WeddingPro is pleased to introduce the 2022 Class of Fellowship for Change, a program that gives pros in their first years of business the chance to pursue their passions and accelerate their growth through self-paced educational content, expert-led talks and so much more. Research shows not enough small business owners in underrepresented communities get access to funding and education that will truly help them thrive. That’s why we created Fellowship for Change. We can’t wait to see how these Fellows grow their businesses over the course of 2022 and beyond.

And now it’s time to meet the Fellowship for Change Class of 2022!

Allison “Allie” Calzada

Is there a particular moment or story about why you decided that being in the wedding industry was what you wanted to do? My business idea came from the love that I have for weddings and the industry. I’ve been obsessed with weddings since I was a little girl- I was the officiant at numerous recess weddings. Something about celebrating a lifelong commitment is very endearing to me.  

As an extroverted, hopeless romantic, I knew that there was bound to be a role for me in this industry. Similar to the origins of many love stories, the conception for my business arose when I was least expecting it. In 2020, I started entertaining the idea of officiating weddings for my friends and family. The idea progressed into a business plan, and before I knew it, I took the plunge and established my small business. 

I stand for… authenticity, inclusivity, equality, and most importantly love.

My clients are… unapologetically authentic with a taste for some fun!

If I could… I SO would be on the show, “Real Housewives of Dallas”.

One time I… saw a bunny as a ring bearer once! 

Allie the Wedding Officiant LLC | @allie_wed

 

Ariane Chew

Is there a particular moment or story about why you decided that being in the wedding industry was what you wanted to do? My initial interest in wedding planning was sparked at 9 years of age when I saw “The Wedding Planner” for the first time. Between the grandeur of the wedding scenes, seeing the main character as a boss who was good at solving problems, while being a hopeless romantic screamed “This is so me!”. Little moments along the way confirmed my love for weddings, which includes volunteering in a church wedding ministry to planning events for my university. But the moment I knew for sure was a divine encounter with God that led me to start my company, A.Monet Events in 2017. Weddings are a celebration of love and legacy and it encompasses everything that I stand for. As a woman who has always been family-oriented, a hopeful romantic, and a dreamer; planning weddings allows me to be my most authentic self.

I stand for… integrity and Creating Meaningful Connections

My clients are… diverse people who are willing to invest in premium experiences to celebrate life’s big moments in style.

If I could… I would open up a chain of wedding and event venues today!

One time I… planned a wedding with 4 outfit changes for the bride, 3 location changes, 3 musical acts, and a celebrity encounter  -talk about a party!

A.Monet Events, Inc. | @AMONET.EVENTS

 

Ashanti J Neal

Is there a particular moment or story about why you decided that being in the wedding industry was what you wanted to do? Designing and planning weddings is my passion. I realized early in life I enjoyed creating memorable moments but did not know I could make a career of it. I always planned/decorated events for my children and extended family. They were constantly telling me how amazing the design was and how I executed their vision. So in 2019, I decided to hang up my nursing scrubs and give it a try. My first wedding was for 100 guests where I planned, designed, and coordinated for 12 hours, all for free. I loved every moment of it.

I stand for… what’s fair and just.

My clients are… true to themselves, fashionable, and worldly.

If I could… J.J. Ash Events would build up wedding planning firms all over the U.S and Internationally.

One time I… along with my husband, built a snow park for our kids. In freaking waist-deep snow!

J.J. Ash Events and Designs LLC | @Jjashdesigns

 

Bhanu Priya Pemmaraju

Is there a particular moment or story about why you decided that being in the wedding industry was what you wanted to do? There’s a saying that people never forget the way they feel, even if everything else is lost and forgotten. The couple will always remember how they felt at their ceremony, during their best and not-so-best times of their life together. At the wedding, they go through varying emotions from nervousness to a grateful attitude towards their loved one. Therefore, planning and designing “EXPERIENTIAL WEDDINGS” has become more important than ever before. South Asian and Indian weddings in particular are not only colorful but use sensory and emotional aspects that bring the couple, family, and friends together. Being part of their most important journey is my main motivation to be part of weddings

I stand for… conscious weddings lead to beautiful families and a better world!

