Celebrity wedding planner Diann Valentine shares her secrets to creating the perfect event for you.
Show Your Love
“Any couple can have their dream wedding," says celebrity wedding planner Diann Valentine, who we asked to help make ESSENCE Storybook Wedding winners Kyla and Aaron's dream wedding come true. "Remember to have fun and include the people and things you love. For Aaron and Kyla, I took their southern charm and their love of music and sweets to create a festive event that fit their personalities.”
“Guest list is the number one indicator of your budget," says Valentine. "As women of color, we have a strong sense of family and feel connected to many people, so our weddings tend to be the biggest. I always tell clients do not sacrifice quality for quantity. People can be happy for you and not be at your wedding. One great way to make people who can’t attend feel included is to mail marriage announcements the same day as your wedding.”
“Make sure your wedding dress and location work together,” says Valentine. “A lot of people want a Caribbean wedding, so a heavy gown may not be the best for that. Kyla’s Kevan Hall lace gown was timeless yet modern and a perfect fit for the wedding’s artistic venue.”
“A wedding should feel like one cohesive event from the invitations throughout the wedding day,” Valentine says. “I took the design from Kyla and Aaron’s wedding invitations and used the motif throughout the day on the programs, menus and a custom sticker at the ceremony. The flowers at the reception also were in the same shape.”
“Lighting is one of the most critical elements of a wedding,” says Valentine. “With lighting, you can transform a room with a fraction of the cost. At the Georgia Freight Depot it was very edgy with exposed brick. The LED lighting softened the space and was a way to subliminally change people’s moods. We also had chandeliers for a romantic touch.”
While guests enjoyed cocktail hour hors d’oeuvres by Bistro 404 at the ESSENCE Storybook Wedding, items from the ceremony were moved to the reception. “We moved flowers, accents and candles from the ceremony. You can never have enough candles and reusing items is a great way to cut costs.”
“Think about the flower season of your wedding day,” says Valentine. “I have clients that love peonies and don’t realize they are hard to get in August. Also don’t feel pressured to have flowers everywhere. Think of a few strong visual points and focus on those. Go for the unexpected and have fun.”
“To make a wedding fun you need things for people to do,” Valentine tells us. “The more things you have for people to do, the better the experience for the bride and groom. For Aaron and Kyla I knew they loved sweets so we did a candy bar and also had a interactive photo booth. For other clients, I’ve done caricature stations, henna tattoos, a beauty bar, crab table and had beach bags you can personalize at an island wedding.”
“A great way to create an experience and also save money is a signature drink,” says Valentine. “People can sample your choices and have fun, without you hosting a full bar. For Aaron and Kyla’s wedding, Voli Vodka provided three special drinks.”
“Many people don’t hire an MC or host, but you really need someone to keep the night going,” says Valentine. “Get someone who knows you and has a great personality. They will be engaging and will keep things moving. For Aaron and Kyla we had Atlanta radio personality Bubby Love of V-103.”
“Favors are the first thing I try to steer brides from,” says Valentine. “You are not obligated and a lot of favors are left on a table or in the parking lot. If you really want a favor, give them something they can use at the wedding or something edible, like the sweets at Aaron and Kyla’s wedding.”
“Often times venues have two times available and evening events are more expensive,” says Valentine. “Look at afternoon wedding. Also consider other days then Saturday, which is the most expensive. I did three weddings in the middle of the week. That’s a big trend. Women are realizing it’s my wedding day and it’s ok to be a little selfish.”
See more of Diann’s wedding tips – and her own story of finding love – in the February 2013 issue of ESSENCE. Visit Bridal Bliss this week to see all of the fabulous photos from Aaron and Kyla's storybook wedding day.