Tell us a little about Weddings by Day. Introduce yourself to my readers. Weddings by Day is a full planning and event service company. We focus about 85% on weddings; however, we do other types of events such as: social events, birthday parties, celebrations, some corporate and athletic events like galas and fundraisers for athletes and their organizations and some camps and clinics. We are a broad-based event planning company but our focus is weddings because it’s such a large industry.
You do so much! Sort of like Superwoman.. So, how long have you been planning weddings? (Laughs) You know how boxers are amateurs before they were professionals? Well, I started as an amateur planner back during my sophomore year in college, so… since 1992. I’ve been in the industry for over 20 years. But, I’ve been running Weddings by Day full-time since 2007.
How did you get started? I actually started doing events through pageantry in college. I wanted to run for Miss Clark Atlanta University and had just been initiated into the wonderful sorority Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated and my lovely line sisters did not vote for me to run for Miss Clark Atlanta – they voted for one of my line sisters. I was ticked off. (Laughs) In order for me to do my thing – to, you know, “fight the power” – I went to administration. They wanted me to run but I explained that I couldn’t, I couldn’t go against my sorority, we couldn’t split the vote. So, they hired me on the spot to teach the girls how to walk and to help with the production. And that’s what I did and I fell in love with it. From that point on I was paid to help with the pageants for the Greek organizations and the school. That eventually led to events, and the rest is history.
What is your favorite part of the job? That’s a really good question. My favorite part is when it’s over… And let me explain that to you, because it sounds bad, right? It’s not “OMG, I am done with [my clients] and I’m so happy,” it’s the after-effect, the relationship that is built on the back end. It’s the relationship that continues on after the wedding. Does that make sense? Like, I love what I do; I love the preparation and the beauty of the final product. But, during that process you either create an awesome relationship with someone or you don’t. 8 out of 10 times, I end up with a new BFF and so, when the wedding is over, we still talk. My brides call me when they are expecting babies, when they are going on trips or family vacations; they come over for dinner if they are in the same city.
I feel like I build true friendships or good associations afterwards and I love that feeling. It makes me feel like they were happy with the services we provided during the planning process. But, the wedding is just an event. I tell all of my brides that I consider myself more of a marriage planner and less of a wedding planner, because at the end of the day, we only have a few hours to show everyone something, but they have 3 million hours to be married.
Great. I love that!! And I totally get it. I adore my clients and am always a little sad at the end of each wedding because I don’t have their wedding to look forward to anymore.
Tell us what you find to be the most challenging part of your job. The most challenging part is budgets. I love social media, I think it’s a great vehicle for us to utilize to get our brand and our message out. However, I think it’s the devil when it comes to brides. Brides see the “pretty” that we post, they see the pinterest boards that their friends are sharing, and the DIY-isms, as I call them. What happens is, they end up wanting more than their budgets can support. It puts the pressure on us as the planner to produce a fantasy with their actual budget.
And, it’s not a bad thing for a bride to have a modest budget it’s just having to bring them back to reality; it’s just hard sometimes. And you know that as a photographer… it’s just harder for us as the planner, because we have to explain what everyone is charging and a lot of times they just don’t get it.
So, what advice would you have for a bride currently planning her wedding and possibly looking for a planner to help? My best advice is to be realistic about your investment, because it is an investment. The return is (1) a husband (laughs); (2) a great party; and (3) memories…. and you get gifts. However, when you’re planning, be very realistic about how you are investing your money. Don’t get too caught up in what everyone else wants to see – not what you see on social media, on the blogs, in the magazines, and on reality TV. Be real to what you want and don’t overspend. It’s really that simple. You can have beauty without having to go into debt.
And so, for the bride considering a planner, when we are talking about budgets… You mentioned “DIY-isms,” because there is certainly this thought that with the help of Pinterest and hopefully a great MOH, a bride can do it all by herself. Why hire and invest in a planner? My advice at the end of the day is always going to be to hire a professional. This is how I look at it: as a planner, we are not always seen as a priority. We are seen more as an additional cost that a couple doesn’t have to incur. But, couples aren’t DJing the weddings themselves; they aren’t cooking the food; they aren’t taking their own pictures [at least we hope they aren’t!] – couples hire professionals to do their job. It’s worth the investment to have someone manage the process for you. We’re certified to do what we do. We bring our expertise in to show you how to make the most out of your budget, how to achieve the look you want, and create a seamless/flawless day that’s stree-free. That’s what we’re here to do.
