Celebrity Event Planner Slomique Hawrylo Unveils Biggest Wedding Trend Of 2016

It’s officially wedding planning season! Spring encourages new beginnings and growth in so many forms, and what’s more life-altering than vows and wedding rings? It can trigger an overflow of emotion and excitement for all parties involved, making it hard to focus on every aspect to guarantee the bride and groom’s special day runs smoothly.

In steps Slomique Hawrylo.

She’s come a long way from making miniature furniture for her Barbie dream house. Hawrylo now plans whimsical, fairytale-like weddings in the most breathtaking locations that LA has to offer and over-the-top CELEBrations alongside famed event planner David Tutera. Her resume is nothing short of impressive, but Hawrylo is merely getting started. I sat down with the seasoned entrepreneur and event planning expert to discuss wedding trends, her early entrepreneurial endeavors and her favorite — and least favorite — scene at any wedding.

Blavity: Can you tell me a little about yourself? Where are you from? How did you get started in the wedding planning industry?

Slomique Hawrylo: I am a California native. And I’ve always been creative, ever since I was a kid. I was that kid that would turn a sock into a teddy bear and made doll house furniture for my barbie dream house because my mom would say, “I got you the house you can figure out the rest.”

My birth in the interest of party planning cried out to me in college. I was the go-to girl for cocktails and hors d’oureves with my friends on Friday nights. In the late ’90s, I was your Andy Cohen of Watch What Happens Live. Being the responsible college student, I still needed a career to pay my bills. I worked at 20th Century Fox in the marketing department while still having the burning desire to explore the event planning world. At this time, Oprah and P.Diddy — aka Puff Daddy aka Sean Combs — made throwing fabulous parties mainstream. You didn’t just throw a party, you threw an experience. I didn’t know how, I didn’t know when, but I knew that is what I wanted to do.

B: Growing up, how did your family support/encourage you with your ambitions?

SH: Growing up a middle child, I was always the one to take the road less traveled. Before I knew what an entrepreneur was, I was it. I had a mini boutique store in 4th grade making wallets and purses out of paper and selling them for 25 cents. At 16, I had a mobile pedicure service where I traveled to middle class African-American women and pampered them as they came home from a long day’s work. My mom saw the entrepreneur blood in me, which was just a mirror to who she was. My mother wasn’t sure how to support my creativity and ambitions so she sat back and watched me blossom, creating an environment that let my dreams become reality.

B: What’s your biggest accomplishment thus far?

SH: That’s a tricky question, because with all that I have accomplished I still feel that I haven’t had my biggest one yet. I had the pleasure of working as an expert with Oprah’s go-to event planner, Colin Cowie on his show Get Married on Lifetime. I had the honor of working on Oprah’s network OWN as an entrepreneur and mom ina mini-documentary she did on self-employed mothers and how they balance it all. This furthered me on her network and another show, Home Made Simple — a home makeover show where I was called in as an expert event planner, to now residing in my 4th season of David Tutera’s CELEBrations on WE TV. Although those are all wonderful accomplishments, I know God is just getting started with me.

B: What kept you motivated to keep improving your craft?

SH: When I made the leap into the world of event planning and design I knew there was no room for me to be mediocre. Being an African-American woman in this industry, I was definitely the minority. So from day one I committed to excellence. I purchased every celebrity event planner how-to book. David Tutera’s books encompassed the majority of my collection, it was foreshadowing into my future. In my commitment I knew I did not want to be “my friend is an event planner” category, my vision was larger than that.

B: What project have you had the most fun on while filming David Tutera’s CELEBrations?

SH: My most exciting moment did not come from an extravagant/unique venue, out-of-the-box decor or technology driven event. Although it had all of these elements, It was more the person behind the event that intrigued me. My life changing moment while filming David Tutera’s CELEBrations was meeting the ultimate entrepreneur Daymond John. The millennials will know him from the popular show Shark Tank, but my generation is familiar with him from the first hip hop targeted apparel, FUBU aka For Us, By Us. He provided life lesson entrepreneur moments that contribute to his success. On this particular event I hung on to every syllable, vowel and word this entrepreneur guru had to share. What I take away from this life lesson is that there is power in being broke. You are your most creative, passionate, determined, tenacious being when you are struggling to make it.

B: What’s your favorite part of any wedding?

SH: The ceremony is the most important part to me in a wedding. As a planner of 13 years, I’ve noticed the ceremony the majority of the time is the afterthought to the reception for clients. The details of cake, linens, chairs and florals runs circles around the 30-minute cliff note version of a lifelong promise. I always felt that the ceremony should be filled with individuals who will take this journey with you, not just for the day but for a lifetime. They are your support, your prayer partners, your strength. Because the challenge of marriage begins right after you say I do. Don’t get me wrong, I love every aspect of a reception — the fresh flowers, the couture linens, over the top entertainment, ambient lighting. But I just want to take the journey to love at the start of the promise and that is the ceremony.

B: What would you say is the biggest wedding trend of 2016?

SH: One of my favorite 2016 trends is designing your event guest space with unique and creative seating. Millennials are running away from the tradition round banquet room layout as was experienced at their parents wedding and incorporating a mixture of intimate seating for four, rectangular family-style seating mixed with traditional rounds. They are also finishing the tables with cushioned armed chairs, love seat sofas and cushioned benches. It’s all about stepping out of the box and stepping into something modern, chic and fabulous.

B: Traditional or non-traditional weddings?

SH: I will always select a non-traditional wedding. I think that art of weddings is making it custom to the bride and groom. I will never duplicate a wedding, not saying I won’t pull elements from a wedding. However, a bride and a groom should never base their wedding off of someone else’s dream. To me, its like wearing someone else’s underwear: There are just some things you don’t share! I always say this, there is a possibility that the guest has never met the bride or groom. At the end of this magical day this guest should be able to take away a connection to the couple by the experience they had, starting with the invitation and ending with the last dance. The only way this can be accomplished is if the wedding is tailored to the couple.

B: What’s one thing you always find yourself saying to the bride on her wedding day?

SH: The wedding day is very stressful for most brides and a planner assists, alleviating 75 percent of the stress. But the stress of just getting married can be overwhelming, especially on the wedding day. So what I have done for the past 13 years is make sure that the bride gets a morning wake-up call from me on her big day. Wherein which I tell her, “ Good Morning, I hear that someone is marrying their best friend today.” This is a great way to remind her what this day is really about. Its just that simple. I do not mention the decor, flowers, or her dress, but I remind her what brought her to this day…her best friend. She has me and my team to handle the rest!

B: How do you handle bridezillas?

SH: I don’t. I did at one time and that is when I learned very early that all money isn’t good money, I need my sanity.

B: It’s Slomique’s ideal wedding reception, what’s on the menu?

SH: I am a complete foodie! I would want my guests to have a true experience. I am not focused on just a gourmet five-star experience but something my guests can relate to and love. For my cocktail hour I would do pairings of food and cocktails, such as mini tacos paired with shots of salt-trimmed margaritas or truffle fries paired with pomegranate vodka martinis. Dinner would consist of gueridon service where servers arrive at each dinner table with a cart filled with all the makings for customizable dinner options. Each cart would consist of the best ethnic food from around the world. For example, one cart would have asian cuisine while another cart may have gourmet styled southern food. For dessert, I would have fresh fried donuts accompanied by organic espresso ice cream. I am hungry just thinking about it. Okay, it may be time to renew my vows!

This article was originally written for Blavity.com by DeJanae Evins.