Course, New Text Introduce Students to the Rigors of Wedding Planning

Posted: July 9, 2007 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

wedding ceremony
Mason students’ interest in wedding planning inspired a new course and textbook.
Photo by Rodney Bailey from “Wedding Planning and Management: Consultancy for Diverse Clients”

By Colleen Kearney Rich

The summer before she started graduate school, Maggie Daniels found herself working at a country club where two to four weddings a weekend were held. “That was my initiation to the world of weddings,” she says.

Maggie Daniels
Maggie Daniels
Photo courtesy of Maggie Daniels

After that introduction, Daniels discovered she couldn’t stay away from event planning. “Finally, I accepted that I was hooked,” she says, and she went back to school for a PhD in tourism and events management. She joined Mason’s School of Recreation, Health and Tourism as an assistant professor.

Daniels soon found she was not alone in her interest in wedding planning.

“The events management students always wanted to focus their projects on weddings,” she says. “It was an area of great interest for our students.” That led her to think that perhaps Mason needed a course on wedding planning. But she knew it was going to be a hard idea to sell.

“It was going to have to be a tough class in order to convince the curriculum committee that this is academic work,” she explains. She created a challenging syllabus with “hard-core content,” and soon the course was approved.

Filling a Need

But as Daniels was preparing to teach the class for the first time in 2005, she found that none of the existing texts really met her needs. She muddled through with what she was able to pull together from various sources and brought event planners and other vendors into the classroom to share their expertise.

That’s how Daniels came to work with Mason alumna Carrie Loveless, MBA ’95, who is the owner of Carried Away Events, a wedding planning and events management company in Washington, D.C.

The new course was a popular elective. When Daniels needed someone to teach another section of the course, she turned to Loveless. Before they knew it, the two were hard at work creating their own textbook.

Wedding Planning and Management cover

“We recognized the need for such a book in the market, and in less than two years, we wrote, edited and had it published,” says Loveless. Their text, “Wedding Planning and Management: Consultancy for Diverse Clients,” came out this spring.

“We literally went into the trenches and did tons of interviews,” says Daniels. The book features descriptions of real weddings and how couples navigated cultural considerations and still had their dream wedding, as well as vendor profiles in which the authors asked caterers, florists and others to expound on their wedding experiences.

The project really got interesting when photojournalist Rodney Bailey, one of the most sought-after wedding photographers in Washington, D.C., agreed to let the authors use his photography to illustrate the book.

“Rodney’s photographs are so beautiful. It just wouldn’t have been right to print them in black and white,” says Daniels. The publisher, Butterworth-Heinemann, a division of Elsevier, agreed, and the coauthors found themselves with an elegant, colorful 528-page volume that looks more like a coffee table book than an academic text.

Combining Years of Experience

Reviewers in the industry have called their book “the most comprehensive work on wedding planning ever produced” and have commented on its perfect blend of academic insight and real-world practicality. The combined years of experience in the field that the two authors share has likely made the book a success.

Carrie Loveless
Carrie Loveless
Photo courtesy of Carrie Loveless

Loveless had been coordinating corporate events such as store openings and celebrity appearances for more than 15 years before starting her own company in 2002.

“With only a BA in English [from Chestnut Hill College in Pennsylvania], I began to feel as if I needed the business acumen that an MBA would give me in order to advance my career,” she says. “Creating my own business was a dream, and completing my MBA helped to make that dream come true.”

Over the course of her 20-plus-year career, she has staged social events domestically and internationally for parties of 20 to 5,000.

As for Daniels, she has “retired” from hands-on planning and, by concentrating on research and teaching, now sees herself as “a consultant to the consultants.” She believes vendors opened up to her as she did the interviews for the text because they did not view her as professional competition in this new role.

Both Daniels and Loveless keep in touch with students who have passed through the class, TOUR 190, “offering encouragement and advice on how to break into the field,” says Loveless.

“There is something very energizing about interacting with students who are truly engaged in the materials at hand,” says Daniels. “I am always glad to hear from former students who are making their mark as event managers. Students saying that my class was a positive influence in their career choice or that they applied some aspect of the book to planning a wedding brings me great joy.”

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