Q+A: Wedding Planner Sam Simko Talks Trends and More

Getting ready to plan a wedding? We recently talked with wedding planner Sam Simko of Willa Weddings, who shared some invaluable tips with us for anyone planning their big day.

1. What wedding trends are you looking forward to seeing this upcoming wedding season? 

There are some very fun trends coming up in 2022 that I’m so excited to help bring to life for my couples! Emerging from COVID-19 times, smaller more intimate weddings have become a growing trend that I believe are here to stay. While making space for social distancing and other precautions, these intimate gatherings also allow for greater attention to detail and a personalized guest experience. 

One design trend that I’m most excited about is pearlcore! As the epitome of elegance, the pearl is front and center this year. From wedding gowns and accessories to cakes and desserts — there are endless options for incorporating this gem into your big day!

2. Do you have need-to-know advice for newly engaged couples?

First off, congratulations! The very first thing on your to-do list is to relax and enjoy being engaged to your fiance for a few weeks! Once you come down from cloud nine, you have three must-do items. First, determine a budget — discuss this with your fiancé and families to nail down a number that everyone agrees on. Next, choose a preferred wedding date, season, or month. A preferred season provides you with the most flexibility during your venue search. Finally, tour and book your wedding venue! Take into consideration your estimated guest count and budget when deciding on which venue best fits your wedding vision and needs. 

Here’s a quick bonus — at any point during wedding planning you can hire a wedding planner! We can be booked before you’ve chosen your venue to help you with your decision, or after to help bring your wedding vision to life!

3. Why should couples hire a wedding planner? And what advice do you have for finding the right one? 

There’s no doubt about it — planning a wedding can be a full-time job. Design, logistics, vendor coordination, and budgeting are just a few things that need to be managed during the planning process — not to mention day-of coordination. If you are a busy bee, adding planning your dream wedding to your to-do list may not be in the cards. A planner will lead, or support, wedding planning so you can enjoy the fun parts (did someone say cake tasting!?) and leave the planning to your pro!

There are a few things to consider when choosing your wedding planner. Foremost, be sure your personalities complement each other — you will be spending a lot of time with your planner! Next, make sure you love their design style, as they will be bringing your wedding vision to life. Consider reading testimonials from past clients and reviewing their portfolio of work. During your consultation, ask about their full scope of services offered to ensure they will provide the exact level of support you need!

4. Where would you suggest couples save and splurge for their wedding? 

This is something I’m quite passionate about when it comes to working with my couples to build their budget! The short answer is this — splurge and save on what’s most important to you and your fiancé! Think about your dream wedding — what does it look like? What is most important to you? Now choose your top three spending categories you’d like to invest in based on your vision. For example, a lot of my couples will choose food, music and photography. As far as saving goes, think of things that are not as important to you. Here, some of my couples will choose to forgo things like extravagant favors or a large elaborate cake for alternative options.

5. What are some tips for couples the week before their wedding?

The week before the wedding can be a busy one — so I’m here with some quick tips for a carefree wedding week.

Create a day-by-day schedule for your wedding week — before wedding week. Include items like beauty appointments, packing, and check-ins with your wedding planner.

Create a wedding day packing list with items like your marriage license, family heirlooms, vow books, wedding bands and shoes. Pack these items in an easily accessible spot for wedding day.

Distribute a custom itinerary to your bridal party for rehearsal and wedding day. Make sure they have your wedding planner’s phone number for questions! 

Neatly pack all of your decor, and clearly label it for your wedding planner for set up.

Make sure to have a plan for teardown on the wedding day, if necessary have a family member or friend assigned to oversee the process. Provide them with a clear list of responsibilities.

6. Willa Wedding and Event’s top venue picks:

Northern Virginia has so much to offer in wedding venues — luxury barns, vineyards with rolling hills, historic manors, and lush gardens. To say it was a challenge to choose my top venue picks is an understatement!  My top choices for Northern Virginia wedding venues are:

Barn: The Barn at Willow Brook

Winery: Stone Tower Winery

Manor: Great Marsh Estate 

Garden: Oatlands Historic House and Gardens


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