My clients are… rooted in their traditions, understand its meaning and purpose but also follow industry trends and have a contemporary style that is elegant and personalized.

If I could… I would travel & collaborate with native artists from around the world to incorporate their arts in the wedding decor.

One time I… planned a styled shoot in one week!

Purple Tassel Llc | @Thepurpletassel

 

Crystal Gomez

Is there a particular moment or story about why you decided that being in the wedding industry was what you wanted to do? I started in the wedding industry when the pandemic was just starting. I wanted to bring joy and togetherness at a time where despair and sadness were everywhere. 

I stand for… diversity and inclusivity.

My clients are… incredibly fun and down-to-earth! 

If I could… take a trip to Hawaii with my whole family, I would!! Grandparents included!

One time I… tried out for a roller derby team, and made it!

Ceremonies with Crystal, LLC | @ceremonieswithcrystal

 

Crystal Gonzales

Is there a particular moment or story about why you decided that being in the wedding industry was what you wanted to do? After doing my very first wedding and seeing the bride’s reaction to her bouquet, was the moment for me. The feeling it gave me to see her cry tears of joy was indescribable. I knew from that moment that I wanted to focus on weddings. I love being a part of the journey to one of the most important days of people’s lives.

I stand for… compassion and kindness.

My clients are…  those that think outside of the box. They appreciate the arts, have a desire for the finer things, and aren’t afraid to indulge in luxury.

If I could… turn back time… I would have started my business at a younger age which would have allowed me more time to be at home with my children when they were younger.

One time I… gave the shoes off my feet to one of my brides because her shoes were killing her.

Floral Elegance LLC | @FloralEleganceWeddings

 

Danielle Oglesby

Is there a particular moment or story about why you decided that being in the wedding industry was what you wanted to do? When I graduated from Cosmetology school I decided that I wanted to be the type of hairstylist that could service any woman with hair. Most women with textured and Afro-textured hair have a laundry list of uncomfortable, bad, and downright awful experiences. Trying to find a capable stylist, with many failed attempts along the way, for no other reason than to the lack of stylists with the proper education and training. Because of this, huge monumental occasions, such as wedding days, women with textured hair often feel they must choose between styling their hair themselves to protect and respect their natural curl pattern or paying a stylist but settling for a mediocre look. 

No woman should have to watch all of her friends in the bridal party be styled but her simply because the hired stylist lacks the skillset to work with her hair texture. No bride should have to spend hours upon hours hunting for a stylist who can style her and her entire bridal party when she and her friends have different hair textures.

My mission is to show that healthy, beautiful hair is attainable for everyone. I want to ensure that every person can trust the The BAE BAR styling team, regardless of hair texture, length, or density.

So many times women of color have to sit out on this luxury experience we call “on-site” bridal hair styling. I’m going to change that!

I stand for… inclusion, diversity, and grace.

My clients are… sweet, understanding, kind, loving individuals.

If I could… make every cosmetology school and curriculum to include textured and afro-textured hair in their studies, I would make it happen in a heartbeat.

One time I… let my twin brother cut my bangs, we were 7 years old…. Let’s just say… he got in trouble for doing it and I got in trouble for letting him do it lol

The Bae Bar | @baebarindy

 

Daryl Crosby

Is there a particular moment or story about why you decided that being in the wedding industry was what you wanted to do? There is just something about the overall vibe of weddings. Two people who are in love are the reasons families come from all over the nation and even the world to witness their union. Some of these family members have not seen each other in years (especially since COVID), and some people are meeting new family members for the first time. People are smiling, eating, mingling, drinking, dancing, and loving on each other. All while I am supplying the soundtrack to the event. It gives me chills.

I stand for… love, honesty, positivity, and understanding that we all have something to offer each other. Simply put… I don’t do drama!

