Listen to the Podcast About Weddings by Danica

Podcast for Weddings by Danica

Podcast Summary

In this absorbing episode of Eventful Endeavors, host Mike Sherman chats with Danica Keeton, owner and lead planner of Weddings by Danica. With over six years of experience, Keeton specializes in creating memorable, inclusive weddings. Her focus is not just limited to planning; she believes in crafting unforgettable experiences, making her much more than an event planner – she’s a dedicated best friend to the brides and grooms she works with.

Keeton’s journey originated in the non-profit world, stirring her interest in the event planning sphere. Although she initially pursued a career as a vet, an unexpected public relations class at her liberal arts college sparked a change of heart. Keeton gradually transitioned to the wedding industry after forming connections with community-focused non-profit events and falling head over heels for the wedding planning world during her engagement.

Her work at Weddings by Danica goes beyond traditional planning; her services show deep respect for everyone’s unique vision. Keeton places importance on everything, right from getting the wedding party’s pronouns right to meticulously crafting the petite details on the centerpieces.

Keeton’s ultimate aim? To provide a stress-free wedding experience that’s authentic to each couple’s love story. Keeton invites all couples to connect with her at Weddings by Danica and explore the possibility of creating their dream wedding.

Sprinkled with humor and heartfelt stories, this interview draws a vivid picture of the vibrant, welcoming, and tightly-knit community that makes the wedding industry so unique. From forging close friendships with other vendors to exchanging the occasional horror story, Keeton reveals the lesser-known side of wedding planning. Her passion for the industry eases concerns about horror stories, reassuring that with good vendors, these are rare occurrences – if they even occur at all.

Connect with Weddings by Danica to start your journey towards a dream wedding celebration that is authentically and undeniably you.

Learn more about Weddings by Danica

This interview was provided by Felix and Fingers Dueling Pianos

Podcast Transcript

Mike Sherman (00:25)
Hello everybody, welcome to another exciting episode of Eventful Endeavors. I am your host, Mike Sherman with Felix and Fingers Dueling Pianos. Today I am here with Danica Keeton, the owner and wedding planner for Wed by Danica. I’m so excited to have her here with me today. She is not only the owner and head planner of Weddings by Danica and RFD Weddings.

She has over six years of experience in the wedding industry. Danica brings her expertise as a certified wedding and event planner, specializing in LGBTQ plus weddings through her accreditation with Equality Wed. Her journey began in nonprofit event planning and fundraising where she honed her skills in creative, unforgettable experiences, creating unforgettable experiences. Danica is not only a wedding planner, she is your dedicated wedding planning.

Bestie as an equality enthusiast. She is passionate about every detail of your special day from understanding and respecting your wedding parties pronouns to capturing your unique vision down to the intricacies of your centerpieces. Her goal is to ensure a stress free wedding experience that celebrates your love authentically. I love that. Let Danica bring her passion and expertise to your wedding journey. Connect with her today to start planning the wedding of your dreams. Love that. How did I do? Did I kind of capture your background in as much of a nutshell as we could?

Danica Keeton (01:43)
Yes, absolutely. Thank you for the wonderful intro.

Mike Sherman (01:45)
Thank you.

Yes, well, thank you again for joining me today. I mean, I always like to ask, you know, I know we’ve chatted a little bit before, but tell me a little bit about your journey. You know, what kind of gets you started in the event planning, the wedding industry, what kind of brought you there? Because I always love hearing stories.

Danica Keeton (02:03)
Oh my goodness. It’s been a wild ride. So I never really thought I would be in this industry. I actually went to school to be a vet. I was in science classes, biology, and I luckily went to a liberal arts college where you’re kind of forced to take different classes. And I stumbled upon a public relations class and literally by the second class, I’m like, okay, I think I need to change my major.

Mike Sherman (02:13)
Oh wow.

Danica Keeton (02:28)
And luckily was able to fit in the communications major my senior year, was just a little stressful, but it obviously worked out in my favor. I started planning different nonprofit events on campus. I worked with organizations like the local botanical center, the international family therapy association, and really was just trying to help nonprofits kind of get connected in the community.

with different events and it slowly morphed into the wedding space after I got engaged and I just kind of fell in love with the wedding industry. There’s just such a great community as you know, Mike, the vendors in the area, the couples we get to work with and I’ve just completely fallen in love with this space.

