Residing in the beautiful and serene central coast of California, Wedding Planner Elyse
Rowen brings to life the perfect wedding for each couple she works with. She had
always wanted to be an event planner, but took a different route when attending college.
She landed jobs where she was able to do events at multiple resorts in Pismo Beach,
and has now gone on to run her very own event company. We got to learn more about
Elyse’s journey and how she got to the point in her life where she has the job of her
When did you realize you wanted to do event planning? Is it something you went
to school for or wanted to do since you were young?
As cliché as it sounds, I’ve always known I wanted to be a wedding planner.
From 3 years old, I was planning my own birthday parties with fully designed
themes, and I drew pictures of weddings and bridal gowns throughout my whole
childhood. In college, I actually studied Psychology with a minor in Photography,
but I had the opportunity to assist a very established wedding planner for a
couple of her larger weddings, and that’s where I truly fell in love with weddings
and knew this is what I was meant to do. I recently found some old papers from
back when I was in high school where I talked about how I would be a wedding
planner someday, and that just warmed my heart to know that my younger self
would be proud.
What was the first event you produced? How did it go?
The first event I produced was a large wedding for SeaVenture Beach Hotel
when I was working as their Sales & Event Assistant and On-Site Coordinator. It
was an incredibly eye-opening experience! I had no idea just how much was
involved in bringing a wedding to life, but I put on a brave face and pulled it off. I
received a lot of positive feedback from everyone I worked with which gave me
the confidence to keep going. After 2 years of experience working literally
hundreds of events and weddings for SeaVenture Beach Hotel and Sycamore
Mineral Springs, I took the leap and started Elyse Events! Funny enough, the first
wedding I produced completely on my own under the Elyse Events name was
actually for a woman who was one of the stars of my favorite movie as a
teenager. I was so excited to work with her and her fiancé, the wedding turned
out absolutely amazing, and we’ve remained friends to this day!
What were some of the steps you took to start your own company?
When I first started Elyse Events, I was very familiar with the event-planning side
of the business, but I had to learn the back-end process of running a business
completely from scratch. I didn’t even know the scope of everything I needed at
the time—I just found that more necessities would appear as I checked items off.
I had to become licensed, get insured, compose a legal contract, build a website,
create a logo, advertise, learn how to manage my accounting, keep track of
reports, collect reviews from past clients, create documents, construct organized
processes and procedures, set goals, compile materials, produce content for
social media, put together a wedding day emergency kit, the list goes on and on.
I had no job to fall back on, entirely on purpose, so I would be forced to focus all
of my time and effort into building my business and making it successful. The
biggest step I took was getting involved with the amazing community of wedding
industry professionals on the central coast. Saying yes to opportunities and
networking with other vendors has had a massive impact on the growth of my
business, and I am extremely grateful for everyone who has supported me (and
continues to support me) along the way.
How many people are on your team? What are everyone’s roles the day of an
I am currently the only full-time member of Elyse Events, serving as the Owner,
Designer, Planner, and Coordinator. However, I have a group of fabulous,
experienced Assistants which I pull from for wedding days (we like to call them
“Elyse’s Angels”). I always include 1 Assistant (in addition to myself) to be there
on the day of the wedding with me, and sometimes have up to 4 or more
Assistants depending on how large and involved the wedding is. They have
various tasks that change throughout the day and are always ready to handle
anything. It takes a village to pull off a great wedding, and I am very thankful to
my Angels for making it possible! I am also fortunate enough to be a member of
the San Luis Obispo Wedding Planners, which has been a massive honor. We
value community over competition, and are always willing to support one another.
Therefore, if one of us ever needs extra hands for a wedding, we know we can
count on one of the other members to step up and help. It’s a very comforting
What is the biggest problem you have faced when coordinating an event and how
did you solve it?
Once upon a time, it was a cold and blustery wedding day… The ceremony arch
was supposed to be staked into the sand, but had only been staked on 2 of the 4
posts. After the arch had been fully decorated with large, beautiful floral
arrangements, the wind picked up, and the arch completely tipped forward into
the sand, crushing all of the flowers in the process—so much so that about 90%
of the flowers were not salvageable. This happened 30 minutes before the
ceremony was scheduled to start. I immediately made sure the bride was
nowhere within eyesight and called the florist (who’s shop happened to be just
down the road) to request a brand new set of floral arrangements ASAP. While
we waited, we got the arch back up, cleared all of the dead flowers, and I met
with the bride to tell her that “some of the flowers looked a little wind-blown, so
I’m having the Florist come replace a few of them with some fresh ones, and we
should be all set to start the ceremony just about 5 minutes later than scheduled.”
