“We want to help give couples their time back during their engagement!” Julie Blakey, owner of Refined Romance, and her team uphold two of the most important qualities wedding planners can have: passion and professionalism. We have seen many Refined Romance-planned weddings come to life at The Laurel. A Refined Romance wedding always paves a way for a feeling you can’t find just anywhere — the feeling of calm, happy, and proud brides.
Julie Blakey (above image), Refined Romance / StarDust Celebrations team (below image)
We were honored to catch up with Julie Blakey to learn more about Refined Romance, their unprecedented services they offer couples with big visions for their wedding day, her top tips for the newly engaged lovebirds, and how Refined Romance gives couples back their time during their engagement. Not to mention their recent merger! Enjoy!
The Laurel: Tell us about the early days of Refined Romance!
Julie Blakey: We have a unique background. What began as a girl working from her dining room table in 2009 quickly grew into a business doing somewhere around 40 weddings each year with a small team of part-time planners. After a few years of this, we were able to take on a couple of amazing full-time planners, something that is very difficult to do in the wedding industry since everyone has 100% turnover of clients year in and year out.
In 2018 our team will do 75 weddings, ranging from full-service planning and design clients all the way down to month-of coordination. We've come a long way and are so honored to continue to plan with and stand alongside our amazing clients during this special time in their life!
TL: What makes Refined Romance unique?
JB: We pride ourselves on many things, but our people and our processes are what set us apart. We make planning enjoyable for our clients and "understandable" for them. It can be so overwhelming and by nature is a very emotionally driven time and our team is there for them every step of the way, ensuring that the design and details are handled so they can enjoy being engaged and making those memories during this special season.
TL: What can a client expect in their first meeting with you?
JB: After coming in for a complimentary consultation where they are able to meet our team, we jump right in with their first planning meeting! Depending on the package they have with us we will go over different things, but everyone comes out of the meetings saying the same things: how grateful and happy they are with their decision to be working with our team!
We hear so often that brides don't know why they thought they could do this on their own and we love hearing this because it is the reason we do what we do. Weddings take a lot of time, knowledge and experience, and oftentimes brides don't realize this until they are knee-deep in it and wish they could go back and have a pro involved from the very beginning.
TL: What do you and your team love most about planning weddings?
JB: I think for each one of us there's something a little different, but I personally love seeing the weight and stress of it all roll off their shoulders. There's usually a moment early in the planning process where there is an actual sigh or exhale....it's like they are settling in to fully realizing that we have it under control and it's not all their responsibility.
TL: Did any moments stand out in weddings you helped plan at the Laurel?
JB: Yes! First of all, we love The Laurel! From the look and feel of the venue to their wonderful and kind staff, it's a joy to be there! Two moments stand out to me. Last year one of our most daring couples learned the steps to Dirty Dancing's Time of My Life — lift and all!! It was such a fun moment and so different from what we usually see at weddings. She also had a floating wall of desserts — a girl after our own heart!
Another sweet moment was when one of our grooms came to us about surprising his bride with a special dance. Her father is no longer with us and he arranged for all of the father-figures in her life to come dance part of a song in memory and honor of her dad. It was such a tearful moment — all those men standing in the gap and literally showing their love and support for her. It was one we'll never forget!
TL: What's your top advice to a newly engaged couple just entering in to wedding planning?
JB: Hire a pro!! These three little words can make their lives, and the lives of those around them, so much better during the planning period. It's not a sign of defeat to get someone on your team. It doesn't mean you're not capable or detailed or able to design, it just means that things will be that much better and free you up to enjoy this time. That's what we're passionate about. So often a couple gets engaged and then all their free time goes towards planning and the focus shifts from their fiancé and the excitement of it all and gets pulled down with tasks and to-do lists. We want to help give couples their time back during their engagement!
TL: Would you like to add anything else?
JB: We recently announced an exciting merger with Weddings by StarDust, a division of StarDust Celebrations, making us one of the largest planning firms in DFW! Our team of trained and certified planners offers month-of, partial- and full-service planning and design for brides of all budgets! In addition to planning, our clients can receive bundled discounts when they also purchase their wedding gown, bridesmaid attire, Mothers-of-the-occasion attire, tuxedos and even stationery services from us. We're here to make things as smooth as possible, backed by friendly and knowledgeable staff and planners!
Thank you, Julie! We can’t wait to see where this exciting merger will take you and your team. We wish you all the best!