Best in Class: The Top Wedding Planners and Event Designers
A smart way to stay stress-free when planning your wedding? Turn to a professional. And the first vendor on your to-hire list should be a wedding planner, who will wrangle the logistics and timing of your celebration—during the planning process and on the big day itself. The second is an event designer, the expert who handles the design—from the floor plan to your tablescapes and everything in between—and eventual production of your event. There are so many reasons why bringing one or both of these professionals onto your big-day team is worth it, but the main one is that they've done this all before, often a hundred (or more) times over.
Sure, you love pouring over the details of your big day, but do you really understand the difference between the types of linens you're considering, know how to set up a day-of timeline, and feel ready to negotiate with each and every vendor? And, of course, you'll need to consider the current climate: Do you feel equipped to plan and execute a safe celebration during COVID-19—and a re-plan, if necessary? Will you know how to re-design a 150-person event to fit a 10-guest one sans the help of a professional who can cull your vision down to scale? There are so many factors that goes into bringing your wedding vision to life, pandemic or not, and a planner and event designer with years (and maybe even decades) of experience will ensure the entire process—from planning to execution—goes smoothly.
If you're thinking about tapping a wedding planner or event designer to help you make your dream wedding a reality, we're here to help. To make your search easy, we've compiled a list our favorite wedding planners and event designers (good news—most are both!) currently operating throughout the world. Don't fret if you've fallen in love with one who isn't based in your hometown—you'll find that the majority of these professionals will travel, or help you execute the (future) faraway celebration you have always wanted. And here's the best part: Even if you don't end up hiring one of these experts, you can still turn to their custom creations for inspiration—simply browse their portfolios or give them a follow on Instagram. Ahead, find out why we love each and every vendor, get a glimpse into their methods and aesthetics, and see photos of events they have planned.
Ask Guerdy Abraira—the wedding planner and designer behind Guerdy Design—where she is based out of, and she'll tell you an airplane. Though she has roots in Miami and New York, she executes events all over the world, curating destination experiences that fit right into their global surrounds (this, she says, is one of her key strengths). Her resulting celebrations are timeless with a defining twist, which almost always stems from personalized touches that reflect her clients best.
Alison Hotchkiss' eponymous boutique event planning and design firm, Alison Events, is based in Sausalito, California, in the San Francisco bay area. She and her team plan and execute weddings and events all around the world. The global team has the creative capacity to design and execute an unforgettable party—and they believe in creating unique moments that inspire. By transforming environments with their mix of solutions—and by working with some of the best designers, fabricators and chefs in the business—they bring their couples' dream experiences to life. The key to their success? "We see our partners as more than just collaborators—they're our friends," says Hotchkiss.
Wedding planner and event designer Heather Balliet, the founder of the San Diego-based firm Amorology, crafts and executes spectacular luxury events worldwide. The team's celebrations are known for that "something special," evidenced in every intentional, personal, and color-filled detail. Balliet's intentional approach creates parties with meaningful moments that are not only seen, but felt.
Laurie Arons Special Events
Laurie Arons, a lauded wedding planner and designer, is best known for creating complex, immersive destination experiences for her couples and their guests. She and her team thrive when it comes to the minutiae, whether it's their bespoke welcome gifts and individualized activities to guest itineraries and high-touch weekend events with surprises around each and every turn. Never forced or over-produced—and always relevant to the event locale—Arons' events are seamlessly executed down to the minute.
Preston Bailey Designs
"Anything you dream, we can create," says New York City-based wedding planner and event designer Preston Bailey, a powerhouse who has consistently pushed the industry forward over the last 40 years. Bailey and his team are known for their extraordinary ability to transform regular spaces into theatrical environments, creating the ultimate guest experience—all while using the most recent technologies.
Xanath Banuelos helms XB Destination Weddings & Events, a full-service event planning and experience design agency based in the breathtaking Riviera Maya. With over a decade of experience, her team specializes in crafting multi-day destination weddings in Mexico at some of the most exclusive and unique resorts in all sort of spectacular settings, from colonial jewels in San Miguel de Allende and historical buildings in Mexico City all the way to the exotic jungles of Sian Kaan. Their overarching goal, beyond executing flawless events? To honor the beauty and culture of Mexico with every single celebration.
