There are only a couple places in the U.S. that still feel like they are a world away and Alaska is one of them! So, today we are excited to introduce you to Erin, Owner and Lead Designer of Blomma Designs in Anchorage, Alaska.
Erin is the hands on, get-it-done type who now works closely with her husband on building custom pieces for their clients. Her work celebrates the natural beauty around her and the backdrops to her events will make you swoon. Read on to learn more about Erin and living in a domestic destination!
Tell me about your journey to starting your own wedding planning business. Was that always your goal or did you think you would end up doing something else?
My journey really started when I was a teenager. I started working in the food and beverage industry in high school and loved it. When I attended college I worked as an event staffer – where I think I held EVERY SINGLE JOB one could do pertaining to events. I’ve worked in the kitchen expo-ing food, I’ve washed dishes, I’ve been the lead server.
After graduating college I started working at a “real job” and still continued to work as an Event Captain (lead server) part time at a modern art museum in Minneapolis. When the recession hit in 2008 I lost my job and was offered a full time position as a Sales Manager at the museum and I took a leap of faith and accepted. I learned so much in that position. We would produce anything from small events for 10 guests to large events upwards of 3500 people; so I learned what it really takes to produce an event from start to finish, inside and out. From there I graduated to managing a small boutique property in the historic district before deciding to open my own company.
I wanted to take my love for weddings and passion for design and run with it! Shortly after that we moved back to Anchorage, Alaska (my hometown) and I hit the ground running.
What is the Alaskan wedding season like? What do you love most about it?
The wedding season in Alaska is short! Most couples opt for the summer months (in Alaska that is only June, July and the first two weeks in August) so we fit a very large amount of weddings into a short window. We do a small number of Winter and Spring weddings too.
If I had to say what I love the most about it, it would be the locations that we have. Alaska is literally heaven on earth and the beauty is overwhelming! The bulk of our weddings take place outdoors and outside of the city of Anchorage. We find ourselves immersed in nature and sometimes we can’t believe just how beautiful the scenarios really are! Planning and designing weddings here makes you want to pinch yourself sometimes. But it’s a double edged sword because most locations don’t have running water, restrooms, electricity or any sort of modern amenities. It’s like the Wild West of events up here!
I think everyone feels like Alaska is this really remote place (but filled with amazing nature!). Tell us about your local community of wedding planning professionals.
Our local community is small. We do have very limited choices for planning and design, as well as rentals and décor options. It has been quite the challenge for us! For many people here, wedding planning is still a bit of an unknown. For others, they completely embrace what we do but the next challenge is figuring out how to produce their day in the design that they want with our limited access to things. Coming from a large city we have often had what now seem like a lot of hilarious situations as we’ve had to get very creative in order to give our couples an amazing day!
You are half of a husband and wife team. What is it like working with your spouse? Did it take time to make it work or did you hit the ground running?
Working with my husband, Matt, is truly a blessing. He has always supported me behind the scenes, but when we moved to Alaska we decided to fully commit to creating and producing events together. We are such a good balance for one another that it came naturally. He is a carpenter, builder, artist and perfectionist. I am an organized go-getter with big dreams and a multitude of design ideas running through my mind. We’ve often discussed that we don’t think we could do what we do without each other. And we enjoy sharing the experiences together – it has only brought us closer.
I saw that that eating dinner together almost everyday (without television) is important to you guys. Tell me more about why that is.
Life is busy. We have an 18 month old and it’s important to us to have that time together to talk, face to face, with no technology. No TV, no phones. It’s so easy to get sucked into a vortex when you own a small business as there aren’t any guidelines and email and texting makes us reachable at all times. So we feel a bit more balance knowing that at the end of the day we get to have that window of time to connect, reconnect as a family and remember what really is important in life.
You husband Matt builds custom pieces for weddings. What is the design process like?
Our design process usually begins with me dreaming up a project and then presenting it to him and hoping he’ll say yes! And he always does. We do a lot of brainstorming and sketching before building each piece and we really work together to finalize the design. From there, he does the bulk of the construction of the piece and I help with the smaller finishings like sanding, staining, painting, etc.
What are your favorite design elements?
Flowers and custom or unique pieces are definitely my favorite elements. I absolutely love flowers! They make such a huge impact on an event. The textures, color, smell. I love using floral and greens in unique ways and very asymmetrically. I also love unique and one of a kind pieces, like arbors or tables. Many times these are something that the couple can keep and use in their own home and it becomes an heirloom.
I love the personal connection that is made when personalizing a few key décor elements for each event. It makes the wedding their own and it gives a bit more of an emotional element to the day.
How did you come to making the decision that you were not going to offer day of services?
Our business model is very personal and all encompassing. Each event we take on is treated as if it was our own. We truly feel that Day of Coordination is a disservice to our clients because we can’t bring that personal touch to everything.
Most couples need guidance most of the way in terms of budgeting, vendor selection, design, timing, really everything. I think some people misjudge the complicated nature weddings and think they are just throwing a party for a large number of guests. But weddings are so emotionally charged! We can only ensure a seamless and beautiful event when we know that the best decisions have been made in the planning process.
You specialize in Alaskan destination weddings and elopements – how does working with Aisle Planner help you through the design process with remote clients?
Aisle Planner is truly an answer to my prayers! Especially when working with couples who aren’t located in Alaska. It gives us the ability to share a space and work together cohesively. I rely heavily on photos with all of my clients and the design area lets us share photos, floor plans, color schemes all in one place that is easily accessible.
What is your favorite Aisle Planner feature?
I don’t think I can name just one. I love the checklist, I love the design center and I love the budget and vendor sections as well. I think my answer is everything! And I’m so thankful for the Guest List feature and how easy it makes my couples’ lives.
What are you working towards this year? What are you most excited about?
This year we are very excited to be both designing and planning for all of our couples! We feel most at home in that scenario and it’s so nice to have so many creative couples to work with. The connection with our couples and their families are really what makes our job so enjoyable. We have also opened Alaska Destination Weddings to service our out of state couples. That is geared mainly towards elopements and small groups who want to make Alaska their wedding destination. We’ll be flying in lots of small planes this year and helping couples elope in the most majestic of settings!
Check out Erin’s latest project www.akdestinationweddings.com