Wedding planners, by definition, are more than just "planners." They're designers, coordinators, problem-solvers, budget calculators, de facto therapists, and, in many cases, friends to the couples and families who entrust them to execute such significant events.
And, while these pros truly amaze us every time we see a photo of their work or catch up via Zoom, we can't help but acknowledge that 2020 has been a year like no other, particularly in the world of wedding planning. In the past nine months, the 105 top planners on this list not only designed spectacular celebrations—they planned, replanned, downsized, postponed, and planned again, event after event. They made "pivot!" a verb, and in countless cases, put the health and happiness of their clients and colleagues above their own need for a paycheck.
Through ongoing weeks of new rules, regulations, and general uncertainty surrounding COVID-19, these selfless industry leaders took on even more responsibility, becoming seasoned negotiators, legal experts, social distancing pros, and general pandemic-problem-solving superstars. And they did so with positivity and without hesitation.
"We had to be the glue that kept things together as many unforeseen changes occurred, even if we didn't know how to," admits Ashley Smith of Ashley Smith Events. "We became a support system for both sides; our couples and all of our vendors that we work with or know and love."
With that in mind, we created our 2020 master list of the top full-service wedding planners in America who, yes, kept the many, many moving pieces together—and, despite the unprecedented circumstances, continued to inspire us not only with their talent but with their perseverance, devotion, and commitment to celebrating love in whatever form possible. We can't wait to see what they do in the year to come, but for now, we thank and honor them for doing what they do the very best.
Francie Dorman and Britt Cole are the duo behind 42 North Weddings, a full service-planning company based in Ipswich, Massachusetts, that focuses on creating custom party environments primarily at family homes across the Northeast. "For us, the biggest reward comes in creating a completely unique venue space, built from the ground-up, at a client's personal home," they say. "This is our specialty; whether it's an expansive property in the wild woods of New Hampshire or a vacation home on the coast." (See two such events here and here.)
In 2019, Dorman and Cole, now with 10 years of wedding experience, launched their sister company, Mavinhouse Events, with the goal of planning sophisticated, more urban celebrations and mentoring junior planners working in Boston, and New York City, and Newport, Rhode Island.
"Through 42 North, we've harnessed an intuition and understanding of what clients really need from their planning partner which was the catalyst behind building Mavinhouse Events," they say. "And, because our philosophy reflects an intersection of interiors, fashion, food, and hospitality, we are able to create an experience for clients they never expected they would want, but can't imagine going without."
We Work in Weddings Because: "Our shared appreciation for every facet of event production—logistics, finances, design, all of it—is underscored by our admiration for the key players who make a client's vision come to fruition. Building these creative teams of talented professionals feels really meaningful."
One Project We're Most Proud Of: "We are always proud of seeing a logistically complex project come to life. Every event has its own set of unique challenges—maybe it's how to incorporate live acrobats in a museum space or shuttling guests to a remote island in Canada for a full weekend experience—but we find purpose in those types of client wishes. It pushes us to be intentional about our decisions and explore new ways of doing things, rather than adhering to a playbook."
What We Learned About Weddings in 2020: "Producing private estate celebrations has taught us to always design a 'Plan B' and 'Plan C' just as beautiful and logistically sound as 'Plan A.' But COVID-19 wasn't in our purview and having survived the most challenging year of our professional and personal lives, we have grown to be a more agile team."
Another dynamic duo, Lisa Costin and Somer Khouri, lead the team at A Charming Fête from their home in Cleveland, Ohio. Together, they plan, design, and produce "stunning, inspired, luxury weddings and events."
Whether they are transforming a ballroom into a glamorous celebration fit for an NFL player or creating a Parisian-chic soirée at an Ohio country club, Costin and Khouri follow the same approach: They work collaboratively with their clients to create memorable, tailored, full-scale design experiences. "We pride ourselves in our highly personalized design approach, creative ideas, impeccable attention to detail, and dedication to exceeding clients' expectations," they add.
We Work in Weddings Because: "We work in weddings because we are incredibly passionate about making dreams come true. We love to see the vision come to life and witness our clients' overwhelming joy on their wedding day!"
One Project We're Most Proud Of: "One event that we're most proud of in 2020 is an intimate, lakefront wedding that we re-planned in less than two months in order to meet state regulations and allow the couple to marry."
What We Learned About Weddings in 2020: "We learned a lot! We were forced to quickly and efficiently adapt to ever-changing circumstances and state mandates as well as keeping our clients calm and sane during the process."
"I'm so proud of the work we have done as a company—not only for our clients but for our vendor teams as well," she says. "We serve anywhere from six to ten clients annually with an emphasis on multi-day, destination weddings. The personalization of our client's day, paired with our intense focus on production and sound execution is what drives us forward."
Fritz and her team are based in Traverse City, Michigan, but work closely with clients no matter their location. "Our goal is to leave our clients enjoying the planning process just as much as they (hopefully will!) enjoy the wedding and truly allowing them to be guests at their own celebration," she says. "We want our clients to be so present and in-the-moment when it comes to their special day."
I Work in Weddings Because: "Being a part of the moment that a couple becomes a family is the most magical moment of all."
One Project I'm Most Proud Of: "A very special wedding in September of this year in Montana. We had the most incredible bride and groom who rolled with every single punch that COVID-19 had to throw at them (and more!), and while we started in a completely different place than we ended, they said the outcome was better than they ever could have imagined."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "No matter what, love always finds a way!"
"We started in hospitality in 1999, fell into events shortly thereafter, and officially launched our own company in 2008," says Alison Laesser-Keck and Bryan Keck of Alison Bryan Destinations. Based in Santa Barbara, California, the husband-and-wife team focuses on what they call "weddings for travelers," ultimately producing five-star destination celebrations that "feel like a true getaway and vacation."
Because of this approach, 99 percent of their work is done virtually—pandemic or not! "We have connections globally, making a chic and elevated guest experience completely within reach, no matter where it is you wish to go," they explain. "If you have a vision of hopping a plane to somewhere magical for the celebration of a lifetime (and having everyone you love to meet you there!), we can do that for you."
We Work in Weddings Because: "We love the art of hospitality, absolutely love taking care of people—and seeing our clients and their guests experience the world together is honestly the best."
One Project We're Most Proud Of: "The ones where our clients have taken a leap of faith and trusted our recommendations for a venue or destination that was never even on their radar, and it ends up being more amazing and more 'them' than they ever thought possible."
What We Learned About Weddings in 2020: "We've learned how adaptable we are, and how having a trusted partnership with our clients and vendors (along with a dash of humor) is absolutely everything. We've always known how special and rare it is to have everyone you love in one place, and how great it is to hop on a plane and experience the world—neither of which we will take for granted ever again."
"Producing events isn’t just about making things pretty," explains founder Alison Hotchkiss. "At Alison Events, we know that it’s about handling all the details, from catering, logistics, and budgeting, to the challenges of merging two families, that make up the whole."
Based in Sausalito, California, Hotchkiss and her team take on a limited number of weddings each year in an effort to give clients their 100-percent attention and focus on "the things that matter." "We are a team of passionate, design-savvy, unique individuals," Hotchkiss says. "We work and play well together and love what we do—that's evident in every single event we produce."
We Work in Weddings Because: "We enjoy getting to know our clients and working with them, not just on the one milestone but all the other amazing adventures in their lives."
One Project We're Most Proud Of: "A wedding on Naoshima Island in Japan—it was so much fun. Not just the planes, trains, ferries, and bus rides it took to get there but the love in the group. We have produced many events in Japan at this point and feel it's becoming our specialty. Having spent time in Japan in my youth, it is also a meaningful place for me personally."
What We Learned About Weddings in 2020: "You have to always be flexible and be ready for Plan A, B, C...maybe even D. And, at the end of the day, the most important thing is your friends, your family, and your safety."
Based in San Diego but working globally, Heather Balliet says Amorology's events are recognized for having that “something special." She credits this accolade to their "immersive and intentional approach."
"We create events with meaningful moments that are not only seen but felt, where elevated timeless romance is woven with a touch of playful and the unexpected," she explains, adding that her team is "all about" infusing color. Ultimately, they strive to create emotive designs that "capture our couples through both beauty and innovative storytelling."
We Work in Weddings Because: "We love love! We adore celebrating meaningful moments in people's lives and bringing families together, not to mention it fulfills our passion for creative storytelling and our love for color as well."
One Project We're Most Proud Of: "While we have loved being able to travel all over the world creating some of the most magical moments, it is hard for us to call out one certain event as each of our events feels like they are a little part of us. We are really proud of our team, which feels more like family, and the ability to work in tight time frames while still creating events that we continue to be proud of."
What We Learned About Weddings in 2020: "We are far more capable and resilient than we thought we were. We were able to face hard situations head-on and find the beauty in the little moments. We have been reminded that the importance of gathering, regardless of size, is to celebrate all of the meaningful moments that still hold a very important place in our society."
"We believe that all you have is your name and as such, we must use it wisely," says Amy Zaroff of Amy Zaroff Events + Design, a company she founded in 2004.
The Minneapolis-based planner clearly understands the value of reputation, and, for this reason, "seeks to be the best in all that we do." This translates directly to her company vision, as Zaroff says she and her team strive to connect with their clients and creative partners on a deeper level, not only as a revenue source. "Our relationships go far beyond the business transaction," she explains. "We are game changers, risk-takers, and rule-makers."
I Work in Weddings Because: "I love creating life's most memorable experiences for my clients."
One Project I'm Most Proud Of: "The wedding I did in August in the face of COVID-19. Against all odds, we made our client's dream a reality and proved that love is not canceled."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "Size doesn't matter! The moments do."
Andrew Roby launched his company, Andrew Roby Events in Washington, D.C., in 2005 after a pervious career in service ("I am an Army Veteran who has had the honor of laying to rest President Ronald Regan," he says). He has since participated in a number of events for foreign dignitaries and worked with many charities over the years, "aiding them in building up marginalized communities and those underrepresented."
Roby is now the lead experience creator at ABE; however, he makes it known that he is certainly "not alone" in his mission to create immersive environments and experiences. "Dana, Danelle, Dalonte, and Frederick are my Charlie’s Angels, and, without them, I would not be able to execute so many wonderful events and weddings to date," he says. "The best approach my team and I can provide to our clients is one that allows us to work alongside each other—not above or below one another."
I Work in Weddings Because: "It is probably the only environment where I can experience firsthand, unconditional love outside of my own family environment. With all that we face, being able to see two people express their love in front of family and friends is something you simply cannot experience just one time."
One Project I'm Most Proud Of: "Every single micro wedding we were able to produce this year made us extremely proud. Proud that couples trusted us enough to execute their weddings during a pandemic was encouraging. Time and time again, we were told by couples and their parents how thankful they were for us being brave enough to help them celebrate something they 'simply had to do.'"
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "Couples will have a wedding by any means necessary—no matter if it's just them and their officiant or 10 people or less or as many as the state will allow. We planned 20 micro weddings this year because couples wanted to get married. They showed us that love doesn't wait or stop for anyone or anything."
Through her Manhattan-based company, Ang Weddings and Events, Tzo Ai Ang has planned both intimate affairs for 40 guests and more elaborate celebrations for 300—at venues such as the New York Public Library, The Plaza, Blue Hill at Stone Barns, and the Rainbow Room.
No matter the event, Ang takes a boutique approach to planning. She brings her unique experience to the table—she has a diverse background, having lived in four countries over three continents, and was previously a vice president at a global bank, managing relationships with some of its largest clients—while focusing on client service and aiming to provide personalized attention throughout the process.
"My passion for traveling and different cultures are tools I use in planning unique events for my clients," she says. "I also enjoy helping couples personalize their weddings with thoughtful details and has worked with many multi-cultural couples."
I Work in Weddings Because: "A wedding is such a joyful and emotional celebration. The privilege of helping couples plan their weddings is something that I find very meaningful and rewarding."
One Project I'm Most Proud Of: "A backyard wedding that was planned in two months. We changed a couple's wedding from a 160-person event at a wedding venue to a COVID-19-friendly celebration for 37 people at their family home. I am really proud of the thoughtful details we put in place to keep everyone feeling safe and happy on this joyous occasion."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "The most important thing about the wedding is the love of two people and being surrounded by their closest family and friends (even if that meant remotely this year). Those couples who could be flexible and adapt to the changes required due to COVID-19 seem like couples who are off to a great start in a wonderful marriage."
Founded in 2007, Anna Lucia Events is a boutique event design and planning firm with offices in Tampa and Naples, Florida. It is led by Anna Lucia Richardson, who describes their clientele as "couples who truly want a hands-on and customized approach."
"We truly feel that there is no set formula as we customize each event specifically to that of our clients' needs and wants," she says. "Our reputation depends on creating specialized, memorable events that reflect our client’s specific taste and sensibility.
To accomplish this, Richardson and her team approach every wedding with what she calls a "fresh perspective." "Oftentimes, we draw inspiration from small (or large) details, such as the couple’s home (see a recent real wedding here!), a family heirloom, a favorite travel destination, or even a restaurant that they love," she explains. "We strive to create the most personalized events that are reflective of our client’s overall taste and sensibility." Fun fact: They never repeat a design twice!
I Work in Weddings Because: "I love love—and love always wins."
One Project I'm Most Proud Of: "The not-for-profit that I founded, called Empower Events, through a partnership with The Above and Beyond Foundation, a not-for-profit 501c3 organization, to create a local urgent aid grant program in the Tampa Bay area to help those employees, freelancers, and subcontractors who empower our events but have lost their jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. To date, we have raised over $122,000.00 and distributed more than 240 grants and counting. To be able to help in this way has been beyond rewarding."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "I've learned how to build stronger and more meaningful relationships with our clients and how to be more patient, understanding, and empathetic, no matter the circumstances or challenges thrown our way."
Ashley Smith, a Bay Area native who "loves a great and intentional party," has been in the business for 10 years. In that time, she's planned events across California and the world—this epic weekend at a summer camp is a favorite—always thinking "outside of the box," packing a punch with design, and, admittedly, "getting a little adventurous with food and beverage service." Her secret? Don't feel the need to follow wedding trends or copy other designers.
"We are design-forward and most of our clients are like-minded," says Smith of her modern approach to planning. "I love to pull inspiration from the couples and their lifestyle and let that take the forefront of the design and flow of the event. At ASE, we like to have fun, get a little weird, and let our work speak for itself. We don't overthink the small things and we love to get our hands dirty."
I Work in Weddings Because: "I love the intimate connections and environments weddings create. Weddings have this unique opportunity to share your passions (food, entertainment, experiences) with your loved ones. There is rarely ever a scenario that will capture that group of people or time period again."
One Project I'm Most Proud Of: "Our 'Les Jams' wedding in 2019. I still can't get over how much fun we had and how much we packed into that weekend. We built an entire open-air restaurant for 260 people on a private ranch in Santa Barbara, California, complete with a uni bar one night and a caviar bar the next night alongside two, 16-inch apéro spreads. We flew in chefs from Hong Kong and Los Angeles and built out an entire night club for them as well. It was our biggest labor of love to date."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "This was the year of learning how thick our skin really is and also the year of empathy. We felt for our clients that had to move their weddings (in some cases multiple times) and their sadness, stress, and fear with how the future might unfold. We had to be the glue that kept things together as many unforeseen changes occurred, even if we didn't know how to. We became a support system for both sides; our couples and all of our vendors that we work with or know and love."
With offices in Los Angeles and San Francisco, the team at Bash Please, a wedding planning, and event design firm specializing in multi-day celebrations, revels in a great party. They plan across the start, creating such parties as this romantic summer ceremony in St. Helena and this boho-chic bash in Napa Valley.