With offices in Los Angeles and San Francisco, Bash Please, a wedding planning and event design firm, revels in a great party and specializes in executing multi-day celebrations around the world. Their goal event blends refinement with originality, but with approachability and a strong foundation in the principals of hospitality. Their celebrations reflect their clients fully—their shared history, style, and energy. The Bash Please team takes those influences and marries them with their global intuition, creating an experience that feels fresh, unconventional, and one of a kind.
Birds of a Feather Events
Based in Dallas, Texas, Wendy Kay is the owner and creative director behind Birds of a Feather Events; the wedding planner and event designer executes events locally and within the United States, where she specializes in outdoor, tented, and private estate weddings born out of approachable, detail-oriented design and artful color palettes. She and her team put their clients first—they maximize each meeting, keeping that overall count low, so their brides and grooms can get back to their busy lifestyles. This is core to to their method: "We believe the planning experience is just as important as the day itself and that it's just as much about the journey as it is the destination," Kay tells us.
Marcy Blum Events
Another industry giant, Marcy Blum, based in both New York City and Palm Beach (there, in a newly-opened office!), views every client as a partner—her process is collaborative by default, and she and her team always put their couples first. "We will always be advocates for them," she says. The wedding planner and designer also focuses on pure, simple fun. "Certainly, our events are beautiful and stylish, but that is not our main goal. We want guests to leave at the end of the night telling the couple that their wedding was the most fun they've ever had," she continues. "No guest leaves a Marcy Blum event thinking it was boring."
Fallon Carter Events
Event planner and designer Fallon Carter, the owner of Fallon Carter Events, focuses on intimate, intentional destination celebrations. Based in both New York City and Los Angeles, her mission is to streamline her clients' planning process and craft an incredible guest experience.
Natalie Choi Events
If you ask wedding planner and event designer Natalie Choi of Natalie Choi Events what the most rewarding part of the job is, she'll tell you it's "seeing my couples relaxed and care-free on their wedding day, knowing their event is in good hands." To get there, she and her team create an experience for both the duo and their attendees, in the hopes that creating these initial moments of magic will carry them as they begin married life. "For those few hours, I want their guests to take in their love and connection, the breathtaking details that transport them to another place, the delicious food and good company—engaging them in an artfulness and intimacy that stems from my couples' love story," she says. "We love serving couples throughout California, and beyond!"
The Calder Clark process is all about mining for details. "We deep dive into your personal story, excavating for nuances we can weave into a killer party—one that will be reflective of your past and mindful of your future," says Calder Clark, the company's principal and creative director. The wedding planner and event designer pull out every couple's entertaining style, and "echo that vibe" when crafting their events. "Our clients get to feel über-chill and over-the-top-happy with us at the helm, as we plan destination affairs across the globe from our offices in Charleston, South Caroline and Raleigh, North Carolina," she adds.
Emily Clarke Events
Based in Dallas, Texas, Emily Clarke Events executes over-the-top weddings, events, and installations world-wide. This planning and design studio runs on individuality, big-picture planning, and detail-driven execution. Their distinctive process prioritizes the couple's unique story and personalities in order to create an event tailored to each and every duo. From escort card displays and stage backdrops to dance floors and favors, every piece is produced and customized by Clarke's team to create a personality-driven, Instagram-worthy evening with an emphasis on a seamless guest experience.
Stefanie Cove and Company
Based in Los Angeles and New York, the full-service event design and production team behind Stefanie Cove and Company—with destination event producer Stefanie Cove at the lead—produces singular, full-service events around the world, organized and designed from concept to completion. They take pride in their ability to incorporate a client's personal aesthetics, while delivering seamless execution and cutting-edge design, with an equally important memorable guest experience.
