Occasionally I meet that wedding pro with whom I just “click”, and this past week in Cancun gave me just that pleasant surprise once again.
Diann Valentine’s reputation as a West Coast planner has evolved into sort of a life coach, interior designer and television host. She has had three one season shows. She has also been a wedding planner for 15 years and targets African-American celebrities.
Her first biggie was that of Toni Braxton, 10 years ago, and she confided that Toni’s insistence to get everything for free made her the most difficult client she has ever had! (THAT would be a problem) Additionally, she directed weddings for Usher, Martin Lawrence and Chad Ochocinco. Her latest spotlight project was the wedding she coordinated for Tamera Barney and Eddie Judge from “The Real Housewives of Orange County.”
We got to know one another when we were dinner partners at an over-the-top dinner for speakers in an underground wine cellar. We jumped right in to talking shop/philosophy, that I never got to ask her about the particulars of the “Real Housewives” back-story. Sorry!
She showed me pictures of her wedding to Damon (also a nice person) four years ago. She wore a gown of raspberry satin at a villa on Lake Como, Italy. Totally cool.
We laughed about how we simply don’t entertain at home without “hiring help” to serve and clean up for everything from a brunch to a black-tie…and how our spouses fuss about it…until the event occurs. (Otherwise we are both so Type-A that it sucks the fun of the event right out of it for us as hosts.)
I was the Key Note speaker of two hours and Diann followed me with an hour presentation. It was fun to sit and watch her “work”, not to mention hear her stories about how she sets trends, strengthens her brand and finds inspiration.
She too received high marks in the exit polls, and I suspect she will be invited to return next year as well. Until then, we have stayed connected via e-mail and I look forward to getting better acquainted with my new professional colleague in the years ahead. I predict she is a rising start.