My clients are… diverse clients that range from Anime lovers (with Anime themed wedding music) to clients who love Broadway! I believe I have grown so much as a musician and DJ just from what I have learned from the diversity of my clients.

If I could… I would ensure teachers and other roles in the field of education have salaries that are at least equivalent to those who are in the medical field, law, and other fields of higher earnings.

One time I… DJ’s 4 weddings in a span of 9 days. That may not sound like a big deal to some, but it was a true grind, a struggle, but my clients were SUPER happy!

ENCORE Music and Entertainment | @encoremusicva

 

Ebony M Whitson

Is there a particular moment or story about why you decided that being in the wedding industry was what you wanted to do? My husband and I will celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary on June 23rd. At that time I thought “Oh I can do this on my own”. What happened is probably the only good thing I can say now that I look back. Using that experience of what can and will go wrong, I knew that once the opportunity came for me to help someone else’s wedding day be more than just “it happened”, I would give it my all. My first wedding opportunity was my brother’s and since then we have helped countless couples create Wonderful Wedding Days to remember!

I stand for… love that conquers all and a passion for exceptional design.

My clients are… optimistic open-minded individuals with an eye for the details.

If I could… I would own a plot of land and create a housing compound for us and our kids (one house for each) where we could live together in our own little gated community close forever.

One time I… swam with sharks.

Whitson Wonder Productions | @whitsonwonder

 

Hellena Ruiz

Is there a particular moment or story about why you decided that being in the wedding industry was what you wanted to do? For me, it’s always been about my couple’s unique story. Each one of them is filled with LOVE in their eyes when they share how they first met! I knew I’d want to capture this always.

I stand for… LOVE, justice, and inclusivity.

My clients are… magical, unique, and special in every way possible.

If I could… be a photographer full time I would!!

One time I… set a goal to save enough to be able to pay my car off!!! 🙂

Hellena Cedeno Photography | @hellenacedenophotography

 

Jennifer Troy

Is there a particular moment or story about why you decided that being in the wedding industry was what you wanted to do? The moment I knew I wanted to be part of the wedding industry occurred 6 months after my own wedding. A guest reached out to me to assist her in planning her wedding. I asked her why she didn’t reach out to a seasoned vet and she said it was because everything about my wedding was memorable and she wanted to capture that same emotion. I knew then that this was a calling.

I stand for… integrity, positivity, and love.

My clients are… fun, outgoing, and loving, who love opulence without the snobbery.

If I could… I’d visit France, Italy, Greece, Belize, and Kenya with my husband and daughter.

One time I… planned an intimate wedding in 4 days that required me to complete landscaping in MY backyard. It was hard work but my hubby and I got it done!!

Glorious Galas | @gloriousgalasofficial

 

Kelsey Bryanna Carpenter

Is there a particular moment or story about why you decided that being in the wedding industry was what you wanted to do? When I was only an assistant helping with setting up and breaking down weddings, I started arriving early to watch the ceremonies. I loved watching two families become one and witnessing the overflow of love and happiness. Knowing that I was a part of creating one of the best days of someone’s life kept me coming back for more.

I stand for… inclusivity and positivity!

My clients are… incredibly kind, down-to-earth people who have a flair for simple, peaceful, and beautiful coastal bliss.

If I could… travel the world with my partner with no financial boundaries, I’d be packing my bags right now!

One time I… had seven days to pull off an elopement.

Coastal Drift Events | @coastaldriftevents 

 

Khia Joseph

Is there a particular moment or story about why you decided that being in the wedding industry was what you wanted to do? No. I just love “love” period and being involved in the wedding industry allows me to add my love for beautiful things into their existing love story.

I stand for… love and positivity.

My clients are… amazing individuals with a flair for modern, glamorous, elegance both traditional and nontraditional.

If I could… experience true love for myself and everyone I encounter in this lifetime I would be happy.

One time I… planned a fantasy proposal that went viral worldwide.