Mike Sherman (03:14)
Oh yeah, that’s amazing. I know that’s kind of the best part about the industry that a lot of I think even brides and grooms don’t see is just kind of the relationships the vendors have with each other and you get to see each other. I mean, there’s like photographers I worked with like over a dozen times. You’re like, oh, you’re here, cool.

Danica Keeton (03:21)
Oh yeah.

Yep, yeah, some of them become your best friends and it’s great.

Mike Sherman (03:31)
Yeah, no, that’s just with social media and everything too. It’s just it’s just a cool way to connect and talk about, you know, and we only talk about good things about Bradton groups for sure. Never complaining at all.

Danica Keeton (03:40)
Oh, yes. I mean, it is fun to exchange a horror story or two, but yes, focus on the good.

Mike Sherman (03:44)
Yeah. But I mean, if you have good vendors, it’s like there’s not going to be very many horror stories, if any. So.

Danica Keeton (03:49)
Yes, exactly. Oh my goodness, yes.

Mike Sherman (03:52)
Well, tell me this now did you kind of did you get into this trying to get into the more of the world of the LGBTQ plus weddings did that kind of happen? Accidentally or like yeah, because that seems to be a big part of what you focus on. So where did you know was that intentional or just?

Danica Keeton (04:03)
Yeah, so I’ve always been surrounded by a very diverse friend group, which I am so fortunate with. And when I started in the wedding industry, I always made it a point to be as inclusive as possible, regardless if someone’s gender or sexuality or the color of their skin or what they believe religiously. I really don’t care. So as I really got involved in the wedding industry, I heard a lot of feedback from

couples where something as simple as asking for a pronoun or not referring to people as bride and groom, as couples, Marriers. I really noticed a lot of that and I made it a commitment to make sure I was providing a safe, inclusive space for all of my couples, for all the vendors, for anyone that identifies as LGBTQ plus or as an ally. So I’ve gone out of my way to do different education focusing on that topic.

because I think it’s such an important thing, especially in this area, to make sure everyone feels welcomed and loved, especially as they’re planning their wedding.

Mike Sherman (05:08)
No, that’s amazing. We love that too. I mean, absolutely. It’s so important. It’s just about love. Don’t worry about everything else. And yeah, we’ve all seen the horror stories of, I mean, two men up there getting married and the deficient says, bride and groom. And you’re like, oh, thanks. Oh, yeah. It’s great that you put such an emphasis on that.

Danica Keeton (05:13)


Oh yes, yeah, and I’m really trying to work with other people to kind of educate vendors, because it is, it’s just those little things like changing your inquiry form, partner one and partner two instead of bride and groom. So we can all make just smaller jobs.

Mike Sherman (05:34)
Yeah, we changed it to, this is your, what’s your first name? And then we say your better half. So it’s like, yeah. So yeah, we like went through and it’s like, it’s not necessarily father daughter dance. It’s like, these are dances. What are the titles of the people dancing? You know, it’s like, yeah, we can like go through and really kind of look with a fine tooth comb. And it’s like, you know, you don’t think about those things.

Danica Keeton (05:49)

Oh yes, and even I catch myself. I was just editing my website this morning. I still had somewhere that said bridal party instead of wedding party. And it’s like those little things that even someone like myself, like it’s really easy to unfortunately step back in your old ways. So definitely always vetting that stuff and seeking, you know, feedback from other people too is just so important.

Mike Sherman (06:02)

Yeah. Gosh, I’m pretty sure ours says wedding party, but now I’m paranoid and I’m going to go check after a minute. I think we caught that one. So that’s amazing. Well, you spoke a little bit about education. I know you mentioned you have some workshops coming up. I’d love to hear a little bit more about that. Is that a big part of kind of what you do? And tell me, tell me some about that.

Danica Keeton (06:19)
I’m sorry.

Yeah, so I actually just became a full -time wedding planner. So I’ve been doing this for over six years already, but as of March of this year, I quit my day job. I was in the marketing world. And one of the things that I’ve wanted to focus on is doing more education. So we do have a few workshops coming up. I’m partnering with Tadmore Tailoring in Rockford to do some more sustainable workshops. So we’re actually going to be doing

exactly one month from today on May 25th, a vision board workshop where we’re going to be working with couples to help them kind of narrow down all the different things that can be planned for their wedding, kind of identify their top three, work on some budget pieces, and then actually create a mood board that they’ll be able to share with their vendors. So we’re super excited about that. We’re going to have like magazines, Chicago style weddings. They donated quite a few magazines that we can use. We’ll have…

dress scraps and fabrics and all that kind of stuff so we can really play with colors and textures and so many different things.

