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. On the cusp of hosting and Co-Executive Producing her new show I Do Over on WeTV, Valentine continues to maneuver between business women, television personality, designer, visionary and lover of love! The incredibly sought-after and admired Valentine is the creative genius behind the jaw dropping weddings of Usher, Martin Lawrence, Toni Braxton, Kelis, VH1 Basketball Wive’s Jennifer Williams, Lela Rochon, and Boyz II Men crooner Shawn Stockman just to name a few.
Born in Oakland, California to a contractor father and a mother who worked in retail, Valentine has always been pushed to settle for nothing less than her dreams. The self-confessed “daddy’s girl” credits much of her success to her father who always told her that she is “smart, beautiful and can do whatever [she wants] to do;” a motto that continues to guide her life.
While attending Oakland’s Skyline High School, the overachieving Valentine was part of the debate team, voted student body president, elected to be her school’s rep for the Oakland School District, and asked –for the first time ever – by her cousin to plan her big day. Honored by and excited for the opportunity, Valentine got to work. She not only enjoyed the excitement and chaos of planning her cousin’s wedding; but found herself really good at it, too. Not wanting to give up on a good thing, Valentine formed her own wedding planning company called Memories, before she even had her high school diploma.
After graduation, Valentine went on to attend college at Cal State Hayward graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration with an emphasis in Marketing. Throughout college, Valentine continued to prosper with Memories and through word of mouth, was hired by the Bay Area’s elite to plan their weddings and events. Some of these weddings included athletes such as NBA star Joe Smith and members of the Fortune 500. As a brand new college graduate, Valentine was a successful event producer who was far ahead of the wedding planner trend that was to follow years later. However, Valentine dreamed of a life outside of the Bay Area. Six years after starting her own company, Valentine closed the doors of Memories and packed up her mattress and TV and drove down to Los Angeles to begin a new chapter in her life.
Upon her arrival in “The City of Angels” Valentine found a small apartment in West Los Angeles to call home. However, Valentine struggled with being taken seriously as a wedding producer and began putting some feelers out for a seeming eminent “plan B.” While soul searching and struggling to find her niche in this giant new city, Valentine received a call to interview for an assistant position at Warner Home Video. As difficult as it is to go from business owner to an assistant, Valentine remembered her humble beginnings and welcomed the opportunity, taking this as a sign that she was destined to be in Los Angeles. But, in true Diann Valentine fashion, she spent little time as an assistant. After only a year and half, Valentine was promoted to the Director of Worldwide DVD Production for Warner Home Video and managed the launch of the DVD platform in foreign countries including China, Korea, Latin America and Europe. A huge accomplishment for anyone, Valentine was particularly proud of her new corner office and position as the only African American in the division.
While extremely proud of her accomplishments, Valentine still wasn’t fulfilled, until a friend referred her as a wedding producer to actress Lela Rochon (Any Given Sunday, Waiting To Exhale). At this time Valentine had an awakening and realized that event design was truly her calling. While still working at Warner Home Video, Valentine single handedly designed and executed the wedding of Lela Rochon to director Antoine Fuqua. All aspects of the wedding, from picking linens to the final dance, were covered by the style and trendsetting bible, InStyle, which solidified Valentine as the expert of wedding design and production. Suddenly, Valentine’s opinion mattered to the vastly growing industry of wedding planning and she was now the “it girl” of the business.
After the Rochon-Fuqua wedding, Valentine left Warner Home Video and her event and wedding production company, D. R. Valentine & Associates, Inc was born. Diann Valentine’s name spread like wildfire all over the publishing world. Valentine’s dinner parties were featured in Essence Magazine and InStyle and sought-after by some of the biggest names in entertainment. Since opening doors at D. R. Valentine, Valentine has brought to life a bride’s dream day for Usher, Toni Braxton, Kelis, Nas, Boyz II Men crooner Shawn Stockman, Chante Moore, Gary Sheffield, LaShawn Daniels, and NBA players Jimmy Jackson, Eric Williams and many more.
After giving wedding and event planning tips on “E! News Daily,” “ABC’s InStyle Celebrity Weddings Special” “Entertainment Tonight,” “CNN,” and “HGTV” as well as doing spreads in Brides Magazine, InStyle, USA Today and Essence, Valentine published her first book, Weddings Valentine Style. The gorgeous, vibrantly colored coffee table book, which features the laced back of Kelis’ stunning emerald and gold wedding dress on the cover, is a combination of beautiful pictorial essays, inspirational messages, and tips from the expert herself on how to achieve the wedding of one’s dreams with the use of colors and modern expression while staying true to the traditions the each individual bride holds dear to her heart. With the success of Weddings Valentine Style, Valentine is currently working on completing the series, this time around focusing on entertaining and interior design, specifically.
