Elevate Your DC Wedding with Yolonda Smith of Love Events and Design’s Unique Touch
Are you a couple getting married in Washington, DC and looking to make your dreams come true? Are you sick of cookie-cutter wedding plans and wishing for something unique and special? Yolonda Smith of Love Events & Design is an event planning and design firm with the experience, expertise, and enthusiasm to make your DC wedding dreams come true.
When planning a wedding in DC, you and your partner need a trustworthy planner that knows the area and will go above and beyond to make your day extraordinary. Yolonda and her team at Love Events & Design have years of experience planning dream weddings in DC that have an air of storytelling, one-of-a-kind details, and truly personalized experiences.
Yolonda prides herself on creating an individualized planning process that helps couples to bring their vision and dreams to life. Using authentic and unique experiences, Yolonda will provide thoughtful advice and guidance to couples, allowing them to make an informed decision that is reflective of their personalities and the hopes of the celebration.
So, if you’re looking for a DC wedding planner who can make your dreams come true, look no further than Yolonda Smith and Love Events and Design. With her expertise, creativity, and passion for unforgettable weddings, you’re sure to have the wedding of your dreams.
Gillian de Souza: Hello, everybody! Welcome to DC Weddings with Gillian. This is Gillian de Souza, and today, oh my goodness, I had a wonderful conversation with Yolonda Smith of Love Events and Design, and she has packed a wealth of information into a very short interview that can only benefit anyone that’s planning a wedding in the DC market.
So here it goes, our interview with Yolonda Smith of Love Events and Design.
Gillian de Souza: Hello folks, and good evening. Welcome to DC Weddings with Gillian. Today, we have Yolonda Smith of Love Events and Design. Oh my gosh, Yolonda, it’s a pleasure to chat with you. How are you doing today?
Yolonda Smith: I’m doing well. I’m doing well. How are you, Gillian?
Gillian de Souza: Wonderful. Thanks. Now tell us a little bit, I’m gonna jump right in, Love Events and Design. I love the name, Love Events. Why Love Events?
Yolonda Smith: It actually has a multitude of reasons why we named it that. Me and my husband started a business together, a co-founder of the business. I primarily run it, but we started this journey together and the love that we have for each other literally was one of the things that we came up with as like a corny name, so to speak.
But as it’s evolved, and as my personal journey has evolved, it’s really become more about spiritual and in the sense of God is love. And that is how we relate. And we have common grounds with our clients. Not in the sense of beliefs, but really knowing that your relationship is authentic in the celebration that you were preparing. So that’s where it came from.
Gillian de Souza: I love that. That is amazing! And I can imagine that a lot of people can relate to that because as they’re planning their own events, you know what they’re experiencing with their fiance and stuff, sort of feel that in a company that’s gonna help them put this event together. That is beautiful.
So I know you met your husband in college and tell me a little bit about that journey. How did you get from doing engineering and pharmacy to event planning business?
Yolonda Smith: I always say that my husband is really the wedding planner. Although I’m the faith in the brand of the company, in a sense, I like to equate all of my skills to him because he works in project management. So a lot of things that I’ve implemented behind the scenes, I really do know that I pick them up from him and kind how he operates on a day-to-day basis.
So I have to give him his credit even though he’s not here that he is the real wedding planner. But outside of that, really wanting something that brought us both joy and something that we could turn into a legacy for our family and really put our own sweat, blood and tears in. His father and grandfather specifically was into entrepreneurship.
I didn’t have that familiarity in my family, but he was heavy on it and wanted to make sure that we started a business, but something that we both enjoyed specifically. Something that I was great at and I felt passionate about. So I’ve always been the person to wanna do events, plan trips, vacations.
I’ve always been that person. And it was a really easy kinda decision to go into the event industry after our own wedding, but, a hundred percent not what I ever expected to be doing at this phase in my life. I didn’t envision myself being an entrepreneur. I envisioned myself going to pharmacy school and being in the healthcare field and doing that forever.
