The benefits of working with an event planner
Working with an Event Planner. I have photographed many bridal couples and many of them have had a great experience from start to finish. BUT some of them have had so many problems they wished they had hired someone to do it all for them. Let’s face it, not all of us have the knack for organization and coordinating. That is where an Event Planner can help. Whether you want someone to help with the whole day planning or just help coordinate everything the day of your wedding an event planner can be a dream come true. And a great stress reducer!!
Photographers and event planners work well together. The event planner can recommend the photographer to the bridal couple as part of their services and the photographer can recommend an event planner to a couple who might be getting stressed out with planning. I like working with event planners because I know that they have all the little details worked out. It makes the day less stressful on everyone, the bridal couple and the other vendors, including the photographer.
Meet Lauren Dabney
Lauren owns At Last Events, LLC in South New Jersey. She offers Full Service planning to day of coordination and is even working on a new trend Micro wedding packages. Lauren enjoyed planning her own wedding and soon realized that she had the talents that could help other bridal couples have the wedding of their dreams. I recently had a chance to do a question and answer session with Lauren so that you could get to know more about her, what services she offers and hear about some of the latest trends in the wedding industry.
Tell me about yourself:
My name is Lauren Dabney ( Maiden name is Fahy) and I am 32 years old Pisces that is a huge animal lover. I own a Dachshund Pit Mix named Nathan ( He looks like a Dachshund on Steroids) that we love very much. My family is smallish compared to most people I know and I grew up in Audubon, NJ. I worked at Disney World as an intern 2 times while I was in Culinary School. I love planning parties and events, because I love organizing. I’m a big fan of wine and Mango Martinis, and I am definitely a foodie and Disney Lover.
Tell me about your business:
At Last Events, LLC opened in 2016, after my husband Eric and I planned every detail of our own wedding. We loved it so much we ended up planning three separate weddings, all in different locations! It wasn’t until our honeymoon, (actually our Disney-Moon, we are a true Disney couple) that we decided to make wedding planning our future! We have loved every moment of that decision.
We are a husband and wife team and we both have completely different working backgrounds. I was in a slightly different field before opening our boutique company. I went to The Restaurant School in Philadelphia and trained to become a chef. While my major was culinary arts, I also was trained in hotel and restaurant management, banquets, events and pastry arts. Much of my schooling gave me the foundation for which I base our business upon now.
A chef to event planner
After my schooling I became a chef at The Borgata Casino and was there for 10 years! (Where I luckily met my handsome husband) In that time, I worked hundreds of unique events and banquets from huge food festivals to lavish themed parties for our high rollers. Even though I love being a chef, deep down I have always known it wasn’t quite my calling. I am so happy that I finally found my true passion, and actually get to inspire, plan and organize all of these amazing weddings and events.
My husband Eric, who assists me on all of our amazing events, has a background in private security and is TIPS, CPR and Crowd Control Certified. He helps with set up and he takes care of the groom and groomsmen on the actual wedding day (so they can feel just as special as the bride and bridesmaids). On the day of the event, Eric also takes care of any security or alcohol related issues while still making sure everyone has a fun and safe time. (We all have that uncle who sometimes drinks a tad too much.)
A boutique South Jersey Company
Our boutique South Jersey company specializes in wedding coordination, design, decorating and planning. We pride ourselves on our highly customized and unique events. Whether planning a large elaborate wedding or a more intimate affair, we are here to make sure that each and every event we are involved with is inspiring, extraordinary, and unforgettable.
What made you want to do event planning?
I had no idea how good I was at event planning until I was planning my own wedding. My husband and myself couldn’t decide where we wanted to get married so we ended up planning 3 completely different weddings. One was a large wedding in Key West, one was a small destination wedding in St. Lucia and one was a Medium Sized Wedding at The Camden County Boathouse
in Pennsauken, NJ. We ended up going forward with the last one and had the most amazing day. I loved planning all of the weddings out so much that I couldn’t stop. I just wanted to keep going. It was really my husband, friends and family who encouraged me to move forward with this as a career and I am so happy I did!
What do you like about your job?
I love the wow factors in weddings and the whole day coming together as an experience. I love weddings that have unique elements and surprises for guests. The simple traditional weddings are always beautiful but I thrive in the fun unique and creative weddings. The weddings where everything from the decor, food and entertainment come together to be a cohesive theme and experience for the bride, groom and guests are the ones I truly enjoy the most.
What are the challenges with your job?
My biggest challenge is with brides who have unrealistic budgets. Flowers are such a beautiful part of the day but they are the part that scares my brides the most. Another big challenge is how all of the little things add up quickly, especially decor.
My second biggest challenge is too many opinions from the family and friends…especially when someone else is paying for portions of the wedding. I often have to play referee with the bride, her bridesmaids, Mother of the Bride and soon to be in Laws. It can get a bit sticky…but no matter what I always try to please the Bride and Groom first…no matter who is paying for what. The Wedding is their day and I always want to make it perfect and as stress free as possible.
Trends for 2021 weddings.
Live Event Painters
Custom Mr & Mrs. neon signs
Big weddings vs small weddings.
I actually love small weddings, I am very into these Micro Weddings which are becoming so popular. I’m really getting ready to dip my toes in that one in the next year or so. I want to be able to give the Wedding Couple their dream wedding but on a small scale. Micro Weddings are about 30 people or less but can sometimes go up to 50. They are usually the most important people in the couples lives. These micro wedding still have all of the bells and whistles. They usually have amazing entertainment like hula dances, fire eaters, Djs, great Food and add experiences just for the guests. I really think this is something you will see At Last Events
having as a package soon. We think especially with all of the world events with Covid19 that this could be the future of weddings. Small, intimate Weddings with lots of flavor.
Eloping? pros and cons
I love eloping. Me and my husband considered it a few times during our very long engagement. I prefer the couples who elope but still bring a handful of their close family and friends to witness their nuptials. The sky is the limit with eloping and you can get married with a mountain view, on a cruise ship, at a tropical location…it can be magical even with just a few people to share that moment with.
Any advice for couples planning
Hire a planner if you are easily stressed during the planning process. A Day of Coordinator I always recommend to every couple. You don’t want to be running around worrying that the flowers are in the wrong place or if the Dj doesn’t play the correct song at the correct time. A Day of Coordinator can handle all of the little details so you can focus on getting married and enjoying the day.
Another piece of advice is hire a Videographer. It is my biggest regret. I had such a unique and fun wedding and my day blew by in a blink. I really want to relive that day and I also had a family member pass since my wedding and I want to see him dancing and having fun on my special day.
Also spend money on a great photographer. Photography is a big expense in weddings but they are your memories and a great photographer will capture those moments beautifully.
The last piece of advice Lauren made I absolutely agree with. Haha! Capturing your wedding day moments is what Memories by Maria photography
specializes in! Thank you Lauren for sharing with us about yourself and your business, At Last Events, LLC.
Below are some examples of the work Lauren has done for past wedding couples.
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