5 Questions with Donnie Brown

Donnie Brown is a wedding-industry mainstay. In 1994, he opened Dallas-based Five Star Floral Design and Events. Both Lone Star State brides and A-list celebrities took notice of Brown's penchant for fabulous events, spurring the launch of Donnie Brown Weddings & Events. The pro began appearing on The Style Network program "Whose Wedding Is It Anyway" in 2003 and recently saw the release of his first book "Donnie Brown Weddings" (Stewart, Tabori and Chang, 2009). Here, the style pro shares his secrets for perfecting your hometown wedding

Q: As a planner, do you notice something different when planning a wedding for a bride who is a native to an area versus a transplant?

A:Brides come in all shapes, sizes and attitudes. Whether they are from here or there, personalities tend to mix regardless of their point of origin.

It is always fun to bring the destination region into play. Often we will do a regionally themed rehearsal dinner as well as the welcome gift bags for the hotel-staying travelers. Obviously, the better you understand the area, the better chance you have of achieving the goal.

Q: You, like many event planners, got your start in flowers. Do you have any tips to share with brides for finding inspiration for their wedding-day florals?

A: They should do their homework. They should find the things they like and file them to show to their floral designer. As well, they should file the things they really don't like so the designer will be able to use that information in the development of the plan.

I personally love orchids - all kinds of orchids. Phaelanopsis is my personal favorite but there are many, many to choose from in a variety of colors. They are useful in many ways from the more exotic to the ultra traditional designs.

Q: Date. Venue. Guest List. In your book you say deciding the importance of each is different for everyone, which it is, but do you have a order you typically like to work when planning a wedding?

A: It's really different for everyone. A couple with their heart set on a venue cannot always get their first date option due to other bookings. They may need to seek out availability and then move on to the date setting. Others may want the date with less preference to the venue.

Additionally, the couple who has to have a certain number of guests will need to take that into account when picking the venue due to space limitations - which can also impact the date selection.

A lot of the stress of these initial decisions is what most couples find incredibly daunting. This is all before an initial budget can really be confirmed. And the list continues to go on and on.

Q: Do you have any best practices or suggestions for outdoor/public venues?

A: Many high-quality resort hotels as well as country clubs have well-landscaped designated areas to achieve a lovely outdoor wedding ceremony. As well, the couple can get a permit from the parks and recreation department and hold the wedding in a park or on a beach. They cannot really eliminate the onlookers without expensive security, so some of their privacy may be lost at a location like this. Alternatively, they can look for rentable mansions or estates with lovely outdoor areas to hold the entire wedding. Just a warning that these can often carry hefty price tags.

Q: There's a deluge of wedding information out there today - from magazines and books to TV shows and ideas brides will get from other weddings. To answer the question that is your show's title - Whose Wedding Is It Anyway? - how do you suggest brides filter all the ideas out there and really pinpoint her own style and desires?

A: They should take inspiration from the things they like and filter out the bad. Most couples know when they like something and certainly when they don't. The planner should be able to make sense of the options and find a tasteful way of combining the couples' desires into a cohesive plan. Additionally, they should carefully screen where they get their information. If they love the weddings on our show, as a rule, they should use that as a major tool to create their big day. Alternatively, if they read some magazines or watch other television that showcases things that they don't generally care for, they should then take those out of the mix of options. Most importantly, they should make sure to hire a quality wedding planner. Often a planner can save the couple their fee just in better contract negotiations. It's a no-brainer.

-Timothy R. Schulte

(c) CTW Features

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