But after years of working in that industry graduating school and getting to a certain point in my career, I realized that I was a creative at heart and I felt like I was kinda stuck and I didn’t wanna necessarily keep myself in that situation. And we were in a scenario where we were able, for me to branch out and really take a leap of faith when it came to committing to our business. So five years later, here we are.
Gillian de Souza: Congratulations! Congratulations on starting a business. Congratulations on excelling in that business to this point. Congratulations on it being a family business. You’re not off in one corner and your husband doing another corner and you don’t get home till two o’clock in the morning on a weekend and so, or late nights with your customers and so on. So that’s not just only support, but that you have a family business and that entrepreneurship is something that is a legacy, as you said, not only for your family, but for other people seeing you excel in this way. That’s wonderful. Congratulations again to you and your husband.
Yolonda Smith: Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you. I said that he’s a wedding planner, but I’m saying that behind the scenes, I’m a hundred percent the wedding planner. My husband, definitely serves a supportive role when it comes to the day-to-day operations. He is hands-on on event days.
His position in our company is really based on production and like data management specifically when it comes to design and executing and making sure that all the details are place and our team is coordinating with each other.
Gillian de Souza: That’s great. But you also mentioned that he’s in project management. And this is something even in the catering industry, as we plan our events for our clients, and clients who are either in project management or doing things that are very time sensitive, quality control sensitive and so on. Get it when we tell, and this is like a project to be managed.
One, we have a certain time to do it in, and the timeline can’t slip on that day of, otherwise there’s lots of problems. The staff that you put together, you have to have the right people doing the right jobs. You have to understand those jobs. You have to plan it out every second of the time so that we execute flawlessly and it’s a great event.
So in 1000% is a project to be managed and be able to think about it in that sort of analytic way, even though we are creatives behind. So you said a couple of things there, that you are creative, he’s got those other skills of being able to manage the project and get people where they need to be and do all of that, that combination is like dynamite.
And I know being in the industry for so long, I know that’s an unbeatable combination. So again, not only —
Yolonda Smith: I like to think so.
Gillian de Souza: Yeah.
Yolonda Smith: I like to think so. Look, I appreciate that.
Gillian de Souza: Well, the thing is, it’s kudos to you and your husband, but look at what you can offer your client. You’re offering your client a breadth of expertise that otherwise there are pieces that could be missing when you have a single person who is really good at creative, might be good at some planning other things, but I may be missing some other things, to bring a team together, to bring all of the vendors together. There’s just so much. So I appreciate that about you guys. So, wonderful!
Yolonda Smith: Yeah. And I always say one person can’t do everything, so to speak. So I think that we try and resonate that within our business too, cuz we are definitely a team on wedding days. It’s not just one or two people. Typically we have at least four, sometimes even five, depending on the guest count and the venue.
Staffing is really important to me. Like I wanna make sure that experience is smooth and that’s the only way I can do it is, if I can duplicate us as much as possible.
Gillian de Souza: Fantastic, and it’s a good one. Wonderful! So with all that said, I mean from a professional perspective, I know why that’s a winning combination, but tell our bride and groom listening who just want to get down the aisle successfully, that is like, “Okay, that’s just too much information for me.” What are you bringing to the table for your bride and groom? Why should a bride and groom hire Love Events and Design?
Yolonda Smith: So we are extremely intentional, really kind of making sure that throughout this planning process, our couples focus on their love story specifically, and not in a fairytale way, because not everybody has that interpretation in their relationship. But really making sure that your wedding, it speaks to who you are as a couple, not in just style and personal style, but also in the flow of the event.
If you’re not wanting to be the center of attention, you don’t have to be which I always think is funny when I hear couples say that, like, “I don’t like being the center of attention,” like where you’re having a wedding and it’s all about you.
