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Feb. 23, 2022

Crisis Management Tips to Consider When Planning Your Wedding with Kawania Wooten

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Weddings are a time of celebration! And no one wants to think about the possibility of anything bad happening, but what if it does? You would want to be prepared for the worst… because we all know the best defense is a good offense. That is why we invited special guest Kawania Wooten in to share her vast knowledge. She is an expert in event crisis management and shares a few shocking stories as well as her wisdom and experience to help you be mindful when planning your wedding. 

Kawania Wooten, CMP, is an innovative event management executive, who excels at competitive strategic planning, convention and trade show management. Her expertise lies in developing 0perational and programmatic initiatives that provide added value, reduce operational costs, streamline internal processes, and standardize association policies and procedures.

• [5:17] In a world where cancellations are still occurring, Kawania Wooten shares what to look for in contracts and the fine print.
• [8:34] Kawania explains the importance of your vendors being licensed and insured professionals… 
• [20:13] “In 2020, we had 138, weddings that were canceled or postponed…”
• [23:39] When it comes to understanding contracts and the clauses in them, Kawania suggests asking the vendor or venue to “explain this to me, like I'm a three year old.” 

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Guest Information:

Kawania Wooten


Sharon Rumsey  0:00  
Weddings are a time of celebration, happy, happy times.

Michael Gaddie  0:04  
So of course, no one wants to think about the possibility of anything bad happening. But what if it does? You would want to be prepared. Right?

Kristina Stubblefield  0:14  
That is why we are talking to today's guests. Kawania Wooden, an expert in event crisis management, she is sharing her knowledge and experience to help us all be mindful when planning an event. 

You're listening to The Ring The Bling And All The Things Podcast. I'm Kristina Stubblefield, one of your hosts, along with my two good friends Michael Gaddie and Sharon Rumsey. We are here to get you from down on one knee, down the aisle and into happily ever after. Our informative episodes deliver valuable tips, trends, ideas, and advice covering everything from you saying yes to the i do's and all that happens in between and after. Now, let's get started with this episode. 

Mike Sharon, I have had the pleasure of speaking to this guest on our podcast for Business Booster Monday. And I'm so thankful that she's come back for a Wedding Wednesday episode, I'm speaking about none other than Kawania Wooten. Thank you so much for being with us.

Kawania Wooten  1:26  
Thank you for having me. It's a pleasure to be here.

Kristina Stubblefield  1:30  
Thank you so much will you share with our audience who you are, where you're located and a little bit about your business?

Kawania Wooten  1:37  
Sure. As you as you so kindly said, my name is Kawania Wooten. And sometimes people rip it apart. So I appreciate anybody who has my name, right? Thank you.

Kristina Stubblefield  1:48  
It took a lot of practice, I'm gonna be honest with you, I look at it every time to make sure I'm like, I'm gonna try my best to get this right.

Kawania Wooten  1:55  
Every letter is pronounced. That's what I always tell people. And I'm based in Bowie, Maryland, which is considered a suburb of Washington, DC. But I benefit from being of being in being near DC and being near Baltimore, which works in the wedding world, because that's almost two completely different wedding markets. My company is called Howerton, Wooten events, we have been in business, this will be our 15th year. And I say we were a team of five. And I, cuz we consider ourselves to be a premier event agency here that takes care of DC elite, one of our what brides just became was sworn in as a US Congresswoman, last week. So we, a lot of our couples are people that people probably complain about on the news and whatnot. And we take care of their intimate moments. I also own a company called the Enlightened creative, which is a multimedia educational program that serves business people who and creatives who work in the wedding and event industry.

Kristina Stubblefield  3:10  
Well, Connie, thank you so much, Sharon, I know that we've talked about this many times, we were fortunate enough to meet Claudia, I'll let you share a little bit about that.

Sharon Rumsey  3:20  
Yeah, I was really blessed to be able to go to the national conference for the Association of bridal consultants this past November, and as a wedding planner, that's just I mean, I was just in heaven the whole time. I love to learn and grow my business, Mike and Christina got to go as well. We just had so much fun and learn so much. But I remember hearing you speak, and literally could not write fast enough because I didn't want to miss anything that you were saying. And I remember thinking, oh, oh, I didn't ever think of that, like you just brought so much to mind when you spoke about being able to manage a crisis at your event. And it's made me you really impacted me, because you've made me look at things differently. When I walk through I just did venue walkthroughs the other day and I did them differently because of things that I learned from you at the conference. So just so excited to get to share what you had to say with our guest and then for me to learn some more from you because it's a whole different way of thinking. Yeah.