ThemeIT, Inc. | @themeit_inc

 

Kimberly Jones

Is there a particular moment or story about why you decided that being in the wedding industry was what you wanted to do? I hadn’t thought about being in the wedding industry until I did a favor for a friend. She hired me to capture an intimate elopement ceremony and reception for her mother-in-law. In spite of it being my first time, I was eager to do a good job. I tried to capture as many details and moments as I possibly could. I was so nervous when I sent the gallery to them.  The deciding factor for me was the reactions and feedback I received from my friend, the bride, and groom, and the other family members. They absolutely love the images! I distinctly  remember the groom saying “there is a photo in the gallery of my father giving me the chain he wore on my parent’s wedding day…how did you know that was a special moment for me?”  The truth is, I didn’t realize how special that moment was for him, but I’ll never forget how good it felt for him to say how much he cherished me capturing the moment.

I stand for… authenticity, freedom in expression, creativity, and equity. 

My clients are… versatile, timeless, elegant, and stylish.

If I could… choose between traveling to the past or traveling to the future, I would travel to the past. I love history!

One time I… had a taxi driver in Cambodia who said he never celebrated a birthday because didn’t know what day he was born. He was from a rural town that didn’t keep records. He said he had never once made a birthday wish because of this.  In route to my destination, I knew I had to change this, so I asked if he could stop at a grocery store. I didn’t tell him the reason why, I said I needed to purchase some water.  I went in to purchase a cake and candles. I lit the candles before returning to the car and strangers from the street joined in to sing Happy Birthday. They really thought it was his actual birthday. When the people asked how old he was, he jokingly said  “1” because it was his first birthday.

Kimberly J. imagery | @KimberlyJ.imagery

 

Latissha Moore

Is there a particular moment or story about why you decided that being in the wedding industry was what you wanted to do? I’ve always enjoyed and had a talent for organizing, multi-tasking, working hard, making people happy, so working in the wedding and events industry was a no-brainer. A wedding is Love’s symbol of success. Nothing is more beautiful than seeing a bride and groom step up to the altar because it is this moment that ignites the flame of Love within us all.

Weddings bring us together in great happiness to celebrate two people. They have a way of opening our hearts and uplifting our spirits. I enjoy witnessing all the emotions on a wedding day, everything from nerves of excitement to happy tears to the adrenaline rush. I especially love getting to know all the couples, seeing their different styles and how they reflect the personality of the happy couple. My advice to anyone getting married is to be fully present, take plenty of photos and videos, so you never forget all the little moments.

I stand for… love, life, happiness, beauty, professionalism, inclusiveness, and integrity.

My clients are… artsy, eclectic, enthusiastic, charming, fun, modern, sophisticated, people of faith, and lovers of tradition.

If I could… positively impact the lives of my family, friends, and clients, I’d feel so blessed.

One time… a little girl followed me around in the grocery store because she thought I was Michelle Obama.

Flikks Foto Booth | @flikksfotobooth

 

Leonard V Starr

Is there a particular moment or story about why you decided that being in the wedding industry was what you wanted to do? It was after my first wedding. I was second shooting a wedding with my brother in law and just being a part of someone’s special day felt amazing and nervous at the same time. To know that you are capturing someone’s lifelong memories made me want to book more weddings.

I stand for… fair and equal treatment for all.

My clients are… kind and fun-loving people that are enjoying the experience of getting married.

If I could… do consistent destination weddings I would

One time I… had an out-of-town wedding and I forgot all of my lighting. Luckily I was able to rent locally and carry on with the day like nothing happened.

Leonard Starr Photography LLC | @lstarrphotographyllc

 

Maya Elaine Puskaric

Is there a particular moment or story about why you decided that being in the wedding industry was what you wanted to do? I helped two of my closest friends pack a picnic and served as their witness as they eloped in the park near their home. That moment was the first time I realized weddings didn’t have to be anything specific – they just had to celebrate love. I’ve always wanted to be a photographer, but that day made me realize that I wanted to be a wedding photographer.

