I was born in Nigeria. I moved to the UK when I was five and grew up in London. In 2012, I moved to Dubai for a teaching role.
I currently live in Abu Dhabi where I work full-time on weddings both worldwide and locally. We have planned weddings and events (including corporate) in the UAE, London, Lagos, Thailand, South Africa and Seychelles.
How did you get started in wedding planning?
I am a planner and meticulous when it comes to organising events. I enjoy planning parties, dinners and social events for my friends. Back then, I had never even thought about being an event planner, but I always knew that I would not be teaching forever. In 2013, I planned my own wedding for about 11 months, and the experience made me acquainted with many vendors and contractors in Dubai. My own first-hand experience in planning my own wedding made me decide to try my hand at planning weddings. I was eight months pregnant in December 2014 when I was contracted as a wedding planner for a beautiful wedding at The Waldorf Astoria.
What questions do you think brides should ask when looking for a planner?
You must have a phone conversation with your planner to ensure that your ideas and personalities align. It is better for the bride and the planner to meet in person to discuss matters. If there are certain ‘special’ requests or unique highlights of the wedding that the bride wants to happen, she should ask the planner the experience they have with those things.
Brides should also ask matters in the aspect of planning and execution, including an inquiry of the kind of people or staff that they involve in their team. Brides should also request ideas that fall within the budget, or make smart allocations between expense items, as well as advice on increasing or decreasing the budget. It’s also great for brides to give their planners a scenario to assess how they would act in a stressful situation.
At the end of the day, selecting a wedding planner is most certainly a ‘job interview’: you are paying for the service, so you want to make sure you get the right person.
How do you get the ideas out of brides so that they describe to you effectively their vision for the wedding day?
I typically have an initial phone consultation with my clients, where we discuss the types of things they like. Afterwards, I send my clients a questionnaire detailing different aspects of the wedding, asking them to indicate their preferences.
We use Pinterest as inspiration for colours, florals, accents, and other aspects, and eventually work from there. Both my clients and I are active in pinning suitable themes, colours and décor that they like. I find a common thread in their collection of pictures, which I translate to a ‘mood board’ that we use as a foundation of how the day will look and feel.
What would you tell brides who don’t think they need a planner? What are they missing out on?
I specialise in destination weddings, and 99% of my clients do not live in the UAE. It makes sense to get a planner for brides who aren’t on the ground and find it difficult to look for the ideal vendors without having a number of trips to the destination country, which is sometimes not feasible due to money, work or other commitments. An experienced wedding planner can bridge brides-to-be with the best vendors within their budget and preferred expertise, as well as offer them hidden gems in other aspects such as special contractors or venues. The in-country planner is able to have meetings with vendors that most clients will not be able to attend and work closely to ensure a seamless day.
Wedding days can be very stressful. Brides should not be thinking about things that haven’t been set up, or hearing about anything that may not be going right. This is where a planner steps in to ensure the bride is focused on her prep and enjoying her day. We take the stress and pressure, so you do not have to. I also throw the question out to my brides apart from the cost: what is stopping you from having a wedding planner? If there are no other cons, then we can discuss how we can work on the payments to ensure it doesn’t break the bank.
What’s your favourite part of a wedding?
I always love the moment when the bride walks down the aisle, and the groom sees her for the first time in her wedding dress. I can’t remember a single wedding that hasn't touched me. A wedding is a culmination of months—sometimes even years—of planning to get to that point. I love it.
Wedding dresses: describe your favourites.
My favourite wedding dress has to be the April 2019 wedding #BOOthewedding19: a lace and Mikado custom dress from Elizabeth and Lace Bridal. I have never been a massive fan of lace until that wedding.
Do you see any trends in the industry at present or with your current clients?
To be honest, every wedding is unique, so I don’t espouse any trend at all. However, entertainment is something that is quite big, whether it be famous musicians, string duos, Nigerian live bands, gospel bands and even world-renowned DJs. Entertainment is key as it’s one thing people will always remember.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned, and would pass along to other new wedding planners just getting started?
As clients vet me at the start, the initial consultation is also for me to check whether the prospective client is an ideal one. Do your personalities mesh? Are you able to work with the budget that they are setting alongside their expectations? Not every client will be the right fit for you
Any great stories from working with clients?
Not a story as such, but I love weddings where there are epic love stories to tell. Two previous clients that come to mind were weddings we planned in Thailand (2015) and Lagos (2019). These weddings were significant as they were 10-year vow renewals, and both of these couples had gotten married pretty young and just started their journeys to success. They didn’t have a big wedding back then. Fast forward to 10 years, they reaffirmed their love. One of these couples now has three kids and is running a successful company.
What tips or advice can you give to couples who are in the midst of planning?
At the moment with the onslaught of a global pandemic, I would say reach out to your venue and vendors, and check what their policies are with postponing the wedding to a later date. No one knows when all this will blow over, so it’s best to plan ahead as opposed to waiting and seeing what happens. Once you have that information in writing, then you can continue planning for the big day.
However, be mindful that there may be restrictions, such as venues lowering their capacities to ensure that social distancing rules can be maintained. Venues may possibly cancel cocktail hours and instead have sit-down appetiser options or buffet options but plated by staff at the venue, as opposed to help-yourself setups. Venues may even insist on seated meals for all events.
Cost can be something that holds back couples from working with a wedding planner. What would you tell brides and grooms about the cost?
As I previously said, my answer would be if cost is the only thing that is holding you back from getting a wedding planner, then we can work on that—for example, with a payment plan. Another thing I would advise is for them to think about what they would potentially miss out on without a wedding planner compared to having one. Couples always forget things in the run-up to a wedding; a wedding planner rarely misses details. Order, efficiency and delivery make planners worth the money. A planner is able to bring a budget wedding together and make it look like a million-dollar wedding.
What other types of events do you plan?
We plan all events; however, we specialise in weddings and birthday parties. We have planned a lot of milestone ones: 40th, 50th, 60th and 70th. We also have experience in corporate events, like event planning for a company with over 150 staff members for three consecutive years, with one of these trips taking place in South Africa.
How do people find you?
A lot of my clients find me through word of mouth. I am recommended from previous clients or their family members. Aside from recommendations, my clients found me through Instagram.