The wedding is a $72 Billion dollar industry. It’s a moment that future couples look forward to their entire lives. To share their love with their closest loved ones.
The wedding industry is just one of many industries that have been dramatically impacted by Covid-19. But Leslie Jones, owner of Leslie Marie Events, has used this time to connect with future clients, open a wine bar, and curate bridal boxes for newly engaged Black brides.
Leslie Marie Events is a boutique event planning and design company based in Los Angeles, CA and Phoenix, AZ. They specialize in luxury weddings and work closely with couples to make sure their personal style is reflected in their wedding. Leslie and team create unique and elevated experiences while ensuring the smallest details are given time and attention.
Jemia: Why wedding planning? Did you always want to plan weddings or did you begin with other events?
Leslie: I always enjoyed bringing people together and I knew I had a niche for doing so in a stylish way. I started planning fundraisers and other events for non-profit organizations while in college. That led to me interning for a wedding planner and after working my first wedding, I was hooked. Two years later, I started Leslie Marie Events. The majority of the events we plan are weddings and other life celebrations such as milestone birthday parties, baby and bridal showers, and private dinners. We also plan fundraisers and meetings for corporate and non-profit clients.
Most event planners shy away from weddings because they involve much more than just planning logistics. Wedding planners often become a part of their clients’ families because the planning process is very intimate. In order to be a successful wedding planner, you must understand your clients’ family dynamics, work situation, upbringing; it comes very personal. And to be honest, that is what I love about my job. I work with people during one of the happiest moments in their lives to plan the biggest event of their life. I love guiding my couples through this experience and executing a vision they have had in their head sometimes since childhood.
Why did you decided to focus on luxury weddings?
I decided to focus on luxury weddings because it gives me the flexibility to be as creative as I want and to execute my clients’ visions at the highest level.
What is your favorite part about planning a wedding?
I love venue scouting! New venues are constantly opening in Los Angeles. This gives me the opportunity to introduce my couples to venues they’ve never seen before and that have not been overly photographed. My favorite part of the actual wedding is when the bride walks down the aisle!
What about a misconception about wedding planning?
One misconception about wedding planning is that it is easy and all fun. When I tell people I am a wedding planner, the response I most often get is “Oh how fun, you get paid to taste cakes and play with flowers.” Although this is partially true, wedding planning is so much more. A tremendous amount of organization, creativity, and focus goes into planning unique weddings for our clients week in and week out.
What would you tell a bride/groom who is interested in hiring a wedding planner?
There are two pieces of advice I give couples seeking a wedding planner. First, before interviewing planners, have an idea of how involved you and your fiance want to be in the planning process. Most planners offer tiered packages: full-service planning, partial planning, and month-of coordination. In order to prepare an accurate quote, your planner needs to know how active you will be in the planning process.
Secondly, choose a planner who compliments your personality and work style. For example, if you prefer to communicate via email but your planner only communicates via phone, this could eventually become frustrating for you both and ultimately stall the planning process.
How has the pandemic impacted your business?
My team and I were preparing to enter our busiest wedding season to date. I was actually in Costa Rica coordinating a wedding two days before the stay-at-home order was put in place in Los Angeles. We have canceled/rescheduled over 20 weddings and events this year. The pandemic has significantly impacted my business’s profits but more importantly, I miss doing what I love.
To stay connected, I check-in regularly with my clients whose weddings had to be rescheduled. As I mentioned before, my clients become family to me. I know how difficult this time has been for them as well so it is important for me to stay connected. I have also started blogging on my website to engage with future clients.
Has this season led you to begin other business ventures?
I am so excited about what is coming up for me and my business. I am expanding my reach in the hospitality industry and opening a wine bar in Inglewood, CA with my younger sister/business partner. We have been working on this concept for almost two years now and we will be opening in a couple of months.
Leslie Marie Events is rolling out a new product called The Wedding Goals Bridal Box. This box is a collection of essentials for the newly engaged black bride. I curated the box based on working with brides of color for my entire career. The box is launching in October, just in time for engagement season!
What advice would you give to aspiring wedding planners?
This is not an industry to get into just to make money! More than ever, couples are seeking the services of wedding planners to help them create that “it” wedding to go viral on Instagram. Couples are also hiring wedding planners to help them navigate planning during Covid-19. There is definitely money to be made in this $72 billion industry but if you do not have a passion for it, you won’t last long. Most of my events are on the weekends and sometimes on holidays. I can’t tell you how many friends’ birthday dinners and family get-togethers I have missed. Although I build a family with my clients and vendors, I often miss out on special moments with my own family and friends.