I stand for… inclusion, authenticity, and doing away with the exclusionary nature of the wedding industry.

My clients are… people who are madly in love and want to celebrate that above all else. They’re not afraid to rewrite the rules and do things differently to better suit their story.

If I could… bring awareness to something – it’d be the fact that many disabled people in the United States still don’t have the ability to marry without losing their financial security due to outdated marriage penalty laws. There have been amazing strides in marriage equality over the last few years, but there is still change to be fought for.

One time I… was driving home from photographing a wedding along with a good friend of mine and we came across a lost cat wandering down the middle of the highway. We managed to catch it and I took it home and cleaned it up. It took almost a week but thanks to the power of the internet we were able to reunite the kitty with its owner. That’s still one of my favorite wedding memories.

Maya Elaine Photography | @morylaine

 

Megan Bloomer

Is there a particular moment or story about why you decided that being in the wedding industry was what you wanted to do? As a same-sex couple, it was immensely painful when I was denied service solely because of the person I was marrying. I never want anyone else to feel that way or navigate that experience.

I stand for… radical inclusion and authentic self-expression.

My clients are… amazing humans comfortable in their own skin.

If I could… go back to college, I would go to art school and follow my passion for photography

One time I… was on a panel with Andrew Zimmern (the host of Bizarre Foods) and Alexandra Cousteau (the granddaughter of Jacques Cousteau)

The Stonehouse at Silver Creek | @thestonehouseatsilvercreek

 

Michelle Elaine Sunder

Is there a particular moment or story about why you decided that being in the wedding industry was what you wanted to do? While I’ve been planning large events and gatherings for most of my professional career, I knew I had found my ultimate dream job when I started planning weddings as a hobby. I was lucky enough to find my “zone of genius.” I found something I was good at, could get paid for, and thoroughly enjoyed doing. It’s an invigorating feeling when you know you’re exactly where you’re supposed to be and that’s how I feel about being a wedding planner.

I stand for… people, equity, family, and community; these pillars guide my actions and decisions in all that I do.

My clients are… the “every day” couples. They are incredibly talented, creative, and fun humans who often have a common goal of creating a unique and memorable wedding experience on a realistic budget.

If I could… do one thing different with my own wedding, I would have hired a wedding planner. Truth. #realtalk

One time I… turned a 750 attendee in-person gala into a fully virtual experience in just six weeks.

Bustle & Lace, LLC | @bustleandlace

 

Mishereen Ellis

Is there a particular moment or story about why you decided that being in the wedding industry was what you wanted to do? The moment I realized that being in the wedding industry was the ideal place for me and my company to be was after completing my first wedding gig in 2016. Being a part of such an important day for the client and sharing in all the emotions that come with it was truly very special. The joy I witnessed on the faces of the couple and their guests were priceless and to know that I was a part of bringing such joy and happiness with our services was what solidified it for me. I wanted to have that experience as many times as I could from that time forward.

I stand for… youth of color in my community.

My clients are…  family members.

If I could… have the financial freedom to get my mom anything she needs in her retirement, especially that house in a warmer climate that she dreams of. I would be the happiest person alive!

One time I… had the opportunity to meet and have a brief conversation with President Barack Obama and it was one of the most memorable moments of my life.

Lens On Records LLC | @lensonrecords

 

Mo Roberts

Is there a particular moment or story about why you decided that being in the wedding industry was what you wanted to do? I was asked to photograph a wedding on short notice because the Bride’s mother had terminal cancer and she wasn’t doing well. The mixture of emotions, from joy and sadness, and the privilege of memorializing the day helped convince me that I wanted to help preserve and memorialize couples expressing and sharing their love for one another.

I stand for… Tolerance, Love, Kindness, Perseverance, and Ethics.

My clients are… loving, energetic, creative, kind, encouraging people who want someone to capture their love in a way that they can always relive.

If I could… travel the world and capture weddings full time, I would. I would also love to travel the world with my wife with my children (when they get older).

