I had my planning business on the side for about 5 years before jumping all in…..my only regret is not doing it sooner!

Tionna M. Van Gundy

Wedding Planner | CEO

Location: Chicago, IL

Wedicity – Wedding Day Detailing is a wedding and event planning company specializing in planning, styling, and production with over 10 years of hospitality and event experience. Providing full service planning to day-of details packages and custom options that we tailor to fit your wedding planning needs. Wedicity is based out of Chicago’s West Loop and serves destinations from coast to coast.

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve ever faced while planning an event and how did you overcome it?

One of the biggest challenges we overcame on wedding day was a full building power outage on the hottest summer day of the year. It happened in the middle of event set up while I was riding the elevator with 2 catering staff personnel. We became stuck in the elevator between floors and had to be rescued by firemen however the show still went on! I was on the radio with my team the entire time so set up was still happening according to plan on the upper-level floors.

Due to the power outage, we lost all light in the 1st floor welcome area so we filled the space with candlelight around the perimeter of the room for guests to see. Because the elevator was also out, we continued the candlelight up the stairwells so guests could safely go to the 2nd-floor ceremony space. Luckily we were able to borrow power from a neighboring building and were able to turn on commercial fans and hook up the sound for the ceremony!

The reception was set to happen on the 3rd-floor roof deck in direct sunlight and when the cake arrived – we knew we had to keep it from melting so we retrieved a generator that we plugged the freezer into so that the cake could sit in the cooler until we were ready to bring it out. We had servers pass waters to guests upon arrival during the cocktail hour on the roof to help them stay hydrated and everything still ran 100% on-time! Right before the reception officially started. The city block regained power and bistro lights began to twinkle, ceiling fans started to move the air, and the band regained full power to party the rest of the night!!!

What are 2 trends in the event planning industry that you’re excited about?

1 – Sustainable and eco-friendly food/decor/vendor options.
2 – Fusion! The merging of cultures, religions, backgrounds, and experiences are allowing us to bring together fully personalized events that highlight all involved!

What are some tips for creating an elegant and memorable event on a tight budget?

First, focus on the things that matter most to you – spend your hard-earned dollars in the areas that you are excited about first!

Second, focus on small details that have a large impact. I love to spruce up a table with a fun colored water goblet or unique escort card that keeps guests talking. These are small details that guests will remember, that will make your wedding day details shine in photos, and will create a highly personalized atmosphere — all without breaking the bank.

Choose 2-3 details that have a big impact in the room or a guest experience that you can get excited about! If you don’t know how to select these details – consult your wedding planner and/or designer!

If you had unlimited resources, what would your dream client and event look like?

Luckily, I have a lot of awesome clients! If I could mesh all of the amazing clients I have had together and create a dream client, I would say they had the following attributes:

1.) They would trust us and trust our process! We curate a vendor team for each client based on their style, fit, and budget so they can choose from a select set of vendors that we trust and know will produce the event of their dreams based on their specific vision!

2.) Open to new ideas, suggestions, and doing things juuuust a little bit differently to make it highly personalized and have an emphasis on decor.

3.) They respect the offerings of a quality vendor team and would appreciate (and expect) good service and good quality.

4.) Guest experience from start to finish would be important. From the perfect invitation that sets the tone of an event to proper transportation, event lighting that wows to exceptional food service and all-out entertainment to round out the event. They want to be the ultimate hosts of an event that has all the touches and a fully thought out atmosphere!

How important are your relationships with vendors and what are some ways that you successfully cultivate and ensure good rapport?

Relationships with our vendors are EVERYTHING! Knowing our vendor teams on a personal level allows us to curate a perfect vendor-fit for our couples and clients. We get to know them both professionally and personally to understand their level of quality, service ranges, and how to best work with them. We cultivate these relationships through building trust on-site at events, effective event communication, and one-on-one meetings to best know their product and service offerings.

What advice would you give someone who needs to plan a fundraiser but isn’t sure where to start?

Fundraisers have many levels of support and planning needed to create the right event for the intended crowd. I would suggest narrowing in on the true purpose of the event, the target market, and then allocating resources to having the right levels of support to make it happen. Hiring a professional that can assist with budget management, planning, event design, production support, etc. can help elevate the event to create the end result they are looking for.

What’s the most exciting thing on the horizon for you personally or professionally?

Wedicity is growing! As the owner of the company, this is exciting both personally and professionally! We’ve reached levels in our business that require us to bring on additional support staff and planners to assist with making couples’ wedding days come to reality. We intend on staying a small-but-mighty company, never to lose the personal connection to our clients, but are challenging ourselves to grow into producing more social and corporate events in addition to weddings!

What inspired you to launch your own company in the event industry? How long did it take from initially having the idea of setting up and starting to attract a client base?

I’ve been in the hospitality and events industry from day 1 and always knew this was right where I wanted to be! Early on, I knew I was destined for entrepreneurship but, admittedly I was a bit frightened by the “unknown.” It took a few years of working full time for other employers for me to realize that I was ready to launch into entrepreneurship full time. I had my planning business on the side for about 5 years before jumping all in…..my only regret is not doing it sooner!

What’s the first event you can ever remember planning and how did it go?

Although I cannot recall my first event, I can recall the very first wedding I took on my own (under another planners company). I had the support of a mentor who was extremely encouraging and trusting in my abilities. She let me take the ranks from point A to point Z which helped with my confidence but also let me try out my own instincts from pre-planning to on-site production.

I always suggest for younger professionals looking to get into wedding planning to shadow and work for a planner before going solo. This allows you to build your knowledge base with the support of a true professional while assuring the client doesn’t lose out on anything in the process!

What are some things you wished you knew before starting your businesses?

What I didn’t realize is how important a support network is. For me, I found that in a group of strong entrepreneurial women that I look up to and have mutual respect and support for. Beyond your immediate friends and family, I realized how important it is to have fellow, like-minded professionals surrounding you, supporting you, cheering you on, and giving you that push when you really need it. I only wish that I knew this earlier on, and didn’t try to do it all alone at the start.

What’s the most surprising or unusual request you have ever received from a client and were you able to fulfill it?

Not necessarily unusual but I’m proud of a 100+person event we planned in less than 4 months across the country. The couple lived in Utah, with parents in Chicago and beyond. The event was a fusion wedding in California with 7 events in 4 days with full design, planning, logistics, and on-site production included.

The clients hosted multiple ceremonies to pay tribute to each faith while transporting guests around Carmel, California for a Family Celebration Dinner, Sealing Ceremony, Welcome Luncheon Event, Reception, After-Glow, Hilltop Yoga & Hike, and Post-wedding Brunch. From venue selection, vendor curation, full design for each, and guest accommodations and logistics – we kicked into high gear to provide these families with a wedding weekend to remember from start to finish!

Anything else you’d like to comment on while we have you?

We do accept internship applications for Winter / Summer / Spring interns looking to get involved in wedding and event planning post-college! More information here: https://wed-icity.com/careers

 

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