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If you’ve found yourself searching through vendors trying to find a match with someone who can relate to what you’re going through, look no further than Shanelle Willams of True Splendor Events. A bride to be AND a wedding planner.

Shanelle and her future husband were college sweet hearts and have been together for 10 years. From meeting in college, to growing into adults together, they’ve been engaged for a little over a year. Fun facts: Shanelle has a sweet tooth and loves a good macaron (don’t we all). She enjoys reading, watching 'trashy’ reality tv, baking, and if napping counted as a hobby, it would be hers. To quote Shanelle, “Naps bring such joy to my life.” Her favorite movie is Coming to America (come on sequel!) With travel in mind, Shanelle has hopes to go back to Italy someday, maybe for a honeymoon as both her and her fiance love it.

Get to know more about Shanelle and wedding planning in our Q&A below.

Shanelle and her fiance at their recent engagement shoot. Photo taken by Ashley Laprade.

Q: How long have you been in the in business & what made you select this career path?

A: I have been in the wedding industry for about 7 years now. I enjoy this industry so much – as a hopeless romantic it does something for my soul to see couples enjoy their big day. Outside of the planning part of weddings I have also branched out to décor, design and florals to feed my creative side.

Q: As a bride-to-be and planner, do you plan on hiring a planner or doing things yourself? If yourself, are you then a DIY bride??

A: Ha! I guess technically yes. I will be doing the planning and designing of the wedding and I have recruited a trusted fellow vendor to be my day of coordinator. I think being in the industry has made me extremely selective in choosing my vendors. The person I selected I have produced international events with and I know how she thinks and I know for a fact she would go to the mat for me to make sure my wedding day plans were executed to my standards. It’s the only way I can foresee me relinquishing control!

Q: What was your favorite event you planned/worked on?

A: This might sound crazy but many years ago I worked at an elementary school and I planned an elaborate talent show. To this day, it’s one of my favorite events. The day was packed with so much surprise and delight for the community and I still smile when I think about it. I was told by my colleagues at the time that I started acting like a stage mom!

Q: If you could do something else in the wedding industry what would it be?

A: I would be the DJ! Ha! The life of the party and they don’t have to be onsite as early as planners!

Q: As a bride-to-be who had to postpone their own wedding, what are you telling clients who are trying to still get married or are struggling to decide what to do?

A: That’s a tough one because I think it has to be a very personal decision. I suggest couples to consider what is most important to them about their big day. Know what those elements are, and then as much as you can, remove emotion for just a second and think practically. I say that because for me my “bride brain” wanted me to do one thing and the more practical “planner brain” advised different! I postponed my September wedding way back in April. As a bride, I wanted to hold out hope that we would be able to keep our date but as a planner/event producer I knew in my gut that the type of wedding that I would want wouldn’t be allowed by the fall. Postponing early allowed me to negotiate some really favorable changes to my contract. Still an incredibly hard and emotionally draining decision but taking a second to think practically will benefit my fiancé and I in the end. If a couple really wants to be married in 2020 they should do that! Do it safely of course but make it happen. It’s also alright ,if like me, you REALLY desire to be surrounded by your community on your big day. That might just mean pushing the date out a bit further. Either way, no regrets is the goal. If you don’t want a microwedding and you know deep in your heart you are going to be envious in 2022 or 23 when everyone has their big weddings and receptions – DON’T HAVE A MICROWEDDING. If you love microweddings and a smaller intimate wedding is your thing DO IT! Or do all of the above if your budget allows!

Q: Is there a dream client? Is there a nightmare client? Tell me about them. (hypothetical is OK lets not name drop lol)

A: Ohhhh dream client! *looks longingly out into space*My favorite clients are calm, organized and logical! They often have a vision for their event but they also allow me to help shape the overall look, feel and design! Bonus points if they laugh at my jokes! Nightmare clients lack all of the above! Everything to them feels like a crisis OR they don’t take the really important things I am telling them seriously enough. They are often unresponsive and have unrealistic budgets compared to their overall vision for their wedding. I usually weed these people out and take into account if a client would be a good fit for me.

Q: What is your most asked question from clients, aside from “price?”

A: Often, couples just want to know where to start or if they are forgetting something.

Q: What are the challenges between planning your own wedding, while also planning/guiding others?

A: I have to compartmentalize the feeling of panic that surrounds this pandemic that has caused so much trouble for couples. I care about my clients deeply and will literally go to the ends of the earth to make sure their day is perfect but I am also mindful to not let their (sometimes) nervous energy suck me in. I need to be strong for them and for me too. I do think that being a bride during all of this does give me the advantage of increased empathy - which is so important.

Q: Can you provide a tip for maximizing a brides budget when booking a planner/coordinator.

A: If the planner or coordinator offers additional services like décor and florals consider hiring them for those services as well. You may be able to get an awesome packaged deal AND you just minimized the amount of vendors that need tracking. Also – if you can add a planner/coordinator to your budget at the beginning of planning vs as the last vendor booked they might be able to share some advice/wisdom that could save you both time and money while planning!

Brides, planning can be exhausting. Vendor Brides (Vrides?) like Shanelle also have and are going through similar trials during this time. Don’t hesitate to reach out to one another and get the support you need. There’s a lot to say in connecting with a planner, with the mentality of a stage mom who loves to nap, within the SBSN community. If anything give yourself a sigh of relief for a day or two in the chaos that is wedding planning.

For more information or to connect with Shanelle be sure to check out her site out True Splendor Events.

Danielle Ristau


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