Kristina Stubblefield  4:27  
And Mike, I know where I'd after she spoke. You came over to the booth quite quickly and says, This is a guest we need to have on our podcast. Oh, wow. Talk to her right now. But we need to do a full and

Michael Gaddie  4:39  
I was sitting there listen to her. Her her spiel that she was doing. I mean, she was just like, just like Sharon said, I was taking notes and it was just like, I wasn't so engaged with you. And I said we have got to bring her on to our podcast just so she can get out and even you know, educate more people.

Kristina Stubblefield  4:58  
Well, come on. Do you now that we have this very large runway for no pressure? No pressure that the topic we're tackling today is crisis management. We're so excited about you sharing with our audience. And honestly, I'm gonna let you start where you'd like to with this topic?

Kawania Wooten  5:15  
Well, you know, I will start right with contracts, if you don't mind, because we happen to be still in a world where cancellations are still occurring. And I believe our knowledge of contract clauses has evolved since February 2020. You know, I know everybody had an acts of God clause, but I don't think people fully understood force majeure at that point, and you know, and that covers things such as not just acts of God, God, and some people call it the impossibility clause, those are the same thing. And it's a force majeure, which covers acts of God, acts of government, acts of terrorism, strikes, anything where it's a work stoppage, those things can affect your event, your event that so many of us have been fortunate not to worry about. But we've had we've become very familiar with things like that. Now, Matt, is to me, understanding you have a good contract first, is like the football term, you know, your best defense is a good offense. So making sure that you have a solid contract really does set you up for being prepared for an emergency. And so if I can throw out a couple of clauses, so I mentioned force majeure, or impossibility, and hearing, I'm in the DC area. So I never thought I'd have to worry about acts of government, but I've had to deal with the acts of government twice. One I've had, where bride or groom got deployed. At the last minute Reno where we had to move, they didn't get deployed in a day, but to a point where we had to move their wedding and having that clause helped us get out of losing them a great deal of money because we could move and people were willing to honor that and move with them without charging them cancellation or rebooking fees. A rebooking clause is another clause that probably has come into play.

Since February 2020, for a lot of people, because of my experience in my stories tied to crisis management had a rebooking clause in my contract since I started in the wedding industry, and that is to help you make sure that there's some protection, if you have to cancel for something other than change of heart, of course, and that you're able to rebook it and not lose all of your money. A cancellation clause. For some reason, I get couples all the time who feel as if I don't have a cancellation clause, I don't have to pay anything. No, you don't have a cancellation clause. That means they can charge you whatever you want. They want when I say the venue's are vendors. So you want something in there telling you what you're responsible for, if you have to cancel your wedding for any reason. And so and then an insurance clause, you want to make sure your vendors are up to snuff, and you want to make sure they're properly license that should be in your contract, you want to make sure and if if we're talking to couples or wedding vendors, you want to make sure whomever you're working with, has insurance to protect their work, so it doesn't fall on you. And we at how we're doing events require our couples, one to get insurance. And they are only allowed to work with wedding vendors who have insurance. And it's funny because that was for years, that became a bit of a challenge because you always run across the cake baker who's like everybody's neighborhood Baker, and she's wonderful, but she may not have a food handling license, nor does she have insurance. And it's worked for her for 20 something years, but the minute everybody gets food poisoning, and they're ready to sue. Guess who they're going to who's going to get sued either the couple or the vendor who recommended them. So unfortunately, any gotta step up her game, get some food licensing licenses and and get some insurance or we're not working with her. And the funniest thing it's always bands. I will never understand that. But a lot of bands won't have insurance. I think if nothing else, they should have something protecting their equipment. But it's just a you know, people got together again, just requiring your vendors to step up their game. We're not trying to cut people out. We just don't want to be liable if they can't cover their work or anything that may have gone wrong. So I think the contract is that first line of defense. And, and I, and if I can just share a little bit, as I mentioned, for me, it seems like every natural emergency, I've been through it. So I've seen the effects of, you know, my first job out of the box, I, you know, I experienced the, the earthquake that hit San Francisco in 1987 89. And I know I am showing some age there on that one. That was my first job, first event, and a major earthquake hit. And, you know, and in the middle of a conference that we were working on, and while I didn't learn about insurance there, or contracts, because I was still think it was 2223. What I did learn is that, and I think this is so key to wedding vendors, is that people look to the event professionals, especially wedding planners. If something goes wrong, Hey, what are we gonna do now? And you, you know, there might be so many higher ups, they're looking to you, you become that go to person. So it's better to know where the exits are, who to call. If someone passes out, or somebody gets sick? What are the steps that the venue's going to take? If something happens, and that's a part of preparing in advance, and knowing who should be a part of your team. And in my opinion, that should be the venue, number one, most first and foremost, because the venue probably has their own emergency preparedness plan. They don't always share it, because venues emergency preparedness plans also deal with active shooters. And they don't know who the active shooters going to be. So they don't want to share that with anybody. But what you can do is have a sit down with the venue and say this is our plan, how does it work with yours, so that we know we're on the same foot?

