How to become a celebrity wedding planner
Love stories impassion Danielle Rothweiler to devote her creative talents and event planning acumen to ensuring that her client couples’ wedding day dreams go off without a hitch.
Her nearly decade-old New Jersey-based company, Rothweiler Event Design, specializes in luxury event design, including those for celebrity brides and grooms.
For example, having planned the big day for ballroom dancer and Dancing with the Stars contestant, Lindsay Arnold, “It’s still one of my favorite weddings ever,” says Rothweiler. “Besides the fact that she is such a lovely person, so was her fiancé, and her family, and everyone at her wedding. Yes, it was beautiful but the love was even more beautiful than anything I could have designed for her.”
So how does one make the transition from standard event or wedding planning into the world of celebrity?
Before launching her own business, Rothweiler worked for another event/wedding planner to gain experience.
“It was the best way to learn and get started,” says Rothweiler, who had achieved a degree in Political science from Penn State. “A college degree is a pretty powerful tool and experience trumps any certificate offered in my industry.”
A love of the theater drove Rothweiler to earn her SAG AFTRA and AEA cards, and she relates her entertainment production work to her current livelihood as a planner.
“This job lets me be creative without the crazy audition process in the city and wondering what my next show will be. Now I just worry when my next client will call and book their event,” she says.
To provide total attention and dedication to her clients, “We take on a maximum of 12 full planning and design events per year,” says Rothweiler. “The number may seem low, but when they are back to back, it’s not that easy. With wedding season being mostly in one part of the year, that is the best number for us.”
Working with budgets of $60,000 and up, Rothweiler has organized nuptials for a handful of celebrities. Interestingly, “Budgets are relative to what you want and what you’re willing to spend. Everyone wants a deal… including celebrities,” she says. “There are plenty of trade-outs available for celebrities too, and there are those who use that to their advantage. A lot.”
Much of the time, she says, landing such business is word of mouth or social media.
“I don’t set out to work with celebrities, and I prefer to only plan for the ones whom I feel a connection to – just like the rest of my clients. I have to love your love story – celebrity or not,” she says.
Filming and production is a unique issue that presents itself when working with those in the limelight. “The timing on the day of the wedding is super important and if producers get involved, they will ignore the timeline if it doesn’t work for them… and that doesn’t work for me. I also hate the scripted and hyped up drama when a wedding is filmed. No one really acts like that.”
Another trying part of Rothweiler’s work is having to counter others’ opinions on the wedding planning process.
“A huge challenge is fighting what the internet and the best friend who just got married knows about wedding planning. I don’t like being challenged about what I actually know, versus what someone Googled,” says Rothweiler.
Rothweiler’s tips for a successful career in high-end social event planning:
Have strength. “I cannot stress that enough. It isn’t about having patience and biting your tongue. If you have passion and drive for this industry and you love it that much, then if you lose your patience, it’s most likely warranted. But you need to have the strength to handle a lot of it first.”
It’s not all glamourous. “It’s a constant job and many people think that if I’m not ‘at’ the wedding, that I’m not working and will ask me to hang out. The opposite is true and while plenty of people are enjoying happy hour or bar hopping at 11 p.m., I can frequently be found in front of my computer working.”
Enjoy the intrinsic rewards. “How many jobs do you get to travel through a portion of someone’s life, create something with them, and then let them go in to the world as something brand new? I get that last look in to the bride’s eyes before she goes down the aisle – that moment where I let them go as a couple in to the reception and on to the rest of their lives. This is a very rewarding and powerful job.”
Be an apprentice. “Planning your own wedding and racking up certificates will not make you a wedding planner. Work for someone else first and learn, learn, learn."