Before you’re ready to say “I do,” there is a list of “dos” and “don’ts” to remember – just ask Danielle Leilani. The wedding planning extraordinaire is the go-to girl for celebrities, influencers and everyday brides (just like Us!) who enlist her help in planning the best day of their lives.
“Wedding planning is, to me, the most rewarding job there is,” Leilani exclusively shared with Us Weekly. She accidentally discovered her passion for wedding planning after studying journalism and anthropology.
“To work so extremely hard and put your heart and soul into creating something for 8, 10, 12 months then see it all come to fruition on somebody’s biggest day of their lives is a priceless experience that you won’t find in any other career,” Leilani continued.
The Leilani Weddings founder and her team go above and beyond to curate incredible experiences for their clients leading up to the walk down the aisle. Her BachBox is a staple for every bachelorette trip, and the relatable advice she shares on social media builds community and trust amongst her clients, who range from Awkward alum Jillian Rose Reed, Cheer breakout star Morgan Simianer, fashion mogul Caroline Vazzanna and many more.
As fall wedding season kicks into full gear, Leilani took Us through the process of planning a star-worthy soiree.
Us: What are the 5 things brides should consider when planning a wedding?
1. If this is the right time to have a wedding. Weddings are very expensive when done right.
2. How big or small do you want it? This will help narrow down your venue options!
3. What time of year do you love most? This is probably the season you want to get married in!
4. Your wedding party. I have seen small wedding parties of one person on each side up to very large wedding parties of up to 16 (!) on each side. Very different vibes!
5. Who they’re booking as their planner! It is very unwise to try and plan such a big event on your own.
Us: What is your best piece of advice to a couple who feels overwhelmed by the thought of planning a wedding?
DL: Hire a planner. Trust me, it’s 100,000 percent worth the money and more. You think you can plan it yourself but – you won’t want to. There are so many moving parts, so many elements, so many decisions to make, and so many logistics and details that you are surely going to miss if you do not hire a professional. The day is too special (and too expensive!) to risk it being planned and executed to a T. It isn’t worth the gamble. Recently we consulted with a client, and they said we were “alleviating stress they didn’t even know they had yet”. That says it all.
Us: What is your favorite part about wedding planning?
DL: Wedding planning is, to me, the most rewarding job there is. To work so extremely hard and put your heart and soul into creating something for 8, 10, or 12 months and then see it all come to fruition on somebody’s biggest day of their lives is a priceless experience that you won’t find in any other career. I always say that wedding planning is like an art form and a science all in one. I love planning because I get to use both sides of my brain simultaneously to create thoroughly planned and masterfully executed one-of-a-kind living art.
Us: How did you break into the industry?
DL: I was the first person in my family to go to college, and I studied journalism and anthropology. After graduating, I got into Fashion PR, and it was there that my passion for event planning began. I basically stumbled into wedding planning, and discovered that I absolutely LOVED IT! Wedding planning utilizes my entire skill set: Creativity, leadership, organization, and attention to detail – my past jobs of coaching cheerleading, writing, and even competing in pageants all lend themselves to what I do now as not only a wedding planner, but a business owner and boss.
Us: Besides weddings, how can maids of honor ensure a successful bachelorette party the bride will love?
DL: My best advice to all maids of honor planning their bestie’s bachelorette is to GET ORGANIZED! There are so many elements when it comes to planning any type of event, even a bachelorette party. Start with the basics: Chat with the bride on some of her do’s and don’t, her haves and must-haves, then circle the girls to brainstorm and plan. Delegate each girl to help with a certain element, and keep all of the money planning tight, so there are no surprises or drama around what everybody is paying. I’ve seen it all! At the end of the day, planning a bachelorette party is a LOT of work, so honestly, consider hiring a planner. My team and I at Leilani Weddings plan bachelorette parties in partnership with my second business, the BachBox.
Us: What are some of the most popular wedding themes you’ve seen in the last few years?
DL: We aren’t really big on wedding themes per se, but we’re huge advocates of vibes and aesthetics! Some of our favorites over the years are Boho Glam, Feminine and Whimsical, and Modern Boho.
Us: Do you have a favorite celeb wedding and why?
DL: I had the pleasure of working with Jillian Rose Reed who was Tamara on MTV’s Awkward, and planning and designing her wedding was literally a dream. She got married out in Joshua Tree and had a vibrant yet earthy color palette. We incorporated fun, whimsical elements like mismatched candlesticks on vintage candelabras, custom iridescent cactus keychains as guest escort cards (that doubled as favors!), and a vibey and psychedelic weed bar. She and her mom were absolute gems to work with – so gracious, appreciative, and all-around good people.
Us: What wedding trends will be seen more (or less) in 2023?
DL: Sustainability (LOVE that couples are going in this direction!), 80’s fashion (a personal fave being an 80’s baby!), and Live Entertainment (a staple here at Leilani Weddings).