Denae Brennan's passion for weddings stems from a belief that every engaged couple should have the freedom to focus on their marriage adventure that lies ahead of them, not just stress about the details of their wedding day. She has an organized and approachable planning style and a calm demeanor that's always appreciated by couples and vendors alike. Her background includes nearly 15 years of event planning and communications experience in sports entertainment, the arts, and corporate and non-profit meeting planning. She founded Denae Brennan Events in 2012 with a focus on weddings and personal celebrations and has absolutely loved the personal side of wedding planning. Getting to know each couple as they are on such an important and intimate journey to marriage is a privilege she doesn't take lightly! When she's not planning events, she can be found enjoying time with her handsome husband and their four beautiful children (two sets of twins!). Keep reading to learn more about Denae and her personal philosophies on becoming a great wedding and event planner!
What inspired you to enter the wedding industry?
My experience in events dates back to my college internships and days as a banquet server at hotels. Following college, I worked in the sports industry for five years planning golf tournaments, media events, and national award receptions. From there, I moved on to event planning in the arts and medical fields before starting my wedding planning business in 2012. My husband and I had made a cross-country move and I had the opportunity to, in a way, start over and decide which direction I wanted to go in my career. I had worked in marketing, public relations, communications, and events, and knew my passion was really in the exciting, often fast-paced world of events. I had gotten married in 2010 and planned our destination wedding on my own, without even a coordinator to run the day. While I cherish the memories of our wedding day, I was a very stressed out bride! I decided to focus my event planning business on weddings because I don’t think any bride or groom should have the experience I did on such a momentous day.
Why did you start Denae Brennan Events?
My passion for weddings stems from my love of marriage. One of my biggest goals is to help give engaged couples the time and space to prepare for not only their incredibly special and unique wedding celebration, but also what’s beyond the wedding day—their marriage! Couples can get very caught up in the nitty-gritty of wedding planning and they may not take the time to first, enjoy their engagement (you only get to be a fiancé for a short time!), and second, have those important conversations about what they want their marriage to look like. It’s an honor to be a part of a wedding day as it’s the official kickoff to their life together as a married couple. What’s not to love about getting to witness one of the happiest days of people’s lives?
If you could change one thing about the weddings and special events industry, what would it be?
I'd love to see more accurate and honest information on the costs of weddings for engaged couples. I think there’s a lot of misleading information and imagery couples have to sort through and it can be confusing. They see these beautiful, floral-heavy, detail-laden weddings on Pinterest and Instagram, then, because of what they're told in bridal magazines and blogs is the average cost of a wedding, they're shell-shocked when they learn what it really costs to recreate those Pinterest and Instagram designs. Vendors need to be educating couples on their value, and the wedding media needs to assist with that education with a more accurate picture of real costs.
How does using Aisle Planner help you deliver the client experience you want to?
I provide high-touch full-service planning and Aisle Planner is a key tool in that service. It helps me streamline the planning process by having everything in one place, accessible by the client at any time.
What's your favorite Aisle Planner feature?
I love the layout tool! Designing floor plans is one of my favorite aspects of the planning process. It’s so great to have that housed within AP, especially since it connects directly to the seating tool. It really streamlines the whole seating process for the clients.
If you weren't the Founder of Denae Brennan Events what would you be doing instead, or what would your life be like?
My husband and I have four children and I love the flexibility of owning my business, so I'd probably still want to work for myself in some capacity. I think being a travel agent could be fun!
As a business owner, what are some of the challenges you’ve overcome and benefits you’ve experienced?
Having young children, it’s a huge benefit to work for myself. I get the luxury of being home with my kids while setting my own schedule, which has been wonderful. However, it’s also a big challenge to be a work-from-home mom of four kids! I’m not sure I’ve overcome that challenge, as it’s a constant juggling act, but it’s worth it!
What are three things you never show up without on event day?
My emergency kit (necessary to have all the things on hand just in case), my water bottle (though I often forget to drink enough water on wedding days contributing to the infamous wedding “hangover” wedding pros experience), and a cell phone charger (learned my lesson many years ago!).
What’s your personal philosophy on becoming a great wedding and event planner?
The wedding industry in general has a pretty low barrier to entry and it’s getting increasingly saturated, particularly in my market. I think in order to become a great planner, you need experience. Planning your own wedding may have been fun, but weddings are much more than beautiful flowers and tasty cake. Event planning is meticulous and logistics-heavy, and event management (i.e. execution of the event) is hard hands-on work! You need to know the ins and outs of how events run, and getting experience by working for other planners, caterers, venues, etc. is a great way to get started in the planning sector.
One of the most important aspects of being a wedding and event planner to me is continuing to educate myself. Not just on current trends, which is important, but on how to improve my processes, streamline my systems, and utilize different tools to make the planning process smooth and stress-free for my clients. Networking and relationship building is key in this industry so that’s important to me as well. My personal philosophy comes down to the saying, “work hard and be kind.”
What’s your trademark in the client or event experience?
I consistently hear from clients and vendors alike how much they appreciate my calm demeanor throughout the wedding planning process, and especially on the wedding day itself. I’m a strong believer that the planner should be like a duck—working my butt off behind the scenes (i.e. how the duck pedals its feet underwater) but smooth and calm on the surface. My couples, their families, other vendors, everyone feeds off my energy, so even if there's a problem, I do my absolute best to maintain a calm attitude until the problem is solved.
Is there anything you're particularly excited about working on this year?
To be honest, COVID-19 has taken most of the wind out of my 2020 sails. I have a few wonderful weddings that'll hopefully happen this fall, but otherwise, I’m most excited about taking all of this forced downtime to work hard on my business (revamping back-end systems, website updates, etc.).
Just for fun
What’s the most used tool in your emergency kit?
Corsage/boutonniere pins and safety pins.
I’m dying to design a wedding or event in…
My current list includes Italy or France (for the ultimate romance of it all), and the mountains of Montana or Wyoming (for the rustic yet upscale design you could do in the relatively untouched beauty of those regions).
What’s one trend you hope to see more of?
Color! Weddings went through such a neutral phase (i.e. white, blush, etc.) and I’m loving all of the color that's coming back into style.
Your favorite shoes to wear on event day?
Comfortable sneakers for set up, heels for ceremony time, stylish flats to change into once dancing has begun, then flip flops for tear down because by then my feet need a break!
If you could go back in time, what’s one thing you would change about your wedding?
I definitely would've spent more on flowers. I'd also change the bridesmaids’ dresses and men’s attire. But I got married 10 years ago, so I guess I can’t fault myself too much for going with the trends of the times!
Want to see more from Denae? Check out her website denaebrennan.com!
Hero photo courtesy: Sewell Photography