Wedding Planning with Shawanda Holsey of Lovely Events Group – E94

Shawanda Holsey of Lovely Events Group and Matt (My Wedding Songs) sit down to chat about music and wedding planning.



Show Notes:

  • Memorable Wedding Moment
  • Authentic Memories
  • Kids and Pets in Weddings
  • Shawanda Intro
  • Preferred Vendors
  • Pre-wedding vs. Day-of Coordination
  • Ceremony and Reception Music
  • Wedding Trends
  • Reception Trends
  • Wedding Planning Tips
  • Kids At Weddings
  • Have a Number 2
  • Trends In Music
  • Complete Your Forms
  • Contact Lovely Events Group

Welcome everybody to the 94th episode of the Wedding Songs Podcast. I am Matthew Campbell and today… I am very pleased to have the one and only Shawanda from Lovely Events Group. She is based here in Las Vegas, but not only a wedding planner and event coordinator at ESPN. Hey, go ahead and say hello Shawanda.

Hey. Hey everyone. I’m Shawanda Holsey, as Matt’s pointed out. And I’m excited to be here, Matt, on your show. So listen, I’m ready to dive in.

Awesome. So let’s start off with the question that I ask everybody. What are some of your most memorable moments at weddings?

Memorable Wedding Moment

I have had two memorable moments that kind of stick out to me and they’re both humorous.

So one happens to be with the father. Usually, I fill out the witness, statement on their marriage license and keepsake license. However, at one specific wedding at the Mirage poolside, by the way, I had a father come up to me and he was so eager. He was so excited to watch his daughter get married and to be there to walk her down the aisle.

He wanted to sign the keepsake. License himself as the witness, like he wanted his John Henry to be on there. That’s the one they’re going to frame at home and things like that. I made the mistake. I was still, getting my bearings as a new officiant. I gave him my binder with all of the legal paperwork in there.

He slides my tip in there unknowingly to me. And a gust of wind comes through. We’re in the month of October in Vegas. It was a little windy by the pool and it blew all of the paperwork out of his hand. Into the pool. Talk about a Vegas wedding story. So we had to get the ancillary staff from the mirage to get into the pool, literally, undress, get into the pool, and find and hunt down all the paperwork.

And then of course we had to get a reprint done at Clark County’s office. They gave me a freebie on that one. They were like, listen, this was an exciting story to hear and funny. So we’re going to give you this pass. That was one that really sticks out that I always tell.

I know that the couple has the most amazing Our Vegas Wedding Story.

That’s one Matt. And then I have another one where we had a kid at the altar. She was a flower girl and as the father’s getting ready to say his personal vows. I gave him the mic. She kind of pulls on his tuxedo and says, Daddy may I have some chips? And he says, sure, sweetheart, after the ceremony, she says, are you sure after the ceremony?

He says, yes. And all of this is caught on the microphone. The audience just laughs. It was just a pure raw moment of humor when she was about four to six years old. I would gauge and she just had to get that out. She really wanted some chips. It was so funny.

Authentic Memories

Well, I think speaking of that couples have to realize that your wedding isn’t going to go exactly as planned and to definitely thrive on those moments because that’s what you’re going to remember for years to come.

And when she gets married then now you can tell this story at their wedding. So that’s, that’s awesome. Authentic memories. Oh, my goodness. I love it.

Kids and Pets in Weddings

Speaking of that, Matt, when we do have kids that do have to come down to ours, there’s a lot of pressure there. So I want parents to remember that sometimes, you know, we can handle that pressure of the eyeballs on us.

And, you know, we’re excited and they’re in their Sunday’s best. Of course, but, you know, their little personalities are still blossoming. So I say, give them some grace. If they slow down or if they freeze just have that trusted person there to walk them through their part of the way.

That’s a great tip. And even what’s becoming popular right now are our pets. So the same thing goes for pets to anxiety is real, you know what I mean? So be realistic about how much you want to put on the extra member of your family.

Shawanda Intro

Very true. If you would, just go ahead and tell everybody a little bit about you and your company.

Lovely Events Group, we are a boutique company, full-service event planning company here in Las Vegas. Specializing in live sporting events, weddings, and luxury event rentals. We currently plan weddings at our partner venues, like Rainbow Gardens and the Mirage. We go in as a preferred vendor and officiate weddings on their behalf.

We also plan weddings, we do pre-planning as well prior to a bride’s and groom’s or all of our couple’s special day. One thing that I’ve noticed in our industry, that helps my business is having verticals, different verticals because you never know what you’re going to get. Planning, I ran into certain officiants not being licensed or they would bring people from out of town.