The bride was very appreciative for my “attention to detail,” and never suspected
a thing. Within 15 minutes, the florist’s team of magic fairies somehow arrived
with brand new flowers (most of which looked similar to the flowers the bride had
ordered)! They installed them onto the arch in about 10 minutes, walked away
with their step stool as we seated guests, and we started the ceremony only 5
minutes late. From that day forward, we joked that “not all heroes wear capes,
they wear heels.” There is always something that comes up on every wedding
day that could not have been anticipated, but it’s the Wedding Planner’s job to
correct the situation to the best of their ability, do it quickly, and do it without the
happy couple ever knowing that there was even a situation to begin with!
What is your favorite event that you have ever been a part of?
I truthfully cannot even choose a favorite event. I know that sounds like I’m trying
to remain neutral, but I seriously love what I do and I’ve had favorite moments at
every single wedding and event that I have been part of. I got to witness a
wonderful man celebrate his 90th birthday, I saw white balloons fill a dancefloor, I
listed to a groom serenade his bride at the altar with an original song, I watched
guests be ushered to their seats by a man with a lightsaber, I got to experience a
bride and groom surprise their guests with the gender reveal of their future child, I
saw a “flower man” toss petals down the aisle, I watched a father burst into tears
when he say his daughter in her dress for the first time, I witnessed a groom
spontaneously play electric guitar with the singer of their band who was on The
Voice, I saw a baby ring bearer be pulled on a sled down the aisle through the
sand, I witnessed an aerial performer at a fundraiser where we raised money for
Rita’s Rainbows, I watched a bride karate chop a board in half with her palm in
her giant ball gown… there is no end to the fabulous, special moments that I’ve
had the honor to be part of!
About how many events do you put on each year?
Due to the fact that I am running Elyse Events on my own and am the only
Planner, I try to not book more than 10 weddings/events per year… but I
currently have 13 weddings on the books for 2020! I never want to spread myself
too thin because it’s very important to me that I am able to dedicate my full
attention to each couple. I also like to assist other wedding planners on
weekends that I am available so I can continually learn new ways to grow and
improve my business!
How far in advance should a couple begin planning their wedding?
How far in advance a couple should begin planning their wedding really depends
on the couple and what kind of wedding they are having. If a couple is really busy
and planning on having a large wedding, I usually recommend they book a
planner at least 12 months in advance. If a couple’s schedule isn’t as demanding
and they’re wanting a more intimate wedding, they can start planning about 9
months in advance. That being said, it is possible to plan a wedding in far less
time than that—it’s just much more difficult, adds a lot more stress onto the
couple, and you risk having a limited selection of vendors and inventory to
choose from. I offer 3 different types of packages, so I am sometimes getting
involved with the couple right from the beginning, and sometimes I don’t enter the
picture until about a month before their wedding. It just depends on the couple
and the kind of services they are wanting for their wedding.
What is one type of event you would like to plan someday (that you haven’t done
Someday, I would love to plan a really over-the-top, out-there, extravagant event
with a really unique theme (like a Taylor Swift music video come to life)! It could
be anything from a kid’s birthday party to a huge wedding. I’ve always thought it
would be so cool and challenging to experience what that’s like, to have designed
and planned an event that’s just absolutely insane and unimaginable, that makes
your jaw drop!
What advice would you give to someone who wants to get into event planning, but
is unsure where to start?
If someone is looking to enter the world of event planning, I would recommend
they reach out and get involved with other established professionals who they
look up to in the industry and ask all the questions. Networking and saying yes to
every opportunity that comes your way will be greatly beneficial while you are
getting started! Styled shoots can be a great way to make connections with other
venues and vendors, all while building a portfolio and advertising your business.
Even if you find yourself doing a lot of “free work” in the beginning, you never
know what opportunities can come from it, even years later! I’m also happy to
help give advice and chat with anyone who’s looking to get into event planning!