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Planner Profile // Elle Ellinghaus Wedding Planning & Design

FILED IN: Planner Profile, Small Business Spotlight

Posted By: Jamie Kutchman, Founder


Elle-Ellinghaus-Wedding-Planning- and-Design Image Credit: CJK Visuals Photography

The planner behind this week's 'Planner Profile' feature is just as sophisticated, timeless, and classic as the weddings she plans. Not only is she a joy to work with and fiercely devoted to her clients, but her dramatically-transformed event spaces are talked about (and raved about!) long after the wedding is over. A huge fan of florals and all the thoughtful details that make a wedding special, I'm excited to introduce you to Baltimore-based Elle Ellinghaus of Elle Ellinghaus Wedding Planning & Design Studio!

Elle-Ellinghaus-Wedding-Planning-and-Design Image Credit: CJK Visuals Photography

Please tell us a little about yourself and how you ended up as a wedding planner?

Hi, I am Elle Ellinghaus, founder and the heart behind Elle Ellinghaus Design Wedding Planning & Design studio! I have a love-hate relationship with the color pink, our porch swing is my favorite thing in the whole wide world, I am a Southern Belle at heart and you can spot me in a crowd as the girl always dressed in a palette of neutrals. I am an animal activist, my best friend’s wife and believe if you follow your dreams, they will follow you back.

 I have always had a passion for art & design, but I did not grow up wanting to be a wedding planner. In fact, it was quite the opposite. My love of creating beautiful spaces has always been with me since I can remember, but if we went back a decade ago, my focus was interior design only. Brace yourself, I am about to tell you that this wedding planner used to think love was a silly myth, used to think being a bride was over dramatic, and never (ever) wanted to get married. Well, that was until two things happened that changed my path.  

The first of the two was when a design client asked me to design her daughter’s wedding-I declined. After a little bit of time, she finally convinced me to give it a try and my love for design gave in. It was my first wedding and it was lovely, which lead to referrals for their friends’ weddings and, to be honest, an unhappy Elle; I wanted to be an interior designer, after all, and the next HGTV star (always dream big!). Well, this was until the second thing in my life happened; I met my husband.

 Now I ask you, what are the odds of that girl who thinks “love at first sight” is ridiculous and unreal, actually experiencing it for herself? Apparently, pretty good! It was a fall day of 2006 that I will never forget. I was oblivious as to how my life was about to change when I walked in and saw him standing there, his green eyes staring at mine and both of us unable to move or hear anything other than the beat of our own hearts. When he nervously walked over and introduced himself, you could feel the spark half way around the world (how unbelievably corny, I know, but true). We fell in love instantly and very soon after he asked me to marry him, which led to living happily ever after. However, that same day I fell in love with him, something clicked. I finally understood walking down the aisle, lifting the veil, the expensive dress, the first kiss as man and wife, the perfect bouquets, the first dance, and the importance of all the events of a wedding. I fell head over heels with “love” and I only wanted to be surrounded by it. I also noticed a lack in the wedding planning industry in terms of design, so I wanted to combine the art of wedding planning with my design aesthetic. I worked my tush off to gain as much experience in wedding planning as possible and transitioned to Elle Ellinghaus Design: Wedding Planning and Design Studio. I wouldn’t say I left interior design, but instead I bring my design aesthetic to events rather than rooms along with all three of our wedding planners. As we say here at EED, we are, “where I do’s and design make sweet little love.”  

Elle-Ellinghaus-Wedding-Planning-and-Design Image Credit: Natalie Franke Photography

What sets you apart from other planners in the industry?

At EED, our experience is one of the things that I believe sets us apart. When I first started wedding planning, the availability of books or classes that gave you *true* knowledge and insight into the real wedding planning industry were few and far between. Everything our company was built on was from nothing but countless hours of hard work, sweat, and digging as deep as possible in the field to gain as much experience in any and every situation I could get my hands on. Our three wedding planners at EED have over 20+ years of combined experience in events of all kind and I believe it shows. All our documents for our couples are intricately written by us from all of our hands-on dedication & experience, and not from a book or copied from a website. I try to inspire and share my knowledge with one on one workshops, speaking at events and I am also a featured author in the Wedding Planning major’s textbook coming to colleges in the upcoming year.

We also provide a client experience like no other (I hope!) and that is all I want to say about that in fear of giving away our secrets! {insert devil-ish, yet super girly, smile here} However, I will say EED is very” anti-wedding factory.” We do not have couples popping at the seams, more than one wedding per weekend or even weddings every weekend per planner. In fact, each EED planner takes a limited number of weddings at a time to ensure all of our couples & clients stay in our full focus. I never wanted to be a “wedding factory,” and prefer to not have to look in a file to remember a groom’s name or color palette. Our brides can call us and we know every detail of their wedding by heart. Depending on the package, of course, we are involved as we can be every step of the way.

Please describe your ideal client.

We love working with clients of all kinds! I love when I have a client who has no idea what they want and I have to design something perfect for them, but I also love when a client knows exactly what she wants and I get to bring it to life and take it to the next level. We offer packages from “Day of” with Chelsea, to full-fledged design complete with sketches with myself or Jillian. An ideal EED couple wants a wedding that is talked about for years to come, not afraid when we say, “trust me on this…,” and loves to laugh as much as we do!

