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Never a dull moment in the world of weddings

CARMEL VALLEY — Wedding planner Liz Beck has seen it all.
Several months ago she was planning a wedding when she got a call from one of the mothers. The bride and groom had just been in a near fatal accident. The bride, a marathoner and Half Iron (wo)man competitor, fractured both sides of her pelvis. The groom, a Navy SEAL, broke his leg and fractured his face. Despite their injuries, the couple had no intention of changing the wedding date.
“I wanted to believe that everything would be fine but we were talking major surgery and an extensive recovery time,” Beck recalls. “I knew they were strong but there is a limit to everything. Then I learned the term ‘unbreakable.’ Unbreakable spirit. Unbreakable support. Unbreakable love.”
Beck said that the ceremony, two weeks ago, was the most touching of her career.
“Following the pronouncement of marriage, he proceeded to pick up his bride (in her red heels) and carry her back down the aisle,” Beck said. “She put it best as she thanked guests for coming and said that she would have not chosen to have her wedding any other way.”
While most weddings aren’t as dramatic, Beck says there are still a lot of logistics to tend to from coordinating caterers to photographers. The important thing is making sure everything flows.
“You’re not a planner until you know it,” she said. “This is exactly who I am. I’ve always been that person who wants to make sure everyone around me is comfortable. I watched my sister get married and thought, ‘You’ve got to be kidding. There must be a better way to do this.’”
Beck studied art in Florida before moving to San Diego in 2000. Her first job was at August Bridal.
“Then I did corporate events for a company and started realizing that people do this for a living,” she said. “I went back to the wedding stuff and started looking for a way to get paid to learn.”
Beck took a job as director of catering sales for the Carmel Mountain Rancho Country Club to learn the business from another perspective.
Concurrently, she started I Du Wedding Design.
“Then I got married myself,” she said. “I said to my boyfriend, ‘I will marry you if I can have your name.’ Liz Beck sounded better than Elizabeth Samsel.
“I changed my name and almost started over,” she added.
Beck shared office space with her husband. She also became active in the Association of Bridal Consultants-San Diego, and eventually sat on the board.
As she did when she got a job in catering, Beck
volunteered to help vendors, from florists to photographers, so she could learn the entire wedding planning business.
“When most people come to me they have no idea what a wedding planner is,” she said. “It is someone to advise you and have your back — that’s exactly what it is.”
In 2008 Beck grew her business from wedding design to offering a full-service package, which can include staging an eco-friendly, organic, sustainable event without compromising style.
Beck explains that 50 percent of her job is making sure clients are happy, and 50 percent is making sure photographers are happy.
Photographer Sara France has worked on weddings with Beck for more than five years.
“A lot of planners rely on people who are creative, but Liz is creative herself,” France said. “She did a really big wedding at the Hard Rock Hotel and the execution of it was just incredible.”
France explained that Beck came up with the idea of arranging all of the tall tables on the outside perimeter, and the short tables on the inside, so that everyone had an unobstructed view of the dance floor.
“Then Liz took the centerpieces from the ceremony and restyled them for the tables at the reception,” she said. “They looked like lamps, with the base filled with water and a flower.”
France says it’s a fallacy to think that the cost of a planner is going to translate into a more expensive wedding.
“Planners pay for themselves easily by helping people save money,” she said.
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