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Wedding Planners

Kimberly Bartoli, 43
Owner, Elegant Beginnings, Panama City

Kimberly Bartoli
[Photo: Sue Senkle]
Raised in the Florida Panhandle from age 3, Kimberly Bartoli has spent most of her career in the hospitality business, including a stint as Marriott Resort's catering sales manager. "We did a great deal of social events, and my niche was weddings," she says. After becoming certified through Weddings Beautiful Worldwide six years ago, she opened Elegant Beginnings. Bartoli now employs four coordinators, and the company averages 60 weddings a year throughout the Panhandle, most of which occur in May and October.

Top Offering: "Our ‘Lavish Soiree' package requires a $20,000 minimum budget, but we have a variety of other packages and pricing." The "Full Planning Package" is the whole ball of tulle, from finding locations and vendors to helping the betrothed with budgets and other details.

Craziest Request: "We had a bride call us with her ‘day-of concerns': She asked us to make sure none of her 100 guests were chewing gum and that the groom didn't step on her toes during the first dance. Let's just say we did what we could."

Take a Vow: "A good planner will not only help you with costs, family dynamics and finding the perfect vendor, she becomes your friend and is there for the bride in many ways that can't be described."

Price Range: $1,450 for a day package; the "Lavish Soiree" starts at $3,000, but the bride must have a budget of $20,000 or more.

Aime Dunstan, 28
President, It! Weddings & Events, Palm Beach

Aime Dunstan
[Photo: LILA PHOTO]
The former event planner for Café Boulud in Palm Beach and one-time features reporter for the Palm Beach Post (she's still a freelance writer on the side) got her first taste of event planning as a volunteer for the American Red Cross and Historical Society of Palm Beach County. "I found similarities in publishing and event planning, such as attention to detail, strong relationship-building skills and a certain amount of grace under fire." So in October 2009 she formed It! Weddings & Events.

Planning packages begin at $3,500 and range from "Celebration" ("a helping hand on an hourly basis," Dunstan says), which has a 35-hour minimum, to "Gala" ("We pretty much become your slaves with a smile — no limits"). Her keys to wedding planning success? "Flexibility, and tailoring our agreements to meet the specific needs of each client."

Expense Report: "I'm currently reviewing proposals for an upcoming wedding at Mar-a-Lago that range from $90,000 to $150,000 — this is for flowers, table linens, candelabra and minimal lighting. That doesn't include food and beverage, music, invitations and the gown. But for Palm Beach, this is not the whole nine yards — maybe just seven or eight."

Kid Gloves: The company keeps a nanny "on speed dial" in case a guest didn't get the memo that children aren't invited.

Must Be the Heat: "On any given weekend in Palm Beach, there are probably 10 weddings going on. I think Florida is second only to Texas in the number of weddings held each year."

Price Range: $3,500 and up

Jennifer Schwartz, 27, Andi Dyal, 28
Co-owners, Anje Soirees, Miami

Jennifer Schwartz & Andi Dyal
[Photo: Alain Martinez]
High school pals Jennifer Schwartz and Andi Dyal lost touch after graduation, then reconnected after college when both turned up to work on an event for their respective companies at the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables. They agreed that south Florida would benefit from a marriage of their talents; hence, Anje Soirees was born. "We can be involved as little or as much in the process as the client wants," Dyal says. "But we enjoy full production coordination so that we can ensure the client receives the best service from the vendors we recommend." Those vendors are all inclusive, from photographers, florists and invitation engravers to décor designers and entertainment, but all proposals are custom-tailored to the client's specifications.

Seasons Change: Anje averages two events per month, with more during season and fewer during the summer.

Book 'Em: "Our price is the same whether it's for a $50,000 wedding or a $500,000 wedding."

Shifting Gears: "We had a 100-person wedding at a private home and the valet company didn't show up. So we made valet tickets out of paper and the caterer, who had a staff member that once worked for a valet company, greeted the guests, gave them their tickets and had that member of the catering team park their cars in the designated area. The guests never knew it was going on and in fact praised the efficiency of the valet company."

Price Range: $2,500 to $15,000