If there was ever a person who is not afraid of color, pattern, and general merriment, it’s Renee Dalo. A native New Yorker living in Los Angeles, she is probably teaching us west coasters how to properly order food from a street vendor and hail a cab. So today, we are excited to share our interview with Renee, the owner and Lead Planner of Moxie Bright Events. Learn about her time as a working actor in NYC, all of the fun projects she is involved with, and her thoughts on this month’s theme below!
Tell us about your path to becoming a wedding planner.
How much time do we have? Just kidding, I’ll bullet point it for you. I was a working actor for a while in NYC, specifically performing in musical theatre. In between jobs, I (of course) worked in hospitality. I’ve literally held every front of house job you can have in a restaurant – even food running and bussing!
When I moved to Los Angeles, I continued working in the fields of acting and hospitality pretty evenly. I was part of the opening team of a restaurant that also held events in their several private rooms, and I worked my way up that corporate ladder. I realized that although I loved the events, I didn’t love working in the same venue every single day. At the same time, a lot of my friends were getting married, so I was planning their weddings as a side gig. Eventually word of mouth increased, and my side gig wasn’t such a side gig anymore. I finally started my own business in 2014, which was nine years after I planned my first wedding. What took me so long?!?
You have a background in theater. How does that understanding of “production value” influence how you plan weddings?
My background in professional theatre gives me the unique understanding of how design will play into the way an event feels, not just how it looks. I understand the emotional impact of every decision on your guests – from lighting, to how much space is between the tables, to the way the linens feel in your hand – all of this will effect your event. I am also energized by what I call the “14 hour theatre” that is your wedding day. We create a gorgeous, heartfelt, meaningful event for you – and then we tear it down 14 hours later! That’s literally what I did on tour for many years. Create a world in painstaking detail, and then tear it down and start over again. It’s a little bit of magic, and a tiny bit of madness!
How would you describe the difference between east coast and west coast weddings?
East Coast weddings party harder. I’m sorry Los Angeles, but it’s true! I was just having this conversation in my Facebook group for wedding planners, The Moxie Collective. The timeline of an East Coast wedding is totally different. On the East Coast (or rather, NYC tri-state area), we do the First Dance right away, formal dances in between dinner courses, and toasts during dinner. Why? So there is WAY more time for dancing at the end of the night.
West Coast timelines tend to be way more relaxed, space everything out, have more toasts and down time. I tend to run my weddings more like East Coast weddings. Most of my clients want to dance, dance, dance the night away!
Why did you decide to offer “wedding management” services instead of day of coordination? Was there something that sparked that?
My favorite question! This gets me all fired up! The terms that our industry uses for this level of service are completely outdated. Day-of and/or Month-of are total misnomers. I do not know a single Wedding Planner who only does only one day of work or even a strict month of work for clients! Why are we underselling our services to our clients? Would you pay someone $2K for ONE DAY of work? I wouldn’t. So, then we explain ourselves and back pedal and talk it up, “Oh, it’s not REALLY one day of work!” We are subconsciously teaching our clients to undervalue what we bring to the table by calling it by a false name. We need to take the time constraints out of the service title. We, as an industry, need to move to calling it Wedding Management. Not Wedding DAY Management, either. Wedding. Management. Here’s an article I wrote about it.
Best scene in When Harry Met Sally? The four way morning-after phone call. All four actors are at the top of their game here, and it was shot in one take. It’s a little piece of theatre in my all-time favorite movie. RIP Carrie.
Best mac and cheese add-in? None! I am a purist! I like a nice four cheese mac, baked with a breadcrumb topping.
Favorite monologue? Oh my. It’s been so long. Lady M (Macbeth), for sure. But I was a comedic actor, and I liked to use the most obscure pieces as monologues – passages from books by Cynthia Heimel and Sarah Vowell – I figured I was more likely to get a laugh if they hadn’t heard it a million times that day! It worked 95% of the time.
Your wedding management clients get access to Aisle planner where you’ve set them up with a customized checklist to keep them on track. How has giving them that early access (and guidance) changed your experience of working with day-of clients?
Aisle Planner has totally changed the game for me. 100%. What I offer with my Wedding Management service is unlimited email access to me from the moment they book in addition to full access to Aisle Planner. I don’t hold some arbitrary time limit to my Management clients. I like to dig in deep. I never liked jumping in at the 6 week mark – by then all the bad decisions have already been made! With Aisle Planner, I can keep tabs on my Management clients. I always know where they are in the planning process and I can answer their emails quickly and efficiently.
We see your face and name pop up in lots of places! Tell us about some of the fun projects you are involved with!
I like to stay busy! On the planning side of my business, I am excited to be participating in Love Wins Out, a day of elopements for our LGBTQ community this month. I also have some fun styled shoots on the books for the late winter. On the B to B side of my business, I run The Moxie Collective, my FB group for Planners who have been in business 2+ years. I’ll be on The Wedding Pros podcast with Shannon DePalma this month as well. I’m excited to share that with everyone! I also hope to speak at a few conferences again this year – I can’t say where yet! And I continue to mentor new & aspiring wedding planners nationwide. Mentorship was such an immense help to me as I started my business, so I want to pay that forward as much as I can.
I was talking to Tina and she described you as a connector. Is that how you would describe yourself?
Well, that is extremely flattering. Thanks, Tina! I do enjoy connecting awesome people to other awesome people. I’m a Gemini, I think that’s a “thing” we do? I’m a Leader for The Rising Tide Society and as such, I am a huge champion of Community Over Competition. It’s not just a hashtag, yo. We rise by lifting others, I truly believe that.
What is a Moxie Bright couple like?
Moxie Bright couples have huge hearts. They are creative and sassy and they know what they want, even if it’s unpopular. They care about their guests experience as much as they care about their own. They are excited by excellent food and wine. Generally, they have dogs that they treat like children. They like color and pattern and design. They are always rad and smart and funny. I really have the best clients in the whole world.
Where does 2017 need to take you?
If you are speaking literally, I am obsessed with travel, so I want Moxie Bright Events to plan weddings in as many far-flung places as possible. I hope I get asked to plan in Mexico and Italy soon! And It would be amazing to plan a wedding in my hometown, NYC. In 2017, Moxie Bright Events will be expanding to add on associate planners, so we can increase the amount of clients we can assist. It broke my heart having to say no to so many clients last year. I realized that it was time to expand. Within the planning community, I want to continue speaking (especially about The Myth of Day Of Coordination), educating, and building community.
On this month’s theme: Be Confident
Ah, Confidence. For me, confidence = preparation. I am a champion over-preparer. And this is not only for work but for networking events, travel, dinner parties…everything. I am someone who examines everything from every angle. When I am well-prepared, it’s way easier to exude confidence. And when faced with a totally unfamiliar situation, I always search for the one thing that may be even passingly familiar to me. This is going to make me sound like a crazy hippie, but something that Tara Mohr wrote this year really resonated with me. She said:
“If there is something in your life you feel lost about – maybe you feel like a novice, or like you have no idea what you are doing, maybe it’s something in your work or creative life – find the part of yourself that’s done it a thousand times before, the part of you that is bigger than your body and older than your life. Sometimes, finding the part of you that has done this a thousand times before is as simple as remembering she is there, calling on her, feeling around inside for her.”
I think about this all the time. I am bigger than my body and older than my life. Isn’t that so empowering? Also, when all else fails, go get your hair done, put on a red lip, and show up for your life. I promise the rest of the world will fall into line.
Want to see more from Renee? Head over to her website moxiebrightevents.com.