North Carolina native, Courtney Ajinca created quote the name for herself after taking a passion of hers and turning it into something far bigger than she ever knew. With her creative eye, she has been able to create memorable events for people across the world. The mastermind’s artistic visionary is truly one of a kind and with each year that passes, her love for what she does as a celebrity event planner and interior designer truly illuminates in her work. We caught up with her in the midst of the global pandemic to discuss the industry of event planning during this time, planning Cynthia Bailey and Mike Hill’s wedding in the year 2020, and much more!
Tell us how you first got into event planning.
I started off doing small events for family and friends. I’ve always loved getting people together and making them feel welcome. That was pretty much my mission behind it. Once I started doing them, my husband noticed that I was actually good at it and mentioned that I should try to take it seriously. I did and I haven’t looked back.
How would you describe being a celebrity event planner during the global pandemic?
I would say that being an event planner during the pandemic has been extremely challenging. At the beginning, it was very scary because we didn’t know what was going on, there was a lot of uncertainty around everything. Once we realized that people wouldn’t be able to gather in groups of more than ten or 15, I think that’s when reality really hit that we’re not going to be able to work and do the magnitude and scale of events that we’re used to. My events start at 75 peoples and go up to 200 or 300 guests. That really set in because once you realized that an event can only have ten people, the budget is set for a guest amount of just ten people. We were affected financially, and a lot of my events were cancelled. I really only had one event on the calendar for 2020 once COVID hit and that was Cynthia Bailey’s wedding. Had it not been for her wedding, I probably would have lost my mind because it still gave me an outlet to be able to design and create through the pandemic. A lot of people were not as fortunate and lost all of their clients. In the event industry, they came up with a quote that was “Postpone, don’t cancel. Postpone, not cancel” in order to encourage our clients to postpone their events to 2021. Some people did. A lot of my events that were on the calendar for 2020 got cancelled but I was blessed to have a lot of micro-weddings book with me during the pandemic. I had a lot of people that had destination weddings set for 2020 that got cancelled. They came to me to do their micro-wedding and virtual wedding.
What was it like planning Cynthia Bailey and Mike Hill’s wedding?
Planning Cynthia and Mike’s wedding was extremely challenging planning a wedding through COVID. Honestly, I was blessed to be able to have such nice, kind, go-with-the-flow clients. Cynthia is so chill and laid back, she is honestly the best bride I could have possible had during this time of COVID. We took everything as it came to us and just made it work. The governor said, ‘Okay, you can only have 20 people,’ and we took it down to 20 people. Once everything opened back up in Atlanta and they allowed larger crowds, we boosted the guest count back up and accommodated the different protocols that were mandated from the government such as social-distancing measures. The venue where the wedding was held is extremely large. We were able to have 20 people per certain amount of square feet. We just calculated that and realized that we could have 200 guests. We just made it work with the different mandates. It was extremely challenging and on top of that, a lot of people don’t realize that there was a hurricane that hit Atlanta literally the day of the wedding (laughs). Leading up to the wedding, the week before – we were questioning whether we would be having it inside or outside. We had to go back and forth between that a few times the week of the wedding before we finally decided to have the wedding inside – thank God we did because it was a downpour (laughs) on the wedding day. Overall, planning their wedding was super rewarding and I think we are forever bonded, having gone through such a stressful event together.
What advice would you share with planners in the midst of the pandemic?
I just want to tell people to keep going, keep creating, this will not last forever. Keep learning. I’ve taken so many different courses during the time of the pandemic and I have also taught my own courses. Just keep creating because once this is over, everyone is going to be ready to congregate and celebrate. Be ready, able, and with the vaccine, I think we will be celebrating sooner than later. Stay ready so you don’t have to get ready (laughs).
What are you currently working on and what can we expect to see from you in 2021?
Currently, I am working on some different installations at venues. I have a few classes that I want to plan and I’m just creating different designs that I want to implement for my clients in 2021. I literally wake up every morning and envision different events, color schemes, and different arrangements. I’m also ready to take my Flower Fridays on Instagram to the next level so people will have two things to look out for this year from me.
For more on Courtney Ajinca, click here.
Featured Image by Breonna Collier