I had someone in the wedding industry who saw a gift within me and suggested that I become a wedding officiant. Because I had planned so many weddings and saw that there was a need there, that was an avenue, another vertical that I could tap into, Matt, that helped to blossom my business and my credibility here, in the Las Vegas market.

Remember I moved here, three and a half years ago from Atlanta, Georgia, and started this business. It has been, really about being creative. And this space, and also, getting very involved in the business sector. That has been one of the things that has helped with my success here.

Preferred Vendors

So since you’re talking about being a preferred vendor at some of the venues, do you have a list of preferred vendors yourself that you work with as the wedding planner? We do and right now I am learning that processes and procedures are golden. I have a business coach that I work with. I’ve worked with her for the last 2.5 years. I am developing a full guide to bring preferred vendors onto my team. I’ve tried a few out. You have to do that in the industry when you’re new somewhere you have to kind of roll up the sleeves and, you know, really lean on just trusting, business professionals in the industry and doing your research and making sure you vet as much as possible.

So I’ve had really good interactions with the Wedding Chamber, and the Metro Business Chamber of Commerce also has been a big aid in that. When I mentioned getting involved in the community and learning how business was done in this community before I showed up, that was pretty, interesting and that onion continues to bloom because I drove in here on May 1st of 2020 when Las Vegas was completely shut down.

So I’ve watched it kind of reemerge and there was room in the industry. People ask, why did you come here? I’m a hospitality specialist, and I have started a new business. Had the background and I’m a southern girl from Georgia I wanted some new professional challenges in the hospitality capital of the world.

Also the wedding capital of the world. I wanted to come in at a time when there was a big shift. There was room for people like me who had started new businesses. there was a lot of business that had moved out. This economy needed Lovely Events Group and we are here to service.

Pre-wedding vs. Day-of Coordination

That’s awesome. So I was going to ask you, do you typically plan the pre-wedding and also the day of coordination or do you just do the pre-wedding?

Usually pre-wedding, is something that happens sporadically. I’m gonna be honest, it just depends on how soon our brides get to us. Any bride that I have met at Bridal Spectacular, which is one of the vessels that I used here, is one of the largest bridal shows you know this, Matt.

When I get clients from there, there’s a lot of pre-planning that happens, right? Now, when people are assigned to me from some of these preferred venues, sometimes it’s Day of Coordination and just fly on-site officiating. My packages though, this year, I’m gonna be honest, the one that has sold the most has been Day of Coordination.

That I’ve put together. I’m there for 8 to 10 hours. That’s just for my team, of what our day of coordination package carries from a timeline standpoint, but it has been very popular. A lot of, couples are excited to roll up their sleeves and get into the planning process to save themselves that money.

We want them to do what makes them comfortable and they call the experts in when they meet us. The day of coordination still takes pre-planning though. That’s the secret that they don’t realize. A lot of my couples, for instance, have one on October 14th and one on October 26th. We met back at Bridal Spectacular, one we actually met back last October and there’s been a lot of pre-planning that happens for the day of coordination.

It’s just a give or take and you just have to be ready to serve those needs when they come up. So when you’re talking with them, how does music come into the conversation as far as for their ceremony or the reception, how does that conversation go?

Ceremony and Reception Music

Usually, if they have a venue, it can go two ways. Sometimes I help them source the venue. And so I’m going to take them to one of my preferred vendors. I know you have to provide the DJ list because I have the raw files that our brides grooms and couples are provided with for their wedding. I get a chance to kind of see that this is something you have to turn in.

Most venues require your playlist per se. That is how that comes up because on my checklist, that is something that I remind them to do, at least two weeks prior, but I always find that two weeks or one week out. They still have not turned in this paperwork yet. This has been one of the soft spots in my, planning room, even from private social corporate stuff.

Matt, it goes all the way there too, back to even my sports folks. I love them. But highly, highly negligent, I’m going to say, in the wedding department. That’s the music side of things. Gets left out, it’s like it’s shelved until it can’t be shelved anymore, and now it’s like, oh my goodness, what’s gonna be played?

Even my experience as a wedding DJ that’s exactly what I’ve experienced, that’s the last two weeks before the wedding. And you’re saying even later than that that’s very disheartening. I’ve seen it. I’m like, Oh, and the poor DJ.