One time I… photographed a festival in Pensacola for free and provided the pictures to the organizers and some of the vendors.

Mo Roberts Photography@morobertsphotography

 

Naschet Wells

Is there a particular moment or story about why you decided that being in the wedding industry was what you wanted to do? My experience as a Destination Wedding Bride influenced my decision to work with wedding couples. I partner with my couples to plan their Destination Wedding as it was my own. I want it to be the Ultimate special experience for them and their families. 

I stand for… love, purpose, and enjoying life!

My clients are… funny, kind, open to unique experiences, and want the best of the best but understands life sometimes happens.

If I could… I would retire tomorrow and hop on the first plane to Fiji, I would have to figure out how to take my Yorkie, but we are going!

One time I… The one time I wish I could answer a question and I’m blanking. 

Muir Lux Travel LLC | @muirluxtravel

 

Natacha Metayer

Is there a particular moment or story about why you decided that being in the wedding industry was what you wanted to do? I decided to be in the wedding industry after a company-wide layoff. I’ve always wanted to use my creativity in the fashion world and wanted to transform the jewelry industry through engagement rings.

I stand for… creativity, education, and inclusion.

My clients are… intelligent, loving, and kind people who love classic yet modern pieces.

If I could… do two things for the rest of my life I would create jewelry and travel.

One time I… planned a trip to Paris for my mom and myself in order for her to meet with her sister that she had not seen for over 30 years.

JNCY Jewelers | @jncyjewelers

 

Nicole Washington

Is there a particular moment or story about why you decided that being in the wedding industry was what you wanted to do? When I became a mother, my family suddenly found ourselves in a position where we needed additional income. With such a busy schedule and minimal support, I needed something that would work on my time. This is when the reoccurring thought of entrepreneurship returned. When I was growing up, I didn’t have the opportunity to meet a lot of business owners that looked like me, and because of that, business ownership never felt like something I was capable of. I vowed to be the representation for my daughter that I didn’t have as a child. She gave me the motivation I needed to act on the idea I had been sitting on for years. I turned my love and passion for bartending and mixology into a business. Great times have great drinks and I’m so grateful that I get to be a part of couples celebrating the best day of their lives.

I stand for… equity and helping others.

My clients are… fun, engaging, kind, and open-minded.

If I could… I would drop everything and visit all 50 states.

One time I… coordinated and hosted a women’s empowerment event complete with signature handcrafted cocktails, panel interviews of business owners and creatives, and all Black-owned vendors.

Spiked Private Bartending, LLC | @the.spiked.life

 

Rachel Held

Is there a particular moment or story about why you decided that being in the wedding industry was what you wanted to do? I always knew from a young age that I loved parties, especially weddings. Who doesn’t love a good love story and cake am I right? It wasn’t until I was in college studying to graduate with my bachelors in HRT that I knew I would someday become a successful event planner, but not just event planning–a queer-owned event planner. Growing up in Southern Louisiana, being gay is not usually a hot topic of conversation, that is why I knew it was important for me to launch my business to not only support my community but show my community that your love will always be celebrated in all forms with no judgment, only open-armed love.

I stand for… love of all forms, equality for all, passion in what you do, and moments that last a lifetime.

My clients are… a melting pot from all over and share a similar love of all New Orleans has to offer such as cajun food, live music, and Southern Hospitality!

If I could… see the entire world before I die, I’d die complete.

One time I… planned a wedding around a hurricane, just kidding, that’s every year!

Confetti & Co | @letspoptheconfetti

 

Rebecca Wiglama

Is there a particular moment or story about why you decided that being in the wedding industry was what you wanted to do? When my best friend asked me to perform at her wedding, I was honored and of course, said “yes”, but I had no idea what I was doing! I wanted to create something beautiful for her so I did a ton of research and spent many hours interviewing the couple and crafting the ceremony. The day before the wedding I sat down with her and her fiance and read through everything with them. Both of them teared up and were so grateful for what I had come up with; it was just such a rewarding moment knowing that I had created something really special for them and that it was meaningful and important to them. I knew at that moment that I wanted to do that again.

