Event planning can be so stressful! But hiring an event coordinator for your special event–from showers and weddings to graduations and birthdays to celebrations of life–can give you the party you are dreaming of without the stress, and imagine your planner coming right to you! Event coordinator Zakiyyah Niang, owner and designer with Mobile Matrimony & More in Winston-Salem, NC sat down with me to chat about her creative event services and how she helps design any event you can imagine with grace and flair! I hope this conversation helps you as you think about your next event!
Q&A with Zakiyyah Niang, Event Coordinator in Winston-Salem, NC
What is your background and experience? What personal and professional experiences have prepared you for being an event coordinator and planner?
Professionally, I have a background in Human Services and Counseling in the Mental Health field which has been my bread and butter for the past 21 years. I have provided services in some capacity to youth, young adults, adults, and seasoned individuals; basically all people, so I consider myself a people-person. I am also a professional vocalist and actress which was bequeathed to me from my parents and ancestors since birth. Since then, I have been consistently practicing and perfecting my craft, appearing in numerous productions with the North Carolina Black Repertory Company and other local theatrical companies. I have also appeared in a movie, when I was an adorable kiddo, and lended my vocals to some professional studio recordings. Most recently, I have been casted in the Piedmont Opera’s upcoming production of Ragtime. Being in theatrics and on the main stage for many years, I am well-versed on what it takes to create a special, once-in-a-lifetime moment and provide an unforgettable experience for an eager audience. Basically, everything that most people dream about when considering their engagement, wedding, baby shower, milestone birthday, and in some cases their divorce–yes, I have had requests for divorce parties too. Being the mother of four children, I became an instant party planner, caterer, decorator, organizer, and even a referee at times which can be very useful [at family events]! So, I would say I have loads of preparatory experiences, not to mention I attended an all-female high school and college which should prepare anyone for anything.
Mobile Matrimony and More came about during a conversation I was having with a friend who was brainstorming with me on some business ideas. We had come up with several ideas that still may make an appearance some day, but are on the back burner for now. I was telling him how much I loved seeing people in love and how much I loved making people happy and how I wanted to incorporate my love for design into a business. He was thinking that I was going to start a dating service, but I was not too keen on that idea. It did, however, put my thoughts in motion.
As I stated before, I had been doing small event decorating and party planning for my friends and family just as a favor for years. It is therapeutic for me and I started thinking of ways I could turn my passion into a profession. I knew that I wanted to offer decorating, but I also wanted to offer so much more. I wanted to be able to help people navigate through the entire experience of celebrating life one event at a time, which is my slogan by the way. I also wanted to offer a more efficient way for people to celebrate their love for one another in an intimate way, thus, Mobile Matrimony was born. I was thinking Vegas-style with me showing up in my cargo van with all the bells and whistles with a package deal to offer the officiant, the music, the bouquet, some props and decor, a cake, and even a destination location because everything is mobile from your backyard to the beach. You know, tie the knot on the spot–which is another one of my slogans.
This is still an option for my clients, but most generally opt for something a little more formal. Mobile Matrimony and More was added out of necessity because I was in demand for more than just weddings but I loved the name of the business, so I expanded a bit.
What services does Mobile Matrimony and More offer and to whom? What kinds of events do you plan?
Mobile Matrimony and More offers private and corporate event consulting, planning, decor, and coordination. Services are offered to, you guessed it–ALL PEOPLE! Mobile Matrimony and More has taken pride in helping make dreams come true and the last time I checked, dreams don’t have limits. So, if you can dream it, we can facilitate it. The majority of our events have been wedding and birthday celebrations, however, I have also provided live dove displays for some funeral services as well, so I can generally accommodate any event.
Tell me about your events planning team!
They are awesome which pretty much sums it up! But for the sake of this interview, I will elaborate a bit more. My very first employee was my twelve-year-old son. He has a true gift with following directions and [holds the title of] MVMMAMA: Most Valuable Mobile Matrimony and More Associate. He has already started talking about taking over the business when I have retired or expired, whichever comes first. Mobile Matrimony and More has given me the opportunity to help use the business as a tool to teach him life lessons about work ethics, financial responsibility, and even overcoming obstacles and troubleshooting whenever an issue arises.
