By Keisa Sharpe-Jefferson
The Birmingham Times
When Rickquel Garrett got the call in May, she was shocked. She was asked to plan a wedding for Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin and his bride, the former Kendra Morris.
The instructions were simple: “I would love for you to plan our wedding,” the future Mrs. Woodfin told the wedding planner.
Garrett, CEO/Owner, and her team at L.N.A. Events company immediately got busy, she said.
“Around May we started brainstorming and understanding the vision,” she said. “It was initially planned for a larger event, but about three weeks before the wedding,” she learned it would be an intimate event. “I was excited and it wasn’t time for nerves while planning leading up to the wedding.”
The wedding was unique for a number of reasons, she said. “What I found unique was their heart for people,” she said of the couple. “They wanted to make sure they included others in their big day.”
But not too many. Because of that, only a few close friends knew the location of the ceremony — or about it at all. Many people were hearing a Dec. 31 wedding day.
Some details still remained closely held, said Garrett, 33. “It was hosted at a friend of theirs’ home in an undisclosed location.”
This was no ordinary marriage. “I have never done a wedding of this caliber before and it was a challenge, but a good challenge,” she said. “It just proved to me that I was in the right place, doing the right thing at the right time. My team was also on it.”
Her team of six was joined by more than a dozen vendors — all Black and all from Birmingham. “Because the groom was the mayor, we wanted to make sure we highlighted businesses from Birmingham,” Garrett said.
As for the vendors, “I have seen their work and I’ve worked with them as well. As an event planner, I see things that others don’t. I have witnessed them working other people’s events,” she said.
Those vendors (see slideshow above) — nearly two dozen in all — covered every aspect of the nuptials including a ballerina; luxury car and transportation drivers; barber; hairstylists; nail technicians; caterer; soloists; and, of course, a videographer and photographer to capture it all. Her team focused on every detail of the day, from the timeline, logistics, helping the bride with the color schemes and coordinating with the vendors. ”Most of all we wanted to allow [the bride and groom’s vision] to come to light,” Garrett said.
There were other variables at play, she added. “We’re dealing with security, me being more cautious, me prepping my team and making sure they understand not to get the word out.”
To plan the mayor’s wedding, she referred back to her own in 2016. “I was stressed out the entire day,” she recalled. “I didn’t have a planner or coordinator. My friends helped plan, and my aunt was coordinating … I was panicking, asking if they had done certain things regarding the planning aspect. That turned into me wanting to create the business. After my wedding, I said to myself, ‘I would love to have an events service where I am making the client’s vision come to life.'”
Her first foray into the business came in 2015 and about a month after, she had two weddings and the business came “rolling in,” she said.
“I knew God gave me a vision for the business … and I started getting the calls.” However, as the business grew, “I didn’t have a team, and I honestly felt like the business crushed me, and I walked away in 2017,” she said.
She and her husband separated in 2018 and divorced in 2019. She lost her mom, who had been diagnosed with congestive heart failure, in 2021.
Garrett thought she was finished with events until she received an encouraging word during a church service and a subsequent dream. She received a call for a business grand opening, and after its success, got another call. That led Garrett to open a second event planning business this year named L.N.A. Events, which incorporates the names of her children Laila, Nyla and Ace Young.
Then came the call from the Woodfins.
“I can tell you the day of the wedding (Sunday, Oct. 8). Before everything started, my nerves were on 10,” Garrett said. “That was a moment of nervousness, but I quickly got it together because once I started moving, there was no time for nerves. I had to make it happen.”
The event proved memorable because she saw more than a wedding, Garrett said. “I understand the intimacy of this event as they begin their union together,” she said. “I was able to see them both on another level.”