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Bizymoms Exclusive Interview with Maggie Daniels

1. Was this your area of study right from the beginning? Did you have an interest in this area even as a little girl?

My undergraduate and master’s degrees are both in communication.  I did not get serious about event planning until I was working full-time as a communication instructor and volunteering at special events, and realized that I was enjoying my volunteer work more than my paying job!  So, I went back to school and earned a Ph.D. in tourism, specializing in events management and applied economics.  I absolutely love my career now, so I found my niche! 

2. How have your previous experiences inspired you to be where you are now?
The happiest and most successful people I know are those who are passionate about what they do.  My experience is that sometimes it takes change and courage to find your passion.  You should feel jazzed to wake up every morning and start your day. 
3. You have a son. Congratulations! How do you balance your schedule now?
Joshua is the light of my life.  I have always been career-oriented, so I was not sure how a baby would fit into the picture.  Now my life is barely controlled chaos, and so much richer and fuller than I ever could have imagined!  Luckily, my husband is very involved and we have a fabulous daycare provider.  Having a child is truly the smartest decision I have ever made. 
4. What advice do you give wedding and event consultants to ensure customer satisfaction?
Perhaps the most important thing to do when working as a consultant is to carefully interview potential clients prior to having them sign a contract to determine if your personalities click.  Do not be afraid to turn away clients or refer them to other consultants who would be a better match.  Second, get to know your clients as individuals so that the wedding or event truly reflects their nature and spirit.   
5. You are in the list of Modern Bride's top 25 Trendsetters. How did you get to this point?
I credit my students at George Mason University, who inspired me to create the first wedding planning class in the country offered as part of an academic degree program.  When I designed the course, I had no idea that it was an entrepreneurial endeavor.  I was simply addressing what had become an obvious need in our program.  The popularity and ingenuity of the course resulted in significant media attention, leading to the Modern Bride award. 
6. The article about you on Bizymoms.com says that you are also involved with the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum and the National Park Service. Could you elaborate on this?
I have conducted research projects and assisted with special event assessments for both Smithsonian and the National Park Service.  I am currently working with the National Park Service on a 50-year vision plan for the National Mall & Memorial Parks, whose holdings include icons such as the Washington Monument, Vietnam Veterans Memorial, World War II Memorial, Lincoln Memorial and many other cherished historic sites.  For me, it is an honor to play a role in the future of these incredible structures and surrounding commemorative parklands.
7. A wedding takes time to plan. Did you plan your own wedding? If so how did you juggle work and planning for your own wedding?
I am like most event planners in that my own wedding was very simple.  Also, similar to many couples, we were on a strict budget, since I had just finished graduate school and my husband and I paid for our wedding.  We were married on the beach of the Isle of Palms, South Carolina, which is still my favorite beach.  I did most of the planning but had a tremendous amount of help and support from my three sisters and close friends.  I had the perfect day because I married the man of my dreams, I was surrounded by my family and friends, and I was at the beach!
8. Your work takes an international approach.  Can you explain this outlook?
Most of my work takes place in the Washington DC metropolitan area, known as one of the most culturally diverse locales in the world.  To excel at event planning, a consultant must have a true appreciation of customs throughout the world. 
9. Could you tell us about what your book talks about in 3 sentences?
The first seven chapters offer an overview of the foundations of weddings, including issues related to culture, religion, economics, politics and family dynamics.  The middle fourteen chapters systematically cover everything you need to know to successfully plan a wedding, from theme determination to budgeting, timelines and specific discussion of decision making relating to catering, site layout, attire, transportation, photography, stationery and all other essential vendor areas.  The final seven chapters set forth the essentials of starting a consulting business.  
10. What are some future events that you plan to take on?
One of my favorite aspects of my career is that it is always evolving.  I enjoy working with individuals who are a good fit with my personality and schedule.  On the macro level, I will continue to collaborate with agencies conducting research in areas where I feel I can make a contribution to a valuable cause.     

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