Meet local wedding planner, Danielle Caldwell. We know you will love her as much as we do!
Where are you originally from? And how long have you been in Portland?
I grew up outside of New York City in Westchester County. I moved out here seven years ago for my husband’s job.
What is your favorite thing about Portland?
The food, wine, community, environment, and the weather — it is all fabulous!
What is your favorite spot or thing to do in Portland?
I love going downtown. I have always been a city girl, and although Portland is not the same as New York City, it has so many great places to visit and see.
How long have you been working as a professional wedding planner?
I have been in the events industry for almost 12 years I created my company two years ago and specialize in weddings, special events, and corporate events.
I knew from an early age I wanted to work in the industry. I earned my bachelor’s in Business Administration and interned for an event agency during my senior year of college. During that experience, I learned that I loved everything about the industry. After graduating, I spent almost four years traveling the U.S. planning conferences at five-star hotels and resorts for asset managers and hedge funds. While working in New York City I attended NYU and received a Certificate in Meetings and Special Events and planned weddings for my friends in my spare time. After planning a few weddings and finishing up my certificate, I made a goal to create my own business one day.
I moved to Arizona in 2010 and worked for the Scottsdale Fairmont Princess. I assisted in both the catering department and DMC in planning and executing all types of events including weddings. During that time I earned my CMP (Certified Meeting Planner) from the Convention Industry Council. I moved to Portland in 2011. The first four years I worked for Lewis & Clark College in various roles but ended as Associate Director of Conferences & Events. In 2014, I worked with my boss and brought back weddings to the college. We collaborated with several top vendors to figure out how to make the business a success. I loved everything about it. In 2015 I had my first child and realized that I wanted to make my goal of owning my business a reality. Right before I found out that I was pregnant with my second, I started the process. Isabelle was born in May of 2017, and in August of 2017, I started to move forward with making Danielle Caldwell Events a true reality.
How would you describe the importance of your role & why do you feel a couple should hire a professional wedding planner for their wedding day?
My role as an event planner is critical. It is about relationships, customer service, and details. When clients meet with me they realize that there are so many moving parts that go into their event. Some get stressed out by the cost or the number of options. Many are overwhelmed and either want direction on which vendor to go with or someone to pull all the pieces together. Clients hire me in order to lower their stress level and to create magic for them. My job is to bring their vision to life, ensure communication is clear between all parties, and be their advocate. When you hire me you are getting one-on-one attention. I am sitting down with you over multiple meetings to go over every single detail that is important to you; I am emailing your vendors, sometimes multiple times, to ensure your day is executed perfectly and that you get the best price. I do site walks with my clients and all their vendors the week before so that there are no questions when the day arrives. There is so much that happens on the day of any type of event, and the clients’ job should be to enjoy it — not stress. That is why I am there from the moment the venue is available until the last person leaves. I want my clients to know they can count on me every step of the way.
What is the best part of your job?
The best part is seeing an event come to life and my clients happy. I also love working with amazing vendors.
What do you find most challenging about your specific line of work or weddings in general?
Getting clients to understand the importance of why you hire someone like me.
Do you work solo or do you have a studio and/or team?
I have an assistant but I am the main planner for all events. For that reason, I only take on six to eight events per year.
What do you attribute to your success as a wedding planner? What do you think makes you stand apart from others in your field?
I attribute my success to the training and education I have received over the years. The knowledge I have gained from studying at NYU and preparing for my CMP has given me an edge on how to problem solve and execute. However, you are nothing without practice and experience. My experience in corporate events and working for a 5-star hotel trained me in proper customer service and how to be extremely detailed oriented. It allowed me to be successful at Lewis & Clark, which then gave me the confidence to go out on my own and follow my dream.
At what point in the wedding planning process should clients hire you?
In a perfect world, clients would hire me from the very beginning. As much as I love my day-of wedding clients, being hired in the last few months is difficult; it takes away the ability for me to assist with recommendations and negations. Sometimes clients don’t realize what they are signing and by the time you are hired to help, it is too late. However, I am happy to help out all clients, and can jump in anytime, but no later than six weeks prior to the event.
Where do you draw inspiration? Are there any current trends you are excited about?
I love creating. I draw inspiration from everywhere — movies, art, Instagram, and learning from other amazing vendors. I love the mixture of vintage and modern. I also like boho.
What is the most important thing that couples should ask someone in your profession before hiring them?
That is a hard question. I would say that the questions I would ask are: “What is your process? What things do you cover on my special day? How many hours does your package cover?” All of those questions are important because you want to ensure you are getting what you need, and that all details are taken care of.
What is your best advice for wedding clients?
My first piece of advice is always to hire a planner. However, when I meet with clients and discuss their vision and what is important to them, I ask them to name two big details that they must have; these could be the floral, entertainment, having a vintage car, etc. When they look at the decisions they are making, they need to keep those in mind as most clients do not have the budget to accommodate their entire wish list.
Anything else you’d like couples to know about you?
I am a mom to two amazing girls. My husband is my biggest supporter. My family is everything to me. I love what I do, and I built this business so I could be at home with my kids while pursuing my dreams. Working with clients and amazing vendors is so much fun for me. I love creating.
What other local wedding professionals are currently inspiring you?
That is a very long list, but you could easily say that the vendors that are part of this great organization, Art of Weddings Portland, are on it!
All images in this post are courtesy of Spotted Stills Photography. and are from a styled shoot in which Danielle collaborated with Blum, Spotted Stills, Something Borrowed, The Party Place, Dream Cakes, Cerulean Wine Bar, Farina Bakery, Pin It Pretty, Olivia Hawthorne, Ania Bridal, Bonobos, Crave Designs, and Stella & Dot.