Making Dreams Come True

by Kirstie Bingham

I am where your fairy godmother leaves off,” Laurel Craddock of Dream Day Weddings and Events replies when asked for her business’ elevator pitch. Looking through her work, the colorful, whimsical, creative photos of the weddings and events she’s coordinated seem to be exactly that: a place where dreams come true.

Not every wedding she does has to be an over-the-top Snow White reenactment, though if you want that, Craddock is there for you. As she puts it, she just wants to show people what is possible. In her world there’s no judgment. There are no rules. It’s not about trends. It’s about “making the fantasy happen.” She’s done large and colorful events, like a Storybook Styled Wedding, complete with horse and fairytale cottage, that ended up being featured in two different issues of Belissima Bridal Magazine. She’s even done a Traveling Circus complete with ringmaster, fire hooper and burlesque girls. But she also is happy getting creative doing smaller, intimate events like a private Celtic elopement or a beautiful ceremony for couples celebrating and highlighting their Indian cultural traditions.

Even in the smallest details, Craddock wants her clients to know that there’s no wedding script you have to follow. She points out you can walk down the aisle to Bruno Mars or Guns N’ Roses if you want. She encourages clients to focus on whatever makes you happy, and not to worry about what other people think. As she put it, if a couple wants to have their wedding “underwater, skydiving, or on a pirate ship,” she’ll make it happen.

ECraddock acknowledges that people sometimes have a negative vision of what a “themed wedding” is, and often overreact, thinking, as she puts it, “Holy crap, they’re going to have some Renaissance weird thing.” But she points out that, in reality, every wedding has a theme. “People don’t understand that regardless if it’s a colored-themed wedding, it’s still a theme.”

Some clients come with clear ideas of what they want, but others might need a little more hand-holding. When new clients don’t have a pre-existing idea or plan, she sits down with them to figure out what they like and don’t like, drilling down on each person’s individual passions, interests, ethnic heritage, or anything else that might be important to them. She tries to get to know as much as she can about the couples she works with, and the more they talk, the more comfortable couples tend to be discussing what they want and don’t want on their big day. She also asks them if they’ve seen things at weddings they’ve attended that they love … or hate, including any wedding traditions that they want to eliminate. That way, whether it’s skipping the bridal bouquet toss or incorporating a love of Ohio State football, it’s about making the event unique and reflective of the couple. For example, Craddock highlighted one attention-shy bride who didn’t want to do the traditional first dance, so they invited the couple married the longest from the guests to take to the dance floor instead.

But she’s also flexible, recognizing sometimes people change their minds during the process, and that it’s all about managing personalities. One example she mentioned was a Viking-themed wedding where the country dancing-loving bride started having second thoughts about the overall design idea.

In business since 2004, Craddock has a background in theatre, and she credits it for her being able to come up with — and execute — the bridal party’s dream. “It’s as if I’m playing the movie of this in my head,” she states, seeing all the elements and how to put them together.

Almost all the materials for Dream Day Weddings and Events are created by Craddock herself. If it’s natural, like moss, wood elements, or other foliage, she’ll do the foraging. She tries to outsource as little as possible, preferring that 99% come from her. But for big or unique items, like the Storybook photo background, an oversized open book with a castle and the words, “Once Upon a Time” she does the leg work to find vendors, preferably mom-and-pop stores, that specialize in those particular things.

Craddock knows that her work can inspire other people – the Storybook wedding spawned a copycat someone pointed out to her via Pinterest. She doesn’t use Pinterest, though, because she notes that people are trusting her to create something unique to them, so she doesn’t want to be influenced by other people’s ideas. Craddock knows that her personal creativity makes the business special. Laughing, she notes, “No one’s sitting in my brain, and it’s very weird in there.”

One important note she has for couples entering the planning process is to remember to not put too much pressure on themselves coming into the big day, to remember to enjoy it, and that if anything goes awry, it can be redone. The most important? “As long as at the end of the aisle you’re marrying your person,” she states, “that’s what really matters. People put so much stock on one day, that if anything goes wrong it throws it into chaos. And it shouldn’t be that way.”

Craddock loves what she does, and she especially loves seeing people’s reactions when they attend the weddings. “They say, ‘How did you do that? Where do you find this stuff?,'” to which she replies in true Fairy Godmother fashion, “Bibbidy boppity, I got this.”

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