“As a child, I would fall asleep to the sound of my parents throwing dinner parties and entertaining guests. My father was a British diplomat, and my mother–who is an artist–was the consummate host. When my parents entertained, everyone got dressed up, and there was always delicious food, soft lighting, and the loveliest of details such as pretty linens and flowers.”
Elaborate soirees, a profusion of porcelain and silverware, and lively conversation late into the night…are you imagining scenes out of an episode of Downton Abbey? For HauteFêtes Owner and Creative Director, Dani Blasena, refinement, culture, and the art of entertaining is a life she understands well. “Originally from England, everything about my upbringing was connected to my father’s (and mother’s) role as a cultural attaché in the British embassy,” she shares. “I grew up with a love of travel, people, and culture, as well as an appreciation for art, good food, and great conversation.”
With such a unique upbringing, a passion for entertaining was instilled in Dani very early on in life. However, it would be much later before she used her passion and rich past to bring her present wedding planning business to life.
While she loves love, Dani did not start her career in the wedding industry. She spent over 20 years working in corporate marketing for big tech companies when she decided to step out of the executive track and start her own business. Interestingly, it was her own wedding journey that launched her into the world of wedding planning and design.
“After the experience of planning my own wedding, it was clear to me that couples could benefit from my heritage and love of entertaining. Additionally, as a former corporate executive, I knew what it was like to be extremely busy. No couple should have to take on a second “full time” job of planning a wedding when they have other pressing responsibilities.” With this realization, one thing led to another, and eventually, Dani founded HauteFêtes, eponymously named for creating fashionably elegant and high-end parties.
Now a full-service wedding planning company, HauteFêtes specializes in hosting elegant weddings and events. Blending European traditional and California contemporary styles, each event is timeless, unstuffy, and one of a kind. Whereas many wedding pros are quick to jump on the latest trend bandwagon for their inspiration and design ideas, Dani does just the opposite. She explains, “To keep things fresh, I tend to stay away from trends. When planning a wedding, I’m focused on capturing who my clients are, their love story, and creating event ‘spaces’ where people can come together, enjoy each other’s company, and celebrate. To every wedding, I bring an open mind, a love of chic, clean, elegant style, an insatiable penchant for fun, and my signature European flair for entertaining.”
When asked what inspires her the most, Dani shares, “I have lived all around the world including Thailand, Turkey, and Spain among many others. I have always had an adventurous and creative spirit and frequently draw on my love of travel, nature, and art for inspiration. I also look to adjacent industries, such as interior design and fashion. I love the work of Athena Calderone, Isabel Marant, and Aerin Lauder to name a few. Most importantly, I love to draw on my clients’ visions and then layer my designs with color, texture, and pattern.”
Such elevated taste and out-of-the-box creativity cannot be found on a Pinterest board or in traditional wedding magazines. It is this attention to detail and desire to produce such distinctive events that make Dani stand out amongst the crowded wedding planning industry. Each HauteFêtes wedding is uniquely designed for each unique couple.
“No two couples or weddings are alike. That means asking a lot of questions–everything from how the couple met, what they love to do together, and how they like to entertain. This paints a picture of their love story, personal style, and how a couple sees their own wedding evolving. In turn, it helps me design a day that is unique to and inspired by them–forgoing trends and copycat Pinterest boards in exchange for a design that’s more personal and memorable. At the end of the day, finding a great planner is really about finding someone you connect with and trust to execute your vision. While there are lots of planners who do lovely work, it comes down to a mutual connection. We do our best work when we connect with our clients and they feel they can be honest and open with us.”
Creating such bespoke events takes careful consideration, planning, and time. It cannot be rushed. This is why Dani only takes on a handful of HauteFêtes couples each year. She shares, “I keep my client roster deliberately small, only taking on clients who share our appreciation for fine details, timeless design, and wonderful guest experiences. From our very first call, I take the time to listen to my clients and learn about their wedding vision and what’s important to them. At the end of the day, we want to create events our clients and guests never want to leave and will be talking about for years to come!”
Dani feels so very fortunate to be able to fuse both her rich global heritage with her passion for entertaining. With this combination, she has not only established herself as a credible and sought-after wedding planner, but she has also curated a business where she can use her experiences, knowledge, and personality to give couples the most perfect wedding experience.
“For me, there is nothing so beautiful as a celebration filled with family, friends, and laughter. I am most proud when my clients enjoy themselves just as much as their guests do. I love watching their faces light up on their wedding day as they see and experience how their vision has come to life. Whether it’s an intimate elopement for two or a destination wedding weekend filled with 250 family and friends, the experiences are all so rich and rewarding. I am honored to be part of such special days.”
HauteFêtes is headquartered in Southern California and with offices in Rome, Italy. The company specializes in producing high-end destination wedding weekends for clients worldwide. When asked about how the experiences in 2020 have impacted her business, Dani shares, “This was a year about agility and resilience. By listening to and being there for our clients, we have adapted and found ways to create experiences that are just as unique and memorable, even if on a smaller scale. For those couples who decided to postpone, we are focused on ensuring their 2021 weddings are even better than they could have imagined.”
As 2021 quickly approaches, Dani stays committed to making each couple’s journey to the aisle spectacular and taking care of their guests in an elevated and authentic manner, both during the wedding weekend and in the year-plus leading up to the event.
Stay tuned for the next blog post where Dani shares her vision for HauteFêtes in 2021, advice for couples planning their wedding during these unique times, and her wedding predictions for the new year.