I stand for… generosity, compassion, vulnerability, and kindness.

My clients are… unique individuals from every background. I love learning their stories because they’re all so different and beautiful.

If I could… live every version of my life that I’ve longed for I would be an artist, a therapist, a woodworker, a chronic student, a pastry chef, a philosopher, a pro swimmer, and a bass player in a jazz band. Since I’ve only had thirty-something years, though, I am satisfied with being a wife, mother of four, and business owner… with a multitude of random hobbies.

One time I… spent four months in Jerusalem, where at one point a friend almost accidentally traded me for a camel.

Oak City Ceremonies | @oakcityceremonie

 

Sahr Brima

Is there a particular moment or story about why you decided that being in the wedding industry was what you wanted to do?  We’re defiant optimists. Our goal is to spread hope and joy to people of all backgrounds, and our product is meant to be shared with loved ones. Weddings tend to bring loved ones of various backgrounds to celebrate the hopes and joys of two people. We can’t think of a better context for defiant optimism to spread via amazing gourmet cookies. 

I stand for… defiant optimism.

My clients are… people that enjoy the best things in life and want to share it with others.

If I could… make a billion dollars, I would help provide free therapy to everyone who wants it.

One time I… survived a civil war and escaped to America as a refugee.

Love You Cookie | @loveyoucookie_

 

Shaleema Jenkins

Is there a particular moment or story about why you decided that being in the wedding industry was what you wanted to do? The love I have for love and calligraphy is what led me to the wedding industry. I thrive on creating a beautiful and customized wedding experience through my calligraphy.

I stand for… empowerment and inclusivity.

My clients are… fearless modern chic, they allow my creativity to enhance their vision.

If I could… live anywhere, it would be oceanfront. I simply love ocean sounds.

One time I… listened to my gut and took a calligraphy course to relieve stress and to have a creative outlet, and now years later I have a calligraphy business.

Swish Calligraphy | @swishcalligraphy

 

Shamica Sweat

Is there a particular moment or story about why you decided that being in the wedding industry was what you wanted to do? At the ripe age of 13, my mother married my stepfather and I was able to witness the wedding planner process firsthand. From picking out the dresses, selecting the food, smelling flowers, I was smitten and knew this had to be part of my world. I knew from that moment on I would always be connected to weddings somehow I just did not know how at that moment.

I stand for… honesty, integrity, candid communication, and relationships.

My clients are… luxurious but level-headed, fancy but not flashy, loves to have a good time but knows how to practice self-control.

If I could… live anywhere in the world, Paris is where I would call home.

One time I… helped produce an event for Oprah Winfrey!

Shamica & Co. Event Planning and Design | @shamicaandco

 

Shawn Marie Jackson

Is there a particular moment or story about why you decided that being in the wedding industry was what you wanted to do? I don’t have a story; but, it was my positive experience at Bridals by Lori over 25 years ago that helped me resolve to someday have my own boutique. 

I stand for… progress, empowerment, respect, and compassion

My clients are… curious and down for trying something different. They love to shop local.

If I could… be a superhero, I would be the “Curist’.  My super power would be curing autoimmune and hard-to-treat diseases.

One time I… got to meet Rosa Parks.  It was a night I will never forget.

Finery Bridal Boutique | @finerybridalfishers

 

Soni Bhatia

Is there a particular moment or story about why you decided that being in the wedding industry was what you wanted to do? It all began at my cousin’s grand Indian wedding. It was a few moments before the grand entrance of the bride and groom into the reception hall. The venue was meticulously decorated with sweet floral detailing and hundreds of glimmering candles. All the guests were dressed to the nines, indulging in the luxurious spread of savory snacks during the cocktail hour. The only missing element was the glowing newlyweds. So what were they doing exactly, while the rest of the world was living its best life just outside their bridal suite doors?