Same wavelength, I specifically want to know, who do I call if somebody passes out, or has a heart attack, or an allergic reaction, or trips and falls? And I always want to know, and it's so crazy. And I've only learned this because I actually had somebody have a heart attack? Is there a defibrillator nearby? I never thought my wedding planning or event planning life, I would want to know where the defibrillator was. But not that I intend to use it. Just want to know if there's one here, because those minutes are Quickie, if there's one there, there's probably somebody there who's qualified to use it. And I want to be able to reach out and find that person right away, in addition to calling 911. So just knowing the lay of the land, then bringing in the players who can help you carry out those details, and making sure everybody's well informed because it doesn't help if you keep all that information to yourself. Because you could be the one laying on the ground. And now do

Kristina Stubblefield  13:25  
you all see wow. I just love that she was going to be a great fit when you all brought it to my attention. Come on. It's so it's not funny. But Sharon also mentioned, you know, the defibrillator Sharon, you know, that's something that you talk about

Sharon Rumsey  13:39  
that actually when she said that. I when I heard her speak at the conference, I actually felt just a little bit validated. Because my background is in healthcare. And I actually did a wedding when I had first started and the grandfather of the bride went into full arrest at cocktail hour. And we were at a state park. And I I started screaming for a defibrillator and they knew they had one but no one knew where it was. And thankfully, he survived. He's fine. But now on my timeline, it it says what time the sun sets. And then right underneath that it says if there's a defibrillator on site and where it is and the next line is the closest hospital with an ER, absolutely. Um, so, but I've had so many people tease me about that. And I put that on my timeline, but I have a good reason for it. It really did happen to me. I was doing chest compressions as a wedding planner. Wow. And so that I totally 100% get why you would want to know that. But like I was saying like when I do then you walkthroughs now I do them differently since hearing you speak. I I do look at the exits. I want to know you know how many entrances There are I need to know how to get my people out of there. Like, I didn't think of all that until I heard you speak. And, and we, we heard another speaker at that event with a different story. But she said, everyone, there was an emergency and everyone said, Who's in charge here? And all the heads turned to the wedding planner. And boy, I mean, I got my eyes open big time.

Kawania Wooten  15:26  
You know, it's interesting. You mentioned where all the exits are, I want to know what time those exit doors lock to, especially the ones that aren't manned. Because, you know, just of because of what I'm automatically think of Beth, we just have this beautiful little wedding card box sitting out there somewhere. And and if the doors aren't manned, and and it's after dark, and somebody can walk in, who, how will I know where people are coming from? And how so I want to know, when those doors are locked? Or will they be made to go so something I don't think we always think of, and then when you do your site visit, one of the things I have is a safety checklist you should be checking for not just the obvious things, but where's the parking lot? How well lit is it? You know, because when guests leave, and sometimes people only come to a wedding alone. And when they leave it might be at night, who are their cameras out? Who's going to see the peak guests when they depart? At the end of the evening. And the reason why this is so key is that we as event professionals have what they call duty of care, we have a moral and legal responsibility to create an environment as safe as we possibly can. And so when it comes down to it, if anybody ever said, because, you know, we're going to get thrown in the pot, if something goes down, right? of liability. If something goes down, we want to be able to say we did our due diligence as far as duty of care is concerned. And we had, we planned a pool party, my team and I planned it well, my team planned a pool party earlier this year, and the parents want it to just have buckets around with these fun little alcoholic beverages. And these little they look like adult Capri Suns, that seems to be last year. And they didn't want them to be tended. I said, we're not carrying out our duty of care. They can be near the bar, sort of bartender can monitor them. But I don't want to not be able to monitor guest intake of alcohol, not monitor like on the bouncer, the police, but just one, I don't want to have it in a place where minors can access it. And too, you want to be able to notice if somebody is hitting that those little Capri Suns a little too much. And, you know, it just blows me away that things we have now. And and and that's part of the bartenders responsibility. That's what they do. If you put it someplace other than a bar, then you have put yourself in line of the liability for the bar. And you don't want to do that. Something as simple as wedding planners, what we'll do is bring a drink to a couple. Would you like a drink? I'll grab from grab one for you. And guess what? We shouldn't be doing that. Because then we just automatically put ourselves in that list of people who are responsible for the bar. What we should be saying is here, let me grab the Mater, Mater D, they'll take care of you. I'll let them know you want to drink.

