Welcome to our “Day in the Life” series! We feature wedding and event planners from around the world with many different levels of experience. If you would like to be featured, download our questionnaire here and email your responses and photo to firstname.lastname@example.org. We are excited to feature Nashville and Chicago wedding planner Dawn Schenkel today!
Name: Dawn Schenkel
Business Name & Location: Premier W.E.D. Nashville | Chicago
Years Working in the Event Industry: 15 Years
Years Owning Your Event Planning Business: 13 Years
Business Facebook Page: Facebook.com/premierwed
What is your typical day like?
I don’t know that there is a typical day for me. My days are chaotic but filled with many blessings. Clients, husband, kids, etc. My first order of the day is COFFEE (Dunkin Donut hazelnut…black as strong as possible) then one breakfast bar out of the Nature’s Valley Bar package. If I could choose to live with out cares..I’d eat a donut from Glazed and Infused every morning!
If it’s a Monday/Wednesday/Friday, I start with a morning work out. On Tuesday and Thursday mornings, I start with meetings, calls, and emails. Regardless of the day, I’m up at 6:45am to help get my kids out the door. My days end at various times, but I often work until 10pm catching up on projects or have industry events to attend in the evenings. I am also on the board of the Nashville ISES chapter so that keeps me very busy.
After coffee and my pretend donut, I return emails from the previous day, check voicemails, and of course, prepare for meetings or consultations that are scheduled. One day, I may not leave the office all day or others I’m on the road a lot. I bounce between the Nashville office and Chicago office. The flight is super easy but the weather change is always hard on my Southern blood. My Nashville office is in my home and was recently published on the cover of Wedding Planner Magazine, while my Chicago office is in a high-rise and overlooks the river.
We have a strong internship program so I spend a lot of time with them on training, discussing social media campaigns, and client needs. I throw them in head first with no life preserver other than their ability to have a million questions answered at their fingers tips! I never had that. When I started out, I didn’t have ANY social media, no Pinterest, no movies, no TV shows and no Google! It was my brain and a pager. Yes…a pager. UGH…wait, and a PALM PILOT. I want my team to always use their vast amounts of resources to their advantage but I also want them to use their natural instinct and gifts. You can’t teach common sense.
How did you get started in the industry?
I’m from Arkansas and I graduated with an BS in Exercise Physiology. I wanted to be a Fashion Designer, but that wasn’t offered at my university. So I switched to something else I was good at; being active and motivating people in a positive way. A year out of college I came to work for the Nashville YMCA’s in their exercise department but was asked to serve on the Membership and Fundraising department. I was responsible for an extremely large budget but I was also responsible for making the YMCA a place that looked and felt like home…a place people would want to come to regardless of status.
Nashville’s branch was the 2nd best in the nation. They were similar to a high-end health club – very different from the typical YMCA. I learned quickly how to produce something great with very little money. Nonprofit is about making an event amazing enough for good attendance, but inexpensive enough to “make” money.
I was asked by some friends to help plan their wedding and it went on from there. I woke up one morning, stressed, overseeing 23 women, making a nonprofit salary and realized I could do as much or more on my own. The YMCA was my company’s first corporate client! They hired me to finish a job that I had always been in charge of when I worked there. Premier W.E.D. was started and I never looked back.
Where do you find design inspiration?
I have a brother who is an architect and has a successful firm in Pensacola, Florida. His studies always inspired me. I learned a lot from him, but I have a better understanding of the interior style of a home than he does.
I later married the love of my life who was a home builder and developer. I have helped both of them with their businesses throughout the years. I read Veranda, Traditional Home, Southern Lady, Architectural Digest, and I follow designers like Jonathan Adler, Candice Olsen, Suzanne Kasler, and others. I adore Megan Hess’s work as well.
Chicago is a huge inspiration to me. There are amazing designers, architects, and event industry designers that I’m in awe of. I can pretty much tell when Tom Kehoe’s group has designed an event in just a few seconds of viewing it. I’m a huge fan of his work.
I rarely go on Pinterest to find inspiration, however, it’s what I can use to produce multiple images of what is in my head, and then present that to the client for a visual tell.
What are your favorite online resources for your business?
Well, the Planner’s Lounge of course! But I also like to read through the ISES national site, Bespoke Bride, Wedding Wire, I love Society6 as well.
Dawn, thank you so much for taking the time to share your story and a day in your life. If you are an event planner and would like to be featured, download our questionnaire today and email it to us along with a photo. If you aren’t sure about being featured, take a few minutes to read how it can help your business.