Funny you ask. They were frantically practicing their first dance. Minutes before they were about to be received by hundreds of adoring family members and friends. It broke my heart. When they should have been soaking in the moment, they ended up stressing over their first dance routine & steps. As a professional dancer & choreographer myself, I was especially hurt because I knew I could have helped them in so many ways! Choreographing their dance would have alleviated the stress of ideating dance steps and helped ensure consistent and frequent practices. Together, we could have perfected the technique so they would have looked their absolute best on show day, without that last-minute stress. Most importantly, they would have been a little more present during the biggest days of their lives.

Retrospectively, of course, I wish things were different. However, I realized that while it may be too late to help my cousin and sister-in-law, it’s certainly not too late to help other couples. And almost overnight, Khoobsurat Choreography was born. Here’s to my couples being present and zen before that unforgettable first introduction as a married couple.

I stand for… integrity, respect, and of course culture!

My clients are… confident, fun-loving global citizens who are well-versed in culture and open to new experiences.

If I could… retire today, I would move to the Caribbean or Japan.

One time I… One time, I was complimented by the one and only Magic Johnson!

Khoobsurat Choreography by Soni | @khoobsurat_choreo

 

Soni Brown

Is there a particular moment or story about why you decided that being in the wedding industry was what you wanted to do? I am the planner of the family. I am obsessed with organization and project management is my corporate background. I would always help friends and family plan weddings, and of course, I planned my own.  I knew this was my calling when I would get goosebumps anytime I would hear somebody talk about the wedding dream and vision. I never get tired of this.

I stand for… honesty and a stress-free experience.

My clients are… slightly over-the-top individuals who dare to be different.

If I could… employ every person who needed a job, I would.

One time I… planned an entire wedding in 2 weeks for 150 people – I will never do that again!

Love Always Wedding Planning | @Lovealwaysplanning_llc

 

Tanya Castella

Is there a particular moment or story about why you decided that being in the wedding industry was what you wanted to do? It’s super cliché, but after my own wedding, I fell in love with the process of putting together an event from start to finish.

I stand for… love for everyone.

My clients are… the sweetest humans that enjoy including personal details in their weddings.

If I could… grow my business to a full-time career, I’d never have to work for a day because I love what I do!

One time I… had to find a wheelchair for a bride who dislocated her knee right before her grand exit. I also had to dismiss all the guests because the bride didn’t want anyone seeing her cry.

Social Icing Weddings and Events LLC | @social.icing.weddings

 

Trelawny Bullock

Is there a particular moment or story about why you decided that being in the wedding industry was what you wanted to do? I’ve always enjoyed working with people, meeting new friends, helping to create joy and memories, and yet had a mind for detail. My background is voice studio & talent management; for me, the best part was helping facilitate others to reach their goals & dreams – I ABSOLUTELY LOVED IT! As life progressed and my spouse decided to retire from the military, we wanted to make what we’re passionate about our 2nd careers. My passion is people & audio and his passion is purely everything music…  This was our time to shine and to groove to our own beat while helping other people and creating our future. As soon as the opportunity presented itself; I dove in ready to get the party started making couples my new talent and their weddings an artistry…  and I love getting to know them, learning their vision, and being a part of making their wedding memories.

I stand for… my beliefs and G.R.I.T.S! LOL, each day I choose to walk in faith and to treat people as the precious gifts they are AND to live as a G.R.I.T. “Girl Raised In the South” so let’s grab a cup of Jo or Sweet Tea and have a chat. My door is “nearly” always open but if it’s not we’ll make time and can talk respectfully over just about anything.

My clients are… open-minded, value others, and have a passion for music – they understand we create an experience rather than provide a service.

If I could… I would visit every state & country experiencing the cultures (including animals) & creating memories for myself and family.

One time I… set up at a bridal show with a life-size of our main DJ and made a whole photo booth theme around it – the attendees loved it and we had a blast rocking it out making light that our team was otherwise booked. Our life-size & humor was a hit, LOL!

Groove Line Productions, Mobile DJ Service | @groovelineproductions