"Our goal is to blend refinement with originality, but with approachability and strong foundation in the principles of hospitality," explains owner Sunna Yassin. "Our celebrations reflect our clients fully—their shared history, style, and energy."
We Work in Weddings Because: "It allows us to bring in our creative forces, ambitious fortitude, and seasoned production skills to create the perfect orchestration of our client’s celebrations."
One Project We're Most Proud Of: "The wedding of Molly and Bron that was for over 300 guests at a private estate and executed flawlessly within 90 days. It was featured in Brides!"
What We Learned About Weddings in 2020: "We learned that we are resilient and that advocating for our clients and our partners in the industry is equally as important."
"Growing up in a very small town where there is no such thing as a wedding planner, I truly believed I was destined for this career because as soon as it found me, everything unfolded rapidly," admits Beth Helmstetter, who has been a wedding planner for 15 years and "loved every minute of it."
Prior to launching her Los Angeles-based company, Beth Helmstetter Events, Helmstetter worked as a day-of coordinator at a "tiny estate" and a wedding planner at a huge hotel on the island of Maui where she planned four weddings a week. However, she says she's "happiest with the business I've built which allows us to connect and collaborate with every couple intimately in effort to create a day that is perfect for them."
Today, Beth Helmstetter Events is known for producing aesthetically beautiful, experience-focused events (see here and here!), but to Helmstetter and her team, it's more than that. "I believe we are producing more than weddings," she admits. "Instead, we are very often collaborating on the most significant celebration our clients will ever host. I overthink every detail because, after over 15 years of experience, I know the celebrations we’re a part of are so much more than weddings; they are lifelong memories."
I Work in Weddings Because: "Weddings are a combination of my love language and my art form. It's the medium I use to help my clients be fully seen by their guests as well as a vehicle I use to make sure every guest I come in contact with feels special."
One Project I'm Most Proud Of: "I'm truly proud of any wedding where guests walk in and say 'this is so Sam and Abby' or any wedding where I feel as if I captured the client's style in a refined and timeless way. That said, we created a five-day wedding on the island of Sardinia where every day the guests were greeted with a new wedding-worthy celebration. We had an intimate pizza and pasta party to break guests in for the first night, followed by a beach screening of Father of the Bride. The next night was a farmer's market-themed celebration complete with pasta makers, gypsy jazz, and the most beautiful décor. Afterward, the guests partied all night at a local nightclub. The following day, a beautiful lemon-inspired feast was created poolside so everyone could enjoy downtime followed by a luxurious oceanfront rehearsal dinner. The wedding day was a fairytale filled with beautiful décor, amazing food, and an overgrown tent that took 10 straight days to install. But it didn't end there—the afterparty went on until 5 a.m. with a high profile DJ, foot massages, and late-night bowls of pasta being passed around. It was a dream weekend where guests were not only pampered but were able to escape from their regular life for a fantasy celebration of the couple."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "While the rite of passage of a wedding is so important for every couple, the health of our nation and the world has to take precedence right now. We have been lucky to work with couples who know this as well. We have seen couples reduce their celebration to create a truly intimate experience they'll never forget. And we've seen others postpone their date until they can safely celebrate with everyone they love. Knowing how long these couples have dreamed of their day, choosing to forgo their plans are incredibly selfless acts in a time when the world needs that so much."
Wendy Kay's Birds of a Feather Events is headquartered in Dallas, but the detail-oriented designer works nationwide, mostly specializing in outdoor, tented, and private estate weddings, as shown above. (She also offers styling services when she's not orchestrating her large-scale events.)
"We guide our clients through phase-based wedding planning taking on all planning, production, and design with a focus on limiting the number of meetings our clients need to attend so they can focus on their busy lifestyles," she explains. "We believe the planning experience is just as important as the day itself and that it’s just as much about the journey as it is the destination."
I Work in Weddings Because: "It fulfills both my need to be creative as well as be a leader.'
One Project I'm Most Proud Of: "This year, building an online community of wedding vendors who were able to look past our collective circumstances and forge ahead with their goals."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "No matter what, even facing a pandemic, people still want to get married. We were able to pivot and flex to make that possible in a safe way."
Bluebird Productions specializes in planning and designing timeless events and weddings in the rocky mountains. Virginia Frischkorn leads the team with core values of honesty, communication, and integrity, which she says can be seen in daily practice internally at Bluebird, as well as with their vendor teams and clients.
"We love getting to know our clients so deeply that every detail of the wedding not only looks authentic to who they are but it feels like them," explains Frischkorn, who splits her time between Denver and Aspen, Colorado. "Our approach is to take a holistic approach to how we craft a unique vendor team as well as the design elements."
I Work in Weddings Because: "We love using our design and organizational skills to craft meaningful celebrations that foster connection, create fond memories, and are fun for all involved! Being a part of these intimate moments is incredibly special and many clients become lifelong friends."
One Project I'm Most Proud Of: "One particular wedding that comes to mind is a wedding for a lovely client in Crested Butte. This particular wedding came to life as a labor of love and creativity. (I spent a day knocking on ranches asking if we could rent the land!) It felt timeless and elegant yet fitting of the location and incredibly authentic to the amazing couple."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "I think 2020 taught us all to let go of control, to be resilient and creative, and to focus and recenter on the why behind the celebrations."
Founded in 2009, Brooke Keegan Special Events specializes in custom event management and full-service planning and design, particularly with destination weddings and multi-day events. With a visionary style and event industry knowledge, Keegan says she and her team can expertly navigate the planning of luxury experiences at any scale, whether they are at home in Newport Beach, California, or at remote, exclusive properties in Hawaii, Wyoming, or Utah.
"We tailor our process to each individual’s needs and only accept a limited number of events per year," she explains. "This allows us to focus our efforts on creating outstanding, memorable events that exceed expectations, as weddings are highly personal."
I Work in Weddings Because: "It is a true passion of mine. Getting to create and produce one of the most special days of a couple's life and see them experience that joy brings me so much joy!"
One Project I'm Most Proud Of: "Producing Brides Live Wedding five years in a row—it has been such an amazing and fun experience and I can't wait for 2021!"
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "There is no right or wrong way to do something! A celebration like this is personal and meaningful and whatever feels right to the clients is what is right."
"I have always had a creative spirit! Planning parties and finding new ways to display my creativity has always been a part of my life," explains Erin Taylor of Napa, California-based Bustle Events. She believes that every client is unique and prides herself on creating a design fit for each individual couple. ("We never create the same wedding twice," she adds.)
"Our approach to planning is to get personal," she says. "We believe that the best way to get to know our client is by building a relationship and have them trust us. We take to heart what inspires them, what their passions are, and what environment they want to create for their guests."
I Work in Weddings Because: "I love seeing two people so in love and helping them create a wedding that tells their story."
One Project I'm Most Proud Of: "I am proud of all of our weddings because we put so much into each and every one. One of the most memorable was when we transformed a client's private estate into a functioning wedding venue. We truly loved a challenge."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "I have learned that things can change in a minute and it is important to have great vendors to work with and be flexible. We were happy to be able to guide our clients through changes and postponements."
"The Calder Clark process is all about mining for details," explains owner and creative director Calder Clark. "We deep dive into your personal story, excavating for nuances we can weave into a killer party—one that will be reflective of your past and mindful of your future."
To do so, Clark says she and her team tap into each client's entertaining style—"Every couple has one!"—to design a celebration that echoes that vibe. "Our clients get to feel über chill and over-the-top-happy with us at the helm as we plan destination affairs across the globe from our offices in Charleston, and Raleigh, North Carolina," she says with confidence.
I Work in Weddings Because: "They fill me up creatively. There is nothing more exhilarating than curating a dream team, actualizing a client's vision, then seeing it through to fruition at each spectacular 'big day.'"
One Project I'm Most Proud Of: "Our latest international wedding, where our couple let us dream big...and then had our team for post-wedding margaritas to celebrate before they sailed off on their honeymoon."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "You can't stop love! It's the world's raison d'être."
With meticulous and organized coordination, warm and attentive support, and custom and creative design guidance, Callista & Company produces extraordinary events that showcase their client's unique vision. A boutique company, they take on a select number of events. "We offer full-service planning and design for exceptional weddings and events around the world," says owner Callista Osborn, who works in Seattle and Los Angeles. (Check out her own wedding in Big Sur, California, here!)
I Work in Weddings Because: "I love the combination of meticulous planning paired with custom design work to create one-of-a-kind experiences. It’s incredibly fulfilling to see everything come together in a way that is both stunning and logistically sound."
One Project I'm Most Proud Of: "It’s impossible to pick just one, but I am most proud of the surprises I have executed over the years. From the smallest customized details to elaborate special performances, it’s such an amazing feeling to pull off something unexpected for the couple and/or their guests."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "In 2020, we learned to be endlessly adaptable, to get creative, and that exceptional events can be produced for any guest count."
As a wedding planning company, Calluna Events just wrapped its 17th season in business. "We are a dynamic group of women who love planning weddings!" says owner Heather Dwight. "From intimate gatherings to spectacular affairs, we put our heart and soul into each of our clients’ events."
Since 2004, Dwight and her team have been creating memorable, authentic, and timeless weddings and special events in and around Denver. "Above all else, we value creating unique weddings that truly represent our couple," she says. "We pride ourselves on building long-lasting relationships with our clients and vendor partners that trust and bond are paramount to our success."
I Work in Weddings Because: "Planning someone’s wedding is very personal, and I often develop a close bond with our couples that when we get to the wedding day. It's like watching a friend get married!"
One Project I'm Most Proud Of: "Honestly, I’m most proud of the way we as a company and team got through 2020. It’s not over yet and we still have 2021 to contend with but we were able to navigate this unprecedented year and all the changes to gatherings and regulations with calm and ease. We learned a lot about resiliency and tenacity and also just going with the flow, which is something that is hard for planners."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "Empathy and patience go a long way with your team and clients, especially in light of a global pandemic that none of us have control over. At the end of the day, love and connection are what really matters."
A former catering sales director with a passion for styling events, Chanda Daniels founded A Monique Affair in 1999 and has planned weddings in the Bay Area "for as long as she can remember." Located in Oakland, California, she takes on a select number of clients annually due to the level of detailed service she provides.
"I love planning and designing fine art wedding weekend experiences," she says. "Together with my clients, we make cohesive connections to their love story and the defining elements of their wedding."
I Work in Weddings Because: "I am a very organized and detailed person and have been this way since I was a young girl. I love telling the love stories of so many uniquely different humans."
One Project I'm Most Proud Of: "An editorial shoot I did this year, it was right after the Breonna Taylor shooting. I wanted to feature a beautiful brown skin girl in a refined fine-art wedding shoot. I intently did this as a reminder that we are beautiful and valued. It was very personal and emotional for me."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "I learned to re-imagine how love stories are told. Celebrations can be very intimate and still have the same level of details."
Born in Zambia and raised in South Africa, Colin Cowie left at the height of apartheid in 1985, moved to the U.S. in 1985, started a small catering company in Los Angeles...and "never looked back."
He has since traveled 15.5 million miles around the world as a "fiercely passionate experiential designer with a very curious mind in search of the most unique and authentic experiences."
His clients include Oprah Winfrey, Jerry Seinfeld, Ryan Seacrest, heads of state, and foreign dignitaries. "I have had the opportunity to design unforgettable luxury experiences for the most celebrated people," he says.
I Work in Weddings Because: "We are in the business of making people happy, and we make dreams come true."
One Project I'm Most Proud Of: "One of the most noteworthy projects in my early career was Hugh Hefner’s wedding in 1989. I had just moved to the United States and started a small catering company. I was teaching cooking classes on the side and one of my students was the wife of the president of Playboy. She asked me to consult on the menu for Hugh’s wedding. I took a meeting with Hugh and his team, and I walked out as the designer/producer of the entire wedding!"
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "The best lessons I have learned throughout my life and business career have all come through hardship. It’s usually when we are most challenged that our greatest ideas come about. I am grateful for all the knocks along the journey; they have seasoned me and given me the confidence to weather any storm. I have to admit—this has been the most challenging time by far."
Darryl Wilson is a United States Navy Veteran who never thought he'd be planning weddings for a living. "I'm literally here because of my mother.vIn 2001, my mom was planning her wedding to my stepfather while I was away in Japan serving. I would call daily collect, and she loved talking with me but hated getting the phone bills, ha!" he recalls. "I noticed when I asked about the wedding, she never mentioned the length of the calls anymore. After a while, she started to ask my thoughts, and, more and more, I became involved."
He ended up putting his saving together to make some of her dreams a reality. "When she walked into her reception and saw the surprises, and seeing her face, I knew I wanted to make that happen for other girls," he recalls.
And that he does! Based in Houston, Wilson has been planning weddings at D'Concierge Weddings since January 4, 2009, particularly pulling inspiration and design from runway shows and home interiors to dream up events such as this romantic tented celebration and this music-focused ceremony for Grammy-award-winner MAJOR.
I Work in Weddings Because: "I get to make fairytale a reality for many couples!"
One Project I'm Most Proud Of: "I planned and designed for Kristen Jarvis West, who was the deputy adviser to former first lady Michelle Obama. Having a sitting first lady attend a wedding I planned and designed and to meet her and her say 'it’s beautiful,' was heaven on earth."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "I’ve learned that the options for weekend weddings will be a thing of the past. Couples will be open to weekday weddings which can literally be a savings of thousands of dollars."
"Banquet is a dirty word to Daughter of Design," admits founder Annie. "We are known to serve a discerning clientele drawn to an architectural and interior design approach to décor." Gathering inspiration from the art and fashion worlds, Miami-based Lee says her events appeal to those who want a "nontraditional contemporary wedding."
During the pandemic, Lee started offering hourly and month-of packages, even launching a company, Plannie, to help couples navigate these trying times.
I Work in Weddings Because: "It is the crossroads of fashion, food, romance, family, friends, memories, fun, creativity..."
One Project I'm Most Proud Of: "A week-long wedding cruising the southern islands of Italy on a 270-foot megayacht. Beyond the obvious uniqueness and glamor, I'm most proud of my team for learning and overcoming the new challenges we faced by hosting an event on the open seas!"
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "In 2008, I learned that weddings were recession-proof. In 2020 I learned they are pandemic-proof."
Whether they're producing today’s safe, micro weddings or more traditionally-scaled fêtes, David Stark says his team is comprised of "storytellers, idea generators, over-achievers, and passionate perfectionists, who collectively speak a shared language of innovation and artistic excellence in service of their clients. In other words, we are artists that make magic happen."
And while Stark is quick to compliment his team, he is quite the visionary himself—and has been for the past 25 years. His Brooklyn-based David Stark Design and Production—incorporated in 2006 but operating since the mid-'90s—goes beyond typical wedding planning services, taking couples on personalized, collaborative journeys that end with "indelible, one-of-a-kind experiences. "
I Work in Weddings Because: "The very important memories we create that last forever."
One Project I'm Most Proud Of: "A wedding that took place in Michigan some years back. Such a strong bond was created between me and the mother of the bride that we are now the dearest of friends, I count her family as mine, and she is one of my most cherished, creative collaborators. Of course, the wedding was truly special, but the relationships that were made over the course of that journey are what it’s really all about."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "Size doesn’t matter (wink)."
Specializing in destination, fusion, and cultural weddings, Denise Lillie O’Neal works from her home in the Bay Area across California, from Napa and Sonoma to Lake Tahoe and beyond. She is highly experienced in the production of Indian weddings, Persian weddings, tea ceremonies, and multi-ceremony celebrations.
With more than 20 years of industry experience, O'Neal believes any party is better with "the color purple, a decadent cheese platter, wine, 80’s music, and nods to the Marvel Universe."
I Work in Weddings Because: "I love helping others to live in the moment."
