Tales From A DIY Bride


How many of us can remember that one DIY Bride that blew our minds with the wedding she pulled off, OR the one who should have waived the white flag of surrender and hired a planner?  We’ve been them or we know them.  The bride to be that’s very organized; helps all of her friends plan their parties and decides to take on her own wedding.  It would seem like a very capable and obvious thing to do since she’s done so many other events quite well and with ease.  However, when it’s your own wedding, the details far exceed that average birthday party or shower, and at the end of the day, both the bride and groom deserve to be stress-free and at liberty to enjoy their wedding experience without worrying about logistics and favor placement.  Now this is not meant to detract in any way from the resourcefulness of a DIY bride.  She will rally her tribe, raid Pinterest and doesn’t mind a few late night craft projects.  Even her skilled friends have offered to lend a hand with things like photography or cooking.  To that Wedding DIY-er: We salute you.  But for the rest of the brides that didn’t receive their capes yet, at some point in the planning & preparation process,  will find themselves exhausted in the minutia of it all and wishing that they had invested in a planner.  Today we’re going to hear from our Floridian bride, Aisha:  A well-organized DIY bride that leveraged every app and connection she had to get her and her husband down the aisle in style and within budget.  And oh by the way, she’s not just our featured guest, she’s also my niece.  Let’s see how she did.  ENJOY!

The Best & Worst of Planning My Own Wedding, by Mrs. Aisha Perry

When my husband, Antwan, proposed to me on March 5th, 2016 I was so excited! It was perfect timing because I already had a date in mind for the wedding, April 22nd, 2017. We had over a year to plan which I thought was more than enough time to get everything I wanted for the big day. Especially with the help and guidance of my Aunt Michelle who is an exceptional wedding planner in New York, and a few others who have been down the wedding aisle themselves.

How hard could this be?

I always wanted a small and intimate wedding, with 30 guests and no wedding party. I had never been a bridesmaid, and I never understood the position of a bridesmaid or maid of honor, and my husband didn’t want to have groomsmen because all his friends lived in Illinois and we reside in Florida.  We agreed to forgo the traditional wedding party, however, we still wanted to honor our parents and children by having them walk down the aisle. Those were the only details of our wedding we ever discussed in our relationship.

During the planning, a friend of mine who’d recently gotten married mentioned an app she used that helped her tremendously. I downloaded the app, created an account, and inputted my wedding date which in return, gave me a countdown clock and created a checklist for me to follow. The app also gave me options to search for venues and other vendors needed for a wedding. It made me extremely hopeful; I thought that as long as I stay ahead of the timeline, this will be easy.  Without a wedding party to deal with, I can handle this without unnecessary drama and stress, right? 

Did I mention that at the time I was a full-time student in college and had to make time for my daughter’s schooling and activities? 
Still, that didn’t worry me…at first. I am a very organized person. Some say I have OCD, and I can also manage my time well, so I should be okay… This wedding is not going to be a massive production!

I learned during the planning process that it’s helpful to have a vision of what you want the décor, atmosphere, or theme to be before doing anything because it will save you a lot of time. All I knew is that I was not the “Princess” type of bride, and all the venues I saw had that theme. I liked to keep things simple yet classy and elegant… like me. I finally got the vision of exactly what I wanted after touring four different venues. After looking at what I did not want for my wedding, the idea came to me at work of all places. I envisioned candles everywhere, small centerpieces on the tables, and the colors ivory and gold…  Intimate, unique, simple, and classy…it was perfect. I started to look up décor ideas on another app.


After much thought and conversation with my fiancé, we realized that we were going to have more than 30 guests, so we bumped it up to 60, which is still considered a small wedding. I also wanted a venue that provided the tables, chairs, linens, and décor set up to relieve stress and lessen the amount of vendors we have to hire. I found a hidden gem in Ybor City, Tampa, FL on Wedding Wire that did just that and more. I fell in love with the pictures online; it had an industrial look with gorgeous chandeliers and black floors that would look great with my vision of the decor. We made an appointment to check the place out. The owners were courteous and professional; I showed them the pictures I saved on the app and they said could make it happen. The venue also provided a wedding coordinator that would help me through this process and a chef to cater the food. Now I was super pumped and hopeful that I could pull this off on my own.

What more did I have to do?

