Her Spotlight: Plan the Perfect Wedding with Dana Renae Designs, a Full Service Cincinnati Event Company
Your special day doesn’t have to be overwhelming if you have the right team to help you. Dana Propes is the owner of Dana Renae Designs, a creative event planning and design company based in Cincinnati, Ohio. Their motto is “Extraordinary events don’t just happen, they are designed.” This business offers a variety of services, to put you at ease on your big day. Dana has been in the event management industry for over 16 years and opened her own business over four years ago.
In addition to pleasing her clients, Dana also gives back to her community. She started the ‘Petals of Hope’ program, and encourages all who can, to participate. This is a program to spread the joy of beautiful flowers by sharing them with those who are in need of a little extra love. She takes leftover flowers and delivers them to local nursing homes, hospice centers, and hospitals.
Dana has a remarkable story because she basically started with nothing. She is a single mom of 4 children who quit 3 part-time jobs to start her own business. Despite her circumstances, she developed a thriving business and continues to expand. We are thrilled to chat with Dana. Read on to learn more about this visionary Cincinnati woman.
How did you get started as a professional event planner and business owner?
I have over 16 years in the industry, which includes catering, floral design and event planning. WhenI decided to start my own business, over four years ago, I knew that I could do it better and at a lower price. There is so much disconnect and miscommunication in the industry; it is difficult on the brides.
Why should couples hire you as their wedding planner?
Couples should hire me because of my vast background. I see the vision of the event beyond just the wedding planner, but also from a catering aspect, the flowers, and so on. My knowledge is so incredible. And most importantly I absolutely love brides and love helping to make their day perfect.
Costs can be something that holds back couples from working with a wedding planner. What would you tell brides and grooms about the cost?
There is a misconception you can’t afford a wedding planner. There is a package that fit anyone’s needs. I like to pride myself in earning that money back from them. I can see if there are any mistakes and how they can save money.
How do you begin putting together a theme/style for a wedding or a formal event?
I get to know the brides' personal style. I find out what they like and dislike. There is always a never-ending Pinterest page to sort through. I want to know how the day feels to them.
In your opinion what is a MUST HAVE at every wedding?
I think a Must have is someone who is going to work your wedding day. If you don’t have someone to make sure all the details happen, you will get stressed out. You’ll end up hiring professionals that don’t know each out, and that’s just like having a great big hat and shaking it up and hoping the day will run flawless, and that just isn’t going to happen. You need someone there to the responsibilities, such as the marriage license getting signed. And you don’t want to leave that stuff up to the bridesmaids or mom. You don’t want them to feel any stress on this day either.
Are there any wedding trends you see that are very popular this year?
Currently, the blush tones are super popular. There are pastels, a mix of metals and just creating your own tradition. Some brides choose not to do the traditional gartner toss, but instead create their own twist to everything.
How do you help your clients choose their vendors, like a photographer?
First, it’s really important to know how the bride wants the day to go. If it’s ore of a formal occasion, then the I will find you a baker that makes more formal cakes and a photographer that matches that theme. With over 16 years of experience, I can find any vendor that caters to a certain type of style. I don’t use a cookie cutter, because bride and groom are completely different.
What marketing method has worked best for you in attracting clients?
For me, I pride myself on building and maintaining strong client and vendor relationships. Many companies use major wedding search engines to advertise, but I've never utilized this method as most of my referrals are through word of mouth.
What is the most challenging part of starting and running your own business, and do you deal with it?
I have 4 kids, and I was single when I started. I had no money at the beginning, terrible credit and no access to any money. Literally, my first website was on an iPad because I couldn't afford anything else. I didn’t have money for advertisements, so I focused on relationship marketing. It works so well because it’s very personal. I've learned that running your own business is a delicate balance of everything and I'm getting better at it. I have also learned to set limiations. When you have children, you have to find a good balance between work life and personal life.
What is next for you and your company?
We (my fiance and I)are going to officially launch my consultant group in the next couple of weeks. This will include consulting and coaching over venues and wedding/event planners. I have already assisted over 20 clients. We are currently completing the final details, including the business name. My fiance is a business coach by trade so we have the melting of two minds together. We are extremely excited!
What advice would you give your younger self?
I would say be patient and learn the grunt work. I worked as a busser, a bartender and managed a catering company for two years. At the time, I didn't realize I was learning the tools that I would need later to run multiple companies from multiple different directions. I remember thinking how mcuh I didn't like to scrub the pans after each wedding and how greasy and gross everything was. I also assisted BB Riverboats in Cincinnati. BB Riverboats contracted Dana Renae Designs services and I managed their wedding sales department. I worked closely with the boat and catering staff. My prior experience taught me how to relate to the employees better because I had been in their shoes. It gave me the wonderful realm of respect as to how I developed as a person and now, business owner.
More about Dana …
Favorite wedding designer?
One thing you love about Cincinnati.
That would be the Skyline. We have the beautiful skyline.
If you could have lunch with any woman, who would it be and why?
Oprah Winfrey. I can relate so much to her. She experienced major challenges growing up, and she really worked her way to where she is now. People don’t see the hard work, they just see where you are now. I’m in awe of how she made it all happen for herself.
"Anything worth doing, is worth doing right." I tell my children this all the time.