Kristina Stubblefield  19:02  
I think that's a really important. I think that's really important what you just said, because even if it's not the wedding planner, and it's another wedding vendor, they just think there'd be a nice it could be a DJ, a photographer trying to be helpful just trying to be helpful. It's their special day, when you just said that. Wow.

Sharon Rumsey  19:23  
Yeah, I've done it. I mean, I have done it. You've probably done that many times. Many times.

Kristina Stubblefield  19:28  
You're just take it you're at their beck and call kind of you're just help taking care of them, making sure they're having a good time very interest rate.

Kawania Wooten  19:34  
Instead, what you can do is work with a caterer to assign a staff, one of the banquet staff to them. Hey, you're here. You're like the catering concierge to the couple in their immediate family. Let them take care of them.

Kristina Stubblefield  19:51  
Or check in on him every once in a while. Yes, pay attention.

Michael Gaddie  19:56  
Ronnie, I know you started out with contracts. And I think contracts are so important. And that's why I wanted to go back to this as because it's just as important for the bride and groom, as it is for the vendor itself. You know, in 2020, we had 138, weddings canceled, and we were they were canceled or postponed let me say that. But believe it or not, we are still dealing with a few weddings that are still holding on to that day. And, and I have looked even since we met you, you know, I went back and looked at my contract, and I did change some wording in it. But I mean, it's so important to protect us, also, along with the bride and groom. But I mean, we can get stuck in something like I've got one now that I'm not kidding, they've even postponed it for the sixth time. And it's all because of COVID. And it's like, you know what, I have finally turned around and changed my contract. And they'd had to resign, and again, and at first, I didn't feel comfortable doing that. But I thought, you know, we can only do this for so many times. And for one thing, prices of everything has changed dramatically. Know in the grocery stores, everywhere and also in Florida. So we have even said, you know, we're going to have to meet again, and sit down and go over everything, because it's going to be completely different than it was two years ago. Yeah. So I mean, I just think those contracts are so important. And I just, and I've learned that from you. Thank you.

Kristina Stubblefield  21:36  
Thank you. Well, and I love that you brought out a couple of the clauses I don't want to miss say it. And I think some you're sometimes couples, you're so excited, you got the venue you wanted, do you really read over that. And if you don't have a wedding planner, you know, and you're going on, you're you're planning your own events. If you take away anything from this episode, it's really important to read through, it doesn't matter how long it takes you to read through and even ask about what you're talking about the emergency preparedness. And knowing those plans, if you do not have a plan are there to help guide you or lead the way up to your wedding or on wedding day sharing. I'm sorry, were you gonna say something?

Sharon Rumsey  22:22  
I was just gonna, I feel like I could just talk to her forever. But as a wedding planner. I, you know, as cliche as it sounds, I do feel a huge responsibility, not only to the couple, but every single person in that room. I feel like to some level, I have a responsibility for them. And I've had some things come up recently, like with people being over served. You know, as a wedding planner, what can I do to be more proactive? And not, not let things get to the point where, you know, I'm pulled away from the bride and groom because I'm dealing with a disruptive guest or an eel guest or, you know, like, what are the things I should be doing to be proactive and ready for things that can happen at a reception?

Kawania Wooten  23:22  
Well, I think that's an excellent question. And if you just indulge me one second, I want to say what a couple should do when it comes to contracts that I think couples don't do is, you know, there's a line from a movie that Denzel Washington Tom Hanks was in, and he would always say, explain this to me, like I'm a three year old. Remember, remember that movie. And I always tell couples, the problem is you guys, everybody's so afraid to say I don't understand this clause. And so if a couple has a contract and they read through it, and there's a clause that goes over their head, they should go back to the venue or the lender and say explain this to me like a three year old. I don't understand it. You should not sign a thing unless you know exactly what you are signing. So just

Michael Gaddie  24:10  
you said the perfect thing. You said the perfect thing that right there and you know I have so many couples come in. I mean I have had at least seven the last two days. And I do handle my contract and I want them to read over it but they don't read over it you know they do get a copy of it the take home but they just sign it and go along with it. And then you know six months later or wait before the wedding is what am I supposed to do here but it's all in black and white right there in that in that contract? Yeah,

Kawania Wooten  24:38  
I've learned now to put those little spots in the contract we they have to initial I need you to initial here. Well, I

Michael Gaddie  24:45  
do have that I haven't noticed go through an initial it not even real