I’ve seen the day one of my brides was so stressed. She did not literally I had to bring your book in and just thank you and open it to the pages. And I had a bookmark with the clip. He was trying. He had an assistant there that was on my computer. These guys were a tech guy. So they were able to hook in and send between one another, but that is high pressure. Do you hear me? High pressure.

Fun story, Matt. I also had an impersonator. I got booked to hire an impersonator for a birthday party, an 80th birthday party, a huge milestone for the mother coming out of Texas. It was amazing. However, talent is something that I learned as a planner as well in this market.

Make sure you’re doing your checks and balances on entertainment companies when they have direct access to the DJ. As a planner, sometimes we’re so busy, that we don’t want to get a DJ involved, you don’t want to get copied on every single email, especially if you’re the bridge, right? The impersonator did not get the songs over to the DJ.

Rather, her entertainment manager did not. That’s really not her thing to do, but, that ball got dropped and it hindered the performance a little bit because we had to kind of sit and wait for things to be uploaded and certain songs that couldn’t have vocals on it because she’s the vocalist.

She’s been impersonating herself, learned a lesson then. DJ lessons, Matt. We got to go sit and talk about some of this stuff because it’s literally, I’m from the music side. Now, do you see how sometimes the music side can have a planner kind of tugging at the hair?

Looking at the planner boards and the DJ boards on Facebook, there is definitely some tension between the planner and the DJ community.

Hopefully that there’s, some work through that anyway. We got to work together and find a way to ebb and flow and do processes and procedures, checks and balances. Had I checked? It would have been cleared up. However, I just trusted and really didn’t verify.

So learning. I think we’ve all done that. Just assuming that someone’s going to have that role covered. And when it’s not covered, you have to be reactive.

It comes down to the wedding couple being happy and you just have to do what you have to do. I was going to ask you too about the venues in Vegas.

Are venues curtailing what you can play and what you cannot play based on your playlist? Are you experiencing any facilities that are saying you can’t play this type of music or, or limiting what you can play?

Not at all. I have not run into that. Not at one minute. No.

Wedding Trends

Okay, cool. Let me switch gears a little bit. Then what trends or colors can you say are really popular right now that you think are going to continue into 2024?

Colors of the year. I always look those up. Better Homes and Gardens, Fashion designers.

Everybody has their predictions. I kind of go through and forecast with them on the best ones, that I think, as a planner, what I’ve been seeing in the market is going to stick. Right now hues of blue, are kind of making their way back around. That was kind of the 2021 push as well.

I’m seeing that trend stay. Listen to me boho. She has been around with the puffs of grass and palms. It’s just not going anywhere. People are getting way more creative with it. They’re doing Western styles with it. I’ve seen modern takes on it as well. So there are so many ways with that particular look to say that it’s going to be cemented into 2024 as well.

I think we’re going to also see, vibrant greens. Beautiful greenery and floral lots of plants live living things, live floral, even though it’s a little bit pricier, it’s still going to make its debut, over some of the silks in certain venues, and then rust and copper, Matt, are some colors that are going to come in there, you’re going to see subtle, little assets of that versus golds.

So that is going to kind of take the attention away from those, but that rust copper, look, it’s going to be on the rise in 2024.

I love that because even our kitchen is accented with copper. We’re not huge gold fans. Brides never want to have the same stuff as all of their friends.

Reception Trends

Anyway. So what are you seeing in trends as far as the format of the reception? A lot of couples used to have the first dance, then the cake cutting and the bouquet toss.

Are you seeing a lot of the bouquet tosses being Xed out of the reception? What are you seeing at the reception that people are choosing to do?

Some receptions are staying traditional, and then some people are remixing it up and doing their own thing. So, yes. The traditional bouquet toss happens at some of my traditional weddings.

However, it has been on the decline. People have kind of done away with it as well as wedding favors. I’m finding that some of my brides and grooms and couples are saying, we’re going to eliminate that out of the budget. Yeah. We just don’t think that it’s plausible, however, they’re adding other things in games and things like that into the wedding.

I’ve had quite a few weddings that have added in some things that are very interesting. So, for instance, bobbleheads on the cakes. but they are personalized bobbleheads to look like a lot of my same-sex couples, get the bobbleheads and they are mirrored and they’re so cool. They’re made for their personality.

So that is a trend that is in that’s coming in for 2024 those truly personalized cakes. That has caricatures played on there.

That’s so funny. You say that because, a few months ago, Sharon and I flew into Milwaukee and we went to the Bobblehead Hall of Fame. They have over 6,500 bobbleheads. It’s insane.

