We're so excited to share one of our favorite Red Oak Preferred Vendors with you: Danielle of Rothweiler Event Designs! Danielle is one of New Jersey's top wedding vendors, known for turning empty spaces into magical weddings and her honest, unfiltered advice, she always goes above and beyond for her clients. Danielle is also a writer for the Huffington Post, and most recently, Red Oak Weddings! Get to know her and a little bit about her business, below!
Tell us a little bit about you, and how you got started!
I actually never considered wedding planning or event design as a career for me. I always had a passion for theatre and have been singing, dancing and acting since I could walk basically. In fact, I still perform whenever life allows me some time and when it doesn't I settle for karaoke or sing-a-longs with my husband (who is the best piano player ever) at home. While I was always on the stage, I knew I was never going to try and make that my career. During that time I was always designing events including my senior prom, homecoming dances, events that my sorority did in college, family parties, whatever. I was really unsure what to do after college and I literally woke up one morning and told my then boyfriend (now husband) that I thought I would make a good wedding and event planner. The years leading up to that moment I had planned plenty of events and developed a passion for decor including florals. I wasn't trying to be a florist though, so I reached out to a bunch of wedding planning companies and asked if they were hiring or had an internship available.
Now, keep in mind I have a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science at this point hanging on my wall collecting dust and I'm going into this not expecting to be paid but to figure out if this is something I would enjoy as a career. I figured between the experience I had planning events and my stage experience this would be something I would be good at and it also would satisfy my production and theatrical side. After reaching out to dozens of companies two wrote me back. One wanted me to take the courses that they were offering and it was going to cost a pretty penny. The other was going to hire me, teach me and pay me. No contest. I worked for that company for about a year and needed to then start my own- so I did and here we are!
What services do you offer and/or what do you specialize in?
We specialize in full planning and design. I prefer to work with a couple from the jump and right after the proposal happens, not after they have attended wedding shows and booked half of their vendors. The wedding day depends on the venue and all of the vendors collectively and if they already are halfway through and just gave up and want help now, it's impossible for me to fix mistakes they have already made or to change anything in contracts they have already signed. Plus, I want to recommend the best vendors to them and make sure they have the right venue and right team for the day.
I specialize in that shabby chic vintage style wedding that has now become very popular. Not many clients come to me with a ballroom in mind and even those that do are looking to take it in a different direction. But it's the raw and creative space that I love and excel in the most. This could be a tent at a private residence to a loft, museum or barn. The logistics involved in these spaces are very difficult and time consuming and if you don't live for this style you will drown in confusion. Just like working in a banquet hall there are questions that you will need to get answers to, but unless this is "your area", you won't know what questions to ask or why you need to know the answers. When I talk logistics with my clients about their raw space and mention things we need to consider, I frequently hear "wow, we never would've thought of that". I love weddings like these too because you get to create something fresh and new and that relates to the couple.
What makes your business unique?
I always tell people that I have one personality and everyone meets the same Danielle. I don't sugarcoat for my friends and I don't sugarcoat for my clients either. Many couples are looking for a planner to fight with their venue and vendors and tell them "yes" when the answer is "no". I want to do what is in the best interest of my clients, but I'm never going to give my blessing when they want to have their uncle photograph the wedding or their bridesmaids handle set up. I'm very upfront and honest with my couples which also helps them to trust me from day 1 and that is extremely important to me. Not all planners agree with me, but I believe that part of being a planner is being a friend to your couple which means going to bat for them, being a shoulder to cry on or an ear to vent to, and being straight forward when they need to hear something they might not want to (like how what they want isn't possible without increasing the budget).
What is your favorite part of working with couples?
I get to see one of the happiest times in their lives together. The engagement period can be stressful with wedding planning, but hopefully I take plenty if not all of that stress away where I can (can't control Aunt Betty that wants you to invite the 8 cousins you've never met). I watch them grow as a couple and learn that they are a team forever. I get to be a part of one of the biggest days of their lives and I am helping them with all of the details. Plus, unlike other vendors, I am with them longer and more often whereas once the photographer is booked, you won't see him again until the wedding...same goes for every other vendor too (if you ever met them in the first place). I love connecting with two people and collaborating with them to create a day they will always remember. I also love being able to remind them what a wedding is really about (each other) when they are getting distracted and stressed over the details.
One piece of advice for couples?
Hire a planner from day 1. Honestly. I cannot tell you how many times I have been hired anywhere from right after the venue was secured through a handful of other vendors as well. It's really important to have a game plan that makes sense before doing anything including establishing a budget. There are so many moving parts that go into a wedding and a planner should be considered right out of the gate and then be along for the whole ride. From that point, it's really important to trust that planner and try and tune out all of the "advice" you will get from friends and family.
Childhood career aspiration?
I wanted more than anything to be a meteorologist. I wanted to chase tornadoes and be on television pointing to a map telling everyone if it was going to rain. I love the weather still and I actually went to college for a meteorology degree. In fact, I didn't change my major until my senior year which means I took the bulk of the meteorology courses you need along with four semesters of Calculus. Of course, knowing the weather and not needing to rely on a television forecast comes in handy with all of the outdoor weddings I plan!
Coffee or tea?
Coffee. Black. Tea is only if I'm sick or craving it in the middle of the day because once I hit 11am I don't want coffee anymore.
It's not really hidden because I will do this any chance I can, but I do love to sing. In fact, one of my favorite things to do is take people to karaoke that have never been with me and surprise them as much as I can. A lot of people say they can sing, but I like to really back it up and catch people off guard when I can.