OMG! There was so much more to planning a wedding that I had no clue about! Certain things I didn’t know such as save the dates, invites, programs, etc…they all had to be the same paper designs? I didn’t know about wedding etiquette, such as how to ask for monetary gifts, or what to write on the programs. Should I write on the guest’s placement cards or not? What is a Processional and a Recessional? The list of details that I never thought of went on and on. That’s where my Aunt became so helpful; she helped me with a lot of the details that weren’t that important to me, but were still important. I was so thankful to have her as my wedding planner on speed dial. I wished she was in Florida instead of New York to help me because towards the end I wanted to pull my hair out! I bit off more than I could chew… I did mention that I was in school full time and have a daughter who needed my attention as well. Lord Help me, what was I thinking!


10 days before the wedding the venue decided to no longer work with the coordinator that was assisting us with the wedding. Because of my faith, I didn’t let fear consume me and resisted the urge to freak out. The owner of the venue sent me an email ensuring me that she had all the details and she was going to step-up to do the coordinating for the wedding to making sure the day was perfect for me. All I could do was pray and move forward.  The wedding was 10 days away!

I had a meeting with the new coordinator/owner of the venue, and we went over every detail since I was the planner for my own wedding. She emailed me an itinerary for the day, and it was perfect. The day of the wedding everything went smoothly until the reception. After the father and Bride dance things went south…fast. Of course, the guests and the Groom himself had no clue, and the frustration I felt inside was hidden very well. The DJ acted as though he had no idea what to do next, he had to freestyle the event because he didn’t have the itinerary and the communication was not getting to him. He even came up to the sweetheart table to ask us, the Bride and Groom, what to do next. My father didn’t get the opportunity to make his toast, and neither did my husband’s best friend. Towards the end I was ready to go, so I told my husband to tell the DJ to announce our departure. When we walked out I saw the coordinator/ owner and told her we were ready to go, she was so shocked that the DJ released us without her giving him the order. They knew things didn’t go as planned and after the Groom and I left the venue expressed their apologies to my parents.

Thankfully, in the end, it was a beautiful day, but If I had to do it again I would hire a wedding planner; I think a planner would have helped me stay within my budget and handled the things I had no clue were necessary for a wedding. A planner would have also made sure things ran smoother than they did during the reception, by keeping it on time and making sure things got done. I’m happy to say it is done. Amen!








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A Meaningful 2017

As 2016 draws quickly to a close, most of us will reflect on the year we have experienced: what we learned, how we grew and all of the experiences we either created or witnessed.  For me, most of my year was filled with some really awesome moments, and a few reality checks to remind me that there’s still plenty of work to be done (on me).  However, nothing cut deeper this year, than a comment that came from my sister while we were all preparing for Christmas brunch with family and friends just a few short days ago…  

As an event planner and designer, even though it’s a “Family Affair” I’m still quite obsessive about how things are done: from floral placement to furniture vignettes – I want it just right.  When my sister Rommy noticed that I was pacing through the house, she asked what I was doing.  I responded that I was trying decide whether to put the mimosa bar on the porch, or in the house. Her response changed my entire perspective in an instant.  She said, “That, is a first world problem.”

The words pricked me.

In that very moment, I froze as it sank in, but then I quickly put it aside to finish the remaining tasks before me.  

The festivities began and ended. However, the statement stayed with me and then begged the question, What is it all for?  A tinge of shame even crept over me as I assessed what I do as an entrepreneur vs real impact to society and mankind. I was having a King Solomon moment – yelling inwardly that it was all vanity and meaningless.  For a brief (and overly dramatic) moment, I even considered shutting down my business for its connotations of excess.  While I was picking out prosecco and choosing french toast recipes for my family, there were families that could not afford to celebrate Christmas at all, and worse, families without food.  I was struck with a chilling reminder of how much we take for granted in our daily living; our consumption, our waste, and disregard for our fellow humans.  What’s most chilling is that we/I have the power to change it and many times, don’t. Sure, I’ve volunteered here and there, donated time packing dinners for the homeless in my community,  and even participated in a couple fundraisers.  But I’m not talking about the check the box “I did my part” type of change; I’m talking about the kind of change that happens from the inside, and is reflected by how you treat your own blessings AND PEOPLE on the outside.  I am not advocating that we all switch to sackcloth and ashes and walk with our heads low, but that we walk with our heads high, knowing that we (daily) live a life of gratitude for what we have, WHATEVER THAT IS, that we are not wasteful, and that we treat others with the love and respect that we want for ourselves.  And, if you can help someone – DON’T HESITATE.  I want THIS IS THE DAY to reflect this change.  Not be ashamed of our blessings, but walk soberly and mindful of our blessings, as well as BE a blessing. I want to partner with people who have a passion for this type of change; who provide experiences instead of more things; to be the company that does GOOD WORK, not just pretty work.  

