Before leaping into the world of romantic and classic weddings and celebrations, Akilah Atiba-Davies, founder of Events with Akilah, spent time working in the corporate world of selling properties and administration. From 2014 she enjoyed working all types of customer-facing roles. It seriously was “no two days were the same.” Then she realized she was really good at helping others achieve their goals in any format: purchasing their dream home, filling out legal paperwork, bespoking the process for each client she came across. Then, Events with Akilah was envisioned in 2017 out of a passion for DIY-ing after planning her own wedding. Akilah is a rule-breaker! She loves tradition but loves being different. She will never do something she doesn't feel comfortable doing. So, you can count on her when you need transparency, creativity, and hard work!
What inspired you to enter the wedding industry?
As crazy as this sounds, I'm one of the many wedding planners that loved watching every film and TV show that had a wedding process involved. However, my career path has taken a long windy road to get there. I've worked as a professional contemporary dancer, excelled in administration and property sales, and trained to be a secondary school teacher. However, amid my career profile, I planned my wedding. I fell in love with the process! Nothing could take my mind off designing my bouquet or working on table placings—and I mean no one! So, better late than never, I'm currently on maternity leave, finished my certification in wedding planning, and launching the dream career-making wedding dreams come true. I've never been in a career where you are surrounded by true passion. I love this industry and the joy it brings, working as an individual within a big team to get the job done.
Why did you start Events with Akilah?
In 2016 when I started planning my own wedding, I mentioned I fell in love with the process. Well, a colleague of mine was getting married the same year two months prior to mine. She wasn't the best at prioritizing her wedding over work (this isn't strange, don't judge me!). She was a brilliant manager and amazing at her career, but not at planning her wedding, so I stepped in. She allowed me to do the bits I call fun that she hated like calling endless suppliers and filling out spreadsheets, even sourcing their wedding bands. At work, I just kept receiving compliments with how I handled planning two weddings and my full-time job, and that I should do this full-time. It just made me happy and I didn't want to let her down. From June 2018, I promised myself, when the timing is right, I will get certified and open my own events company. And voila!
If you could change one thing about the weddings and special events industry, what would it be?
One thing I would change about the industry is the lack of diversity within wedding guides and suppliers. I only noticed this when I joined the industry and was looking for a directory for ethnic suppliers. I love being part of a wide variety of suppliers, however, I want to be sure we're represented in the same way caucasian suppliers are. I specialize in multicultural weddings and would love to have a directory or blog that represents this.
How does using Aisle Planner help you deliver the client experience you want to?
When I found Aisle Planner, I was a bit lost. I wasn't used to a CRM system this way, but I knew it would add value to the millennial approach I'm working towards. So, when I booked my first client, they had a question about what one of my services included. It was as simple as sharing a screenshot of the system and my busy bride booked straight away. It's been so useful and allows me to work actively with my clients when they'd like to be involved too.
What's your favorite Aisle Planner feature?
My favorite feature is the Invoice and Quote tool. This is because it allows me to create a professional, clear layout with my logo and bespoke email. I can then track when it's been viewed, accepted, and signed. It can act as a contract before the contract has been drawn up and that's so important within this industry.
What would you tell someone who's thinking about becoming a wedding and event planner?
This role is very demanding. Even if you choose to plan five weddings or 35 weddings per year, you must be passionate about it. If you enjoy a checklist and being in control, then planning and coordination is your calling. On average, it can take 250 hours to plan a wedding, so I don't say passionate lightly. Also, don't give up! Find a niche and work on it as people buy from people, so they need to trust you're the person to help them.
What’s your personal philosophy on becoming a great wedding and event planner?
I've been planning events for around four years now, but I still consider myself new in the industry, launching officially in March 2020. However, I aim to be relatable to all my clients that I work with. You spend a lot of time working for them so getting to know them and their loves makes your role a little easier.
What lights your creative fire?
This may sound bizarre, but as I was a professional dancer, my creative fire always comes to me whilst listening to music. Somehow, whatever I hope for or need, always comes alive when I listen to music.
Is there anything you're particularly excited about working on this year?
I'm very excited to see what comes about post-pandemic weddings and celebrations. I've recently put together a micro wedding guide and I believe this may be the new way to celebrate. I'd love to be a part of this in the UK. I just enrolled in a course and I can't wait to learn how to market this to appeal to my target clientele and help them achieve their dream wedding.
Just for fun
What’s the most used tool in your emergency kit?
Safety pins! In all the weddings I've planned, safety pins are always needed.
I’m dying to design a wedding or event in…
- Bali: I got engaged here and witnessed two weddings here on the beach, wow, wow, and more wow! If you haven't visited Bali, it's a true paradise with so much culture and breathtaking food.
- South Africa: I love it there, especially Durban. Something about getting married under a clear orange sunset on a vineyard would be the ultimate dream.
- The Savoy, UK: I think this is probably any wedding planner's dream. The heritage and features of this venue allow every wedding held there to truly have the Pinterest dream.
What’s one trend you hope to see more of?
I really do hope that I see micro weddings become a big deal in the UK as I plan to specialize in this.
If you could go back in time, what’s one thing you would change about your wedding?
I wish I had a destination wedding. However, once the ring popped on my finger in Bali, I couldn't help but start planning as soon as we landed back in London.
What’s the coolest thing you’ve ever created for a wedding or event?
I was a professional dancer and so I love it when a couple wants a surprise dance element on their wedding day. I choreographed a fun flash mob for a wedding and the guests still talk about it to this day. I'm now adding this to my services as I just love how empowered it made everyone feel!
Want to see more from Akilah? Check out her website eventswithakilah.com!