Q&A: Denise Brown

Special Occasions by Denise is an event-planning company with Denise Brown at the helm. From scheduling a “No Wedding Night” to staying on budget, she knows a thing or two about wedding planning.

What is your best tip for a bride and groom who are just getting beginning to plan their wedding?

From my personal experience, I do believe every bride can hugely benefit from hiring a wedding planner. And the reason I say that is that it is going to be so overwhelming. Getting engaged and planning a wedding is supposed to be a highlight, but it becomes so stressful that it spoils the excitement from the beginning. A wedding planner can help manage all of the pressure and expectations from all of the difficult family members and friends giving their own opinions. That’s where a wedding planner is a mediator. We can help with vendor jargon, finding great deals—that’s where a wedding planner can be hugely beneficial in the beginning. We can discuss what the style is going to be, what the budget is going to be and I can lead them through all the small, tedious details so that nothing gets missed and it is an enjoyable experience.


What advice would you give brides looking to alleviate family tension around weddings?

Don’t try to please everybody. That’s never going to happen. Communicate clearly. Set some boundaries and guidelines—who is going to do what? Who is going to take care of what? Go ahead and have those anticipated conversations about budget, and who will pay for what. It’s not like money isn’t an object. Have a mediator. If you choose not to have a wedding planner, have a close friend or family member that can step in and be a good listener and be there to give helpful advice and diffuse any stressful situations.


As a wedding planner, what do you think should be the focus on the “big day?”

To enjoy your day and to remember your day. So many brides get caught up in the tedious details or they’re trying to DIY everything. The mother is doing this, the aunt is doing that, everyone is running around like crazy. At the end of the day, you fell in love with your fiance, you want to get married, but why make that day one of your worst days that you wish you could re-do? The goal is to enjoy your day, make it stress-free and remember why you’re there in the first place. It’s because you want to spend the rest of your life together.


What is your favorite current wedding trend?

“The biggest thing that I really like is personalizing any and all aspects of the wedding. They’re picking their favorite quote, or favorite hobby, and they’re bringing that to their wedding. I always say to my brides and grooms, ‘I want you to think about your wedding. If you took you two out of the situation, and all your guests showed up, would they even know who was getting married that day?’ People do barn themes, and rustic themes and metallic themes—make it personal. That’s my favorite.”


How do you encourage your brides to stay organized during planning?

Lists. You have to have a list of what you need to do, what you should do, what you’ve got to do eventually, and then follow it. You have to prioritize. Most people have their wedding planning, then their family, their parents, their school, their work and then they’ve got each other. That’s a lot to juggle, so you have to prioritize. One of the best things I have come up with is when I meet with a couple in the beginning, I tell them that along with their lists, they need to sit down with their calendars and they need to figure out a few hours each week to talk about wedding stuff. Then, I have them schedule a ‘No Wedding Night,’ and you don’t talk about anything wedding or even mention it. It can be a date night or relaxing at home but it will hopefully remind them why they’re getting married in the first place, because they fell in love.


What is one of the most creative things you have helped a bride and groom do at their ceremony or reception?

One of my couples wanted a different kind of ceremony, so the bride wrote a bit of their history. During the ceremony, they talked about how they met, the things they had done together and what had made that day so special. She ended up doing this little story that made things kind of fun. The guests were intrigued and listening. They also wrote letters to one another that they sealed in a box to open on their one year anniversary.

I had another bride and groom, and their favorite thing in the world was ice cream, so we had a huge ice cream bar at their wedding. There was no cake or grooms cake or pies, it was just an extreme ice cream bar. It was something personal that they wanted, but they didn’t have an idea of how to do it in a way that made sense.


What advice would you give a bride and groom on a strict budget?

Definitely follow it. Any wedding can occur, you just have to round your edges. Not cut them, just round them and prioritize. You have to set priorities and decide what is important to you and what you care the least about. If you don’t care about it, don’t do it. I am not one to go, ‘Oh, you have to do this or that.’ This is their day, and it’s going to happen one way or the other, so I make it occur in the way that they both need it and want it. Follow your budget and what is important to you and it will turn out beautiful.


In your experience, what is the ideal amount of time to allot for wedding planning?

Ideally, 6-8 months. The ones that are doing the year-long and longer engagements are at danger of changing their mind a million times. They get confused, everyone gets tired of hearing about it. And then there are those who try to cram everything into three months. It gets a little tedious, because in our region, all of the major vendors will be booked up, so you end up doing a lot of DIY and last-minute things that wouldn’t have happened if you had given yourself a little more time to plan.



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