One Project I'm Most Proud Of: "The epic Indian wedding we did in Lake Tahoe last year!"
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "In 2020, I learned that love is resilient and memories are priceless. Essentially we kept all of our clients focused on the love they have for each other, their family and friends, above all else. So far no one had canceled with us or each other, while plans have changed the love remains is the same."
Houston-based planner Chioma Nwogu-Johnson of Dure Events says she became an event planner "by happy accident" when she helped a friend plan her wedding.
"The rest is, as they say, is history," she admits. "Over the last 12-plus years, I've planned more than 300 exclusive events across the world so I have the uncanny ability to tell a story through the art of curated, and extravagant productions."
Ultimately, Nwogu-Johnson says Dure's company's approach comes down to their production and ability to transform spaces. "When I create, I see it in my mind’s eye and that vision never really stops," she explains. "It keeps growing and that’s why our events often feel immersive because they are part of this bigger vision in my head. I’m always looking for ways to be more creative and to push the experience further."
I Work in Weddings Because: "I made a commitment to always wake up doing what I love."
One Project I'm Most Proud Of: "Honestly, every truly difficult, hurdle-filled project that has forced me to grow and to interact with some of the most incredibly inspirational people you could imagine."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "Perseverance, innovation, and, most importantly, choosing to embrace peace even in the midst of the storm."
With offices in Charleston and Charlottesville, Virginia, Easton Events takes on a limited amount of destination celebrations per year—whether they are seaside, cliffside, or at-home, though Easton admits that they have "a special niche for tented receptions." (See more of the beauty above, here.)
"We are known for providing our clients with unparalleled high-touch service and curating unforgettable guest experiences," says Easton, who is also the co-founder of Easton Porter Group, best known for the Charleston-based, ultra-chic boutique hotel, Zero George, and popular winery Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyard.
It's safe to say that she knows a lot about fine hospitality—especially when tasked with planning a wedding "in a new location with a new set of rules."
I Work in Weddings Because: "We are not kidding when we say we are in the business of happy. How lucky are we to produce destination celebrations and weddings around the globe for one of the happiest days of our client’s life. Serious job satisfaction!"
One Project I'm Most Proud Of: "Our week-long wedding in Thailand. Between the intense travel schedule—eight flights in 10 days—and the number of parties (6!) there was no room for error! It is always fabulous yet challenging bridging language and cultural divides...it’s what we love best. "
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "The party is in the people. We had several of our weddings go from 300 to 50 and we promise—the best time is shared by those you love the most."
Elana Walker's career began in fashion when she majored in fashion design at the Illinois Institute of Art in Chicago. "That's where my love for beautification, style, and design was refined," she says. After college, she returned to her home state of North Carolina—and became a certified wedding planner in 2009 after leaving a career she didn't love. She's never looked back and, and today, she works with clients who come to her for her style, as well as her warm, funny personality.
I Work in Weddings Because: "I enjoy making couples wedding day dreams come true."
One Project I'm Most Proud Of: "Any wedding I planned!"
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "I learned that with the business of weddings, you have to be ready and able to adapt at any given moment. This year was full of changing dates, updating agreements, implementing new safety policies and so much more. My goal was to always be 10 steps ahead."
Based in Northern California, Erica Estrada Design is a full-service event planning and design company with global inspiration. Her timeless style, appreciation for design elements, and proven ability to create an exceptional experience have contributed to her long list of satisfied clients.
"I believe a wedding is not merely an event—it represents the unique beauty of a couple’s love and symbolizes the first step of their new life together," she says.
I Work in Weddings Because: "I love working with couples to bring to life a day they will forever cherish."
One Project I'm Most Proud Of: "Oh no! I don't have just one. I'm proud of many!"
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "Weddings are truly about the celebration of love between two individuals. We love all of the beauty and excitement that comes with a wedding day, but 2020 has shown us that with nothing else, the love between a couple is what will persevere."
Since 2010, Biana Hall and Erica Vanco, co-owners and lead planners at the Chicago-based Estera Events, are proud to have collaborated with some of the industry’s best floral designers and eventscape engineers worldwide. Their portfolio is expansive—featuring intimate seaside gatherings to the most extravagant country club takeovers—however, each event is specifically designed to "speak to every couple’s uniqueness." And, while their work speaks for itself, it's important to note that their design-minded eye and attention to detail expands beyond what you can see in photos: "Our color-coded timelines are what Type A dreams are made of," they add with a laugh.
I Work in Weddings Because: "There is absolutely no other career like being a wedding planner. We get to work creatively, logistically, and form incredible relationships and bonds with our clients—all while creating the most incredible day of their lives."
One Project I'm Most Proud Of: "Our involvement with Wish Upon A Wedding. Through this organization, we were able to plan a wedding for a beautiful couple and their wonderful family. The bride was terminally ill, and we knew she deserved to have an amazing wedding, as any bride deserves. Having the opportunity to give back to the community by creating something meaningful means so much to us."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "The world will always need weddings as a reason to celebrate—no matter their size!"
"My obsession with weddings began on a seven-week long summer vacation, in Europe, when I was 10-years old," recalls Eva Clark of Eva Clark Events. "While in Spain, I witnessed a wedding that was being held at a 17th-century palace-turned-hotel—the glasses of fresh sangria, intricate lace, and celebratory dancing made a huge impression on me. As a girl from modest, Southern roots, I'd never seen anything like it. Little did I know that experience was the beginning of a journey that would lead me across the country and around the world in the pursuits of once in a lifetime event experiences."
She founded her Atlanta-based company in 2003, though, as a designer and planner, Clark admits that she is thrilled to "see the emphasis on personalized weddings that has emerged in the past decade. "I want the couple to feel that their wedding is a true expression of who they are so that their story is the essence of the event," she says. "I want our guests to know precisely whose wedding they are at, from their first impression, upon arrival, to the send-off. There are no cookie-cutter events here."
I Work in Weddings Because: "There simply isn't a more romantic field to be a creative."
One Project I'm Most Proud Of: "My first same-sex wedding in 2015. At the time, it wasn't legal for the couple to be married in their home state of Georgia, so they had an intimate civil ceremony, in Manhattan, followed by a larger wedding on the gulf coast of Florida the following year."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "No matter how tiny or scaled-down, the level of client expectations remains the same. I also learned how very reliant I am on my talented team when asked to work weddings, either solo or with a skeleton crew, due to COVID-19 restrictions."
For more than a decade, Jeannette Tavares says she has been extremely fortunate to plan and execute luxury weddings and events across the U.S. and Europe under the Evoke Design & Creative banner.
"For each wedding, I work hand-in-hand with our clients to design around their personal aesthetic," she says. "Evoke strives to create an experience, not an event, for them and their guests. We achieve this by placing the utmost importance on innovative elements, exceptional service, and seamless logistics."
I Work in Weddings Because: "Well, I began working in the wedding and event industry because of my mother. After immigrating from Portugal, she spent her early 20s working for the Kennedy family in Georgetown and, later, as a member of The Watergate Hotel’s event staff. When my sister and I were born, the frequent parties and large family gatherings she prepared began taking place in our own home. Growing up, I was constantly in awe of her hosting ability and the enjoyment she took in making sure everyone was able to relax and be themselves. And, as for why? I can’t see myself doing anything else."
One Project I'm Most Proud Of: "Was the result of a year-long partnership with clients that I now consider dear friends. All the hard work and refinement culminated in a four-day, luxury wedding experience in and around Lisbon, Portugal. Throughout the extended celebration, we created a guest experience that had a unique rhythm, giving them a subtle tour of the region, as we seamlessly changed locations and event times each day. The clients’ personalities provided the centerpiece. The cities and coastline of Portugal served as the backdrop. Together, it formed one holistic vision."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "For me, 2020 reinforced several principles that are core to how I expect the entire Evoke Design & Creative team to approach this business. Perhaps none was more clear than our belief that fostering an environment of trust, early on, should form the bedrock of any planning process. When our industry’s world was upended earlier this year, the foundation we had laid with each of our clients allowed us to take decisive action. And, by the beginning of May, we had already moved more than 30 events to 2021 or 2022."
The Fallon Carter Events team is based in Manhattan, where they focus on orchestrating "intimate and international events that focus on an elevated guest experience." Carter and her team have adapted to the current climate, creating the same intentional experiences on a smaller scale with her company The We! Do Collective. Check out a recent, socially distant celebration here.
I Work in Weddings Because: "I like to make things beautiful and I find joy in a day-of timeline."
One Project I'm Most Proud Of: "All of our 2020 weddings! This year impacted everyone differently. Each of our couples had a special reason for making their 2020 wedding happen, and we were grateful that they chose our team with such a special celebration during a very interesting time."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "Less is more and intimate is ideal. When in doubt, stick to the essentials."
Serving the D.C.-metro area since 2012, Yodit Gebreyes Endale and her team at Favored by Yodit Events & Design offer planning, design, and coordination services in the District and beyond. She believes every event begins with exceptional communication, which is the core value of her company.
"We believe that every successful event begins with impeccable planning and communication," she explains. "We invest time to learn our client's personalities in order to produce unique events that are a creative reflection of each individual client’s needs and desires."
I Work in Weddings Because: "I love all things love!"
One Project I'm Most Proud Of: "Helping to showcase the rich beauty of Ethiopian, Eritrean, and other multi-cultural weddings to the world."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "Love can't be canceled! Weddings are so special whether it's for the two people getting married or an intimate gathering of 20 or virtually with all your family and friends, they will always happen even in a pandemic!"
When asked why she got into weddings, Jung Lee does not hold back: "I felt that they were not special enough," she admits. "Why should your milestone moment look like everyone else's and not truly reflect your style as a couple?"
Determined to "do it differently," she launched Fête NY in 2002. "We are one of the only companies that plan, design, and produce all design elements—flowers, draping, bar, custom furniture, graphics, et cetera—of a wedding in-house, which allows for unmatched quality control and ensures that the vision stays cohesive with fun, fantasy, and beauty," she says. "Anything we dream up together can be made a reality."
I Work in Weddings Because: "Back in the day, I realized there was a gap in the market for fully customized weddings and that is why I started Fête. Today, I continue with weddings because I love getting to know our couples, their stories, and their lifestyles. Being able to create and orchestrate such a hugely important day for them based on this information is a large undertaking but also a very rewarding challenge, which I always welcome."
One Project I'm Most Proud Of: "It's hard to single out any one project. Each event my team and I work on is different and unique. We love to tailor each event to our clients and being able to do that is what we are most proud of."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "This year has once again made it clear that whether you have a destination wedding for 400 or a wedding with just your immediate family, what's most special is that it is the celebration of two people who have found each other and of them coming together. It doesn't matter how and where it's done, how big or how small."
Teissia Treynet started Firefly Events in 2009 out of her studio apartment in Los Angeles. In 2011, she opened a second New York office and brought on seasoned New Yorker, Alia Wilson, who is now co-owner of the company.
"Our mutual love of beauty, design, list-making, organization, and a true desire to help couples seamlessly navigate the planning process is at the heart of everything we do," Treynet says. "While we've opened offices in Los Angeles, Manhattan, and Jackson Hole, Alia and I are happy to call northern and southern California home for the time being."
When they handling the logistics and designing celebrations that are "beautiful, innovative, and highly personal," Treynet (a newlywed herself!) and Wilson are helping other planners start and grow their businesses through their sister company, The Firefly Method.
We Work in Weddings Because: "We want to alleviate the stress and frustration that couples and their families often experience during the planning process. It’s imperative to me that we handle all the logistics so our couples can truly enjoy their engagement and their wedding day."
One Project We're Most Proud Of: "Our sister company The Firefly Method! We’re helping thousands of planners around the world start and grow their businesses and offering continual support for each and every one of them. It brings us joy to think of how many TFM planners are now working with clients in a whole new way and therefore how many couples lives we are affecting by proxy. That makes us feel proud!"
What We Learned About Weddings in 2020: "Love is all you need! 2020 has been a huge reminder to never lose sight of what weddings are really about. While we will always love a fun blowout bash, we will never forget the quiet and beautiful connection between two people that is at the heart of each and every wedding big or small."
Founded in 2009, GATHER Events is a boutique collective of event designers and producers who strive to create the most memorable experiences for our clients and their guests. They have offices on both coasts and in Europe.
"We’re delighted to offer local support for destination events while maintaining the integrity of our service level and curated design aesthetic," they say. "We believe that every detail should be intentional, every choice justified and every moment celebrated! Our love of gatherings keeps us searching for inspiration the world over to bring your stories to life."
We Work in Weddings Because: "We work in weddings because our clients' stories and the ways and locations they choose to celebrate in are endlessly inspiring to us."
One Project We're Most Proud Of: "We were honored to collaborate with one of the top wedding photographers in the world, James x Schulze, on a European editorial tour that took us to three countries in 10 days styling and photographing wedding inspiration in some of the world's most romantic destinations."
What We Learned About Weddings in 2020: "Love conquers all! Through all of the unprecedented challenges our industry has faced this year and the added emotional journey our clients have been through, we have felt so grateful for this community and industry who have remained positive, flexible, and gracious throughout. A true testament to what really matters."
Geller Events has been in the business of designing and producing bespoke weddings and events since 2000. Owner Debbie Geller has been in the industry since 1994, and most recently launched MAD About Weddings, a virtual planning service alongside friend and fellow planner Mindy Weiss.
"It is essential for us to get to know our clients well and understand their vision so that the ultimate product is the best possible reflection of them as a couple," she says.
I Work in Weddings Because: "There is no greater occasion to celebrate, and no time more joyous to be surrounded by your loved ones. We love making people happy!"
One Project I'm Most Proud Of: "We love it when we have the opportunity to create something fabulous out of nothing…when the infrastructure needs to be barged to an island, or when we’re working in a country that doesn’t have an existing event foundation."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "This year reminded us that a wedding, at its heart, is about committing to that one person you’d choose to be 'locked down' with. The importance is on the ceremony now, as much as the celebration."
Colorado wedding pro Emily Campbell of Go Bella Design & Planning says she seeks kind clients who appreciate creativity and fun.
"We then assemble a team who can best create the magic, and then I strive to provide an environment where people can best create their art," she explains. "An inspired team has an energy that is undeniable on a wedding day."
I Work in Weddings Because: "I enjoy taking care of people."
One Project I'm Most Proud Of: "Starting the Engage! Foundation."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "I learned to be more flexible, patient, and compassionate. Clients and event professionals are all hurting and a little extra grace and love go a long way."
Kate Ryan, owner of Gold Leaf Event Design & Production, was born and raised in Michigan but made her way to Aspen after college. There, Gold Leaf Events was born, later expanding to a second office in New York City.
The company's approach to planning weddings is simple: They listen to their clients. "Not all of our couples have the same priorities when it comes to the elements that go into a wedding," Ryan says. "The initial steps of our planning process include educating our team on each individual client’s likes and dislikes, discovering what their style is as a couple, and adjusting the process for working together to guarantee it best fits their needs."
I Work in Weddings Because: "It's an industry that celebrates love, unity, and togetherness. Serving our client’s experiences is rewarding and in doing so, we’ve built long-lasting relationships with our couples and their families over the years, which is truly now what I cherish most."
One Project I'm Most Proud Of: "We’ve had several weddings take place in much shorter timeframes than originally anticipated for numerous reasons but the most heartfelt was when a family member fell ill and the couple made selfless adjustments to their plans regarding the date, location, and venue to accommodate the unforeseen circumstance. We’re most proud of the work we’ve done to advocate for our clients to make these changes with vendors, to create an even more incredible backup plan than the original, and are proud that our clients know they can trust us without worry if anything unanticipated occurs."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "Flexibility and resources have been extremely important while orchestrating weddings with COVID-19-related restrictions in 2020. Many of our clients opted to host intimate weddings this year, and in most cases, we weren’t given more than a couple of week's notice to produce each event. Our relationships with vendors and creative partners allowed us to accommodate the last minute requests, and we executed each of them beautifully (as if it were the original plan)."