Kawania Wooten  24:49  
good gracious. Well, you've done it. You've done your due diligence. I've done my job. Yes. Now as a wedding planner. First things first is we have what we call when we do the work. through and a final meeting, I had all those crazy moments. Number one, what guess should I be concerned about? Because guess what they already know who's going to get over served. They already know we all got the uncle Pookie, who, who's going to see all this stuff? Who's gonna see all this free alcohol and loses mine. So they all know that or bridesmaid or groomsman, or somebody who's going to just drink a little too much. I let them know I first I asked, Who should I be concerned about? You, I need you to tell me. And two, I want full authorization to cut off your guest. And I don't want any question. I don't care if it's dad, I will come to the bar and say don't serve dad anymore. And I don't believe in the watering down because I believe that's illegal anyhow. But I just like cut cut them off. That's it, we're done. And if it gets too bad, we have put more than our share of guests in a cab. And if they are, I just did that for the very first time toward the end of the year. Yeah, and my here's your dog, Sophia, if they're too intoxicated, that they don't, that they are, like, out of it. I make their guests go with them. I'm like, you come back. But I'm not sending a woman home and a taxicab. And with somebody she doesn't know. And she's that intoxicated, you're gonna have to take your guest home. And because so I come at that probably like a mom. Like, I'm sorry, you're just gonna have to deal with it. But I don't feel bad for cutting off guests. who are who are who've been drinking too much. I also want to know when I go back and say, Tell me about gas I need to be aware of because there are certain things like illnesses that looks like intoxication. Is there anybody in the wedding party and I ask I mean, I'm this is a personal information, I keep it because we keep a chart of our wedding guests. And now we keep it for our wedding vendors, main contact information, and then their emergency contact. But I want to know about any outlet allergies, food, allergies, anything like that, or any illnesses that I should be concerned about. Because things like diabetes, if your sugar's low, it looks like you're intoxicated. And so I don't want to be the medical professional, but I want to be able to send them in the right direction. And that is, you know, my unbelieving, my insurance agent and my attorney are probably twitching, because they're both thinking, why is Connie talking about this, but they'd be the first to tell me you cannot administer any medication, you cannot do any of these things. I I'm not trying to I just want to direct them in the right direction. And if I already know that they're, they're diabetic, and then I'm my first thing is I'm going to mention that to the medical professional when they're on site, because they make you want to that person. Definitely, definitely.

Kristina Stubblefield  28:19  
I have a question. So if a couple is listening, and they're not using a wedding professional, is this a conversation that you feel like they should have with the bar company or bar staff at the venue? What you've just went over about the information for the wedding planner in

Kawania Wooten  28:39  
advance, they should on their final walkthrough on their first walkthrough. They it should come up, you know, it should almost annoy people because they bring it up so much. But it should be that conversation could be the difference between someone. Life and death. You know, and that sounds really dramatic. I do realize that but you do hear about things happening at weddings. And it sounds

Sharon Rumsey  29:04  
dramatic, but it's true. Yeah, true. Yeah,

Kristina Stubblefield  29:07  
it's true. So and I think what I want to drive the point home, Sharon, because we're friends, I know there's been instances in the past that you've talked to me about that haven't even been your own weddings. But don't be hesitant to talk to your wedding planner, your bar service, whoever that needs to be. If there's a person in your family, on your friends on your guests list that could potentially not be able to control themselves or there could be an issue there. This is your day your event. Don't be embarrassed by it. Don't be don't think twice about talking about it, I guess is the point.

Sharon Rumsey  29:49  
And I think I think sometimes the burden is on me as the wedding planner to make them comfortable enough. You know, they need to trust me enough that what what is said Here stays here. But I've even asked couples that had a true concern, to give me a photo of the person. And I've given that to my DJ, I've given it to the bartenders, and my assistant, no one else sees it, no one else knows. But those people that are there for the whole evening and need to know, are aware of that person. And, you know, it's worked for me. But it's those ones that don't tell me and I don't know, to be aware of that person that you get in a mess.

Michael Gaddie  30:34  
Well, I think everybody would be surprised to how much or how many times this does happen, or things happen behind the scenes. That's not really that all your gifts are really going to know about. I know worth working with sharing over the past few years. I mean, there's been some dramatic things that's happened, that and even one Brian even told us or told you that this will probably happen. Yeah. And and it happened. It did. And I just think that I am so thrilled that we're talking to her today. Because I think it's a very good information that everybody needs to know about.

Kristina Stubblefield  31:14  
Well, and you're not we talked about this before. These couples, they, they're not constantly planning events. They don't know what they don't know. But what Kalani is sharing some light on with us and our guest is there's things out there that can happen that have happened at events, you hope it doesn't happen, but we need to talk about it. Because Sharon, like we've said before comes back to education. Yeah.