Colin Cowie Lifestyle
For nearly 30 years, Colin Cowie Lifestyle—a one-stop event design and production service company—has designed and produced celebrations of all kinds, all over the world for a diverse set of clienteles, including royalty and A-list stars. Cowie, the founding and lead wedding planner and event designer, takes a five-sense approach to every celebration, from concept through completion: Everything you smell, touch, taste, see, and hear resonates with the client and their guests.
Chanda Daniels, Planning & Design
"I value diversity and inclusion, and believe weddings belong to everyone," says wedding planner and event designer Chanda Daniels, who is based in Oakland, California. She's the master of the fine art wedding weekend experience, and she works with her clients to make cohesive connections to their love story at every inflection point come their big day. Due to the level of detailed service provided, Chanda Daniels, Planning & Design takes on a limited amount of weddings, domestically or abroad, per year.
Established in 2006, Duet Weddings is a boutique wedding planning firm—founded by planner and designer Rebecca Stone—based in Los Angeles, California. Specializing in highly personalized wedding experiences, Duet draws inspiration from both nature and each couple's unique story and style and thrives when designing experiences that meld the two. Full of thoughtful details, they create environments that feel timeless, relaxed, and elegant.
Claire Dúran Weddings & Events
Wedding planner and designer Claire Dúran's eponymous firm, Claire Dúran Weddings & Events, is an event planning and design company based out of the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area; the team focuses on destination weddings, and takes a virtual approach to connecting with their clients all over the world. Their aesthetic is best defined as timeless, graceful, and thoughtful simple elegance. They put customer service first as they plan weddings supported by unparalleled organization, transparency, sophisticated creativity.
"You know when you walk into your closet, and pick that outfit that makes you feel like the best version of yourself? It may be tried and true, but paired with the right accessory, it always looks chic and current. That's how we approach design," Lynn Easton, the sought-after planner and event designer behind Easton Events, explains. She and her team create their luxurious event landscapes by layering color, texture, pattern, and the right dose of patina, considering every element from the finish of the floor to the band's attire. Easton, who holds offices in both Charleston and Charlottesville, takes on a limited amount of destination celebrations per year, providing her clients with high-touch service. As for her specialty? Tented receptions, whether they are seaside, cliffside, or at home—she embraces the most nuanced and challenging of installations.
Erica Estrada Design
Erica Estrada Design is a full-service wedding planning and design company based in California, but planner and event designer Erica Estrada offers destination services both across the United States and abroad. "We design focused on a timeless and romantic aesthetic, utilizing modern elements," she says. "We pride ourselves on creating an exceptional wedding experience for our couples and their guests."
Favored by Yodit Events
Yodit Gebreyes Endale founded her wedding planning and design company, Favored by Yodit Events & Design, in 2012; she and her team are based in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area, but throw luxury weddings and events all across the globe. They prioritize trust and communication, getting to know and learn their clients' personalities and priorities to deliver bespoke celebrations that reflect exactly who they are.
Led by wedding planner and event designer Jung Lee, Fête has created extraordinary and unforgettable events in New York (where the team is based), across the States, and throughout the world since 2002. Their process is a collaborative and immersive one—they work with their clients to determine their priorities and then bring every aspect of their wedding to life. "Fête is one of the only companies that plans, designs, and produces all design elements—flowers, draping, bar, custom furniture, graphics, and more—of a wedding in-house, which allows for unmatched quality control and ensures that the vision stays cohesive with fun, fantasy, and beauty," Lee explains. "We are creative overachievers, obsessed with finding innovative solutions and committed to making every wedding beautiful, personal, and timeless."
Founder Teissia Treynet and co-owner Alia Wilson helm Firefly Events, a luxury wedding and event planning and design company. In their hands, consider your big day handled. "We take care of all the logistics and work with you to design an event that's beautiful, innovative, and highly personal," Treynet and Wilson explain. While their offices are located in Northern and Southern California, the duo works with duos all over the country and the world. And when they're not planning the events of their couples' dreams, they're helping other event professionals start and grow their businesses via their sister company, The Firefly Method.