Please describe your signature style.

EED loves to work with clients & couples of all styles from modern to vintage, from feminine to neutral. However, I would say that our signature style would be a Southern feminine feel. When I think of Southern, I think of light and airy, a lovely flow, and a romance unlike any other which is EED in a nutshell! Timeless, sophisticated and classic are three words I use more times than I can count.

Elle-Ellinghaus-Wedding-Planning-and-Design Image Credit: Treehouse Photography

What’s your favorite way to enhance the guest experience?

A wedding with the normal first dance, three courses, cake cutting and dancing is great, but I really love when I have a couple who wants to take it up a notch! Everyone wants their wedding to be “wedding of the year,” and I believe there are many ways to do that (besides the décor, of course, which is also super important if you ask me!). Last year we took over the entire floor of the Four Seasons Baltimore and turned each room into something different. We had a “champagne room” complete with bubbles hanging from the ceiling where guests made their own champagne concoctions. There was a speakeasy, complete with secret word for entry. We had a bar set up with bar stools on either side for guests to feel like they were in a club. I never like to give guests a reason to exit the main wedding reception, but if we have added hours, a large guest count and a couple who wants their guests to have more fun than ever, I am all for making the wedding more of an event!

What’s the best advice you have for brides and grooms to be?

If you are going to splurge on one thing, splurge on your memories. Photography is how you remember your day and what will keep your memories alive. The happiness you feel with having the extra-large centerpieces or an extra big venue …will be nothing compared to the day your photos arrive in your inbox. If you are unhappy with the photos because you wanted to spend the budget elsewhere, you will regret it more than you can imagine, trust me on this. Get one less late night snack, 5 less peonies in all of your centerpieces, and one less piece band to get the best photographer for your budget. Also, get the videographer; you will not understand why you need one so badly until the next morning when you wake up and the wedding day is over.

Best part of being a planner?

I have the pleasure of meeting amazing couples, seeing love every day, and getting to bring to life what is in my client’s imagination. I honestly never work a day in my life because I love being a wedding planner so much! I may be the only person in the world who does not frown on Sunday evenings.

Elle-Ellinghaus-Wedding-Planning-and-Design Image credit: Mirelle Carmichael Photography

Most challenging part of being a planner?

When a couple hires an EED planner, it is for our expertise, so I would say the most challenging aspect is when once in a blue moon they do not take our advice. When the problem occurs that we warned them about from not taking our recommendation, this can be challenging. They feel bad asking for help and we then have a lot of extra work on our end to do our best to make it right last minute.

Biggest wedding disaster and how you overcame it?

The year of 2015 held a disaster that left Baltimore hearts aching. In May, my amazing bride & groom getting married in the heart of the city watched with the rest of the country as Baltimore was taken over by riots the week of their wedding. The National Guard lined the streets, Baltimore city was practically shut down, and everyone was afraid to get within a mile of the city line. In about 48 hours I had switched venues, rewrote all the timelines, reconfigured the layouts for the new spaces, edited all the rentals, transferred guest accommodations and made a plan B that was just as gorgeous as plan A. I am so blessed to have amazing families that say, “We trust you, Elle!” with literally their investments and their wedding dreams in my hands. I would never and could never let them down. The world could be taken over by aliens and I would still not stop until it was perfect for them; I would ask the mother-ship what safe spaces it had for the wedding available!

Fave spot for a destination wedding?

I love planning destination weddings in the Caribbean, these are my favorite. The candlelight on the beach, sheers blowing in the breeze, the light and airy gowns, strings playing over the crash of the waves, the palm trees dancing over the clear tent…there is nothing like the ambiance of a beach wedding. However, a small warning to those considering this: Please pick the correct time of year. Rainy season where your wedding ends up in the resort’s ballroom is not what you have in mind, I am sure!

Fave ‘something blue’?

As long as it is not my bride who is blue, I love all the items I see my girls wear or have the day of!

Fave floral?

Love. Flowers. I do! All over tables in layers, hanging over dance floors, a focal point on bars, to drape around myself and wear on a Sunday…(kidding on the last one). I have heard some wedding planners say you do not need flowers and, personally, I think that is absolute crazy-pants talk. Candles are beautiful, yes, and they create an ambiance of romance and make any space feel more intimate, but they cannot begin to compete with what flowers can do. I do not want to say flowers make the wedding…but flowers really can make a wedding! They do not have to be overflowing or in a quantity of thousands, but even the simplest centerpiece makes an impact on softening a space. A perfectly thought out floral design can accentuate your styles, show off your personalities and enhance the overall ambiance of the wedding (times 10). Keep the candles as a finishing touch and definitely have as many as possible without burning down the venue, but put them around the floral, not completely in place of. A wedding without flowers is like a celebrity without makeup…it is still a famous person, sure, but not as pretty to look at.

Fave Insta feed these days?

@SHAYCOCHRANE I totally have a woman crush on her!

Elle-Ellinghaus-Wedding-Planning-and-Design Image Credit: CJK Visuals Photography

Thank you Elle for sharing yourself with us today! Much appreciated. xo


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