It’s insane. I bet that is a sight to see. I never knew that a museum existed. So that may have to go on the bucket list.

I’m pretty sure I have sports ones. I have Tom Brady. I’m a big Patriots fan. You know, it is what it 32 teams for a reason. I’m going to say that I still have not let go of the fact that Brady has left our team still recovering. And I still have a lot of his paraphernalia. A bobblehead is one of them.

Wedding Planning Tips

Can you give any tips for couples that are planning their weddings?

Listen, any couples planning weddings for the remainder of 2023, believe it or not, Matt, some of my venues get people calling two weeks before. it’s just one of those things. Some people like to live on the edge they just like to say, you know what, we’re spontaneously going to pick our venue and we’re going to marry in the next 60 days.

I would just say, have your checklist together. I, as a planner, would love to have all couples 6 months, and 18 months out with a planning. That’s just not in this market realistic. I’ve learned to be proactive and help them to help themselves, right? To help us to help them. It’s a whole metaphor.

And checklists, get your checklists together. Make sure that you have concise goals. Make decisions when you want a tight timeline, if you’re going to be within 3 months. Six months, that’s real hardcore planning. If you’re going to roll up your sleeves and get involved, make sure you have proper checklists and make definite decisions.

Kids At Weddings

At this point, make decisions. Don’t overlook it. Too many options. Also, if you’re going to have children as part of the wedding, I hit on this earlier, make sure that you have activity kits for them. Things that are stimulating and soothing to children. Sometimes as an adult, we just forget we are in wedding mode and that these little people need to have some type of entertainment when they’re going to be on-site for 6, to 8 hours at a time because we want them at their best.

We want everyone to enjoy it. Thank you. So those are some of the tips, and they have wedding kits, wedding activity kits little puzzles and activity sheets, and little things to keep them going, while you all are engaging in a beautiful wedding ceremony.

I think that’s a great tip for keeping your kids busy I’ve seen other tips where even at the reception they’ll put paper down on the table so then they’ll have crayons I think it’s a great idea because so many couples out there are choosing not to even have kids at their receptions.

That is a trend. Let me just talk about that. That’s a trend that has become popular. I, as a planner, stay diplomatic and neutral in that because I can understand why some people if you have very small children and you know, your children, that’s okay.

Don’t feel like you are xing them out per se, because this is what, this is your production. I tell all of my couples this, this moment with your husband, wife, or if you’re a same-sex couple, your wife and wife, your grooming groom to all of the couples out there. I want to say this as well, make it your production and run the show how you need to.

Just like we do a football, run that play, how you see fit, because. It’s ultimately your day. You’re going to have to look back on those moments and there are pockets and windows and times where you can have the kids involved and also have some time where they can leave or again, there’s an activity space or room dedicated for them.

That’s important. But there is a trend where people are saying, you know, what, we’re going to have the keys back. If they’re here in Vegas, we’re going to send them on an excursion. They’re going to do activities. It just depends. You know, on the parents, some people get nannies.

I again, don’t have an opinion on it one way or the other. Because it’s couples-based. But that is something that’s on the rise where reception-wise, they may have them a part of the wedding, but I’m noticing sometimes an aunt, uncle, elder, they whisk them away and take them away to do something fun or just back to their hotel.

Yeah, they’re whisking them off to Circus Circus, right? Look, something fun, Area 15 and, some of the kids have voiced their opinions. I’ve done weddings where, midway through the reception that happens. So an auntie or uncle takes some of the older kids. Then the adult fun happens that’s when the music changes.

That’s another tip if you like that, schedule it. It’s okay to say, okay, at this point in time, I’m making an announcement. I had one of them. My couples to do that, her family was highly religious and they flew in, she wanted that to be announced.

The DJ and the MC made that announcement and they were so grateful for it now everybody hugged the kids and got their last goodbyes out. They got back on the shuttles cause they had shuttles coming around as well for the wedding party.

And all is well, the young crowd got to stay behind and party until they closed the venue down and the elders got to go back and enjoy themselves.

I think that as long as you’re setting the expectations for your guests, this is what’s happening, then there’s no surprises and everybody knows what’s going to happen. Like you said, we’re cranking up the music, just letting everybody know this is what’s happening.

Have a Number 2

That line of communication is important. Again, that could be on your checklist to make sure that you’re communicating and also have a number 2. I’ve seen brights burn out burn out because. They are trying to run the full show and once everybody gets the call on their phones, and you’re the main point of contact, it really can get to be overwhelming.

