Rogers & Gala Events ~ Charlotte, NC

Planning the wedding of your dreams can require teams of people, or sometimes... just one amazing event design studio like Rogers & Gala Creative Partners based in Charlotte, North Carolina. Their events combine an artistic flair with genteel southern hospitality and we have long admired their work. Read on to learn more about what makes Rogers & Gala the perfect wedding day companions.

Weddings Unveiled: How did you become an event designer?

Rogers & Gala: Twenty –five years ago there weren’t any wedding designers in Charlotte, I was the first and, my oh my, the stories I could tell. Then again, perhaps not, I do love Charlotte and would hate to have to leave. It began as a real story of blood, sweat and tears; unfortunately it was all my blood, sweat and tears. I spent nearly every waking moment of a full year planning my daughter Kim’s wedding. I became obsessed with the planning.

Without the help of a professional and with no experience it became my life. We had four hundred guests and the wedding and reception were stunning – or so everyone told me. That sounds wonderful, but truly I was a chicken with my head cut off and I have friends that will vouch for that behavior. I was telling everyone how to decorate, how to put on the linens, how to arrange the cake, how the flowers should look, where the band should set up – on and on and on. I barely got dressed and to the wedding.

At the reception I was trying to organize the dancing, cake cutting, garter and bouquet toss. When it was all over and everything had gone perfectly it hit me, my daughter just got married and I missed the whole day and the chance to share it with her. I can remember crying and thinking there had to be an easier way than this.

Once everything calmed down and I was straightening up I found my little black book full of wedding notes. It was a complete year's worth of notes, phone numbers and contacts all revolving around what had become the perfect wedding. I thought to myself that this little black book was pure gold and how many mothers of the bride would kill for all this information. Then, I smiled and decided to become a wedding and event designer.

WU: When and how did you begin Rogers & Gala Events?

R&G: I’d had the pleasure of working with Angela Gala when she was the event planner for the City Club in Charlotte. We hit it off professionally and became friends. Angela was blessed with her first child and left the City Club for the better job of Mom. About a year later I heard from her and she asked me if I was interested in selling my business – to which I said “no”. A while later, I heard from her again, she asked me if I was interested in a partner – Again, I said “no”. I was impressed with both her tenacity and strength and offered to mentor her if she really wanted to become a designer. She opened her own company and became an immediate success. About a year later it was my turn to call and ask if she wanted to be my partner. She slyly responded “I will have to think about it”. To my pleasure we finally got together and it has been the very best business decision that I have ever made. The difference in our ages and the strength of our friendship allow us to bring something different to the table for every event. Six years later - it still works. I wouldn’t want to be in this business if I couldn’t be in it with Angela.

WU: Tell us about how you work with engaged couples, whether as a team or individually.

R&G: We are a team and that is where we derive our creativity. Once we have meet with a client it becomes obvious who should take the lead. You can just tell with whom she/he is going to be most comfortable building a relationship. The reality is, we will be spending a great many hours together and it needs to be a good fit for both the client and for us. We all get together for what we call a Fact Finding Mission. We want to know all about the couple. We need to know their wants and likes; really we want to know their dreams. This includes what colors they like, how do they want the wedding to feel, how involved they want to be in the planning and what kind of budget are we working with. A great example of this was one client who had carried the picture of a cake from Martha Stewart Magazine around for five years. It was a bubble cake. We took the picture and created an entire wedding around bubbles. It was exactly what she wanted and different than anything she had ever seen.

My little black book from twenty-five years ago is now a complete book of our processes and we start from the first page. Once we detail the client’s dreams the event becomes one of intense task management. We take one task at a time, complete that and then move to the next. If you keep your client focused they will not stay awake all night and bounce off the walls – they will be focusing on the one thing we are working to accomplish.

WU: Describe your wedding style.

R&G: Our style… is your dreams. Angela and I certainly have our own personal preferences but that is not why you hire us. Our job is to use our contacts and experience to make sure your wedding is exceptional in all ways while accentuating the beautiful glow of each client’s personal style.

WU: What inspires you?

R&G: I am inspired by that one piece of magic. We usually find it in the client’s dreams. I want that magic to be an intrical part of the wedding. Sometime I find it right away and it blossoms like a flower as they describe their vision of the event and sometimes I find it latter in the process. It is that something that will set the clients wedding apart from all other weddings and we hone in on that magic and take it to its highest level.

WU: How do you keep your ideas fresh?

R&G: As I mentioned before Angela and I are a team and that is where we derive our creativity. We do not think alike but by working together we each add to the design. Angela from her marvelous understanding of both contemporary style and trends and my intuitive work from a more traditional angle is a special blend that makes for especially wonderful events. I think we have a gift for setting the bar above the expectations of the client. I cannot leave out the fact that Rogers & Gala has a brilliant design team compiled of everyone that works with us. We have design meetings every week. It is absolutely amazing what these different people can come up with.

WU: What was your favorite wedding and why?

R&G: Now, that question won’t get me in any trouble, will it? Over the last 25 years you can imagine how many weddings I have done. Each one and its own magic have made it the most wonderful wedding. It would be impossible for me to pick a favorite. I can tell you what makes me feel the best about a wedding. It’s the couple and their families. You almost have to be a family counselor to get through the wedding process with your client. You come to know them very well and some you even come to love. I enjoy the bride and groom that think the wedding ceremony is the most important part of the wedding because they are so in love and want their ceremony to mean something forever. Oh yeah, did I mention I love a calm family.

WU: What makes Rogers & Gala different from other wedding and event designers?

R&G: In the last few years this segment of the hospitality industry has exploded. For good or ill there are now a lot of “event planners”. It requires the client to investigate designers thoroughly before contracting. Angela and I feel strongly that we have many superb attributes to offer perspective clients and allow us to separate Rogers & Gala for other designers. Most importantly, we have a twenty-five year portfolio that began by following my philosophy that I can fulfill any dream. This has led us down some interesting paths, but we certainly have earned our “can do” reputation and this has always and continues to set us apart.

WU: What would be your ideal wedding assignment or dream wedding to design?

R&G: My dream event would be to design a wedding in a castle high on a hill overlooking mountains and acreage as far as the eye can see. I would like for the entire guest party to be able to stay in the castle, have the wedding in the castle chapel and the reception in the grand ballroom. Everyone would be in beautiful gowns and tuxedos. A huge band would play all night long never missing a beat. There would be long tables, covered in understated yet beautiful linen and the plethora of candles would send dancing shadows onto high ceilings. The flowers would be magical and the lighting perfect. The dream would be complete when my client said “Sikky, this is our venue and these are our ideas. Do what you know will make it amazing and we will see you on the day of the wedding...and of course money is not an issue.”

WU: Tell us three things you can't live without.

R&G: My bed, chocolate with nuts and ice cream with homemade hot fudge sauce. Family is a close runner-up.

WU: What is the best advice anyone has ever given you?

R&G: After twenty-five years there are a few absolutes I’ve learned along the way. First, be true to yourself and what you believe. Second, you can tell by the way your stomach feels whether you are right or wrong. Third, never go along with someone else because you are afraid to speak up. Finally, people will be more comfortable and have a greater belief in you if you mean what you say and not leave them questioning what you really believe.

WU: What is the best advice you can give to an engaged couple?

R&G: A wedding is extremely stressful. Don’t have too many people on your planning committee, it will only confuse you. The bride will be the most stressed as she tries to please everyone: her finance, her mother, her father, and the new in-laws to be. Give her a break and let her plan her own wedding. This should be the couples dream. Hire a wedding designer -- you won't regret it.

All images courtesy of Rogers & Gala.


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