Mike Sherman (07:33)
Oh, I love that. That sounds really cool. Yeah, I mean, I’m sure these things happen. I was like, I’m not even aware of this world and like that these these resources are available to brides because I mean, what a and grooms, you know, it’s like what an overwhelming time of your lives it is. So it’s great to have something like that.

Danica Keeton (07:50)
Oh yes, absolutely. It just gives us a chance to kind of help guide them in that process because so many couples are like, I have no clue where to start. And we’re hoping that we can help with that process just through this one workshop.

Mike Sherman (08:01)
Awesome. Now are you based in the Rockford area? I couldn’t remember exactly if that’s kind of your home or yeah. Okay. I knew you were kind of Chicago giant area, Illinois. So, okay, great. I’ll be in Rockford on the Saturday. I’m at the standard for a wedding out there. So, yeah, me too. It’s my favorite stuff. Yeah, give them a little shout out while we’re here. But yeah.

Danica Keeton (08:05)


Oh awesome! I love that venue, it’s super pretty!

Mike Sherman (08:23)
Yeah, yeah, no, so I love going out there and yeah, it’s great. Do you where do you I mean, do you try and stick mostly to Rockford? Do you do a lot of like Chicago, Madison kind of out in that area or where’s your?

Danica Keeton (08:32)
Holy cow, I will go anywhere that someone wants to send me. So we tend to stay in Illinois and Wisconsin are the most normal. I’m located in Rockton, so like right on the border of Illinois and Wisconsin. So it takes me five minutes to get to Beloit and equidistant Chicago, Madison, Milwaukee. So we’ll go anywhere. I’m starting to get into destination weddings too. I’m actually helping a couple plan their wedding, potentially on the Boston area. So I’m really excited for that.

Mike Sherman (08:42)
Okay, yeah.


Oh cool. Oh yeah.

Danica Keeton (09:00)
And I’m working on becoming a certified travel agent too, is my next little endeavor. So we can help with destination weddings, your honeymoon, all that kind of stuff.

Mike Sherman (09:10)
Nice. Great. Well, I’m heading to Cancun this weekend, actually. So I’ll make sure to let you know if I get any hot tips when I’m down there.

Danica Keeton (09:13)
Ooh, perfect. Love, Kinko, and that’ll be fine.

Mike Sherman (09:19)
Yeah, we’re doing a little company trip some of our sales team and other people like that, you know, we’re going down together So it’ll be it’ll be fun

Danica Keeton (09:25)
That’ll be great. Start some dueling pianos in the lobby of your resort.

Mike Sherman (09:28)
Exactly. I did one wedding in Cancun a couple years ago too, which was very fun. They were like, come down and do the wedding. The only problem is you have to stay for four days because that’s the only package they have. And so we’re like, oh, okay. I guess, I guess I’ll stay for four days. That was great. It was a lot of fun. Well, okay. So talk to me about this. You mentioned that you’re getting ready to kind of launch some other maybe sides of the company, more like engagement planning, wedding consultation, some stuff like that. So kind of, yeah, what’s that looking like right now? Where are we at?

Danica Keeton (09:33)
Oh, that sounds fun.



Yeah, yeah. So what I’ve noticed is, yes, we have like wedding planning and coordination packages, but they’re not like one size fits all. There’s so many different needs that a couple can have, budget constraints, all that kind of stuff. So we’re trying to come up with some different things that can help couples at any point in that wedding planning process. So we’re going to be adding engagement planning. So anyone who’s planning to propose to someone, whether you’re both planning it and we need to work on both of those together.

or it truly is a big surprise that you don’t want your partner to know about. So we’re working with some other vendors to have some inclusive packages for that. So thank your florist, your photographer, us coordinating the whole thing, trying to pull in some restaurants in the area as well. And then we’re also working on like bridal showers and bachelorette party planning.

And then the consulting piece is what I’m most excited about, because that’ll be an hourly service. So say you’re a DIY person, you know, making a bunch of stuff for your wedding. Well, it’s like, okay, what else do I need to figure out? What kind of decor do I need to think about? Like, who can I work with to set this up? And we help you come up with a whole game plan or kind of figure out one certain area of your wedding that you’re struggling with. So it’s very just hands on for someone that may just feel a little stuck.

but they don’t think they need a full wedding planner or a day of coordinator or event manager.

