June 2013

Wedding Section: Affairs to Remember

Author: Kitty Bartell | Photographer: Photography by Anne

The most perfect party is in progress. Music fills the air as spinning couples dance across a polished, wood floor under a spectacularly-lit, brilliant white tent, with peaks like meringue reaching into the starlit sky. Guests watch from linen-laden tables where elegant crystal and silver set the mood, and it seems as if this mirage appeared out of nowhere, and that the clear, warm, Lowcountry, sky stretching over Calibogue Sound, is just an ordinary accompaniment to something actually quite out of the ordinary.

However, the evening is not a mirage or grand illusion. It is the result of experienced professionals doing what they do best. And no one is doing it better than Mike Wilson and his team at Affairs to Remember by Coastal Event Rentals, a premier event and party rental company located on Hilton Head Island. Long-time veteran of the event rental business and local since 1999, Mike purchased Affairs to Remember just a few short months ago at the end of 2012.

“I’ve always thought this business had tremendous potential,” Mike said, “and I had a lot of support from people I’ve known for a lot of years, both in the industry and not in the industry.”

Business is booming already, and it can be attributed to both Mike’s local reputation for excellence and his understanding that people have a choice. “We want to be the best we can be. We don’t worry about what the competition is doing. We worry about doing what we do to the best of our ability,” he said.

The company’s strength lies in successfully executing the logistics of every event. You may have the best wedding planner in the business or the greatest friends putting your big day together, but if the tent doesn’t pop-up on schedule, the lights don’t light, or there aren’t enough dessert plates to serve your fluffy coconut wedding cake, your dream day won’t be quite right.

According to Mike, for each event, whether a wedding reception for 500, a birthday party for 20, or a corporate outing, Affairs to Remember has one opportunity to make a first impression and two subsequent opportunities to build a rock-solid relationship with the client. When the client first makes contact with the company, “they are going to get someone who is knowledgeable, who is going to get information out to you in a timely manner, and who is going to guide you through the process,” he said. The next two opportunities are during the planning process, and finally during the execution of their work. The fortunate outcome to consistently delivering at all three opportunities has been a steady flow of referral clients.

Whether the client is a referral or finds Affairs to Remember on their website, the next step is a face-to-face meeting or at a minimum a phone conversation. “There are so many moving parts to renting for an event, even for a party of 20, that you can’t do it justice by allowing the client to shop online, this is an emotion-driven decision that is more than a few mouse clicks. What you will find on Affairs to Remember’s elegant website is a listing of services, which should only be considered a jumping off point, along with information about the company, and inspiring photos of their work.

Mike chose two fantastic companies to collaborate with on the website, Photography by Anne and HHI Computer Guys. To leverage their work and capitalize on the power of social media Mike is working with Swell New Media to integrate the website with Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook. According to Mike, “We’re seeing brides every week armed with an iPad and Pinterest boards reflecting their vision of the perfect wedding. “If you have found the event of your dreams, come talk to us, because we can make it happen,” he said.

Flawless events begin by finding everything the client’s heart desires, which is second nature to Mike and his team. Knowing the right questions to ask helps determine what the client needs to achieve his or her goals, and collaborating with event planners, venues, and vendors, pulls all the components together. Whether utilizing their own inventory, finding an exact chandelier in New York, or sourcing the perfect china from a tabletop supplier in Florida, “We’re here to be a resource. It’s okay to be a little fussy and to want what you want. We’ve got more of a can-do attitude than a can’t-do attitude.”

Executing each event requires logistics expertise to deliver the right products, in the right quantities, on time, and in the right way. When the Affairs to Remember shiny blue truck arrives at an event, they are prepared to make magic—or at least attend to every detail necessary to meet and exceed the client’s expectations so that it seems like magic. “If you think your event is perfect, it means your vendors did a good job. We don’t let them see us sweat. When a challenge pops up, we handle it. We don’t want to create day-of-event stress and would prefer to reduce it.”

Already exceeding Mike’s expectations, business has been strong enough to grow the inventory at a faster rate than originally planned. However, slow growth will always be the long-term plan so that Affairs to Remember can continue to deliver on their commitment to excellence while increasing business, not only on the island, but in Bluffton, throughout Coastal Georgia, and into northern Florida. And speaking of growth, Wilson is thrilled to announce that Affairs to Remember has signed a three-year agreement with the Island’s premier car show, Concours d’Elegance, to act as the project manager for their events on Hutchinson Island and at Port Royal.

“We haven’t figured out a new secret to customer service other than doing what we say we’re going to do when we say we’re going to do it and how we say we’re going to do it. It seems to be a pretty good recipe.” It is not magic or an illusion. It’s Affairs to Remember.

Affairs to Remember by Coastal Event Rentals is located at 154 Beach City Road, Suite E, Hilton Head Island. For more information, visit online at www.coastaleventrentals.com or call (843) 342-9338.

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