So good luck with that. But especially nowadays, couples specifically don’t wanna do bouquet toss or garter toss or some of the more traditional elements, they wanna move that stuff out. I’ll never tell my clients that they have to do anything that they feel uncomfortable with or any tradition that they don’t necessarily want go along with.
I’m big on personalizing, inauthentic experience, specifically experience for our couples and thinking outside of the box when it comes to the traditional day-to-day, or not day-to-day, but the traditional wedding activities. So when you think about ceremonies and really involving live music and personalizing your vows, also having people officiate that could be personal family or friend, in the sense of they’re able to conduct that professional ceremony, but they’re able to give you a unique element to it that people don’t always have. And we also do things in the traditional format, but I am big on welcoming whatever it is that crazy idea that you’re trying to figure out, “How can I do this? But not make my mom upset or not have my family be like, she’s crazy.”
How can I bring that to light? Like I’m all for making that happen for my client.
Gillian de Souza: That is so wonderful. So, can you give us one thing that was non-traditional that you’ve done recently for a bride and groom?
Yolonda Smith: Yeah. Right now, I’m thinking about this, it hasn’t happened yet, but I’m currently planning this wedding.
Gillian de Souza: Okay.
Yolonda Smith: Where our couple wants to do a wedding that is homecoming themed in the sense of all of the HBCU homecoming at that. So really kind of thinking about the casualness of it, but still have people in a formal attire.
So right now we’re really kind of coming through that process and making sure that we can have an authentic laidback experience. So that’s one thing. Obviously, I won’t give too much cause we’re in the process of it, but I’m very excited for their wedding.
But this past season, something that we did a lot more of is our couples wanting to do cocktail hour and really be a part of that process instead of rushing so much for their guests. So, instead of a traditional cocktail hour, having a hour long band set during cocktail hour, that is almost like you’re at a lounge and really kind going through that process because this couple specifically love music and they wanted to make sure that their love for concerts and things of that nature into their reception somehow without compromising the opportunity to have a DJ cause they really wanted to have a DJ.
So what we did for cocktail hour, they had a live band for that complete hour. Ended up being like an hour and fifteen minutes total at length, but it was really enjoyable, very personable. It was a great time. Their guests enjoyed it. Honestly, one of the most beautiful things to see is people all dressed up, having a great time, and really in their element and that was beautiful to be a part of.
Then on another note, I had a couple or bride specifically that wanted every fairy tale that you could imagine from balloons to having streamers and glow in the dark things, neon, all of this fabulous personality feel elements and also she wanted black. She wanted her whole wedding to be deep and dark and black and moody.
And her mom, the entire town was just like, “I don’t know what this is about to look like.” Like, she was terrified. Like, the groom’s mom, they were kind of really worried about how this thing was gonna turn out cause it was a production, it was a cultural wedding. The groom was a Filipino. So they did a lot of traditional things, but we also wanted to make sure that it matched her energy and her lively personality at the same time. Instead of doing a toast, they did a shot in dedication of the bride’s father.
But all of this stuff was done in a very elegant and sophisticated way from the details that we put into it, making sure that the glasses and having something that signified why they were taking a shot instead of doing the traditional toast. Really kind of infusing her fun and bubbly personality and love for Beyonce specifically throughout her entire wedding without making it feel like a birthday party, which was a challenge, but it was beautiful. Honestly, one of my favorite events ever, just because it was so fun and full of so much personality and so authentic to who they were as a couple. And honestly, I don’t know if their guests had ever attend anything like that because it was that amazing.
Gillian de Souza: Memorable is the word that’s coming to mind, but that is simply so exciting to me because one of the things I hear a lot from my couples when they are looking for an event or wedding planner is that maybe the planner is sort of presenting just, like, they do one type of event or one or two, three types of events, and they’re not feeling the personality of the planner. And I always tell people, you’re gonna spend nine months to a year or so with this person. You should feel that and feel comfortable and feel like this person could be your good friend. Maybe even have a friendship even beyond your wedding. So what I just heard from you is that you are all about understanding what your client is, once, and their personality and being able to use your creativity to make a memorable moment for not just them, but their guests and for their parents. And so that’s amazing. I am ready to hire you as a wedding planner.