Mike Sherman (11:20)
Yeah, no, that’s so amazing. And then just in general, tell me this too. I mean, do you do more like day of coordinating or do you do more like the full scale event planning? Or is there one you kind of specialize in? I know some people it’s kind of one or the other or both, or it’s kind of whatever the bride means. So I’m always curious about that.

Danica Keeton (11:34)
Yeah, so we probably do a lot more day of coordinating or event management, just because that seems to be the couples that we end up with. So we do a lot of, I call them the mid -tier weddings, so budgets about 20 ,000 to 60 ,000, which sounds like quite a range. But we work with them to really keep everything, you know, in a central area. All of our clients, they get access to a client portal, which is actually a whole website we build out for them to help them.

track all the planning details, all of the little details, all of their vendors. We give them access to a bunch of different worksheets and tips too to help just keep everything flowing and so you don’t feel like you’re forgetting things or you have this big lull where you’re just like, oh my gosh, I’m so stressed right now because I don’t know what I need to be doing.

Mike Sherman (12:20)
Yeah, oh no, that’s amazing. Yes, that sounds awesome. Well, great. So let me jump over into the, you know, a little bit more specific to kind of the wedding industry. What, I mean, just in your expertise, you know, what’s kind of in right now? Like what are some trends that are kind of coming up this year, like maybe in the future? And what’s kind of on the way out? You know, like, I mean, I certainly have my thoughts on it all. And I always get different answers. I’m always curious, you know. So what are people into these days?

Danica Keeton (12:44)
Right? Holy cow, I feel like the things that people are starting to get really into is definitely more of the entertainment aspect. So instead of just having like your DJ or dueling pianos or something like that, they’re bringing more in. I’ve seen weddings that have like performers there that have like dancers and really cool outfits. I saw someone in a dress that held like champagne flutes full of champagne that guests could walk up and grab it off this.

Mike Sherman (13:05)
Oh yeah.

Danica Keeton (13:12)
with really cool looking metal contraption that someone wore. People are just, it seems like they’re really focused on that guest experience, which I think is really cool. And then probably the decor, everything seems to be getting a lot more personalized and people are really pulling in like what makes them a unique couple. Like my partner and I, we are very, very nerdy. So it was all these little things like he plays Dungeons and Dragons.

So we had floating candles and usually you’ll put like rocks or something in there. We used clear D20 dice or polyhedron type dice and put those in there. So just like those little bits that are more personal to the couples we’re seeing a lot of. So, and I’m really excited for that. I love personal pieces. And then things that are on their way out. Holy cow.

Mike Sherman (13:48)
That is, yeah.

You know what?

Danica Keeton (14:03)
That’s tricky. I feel like there’s so many fads that come and go. And one of the things that I’ve definitely seen less of is like the marquee letters. And I’ve the neon signs I feel like maybe on their way out because everybody had them the last year. So people are looking for something new. And then probably like super big weddings. I’ve seen a lot of couples really shrink down guest list.

Mike Sherman (14:14)
Oh sure.

Yeah. Yeah, right.

Danica Keeton (14:29)
and even focus on that micro wedding or having their ceremony private and then doing that big reception, which I think came out of COVID and I am a fan.

Mike Sherman (14:38)
Yeah, totally. Totally. No, I love that. I think just in general, two people are just, you know, they’re looking for, I mean, I don’t know, historically, we all grew up and this was my mom’s wedding dress and this was her thing. And like it was all about tradition. And now it’s just seems to be more about being unique, you know, like I’ve so many people tell me like, my mom’s gonna want this because she did it, but I don’t want it. Like, you know, like you have to be the bad guy. I’m like, okay, that’s fine. We could be the bad guy.

Danica Keeton (14:48)
Oh yeah.


I’m sorry.

Mike Sherman (15:01)
Yeah, and that really speaks to that. I mean, yeah, yeah the lettering that’s very interesting No one’s mentioned that before and that that is definitely something I’ve kind of seen disappear a little bit because it was everywhere that the wood 3d letters Right, you know, it was just

Danica Keeton (15:10)
Oh, I had marquee letters in my wedding five years ago. Yeah, definitely has a space, but I think people for weddings at least are kind of backing away from it. I think I see them more like bridal showers and engagement parties.

Mike Sherman (15:25)
Yeah, yeah, totally. Very awesome. So, so if someone is just got engaged, you know, they got engaged yesterday and they’re like overwhelmed, they have no idea what direction to go. Like what’s kind of what’s the first thing? Second thing, like, well, what direction do you suggest they kind of go in?