As if being a renowned event producer and designer sought after by top celebrities and publishing a book weren’t enough, Valentine hosted “Wedding Day,” from Mark Burnett, the mastermind behind the runaway hit-series “Survivor” and “The Apprentice.” Each episode of “Wedding Day” which aired for one season on TNT featured Valentine and a team of dream makers, including famed food expert Alan Dunn, making the wedding day dreams of a deserving couple go from fantasy to reality. The show took the wedding plans of the couple and threw budgets and limitations out the window as they sought good-hearted volunteers and tapped into their creative craniums to really make the big day, truly magical. More importantly, in addition to giving a dream wedding, Valentine and crew also changed lives by giving the couples a new start on life, whether it was donating a year-supply of food to students of a low-income school where the bride teaches or funding a four-year college tuition to a groom who had to drop out of school to get a job to support his family. From dream day, to dream life, Valentine is making dreams, realities.
And if that were not enough to keep her busy, Valentine has added stationery designer to her plethora of design pet projects. Through an exclusive deal with Wedding Paper Divas, Valentine has introduced a new line of wedding stationery. The designs reflect Valentine’s aesthetic, which includes the use of bold colors and modern motifs inspired by her love for natural wonders of the world. In addition to featuring traditional pieces, such as wedding invitations and save the date cards, the collection will also feature a new product conceived by Valentine called “rainy day cards.” These rainy day cards are small note cards given to guests so they can write words of encouragement for couples to save and read on a “rainy day’ when they need to be reminded of why they chose to commit their lives to one another. Just in time for Valentine’s Day, Valentine will release a Special Edition greeting card through Tiny Prints, Inc. This fun and fashionable card is designed for girls and boys to share the love with their best girlfriends during this exciting and emotional holiday who also shares her name with this annual holiday. The greeting cards can be personalized on-line and mailed directly to all of your best girls – cutting out all excuses to express your love for those that are most important to you.
Next on the horizon is Valentine’s third stunt in the world of television as she prepares to host and Co-Executive Produce I Do Over for WeTV. This fresh take on wedding programming will showcase Valentine’s distinctive design style and untraditional take on weddings. Also through a strategic partnership with Wildflower Linens, Valentine will release a line of luxury textiles for the interior design community. The collection will feature retro, geometric and botanical patterns that express Valentine’s passion for luxurious fabrics from around the world.
Outside of event design, shooting a hit show, designing wedding invitations, creating textiles and making dreams come true, Valentine loves to travel (especially to Europe) and taking in all types of new arts, architecture and cultures from around the world. However, in her world, everything revolves around the loves of her life, daughter Riann and new husband and best friend marketing mogul Damon Haley.
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 maker. As an invitation designer, Valentine gives brides with a love of color a new voice. As a textile designer, Valentine is pushing the limits of home design. And as a proud African American woman, Valentine is a pioneer. With many titles above her head, Valentine is just getting started.
Q&A With Diann Valentine
Diann Valentine: I STARTED MY COMPANY WHILE I WAS STILL IN HIGH SCHOOL AND I NEVER DREAMED IT WOULD BECOME A LIFELONG CAREER. I ALWAYS THOUGHT MY COMPANY WOULD HELP TO FUND MY COLLEGE EDUCATION AND THEN I WOULD BE ABLE TO GET A ‘REAL’ JOB. WELL AFTER COLLEGE, THE REAL JOB I HAD HOPED TO FIND JUST WAS NOT THERE SO I DECIDED TO STICK WITH WHAT I HAD BEEN DOING. AS I LOOK BACK, I LIKE TO THINK THAT I DID NOT CHOOSE THIS INDUSTRY, BUT RATHER LOVE CHOSE ME.
(1) PASSION – YOU MUST BE PASSIONATE ABOUT WHAT YOU ARE DOING BECAUSE IT IS THE ONLY THING THAT WILL GET YOU THROUGH THE TOUGH TIMES AND THE LEAN YEARS. YOU MUST BE WILLING TO FOLLOW YOUR PASSION EVEN IF THE MONEY NEVER COMES.
(2) REINVENTION – EVERYTHING IN LIFE GETS OLD SO YOU MUST CONSTANTLY BE LOOKING FOR MORE WAYS TO IMPROVE OR GROW IN YOUR INDUSTRY. I AM CONSTANTLY LOOKING TO RE-CREATE MYSELF AND GROW BEYOND WHAT I HAVE BEEN DOING THE PREVIOUS YEAR.
(3) HARD WORK – GOOD OLD FASHIONED HARD WORK!
