We tend to gush a bit about most of the vendors we feature on Engaged, but when it comes to Kiara Bright-Hancock, the mastermind behind Bright & Co. Events, there is a lot to love. This Beyonce-loving, no-nonsense wedding planner not only has exquisite taste (check her gorgeous gold wedding gown), but also is a former SeaGal. (Hey, we’re a Seattle company after all.) Find out what inspires her… and where she falls on the cake vs. pie debate. Serious topics.
How long have you been a wedding planner?
I had my first event-planning company when I was 21, and before that, I some amazing birthday parties and high school graduation celebrations. Afterwards, I did corporate event planning for several years. I have always loved a good celebration! I founded Bright & Co. and have been a professional wedding planner full-time for just over a year.
How did you get into wedding planning?
I have been an administrative professional for more than 10 years and have planned many corporate events and parties. However, when I got engaged in early 2014 and started planning my own wedding, I realized that this was a chance to unite my professional experience with something I truly enjoyed. I found my passion, and from there my business began to grow organically.
Describe your style in one sentence.
Do you — authenticity is always in style.
Who is your celebrity style icon?
Well this is easy. Queen Bey (Beyonce) has got it going on in all kinds of ways that I aspire to emulate…forever. She can dress things up, dress them down, and always look so fierce doing it. She slays.
What’s been your favorite experience as a wedding planner?
I recently helped a close friend with ideas for her wedding design and it was such a cool experience. Being able to pair what I love doing with my love for her created a special moment for me and her. When your passion spans your professional and personal life, it’s magical, and warm and fuzzy like your favorite sweater.
When was the last time you cried at a wedding you coordinated?
I have to admit I’m not a crier. I mean… I didn’t even cry at my own wedding. That doesn’t mean that weddings don’t move me. They move me in the most unimaginable way, but they bring me to a place of supreme happiness. You are more likely to see me grinning from ear-to-ear than crying.
What do you love most about planning weddings? Why do you plan weddings in particular?
I do this for the love of love really. Being able to be there for people on some of the biggest days of their lives is the icing on the (wedding) cake. My job is pretty awesome – my hard work lets them celebrate and be present and in the moment so that they can create the memories that will last them a lifetime. Being a part of something like that is so special to me.
Where is the most interesting place you’ve planned a wedding?
I am currently working on a wedding for the owner of a real working farm. I’m talking pigs and goats…the whole shebang! She is an awesome lady farmer and not only runs the farm, but is opening a creamery on the farm as well. Amazing! She’s totally transitioning her farm just for her big day. For example, she wanted peacocks walking around during her wedding, so what did she do? She went and bought peacocks, dangit! I think I find this venue the most interesting because it is a blank slate, and it’s something that can be made into just what she wants on her big day, with minimal constraint. It opens the door for your imagination to run wild!
What’s the best wedding cake you’ve ever had?
The best wedding cake I had was pie, ha. I am a pie-aholic and a wedding I recently attended had a variety of pies from Whidbey Pies. Needless to say, I had my fair share and then some.
What have been your favorite wedding favors?
I like favors that your guests will truly use. You shouldn’t waste precious budget on favors that are just going to end up in the trash at the end of the night. Give people something that they will WANT to take home. Some recent favors I have loved have been homemade rosemary olive oil and homemade vanilla extract in cool glass containers. Not only were they yummy and useable, but they were also budget friendly. Win-win!
What’s your favorite wedding trend? What’s your least favorite wedding trend?
I tend to embrace the offbeat a little more. I love a classic wedding, but when I see a couple really “go for it” and do things their way, my heart does flips. That said, my favorite weddings trends right now are colorful wedding dresses and engagement rings that aren’t necessarily diamonds. Morganite and sapphire rings are huge right now and also hugely beautiful.
What’s been your biggest wedding day challenge?
I once was IN a wedding where the wedding planner still had not shown up two hours before the wedding was slated to start. Things were not set up and the planner was completely M.I.A. Having to step in and try to take the reins unexpectedly all while also preparing to be in the wedding was intense. It all worked out in the end though… it always does!
Who are some of your favorite local vendors to work with?
When I launched this business I was expecting other vendors in this business to be cold and unwelcoming. That is so not the case. Whenever I reach out to someone for a project or help they were all so welcoming, willing, and patient! Those vendors are still some of my favorite and include: Vintage Ambiance (specialty rentals), B. Jones Photography, Gather (florist), and Yessie Libby (hair & makeup). I think they will always be a part of my “A Team”.
What piece of advice would you give brides and grooms to ensure that find a wedding planner who will ensure their big day goes off without a hitch?
First of all meet them in person, ask a ton of questions, and trust your gut. If you don’t vibe with them move on and find someone you do get a good feeling about. Secondly, you want to find someone who wants to take YOUR vision and run with it. Not someone who will push their own vision and agenda. Anyone worth hiring will embrace what you have in mind and make it happen!
How have you seen technology make weddings easier or harder?
Easier by far! I mean, wedding websites alone did wonders for this industry. When I think about things like weddings hashtags and apps, I don’t think of anything but positivity. Being able to find fun photos from your wedding after the fact and give your guests access to important information about your big day in the palm of their hand is an extreme value add.
What are your favorite wedding trends right now?
Oh my, there are so many things! Offbeat bridal wear and jewelry, weddings desserts outside of cake, lush organic bouquets, floral crowns, patterned table runners, naked cakes, vintage glassware…these are a few of my favorite things.
If you could plan your wedding all over again, what would it be like?
I got married on Whidbey Island, and I loved the destination feel of it. It was a little but rustic, but with some glam elements as well. The only thing I would change in my wedding would be to make it was longer! If I had to do it again, I would make it a true destination wedding with a week full of events and fun activities with the people I love. I’m thinking Portugal on the water in the summer, and I would invite all my family and friends who are near and dear to me to keep things intimate. Nobody extra or unnecessary. I think I would go full-on black tie style this time. I want to see everybody all done up and in a picturesque location. That would make for an awesome Portuguese sunset group picture!
At Joy we believe that even though a wedding lasts a day, joy should last forever. What does that mean to you?
To me that means that you should carry over the joy of your wedding day into the days, months, and years ahead in your marriage.
If you weren’t a wedding planner, what would you be doing?
I’d be a backup dancer for Beyoncé. Duh!
Want to see more of the great stuff Bright & Co. is planning?