Danica Keeton (15:39)
Yeah, so I think the first thing is take time to enjoy it. So many people, they get engaged and they pull up Instagram like, oh my God, I need to figure out my venue. I’m like, okay, relax for a second, soak it in, like have that moment with your partner, your families, your friends, all that. And then once it kind of settles and you have a better handle on your emotions and just aren’t, you know, making decisions based solely off that adrenaline, then start kind of looking.

Mike Sherman (15:46)

Danica Keeton (16:06)
There’s so many pieces that go into your wedding day. So I always think couples need to start with kind of figuring out a maximum budget and then their guest list because your guest list is really going to dictate kind of your venue, how much you’re going to be spending on everything. And then from there kind of start that venue search. I think your venue photographer and DJ or any type of entertainment are the number.

or number one, the three top things that every couple should look for first and the rest is kind of like, you know, when you kind of figure it out. And we also offer a free timeline planning guide. So if someone that gets engaged and they don’t know what they need to be doing first or anything they need to consider, they can certainly reach out to us and we can send them that timeline guide that helps kind of keep them on track for that first month.

Mike Sherman (16:55)
Yeah, I know you had mentioned that. And so she was saying, yeah, anyone who listens to the podcast to especially reach out, tell her you heard her here and then she’ll she’ll get that over to you, which could be a super great resource.

Danica Keeton (17:02)
Yeah, absolutely. Just send me an Instagram DM and I’ll send that right to your inbox.

Mike Sherman (17:08)
Yeah, I love that. I’m doing it myself. I want to check it out. So yeah. So what about you? Like how far in advance do people normally book you? You know, and that being said, like what is like, did you still have availability this year? Are you looking for 2025 right now? Like, yeah.

Danica Keeton (17:12)
Yes, absolutely!


Yeah, so we are fortunate where we get couples that are 12 months out and then all the way to like three months out. So that’s really nice for us because we can really adjust the process based on where you’re at in your wedding plan. And we don’t do just like a one size fit all like here’s your template, have fun. It’s very customized to where you’re at in that wedding planning process. Um, but when couples book with us, we’ll typically have an onboarding meeting with them to kind of go over.

what you have figured out right now, what questions you have, and then kind of after that we start working on your timeline and figuring out those details. And we are booking for this year still and for 2025. I have a team, it’s not just myself that does all these weddings, it’s myself and Samantha as head wedding planners and coordinators and then we have about five other people that act as assistants the day of. So,

We are definitely available. This fall is already a little booked, but we still have some in October and September.

Mike Sherman (18:27)
Nice, great, great, great. And then one other question I had I meant to ask earlier. So obviously, Weddings by Danica is your company. What’s RFD Weddings? Is it the same company? Is it two different companies? Yeah, what’s the difference there?

Danica Keeton (18:36)

So it is two different companies. So RFD weddings, I started during the pandemic and it kind of fell off, but now I’m working on getting that back going. And it is solely focused on helping vendors get connected to the community. So it is a wedding blog right now. We just have an Instagram page, but I’m working on the website and it’s just a spot where we can help promote vendors for free. So instead of paying, you know, like,

$200 a month for other websites that I’m not going to mention. We can help just, you know, give them a profile on our website. We can tag them on Instagram, feature their photos or anything else that they want to share. And the purpose really is to just help spread the word because marketing gets real expensive. So anything we can do to help, we are all about. Yes, absolutely.

Mike Sherman (19:24)
Oh, that’s amazing. Awesome. I’ll definitely check that out too. Well, great. Well, thanks so much for chatting with me. Is there anything else you just want to let people know or is anything that would be helpful or useful or that we didn’t really maybe get a chance to cover?

Danica Keeton (19:38)
Oh man, I don’t think so. I think we were able to cover such a wide range of topics and I’m just so grateful for the opportunity to be able to chat with you and share a little bit more about what we do in the wedding space.

Mike Sherman (19:44)

Absolutely. No, I’m so glad you’re able to chat with us. Like I said, reach out to Danica for their free wedding day timeline guide. Check them out on Instagram. We’re gonna have all of her links posted and everything. So definitely check her out. And you know, good luck with you planning your wedding and definitely, you know, reach out to Danica if you want a little help.

and make it a little bit easier for you. So, really awesome. Well, thanks so much for chatting with me. Again, this is Mike Sherman with Felix and Fingers Dueling Piano, signing off on another exciting episode of Eventful Endeavors. And until I see you next time, bye.

Danica Keeton (20:13)

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