That’s 1 of the things assigned someone to be able to take calls and speak on your behalf. Without you having to be around and you trust the decisions that are being made.

Great tip. One more question about the music. Are you seeing any trends in music as far as what people are dancing to or what the DJs are playing?

What are you seeing?

Trends In Music

I am seeing a lot of line dancing coming back literally the whole room is getting engaged. I’m seeing that’s a trend that I’ve noticed some of the DJs have done to come from behind the booth and get folks involved and get them out of their seat and break it up and let them know like, hey, you’re here for a destination wedding.

Let’s have some fun. One being you are working in particular. There’s one DJ that is one of his goals. Is to make sure that the whole room gets involved in the dancing, and it makes a difference. It does. It really makes a difference. Everybody’s up and active when you want to, or not, you don’t have to do much moving because you’re in a line, you know, you’re, you’re lined up.

So it doesn’t require much. Right? So I love to see that train continue for 2024. Which makes every one of our makes great for photos to photographers, and videographers. It’s a win-win. I was talking to another DJ and when you’re in the line dance, all of that pressure comes off that, Hey, the spotlight’s on me.

Oh my gosh. Everybody’s looking at me whereas if you’re just part of the group, nobody’s really looking at you. They’re paying attention to what their steps are, and who’s in front of them. And they’re just in the moment, those are some of those, you know, authentic moments that we want to see. And in some of the bride and groom and the kids are in the room, you know, they love that part when they can get involved as well.

And just be a part of the fun. So I highly encourage you. So to kind of plug that in there, align these, even if you’re a DJ you just say, Hey, this is the one we want to play. And let’s make sure that it happens because it’s, it really is another element of fun that takes it to that next level.

Awesome. So is there anything else you wanted to cover today? And then we’ll close out with how people can contact you. But is there anything else that you wanted to talk about today?

Complete Your Forms

I would say with couples. Make sure that when you are given any type of form or information to be filled out for your ceremony, especially for the officiating side, please fill it out.

Please make sure you’re as thorough as possible. With the spelling of last names, and just names in general, because we want to as officiants fill out your paperwork and have your marriage licenses. We don’t want to see you have to repay for anything with name changes

What I have seen is that the witness. When getting a witness name, I’ve seen some people misspell some things or give me the wrong misspelling, and then they’ve had to go back and pay for that form to get corrected. Slow down, think about who you want your witnesses to be, and fill out any forms and paperwork in advance if you can, because that’s going to save you the rushing, overwhelming feeling because there are a lot of different things that are going to be on your checklist.

Get the easy things off first. And that’s 1 of them. I actually sent out a type form. It’s a link via text message or email. And it’s eight simple questions. And would you believe Matt? Sometimes it’s like pulling teeth to get those eight simple questions about the ceremony that I’m writing for you custom.

Yes. I can’t tell you how important that is because of how many weddings I’ve been to where the Officiants. Mispronounce their name that way they’re submitting the wrong documents. I think even more important than that is the story that’s told during the ceremony, just to give your sides of the story in that paperwork.

That’s so important just so that way the officiants can prepare for your wedding.

This is true. It’s important. Get it off the list early and it’s 1 of those things where it’s going to help us to help you and all the other vendors that you’ve paid for shy because once that videographer has that good footage, they can edit it and make it beautiful and put it.

Together seamlessly same with photography, there’s no awkwardness and looks, on the camera because the wrong name was said or pronounced I actually want, couples to really, really focus on that side of things the admin side of the wedding.

Get that paperwork in just even for the DJs. You’re going to give the DJ whatever number of songs. It’s a talent to put that in order to what makes sense and what’s going to get people dancing. So yes, get all of that paperwork in early. Just to close it out, Shawanda, can you just tell everybody how to contact you?

Contact Lovely Events Group

Yes. We’re very active on our social media channels, Instagram, Facebook at Lovely Events Group. Please, please, please feel free to click that LinkTree button and connect with us. You can message us.

You can book time on our calendar. We do keep, we’re one of those crazy planners. Yes, we love it. It helps us to secure business because we’re one of the few planners that allow you to book on our calendars. We also can be reached via our website.

Make sure you click that let’s get started button, and allow us to bring that sophisticated fun to your event.

Fantastic. So is your website?

FB @lovelyeventslv IG @lovelyeventsgroup

Awesome. There you go. Thank you very much, Shawanda for joining me today. If you would just tune in to next week, I’m going to be interviewing another wedding professional.

Thanks for listening and have a great day. Thanks, everyone.

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