Based in Whitefish, Montana, the mother-daughter team at Greenwood Events plans and produces events throughout the United States, focusing broadly on mountain regions.
"We have a classic but organic aesthetic that highlights nature’s color palettes from the incredible locations we are working," explains Darci. "We specialize in beautifully coordinated dining experiences and romantic ceremony productions, spotlighting our in-house florals and perfectly curated tabletop designs."
While they very much work together from their charming, at-home studio, Darci handles the floral design and cuisine, while Arden is quick to admit that she's a "logistics queen" in addition to being an up-and-coming mixologist.
We Work in Weddings Because: "Designing and producing a day that will go down in one's life as monumental is not only a challenge but an honor. It continually stokes our creative embers, and it gives us all the feels to see our clients so happy and so pleased with their special day."
One Project We're Most Proud Of: "While this isn't necessarily one particular project, we are most proud of taking our small business, based in a small town in Montana to being nationally recognized for our excellence. We are also so proud that clients are now finding us and using our services all throughout the world."
What We Learned About Weddings in 2020: "Patience, perseverance, and listening. Every client is obviously different and spending the time to really listen to what is most important to them and their priorities for their wedding became the pinnacle of 2020. We think developing a deeper understanding of each client will continue long after 2020."
Charleston-based Blake Sams of Gregory Blake Sams Events, who recently expanded to New York City, launched his own business just three years ago but he's been in the industry for more than a decade.
"I strive to be intentional with every bespoke detail to add a personal touch to each wedding that makes the experience feel effortless, authentic, and reflective of the couple," he says. "My firm offers a handsome aesthetic to the classic, timeless tradition of weddings and is dedicated to offering couples a unique and one-of-a-kind experience that is reflective of their taste and personalities."
A few notable projects? This wedding weekend in North Carolina, during which Sams transformed a camp mess hall (yep, really!) into a stunning reception space with insane drapery and details, and this glam Charleston soirée reminiscent of old Hollywood.
I Work in Weddings Because: "I have always had a passion for design and hospitality starting at a very young age. Weddings allow me to combine these passions in a thoughtful way. I find it really rewarding to create a memorable environment and experience for the couple and their guests—a brief moment in time they can take with them."
One Project I'm Most Proud Of: "A tented Charleston wedding I produced earlier this year for a wonderfully chic couple (it was published here!). The elegant affair was a true reflection of the client and my personal taste with layers of hospitality and residential touches."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "Plan D can be just as great as Plan A, B, or C! You can never over-plan or have enough back-up plans!"
Guerdy Abraira of Guerdy Design is a Miami/New York-based destination wedding planner with extensive global event experience in countries such as Mexico, Bahamas, Portugal, France, and Turks and Caicos. She started her career on Fisher Island owning a planning and design studio before expanding her business into Manhattan. Today, she has expanded her client base and planned "perfect parties with a creative and timeless approach worldwide."
I Work in Weddings Because: "I was born to do so...I was lucky to realize that at the very beginning after graduating college. Planning events is my craft!"
One Project I'm Most Proud Of: "I planned my sister's wedding—it was a little different being so close to the project but I had ultimate carte blanche to plan and design it how I saw fit for my sister and her fiance so that was fun."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "Love can't wait! Many couples will not let the pandemic stop them from their 'happily ever after,' and I'm all for it!"
"I have always had a desire to combine my passion to serve others with my experience in hospitality," admits Alicia Mae of the Summit, New Jersey-based ILE Events. "I've never found any career more fulfilling than planning weddings and events—it's pretty close to motherhood, shhh! don't tell my two kids!"
At ILE Events, Mae and her colleagues incorporate their clients' traditions, culture, and lifestyle into their design, whether its details such as a dish using Grandma's recipe, the aroma of their favorite fragrance, or wearing wardrobe to pay homage to their culture. "We say, 'a wedding should be more of a vibe than a theme,' to reflect the client as two people becoming one to begin their own legacy," she says.
I Work in Weddings Because: "Weddings allow me to connect with people for a monumental moment in their lives. Especially now when the uncertainty is higher than usual; to witness families celebrate those moments are priceless."
One Project I'm Most Proud Of: "Being able to give back to the community through our weddings. Not only are our weddings joyous moments, but they also allow ILE Events to donate to the DonorsChoose organization. DonorsChoose makes it easy for anyone to help a teacher in need to provide their students with the tools and experiences for a great education. This is made possible by our ILE couples and this project is dear to the ILE Events team."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "The importance of having a tribe of vendors who care. Our quality never diminished, we had fast turnarounds, but above all, we were still able to execute the best version of our client's wedding day."
Based in beautiful Scottsdale, Arizona, Imoni Events is a full-service wedding planning company that specializes in destination clientele who are hosting intimate affairs in beautiful locations. Together, Jennifer Thye and Sarrah Gaboury, combine their love for sophisticated designs and elaborate logistics to provide a high-touch and custom experience for each client. "We want the planning process to be both memorable and enjoyable," they say.
As for their name? It's a company-created word meaning "faith, love, and hope."
We Work in Weddings Because: "We love people! The people we get to work with are the best part of our job. It will always be the connections we make with those around us that fuel our creativity and drive our high standards for customer service. We are so honored that people trust us with such important events in their life, and we take that honor seriously!"
One Project We're Most Proud Of: "Our first multi-million dollar event. The logistics alone were enough to make one’s head spin, but we tackled it with grace and in the end, left our clients happier than they ever thought possible. (Their words, not ours!) Even if we didn't sleep for five days straight, we had such a fun time working to make this client's dream a reality that we would have done it all over again if we could."
What We Learned About Weddings in 2020: "To be flexible and creative. To focus on what really matters. To become comfortable with over-communication. To allow our sympathy to show while always instilling confidence in our abilities to make Plans C and D as beautiful and memorable as plan A. This year also taught us that weddings are an important cornerstone in life, and even if things are different than we are used to, we will always long for the love and joy that comes with the celebration."
Invision Events is an award-winning destination wedding design and planning firm led by founder and creative director Julie Bunkley from Birmingham, Alabama, and principal planner Courtney Wolf in Atlanta. They serve couples coast to coast.
"We're most known for our refined and tailored aesthetic as well as thoughtful and intentional approach," Bunkley says. "Together, we are driven by our clients' longstanding desire to honor family."
I Work in Weddings Because: "I love building an experience that will last a lifetime."
One Project I'm Most Proud Of: "Working alongside and producing a memorable wedding at the historic East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta on behalf of the family who saved and preserved the club as well as expanded its mission."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "That love is enduring and should be celebrated even if it is with a very small number of people. Sharing your love with your closest people is priceless."
"I consider myself to be a 'laid back type-A'. It takes a lot to knock me over!" admits planner Jacin Fitzgerald of Jacin Fitzgerald Events, who says she has dealt with her fair share of planning problems—from navigating earthquakes to relocating alligators from a pond at a private residence to, now, planning events during a pandemic.
Through it all, Fitzgerald credits her calm and collected nature as fundamental to her success, adding that "the energy is contagious and helps to ease our clients' nerves on what is already an emotionally-charged day." This extends beyond the big day. "While we are known for creating beautiful, timeless moments for each and every client, behind those moments is an orchestrated atmosphere that makes every single guest feel welcomed, accepted, and delighted to sit at the table," she adds.
I Work in Weddings Because: "Problem solving and creativity are two of my strong suits, and cliché as it may sound, I just really love to make people happy. In a year where there's been so much uncertainty, and an industry that can certainly feel non-essential, being an even keel for our clients in this uncharted territory has made my heart feel like we are doing something that matters, even if it's just the ability to bring someone peace and joy."
One Project I'm Most Proud Of: "Our volunteer involvement in the planning and design of a gala for a local animal rescue, Angels Among Us Pet Rescue. Working with a team of local esteemed creative partners and vendors, we all contributed our talents to a cause near and dear to our hearts (one of our dogs is a rescue we adopted from Angels!) and it felt amazing to work together for such a wonderful purpose."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "If my clients have each other, they truly have all they need. COVID-19 may have stripped our clients of their original dreams and expectations, but their resilience to look at this experience as an incredible, yet unsolicited, page in their love story has truly inspired me."
After working at Shiraz Events covering the New York, Los Angeles, and London market, and acting as the "resident wedding expert" at SOHO House, Jason Mitchell Kahn launched his company Jason Mitchell Kahn & Co. in 2014 after publishing his book "Getting Groomed: The Ultimate Wedding Planner for Gay Grooms."
"This book was the first of its kind and while it distinguished me as a go-to person for gay grooms, I have since had the good fortune of having an incredibly diverse clientele," he says. "I pride myself on working with brides, grooms, and those who don't identify with titles."
Kahn also has a background in theater, something that he also brings to his events. "I approach my weddings as a playwright: What is the couple’s version of their most beautiful story to be told?"
I Work in Weddings Because: "I love the creative opportunity to tell a couple's story through the event. I find it incredibly gratifying to be a part of a day that is so important to the couple and those they choose to share it with."
One Project I'm Most Proud Of: "The wedding of Michelle and Sydney, as seen here in Brides! There were unicorns, confetti canons, and tons of glitter. I've known Michelle since she was my niece Emerson's first babysitter. After Michelle and Sydney asked me to plan their wedding, they also asked my sister to officiate; her wife to be a bridesmaid; and Emerson, now seven, and my nephew Tucker to be the flower children. It was a truly family affair!"
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "There's a reason a certain hashtag trended within our industry. It's true. Love isn't canceled. It was an exciting year to work with couples who wanted to stay the course and figure out how to have events that prioritized guest safety while still focusing on creativity and connection."
Jenna Lam of Jenna Lam Events has been producing remarkable celebrations around the world since 2012. Considered one of San Francisco's most dynamic event designers, Lam says she understands what she calls "modern luxury."
"Sometimes it's the smallest details that form the boldest gestures," she explains. "With an in-house team to oversee every detail and keep the design vision cohesive, each element meshes into experiences that guests and hosts alike will remember for years to come."
I Work in Weddings Because: "They're the culmination of creativity and logistics. Plus, there is nothing more rewarding than creating memories for couples, their families, and their guests."
One Project I'm Most Proud Of: "Any project where we have the ability to transform a 'blank canvas.' For example, we created a full-scale wedding for 200 in a remote meadow (no cell service, no roads!) in the backcountry of Lake Tahoe and transformed a former tree nursery on Maui into a formal wedding space with glass tents for dinner and dancing. The more minimal the infrastructure, the better—that is where we thrive."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "I think we got 'back to basics' in 2020. Weddings became more about celebrating love and commitment, rather than just an excuse to have a large party to impress your friends. I hope we hold onto that."
"My team and I are a tight-knit group of perfectionists with a servant’s soul!" says Jennifer Zabinski of Jennifer Zabinski Events. "From day one, we listen and work diligently to get to know our clients—their passions, their preferences, and pastimes, how they met and fell in love, all of these story-telling details find a way into the design process. Just as no two couples are alike, neither are the weddings I produce."
Zabinski, who is based in New York City, notably planned Serena Williams's New Orleans wedding.
I Work in Weddings Because: "I am a collaborator at heart. If there is one thing I have gleaned from over twenty years of planning weddings and parties in New York City, it is this: The most personal, unique, and stunning celebrations are only possible when I have earned my client’s trust. My team and I achieve this by fostering a sense of partnership and creating an atmosphere where everyone is comfortable speaking their mind and bringing ideas to the table. "
One Project I'm Most Proud Of: "Every wedding is special to me, truly. I know that reads corny but my task is to make every wedding and every party unforgettable for my clients and in turn, they are unforgettable to me. One wedding that does stand out for timing reasons is our last big weekend wedding for a stunning, young couple. It was a gorgeous wedding at the Rosewood Mayakoba in late January. Little did we know that would be our last big celebration for a while."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "That they may be small in size but they are big on love and heart and details. Most of the time, I tell my clients to focus on the big picture and not get too fixated with the smaller details but micro weddings give a couple the time to luxuriate over all the tiny, fabulous details. When you have only 10 people at your wedding, everything from the messaging on face masks to your menu can and should be flawless and memorable. One of my favorite from the last 6 months is this “bird’s nest” micro wedding we did on the balcony of a New York City apartment. It was a total transformation and magical in every way. Each moment, every detail, from the music to the textiles to the flowers held significance to the couple. Weddings during a pandemic can be challenging but they can also make you feel extremely grateful for what you have and force you to live in the moment which is a gift we should all take with us and practice into the new year."
As an event designer and stylist, Nashville-based Jessica Sloane says she approaches wedding planning both artistically and intentionally.
"My social work background gives me a unique perspective," she says. "With my clients, we talk more about what they value than what looks nice. I have a creative process that helps us communicate the desired outcome to the vendors and helps the client hone in on what matters to them most."
I Work in Weddings Because: "I see people and I see beauty. I hold space for my clients. I see it as my job to help them see and celebrate the beauty that I see in them."
One Project I'm Most Proud Of: "A client's destination wedding in Big Sur, California. The remote location had its share of challenges, but Big Sur is one of my favorite places in the world. The destination and design were dreamy! Since that wedding, we have produced a birthday party for the client and the couple's daughter. To continue to be a part of our clients' lives is truly special."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "Our world and our industry have collectively been forced to embrace chaos and the unknown. In event production, you try to plan for all the maybe scenarios. This year we couldn't do that, so I think we all took a hard look at what's truly important: connection. Our emphasis has shifted to the reason we're celebrating in the first place. To me, that's the silver lining in 2020."
Little did he know at the time, Jove Meyer began his events career in high school when he worked at a balloon and flower shop. Then, in 2008, he planned his best friend's wedding and, as he says, "Jove Meyer Events was unofficially born that summer!" Today, Jove Meyer Events is a design-driven, boutique wedding planning and design firm based in Brooklyn, New York, for couples who "dare to be different."
"We prioritize working with the best in the industry and are powered by partnerships with fellow small businesses owned and operated by women, people of color, and queer people," Meyer says. "We specialize in creative, personalized weddings that are a reflection of each couple's unique style, personality, and relationship."
You can check out examples of his work here and here—and, looking at these pics, you may or may not guess that Meyer takes what he calls a "relaxed approach" when guiding the planning and design process. "Creating a fun and stress-free experience, with as much champagne or tequila as possible, is our goal!" he says.
I Work in Weddings Because: "I love love and celebrating my couples' unique love stories and bringing them to life!!!"
One Project I'm Most Proud Of: "My ally pledge, a pledge to help make the wedding industry one that uplifts love above hate and welcomes and supports all couples. My job is planning and designing unforgettable and unique celebrations, but my mission is to make our industry a more inclusive one. I do so by only working with fellow creatives who support, sign, and practice our ally pledge."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "Love is such a strong force and can endure anything, including a global pandemic. I also learned that the most important thing at a wedding is the love in the room, more than the décor, food, and entertainment. Love for every couple looks different but should be celebrated equally and uniquely!"
Kate Turner is the founder and principal designer of Kate + Company, a Midwest based wedding design house with a flair for thoughtful details, marrying interior design with concierge services and wedding consultation.
Turner’s panache for perfection and commitment to authenticity drove her to co-found 23 Blocks Catering, which owns and operates two venues and a restaurant in addition to catering at more than 25 venues, in 2013. As the first in the Saint Louis market to bring restaurant-style cuisine to private events, her strategic vision has led this renowned hospitality group to challenge the boundaries of luxury in the emerging Midwest market.
