Sometimes a gust of wind topples a vase and shatters it. Sometimes the wedding officiant is late. Sometimes attendants are uncooperative, family members are estranged, and there are crayon-covered floors or gooey chafing dishes to be scrubbed.
Lindsey Huddleston, co-owner of dandyLion alternative event planning, tackles all such wedding-day challenges armed with a ready supply of fishing line, duct tape, creativity and enthusiasm.
“[rquote]The wedding day goes so fast,” Huddleston said. “We try to handle every detail so that our clients can just enjoy their time together and have the experience.”[/rquote]
Huddleston joined the Vanderbilt School of Medicine admissions office in 2007. She said while she enjoys being part of the medical school community and meeting applicants from all over the world, she also needs an outlet for her creativity and a way to express her “fringe” side – the part of her that’s drawn to the punk, rockabilly, geek, LGBT and ska subcultures.
She found her inspiration at the bridal shower she gave for a friend. “I took care of the details behind the scenes,” recalled Huddleston, “and my friend was able to spend time with her family who couldn’t come to the wedding. That was awesome – like breathing for the first time.”
After that experience, Huddleston pitched the idea for an alternative event planning business to a friend, and together they founded dandyLion in 2009.
What makes dandyLion event planning “alternative” is the focus on helping people connect without the constraints of social pressures, stereotypes or external definitions of who you should be, who you should be with, how you should look or how you should celebrate, Huddleston said. Whether it’s a wedding, a hog roast or a disco party, dandyLion encourages clients to give themselves permission to do what makes them happy.
For one couple, it was a carnival-themed wedding at Loveless Barn complete with belly dancers and a stilt-walking balloon artist. For another, it was a rockabilly wedding where the bride ate pie instead of cake at the reception and wore a stunning black strapless gown that accentuated her equally stunning tattoos.
Some bridal salons are less than happy to see a tattooed bride walk into their shop, and some planners won’t work with gay or lesbian couples. But Huddleston’s commitment to helping people connect applies to everyone. While many of her clients have felt ostracized by traditional wedding and party planners, Huddleston’s dandyLion actively markets to the alternative sector.
“Clients will say, ‘I didn’t think I was going to find anybody. I’m so glad that you can help me,’” she said. “People ask why I don’t move the business to New York or Los Angeles, but I have work to do here. The market is so underserved for the kinds of people I work for.
“I’m part logistics manager, part therapist, part event designer,” Huddleston said. “And I love creating something out of nothing. But at the heart of all that we do is bringing people together. None of the other stuff matters.”
by Donna B. Smith