Jacin Fitzgerald Events
At Jacin Fitzgerald Events, helmed by planner and designer Jacin Fitzgerald, there is one mission, beyond executing a seamless event: To ensure our client's planning experience is just as celebratory as the big day itself. The full-service wedding planning and special event design company—which has offices in Atlanta, Northern California, and New England, all of which focus on producing destination celebrations across the States and world—make this possible by taking on just three weddings per year. Their company ethos is based on inclusion, explains Fitzgerald. "Pretentious is our least favorite word. We want everyone feel comfortable, delighted, and welcomed to sit at the table," she adds.
GATHER Events' passion is right there in their company's name: "Our love of gatherings keeps us searching for inspiration the world over to bring your stories to life," says the team, composed of co-owners Sarah Tivel, Meredith Geffert, Katie Wilgus, Cuckie Zatti, and Alissa Lawton. The boutique collective of event designers and producers—they are a full-service planning and design team—has offices on both coasts and in Europe, so they can offer local support for duos planning faraway events. Their motto? "We believe that every detail should be intentional, every choice justified, and every moment celebrated!"
Based in Whitefish, Montana, Greenwood Events plans and produces events throughout the United States, focusing broadly on mountain regions. Consider the epic natural backdrops their celebrations are set against and it's easy to understand why they take an organic approach to design. "We have a classic, but organic aesthetic that highlights nature's color palettes," say Darci and Arden Greenwood, the mother-daughter team behind the magic. Together, they coordinate seamless dining experiences that spotlight their in-house floral and perfectly curated tabletop creations. "We believe guiding our clients to be the ultimate hosts to their guests, with thoughtful and caring planning, is key to an overall spectacular wedding," they add.
Grit & Grace Inc.
Industry-wide, Laura Ritchie, Christie Yerks, and Brittany Hagaman—the powerhouse trio behind Grit & Grace Inc.—are known for their diverse talents and "classically creative" approach to event design and execution. Based in Washington, D.C., the wedding planners and event designers will travel just about anywhere to make their couples' visions—and epic escort installations, layered tablescapes, and memorable interactive touches—a reality, infusing their weddings with reflective twists to mirror their personal stories and unique styles right back to them.
Tara Guérard Soirée
Tara Guérard and the entire Tara Guérard Soirée team do it all: With offices in the historic district of Charleston, South Carolina, and (fittingly) the flower district of Manhattan, New York, the full-service boutique planning and design production company creates "memorable, elegant, spectacular, and most importantly, fun" weddings all over the world entirely in-house—this includes any stationery or day-of paper goods, too, via their sister company, Lettered Olive.
Beth Helmstetter Events
Beth Helmstetter, the lead creative behind the Los Angeles-based event design and planning studio that is Beth Helmstetter Events, approaches organizing a five-day wedding weekend in Italy the same she would a backyard birthday party—with pride in creating lifelong memories for the couples and families she works with. Beyond aesthetically beautiful weddings and celebrations, the team crafts well planned and produced events that not only tend to their client's vision, but also create a meaningful experience for each and every guest in attendance.
Hessney & Co.
Located in New York City, Chris Hessney and the entire Hessney & Co. team actualize the unexpected. "We like to push the envelope and our mission is always to create a party—not just a pretty event," says Hessney, an event designer and founder of the boutique agency. "We love a maximalist or minimalist who isn't afraid of using color or bold statements." Over-the-top design aside, Hessney is a romantic at heart ("If you don't enjoy warm candlelight, we probably aren't the perfect fit for you!") who takes a hands-on and in-person approach to organizing meaningful events all over the world. "We pride ourselves on sourcing far and wide for unexpected design elements and always try to work with local vendors whenever possible for a thoughtful and sustainable touch," he adds.
Though based in Chicago, Rishi Patel, the event designer behind HMR designs, executes events for discerning clientele all over the world. He believes that weddings should tell a story and that every client has a different one. After interpreting tastes and personalities, he acts as a chameleon of style, adapting to ever-changing environments and palates. And while HMR Designs is rooted in floral, it's Rishi's intention to expand beyond the expected with polished, cohesive designs unique to each couple. Stylistically, every event is different, though the common denominator across all that he does is exquisite taste and editing.