Yolonda Smith: Let’s do it.
Gillian de Souza: Well, well. So in this particular one, if you can tell us, because I know it was an actual wedding with actual people, so you may not be able to say, but if you can, in this case where the parents might have been have some trepidation about how this black and this moody would look, what would you do for that parent to kind of ease their attention or maybe even to figure out what might be something that would make them not get to the wedding and be disappointed?
Yolonda Smith: Trust is huge for me, and it’s one of the biggest things I tell people, just like you said, when you hire a wedding planner, you need to be confident that you can converse with them, you can tell them, your seekers cuz sometimes things come out in the planning process. I’m like, “I dunno where that came from.”
But we’re mainly therapists at times. So you have to make sure that you can trust somebody with your vision and your process. So that’s always gonna be my number one recommendation for any couple. Hire somebody that you trust. But in this particular case with reassurance and family, also my clients too because when you’re asking for a lot of crazy or non-traditional things, it can get a little confusing and you make sure you’re not taking it too far. So, I’m a very visual person, especially when it comes to the design and process. I over exemplify in the sense of we have mockups of multiple things.
A lot of the vendors that I work with, they know how I am when it comes to execution. If it’s not executed, it’s just an idea. So in order for it to come to life, we really have to make it happen. And I always want, not only my clients, but the teams that we work with to be confident that they’re executing how the client is expecting.
So we do a lot of mockups. One tabletop situation and really kind of looking at how beautiful a centerpiece and all of the details that you’re thinking about can come together, but also when it comes to the lighting and a dark situation of that, we did an in-person production mockup with the lighting company where we set in the room with the client and her moms, the mother of the groom, the mother of the bride. We kinda went through that process and allowed them to be a part of it so that they can understand what direction that we’re going in. Showing them visuals, allowing them to be a part of some of the more formal processes such as picking out play settings and really kinda deciding what glass were to use and what forks to use and that exciting stuff. The tastings, making sure that they were present during that because in this case, they were also contributing financially to the wedding. So they wanna be involved as much as possible.
But I definitely would say reassurance for us comes through a visual example and whether it be a virtual scenario where we’re mock up something on the computer that we can really kind visualize in person or actually have an in person, detail mockup in front of us, or production mockup where we’re experiencing a variation of this stuff without going too far and really losing like the essence of it.
Gillian de Souza: Very nice. Well, again, congratulations. That’s great!
Yolonda Smith: Thank you.
Gillian de Souza: Because there’s nothing like keeping a family member, a significant family member, especially when they’re paying the bill, not just in line, but in tune with what’s happening, and then they have comfort because you don’t want on that day, it is 50/50, love it or hate it, right?
Yolonda Smith: Yeah. I aim for a parent’s approval in a sense, because I know that they’ve experienced events and not only is it about the visuals, but it’s about the logistics and how the event feels and making sure that they feel like they were hands off. The last thing I want is for a parent to feel like they’ve had to do so much stuff unnecessarily. So, I personally, and my staff too, like, we really aim for this to be an experience for not just our couples, but their loved ones too, because they deserve it. You deserve that one time to really enjoy yourself completely.
Gillian de Souza: Yes, yes, yes, yes, indeed. So I want to kind of switch gears a little, because you mentioned that one of the weddings that you did, you mentioned that the groom was Filipino and the bride was African- American.
Yolonda Smith: She was African-American. Yes.
Gillian de Souza: Right. So you’re doing a multicultural wedding. Tell me about your experience with multicultural weddings or talk to that couple that’s planning a multicultural wedding and how to be successful at that.