Now I certainly don’t have this all figured out, and this cruise ship doesn’t spin on a dime, but requires a steady turn in a set direction, which will take time.  TODAY, I commit to doing everything in my personal power to live a more meaningful life and run a more meaningful company.  For after all, THIS IS THE DAY THAT THE LORD HAS MADE, and I owe it to Him.

Wishing you a very meaningful 2017.

Tanya Michelle Debose


Article Photo Credit of Tanya Debose: John Bayley Photography

All Other Article Photos: Alain Joseph

Five Tips For Being The Best Host

  • Love having your friends and family over for the holidays, but you’re feeling a bit anxious or overwhelmed? Here are five tips to making sure both you and your guest(s) enjoy the visit.

    1. Keep It Clean – this is not just about your guest. The more order you bring to your space, the more relaxed you’ll be about receiving them.

    2. “Know Your Customer” – Do you have a runner coming to town? Think about creating a small map of the best jog paths in your neighborhood. Does your best friend meditate or do yoga every morning? How cool would it be if you carved out a little space for her to do just that? Want to really go the extra mile? Make them a little kit with a mat, towel and bottled water while you’re at it. Your tailor-made provisions will make your guest feel loved and welcomed.

    3. Don’t Go Nuts! Take the time to find out your guest’s dietary preferences and food allergies. Are they allergic to nuts or seafood?  This way, you can pre-stock your refrigerator with all the appropriate fixings and be mindful of keeping other items out of sight.

    4. Seize The Day [BEFORE] – Make the bed, refresh the bathroom, stock your toiletries, set out the towels, program the coffee maker, create a welcome platter… Leverage the day before to knock out these key details.

    5. BREATHE – you’ve cleaned, planned and prepared. Peace and order have been restored and now you can let your hair down, fling open those doors with a warm smile and welcome your guests with confidence.You’ve done good. ENJOY YOUR GUESTS!




Five Steps to Get Entertaining!

So you took our advice on building your home entertaining arsenal and now it’s time to put all those new goodies to use.  Spring is in the air and the season for gathering will soon be in full swing with Passover and Mother’s Day just around the corner.  You’ve got all the supplies, so let’s get you entertaining in these five easy steps:

ONE – Our suggestion for the newbies: START SMALL.  

Four to six guests are enough to have a fun and engaging experience without feeling overwhelmed.  Invite a few friends over to catch up after all the winter burrowing.  John Bayley Photo-119
John Bayley Photo-123TWO: ENLIST HELP!  

Even though four to six people seems like a small number, many hands make for light work.  Just one extra set of hands can keep the preparation atmosphere nice and peaceful.  I love enlisting my husband.  He totally gets it.  Just make sure that your help will be HELPFUL.  Grab that friend that makes you laugh, but can help with meal preparation as well. Make your go-to favorites that everyone always raves about – this way, you’re not nervous and edgy about whether or not they’ll like it.  Next time, you can get adventurous with new recipes.


Now that you’ve treated yourself to a more refined set of stemware and you totally scored the perfect sale on that divine dinnerware you’ve been eyeing for months, use it!  Perish the thought of allowing those new beauties to get trapped on eternal display in the china cabinet. You love your friends right?  Here’s the perfect opportunity to show them on the outside how much you appreciate them on the inside.  Go ahead – pretty it up!


Like flowers and/or small tokens of affection. John Bayley Photo-327FIVE: BE YOUR OWN GUEST!  

Lose the apron, welcome your guests with a refreshing drink and join them at the table.  You started small, enlisted help, kicked it up a notch and now you deserve to enjoy yourself just as much as your invited guests.  By the time it’s all said and done, they’ll be anxiously awaiting your next invitation.


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