It’s time for our monthly feature of the Best in Nashville Events! This month, I had the great pleasure of sitting down with Dawn Schenkel, owner of Premier W.E.D to talk about her business, her design inspirations, and what makes her one of the best in the business. We had so much fun chatting in her adorable Brentwood office, that our conversation lasted twice as long as I told her it would! Dive into our chat below:
LPR: To get us started, why don’t you tell us a little about your event planning services? What kinds of packages do you offer brides?
Dawn: It’s funny you mention weddings, because our name actually misleads people into thinking that is all we do! The W.E.D stands for “Wedding and Event Design,” so not only do we coordinate weddings, but we also design and plan corporate functions, non-profit fundraisers, and social events such as surprise parties and birthday parties, anniversaries, etc.. For weddings, though, we do have a breakdown of services we offer:
- Consulting: Our most basic service is one-on-one consulting, where a bride can come in and ask me questions, get organized, and share her vision and needs. Usually these consulting appointments turn into regular bookings, but not always, and it is not required that a bride who wants a consult has to book me for her wedding.
- Coordination: This is really “month-of” coordination. I will come into the planning process about a month out and get everything organized for the bride, so that on the day-of, she is not scrambling to get everything together. Day-of the wedding, I take control of everything so the bride is left with her peace of mind for her big day. The last thing you want to be doing on your wedding day is running around looking for your marriage license or favors or trying to meet the cake baker! We make sure to have everything organized so there is no stress for the bride or the bride’s family on the big day, from set up, to clean up, and getting her down the aisle.
- Partial Planning: We have partial planning options for brides who are more excited about the planning process and want to retain as much control of that as possible, or are on a very limited budget. I provide 6 hours of my time at a flat rate and the bride and groom can use those 6 hours any way they would like. I do recommend, though, that they utilize me for ordering items like the florals and the rentals. This way I can use my personal connections to secure great vendors the bride may not know about, while also ensuring that we select items that will help the couple remain in their budget.
- Full Planning: Our full planning package is usually a customized percentage based on the bride’s budget. We understand that some brides have limited budgets and are perfectly happy to work within those confines, however, we do know that our service is worth every penny. With a full planning package, we will be there for you every step of the way, from design conception, through selecting vendors. Brides with these package will also need a directing contract in addition to the planning contract…these services are separate.
LPR: What do you think makes you one of the Best in Nashville?
Dawn: Sometimes brides don’t realize that there’s a difference between a “wedding planner” and a “wedding director”. Wedding directors are there mainly to oversee the logistically side of the wedding. They will create the timelines and coordinate the vendors, but they provide little direction in terms of design and the look and feel of the event. Wedding planners, combine these two sides and will not only make sure your event runs smoothly, but they will also be involved with conceptualizing the design elements you want for your event and the ultimate look and feel you’d like to come across during your event. I do both of these things quite well. I have a logistical side of me and a creative side. This, I find, to be a rare quality in this business. Usually people only have one or the other. We like to come up with a creative plan for our events, and then turn this creative plan over to our vendors and let them bring the idea to life. I work with the vendors to make sure we stay in the bride’s budget, but are still able to perfectly capture the environment she wants to create for her guests.
Another thing that makes us special and unique in Nashville is our Holiday Installation services. This is a service I started in 2008, after the economy took a turn. I noticed that many companies were moving their holiday parties into private homes and the owners just didn’t have the time or the eye for design to create the perfect holiday look. What we do with this service, is we come into people’s homes, take a look at what holiday décor they already own, and then help them decide which items to feature and which items to get rid of or update. We decorate trees, mantles, banisters, outdoor spaces, and more, based on the clients needs and budget. When everything is complete, their home is left looking like it could be on the cover of a magazine! It is a really fun service for us to offer outside of events or weddings that allows me to use my creativity and eye for design.
LPR: Since design is such a big part of what you offer clients, how do you get inspiration for your designs?
