If you’ve been to Stonehurst Manor, you’ve definitely met the General Manager, Heidi Shellmer. She’s hard to miss as she darts around making sure everyone is taken care of and ensuring the place is running along as smooth as can be. What you may not have known is her passion and extraordinary talent for planning the perfect wedding. Peter Rattay, the Proprietor of the Manor and Heidi have been teaming up for years bringing hundreds of couples their most memorable days of their lives.
To uncover the inner workings of this force-of-nature, we sat down with Heidi for an interview.
1. Tell us the story of how you became part of the Stonehurst family.
Peter was looking for a dining room manager. I had just left a job and I told him I would come over for a year and here I am 20 years later!
2. How did you learn the art of planning a wedding?
I worked closely with Peter and he mentored me for a while. I had never planned a wedding before, but once I started, I fell in love. I dove into wedding planning books and just kept reading! Eventually, my own style of interacting with brides, organizing vendors, and scheduling all the details came together.
Every time I do a wedding, I learn something new. Things change and they are much different. Nowadays brides are not as traditional as they were 20 years ago. Instead of the formal church weddings, now they are more unique and personal. This can create some challenges, but mostly it just makes it more fun for me to help bring their dream to life.
3. What are some unique themed weddings you’ve planned?
Just recently one of our weddings was featured on Huffington post! It was a World of Warcraft themed wedding. That was a lot of fun.
We’ve had all kinds. One had a Steampunk theme, another featured a fire truck from the North Conway Fire Department, another had a remote control car deliver the rings. Really the boundaries are few when you get creative with me!
4. How do you interact with the couple?
I really try to fully understand the couple by listening closely to their ideas. We really have a lot of fun brainstorming back and forth about their memories, what they cherish, and what they really envision their perfect day to be like.
The secret to making a wedding a truly warm and memorable event is to get to know a good majority of the people – not only the bride and groom. By really becoming friends with everyone, it helps the comfort level at the event and really brings the positive energy up all around. At the end of the planning process, and the big day itself, there’s a real connection and closeness that exists between me and the couple.
It’s really important to be open to anything when a bride and groom walks in. Just last week she had a groom that had stage 4 pancreatic cancer, and before that a bride who was only 29 who had to postpone her wedding because she had breast cancer. As their wedding planner, you have to be who they need, at that time in their life. It’s a responsibility I don’t take lightly.
5. Why do you enjoy being a wedding planner?
It’s a happy time, I love seeing the couple leave and say it was exactly what they dreamed of.
6. What are 3 tips that you would share with any bride about planning their wedding?
Tip 1: Remember what you are doing – you are getting married to someone that you love – focus on that. The most important thing: don’t sweat the little things, or let the details get to the point where it ruins the process. The planning process should be just as much fun as the day itself. It all works out in the end. It shouldn’t be a big process, you should enjoy it. It’s like going on vacation, the planning is just as much fun as the vacation. This is how your wedding should be. You anticipate the vacation… it’s a happy process.
Tip 2: Know who you are hiring. Feel free to ask us for recommendations. Make sure they are reliable and have a great reputation. Adaptable, and free flowing.
Tip 3: Don’t over schedule yourself. Do things earlier and set a due date for each task – prioritize the most important things first, and the ones you can live without, closer to the wedding date. Getting the bridesmaids involved and throw a party to knock out critical things like making favors and name holders. Cut it off the day before and just relax with your guests. Enjoy your day. It goes by too quick.
7. What should a bride do before they come to visit the Stonehurst Manor to make the process as easy and smooth as possible?
Nothing. Just come with a dream and we can make it happen. We handle everything from the ceremony to the food. We really just need dates and the number of people, then we take them by the hand and away we go!
We strive for excellence so the bride has zero-worries on her big day. We go through everything several times, so when they arrive there is nothing to handle. It’s been done. No gray area, we know exactly what she wants and then we execute on that.
8. Can you tell us a little about your wedding? What was it like?
We had a traditional wedding in a church. Ironically, we had the reception at Stonehurst Manor before I even worked there. At that point I had no idea that was where I would work. It was simple and beautiful. We had a cocktail hour, had dinner, and danced until midnight and that was it.
I am very happy to be married to an amazing guy.
Funny enough, I used to babysit a Rottweiler and she came to our wedding. After we got married, we bought a house and a Rottweiler.
9. Is there anything you would like to say to all the brides you have worked with over the years, and the future brides you have yet to work with?
How much fun I’ve had and I’ve really enjoyed it. The best part of the job is getting to work with the brides. Of all the things I do at the Manor, getting to know the brides is my absolute favorite. There are a lot of them that just become friends. We hang out and go out to lunch. We keep in touch with most of our brides. Every bride that gets married here literally becomes part of the family.
We love getting updates from our past couples and brides to hear about where they are now. Please never hesitate to pick up the phone and let us know how you are doing. Or feel free to drop me an email: Heidi Shellmer.