Stingray Award winner profile: JoAnne Brown
For most women, organising one wedding is enough stress for a lifetime.
For JoAnne Brown, it’s 2,000 and counting. And she has loved every minute of it.
The founder and creative director of Celebrations weddings and event planning firm was recognised at the Stingray Awards for her 20-year contribution to the industry.
Ms Brown started planning weddings in the early 1990s, working alone from home in what little spare time she had after her day job was done.
In two decades, she has grown the business to the point where she employs 38 people, has a shop in Camana Bay and a warehouse where staff make custom-made props and backdrops for weddings and events.
Ms Brown said her foray into wedding planning happily coincided with the emergence of destination weddings as a new form of tourism.
She said the size and scale of weddings had developed to the point where some parties were looking for luxury four-day events with welcome receptions, golf tournaments and farewell brunches, as well as the big day itself.
She organises every detail, from the musicians to the table cloths. She admits it is hectic and the work would not be for everyone, but there is nothing she would rather do.
“We do around 100 weddings every year, so I must have done around 2,000 by now. You do have to have a certain type of personality. Not everybody can deal with all those unexpected things that come up and still keep smiling.
“It is stressful but I love doing it. It is a great feeling to see someone being able to really enjoy this special day in their life,” she said.
Celebrations is meticulous in planning all the details of every event.
But there are always unexpected bumps in the road.
“One of the first weddings I organised, the bride forgot her bouquet. We had to get her back in the car and drive around while we sent someone to fetch it. There are always things that happen that you can’t plan for.”
Over the years the company has branched out into corporate event planning and has worked with major companies, including IBM and BMC, putting on weekend retreats for staff and clients.
It is the creative side of the role where Ms Brown thrives – designing backdrops, props and room layouts that add a personal touch to the event.
She believes the wedding scene is only going to get bigger and better and is a growth market for Cayman Islands’ tourism industry.
Ms Brown added that she was surprised to pick up a Stingray Award for her long service in the industry.
“I felt really honoured to get the award and to see the reception I got from the crowd,” she added.