Karson Butler Events
Twins Amber Karson and Emily Butler have been planning and designing events around the globe for over two decades. From their bi-coastal offices in Washington, D.C., and San Luis Obispo, California, Karson Butler Events creates unforgettable event experiences with thoughtful design aesthetics, logistical prowess, and unsurpassed hospitality.
Jenna Lam Events
When you consider Jenna Lam's events, one word comes to mind: dynamic. Luxury is a quick second. "We understand that modern luxury means a sense of ease, and that, sometimes, it's the smallest details the form the boldest gestures," says Lam (the planner and event designer is based in San Francisco). With an in-house team to oversee every detail and keep the design vision cohesive, Lam ensures every element meshes, culminating each individual component into an experience that guests and hosts alike will remember for years to come.
Shannon Leahy Events
East Coast elegance meets West Coast cool at Shannon Leahy Events, a destination wedding planning company with offices on bookends of the country, in Maryland and California (San Francisco and Los Angeles). Their team of dedicated planners and designers service a discerning clientele—they often become lifelong friends—with excellent taste all over the world. A Shannon Leahy wedding is characterized by clean-line design, a carefully orchestrated flow, and an incredible attention to every detail, every time.
Anna Lucia Events
Anna Lucia Richardson, of the Tampa and Naples, Florida, boutique event design and planning firm Anna Lucia Events, looks to small and large details, anecdotes, and places when crafting her couples' events: their home, a family heirloom, a favorite travel destination, or a go-to restaurant. "Our promise to our clients is that we will achieve their goals by guaranteeing the utmost attention to detail and the highest level of dedication—and we never repeat a design twice," she says. There's no formula to her method, she adds: "We customize each event specifically to that of our clients' needs and wants."
In a past life, Nathalie Cadet-James was an attorney—now, she is the founder of Luxe Fête, an international wedding planning and design agency based in Miami. Global clients seek her services to create once-in-a-lifetime memories in hidden gems all around the world. "Our design style is refined and unapologetic," Cadet-James explains. "For us, it's not just about designing a space. We strive to create beautiful atmospheres that tell your story—it's an experience."
Madame Wedding Design
If you're planning a wedding anywhere in France—from the southern region and the French Riviera to Burgundy or Paris—native Estelle Bogaert, the wedding planner and event designer behind Madame Wedding Design, has you covered. Her events exist at the intersection of inclusivity, haute couture, and sophistication, and she prides herself on being there for her clients at every step of the way. "We will take away all that stress by instilling confidence and serenity into the organization of your wedding," she says. "Our sense of service and hospitality make us your privileged partners to lead with your best interest at heart."
Kelly McWilliams Celebrations, Weddings & Parties
Based in southwest Florida, Kelly McWilliams plans and designs events for her destination clients—who often throw their parties near and around her home base—with the following tenet in mind: "I say, 'It's not only about how the wedding looks. It's about how the event makes you feel and the memories you walk away with.'" The guest experience is critical, says McWilliams, and a mainstay of her approach.
Jove Meyer Events
We are a Brooklyn-based (but love to travel) boutique wedding planning and design firm for couples who dare to be different," explains Jove Meyer of his eponymous business, which is "proudly powered by partnerships with fellow small businesses primarily owned and operated by women, people of color, and queer people." His team specializes in design-driven, personalized weddings with a wow factor; they always reflect his couples' unique styles, personalities, and relationships. "We believe in a relaxed approach," he adds, "with a focus on fun and stress-free experiences filled with laughter and smiles!"
Abi Mahathmakanthi, the founder and lead planner at London-based MK Weddings, a company she launched in 2015, has years of experience in the Tamil wedding industry, and prides herself on putting together cultural celebrations with her clients—she takes a personal approach and involves family, so the resulting event feels like a group effort and a work of art.
Motwane Entertainment & Weddings
Led by Aditya Motwane, Motwane Entertainment & Weddings (MEW) puts the client and guest experience first. With a potent mix of hi-fi methods and zero fuss, the full-service company—which opened its doors in 2013—crafts custom, over-the-top events in India and abroad. One of their most noteworthy clients to date? Nick Jonas and Priyanka Chopra.
