took me 10 years to decide to brand this and to offer it as a widely available product or service.
What they were really looking for was guidance from engagement to “I do.” They were looking for someone not to do the work for them, but to tell them what work they should be doing. And they wanted to tap into our resources and our expertise. During quarantine, I thought that we were never going to see another wedding. I thought we were going to be refunding hundreds of thousands of dollars and I was going to be in debt and out of business. But, the biggest lesson I learned was that weddings are depression-proof and recession-proof. People will get married in their backyard and they will need some guidance.
4. How did you decide on the name and develop the subscription program?
These go-getters, these “I don’t mind doing it, I just want to make sure I’m doing it right,” are our power couples, which is where we got the name. They are people who didn’t mind taking the reins of their planning but just wanted that expert reassurance and the network that comes along with it.
We actually licensed a software, a digital wedding planning dashboard, that is only available to event professionals, but we are able to license it to couples. They have access to an extremely detailed program for when they need something. It not only has organization tools but also budget and RSVP tracking. It’s very dynamic, you can upload things, export, download, create style guides and color palettes, and see what percentage of your wedding is planned by checking things off your checklist. It’s so customizable that it’s just incredible. As a wedding planner, there’s really nothing that I would want to add or take away.
6. What comes with the Power Couple package?
When couples sign up to the Power Couple, they get 24/7 access to this online dashboard that is completely personalized to them. And then they get partnered with one of our planners, and they will have a kick-off Zoom session. Every single month, the planner and couple will have a virtual wedding planning session where the couple just has access to their planner, and they get to ask them any questions that have risen since their last session. The planner is also going to make sure that the couple is on track budget-wise and prioritizing the right things.
You also have the option at the time of subscription or later on down the road, to add on that wedding coordination service. This means the planner is with you on the day of your wedding. A lot of our couples have the subscription for X amount of months. So the subscription is fairly customizable, too, based on the customer’s needs and when the wedding is scheduled. And the subscription also auto-cancels the month of the wedding, so you never have to call in and say that you’re still getting charged. Which is different from other subscription services, because others don’t want you to leave. So ours is a little bit more dynamic in that sense.
7. As part of the company’s motto is, “there is no such thing as a problem, only opportunities to create solutions,” what were the opportunities you wanted to take advantage of with this service?
We have subscriptions for meal services, razors, tampons, clothing, groceries. And I thought, how come there’s no such thing in the marketplace that’s called a wedding planning subscription? And, in my opinion, wedding planning should be professional advice and should be available to anybody at any budget. A lot of couples love it because they get to feel like they’re planning their own wedding and they don’t need to feel like they’re handing the reins over to somebody. So, it’s that perfect balance of you getting to keep control over your wedding while having guidance along the way and a dedicated relationship. But also, now it becomes affordable. Full wedding planning can cost anywhere from $7,000 to $15,000. I just really wanted something that could reach the masses, to democratize wedding planning.
8. How long did it take to launch the Power Couple subscription service?
It took about six months from conception to execution to actually launch the service. Again, because the couples really were the ones that came to me throughout all these years, I felt like I was really prepared in knowing what they really wanted. Since we already had couples asking for this kind of guidance, we essentially had power couples lined up even before we put a name to it. So it was almost the name and the branding and the technology of the payment, and the service were all already in motion.
9. What was the biggest concern you had in launching the service?
My biggest concern was the education behind what it is because it’s the first in the market. A lot of people don’t know what it is and how it differs from what other wedding planners and companies offer. I wanted to use that education in advertisements and make as many tools as we could to educate our customer base about what this is and get them to subscribe. So, I would say that education was probably my biggest concern.
10. What does The Wedding Plan and Company have in mind for the future?
Well, already we have customers who want to make testimonial videos to talk about their experience with the Power Couple. They love their planners, they love the service. To them, it’s exactly what they needed. We’re even booking customers into 2023 because of what’s called “booking congestion,” with vendors and venues.
I would say I have a few ideas in the back of my head. I am never going to say never to expanding our services. It’s a very exciting idea!
In terms of logistical planning, I think we’re pretty much in our sweet spot by having full, partial, coordination, plus Power Couple. One of the things that I did in terms of expansion, not necessarily in service to couples, was launching a wedding planning mentorship program. I am a mentor to other aspiring wedding planners because a lot of them actually don’t necessarily have the knowledge–they know how to plan a wedding, but not how to run profitable and sustainable businesses, or how to do things business-wise that are necessary, like being in sales. So, I try to teach them how to be efficient and effective in the actual logistics of planning a wedding, but also in terms of being a business mentor. That is something that is currently live.
To learn more about The Wedding Plan and Company or the Power Couple, visit their website.
Main image of Founder Jacquelyn Aleece, courtesy of Stefani Welsh Studios