Dawn: I come from a very creative family, so I have to credit some of it to genetics. My father is a pharmacist by day, but was also a beautiful artist and jazz drummer by night! And while my mother is not artistic, she has this great sense of style that I’ve always admired, and her mother the same. My Dad’s mother was a painter, my mom’s father was an exceptional and successful entrepreneur. All these things contribute to who I am, but my brother is an architect and by far…this inspires me most. I love architecture and design. I pull a lot of inspiration from my family, but I also pull inspiration from architectural and interior design magazines, online resources, and books. I’m most inspired by Jonathan Adler at the moment. Ultimately though, my inspiration comes from my clients! When I start planning with a client, we sit down, and I ask them a million questions…deep personal questions, to really get a grasp on who they are, their likes and dislikes, and their own personal style. I can usually get a sense of a bride just by the clothes she’s wearing and the way she styles her hair! It’s these personal details that really inspire me to design and be creative with the event.
For example, I had one client who was a popular songwriter in Nashville, celebrating her 50th birthday. She had been through a lot in recent years with illness, so she really wanted this party to be a celebration of life! I met her at her house in Green Hills and we talked about her family and personal items she had in her home. I found out that her father loved to study rocks and to grow white roses as a hobby. With this, I made sure all of our centerpieces incorporated white roses and other white flowers and there were small pebbles surrounding all of the centerpieces. She also had this fantastic mirror that displayed brooches and jewelry from her Aunt, Grandmother, etc.. I incorporated mirrors throughout the event in honor of the women in her family. The details were so personal to the client that when she saw it she actually started crying and told me I made her feel like Oprah! That’s one of the best compliments anyone can get! (laughs)
LPR: What is a common misconception you think brides have about wedding planning in general?
Dawn: Definitely the number one misconception is that wedding planning is unaffordable, or that she can do it cheaper on her own. I like to tell brides to think about how much they pay their photographer, or how much they pay their caterer. While these people are very important and necessary, they are only there for 8 hours day-of, whereas I provide months, sometimes a year of services! I am there for the difficult times when the bride gets nervous or frazzled, or when she’s crying because she’s so overwhelmed with the planning proces. The emotional support, vendor knowledge, and design expertise I bring is well worth every penny you spend on my services!
Another thing brides forget, is that with my experience, I have connections with vendors they may not even know about. Not only that, but I’m able to negotiate with these vendors to ensure that we keep all costs within the bride’s budget. This is something many brides wouldn’t understand how to do that can be valuable when you are planning a wedding and juggling multiple vendors. Wedding planning provides peace of mind for the bride throughout the planning process and is an incredibly valuable service.
LPR: Our blog is all about delighting in the details that make events so special. What are some of your favorite details from events you’ve designed?
Dawn: My favorite details are definitely ones that pull in the client’s personality and make the event truly special to them. I’ve had a couple of events I’ve done where the details truly made the event come alive with personality and fun!
One such event was a birthday party we did for a woman who loved Juicy Couture, Louis Vuitton, and Tiffany’s. As a surprise, we created this gorgeous cake that incorporated all of these elements. The top layer was a Louis Vuitton bag, and then the bottom layer was created to look like a Tiffany’s box, but instead of the tag saying “Tiffany & Co.,” we had it say, “Jennifer & Co.”, which was her name. We also incorporated the Juicy Couture look in her flowers, which were really feminine, big, bold peonies that we tied with baby pink and white stripe ribbons. Lots of gold jewels, navy, turquoise, and pink were incorporated in the color scheme. We even used small gold gilded chairs as dessert bar label holders. The whole event was really adorable and was a true reflection of her style; it was perfect!
I have another event coming up, as well, where the entire design has been inspired by a photo of a cake my client sent to me. The outside of the cake is just classic white, but inside the cake is an ombre effect. To incorporate the ombre from the cake, we are going to create a whole wall of 36″ balloons along our client’s pool in this ombre pattern. When night sets, we plan on washing the balloons with matching gels that will continue the ombre effect into the evening. We are also doing a sculptural ombre effect in the pool with florals. It will be stunning…I can’t wait to see it all come together!
We would like to thank Dawn and her staff at Premier W.E.D for their participation in this interview. If you’d like to learn more about Dawn, her company, and her services, take a look at her website, Facebook page, Twitter page, and Pinterest page. And stay tuned for our next Best of Nashville interview! All photos were provided by Premier W.E.D.