Summer Newman Events
"At Summer Newman Events, the notion of gracious hosting informs all that we do," explains lead creative, Summer Newman, who runs her wedding planning and design company out of Southern California. "We plan with an eye toward perfecting every last guest touch point—and work to craft experience-rich celebrations that inspire, enchant, and entertain." Her events, which take place in her home state and beyond, are romantic with an edge, and always artfully articulate her clients' stories.
Helmed by planner and designer Nyachia Knight, NKT Events is an American boutique event company based in the South of France. Knight designs, plans, and produces destination weddings and events for an international clientele and specializes in navigating cultural nuances in faraway locations throughout France and Italy. "We aim to curate events in style, with a fashion flair that stimulates the senses—all while having fun!" says Knight.
Michelle Norwood Events
Michelle Norwood, both a wedding planner and designer, sums up her aesthetic and method as "understated elegance with New Orleans personality." She curates original, romantic, and thought-provoking events—in NOLA, across the country, and throughout the world—that are the epitome of joy, and believes that your big day should be a "reflection of you, your story as a couple, and the destination you are marrying in."
The Nouveau Romantics
"Our mantra is collaboration—anywhere, anytime," says Elizabeth McKellar of The Nouveau Romantics. She and her team are experts in their field (she boasts a decade of industry experience), but they truly shine, she notes, when "clients bring their personalities, stories, cultures, and traditions to the table, and allow us to bring it all to life in an unconventional way." Over time, they've mastered the art of digital collaboration—a must in today's context—since the have busy clientele all around the world. Different time zones, however, can't stop McKellar, who works across the States, Canada, Mexico, and beyond, with staff based in Austin, Los Angeles, and Vancouver.
Oren Co is one of the world's leading luxury event firms, with offices in Los Angeles and New York. As the image architect behind some of the most memorable celebrations, Yifat Oren—lead event designer and producer—possesses the unique ability to create completely personalized, unforgettable, and authentic affairs with refinement and tasteful restraint. She and her team provide a full range of services to a discerning clientele (including A-listers from Reese Witherspoon to Natalie Portman), both domestically and internationally, with signature discretion.
Sarah Park Events
Based in Los Angeles, Sarah Park Events is a boutique event planning and design firm operating mainly in Southern California—"but we love to travel for our special destination weddings," shares Sarah Park, lead planner and event designer. A lover of minimalistic and meaningful design, Park takes a modern approach to each celebration: Every little detail counts, as does having solid working relationships with a myriad of talented, tried-and-true vendors, who have helped the team produce beautiful events since 2012.
Allison Jackson and the entire Pineapple Productions crew plan and produce epic events anywhere their clients can dream, from private estates and unique properties to historic spaces. At the helm of her full-service event planning and design company, Jackson prioritizes her relationship with her brides and grooms above everything else; she and her team are known for their warm, personable service. She attributes this to her unique upbringing: Born in San Francisco, and raised in the South, her approach melds refined hospitality and beautiful artistry.
Joy Proctor Design
Wedding designer and producer Joy Proctor leads Joy Proctor Design, a full-service design house creating impeccably styled celebrations and chic events around the world. As for her main source of inspiration? Culture and history. "We create intimate spaces that fit perfectly in their locale, bringing together the very best artisans to fit the vision," Proctor shares. "Our events are often set upon stunning, one-of-a-kind landscapes and always balance elegance with effortless beauty."
Lauryn Prattes Events
Lauryn Prattes Events is a bi-coastal luxury event planning company headquartered in Washington D.C., with an office in Napa Valley and Park City, Utah; Prattes and her team curate events across the country and worldwide. Specializing in tented and destination events and creating the ultimate wedding-weekend experience, her aesthetic is classic and timeless, with a modern and feminine touch. Lauryn Prattes Events takes a hands-on approach to event design—every celebration is completely custom, unique, and tailored to their clients' needs, since Prattes believes that layers of details and design elements together are what make each wedding special.