However, her true passion lies in creating gorgeous events that reflect the unique style of each couple while honoring the privilege of orchestrating the day. "When I'm not commanding a room flip in a pair of heels and statement earrings, you’ll find me playing tourist, cooking with my husband and two sons, or hunting for my next bit of inspiration," she says.
I Work in Weddings Because: "I literally can’t imagine doing anything else! Whether it’s traveling to a new city and imaging an event inspired by the culture, dining in a friends new home and dreaming of a tabletop design to match their dining room décor, or toasting with our new neighbors and gleaning inspiration from a funny antidote—my brain doesn’t shut off and I don’t know how to go slow. I can relate almost any piece of art or any conversation to hospitality in one way or another!"
One Project I'm Most Proud Of: "A large-scale tent wedding in April of 2019—spanning over 17-days, this was our largest tent installation to-date. From the drastic changes in weather to keeping both blooms and team members cool in a tent exceeding 110-degree weather, each step of the way there was a new challenge to be tended to. Thankfully, our fully dedicated team of twelve was able to execute the entire weekend to perfection. While I’m incredibly proud of the design that incorporated many personal elements, I’m most proud of is how our team worked together to create a spectacular and memorable event for our client! I’ll never forget Kimmy, our senior project manager, standing in the tent at 2 a.m. after all the guests had gone home just reminiscing with the couple on each and every aspect of the event."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "Despite the challenges that 2020 brought, Kate + Company had one of its most successful years and that’s because we were able to do more with less, communicate effectively, and most important because we’ve always surrounded ourself with partners who are team players. With our vendor partners we not only moved over $4 million in events from 2020 to 2021, but also took on smaller events for our clients, creating safe, intimate soirées on their original wedding dates while saving blowout celebrations for a future date. Our mighty team of women took on more in 2020 then we ever had before and did so with less recourses thanks to the power of technology!"
Akeshi Akinseye, the founder and creative force behind Kesh Events, has produced more than 200 events at home in Chicago and at exclusive properties in the Middle East, Asia, Europe, Caribbean, and beyond.
"At Kesh Events, we take a personalized and hands-on approach to wedding and event planning as we orchestrate elegant, sophisticated, and unforgettable. celebrations worldwide," she says. "Our focus is always on transforming a personal story into a living, breathing moment in time."
I Work in Weddings Because: "It’s what I was born to do. I love to celebrate love and consider it a true honor to be chosen by our clients to hep create a truly unique and unforgettable experience for one of the biggest and memorable celebrations in their life. Waking up everyday to be part of something so special and unique is priceless."
One Project I'm Most Proud Of: "I feel so blessed to have worked on some really spectacular, fun, and unique projects that I am proud of. One that stands out is a recent proposal that we pulled off in less than a month. There was nothing cookie-cutter about this—it was one of the most unique and customized proposals my team and I have ever done."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "This year was a reminder that the focus should always be on the celebration, the guest experience, and the memories created not on how many guests are present. I also think a lot of people learned the value of having a wedding planner! Wedding planners are more than timelines and pretty flowers."
First and foremost, Kia Marie is a "proud Chicagoan" who counts herself blessed to do what she loves as the owner and principal planner at Kia Marie Events, a renowned planning company for the exceptional couple with extraordinary style.
"The KME look has a classic, modern, and stylish approach to every event," she says. "Our events are tailored to our client's personal style, focusing on clean uninterrupted designs and extraordinary details. We are a boutique company that offers a white glove planning process exclusive to a precise number of clients each year."
I Work in Weddings Because: "I am extremely passionate about the relationships I build with my clients. I have worked with a large number of couples from many different backgrounds, tailoring each event to meet their specific needs and desires. I get to help in blending two families together and what better place to start than with planning a wedding?"
One Project I'm Most Proud Of: "I'm proud of all of my projects as I have learned something from each of them. However, I will say that destination wedding projects are some of my proudest because it's a new adventure and a way for me to think outside the normal realm of planning."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "Couples are super strong and in it for love. Love will always conquer and win in the end. Also, I learned that intimate celebrations, which are my favorite, will be here for a long time."
Laurie Arons has been an industry vet since 1994. Her company, Laurie Arons Special Events, is a high-end wedding and social event planning company based in San Francisco, specializing in multi-day event weekends throughout California and in destinations around the world.
"Our point of distinction is our devotion to a high level of service, priding ourselves on being a loyal, trusted partner to our clients throughout the planning process," she explains. "Though our team believes in precision planning and strict attention to detail, to clients and guests our events feel effortless and authentic—never forced or overproduced."
In addition to her traditional planning work, Arons offers an annual masterclass for up-and-coming planners in the industry hoping to learn from her 26 years of experience.
I Work in Weddings Because: "Weddings encompass all the things that are important to me: love, family, celebrating joy, honoring tradition, creating beauty, and leaving people with lasting, cherished memories."
One Project I'm Most Proud Of: "A wedding I will never forget was an incredible 5-day destination wedding in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, for the most wonderful, generous, and fun-loving clients. The couple wanted their guests to experience all the beauty and adventure the area had to offer, so we facilitated a variety of private activities and excursions for guests throughout the weekend. They then hosted four nights of dinners and parties, culminating in a wedding reception I will always be so proud of. Our team built custom decking through the rough Wyoming landscape to allow for sweeping views of the Tetons at the cocktail hour, and a spectacular dinner and dance tent with incredible lighting and finishes. The combination of a great client, a talented vendor team, a stunning part of the country, and a weekend of hard work is a highlight of my career."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "I learned to embrace the beauty of intimacy. While I typically produce large-scale celebrations, the two elopements and micro-wedding I planned this season were so full of love and personal, heartfelt moments that I really came away remembering what weddings are all about. Experiencing an event that is more about two people making a lifelong commitment than it is about anything else, reinvigorated my passion for this industry in a deeply profound way."
California-based Lea Stafford Events is a luxury event production and design company. Through storytelling, Stafford and her team create "authentic events and designs for real people and real companies."
"We thrive on partnering with clients who are unwilling to play by the rules," she says. "We do so without compromising the quality and integrity of your event and design." She adds that they do this primarily by supporting true artisans and living and ethical lifestyle, saying, "simply put, we support intentional behavior where the mantra 'quality over quantity' is valued and practiced."
I Work in Weddings Because: "I want to contribute this passion I have to provide a true experience and shake things up where it is most unexpected. All while making people feel seen and providing crazy levels of beauty. I want to contribute this passion I have to provide a true experience and shake things up where it is most unexpected—all while making people feel seen and providing crazy levels of beauty!"
One Project I'm Most Proud Of: "A recent creative session focused on the bold and minimal approach to a micro-wedding. This project allowed me to showcase how to make a statement through simple pieces that showcase the couple's lifestyle. We concentrated on sustainable moments as well, as this is extremely important in our industry."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "With the industry slowing down a bit, the time gifted truly allowed me to sit and journal a lot more. The following questions were answered: What does my brand's existence truly mean within the industry? What does it stand for and who does it stand for?"
Whether she's planning an event in her hometown of Atlanta or on the other side of the world, Michelle Gainey says every Lemiga wedding includes a bit of what she describes as "Modern Southern Hospitality." "It's my secret sauce," she says. "Every event is beautiful, but the heart behind them is their distinguishing factor—that essence of hospitality that allows guests to feel welcome, seen, loved, and included."
I Work in Weddings Because: "I want to give my clients an experience that allows them to focus on each other while I handle the details."
One Project I'm Most Proud Of: "A wedding where I had to help my client plan a new wedding in six weeks when her first venue canceled on her. In the end, the new wedding was even better than the first!"
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "What matters most is celebrating your love exactly how you want."
Founded by Lynn Ehumadu in 2010, LilyVevents is a full-service planning and design studio focused on producing custom luxury events in and around Philadelphia.
"Every wedding is different because the couples are, but, ultimately, our team ensures a very detailed execution of all aspects which overall maintains the exclusivity of each event," Ehumadu says. "This is our approach in a nutshell."
The outcome? "Events that take your breath away."
I Work in Weddings Because: "I work in weddings because I love everything they stand for. They stand for togetherness, planning, love, diversity, free to do what you love, and ultimately love."
One Project I'm Most Proud Of: "My COVID-19 wedding on June 18, 2020. We had to come up with several ways to incorporate social distancing rules and still keep it interesting (think fun six-feet-apart separation lines and different types of desserts). Overall, it turned out to be a great, safe way of having fun."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "Regardless of what you are faced with, you can overcome it."
Offering custom invitation design, florals, and gifting in addition to their planning and design services, the team at Lindsay Landman Events quite literally does it all. Knowing this, it should come as no surprise that founder Lindsay Landman intentionally organized her company, which has offices in New York City and San Francisco, this way. "My approach is holistic, knowing that solving for logistics alone or design alone will never make for the perfect wedding," she explains. "Understanding how each creative piece informs an organizational one, and vice versa, is where the magic lies.
As for why she "does it all," Landman has this to say: "I think, at my core, I'm a good problem solver. And while I would never describe a wedding as a 'problem' by any means, the planning, design, and production of a complicated event is really an interconnected set of creative and logistical puzzles. I've always found great joy in figuring out the best and most beautiful solutions."
I Work in Weddings Because: "I work in weddings because I love to help couples find the perfect way to represent themselves and their relationship to their friends and family in this unique and fun medium."
One Project I'm Most Proud Of: "It is hard for me to pick just one project that I'm most proud of, but the ones that really stand out are the multi-day destination wedding weekends that we produce. Not only do we really get to flex our planning and design muscles, but it is such a joy to watch all of the guests become fully immersed in the series of events and develop even deeper relationships with the couple and each other throughout the weekend."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "In 2020, I learned that weddings are inherent to our societal fabric and to the timelines of our lives. Weddings are not just about the couple and their personal milestone, but about how that milestone marks time in the lives of those who love them. My company tagline is 'Designing Moments That Matter,' and I know with all my heart that weddings are indeed among the moments that matter to us all."
"Put me in the highlands of Vietnam, a remote Caribbean island, a hacienda in Mexico, or a charming villa along the Amalfi Coast...and ask me to create," dares Lisa Vorce. As the creative director of Lisa Vorce CO (LVCO), she is invigorated by new destinations, new cultures, and new design challenges.
"My approach to weddings is authentic, instinctive, artisanal, and global," she explains. "I am proud of the brand we have built in the luxury event world over the past two decades. Our team has masterfully produced some of the most iconic celebrations around the world, including the weddings of John Legend and Chrissy Teigen, and Kate Upton and Justin Verlander, and in locations spanning from California to New York, to Italy, Spain, France, Vietnam, Japan, Bali, Mexico, and the Caribbean."
I Work in Weddings Because: "I get the opportunity to connect with people for one of the most important milestones of their life. It brings me the greatest joy to work with clients all over the world. I encourage my clients to immerse themselves in the local culture of the destination, and then infuse their favorite aspects of the destination into their wedding. When I am able to fuse the best of what a small town or countryside offers and marry that with the personalities of my clients, the end result is an unforgettable event … something that gives the event an intangible soul. The intangible soul of our events has become our studio’s trademark."
One Project I'm Most Proud Of: "I can’t choose just one project—it’s like choosing a favorite child! My proudest moments aren’t just about flawless planning and beautiful design – they are about how my clients feel when they see and experience the event. It’s so humbling and rewarding to create something that resonates with someone so deeply at their core."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "2020 reinforced what I already knew (but took too much for granted)… that weddings are about connection. Weddings give us the opportunity to celebrate love with loved ones, amidst great food, music, and fun! I look forward to 2021 with hope and optimism, because more than ever, weddings will be a celebration of the best of what humanity has to offer."
Lori Stephenson founded LOLA Event Productions in 2006, but, combined with her team, she says they have a combined 70 years of experience in the industry. "We work, sleep, eat and breathe weddings and love it that way," she says. "That's quite the 'hive mind' to have in your corner!"
Together, they just celebrated their 14th anniversary, and Stephenson credits their ability to customize the planning process with their success. "We always keep in mind that everyone has different priorities and things that get them excited," she says. "For one client, it may be selecting the perfect menus and favors to complete their place settings and for another, it may be finding the perfect live music for their ceremony."
I Work in Weddings Because: "We feel truly blessed to witness the small personal moments between couples and the most cherished people in their lives. Every time a couple exchanges rings, we touch our own wedding bands and appreciate everything a great marriage can add to a person’s life."
One Project I'm Most Proud Of: "I am most proud of the LOLA team and reputation we've built in the industry. We are truly a family, and every single one of the planners on our rotation started as interns and worked their way up to senior planners. We have built our trust and experience with each other over the last 10-plus years. Every LOLA pro has been with the company for a minimum of six years. Consistency of experience is key with a planning company."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "We have learned so much and continue to grow and evolve through everything the pandemic has tossed at us. The most important thing for us is our clients and making sure they have the wedding they want and deserve. We look at our relationship with our clients and vendors as one of partnership and collaboration with a common goal in mind. Never has this been more important than in 2020 when safety, priorities, pivots, workable alternatives, and the unknown were so at the forefront of the planning."
Former attorney Nathalie Cadet-James is the founder of Luxe Fête, an international event planning and design company based in Miami. No matter where in the world they're planning, Cadet-James and her team set out with a goal to always coordinate and produce an event that is breathtaking and makes each guest feel they are a part of something magical. "Our design style is refined and unapologetic," she says. "For us, it's not just about designing a space–we strive to create beautiful atmospheres that tell your story—it’s an experience."
I Work in Weddings Because: "I work in weddings because I love serving in a role that brings people so much joy and connection."
One Project I'm Most Proud Of: "One project I'm most proud of is producing a first birthday party for one of our client's daughters. It's almost a full circle moment—the daughter's wedding will be the cherry on top. Love that we are starting to have legacy clients."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "More than anything, weddings is about love. So long as that is celebrated there will always be reasons for us to come together, even if it's a smaller gathering."
Manda Worthington is the owner and creative director of Mae & Co Creative, a Portland-based styling and planning company. Worthington describes her team's approach as "unique and purposeful," as they specializes in intimate and high-end weddings, events, and elopements both stateside and abroad.
"We love nothing more than creating beautiful and intentional designs for every one of our clients," she says. " Every elopement and wedding is genuinely special to us and we make a conscious decision to give nothing less than 110 percent to everything we do. We choose to work closely and comfortably with our clients and whole-heartedly care about their well-being and happiness."
Above all, she says: "We love people and their stories. We love weddings at home and abroad. We love elopements and the constant need to travel. We genuinely love our job."
I Work in Weddings Because: "I work in weddings because I genuinely love people. I love their differences and their quirks, their personalities, and their overwhelming love for one another. Not only do I love people, but I also love making people happy. To me, there is no better feeling in the world than being trusted to design one of the most important days in a couple's life, and absolutely blowing them away. I love taking care of my clients, making their lives easier, and planning something so perfect for them that when their guests walk in the room they say 'holy shit...this is so them.'"
One Project I'm Most Proud Of: "A wedding we planned in Tulum, Mexico, that we had to completely replan the entire wedding and in fewer than six months. November is supposed to be out of monsoon season but a hurricane came in right off the coast during the week of the wedding and our venue was completely off-grid, in the middle of the jungle—so not a lot of cover options available! We ending up essentially building a small city out of beautiful Moroccan-style tents in less than 24 hours. It was one of the craziest weeks of our team's careers and yet it was the most beautiful, most rewarding day for the best clients we could ever ask for."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "I learned that as cheesy as it might sound, love really does prevail. So many of our couples had to change their full-sized weddings to micro weddings with their closest friends and family and it truly only made the days more magical. I think looking ahead, we will see a lot more intimate weddings and elopements as the new norm and I think that's incredible. It shows that you can still have an elaborate, beautifully designed, and planned day without the 300-person guest count. It's freeing our clients to think outside the box and plan their dream day, no one else's."