Now, if a couple can’t afford to pay a planner $10,000 – $12,000 dollars to do all of the planning, hire the planner for month-of-services. That’s something we are offering more of. I’ll talk to the bride one hour a month in the months leading up to the wedding day, and then the month of the wedding I fully take-over the planning. Because I’ve been talking to bride each month for the last six months, I know who the vendors are and know what the vision for the day is. I am able to step-in, take those contracts, and make sure everything falls into place as it should on the wedding day. It gives brides that stress-free day for a lot less.
Yes, so that is my next question – what is the average cost for month-of-services? It depends on the region, but on average between $2,500 – $3,500.
And so, if someone is hiring a planner, what factors should they consider or be looking for with that potential planner? Certification is good. Couples should at least ask the planner if they’ve been certified or taken any classes.
Get references from other brides who they have worked with. If they’re following the planner on Instagram or Facebook, they can see whom the planner has tagged to reach out to the clients or they can ask the planner for a list of 3 or 4 client references.
They’ll also want to look at the vendors the planner is working with, to see the type of vendor they are working with — the caliber of vendor.
But, the key is personality. They’ll want to make sure their personality meshes with the planner and that there is a chemistry there. The bride/couple is going to be with the planner for a loooooong time. As a planner, I become your sister, your mother, your friend, your accountant, your teacher (laughs), we’re exchanging recipes, you know my family, I know your family… it truly is a relationship and if the couple isn’t comfortable with the planner it just won’t be an enjoyable process. I have told some brides “no,” because I just knew that we weren’t going to work well together.
Share one of your favorite client memories. I actually just shared their wedding this week, because they celebrated their 7th anniversary, Jackie Payne [now Rodgers]. The whole experience with their wedding was just beautiful to me. I had been with [Jackie] since she was a freshman at Clark Atlanta University. I helped all of the pageant queens and she eventually went on to be Miss Clark Atlanta. Her mom told me, when she got engaged, that I had to do her wedding. Her wedding was so easy and so seamless that I thought every wedding would be that way. But, it was because of the relationship that we already had and how well our personalities worked together.
The moment I saw her take her first dance with him, I just had this “aha” moment, like, “this is what I am supposed to do.” Her mom was like, “you’re going to get five weddings from this one, just watch!” ..and I literally did. Her bridesmaids turned into brides and their bridesmaids turned into brides. That wedding pretty much launched my company.
Either or — What is your favorite current wedding trend or what is a wedding trend that you would like to see die? I don’t have a current favorite wedding trend because I like to think of myself as a trendsetter. I don’t watch the trends, I like to come up with my own ideas… I don’t even get into the Pantone Color of the Year.
The trend I would like to see die is trends… for everyone to stop doing what they see and do what they love. Brides should do more of what they like. If you like chocolate cake and hamburgers – let’s make that a part of your wedding, in a beautiful way.
Anything else you would like for my readers to know about Weddings by Day? We are a boutique wedding planning company. We only take 7 weddings a year, which allows us to just be more focused on you (the bride) and not stretch ourselves so thin. It costs a little bit more, but in my opinion it allows us to give you better service.
Perfect. Ok, last question – when you’re not planning weddings or events, how are you spending your time? When I am not planning, I am a basketball mom and a coach’s wife. My husband played professional basketball, coached professionally, and now he’s a skill developer. My oldest daughter plays college basketball and is about to graduate, so we are getting her ready for her career in basketball. My youngest daughter is going to the 4th grade and she plays basketball. So, when I am not planning weddings, that’s what I am doing.. helping run my husband’s basketball business and keeping up with the girls and their love for the game. And for fun I sleep. I actually rest and binge-watch my favorite TV shows.
Big, big thank you to De’Neia Whitted of Weddings by Day for taking the time for this interview. Weddings by Day is on the web at http://weddingsbyday.net, by phone at 888-688-5551 ext1, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.