Diann Valentine


Courtesy of Jeremy P Freeman

Celebrity event producer and designer, Diann Valentine, has created spectacular weddings for the likes of Usher, Toni Braxton and Kelis and Nas. And now through her hosting duties on TNT's "Wedding Day" and her first book, "Weddings, Valentine Style," Valentine is sharing her keen eye and stunning creations with the rest of us. She was also gracious enough to take time out of her busy schedule to chat with me about trends, budgeting, centerpieces and the advice she gives all her brides. —Victoria Loustalot

Are there any new wedding trends you're especially excited about right now?

Yes! With the economy being what it is, brides are thinking more about how they can make their weddings personal. In other words, they're having smaller weddings and inviting fewer guests. As a designer, that's music to my ears, because...

There's more!

it means I don't have to spend three-quarters of my budget feeding 250 people. There's more money and time for design, style and personal touches.

What's one thing a couple should never skimp on, no matter how small their wedding budget?

Photography! Always photography. Regardless of how big or small your is wedding, the fact remains that it was important enough to you to have one. Your wedding photos will become family heirlooms, and they're something you can share with your children. If you try to save money by hiring a cheap photographer, you may get poor-quality results, and lose out on generations of priceless memories.

What's your number one money-saving tip for couples on a tight budget?

Favors! They're the biggest waste of money. Just cut them out. It's not worth it. Nobody wants to take home something with you and your man's name on it.

Do you have any fun ideas for unusual centerpieces?

If you're having your reception at a venue with very high ceilings, think about supersizing your centerpieces. This doesn't mean more flowers; it means more height. To create an intimate space, opt to go either really tall or really low. I love incorporating architectural elements. In the past, I've used Italian mosaic tiles, crushed glass and Japanese river rocks. I really believe the days of flowers on a table are dead.

What are some things to keep in mind when scoping out possible wedding and reception venues?

You want to choose a space that is a reflection of the design you have in mind. If you want your reception to have a modern lounge-like feel, don't book your family's country club, which probably has an older, more traditional vibe. Another big mistake that brides make is color. They fall in love with a ballroom that has thick, green carpet and then decide they want an all-yellow color scheme. Don't fight the room. Pick a room that fits your esthetic.

BONUS: What is the one piece of advice you give all your brides when they're feeling overwhelmed?

I tell all my brides to never second guess themselves. Whatever decision you made was the best decision you could make at that time. Go with your gut.

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