Finally…FormDecor caught up with Diann Valentine, one of the most sought after Wedding Designers and an acclaimed expert in the industry. Just recently, she was the Host, Designer and Executive Producer of I Do Over, WEtv’s newest wedding show. Decorating her office with eclectic and modern FormDecor furnishings was just the start as she worked closely with FormDecor to make her clients’ wedding dreams come true… The second time around! To quote this talented Diva “FormDecor has the best inventory in all of LA!”
FormDecor: You began your calling as a wedding producer during high school when your cousin asked for help in planning her wedding day. . . It’s obvious with the way your business bloomed that you found your passion at a very young age. As a young adult, where did you find the inspiration to visualize the event and the ability to bring it to life?
Diann Valentine: I have been a dreamer all of my life – meaning that I have always seen the impossible as possible and within my reach. My dreaming certainly helped me bring events to life. I have never believed that any idea or any concept or any creative expression was not within my reach. In fact, budgets have been more of my enemy than anything else.
FD: I’m sure with your career you have seen many changes in wedding trends over the years. Can you name your favorite and most timeless wedding trend?
DV: That is an interesting question because I really do not believe in wedding trends and I certainly have never followed them. And here is what I mean by that statement. Celebrities are often credited as starting trends, but in my experience, whereas they certainly have their own talents and gifts – when it comes to their personal style and particularly their weddings – it’s us, the creative professionals that work behind the scenes in their lives, who help them set the trends. For example, I suggested that Toni Braxton use ‘tiffany blue’ as the color for her wedding, and actress Lela Rochon allowed me to create an all-white wedding for her special day long before it became a design trend. And when Shawn Stockman of NBC’s The Sing-Off and his wife Sharhonda came to me for their wedding, I came up with the concept of the fish tank dance floor that Jennifer Lopez then re-created for her wedding that didn’t happen to Ben Affleck. When a bride comes to me to help her interpret her love story, it is my personal responsibility to help her define it in a way that her wedding does not become a carbon copy of something beautiful that one of my esteemed colleagues has already created. She deserves the best of me and that requires an immense amount of time and work, but anything less would be a disgrace to who I am and what I have built my brand to represent.
FD: I’ve recently started referring to you as a Fairy Godmother – by giving deserving couples a wedding beyond their wildest imagination, you truly ARE a Fairy Godmother. I Do Over premiered on November 13th . . . and in the premiere episode you asked Dana and Mike, “What is the perfect wedding for YOU?” How much direction comes from the wedding couple and how much comes from you, the experienced event producer?
DV: 100% of the direction always comes from my couples. Most women already have an idea of what the perfect wedding means and looks like to them, so I always ask them to share their vision with me. However, my vast experience and creative strengths allow me to listen to all of the descriptions and adjectives that they use as well as the words that are unspoken. What I know for sure is that what the mouth cannot speak, the heart always tells. So I know that there are some feelings deep in a woman’s heart that she doesn’t know how to communicate but she shares this with me by the way she reacts to different words or stories or the way she looks at her fiancé when he walks into the room. If my focus is only on getting through the next job, I will certainly miss all of those important cues and miss the opportunity to perfectly interpret her love story. When a client says things like ‘How did you know that was so important’ or ‘How did you know I would love that’ – my answer is always simple…I listen!
FD: You love to travel to Europe and in fact just returned from a trip last month, what one city could you return to over and over again?
DV: Florence, Italy is probably my favorite European city. It boasts the perfect mix of old-world charm and modern glamour.
FD: When you wake up each morning what’s the first thought that comes to mind?
DV: As soon as my eyes open, I immediately think about making time to pray. Sometimes life can be so busy. Whenever I start my day running and don’t take time to enjoy my quiet time with God, something usually happens throughout the day that throws it off. My prayer time is my time to get grounded, to understand my purpose for the day, to pray for wisdom, discernment and clarity in my decision making. This has been a stressful year with the shooting of I Do Over and prayer has been such a necessary component of my sanity!
FD: Describe your ideal event . . . .
DV: An exquisite and intimate dinner for two people in love where I can create an environment from scratch. LOVE is my biggest source of inspiration…other than Tom Ford. I treasure the opportunities when I can assist a couple with interpreting that love which is so intimate and personal. My intimate parties are never filled with all of the usual components of rose petals, flowing fabric and champagne, but they are always filled with L-O-V-E! And my experience is that love looks different to every woman in love. Most people expect me to look forward to the big ‘over the top’ wedding but I prefer the quiet moments that sometimes only two people know exist.