Kawania Wooten  31:39  
You know, one time I had an event, and it's one of those venues where they hand you the key on Friday, and it's yours, the venue is yours. And I will tell you for years, I never thought of it. I always think what a benefit, I love this, I can do get so much done. Until I happen to teach hospitality at a local community college. I did active shooter training. And all of a sudden, my brain went back to wedding. And I thought somebody could walk into this venue and I have no security here to protect us. And you know, because usually they're just big halls that we're talking about. So now, if I get a venue like that, where the key is handed over to me, I will let the couple know we need to get security. We need somebody because it's just us and we're not prepared to handle if somebody's not wait, it doesn't have to be an active shooter just could be somebody who wandered in off the street. We don't have anybody here to protect us. So now I'm you know, and that is something a couple should think about because people use these halls for baby showers, bridal showers, and you're not thinking anything of it. It's like oh, this is cool. And, and not realizing how vulnerable they are. And that they the position that they vulnerable position they pay. I literally,

Sharon Rumsey  33:08  
literally I mean, not an active shooter, thank God, but just had my experience first ever with true Wedding Crashers. We did a wedding at a, you know, a very, I would say higher end, very high, very high end hotel downtown. And my assistant is the sweetest person you've ever met. But she's not quite as assertive as me to blunt, blunt as me. And, you know, it's about, I don't know, 930 10 o'clock. And this was a formal wedding. I mean, everyone was dressed to the nines. And she comes up to me and taps me on the shoulder and she said, Sharon, I don't think those men belong here. And I said, What men and I turned around. And there was there were two men in blue jeans. One had on a John Deere hoodie, the bright green. I mean, he stood out the other one just I don't remember what shirt he had on. But they each had a drink in each hand. I am not kidding. And I went up to them. And you know, my assistant was a little afraid to and I wasn't thinking and I just went up to these two men and I'm like, you know, Can Can I help you? And it became very evident after about two minutes that they knew what they were doing. And I started thinking, what am I going to do if I tell them to leave? And they tell me no, right? You know, I it hit me like what am I doing here? Why am I doing this? But thank goodness, they were just like, okay, lady, we're busted, you know, but I was I thought about it afterwards. And I was like, What would I have done if they told me no. So

Kawania Wooten  34:55  
which means that tells you right off right off the bat your spidey senses were telling Have you? I should not be doing this. Yes, that's what was so that I've had those times. It should always be. Let me call security. Right?

Kristina Stubblefield  35:10  
Yeah. Well, and you know what I just think about this, Sharon, I was there at that event. But I'm sitting here in my mind thinking, how many event places have other guests there have access to where people can come in the doors? up the elevator, right into your event space? Yeah, that not just our wedding crashers but have not good intention.

Sharon Rumsey  35:30  
There's a very popular venue here in town. And above the venue floors are apartments. And I've literally had people like taking their dog out to potty right through my cocktail hour. You know, so

Michael Gaddie  35:47  
had it all shared.

Sharon Rumsey  35:48  
It happens. That's why I was so excited for her. You guys. I'm like, finally the answers. Yeah, dogs, do you recommend what I hear you saying is you don't do an event without security? Well,

Kawania Wooten  36:01  
what I'm saying is, and it's taken me years to figure it out. Not every job is mine to take on. And hard thing for wedding professionals because we are alphas and we think that we wish should be like I got this, I'll take care of it. Ya know, some things just are not our job. And, and the three things that fall for me last child, medical emergency security emergency, somebody loses their child, let me get somebody for you. It is not my responsibility to help someone not and I don't want that to sound callous, because I I remember one time, I had taken care of a wedding that was out on the water. And I happen to go outside just to get some errands. Somebody four year old, one of the four year old follow girls was hanging out there by herself. Oh my gosh, she was admiring the flowers. But my first thought was 30 More paces, and she would have been in the water. And everybody was dancing. Nobody noticed she was gone. And that moment, I thought, Okay, I can't call anybody. I need to walk right girl back. And so

Sharon Rumsey  37:06  
that's where the mom comes out. And you're going to go get that baby, right?

Kawania Wooten  37:09  
Yeah. But if that we are in a scenario and and I and we're standing around, and there's other people, I'm going to call security, because that is what they're for. And they aren't trained for that most security professionals are CPR certified. They're trained to handle the removal of people. And I mean, and they are licensed and insured for those type of duties, we pass it on. And the same goes, if somebody takes ill, you know, and you're right, you should always know where the closest hospital is, with an emergency room. Because I learned the hard way, that that's not always the case, we don't all have them, right. And I also want to know where the closest pharmacy is. Because sometimes it just comes down to we just, you know, if we don't have it, you know, because halfway through a wedding season, I may not have checked that emergency kit, and all the Benadryl is gone, or something like that. So it's always good to know where the closest pharmacy is. If it's something, yeah, first. But the other thing that I I would advice I'd give to a couple or wedding professional is make sure there's somebody there who can do a run for you. So many people work and they don't have enough people there. And or they don't have somebody who can do a run to the pharmacy, or go find help, or something like that. And so that's when you start taking your way, taking yourself away from the wedding to go address something and enhance right. If I may, can I hit on something that I think too many people don't think about when we have outdoor ceremonies. I always want to do a safety walkthrough of an outdoor ceremony. In my career, my wedding career outside of worrying about divots, which is an easy thing to be concerned about. Snakes and random dogs have popped up. You dealt with the snakes.

