Meet Sara Dahmen, she is the owner of a fabulous event planning company called Golden Chic Events and Consulting. They help clients plan gorgeous events in both Wisconsin and Central Illinois. I recently had the pleasure of chatting with her and I was able to inquire about her event planning background and wonderful business. Here’s what she had to share…

GM: How did you get started as a professional event planner?

SD: Working as a producer kept me busy - lots of travel, nights and weekend work.  But it was essentially the same type of work - coordinating, double checking facts and info, overly communicating, and planning ahead for contingencies. My husband studies half of the year for every night and weekend, so to keep me busy when I wasn’t working and he was studying...I started the company. It was a long term plan - to let the company get so big I could quit producing and traveling and be my own boss. I also wanted to create a model that could be used for other young women professionals who wished to plan events, be self-employed, make their own hours and stay home with their kids. It’s finally becoming exactly that!

GM: What event planning services do you offer?

SD: We offer wedding, charity and corporate event services with varying degrees of involvement in different packages. Probably 90% of our work is weddings. Our primary customers are couples - brides and grooms - and we have multiple packages that range from “day of” to full service. All packages for all clients are custom designed for their exact purposes and needs. 

Photo Courtesy of Golden Chic Events

GM: What sets you apart from other event planners? 

SD: We are intensely personal in our work.  Most of our couples come to our homes for a long fancy dinner at some point in the planning process, or the charity committee comes over for a group coffee/danish session.  Some couples stay the night after a long night dining, drinking and chatting. We stay in touch with most of our clients for years. I am still in contact with my very first bride and our kids play together when we get together. We also create huge design portfolios for our couples and they all receive 8-10 hand painted watercolor sketches of their event design. We are very honest and transparent in our professionalism - for instance, they all see the exact bills from our vendors, so they are ensured we do not get any kick-backs or mark up the invoices.

GM: What is your favorite part about being a professional event planner? 

SD: The dinners - getting to know our couples on a personal level. But, also pulling together the vendors and working with them as a big cohesive team to create gorgeous events on any budget.

Photo Courtesy of Golden Chic Events

GM: How does entertainment fit into the events that you plan? 

SD: It’s the biggest item of the night, after the dinner.  This is what ensures a great memorable party - whether it’s corporate, private or charity. If people don’t dig the music and the atmosphere created by the entertainment, they won’t stick around and make happy memories. Every host wants their party to leave a great lasting impression.

GM: What’s the biggest misconception people have about event planners? 

SD: That we are too expensive.  We actually broke it down once. Couples spend what averages to $150/hour on their DJ, and almost $100/hour for their photographer. We spend upwards of 2 years with couples, and with our expenses and staff costs, they pay us roughly $15/hour. That’s pretty affordable when you think about the value, discounts and assistance we bring to the table to help when planning an event.

GM: What’s the one thing you wish people knew before they hired you? 

SD: That we seriously care about our couples. If we cared about money, we’d take kick-backs and mark up invoices and would nit-pick how much we charged them for everything.  But for us, it’s so seriously all about making it gorgeous and a perfect day. That’s what matters - we’re all heart. Also, on a more professional note, I wish couples knew more about how much a wedding costs (and corporate clients too).  I’m amazed at how many people think they can get huge centerpieces and elaborate floral for $1500. 

Photo Courtesy of Golden Chic Events

 GM: What’s the biggest mistake people make when planning a big event on their own? 

SD: They don’t know how to best allocate their money, and they forget to budget for important things. Entertainment is one thing - they should plan to spend at least $1500 on a DJ for starters, and closer to $4000+ for a band.  They never do.  Same goes for other things, like lighting, favors, calligraphy. All the details are forgotten. They rush at the end stages (well, some people rush even though they have us - if they don’t respond to our emails in a timely manner, they DO have to rush!) and sweat the small stuff.

GM: What’s the one piece of advice you’d offer anyone about finding a planner? 

SD: Ask other local vendors who they would recommend, and then ask the planner for some recent referrals (past clients), and actually follow up. Ask detailed questions, so you understand how that planner works –inquire about everything from how they bill and choose vendors, to what the overall vibe/experience was working with that planner. 

Photo Courtesy of Golden Chic Events

GM: What’s one piece of advice you’d offer anyone planning  a party on their own? 

SD: Besides hire a planner? Hahaha - do your research. Read reviews of vendors online, do legwork by actually meeting vendors, vetting them and getting referrals so you don’t end up with an issue on event day.

GM: Can you tell a story about a disaster averted?  

SD: There are many, though mostly have happy endings. The craziest was an Indian wedding we were doing - the groom was to ride in on a white Maharaja horse for his portion of the 4 hour ceremony.  However, four days before the wedding, the horse master called to let us know the horse had unexpectedly died!! We had to scramble (you need a horse used to noise, people, sparklers, chanting, fancy costume, an inexperienced rider, and music). Luckily, we were able to produce a horse for the wedding without stressing the bride one tiny bit.  It wasn't a white horse...but it was alive!

Photo Courtesy of Golden Chic Events

GM: Anything else you would like to share? What else would you like our audience to know about you? 

SD: Other than the extra special design work and the dinners/hang out times I described above, we’d also like to point out that we are a flat-rate company. We don’t charge a percentage of a budget because it’s the same amount of work. This ensures our couples know exactly how much they are spending on a planner when they book us.

If you are interested in working with Golden Chic Events you can contact them at 414.534.6943 or at sara.dahmen@goldenchicevents.com. You can also learn more about this wonderful company on their website,  Facebook page or blog.  

Have you worked with Golden Chic Events? If so, share your experience in the comments below.