FD: We love that you are a fan of FormDecor’s furnishings… What is it about working with FormDecor that keeps you coming back for more?
DV: There are so many furniture and décor rental resources in our industry, but many of them offer a collection of items that have been designed by the owner of the company with an endless amount of matching pieces. FormDecor’s inventory allows me to exercise my own design skills by choosing an eclectic mix of unique furnishings that collectively tell a cohesive story. I’m always able to use one or two elements to anchor a room and then build upon it with other elements. The days of white modern lounge furnishings bore me! I can always count on you to keep adding new pieces to the footprint of my design projects. The stories that I have created using FormDecor furnishings are not contrived but rather stem from my own heart and the vision that I bring into a project. I’ve often said that FormDecor is a resource that true designers lust over!
FD: What’s your technique in bringing the visual to reality when planning/designing an event . . . what are your favorite tools?
DV: Most clients are very visual and struggle with understanding the overall vision of a project. Many of the projects that I design have a number of elements that do not exist but are elements that I am proposing. It is impossible to effectively tell a client my vision. I always have to show. The following tools have assisted me in doing this incredibly successfully:
2. 3-D Renderings
4. Color Environment Drawings
5. 3-D Modeling
6. And of course all of the usual suspects such as fabric, mood boards, flowers, table set-ups and props
FD: WHO planned your wedding!? Any fun Diann Valentine wedding pics in the vault that you’d care to share?
DV: I planned my own wedding which was very challenging. The logistics were easy but the design was tough. I think because I am aware of the vast array of possibilities that can be achieved, it is always tough for me to settle on one specific design direction for myself. In the end, it was a great eclectic mix of all of the things I loved at the time, which included several pieces from FormDecor. Also, I planned a surprise wedding! My desire was not to plan a wedding but to get married in a simple ceremony alone in Italy. My family was so disappointed and thought I was behaving selfishly. So we decided to host an engagement party in the Royal Penthouse at The Beverly Wilshire Hotel. In the middle of our party, we surprised our families and were married right there in the middle of the dance floor! The next day we left for Italy where we married again alone in a private castle on Lake Maggiore. I have kept my wedding personal and stored in our family archives, but here are two images that I have shared:
Mike Colon shot our wedding and I didn’t even tell him that the engagement party was a wedding!
This is outside of the castle where we married again on Lake Maggiore, Italy!
FD: Weddings… Events… Interiors… Invitations… Author… TV Host… Mother… Wife…Fairy Godmother… Can you possibly name one thing you absolutely cannot do and laugh at yourself for even trying?
DV: I am the worst cook in the world. My daughter is a much better cook than me and my husband handles all of the cooking in our home. I always tell people that success will cost you something and in my case, it was time in the kitchen. And I was so focused on my career for so many years, I no longer have any desire to cook or learn any wonderful new skills. Thank God for Whole Foods…they have catered many of my social gatherings at my home!
About Diann Valentine
From humble beginnings to soaring above and beyond achieving her wildest dreams, internationally acclaimed wedding, event and interior designer Diann Valentine continues to turn fantasy into reality as this vivacious innovative mastermind gives couples around the world the wedding of their dreams. The incredibly sought after and admired Valentine is the creative genius behind the jaw dropping weddings of Usher, Martin Lawrence, Toni Braxton, Kelis and Nas, Lela Rochon, and Boyz II Men crooner Shawn Stockman, just to name a few. Valentine is also the author of Weddings Valentine Style: Rich Inspiration For Every Woman’s Dream Day. As if being a renowned event producer and designer sought after by top celebrities and publishing a book wasn’t enough, Valentine has also added invitation designer to her plethora of pet projects with her new collection from Wedding Paper Divas. Valentine is also the Host, Designer and Executive Producer of I Do Over, WEtv’s newest wedding show that premiered on Sunday, November 13th at 10pm while she was juggling the demands of the celebrity wedding for Evelyn Lozada (Basketball Wives) and Chad Ochocinco. In the event world, Valentine is a genius. In wedding design, Valentine is one of the most sought after experts in the business. As an author, Valentine is mixing traditions and modern trends to be truly unique. As the host of “I Do Over” Valentine is a dream fulfiller. As an invitation designer, Valentine gives brides with a love of color a new voice. And as a proud African American woman, Valentine is a pioneer. With many titles above her head, Valentine is just getting started.
Diann Valentine lives in Los Angeles with her husband Damon Haley. For more information, please visit www.diannvalentine.com.
Checkout FormDecor’s Youtube Channel for more Diann Valentine video clips.