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.