In addition to my son, I have some really amazing friends and family who will step in when I call. They have been my lifeline and are willing and ready to help execute the vision for any event we have without hesitation. I have even had one of my beautiful brides double back to work and help me with other events because she was so impressed with our professionalism and precision.
What does Mobile Matrimony and More offer that is unique to you?
The unique quality that I bring to this industry is first-hand experience with professional production and performance being that I have a theatrical flare, some would call it flamboyant, but I call it fabulousness . Think about it, an event is just a large-scale or an intimate performance for your closest friends and family to get them to feel some type of emotion and join in on your cause which generally requires an organized production and maybe even a few good actors. I also have a natural ability to visualize and create almost anything I attempt. This ability has been good and bad in some ways because I am always the one to get drafted to actually put things into motion when working on a group activity.
Tell us about a recent favorite event. What was the dream that you made come true?
The most recent event that was my favorite was a wedding which had the theme of Beauty and the Beast. I was very excited about the vision and the plan when I had the consultation with the couple because I went into production mode. The couple wanted everything to be a memorable and unforgettable day from the detail of the wedding program which was magazine-style to the sparkler send off.
The wedding ceremony space symbolized the enchanted forest where the couple met, so I incorporated simplicity with a clean, crisp look. The aisle was flanked with lit white birch trees leading to the altar which was flooded with brass candlesticks and a simple round arch combined with a white chiffon backdrop and romantic red drapes and roses[, providing the single] pop of color in the space. As the guests entered they were greeted with an antique mirror announcing an unplugged ceremony and the beautiful white doves perched on their branches in a rustic cage. The cocktail hour provided symbolic glimpses of the main characters from the story. Lumiere, Mrs. Potts, Chip, and Cogsworth were clustered together on display as guests dined and enjoyed signature beverages. The reception space represented the castle and showcased 3-foot silver candelabras, with velvet runners and more brass candlesticks. [R]ustic farm tables were draped with garlands of red and blue roses encasing antique book stacks with candle-lit lanterns. The dance floor also was outlined with lanterns leading up to the sweetheart table which displayed the enchanted rose in a glass cloche.
Yes, dramatic productions definitely evoke my inner novelist.
What does the future look like for Mobile Matrimony and More?
Mobile Matrimony and More currently has expanded to being able to provide an intimate event space for up to 60 people at our office location in Greensboro. In addition, I want to be able to expand our services to incorporate and offer premarital and marital counseling. If my dreams were to come true, I would have an actual warehouse that could offer office space for counseling, event space for private and corporate gatherings, storage space for all of the props, linen, chairs, and tons of silk flowers I own, as well as a space for me to be creative with sewing, crafting, and building even more props and decor.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Overall, I am grateful for the role I have been able to play in the lives of people who entrust me with some of the biggest events of their lives. Trusting someone to actually show up and give you excellent customer service to the point that you don’t have to worry about anything is a very big honor I don’t take lightly.
I pride myself on treating all of my clients like members of a Royal Family–my family–regardless of their budget. I have worked with budgets that only afforded a balloon arch and plastic table cloths on outdoor picnic tables and they received the same quality services as someone with a five-figure budget. I love the way special events make people forget about the woes of life even if it is only for one day.
Life has taught me to be intentional and has also taught me to celebrate people while they are here. So why not have a garden party with 10 of your closest friends, or a slumber party with an ’80s theme, or a birthday party for yourself on a year that doesn’t mark a milestone, or a corporate meeting that celebrates your appreciation for your employees, or maybe even a mobile wedding with yours truly singing Ave Maria from the back of a white cargo van in your driveway?
The possibilities are endless and I want to be able to help ALL PEOPLE celebrate life one event at a time!
Q&A with Zakiyyah Niang, Event Coordinator in Winston-Salem, NC
I hope that hearing about the services Zakiyyah offers through Mobile Matrimony & More is helpful to you and gets your creative ideas flowing!
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