Michael Gaddie  39:26  
Yes, we have a story.

Kawania Wooten  39:30  
And I keep thinking what a nightmare that would be during the middle of a ceremony of a snake slithered up to the

Kristina Stubblefield  39:36  
ER sure I'd be up on a chair. I know what my plan would be.

Sharon Rumsey  39:40  
You'd have to go get that defibrillator that we know where it is.

Kristina Stubblefield  39:43  
We'd have to Mike is does not do snakes at all.

Kawania Wooten  39:47  
So we I do a walkthrough and that's one of the first questions I asked what type of animals do I do I you know, should I be concerned with

Sharon Rumsey  39:57  
sorry Mike I dropped the ball

Kristina Stubblefield  40:00  
Please add that to your list. That is an amazing tip. You know, you

Michael Gaddie  40:05  
could have filled out 100 tips and I swear that's the perfect one you could have pulled out, right?

Kristina Stubblefield  40:11  

Sharon Rumsey  40:13  
We I put my friend the florist in a in a mess in a bit of a pickle. They called it cop Copperhead alley.

Kristina Stubblefield  40:25  
That would be nice to know before the event. Yeah, I'm

Sharon Rumsey  40:28  
sorry. I should have heard her. You know what, though? Mike, I

Kristina Stubblefield  40:31  
don't think Sharon would share that information with you. Because why? Because I wouldn't have been there. Some sharing, maybe that needs to be on the back of page two. So nobody can see that.

Sharon Rumsey  40:45  
Oh, you literally asked

Kawania Wooten  40:45  
about animal I asked about animals for two reasons. One, I've had to use the broom to push a snake away before. And I thought please make just comply, please comply. You know, like, I'm willing it away. But the other is we have this. It was a private residence, this beautiful wedding. And it was openair these two long farm tables. And somebody colleague showed up. And when we were trying to get rid of it, it thought it we It wanted us to wanted to play. And it kept jumping. And I thought, oh, that cake is going down. And all my good. And the and it just so happened that was a day I learned a woman who worked with me was afraid of dogs. And oh, and so we you know, had to finally we found the family, but who the dog belong to but it really did give me quite the heartache. I mean, a dog wasn't aggressive. It wanted to play. Right, this was the middle of a dinner reception that was food out on these long foreign cable. There's this beautiful cake on the table. And I all I envisioned was that scene from The Brady Bunch back when the dog took out the cake

Sharon Rumsey  42:03  
Tiger got loose. Yes.

Unknown Speaker  42:07  
So, um, I you know what? Animals?

Michael Gaddie  42:11  
Yeah, that that was a good time. But I mean, we've even know, a planner that had a event and a dog got out of the house and actually attacked a child, too. I mean, I mean, that was positive. But then there's, it could be worse. I mean, it could be good. I mean, that's very, you know, smart to think about

Kristina Stubblefield  42:30  
is the animal thing can apply to many different things.

Sharon Rumsey  42:34  
Catch you next time, Mike, thank you.

Kawania Wooten  42:38  
You know, especially pretty weddings out of these historic homes on these acres and acres of land. You're not thinking about foxes, all the rodents and all those little things. The venue knows about those things that you can't tell me they don't know they have little bunny rabbits or a fox running through their property and more than it's just it doesn't occur to people Oh, I should tell people about these things. Because they're assuming that if people are congregating, it won't show up. And every now and then you get a little something a little scurry, that feels very brave and, you know, ready to meet the world that you want to be? Or if nothing else, can we can you spray the area so we can repel some of these before they go? This is these are just little things that I don't think it's part of a safety checklist that we don't think to ask about mean, we get the obvious how do I get somebody in a wheelchair down here? How do I do I do if there are did it so nobody trips and falls. But there are other other little things that happen simply because we are outside amongst nature that we don't think about.

Sharon Rumsey  43:54  
I love it.

Michael Gaddie  43:55  
Well, when you when we I knew we were talking about crisis today. But I didn't realize we were going to get into this deep into so many different things that I wasn't even thinking about. So I think I've got

Sharon Rumsey  44:04  
pages of notes. Well,

Kawania Wooten  44:06  
yeah, you know, here's my thing with crises like I've been through the big ones. I've had a big 1100 person dinner in Manhattan that was scheduled to take place right the day after 911. So that was that's a whole different level. I've had a speaker die from a heart attack. I've had those types of incidents instances but what I explained to people you're most of your crisis are going to be what I call goofy stuff is going to be the goofy things that throw you man, I had to deal with a fox today. Or I had to deal with a snake today

Sharon Rumsey  44:45  
for a dead deer dead deer. I have a dead deer story.