From her first wedding in 1986 to today, Marcy Blum, who has offices in New York City and Palm Beach, Florida, strives to make the planning process as "convenient as fun and possible" for every couple, no matter how involved (or not!) they want to be in the details.
"We enter into this as a true collaboration and are the couple’s advocates, and we’re certainly advocates with opinions," she says.
Her work is representative of that—case in point: this glamorous Positano celebration for Annie Lawless, a pink-filled bash for influencer Lindsai Lane, and Katie Lee's intimate gathering on the Amalfi Coast, shown above.
I Work in Weddings Because: "Because it’s always interesting."
One Project I'm Most Proud Of: "Always coming up with different ideas.
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "This year reaffirmed my opinion that it’s the small things at a wedding that matter the most. Also, it’s definitely taken some resilience and fortitude for myself, my colleagues, and our couples to get through this year."
Neillie Butler founded Mariée Ami on the basis of hard work, service, and loving the client with a whole heart. Mariée Ami has grown in number and heart, now with an ambitious and dedicated team of seven full-time members in Mountain Brook, Alabama. "We are now doing weddings all over the country and offering custom designs, including in-house production and graphic design," Butler adds.
Their name, French for “a bride’s friend," is a phrase that is the very essence of the company's work. "We view our relationship with our brides as a true partnership of working together to create a beautiful and flawless wedding day," Butler says. "We pride ourselves on being accessible and involved for all of our brides throughout the entire planning process, which culminates in a seamless experience."
I Work in Weddings Because: "Selfishly, I love the way weddings make me feel. There is nothing more rewarding than pouring your heart and soul into something and seeing someone's dreams come true."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "This is a big question for 2020! After the year of postponements, cancelations, and keeping 8 full-time salaries paid in full, I am most proud of the Wish Upon A Wedding my team put on last month—it was one of the most life-changing and rewarding experiences of my career. After the social strife in 2020, having the opportunity to serve a couple who was not only terminally ill but also African American, was an honor. To help bridge the gap between race and let the world know that we are all here to help one another was a feeling I had never felt before."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "I have learned more from this year than I can share. As someone who was building a business with a team, and for my team, I realized that when the times get tough, the true loyalty and dedication from those around you matter most. After years of not losing one employee, I had three employees quit when the stress increased and the glamour of the job seemed to fizzle. It broke my heart. Thankfully, I had a big enough team in place to depend on the others who committed themselves to see us to the other side. I could not imagine how lonely and scared I would have been without my amazing team supporting my every decision."
For over 18 years, Matthew Robbins Design has produced events all over the globe ranging from intimate dinner parties to weekend-long celebrations. RobbinsOtoya, is a division of Matthew Robbins Design, is specifically focused on events outside of the United States in destinations such as Italy, Ireland, France, Guatemala, Turks and Caicos, Jamaica, Colombia, Mexico, and Japan.
"Our goal is to guide our clients with our knowledge and expertise while maintaining their unique vision," Robbins says. "Our approach is a collaborative experience, where we listen to our clients and share in the creative process as we develop the perfect plan for every event."
Robbins adds that he and partner Luis Otoya love collaborating with local talent and businesses to bring their clients "the very best each location has to offer."
I Work in Weddings Because: "They are unique, individual stories that we build for our clients. The time and energy everyone invests into the details for weddings bring so much beauty and joy. "
One Project I'm Most Proud Of: "Planning our first wedding in Japan."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "I learned that many clients actually prefer a smaller, more edited guest list. The pandemic forced many of our clients to reconsider their original, larger lists, and when they really gave it more thought it was clear that there were many cases where the guest list often included so many people who weren't actually that important to the couple or the celebration. When forced to rethink the essentials for a wedding everyone gives more thought to the guest list. Now more than ever clients are looking to surround themselves with the family and friends they feel most connected to."
Based in Salt Lake City, Utah, Michelle Leo Events is an award-winning event design and planning firm specializing in local and destination events. Led by Michelle Cousins in SLC, with teams in Utah, Arizona, and California, MLE offers one-on-one planning and design services, and, in 2020, micro wedding and elopement packages as well.
"Our team is dedicated to providing a custom, personalized experience that delivers unforgettable and memorable results," she says. "MLE has quickly become Utah's top event planner for both local and destination events and our reputation among vendors, venues and previous clients speaks for itself."
I Work in Weddings Because: "Wedding planning and design offer me and my team the ability to combine our love for creativity with our love for checklists and spreadsheets! We thrive on helping clients create one of the most memorable days of their lives!"
One Project I'm Most Proud Of: "We had a custom glass tent made for unique venue space and searched high and low for the perfect vendor team to help us seamlessly execute this challenge. The tent turned out amazing and we were so fulfilled after tackling this unique challenge."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "Pandemics can't stop love! Even though many of our clients couldn't celebrate in the way they had originally imagined, our smaller, socially-distanced weddings were every bit as magical, special, and memorable. When it's all said and done, it doesn't matter what the decor consisted of, what food the guests ate, or if people had to wear masks. At the end of the day, two people who are in love made the decision to start their lives together as husband and wife. COVID-19 can't change the magic of that type of partnership and commitment."
Planner Michelle Norwood is known for her tenacious spirit and warm personality. Her bespoke planning and design company, Michelle Norwood Events, is known for its "stunningly beautiful, original, and thought-provoking events"
"As a NOLA native, engulfed by the poly-cultural magic of this city, I believe what makes us different and unique is also what makes us beautiful," she says. "The rich diversity, magic and beauty of the city inspire me and instilled an insatiable curiosity to discover and create beauty. We are New Orleans event planners specializing in destination weddings, and I founded Michelle Norwood Events on that passion for discovery and those ideals."
I Work in Weddings Because: "I have a real passion for my clients. We connect on a personal level and their stories and backgrounds inspire me to design and execute events that are unique, personal, and always thoughtful."
One Project I'm Most Proud Of: "Bridgette and Saul's Wedding—this wedding has been featured countless times and, still today, it gets featured."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "We have the best clients, they handled the restrictions like professionals. Nothing stopped them from saying I do if they wanted to. No matter which directions clients chose to proceed with their wedding, I learned that weddings are forever and no matter how big or small love is truly never canceled."
Based in Manhattan but working globally, Michelle Rago Destinations is a destination production, planning, and design company. "We are big enough to serve you but small enough to know you," says owner Michelle Rago.
I Work in Weddings Because: "I simply love them. Weddings are hopeful, filled with history and what's to come."
One Project I'm Most Proud Of: "There are so many projects I am proud of but the wedding we produced in October was an incredible feat in this climate. Our industry has been stressed in ways that no one imagined. The vendors on this project stepped up to the challenge in a way that I will never forget."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "If experience has ever mattered to clients, it should now rise to the top of what matters after 2020. This is our 20th year in business and I am immensely proud of the breadth of knowledge we bring as a team. I have had to educate myself about safety and resources in a way I never imagined. It has brought a new level of importance to the conversation. I have always believed in the importance of a planning team but after 2020 I think it’s a critical decision."
While Mindy Weiss is well-known as a wedding planner, she actually got her start back in the '80s designing stationery. Today, she still designs at her company, Mindy Weiss Party Consultants, which, to this day, is her favorite part of her job. "I love creating something from a client’s words and translating that into something so special coming to life," she says.
Beyond designing, Weiss "wears a number of hats" but she is first and foremost a "companion" to her clients. "I’m not a salesperson, but when people hire me, I become a companion," she explains. "They depend on me to have the knowledge, experience, and wherewithal to help them through one of the most important times in their lives."
I Work in Weddings Because: "What’s a better job than to be surrounded by love, week after week?"
One Project I'm Most Proud Of: "Expanding and pivoting in 2020 and instead of being an event planner every single day, I became an event teacher too. Geller Events and I launched MAD About Weddings. Together, we filmed 12 video sessions with everything you need to know about planning your own wedding."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "I learned that no matter if a wedding has two people or two hundred people in attendance, you can still have the same warm memories, experiences, and joy, regardless of the guest count. I also learned that without the big, huge reception, the couple pays so much more attention to the ceremony. Our discussions were much more about the vows and ceremony details than ever before."
Founded in 1987, Norma Cohen Productions is a boutique, hands-on event planning and design firm. "Our goal is that each and every wedding should look and feel like the couple, while making the process easy and most of all fun," explains Cohen.
I Work in Weddings Because: "I love to see the joy that couples experience on the first day of their lives together."
One Project I'm Most Proud Of: "My proudest moment was my son's wedding, both professionally and as a mom!"
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "'Marry Now, Party Later!' Smaller weddings can be even more special than a large production."
Oren Co is one of the world’s leading luxury event firms with offices in Los Angeles and New York. Led by Yifat Oren, the "image architect behind some of the world’s most memorable celebrations," the Oren Co team provides a full range of services to a discerning clientele, both domestically and internationally, with signature discretion. Notable clients include Reese Witherspoon, Natalie Portman, Drew Barrymore, Cameron Diaz, Maria Sharapova, Hilary Duff, and Adam Levine.
"Yifat possesses the unique ability to create completely personalized, unforgettable, and authentic affairs with refinement and tasteful restraint," explains her team.
I Work in Weddings Because: "No client and no location are ever the same, which means there is an ephemeral quality to our work. We get to reinvent ourselves and the environments we imagine each and every time."
One Project I'm Most Proud Of: "I am still quite proud of a celebration earlier in my career. In a very remote ranch in Southern Utah, bordering Zion National Park, with zero to no infrastructure, we erected one of the most magical weekends of my entire career to date. Also one of the hardest."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "I have learned that sometimes we truly are powerless. That mother nature is so powerful, and when she wants to make it known, she will. That sometimes we must just surrender, smell the roses, find silver linings. There are many simple things in life I will never take for granted. For this and much more, I am grateful for you 2020."
While based in Washington, D.C., Alison Jackson of Pineapple Productions and her team will go anywhere their client’s vision takes them—think Napa to Nantucket!—to create extraordinary weddings set in private homes, unique properties, and historic spaces. "We're known for exceptional event design, flawless execution and warm, personal service," Jackson says. "We plan classic weddings with a touch of edge, and draw inspiration from art, travel abroad, and nature. Our weddings always respect and honor tradition but never rely on tired formulas."
Jackson adds that her earliest influences, a birthplace in San Francisco paired with a childhood spent in the South, bring a unique intersection—one where simplicity and modern techniques meet refined hospitality and beautiful artistry—to her approach to wedding planning. Case in point: Washington Nationals shortstop Trea Turner's D.C. wedding here!
I Work in Weddings Because: "I believe in the importance of celebrating love and creating unforgettable family memories."
One Project I'm Most Proud Of: "A 450-person, black-tie wedding that took place at a historic Washington, D.C., landmark and led to my first in-depth print feature in Brides. This wedding was truly an international event, as the bride was Argentinian, the groom was Persian and their guests hailed from all over the world—Kenya, Morocco, Italy, Germany, etc. It was fun and fascinating to discover the 'common threads,' as well as very professionally gratifying to see the ideas come together the day of the wedding and result in a cohesive design, and even more importantly, an inclusive, joyful experience."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "One thing that 2020 has proven is that weddings are important because they are life-affirming. They remind us of the possibility of joy, positivity, and love. In the face of so much uncertainty and anxiety brought by the pandemic, we have seen couples press forward with the idea of committing to one another and to celebrate that commitment—no matter what shape that celebration takes. Whether intimate, private, virtual or scaled back, 2020 weddings reminded us all why celebrating love is meaningful and moving."
Heather Lowenthal began working in weddings in 2003, designing invitations and day-of details for couples in Palm Beach, Florida. In 2006, she branched into full-service planning with the launch of Posh Parties, a boutique planning company that specializes in destination weddings where Palm Beach is the destination (she frequents The Breakers quite often!). "We are not a factory and take on weddings where we have mutual respect for each other in order to create a memorable and seamless wedding weekend in the most stress-less way," she explains. Her approach is simple: "I approach each wedding as if it was my own and fully listen to what each client's dream vision is," she says. "I believe that weddings have the same ingredients but what makes them special are the little touches that go a long way and truly bring out the personality of the couple."
I Work in Weddings Because: "I truly love what I do and nothing makes me happier than seeing how happy our clients are on wedding days. I love being part of this event that kicks off the rest of their lives together! I also think our industry rocks and I love the talent I am surrounded by each day—it's such an inspiration."
One Project I'm Most Proud Of: "Our updated website—I finally had time to work on it this year.
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "I learned that less is more and that love is never canceled. I think 2020 brought us back to true meaningful weddings and brought people closer in a not so great situation. Staying positive and finding creative ways to use my time while we were down was also something I appreciate from this year."
Bryan Rafanelli began planning events in 1995 and now has offices in Boston, New York City, and Palm Beach, Florida. "We concept, design, and execute beautiful weddings for thoughtful, generous, and good people," he explains.
For the past 25 years, his approach has been the same: "We bring our intellectual experience, our passion, and creativity to each wedding we help create with our clients. I personally believe every wedding is a unique experience, and that is why I love being a wedding planner. Every day is a new day."
I Work in Weddings Because: "I love telling families unique story through celebrations."
One Project I'm Most Proud Of: "A recent wedding in East Hampton, New York."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "The success of a wedding is the true reflection of the couple and their families whether it is 20 people or 300 people. Love is love in the end. It is not based on size but intent."
Rebecca Gardner LLC is a full-service event and interiors design collective specializing in environmental installations. Based in Savannah, Georgia, Gardner has an affinity for creating romantic, like-no-other spaces, whether she's pitching a tent under a canopy of Spanish moss or setting a colorful, candle-lined table. She most recently launched a curated holiday shop full of on-brand décor and gifts.
I Work in Weddings Because: "I love the dreamy romance of the occasion!"
One Project I'm Most Proud Of: "A three-day kicked back Gypsy dancing Indian Summer camp wedding."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "Patience is a virtue."
As owner and lead producer of Régine Danielle Events, Regina Brooks has designed and executed countless celebrations that reflect each couple’s unique relationship. Brooks pulls inspiration from "layered experiences," and has a deep appreciation for classic architecture, travel, interior design, and theatre.
"Inspired by travel, culture, and people, we create unforgettable celebrations that are genuine reflections of every client," she says. "Through intentional design and concierge service, clients are able to focus on what matters most: family, friends, and their marriage."
I Work in Weddings Because: "I love building immersive experiences that tell each couple's unique love story."
One Project I'm Most Proud Of: "It's hard to pick just one wedding but I would say the one I am most proud of is from 2018 where the bride had a wish to hire Boyz II Men for her wedding. Through my connections, I was able to help make this life-long wedding dream come true for her!"
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "In 2020, I learned that weddings are all about letting your love story take center stage and sharing the moment with your closest friends and family."
Over the past 14 years, Gretchen Culver has worked in almost every area of the industry, including a catering company right after college. In 2010, she launched her "out-of-this-world company, Rocket Science Events, with a goal to "revolutionize weddings."
"We are known for our innovative design, willingness to take risks, and ability to handle anything that comes our way with a smile on our face and calm demeanor," she says.
In short: Minneapolis-based Culver says their approach is to find the story and tell it in a way that is both compelling and fun. "That usually involves cocktails," she adds with a laugh.
I Work in Weddings Because: "I love knowing that I'm helping create memories for the couple and their families for a lifetime."
One Project I'm Most Proud Of: "A winter wedding where we made it snow indoors. Even though we get a lot of snow in Minnesota the only way to ensure snow is to make it ourselves. All the out of town guests loved it!"