Yolonda Smith: Yeah. So wanting to identify what elements, like individually you both wanna bring to the table in a sense, we wanna have, or specifically that couple, they wanted to have a little bit of everything. They wanted to be relatable and true to culture on both sides, but they didn’t want it to turn into something that was all about culture, not necessarily about them as a couple.
So in every element of their wedding ceremony, we infused something that would’ve been acceptable on both sides. So, for example, they jumped their groom for the ceremony. That was something that they really wanted to do. The bride specifically wanted to do as African-American tradition. But we also held it in a very beautiful church which was a requirement of the groom’s parents, and their religion and spirituality to have it in the church. And it was a beautiful church. That was the very first thing that we booked outside of their actual venue was touring churches in the area to make sure that they fit what the bride was looking for because she didn’t necessarily envision herself getting married in a church originally. She wanted to get married on the beach. She had a couple of things that she wanted to also experience. So, we did that first, making sure that they both got what they wanted out of that.
Second thing that they wanted to do within his culture was really hosting their family and making sure that they essentially took care a lot of the worry out of the guest side, they provided transportation, was just something that was a little different and not necessarily culturally required, but something that they felt that they needed to do.
Not something that I know I’ve ever had happen when it comes to a wedding. I was shuttled from point A to point B as a guest. So that’s why I said they had an incredible experience as a guest at that wedding. Also food and making sure that there was elements for everybody, traditional Filipino elements, but also things that the bride love and she was a big seafood girl and they did have their reception at a venue that was near the beach. So it kinda fit in line with what they did. Their wedding cake, she wanted a beautiful wedding cake, but he also wanted to have ube cake, which in Filipino culture, that’s something that they love.
So we researched and got a baker to kinda test out some recipes and make sure that she could make something that was pretty close to authentic, but also beautiful to fit what the bride was looking for in a wedding cake. Cause not every baker is going be able to successfully execute a design and an ube cake. So we wanted make sure that we brought both of those because I would hate for his family to have been there and them to have questioned where and why we decided to make some of those decisions. I always wanna make sure that things are as authentic as possible and that we’re respecting anybody’s culture that we’re trying to infuse. And in another situation, similar to that, but another Filipino client that I had, they had for their desserts, were all traditional Filipino desserts, in addition to a small cutting cake. But it was great because guests were able to try so many different things. They didn’t necessarily try and really kinda step outside of their box when it comes to their desserts and using small leeways and common things that people love to infuse each other’s culture, but also get everybody on the same accord in the sense that you’re joining together. So you want your families to merge in that way. I think, it’s beautiful and I love when clients really wanna do both things and not focus on like one specific culture entirely.
Gillian de Souza: Fantastic. Oh my goodness. We’re past the time that we had together and I feel like we could continue talking about so many things. You have packed so much information in this short time for our couples listening to be thinking about in terms of what they’re looking for, not just in a wedding planner, but for their own events and can tie that into how they select the vendors to support them to create that for them. So thank you so much.
I’m gonna allow you to leave our couples with one thing that you would like them to know about Love Events and Design.
Yolonda Smith: I would like them to know that we are a small family owned business with corporate values in the sense of execution and professionalism. But we love our clients. We love what we do, and that comes into our name. And we are huge on intentionality. So if you are looking for an event planner, wedding planner specifically, that is going to push you to be intentional and thoughtful with all of your decisions from your reception timeline to your vendor selection. We would love to work with you.
Gillian de Souza: Well, for the short time that we’ve had here together, I think you’ve well demonstrated that you are able to do that. Love the name, love how the name was came about and love how you’ve continued to carry that on, no pun intended, but I love it.
So, Happy Valentine’s Day to you. So more love to all listeners. And again, I want to thank you Yolonda Smith of Love Events and Design, and wish you well, and we’ll be seeing you again on another episode of DC Weddings with Gillian. Thanks again, Yolonda.
Yolonda Smith: Thank you. Bye.
Gillian de Souza: Bye.