The DPE Academy is a new, women-run, community-focused workshop where experienced planners and creatives help shape and educate the next generation of wedding planners with real life examples and practices.

The mission is to empower aspiring planners to start their business on the right foot, be able to charge their worth, grow their community and network of vendors and thrive at their passion.

This hands-on workshop offers practical learning experience and a unique approach for today’s wedding planners.

DPE Academy - workshop for wedding and event professionals as featured on the Belong Magazine blog

The first Academy took place on February 19th 2017 at the International Country Club in Chantilly Virginia. The Academy was taught by Natalie and other wedding planners native to the greater DC Metro area as well as other creatives in the special events industry offering a wealth of knowledge to aspiring and seasoned planners alike who are looking to enhance their career and skills to grow their business.

The concept was dreamed up and created by Natalie Seng, owner of Designed Perfectly Events. The DPE Academy includes sections specifically geared towards planners who have had no formal training or experience as they entered the industry, while also providing those more seasoned with a refreshed approach. Because of her logistical background, Natalie felt that is was important to provide a “back to basics” type of experiences to ensure the next generation of wedding planners is equipped to run their own successful weddings and events, no matter that situations they may encounter. As a wedding planner, you are a “Jack of all trades” and as that you should have basic knowledge of each area and vendor service within your event.

The mentors include Sarah Pete Rizzie from Sincerely Pete Events, Nar Hovnanian and Sugar Taylor from Taylor and Hov Events, Shalyce Tyson of Sensational Soirees, Brittany Collier of Brittany Collier Studio and Natalie Seng of Designed Perfectly Events.

Speakers included other creatives from this incredible industry such as Marirosa Anderson of Photography by Marirosa, Janet Flowers of Natures of Design, Miriam Liggette from Soliloquy Bridal, Jeff Maszal by Wedding Ceremonies by Jeff, Liz Waylan of DC Rental and there were also a couple of presenters in a special hand-on feature: Areen of Classic Bakery and Graham of Lapel.

There was an unbelievable brunch spread catered by International Country Club as well as something pink and sparkling in their glasses. Attendees dined among their mentors and speakers at a copper and slate inspired table scape by Designed Perfectly Events. The details included copper chargers, copper and black flatware, black napkins the silver accents, black modern chairs, grey linen and of course beautiful florals from Nature of Design. It was a nice little break after a morning of learning and another opportunity to connect with other industry pros. Attendees were advised to sit with someone with which they had not previously talked.

The hands on section featured how to make a boutonniere from scratch, how to deconstruct and cut a wedding cake, how to tie a bowtie, and how to run a successful ceremony rehearsal. There was even a mentor panel discussion for the attendees who were able to ask any questions and were able to get up to six different answers on the topic. The sessions included topics such as work-life balance, workflow, client experiences and on-boarding, how to price yourself and charge your worth, how to construct a solid timeline, the true cost of flowers, branding and social media strategy and so much more.

Attendees were also provided with a one of a kind hand book that held key templates and tips from the experts as well as summaries of most of the sessions taught that day.The event concluded with a small graduation ceremony where each attendee was given their diploma.

Natalie’s vision for this workshop was to provide a hand on learning experience that aspiring planners would not otherwise have access to and fresh content for those more experienced. Experimental learning allows attendees the opportunity to gain valuable hands on experience while being taught by their peers. Most classes, seminars and conferences are now being held online to attract a larger audience or in large classroom settings where attendees might not be as likely to ask questions.

The intimate workshop setting allowed attendees a safe haven for questions, discussions and ideas as well as the opportunity to learn alongside other like-minded creatives. In addition it was important to Natalie that attendees would be able to form long lasting relationships with other creatives, fellow planners and individuals right in their backyard--connections they could continue to foster through coffee dates, mentoring, networking and even assisting each others with upcoming events.

Natalie hopes this workshop helps spread the knowledge and educates the next generation on the fundamentals so that this industry can help elevate the standards for aspiring wedding planners and continue the growth for their own businesses. If you are excited to see what 2018 has in store for you and you are ready to feed your creative and entrepreneurial spirit, you are invited to be part of this extraordinary workshop in early 2018. Details will be announced soon. To stay up to date, please follow us @dpeacademy

Photos via Katie Nesbitt Photography


Natalie Seng is the Owner of Designed Perfectly Events and the Creator and Founder of The DPE Academy. Natalie was born and raised near Düsseldorf, Germany and made her way to the United States at age 19. Captivated by the many opportunities the country had to offer she decided to make this her home.

Natalie Seng started her career in the Wedding and Special Events Industry shortly after her own wedding in 2004. She started as an intern for a local off premise catering company and worked her way up to senior event designer very quickly. Natalie loved the logistical and event design part of her work which essentially helped her to take a leap of faith and branch out on her own. Natalie started Designed Perfectly Events in 2014. While building her business and connecting with other planners she saw how very different everyone was running their business and events alike. Natalie felt that the logistical aspects of weddings and events was something wedding planners could benefit from most. With that in mind she created the DPE Academy in the fall of 2016 to empower esp. aspiring planners to start their business with a logistical and fundamental base. The first DPE Academy was incredibly successful and the second one is already in the works for early 2018.

Natalie’s work has been featured in the Washingtonian Bride & Groom, Bethesda Magazine, The Knot, Inspired by This, MOD Wedding to name a few. She received several vendor voted and couples voted awards for excellence. Natalie lives in Centreville VA with her husband and family.

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