Unknown Speaker  44:48  
Oh, that's right. That's right.

Kristina Stubblefield  44:51  
He knows about it. Oh, yeah,

Kawania Wooten  44:52  
I remember hearing and I think Angela profit talked about was that. Yeah, he did. He has.

Kristina Stubblefield  45:01  
And you're, you're famous for a dead deer.

Sharon Rumsey  45:05  
I mean, you gotta be I'm happy to be famous for anything.

Kristina Stubblefield  45:09  
Colonia, I know, we could talk all day, honestly, maybe for a few days. And, Mike, Chairman, before we wrap this up any other questions? I mean, I know this has been so helpful.

Sharon Rumsey  45:20  
I can't think of any other questions, but I just want to say a huge thank you, like, I have so much respect for what you offer. I've learned so much I learned from you at conference. And then I literally have taken two pages of notes again, today. I told you, I bought my new contract template. And now I'm going to go home and I'm going to customize it. Yeah, there's gonna be an animal question.

Michael Gaddie  45:42  
Well, I just want to say thank you for being here today. And when we met you, or I met you for the first time at the ABC conference. I mean, I knew you had to be on this. Oh, absolutely. And, and I am so excited that you are here. So thank you very much.

Kristina Stubblefield  45:57  
And I wanna if I'm glad that you've enjoyed it, and maybe down the road, you want to come back and be another guest, because I know we've just hit it off all of us. And we've talked about this so much. Education is such a big part, with planning events, especially weddings. And I know that you have so many different topics that you could share with our audience. And we really appreciate your time.

Kawania Wooten  46:24  
Oh, it's my pleasure. And if I may, I'd like to share that I do have an emergency preparedness template. And it's

Kristina Stubblefield  46:36  
where do we get that it is here in Sharon, stepping over paper is

Kawania Wooten  46:40  
on the Enlightened creative website. So it's the enlightened forward slash boutique. And there's an emergency template on there. And I'm going to add a promo code bling. So it will take 25% off of it. Oh, well, thank

Michael Gaddie  46:55  
you. Amazing. That's awesome. We'll

Kristina Stubblefield  46:57  
put a link to it in the show notes and on social media. So that way people can get right to the link. And I will say this cornea does have some other very helpful information and guides and things like that on her website. But thank you, Connie, for sharing that with our audience and the promo code, we really appreciate that

Sharon Rumsey  47:17  
I will be as soon as Christina gives me a break, I'm gonna go, I'm gonna go get me one of those. Okay, and

Kawania Wooten  47:23  
I shared there's a template for you. And it's more for wedding professionals. There's also a crisis management wedding planning guidebook, and it has all those checklists, the, the checklists for accessibility, that we weren't even able, we didn't have time to touch on or safety. And it's all in a book with the checklist. But both have those same checklists in them. And it was

Kristina Stubblefield  47:46  
just shared with us. She just shared with us the next topics we can cover with.

Michael Gaddie  47:53  
We're gonna see you again real soon.

Kristina Stubblefield  47:54  
Maybe we can get some time scheduled with you here in a few months. And have you back on as a guest.

Kawania Wooten  48:00  
Oh, it would be my pleasure. Thank you so much.

Sharon Rumsey  48:03  
Thank you so much.

Kristina Stubblefield  48:05  
All right. Well, thank you everyone, for listening. Please go and follow Kawania Wooten on social media, the links will be in the show notes. Or if you want to go to our website, they will be in her guest profile. And as always when we have a guest on. If you'd like to see the video version of this, you are welcome to go to our YouTube channel. We'd love to hear your feedback or any questions you may have, just visit our website and hit the contact button. Thank you everyone for tuning in. Kewanee. Again, thank you for your time. Thank you and until next time, see ya.

Thank you for tuning in to this episode of The Ring The Bling And All The Things. If you liked what you heard, make sure to hit the subscribe or follow button on your favorite podcast platform to get notified of upcoming episodes. You can also visit our website, where you can join our email list and get notifications about new episodes and other information. You can also follow us on your favorite social media platforms.

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Kawania WootenProfile Photo

Kawania Wooten


Kawania Wooten, CMP, is an innovative event management executive, who excels at competitive strategic planning, convention and trade show management. Her expertise lies in developing 0perational and programmatic initiatives that provide added value, reduce operational costs, streamline internal processes, and standardize association policies and procedures.