Diann Valentine: I HAVE NEVER SOUGHT OUT CELEBRITY CLIENTS. INSTEAD I HAVE BEEN COMMITTED TO EXCELLENCE AND DOING THE BEST WORK POSSIBLE. THIS JUST LED TO MORE AND MORE OPPORTUNITIES AND I AM SO GRATEFUL BECAUSE I HAVE ALSO EXPERIENCED A GREAT DEAL OF GOD’S FAVOR IN MY CAREER!
Diann Valentine: MY BIGGEST SACRIFICES WERE GIVING UP A SOCIAL LIFE TO CONCENTRATE ON BUILDING A BUSINESS AND A BRAND. I WAS A SINGLE MOTHER AT THE AGE OF 20 SO I KNEW THAT SOMETHING HAD TO GIVE. FOR ALL OF MY DAUGHTER’S CHILDHOOD AND FORMATIVE YEARS, I FOCUSED ON HER AND WORK, WHICH LEFT LITTLE TIME IF ANY FOR FUN! ALSO, I HAVE ALWAYS BELIEVED THAT ANYONE’S MEASURE OF SUCCESS CAN ALWAYS BE DETERMINED BY HOW BADLY THEY WANTED IT.
Diann Valentine: GEARING UP FOR MY NEW SHOW, I DO OVER. I AM THE HOST, DESIGNER AND ONE OF THE EXECUTIVE PRODUCER’S OF THE SHOW AND IT HAS BEEN MY MOST REWARDING VENTURE TO DATE. I’VE ALWAYS WANTED TO TAKE WHAT I DO FOR WEALTHY WOMEN AND CELEBRITIES AND GIVE THE SAME GIFT TO EVERYDAY WOMEN IN LOVE. THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT I DO OVER HAS ALLOWED ME TO DO. I GIVE COUPLES WHO EXPERIENCED A DISASTROUS WALK DOWN THE AISLE AN OPPORTUNITY TO DO IT AGAIN BUT WITHOUT ALL OF THEIR WILDEST DREAMS FULFILLED. IT IS A DREAM COME TRUE. I DO OVER PREMIERES ON SUNDAY, JULY 24TH AT 10PM ON WETV FOLLOWING BRIDEZILLAS!
HERE IS A LINK TO THE SNEAK PEEK OF THE SHOW.
Diann Valentine: IT IS WONDERFUL. AGAIN, IT IS ANOTHER OPPORTUNITY FOR ME TO TAKE SOME OF THE VERY ELABORATE CUSTOM INVITATION PACKAGES I HAVE CREATED FOR MY CLIENTS AND OFFER A MORE AFFORDABLE OPTION FOR EVERY DAY GIRLS IN LOVE. I ALSO AM A BIG LOVER OF COLOR AND I THINK THERE ARE ENOUGH WHITE INVITATIONS ON THE MARKET SO MY DESIRE IS TO INFUSE COLOR WITH BOLD DESIGNS TO GIVE WOMEN A FRESH PERSPECTIVE ON THE WEDDING STATIONERY ENSEMBLE. HERE IS A LINK TO VIEW THE ENTIRE COLLECTION:
Diann Valentine: MY SHOW, “I DO OVER” HAS NOT PREMIERED YET SO IT IS HARD TO SAY WHAT WILL HAPPEN AFTER IT AIRS. WHILE I WAS SHOOTING THE SHOW IT WAS VERY DIFFICULT TO DO ANY OTHER PROJECTS BECAUSE MY SCHEDULE WAS CRAZY AND I WAS NOT REALLY PREPARED FOR THAT. IT COST ME A FEW OPPORTUNITIES BUT I AM NOW BETTER PREPARED FOR WHEN SEASON II COMES AROUND.
Diann Valentine: I AM WORKING ON A LINE OF TEXTILES WITH WILDFLOWER LINENS AND I AM VERY EXCITED TO SEE THEM COME TO MARKET. I AM ALSO IN TALKS ABOUT PRODUCING A LINE OF FURNITURE. DESIGN IS MY FIRST LOVE AND I AM AT A POINT IN MY CAREER WHERE I REALLY WANT TO DESIGN FOR MY OWN AESTHETIC. I HAVE A LOT OF THINGS IN THE WORKS SO STAY TUNED.
BS: What advice do you have for event planners/coordinators who are experiencing hardship or difficulty growing as business owners and/or their clientele?
1. DON’T EXPECT IT TO HAPPEN OVERNIGHT.
2. DETERMINE EARLY ON WHAT DEFINES YOU AND SETS YOU APART FROM EVERYONE ELSE IN THE INDUSTRY AND ALLOW THAT TO BE YOUR SOLE DRIVING FORCE.
3. BELIEVER IN YOURSELF…ESPECIALLY WHEN NO ONE ELSE DOES!