Alaska a unique challenge for wedding planner

Sibyl Beucler is a kind of a fairy godmother for Alaska brides, charming them out of jeans and boots and into satin and pearls for a once-in-a-lifetime day.

She hung out her shingle as a certified wedding planner four years ago, joining a small number of professional planners in Alaska.

Q. What kind of wedding planner training have you had?

A. We have the official bridal consultant training manual through the Association of Bridal Consultants. You can go online and pull up almost any association to find training. The training gives you a little more insight than what you'd normally think of as a wedding planner, such as learning more about etiquette, the difference in religious ceremonies, protocol.

Q. Why do people need a wedding planner?

A. Even when you think you have it all covered, there's something else left to do.

You need someone diplomatic, who will take responsibility to make sure that you enjoy your day, your way.

One of the things a coordinator should be good at is taking the fairy-tale bride and putting together the wedding. Then something happens toward the end (of the planning) and the cost needs to be cut drastically. The planner still should be able to pull it off without anyone noticing.

Q. What's the biggest wedding you've coordinated?

A. Mine. I coordinated my entire wedding with help from friends and family. My husband and I had people coming from the East Coast ... we had three motor homes full of people staying in my home, as well as staying in the guest suite and in the house. Half of the Mat-Su Resort was rented and the reception was at Lake Lucille. The ceremony was at Sacred Heart.

Q. Have you experienced any bridezillas or any other funny moment?

A. At one wedding, the bride decided she didn't want white but beige and someone decided to spray paint the bouquet tan. I redesigned the bouquet from scratch.

Weddings at the Matanuska glacier are great, but at one wedding I sank into the silt up to my knees while escorting the couple. I did have an extra pair of shoes, and at least the bride didn't sink.

Q. What's the most beautiful wedding you've participated in?

A. One of my most fun weddings was my bride from Nome. It was raining that day but it was outside; we did all the lavish coral petals and lilies under a canopy. We had her fly in with her father, who was a pilot. It was pouring down rain. I was a soaked rat. I had to take my shoes off and go barefoot but it was beautiful. It was so Alaska.

Q. What's the most disastrous? Exotic?

A. I don't have disastrous weddings - that's why you hire a wedding planner.

I haven't done a wedding in Bora Bora but I do know where to do it - some day. My husband and I try and find someplace different each year and I look for different facilities to have a potential wedding or to recommend as a honeymoon. More people come to Alaska for weddings than leave.

Q. What's the most common misconception people have about planning a wedding?

A. Thinking that it's easy and anyone can do it. Anyone can, but you may not get the result you hoped for. Expect the unexpected. If you have someone in place to handle that situation, so much the better.

Q. What's the average cost for an Alaska wedding for an Alaskan?

A. You can do a wonderful wedding on, say, $5,000 to $10,000. More elaborate weddings like the ones on my Web site are $20,000 to $30,000.

Q. On what do people tend to overspend?

A. People tend to overspend on alcohol. It's a very pricey part and one of the ways you can work around this is to do a cash bar, which is totally acceptable, or to have a signature punch which you create yourself. Or simply offer beer and wine or a champagne toast.

You can also overspend on your menu - you don't need three or four different appetizers.

Q. What's worth spending money on?

A. If you're limited, spend it on your photographer and your videographer - that's your No. 1 priority.

Your photographs are what you'll have as a memory. You may not remember exactly how the cake tasted, but you have a photo of what it looked like. If you can work a videographer into your budget, you'll have one or two cameras there to capture things happening simultaneously in various places. These days, it's a live production.

Q. What's in the red bag?

A. This bag goes to every wedding with me and I replenish it each time. It has everything from tissues, Windex, threads, needles, StitchWitch, static cling, WD-40, lip gloss, panty hose, a single stocking, matches, lighter, a first aid kit, just about anything you can think of. It's the little things you don't want to worry about - but we've got it covered.