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "That they still matter. Even in the middle of a pandemic, people are finding purpose in marriage. Also, 2020 has given couples permission to have the wedding they want, which is so great. I'm loving all the small weddings and am excited for this trend to stick around."
"We take a distinctly personal approach to wedding planning that tells the story of our clients and embraces their chosen destination," says California planner Rosemary Hattenbach of Rosemary Events. "We are particularly adept at crafting multi-day destination weddings and collaborate with our team of best-in-the-business event partners to create an once-in-a-lifetime celebration that incorporates good design and meaningful details that reflect the couple and the region. Each wedding is different but consistent throughout is a gracious hospitality and seamless orchestration which always ensures an exceptional guest experience."
I Work in Weddings Because: "I love creating special memories for couples and their families. It is so rewarding to witness them enjoying the fruits of our labor.
One Project I'm Most Proud Of: "A multi-day wedding celebration on a remote island in the Bahamas for 160 guests. The creative and logistical challenge of managing travel, multiple events in a very challenging location, and having it all unfold beautifully and without a hitch was one of my proudest accomplishments to date. I wish we could do it all over again."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "This year really cut to the core and reminded us all why we are there to celebrate; the commitment and lives of two people in love. Intimate or grand, the most important ingredient is the love between those two people. Love will always find a way."
While headquartered in Washington, D.C., and Miami, Roxanne Bellamy & Co works with couples all across the U.S. and abroad, always offering a full-service approach to planning. In addition to planning and design, they also offer consulting, event design, and management in order to best meet the needs of their clients.
"I pride myself on my ability to listen intently to my client's desires and create a cohesive event that is truly an extension of them," says creative director Bellamy. "I've garnered much praise for my ability to create refined, style-focused events with an emphasis on cultural experiences."
I Work in Weddings Because: "I adore love stories and truly enjoy illustrating my clients stories through design and details."
One Project I'm Most Proud Of: "How can I only choose one? Each client. Each unique story. Each finished project. Honestly, I'm proud of every event I produce."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "2020 reinforced my love for intimate celebrations chock full of impeccable details."
Valerie Gernhauser describes herself as a "recovering attorney that jumped into the wedding industry in the wake of the 2008 economic crisis." She founded Sapphire Events to fill a void in her local market in New Orleans, seeing the need for a wedding planner and designer that could push past traditional wedding design and create weddings that are celebratory experiences for an entire weekend, not just one day. Today, her company, Sapphire Events, has destination clients coming from California, New York, Chicago, D.C., and abroad.
"I approach each celebration with the goal of bringing out my couple's personal style and taste in an experiential event that appeals to all five senses," she says. "Coming from New Orleans (the party capital of the world), I integrate details of my couple's lives into a masterful storytelling experience that shows each guest how much they mean to my clients. I write living legacies one chapter at a time, and it is an honor I take very seriously. The party starts with us!"
I Work in Weddings Because: "It is a humbling experience to have a front-row seat to my couple's most important day of their lives."
One Project I'm Most Proud Of: "One project I'm most proud of is that time I suspended 25,000 tulips over a dance floor, and another time when I moved a beachfront wedding up an entire day to dodge a hurricane, and that day the sun shined down on us and everything happened absolutely according to plan. I am proud of each and every one of our events, because, at the end of the day, my couples are no less married to the love of their life."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "2020 taught me that there is no one-size-fits-all solution for wedding planning in a pandemic. I took an assertive approach to my 2020 weddings this year and got on the phone with all of my clients every two weeks, discussing hypothetically what they'd want to do (reduce guest count and keep the original date, or keep original guest count and move their date to the future) so that when the time came to make the decision, they were warmed up and ready to spring to action with a plan in place. There is a palliative sense of relief in the finality of decision making, and I learned in 2020 that is a precious gift in a time of overwhelming uncertainty. My clients were grateful I started the conversation for them (so they didn't have to) and even more relieved to come to a solution that was right for them, well in advance of their date. We've had a couple of small weddings this year that are some of the most remarkable expressions of love and joy I have ever been witness to. There are some epic celebrations we have planned for clients that have moved their dates to late 2021 and 2022 that I can't wait to bring to life. One client will have been with me for three years before they walk down the aisle! But absolutely nothing can stop love. I am inspired and impressed by the fortitude and perseverance my clients have shown this year."
Coming from a family that has always hosted great dinners accompanied by great style, Ashley Mason says she's always had a love for hospitality and design. "I have carried that into the way I view weddings by creating an extended dinner party atmosphere no matter the size of the guest list," she explains.
To do that best, Mason and her Dallas-based team at Saunter Weddings focus on getting to know their couples, as who they are and what they value serves as the base for their entire design plan. "We believe luxury is more about the way people feel valued in the details throughout the experience more than the overall investment," she says. "Whether it's a micro-wedding or a larger destination soiree, everyone we work with receives concierge level of service, a custom design, and a beautifully executed affair."
I Work in Weddings Because: "I truly love marriage celebrations and the unique way they blend lives. Cultures, traditions, personal style, and values make up this one of a kind experience unlike any other. To have the honor of bringing my creativity and vision into their story is such a delight!"
One Project I'm Most Proud Of: "I recently planned and designed a destination wedding in a little over one month. I was able to quickly build a relationship with the couple and get a strong sense of who they were and create a wedding far better than they or their guests could've imagined. After hearing their story of going through a canceled wedding in another state already, their pure joy was everything to me and our team."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "Always be flexible! As planners and designers, we're used to preparing a backup plan especially in the case of inclement weather. This year called for full-on backup weddings. Knowing that plans could shift in a moment's notice allowed us to guide our clients through some of the toughest challenges and present stunningly reimagined affairs."
With offices in California and Maryland, Shannon Leahy Rosenbaum of Shannon Leahy Events plans and designs stunning weddings from coast to coast—and all over the world.
"A Shannon Leahy wedding is characterized by clean line design, a carefully orchestrated flow, and an incredible attention to every detail," she describes.
Beyond the "look" of her events, Rosenbaum admits that she is "renowned for her ability to remain calm in stressful situations and is beloved for her candor and creativity." She adds, "Our clients come to us for my keen eye for design, my wealth of wedding knowledge, and my easygoing nature—we often become lifelong friends!" she says.
I Work in Weddings Because: "I get to help my clients create an experience for their loved ones that they will remember for the rest of their lives."
One Project I'm Most Proud Of: "A wedding where the clients had us create an entire event space out of an empty hilltop where they one day hope to build a home. The wedding was incredibly private, the views were insane and the experience of creating something elegant and refined out of nothing is one of my favorite things to do. We love a transformation."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "That love conquers all. That the ritual of having a wedding is about more than just checking a box and it's worth waiting for."
Troy Williams has been in the event industry since 1999, adding weddings to his expertise in 2008. Today, his company, Simply Troy is "an immersive storyteller of romantic narratives who loves designing any size wedding, both super intimate or lavishly large, to feel incredibly personal to the couple while adding an element of surprise to the night for them too." He describes his designs as "timeless."
I Work in Weddings Because: "I love bringing a couple's wedding vision to life and creating a milestone moment for them and their loved ones to remember forever."
One Project I'm Most Proud Of: "Ashley Iaconetti and Jared Haibon's Newport, Rhode Island Wedding in 2019. A wedding day filled with small intimate personalized details and over-the-top glamour. The entire wedding weekend felt like them every step of the way from the casual sunset boat cruise to the heartfelt speeches at the rehearsal dinner and then the wedding day. The entire weekend made all the guests feel like they were in a romantic movie. It was a cinematic day filled with love and the couple loved every second of it."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "Remember it's about love at the core. A marriage is intended to be for a lifetime so any postponements that can cause a year or two delay will be a small fraction of your marriage timeline together. Enjoy all the time together during this moment in history and know that the celebration will be worth it when it can safely happen."
Steve Moore is the founder and creative director of Sinclair & Moore, a full-service wedding planning and design firm based in Seattle, but producing weddings throughout the United States and Europe. "We create timeless and classic celebrations with an aesthetic that is known to embrace understated elegance and refined simplicity," he says.
I Work in Weddings Because: "I work in weddings because I am passionate about people and love creating a beautiful experience. I love walking with people during one of the most memorable and meaningful seasons of their life and creating a beautiful celebration they'll remember the rest of their lives."
One Project I'm Most Proud Of: "One project I'm most proud of is our 'yurt village wedding' In addition to producing and designing an entire weekend wedding on an island with limited resources, power, and no running water, we also organized and hosted a village of yurts where many of the guests enjoyed a glamping experience for the entire wedding weekend. It was a challenging weekend filled with endless details, but our team pulled it off!"
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "One thing I learned about weddings in 2020 is what a gift it is to be able to gather and celebrate. It is so easy to take gathering with our friends and family for granted. I've also been reminded this year what weddings are all about... take away the glitz, glam, and special details... and what is truly beautiful is the marriage taking place and two people committing their lives to each other. That is truly what matters in the end!"
With a background in hospitality at Starwood and Marriott properties, Sonal Shah started her company, Sonal J. Shah Event Consultants 18 years ago in New York City, "At that time, there really wasn't any wedding planner who was well versed in South Asian weddings," she says. "My approach to each wedding is so very different and no two weddings can ever be similar. I get asked all the time, 'How much does a wedding typically cost?' and it is very difficult to provide a simple answer because every single wedding is truly a custom event."
I Work in Weddings Because: "I want to help and navigate couples plan the celebrations of their dream to celebrate love and the marriage of two families."
One Project I'm Most Proud Of: "We planned our first same-sex marriage back in 2018. This was a monumental wedding for us as gay weddings are still not very common in the South Asian community. We were truly honored that our couple turned to us to plan their dream wedding. The grand celebrations were featured in the New York Times and Vogue India."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "Regardless of an ongoing pandemic, love can never be canceled. We can plan micro weddings, Zoom weddings, weddings with just the couple...then next year when things are hopefully back to normal, we can continue to plan giant celebrations. You can still make small weddings, backyard weddings very beautiful and Instagrammable. It's also important to help fellow vendors and small business to survive. A micro-wedding still provides jobs for many vendors. We want to help not just our clients, but also those in the industry."
Smith + James is a full-service destination wedding planning and event design studio located in Southern California. Tory Smith and her team are "dedicated to creating elegant, thoughtful, but really fun events for the most discerning clientele."
"While we understand the importance of a beautiful event, our main priority is to remove the stress from the equation," says Smith. "We want our clients to really enjoy the entire planning process and, most especially, their perfectly-crafted wedding day."
In general, Smith says they like things to feel effortless, cool, thoughtful, and organic. "Nothing should feel stuffy or forced," she says. "We are inspired by fashion, architecture, interior design, or whatever it is that gets us or our clients most excited about."
I Work in Weddings Because: "I work in weddings because I get to make people's dreams come true."
One Project I'm Most Proud Of: "One project I'm most proud of is a wedding we did in Joshua Tree. We were approached six weeks before the wedding date to plan an entire wedding with 22 musical acts. The reception tent had to be built over a ravine with actual Joshua trees coming up through the floor of the tent as they are part of the protected wildlife. And since the wedding was during the winter solstice with only a sliver of moon in the sky, we perched a 25-foot-tall LED moon on a cliff nearby so the bride could enjoy a full moon through the roof of her clear top tent."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "I learned that no matter what, love is the most important part of a wedding day. The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing."
So Happi Together is a boutique event design and planning firm based in Southern California and available for travel worldwide. "We specialize in producing weddings and other celebrations of love that are timeless, personable, and as unique as our clients," says founder and principal planner Nancy Park.
In fact, Park personally works on the design of every wedding that her team produces. "I love the opportunity to build weddings from a blank slate with beautiful views and an unforgettable experience," she says. "Our discerning clientele often plan destination weddings for which we offer full assistance in creating phenomenal parties, known for amazing food, drink, detailed design and exceptional service."
I Work in Weddings Because: "I love to be of service to others in love and to help them plan and produce the perfect celebration of that love."
One Project I'm Most Proud Of: "There are too many moments that I am so proud of since every wedding comes with its own set of challenges. But the best moments are probably the ones that are not captured in pictures. Like the one when I sewed a bride back into her gown when it's entire zipper split open 20 minutes before ceremony start time, or the one when the couple's photographer (who they booked due to budget reasons) flaked on us the morning of the wedding but I was able to get their dream/first choice photographer to come to shoot the wedding and even capture their first look, or the one when the venue shut down on us 2 months before the wedding and we were able to replan and design an even better wedding for them in under 2 months, or when unexpected windstorms or rainstorms have threatened to ruin our special day, but our team kept everyone calm and the day end with rainbows and dancing."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "People in love are some of the most resilient and kind people. The wedding is one day, but being engaged and surviving a pandemic together is a true testament of love and unity. A wedding is a reflection of every individual person and vendor behind it and I am so blessed to be working with some of the best people around."
Soirée Telluride is a boutique event production company specializing in luxury off-site tented events in the mountains of Telluride. With 20 years in the business, owner Wendy Jacobs Hampton takes pride in her "very straight forward urban vibe steeped in the relaxed atmosphere of Colorado." As there are limited venues in the region, Soirée Telluride is well-known for turning open fields and mountain mesas into custom luxury experiences for clients.
I Work in Weddings Because: "I love putting all the pieces of an event puzzle together to create a flawless weekend for my clients."
One Project I'm Most Proud Of: "Without a doubt, the wedding of Lauren Bush Lauren and David Lauren."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "Patience, compassion, empathy, and resilience."
Led by lead designer Robyne Swink and principal planner Brittany McKinney, Southern Affairs Weddings & Events is a full-service planning and design firm based in Dallas. As their name suggests, they approach planning with a "splash of Southern hospitality."
"Our couples come to us with the expectation that we will create a unique experience that embodies who they are as a couple," they say. "We believe in choosing elegance over opulence, and that there is something incredibly beautiful to be found in a refined approach to luxury. Our signature style is a marriage of classic and refined elements, assuring that every little detail comes together to create something unforgettable."
I Work in Weddings Because: "There is something just so magical about assisting two people in love plan and produce the beginning of their new journey together."
One Project I'm Most Proud Of: "I can honestly say I cannot pick just one event that I am most proud of. Each and every one of our weddings has a piece of me in there, and I honored that our clients have entrusted our team to bring their vision to life."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "Do not let stress steal your joy! Keep things in perspective because life doesn’t slow down to wait for us—all we ever really have is the present moment, so take time to enjoy it, always. Because in the end, all that matters is that you are marrying the love of your life."
Stefanie Cove started in the industry in 1997 at The Breakers Hotel in Palm Beach, Florida. Twenty-three years later, she splits her time between Los Angeles and New York, running Stefanie Cove and Company, a wedding planning company that specializes in destination celebrations. "We produce singular, full-service events around the world, organized and designed from concept to completion," she says. "We take pride in our ability to incorporate a client’s personal aesthetics, while delivering seamless execution and cutting edge design, with an equally important, memorable guest experience."
I Work in Weddings Because: "There is nothing more fulfilling than designing and executing a couple's dream flawlessly!"
One Project I'm Most Proud Of: "Where to start... one was turning a ballroom into Yayoi Kusama's Infinity Mirror Room in just a few days."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "That they are even harder than we thought! And that I can't wait to get back to doing more of them again."
Based in Beverly Hills, California, Summer Newman of Summer Newman Events has been in the industry for more than 10 years. At the full-service wedding planning and design company, she plans timeless celebrations both in her home state and beyond.
"At Summer Newman Events, the notion of gracious hosting informs all that we do," she explains. "We plan with an eye toward perfecting every last guest touchpoint—and work to craft experience-rich celebrations that inspire, enchant, and entertain. We embrace romantic, refined design—but always work to freshen up a classic aesthetic with thought-provoking event elements and artfully-crafted experiences that awe.
