The Sweetest Thing: How My Wedding Reception at Clarks Landing Yacht Club Sparked My Wedding Planning Business

by | Oct 16, 2018 | Business Advice for Creatives, Personal & Lifestyle

Growing up, I was consistently surrounded by family. We’re not talking 1 or 2 cousins, we’re talking 22 first cousins. So, a traditional Sunday dinner, would mean a packed house. Within those times, I reveled in helping my Mother set the table, making sure the napkins were folded just right, polishing down the silverware. We weren’t the richest family in the world, but boy did my Mother cherish her fancy dishes and so did I! Planning parties is literally in my blood. When it finally came to plan my wedding, I suddenly had all of this stuff to do while working 55-60 hours a week. How was I going to do it all?

A little back story. I met my husband in May of 2010. It’s my favorite story ever. Serendipity at it’s finest. He attended one of my non-profit events via The Croatians of New York & Los Angeles (CNYLA) in California. He checked in for the event with a friend of mine, but I didn’t remember officially meeting him until around 1:00 AM when my day of work ended. This is where he forgets we “officially” met, but it sparked something that continues to give me goosebumps: all his best friends in Los Angeles were from my father’s village in Croatia. It was nothing less than meant to be.

A few Facebook messages, a 4-hour phone call later, we were both feeling all the tingles. After racking up some miles flying from coast-to-coast, flash forward to 2011, when he proposed under the LOVE sign in NYC. We had dinner afterwards in the cheese refrigerator of Artisanal where all my love (and fromage) dreams became true.


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Engaged and, oh, so young! Who are these crazy kids? Photo by Endless Wave Studios.


What this meant for me was that I get to plan another party. Woohoo! I already helped a few friends plan their weddings, a few bridal showers and I planned marketing events at my job, so this was going to be easy peasy. But, this time, it was MY wedding. Oh, shit. The bar has now been raised. The amount of overwhelm that came over me is exhausting to think about even now.

My then fiancé, now husband, really wanted me to relax for my wedding. He knew how I was during events for work and for my side-hustle, always thinking ahead and making sure things went right. He wanted me to be in the moment for ourselves. It was hard for me to let go of the reigns, but I did. We searched high and low and our photographer recommended an event planner. We met, we chatted, we signed the contract.

Phew. That was simple. I let her know my high expectations since I was in the event industry and that logistics played a huge role in the day of events. I dotted all my i’s and crossed all my t’s. I had an entire dessert bar map delivered and ready to go at Clarks Landing Yacht Club. I had a CD of music ready for the ceremony. All payments were made. Everything was ready to go.

It was the best day of my life. My husband and I repeated to each other consistently that nothing was going to ruin our day, not even rain. As long as we ended up married, that’s all that mattered. Our mantra of the day stayed with us and it really did make a huge difference.

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Our serious face at Clarks Landing Yacht Club. Best cocktail hour ever! Photo by Endless Wave Studios.

Wedding days are hectic, and things go wrong. My wedding planner didn’t turn out the way I expected, but it was a blessing in disguise: it pushed me to go into business for myself. I never want ANYONE to feel the way my wedding planner made me feel on my wedding day. Not to mention bringing me to tears on my honeymoon with her words after the wedding too.

Years later, what I realized is that we were not a match. We were never a match. I wish someone was there to tell me, “Hey, Diane, you need to connect with your vendors. They need to understand you and your vision. They need to communicate with you. They need make you feel safe.”

Unfortunately, I didn’t have that. I felt alone in the process, aside from family and friends.

In the long run, it doesn’t matter. It was still the best day ever and I had wonderful vendors that saved the day. (Here’s looking at you Don at Clarks Landing Yacht Club and Greg from Endless Wave Studios!) Not to mention how our friends and family all came together and solved some big issues within minutes, by simply making a couple of extra phone calls that my wedding planner did not have the capacity to do.

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All my Jersey Shore Wedding dreams come true at Clarks Landing Yacht Club. Photo by Endless Wave Studios.

Going the extra mile. Not being afraid of the unknowns. Thinking on the fly. Having a community of vendors to help. Those were my expectations.

This is what I vow to give my clients. I am your insurance policy of happy. Things may go wrong on your wedding day. Or, they may go perfectly. Either which way, I’ll be there to fix anything that comes in the way of your amazing day.

And, now? I have the utmost honor of being on the Best of The Best List at Clarks Landing Yacht Club. How cool is that!? I got married there and now I get to give back in the same place that my marriage started.

Do you have goosebumps after reading this? If you do, I’d say we’re a match. <3

author avatar
Diane Kolanović-Šolaja Creative Director & Owner
Diane Kolanović-Šolaja, Creative Director and Owner of Dee Kay Events, is an award-winning wedding planner, author, and speaker. Equipped with a dynamic blend of experience in corporate law and technology, a gut feeling with a 90-day plan, and an undying passion for uniting people in celebration, she transformed her vision to help people into a leading tri-state wedding planning service. Diane's approach is deeply personal, blending meticulous planning with a flair for design and a commitment to cherished memories, creating over a decade-long legacy of crafting luxurious, unforgettable weddings. Diane's journey demonstrates her unwavering dedication to celebrating love across the Jersey Shore and beyond, making every marrier's dream day a splendid reality.

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Hey There, I´m Diane

Mom. Wife. Sister. Wedding Planner. Writer. Lover of Live Music and Soft-Serve Ice Cream All Year.


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