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Expert Advice from Kawania H. Wooten of Howerton Wooten Events

Tell us about your business

When did you start your event planning business?  August 2007

What inspired you to start an event planning company? I have been planning events for non-­‐profits since 1989. For years, everyone had been telling me to start my own business. I lost my job in 2007 and thought it was a great time to take the plunge!

You were featured in Ebony Magazine a few years ago, how did that article impact your business?  I received a ton of phone calls from people wanting to start their own business. That article taught me that there are opportunities available for teaching others how to get started.

What is the largest wedding you have planned?  Our largest wedding included 550 wedding guests. I quickly realized that I needed more staffing.

What is the shortest time you had to plan a wedding?  A few years ago, we planned a wedding (soup to nuts) in a little less than three months.

Do you have to be creative to be a wedding planner?  All of the time! Some planners are amazing at logistics, but someone on their team has to be creative or they won’t survive very long.

Work Ethics

Every business owner lives by a code of ethics, what are yours?  Our code of ethics can be found here. http://www.hwevents.com/values/#value.

What is it about your job that you love the most?  After the couple marries, we receive baby announcements and new home announcements in the mail. It makes us feel as if we helped to start a new family.

Do event planners have to be licensed, have a plethora of industry awards, or be well known to survive in this business?  No. I find that we all survive for various reasons

What makes an event planner worth their fee?  Experience, education, talent, creativity, and platforms.

Are all wedding planners equal?  Of course not. Some planners are more experienced than others. Some are more creative than others. Some are aligned with better vendors.

Building a Relationship

Is connecting with your clients an important aspect of building a good working with them?  Absolutely. Wedding planning is an emotional business. If my clients don’t like me, it will be a horrible experience for everyone involved.

Do your clients rave about the job you do?  Absolutely.

How do you determine if a client is the right fit for your company?  Four Things – The Couple’s Expectations of their Wedding Planner; Communication Style; Chemistry; and the Overall Wedding Budget.

What is the couple’s expectation when they hire a wedding planner?  Every couple has a different expectation. Because of that, we ask each couple this exact question when we meet with them for a consultation.

Steps to Planning a Wedding

What are the steps in working with a couple to plan their wedding? Example: Do you go shopping with the couple?  It all depends on the level of service booked by the couple.

Do you attend the food tastings?  If a couple hired us for Full Service, we attend the food tastings.

Event Planning Staff

How do you and your associates dress for an event?  When we set-­‐up, we dress in casual attire. Once the guests arrive, we dress in business attire.

How many people assist you from start to finishing a wedding?  It depends on the size of the wedding, the location of the wedding, and the number of details related to the wedding.

The Wedding Day

Do all the weddings you plan start on time?  We take great pride in getting our couples down the aisle on time. Unfortunately, some circumstances occur that are beyond our control.

Can you share three reasons a wedding start time can be delayed?  It’s typically the domino effect of late members of the wedding party of late vendors.

When you’re at the wedding, how many bosses do you have?  Our primary bosses are our couple. However, we consider their parents to be our bosses too.

If the wedding is delayed, how do you handle it?  We are typically prepared because we pad our wedding day timeline.

Do you find couples more or less cooperative the day of the event?  Our couples trust us, so our couples are typically more cooperative.

Have you ever had a difficult couple?  Everyone experiences challenges with communication, style and/or chemistry every now and then – That includes us.

Planning Logistics

Do you have a list of preferred vendors?  We have an internal list, but we don’t promote it. We prefer to match our couples with vendors that suit the personality-­‐wise, financially, and creative style. A better fit results in a happy couple. A poor fit makes us look bad.

How did you handle the situation?  We address each challenge with class and professionalism.

Do you provide services to same sex couples?  Absolutely.

How many clients will you take on in a month?  We plan no more than two weddings per month.

DIY Couples

What advice will you give a DIY bride?  Don’t overdo it. Pick 2 or 3 DIY projects and stick with that. Otherwise, the DIY projects will become overwhelming and the bride will be incredibly unhappy on her wedding day.

Couple’s Rants

At the end of a wedding, what do couples complain about the most?  99% of the time our couples are incredibly happy with our services and the services of their other wedding vendors. When we experienced a couple’s rant about a wedding vendor, it is typically based on expectations. Somehow, the vendor didn’t manage the couple’s expectations and the couple was expecting more than what they received.

 

Expert Advice: Kawania H. Wooten of Howerton Wooten Events

Interviewer: Rev. Starlene Joyner Burns of The DC Marriage Knot

Photo Credit:  Photographer Unknown

 

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