Newman adds that she particularly loves planning eco-friendly weddings for environmentally conscious couples.
I Work in Weddings Because: "I truly enjoy crafting experiences that evoke emotions, delight the sensibilities, and leave my clients in awe."
One Project I'm Most Proud Of: "A wedding from this year where we were able to commit to a lux design, but reduce the amount of waste from the wedding."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "This year taught me that humanity will always need a time to celebrate love, and weddings play a huge role in displaying that love."
Tara Guérard Soirée is a boutique, full-service, event planning, and design production company—headquartered in the historic district of Charleston, with an additional office located in the flower district in Manhattan. In addition to offering unique florals, Guérard offers custom printing in-house through the Lettered Olive.
"We create memorable, elegant, spectacular, and, most importantly, fun settings that are custom and tailored to our client's individual style all around the world," she says.
I Work in Weddings Because: "Making clients dreams come true is so rewarding. Waking up on Sunday morning and receiving a text from a client after the event saying how happy they are, and how it was more than they ever dreamt... that is for sure the win! That's the whole point, right? That's why I do it, that's why I'm still here. That's why I get up on Monday morning and go back into the office. I love that sense of accomplishment! (and, of course, most importantly... getting to know our clients and making good friends for life... the best!)."
One Project I'm Most Proud Of: "This year, transforming existing ballrooms into new spaces. Our niche is typically tents, so it has been so much fun not to worry about weather!"
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "That we can conquer it ALL—not only terrible weather but COVID-19! We can still produce safe and successful weddings for our clients! Our team rocked it!"
The Lynden Lane Co., a team of full-service event planners with a heavy focus on design, was started by a mother and her two daughters. Uniquely, they also create and produce interior design projects in addition to full production weddings and events.
"Our interior projects allow us to approach the design and atmosphere of events with a residential perspective," says Layne Povey. "Together, we believe that perfection is not always perfect; a font does make a difference; that balance creates art; that proportion matters; that good etiquette equals good manners...period. There isn’t much that a little sarcasm and a well-made cocktail can’t cure!"
I Work in Weddings Because: "We get to create an effortless atmosphere with intentional design and this allows our couples to intersect their past and their future. It is just fantastic."
One Project I'm Most Proud Of: "Wedding weekend in Mayakoba. It was a full transformation of an event space that didn't exist with hurricanes and heat to keep us on our toes!"
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "We learned that flexibility and perspective is not only necessary but imperative. We learned that although your wedding day is often one of the most important days of your life, realizing that change can and will happen and that it will be okay. Also that everyone needs a wedding planner haha."
The Nouveau Romantics
Elizabeth McKellar, a self-proclaimed middle child and Canadian, describes herself as a "literal born peacemaker." And while she counts this quality, along with her more than a decade of experience, as an asset while planning, her real mantra is "collaboration—anywhere, anytime." In fact, McKellar and her team take this motto quite literally as they work from offices in Austin, Texas, Los Angeles, and Vancouver, where she grew up. "We’ve mastered the art of digital collaboration as our busy clientele (and our team!) work, live, and travel around the world—embracing the reality of a global world and building an incredibly close working relationship no matter the time zone," she adds.
I Work in Weddings Because: "I love working with diverse, colorful families and creating the stories that they will pass down to their children and grandchildren. It tickles me to no end!"
One Project I'm Most Proud Of: "All of my backyard/private property weddings. We've been lucky enough to do a number, and the personal stories related to each property/land is one of my absolute favorite parts of my job."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "That it's a group sport. And that the wedding vendor world is big, and wide, and have huge hearts and are just so excited to get back to work for all the couples that we serve."
The Styled Bride specializes in working with engaged couples to explore and find their aesthetic for their wedding while collaborating with an expert to make sure all of the moving parts are handled.
"We believe having someone help you isn’t a luxury, it just makes sense," explains Susan Norcross of Philadelphia. "Think of us as your guide—we are your biggest advocate in creating a wedding that represents you as a couple and helps you enjoy the process along the way."
I Work in Weddings Because: "It's never boring! Nothing I do is the same twice, while experiences may be similar, it never the same and we get to be a part of something so special over and over again!
One Project I'm Most Proud Of: "Helping both my siblings weddings. My brother's wedding was one of my very first weddings as I had always worked in special events and this made me decide to just concentrate on weddings only. My sister is 12 years younger and her wedding was last summer. She trusted me to take her ideas and vision and create such an intimate and memorable day."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "We will always figure it out. While incredibly challenging for many, perspective is key, it's better to have a small wedding and a big marriage, than a big wedding and a small marriage."
"I tend to be traditional with a modern spin," admits Todd Fiscus of Dallas-based Todd Events. "I like projects to feel romantic, kinda sexy, really comfortable, with great service and tons of flowers!"
However, no matter the event style, Fiscus says he mostly just loves watching people have fun. While planning, he wants his clients to remember that. "For my brides, I feel sometimes stuck somewhere between a hired helper, a best friend, and a bridesmaid," he says. "I want them to enjoy the process, while at the same time keeping myself in the driver's seat to ensure that they enjoy the ride!"
I Work in Weddings Because: "At my core, I simply love beautiful experiences of life and love. I started in weddings as a florist, and over the years have grown and learned to create experiences that are a little bit more all-encompassing. Twenty-six years later, I still love making people happy, experiencing new love, and creating beauty."
One Project I'm Most Proud Of: "A wedding weekend was planned for a family I truly love, and whose top priority was seeing their friends and family have a wonderful time. The fact that they have great taste was an added bonus. The focus was as much on the guests as it was on the bride and groom. Rarely do we get to work with people so appreciative of our efforts, and for that, we will forever love them!"
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "What I have learned about weddings in 2020 really comes down to what I have learned about people and understanding the human connection to expectations, desires, and how to manage that. I have learned that challenging times bring out the best and the worst in people. We have had some clients pivot with ease, understanding, and empathy. While some others have done the exact opposite. I have learned that I want to surround myself with people that I can make happy and people who make me happy because this is a labor of love."
Founded by husband-and-wife Aleah and Nick Valley in 2003, Valley & Company Events provides innovative planning, design, and florals for beautiful, fun, and "storied" weddings and parties. (The couple's book is titled "Storied Weddings.")
"We pride ourselves on telling the stories of our couples and clients and crafting elevated moments that reflect our clients," they say. "We take a relaxed and enjoyable approach to the planning process, encouraging our couples to really understand their own styles and tastes, and we push the creative envelope with our partners, creating events that look and feel as original as our couples."
We Work in Weddings Because: "Being able to create the most incredible moments in time for our couples and their families and friends brings such joy! There's that moment at each one of our events where all of the guests are celebrating in that moment in time and nowhere else, no matter what is going on outside. That moment is pure magic and fuels our passion!
One Project We're Most Proud Of: "Each one of our weddings and events means something extra special to us—but one recent wedding, pre-COVID on Maui truly reminded us of just how special weddings are. Our couple decided to shift their big plans from a large wedding on the mainland to an intimate 40-guest weeklong celebration on Maui, and it was just magic. We are also proud of our ability to work with The Confetti Foundation, delivering birthday boxes to children celebrating their birthdays in the hospital, and for work with corporate clients that enables us to support other small businesses tremendously during the pandemic."
What We Learned About Weddings in 2020: "2020 taught us so much, but it reignited the reason why we love what we do so much; weddings are about creating a new chapter and adding to a couple's story—and no matter the space a wedding takes, it's all about the love!"
"Born to Party, Forced to Work—that's the name of my book and it really says it all," says Bronson van Wyck, who, together with his mother and business partner, runs the internationally renowned event design and production firm, Van Wyck & Van Wyck. "Our team was truly born to party so our passion for our profession permeates all that we do."
Headquartered in New York City with more than 20 years of experience, the team approaches all events as a family (and, particularly so, with weddings), ultimately creating one-of-a-kind experiences for their clients, who come to them from all over the world.
"We are celebrated for a style of entertaining that combines wit and sophistication with the gracious warmth of our Southern roots, every event we produce embodies the age-old notion of hospitality," he says. "Although an event may only last an evening, we ensure that guests make memories that last a lifetime."
I Work in Weddings Because: "After spending several years out in Los Angeles on the C-list trying my hand at acting, my mother, who is now my business partner, asked me what I loved to do. I said 'throw parties,' and so she said, 'let's figure out a way to make a living throwing party.' We have never looked back."
One Project I'm Most Proud Of: "That is like picking your favorite child! I am so proud of all of our weddings and events. Whether the celebration is for 50 guests or 500, in our backyard of New York City or halfway across the globe in Tuscany, each event requires meticulous attention to detail, a unique design perspective, and superior hospitality that will make that one night or weekend a memory to last a lifetime."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "Have empathy for everyone involved in the planning process, especially the bride and groom themselves. Also, necessity is the mother of invention! As creatures, we crave love, laughter, and connection with others. Your wedding will be an even sweeter celebration when you are able to join your family and friends together again."
After a career in the luxury hotel industry, Victoria Holland decided it was time to take the leap and create a company that emphasized customer service, design, and "making the impossible possible." In 2010, this became Victoria Ann Events.
"Our approach to our signature wedding is a streamlined planning and design process broken into phases," she explains. "This allows everyone involved in the wedding to be on the same page, for us to cultivate the perfect cast of creative partners, and take out the fear of the unknown that planning a wedding can bring."
Holland accomplishes this through a "phased planning process," which she says gives her team time to get to know clients and "create a design and event that is authentic to their love story and journey together."
I Work in Weddings Because: "I love, love! When I work with my couples I am truly invested in sharing their unique love story!"
One Project I'm Most Proud Of: "I am so proud of all my projects, it’s hard to pick one! Every wedding I have done has truly been so unique. But I can say I am most proud when my couples are having so much fun at their wedding, they truly don’t want the night, weekend, or sometimes week to end! The whole planning leads to those moments and to be able to create those experiences for my couples makes me proud!"
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "I learned that if you know how to roll with the punches and keep a positive attitude, everything will fall into place the way it's supposed to. I also learned that our industry is so resilient, we have been through a lot, and somehow everyone in this industry never ceases to amaze me with creativity and finding a way to make dreams come true."
A few things to know about Waverly Coleman: She loves sushi, travel, Champagne, the color gold "so much." Also, she's a "total Taurus." Inspired by her mother's love of setting the table, Coleman started her Los Angeles-based party planning business in 2013 and moved into weddings in 2017 after going to a "really awful wedding" that spring.
"My approach when it comes to weddings is elevation," she says. "I have a listening ear and very observing eyes. I marinate on how we can express a couple's ideas with innovation. I ask questions while still being mindful. It's not my wedding! But it is my job and dream to take on the overthinking that comes with the big day and ease it out for everyone involved."
I Work in Weddings Because: "The time is precious and 100 percent fulfilling. I love love and am a true hopeless romantic who enjoys people. My favorite part is when people first walk into space and see what we've created. When I see we, I don't mean just me and my team, I'm speaking of the couple as well. I'm bringing their ideas to life and I love to see people's reactions to that. It's also amazing to see the day through a photographer's eyes."
One Project I'm Most Proud Of: "Producing the Fenty/Puma pop up events in Los Angeles and NYC for Rihanna—hands down! But, for weddings, definitely Matthew and Candice Cherry's COVID wedding. We planned their day in a week and though they weren't able to have all their family and friends present, their love was and it shows in all their photos. Also, their venue was on my vision board so it all happened the way it was supposed to."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "I've learned that downsizing never hurt anyone and keeps us all safe! Honestly, when all is said and done my couples are actually relieved/relaxed that their guest count is a tad smaller and they can put their money towards elaborate decor, florals, food, or a better photo/video package. They just want to get married without added pressures and I'm thankful to be part of that. We spend a lot of intimate time together during the planning process that we become each other's family."
A full-service planning, design, and floral studio, Boston-based Whim Events has the details covered. In fact, Natalie Pinney and her team just surprised a couple by orchestrating every detail of their wedding when it had to be reimagined due to COVID-19.
"Our celebrations are individually tailored around building meaningful experiences, allowing our couples and guests to feel distinctively treated, incredibly well taken care of, and blissfully lost in the moment," Pinney says.
And, since they handle everything in house, Pinney likens their process to decorating a home. "Here, couples get to hand-select their favorite blooms, textures, colors, and foliage," she says. "Much like designing the interiors of a home, this allows us to draw inspiration from our clients’ favorite elements for design."
I Work in Weddings Because: "It’s not building a stunning tablescape or an Instagram worthy moment that inspires us to work in weddings. It’s the feeling we get when our couples and their loved ones feel when they take their seat at the table, at a venue we’ve built from the ground up. It’s the stories that people share as they come together. It is the deep relationships we build with couples to create such an important day in their lives. But mostly, we work in weddings because we adore seeing our couples completely lost in the moment, surrounded by their loved ones - a feeling they will treasure forever."
One Project I'm Most Proud Of: "This past September, two of our clients allowed us to completely surprise them with small celebrations! One of our couples allowed us to surprise them with every detail of their 12-person minimony. After postponing their 180-guest wedding celebration, the couple decided that they wanted to have a small ceremony on their original date in the backyard of their new home. Already faced with the difficult decision of postponing, we thought they deserved the freedom to focus on what mattered most—their love and marriage. So we asked if they would allow us to completely surprise them with every detail of their minimony, and they enthusiastically agreed. We produced this small event in just about three weeks and the couple was over the moon. The experience for the couple was so amazing that we asked another client if they’d be interested in the same type of surprise event."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "Acceptance that celebrations will be different this year. Grasping this has allowed our minds to be completely open to thinking creatively around celebrations instead of getting stuck in a “how things used to be” mentality. Some of our most creative ideas have arrived because we were forced to go against the norm this year. What happens when you can’t have a dance floor? Instead, you create a concert vibe with musicians on stage and socially distanced lounge seating. Or you ask your band to record a live performance to stream for the first dance! This has created something more magical than we have ever expected—and our couples and their guests have loved and welcomed these new ideas. We’ve learned when you stay focused on the purpose and the why, it actually becomes really fun to navigate the new 'how.'"
Wild Heart Events produces high-end weddings for the modern couple that are bold, fresh, authentic, and inclusive.
"I approach every wedding as an elevated dinner party, incorporating elements of our client's personal style into the aesthetics and meaningful moments to create an experience that is true to our couples but also memorable to their guests," says Jaime Kostechko, who has a background in hospitality management. "We create energy through our designs that have guests filled with laughter and smiles and results in a legendary dance party."
In Kostechko's words, this translates to "unforgettable" celebrations and designs that are layered with color, pattern, texture, and trendsetting details.
I Work in Weddings Because: "I absolutely love creating life's most memorable moments. It is an honor to design and produce some of the best days of people's lives!"
One Project I'm Most Proud Of: "From replanning and redesigning a celebrity wedding due to the fires and mudslides in Santa Barbara, to transforming a cathedral-sized greenhouse into an amazing event space, to small-scale elopements in Joshua Tree and destination weddings around the world, each event is unique and special. I do keep looking back to our last event of 2019...a large-scale, December wedding in a beautiful greenhouse before we knew the mess that 2020 would bring. We ended our season, not knowing it would be our last four-day install, a dream team of vendors, and gathering of over 150 people for a while."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "This crazy year has brought a focus to the intention and purpose behind marriage. Whether our clients decided to postpone their large-scale wedding or reframe the scope in order to fit within the current regulations, the key to the success of both paths is to focus on their love for each other. Those that pivoted into small-scale gatherings found their weddings to be more personalized and detail-oriented than they ever would have imagined. Those that have decided to wait are planning more experiential celebrations that hone in on authenticity and meaningful moments. Either way, we have grown our personal connections with our clients as we have all gone through such trying times together and with so much compassion and flexibility."