Staff Report

Rani Hoover has set herself apart from event coordination on the Central Coast as someone who loves a challenge from designing elaborate over the top events to the smallest gathering. Hoover holds a BS in hotel and restaurant management and has worked more than 20 years in the hospitality industry. She recently sat down with the Santa Ynez Valley Star and answered some fun questions about her work in the wedding industry. 

Do you remember when you decided you wanted to be a wedding coordinator? 

I began coordinating weddings after being in the hospitality field for more than 15 years and wanting to start my own company. The Santa Ynez Valley was the perfect location to open a stationery store and jump right in making invitations and coordinating weddings. 

Photography by Brian Leahy

And do you remember the first wedding you had? 

My first wedding was a referral from a friend who also coordinated weddings but was actually getting married herself that same day. It was at the Gainey Winery and had an epic pink sunset that I will never forget. It was exhilarating and terrifying but went beautifully and I was hooked. 

When you decided to become a coordinator, what were, if any, the hardships you had to overcome while trying to accomplish your goals?

The most challenging aspects for me were setting my initial pricing and sales. I spent three years doing strictly coordination before I took my first clients for full planning and design. I found planning and design was where my creativity and management skills really soared. The sales portion is still the most challenging part! 

If you could talk to yourself back then, what advice would you give?

My goals were always to gain experience and build a network while maintaining a solid reputation and to have as much fun as possible. I’d tell myself to stay the course!

In your opinion, how has wedding coordination changed in the past decade or so that you have been doing this? 

Weddings are curated to suit the client and I’ve found that they incorporate more unique twists on traditional elements than ever before. Only half my weddings toss a bouquet, a guest book is rarely a book, incorporating family animals is the new normal, and planning surprise entertainment and gift reveals is common. 

What is one of the most unique requests from brides/grooms that they want of their special day? 

Themed weddings are always so much fun and full of unique requests. Star Wars on May the fourth, Halloween costume receptions, Fourth of July surprise fireworks, and ringing in the New Year with a wedding kiss have all been incredibly memorable. 

Did you have any weddings that challenged your skills as a coordinator? 

As a planner I’d say the most challenging weddings have been my first weddings with unique traditional religious elements. Whether a barat and sangeet, an aghd and sofreh or a chuppa and ketubah, each “first” is still fresh in my memory and I continue to learn something new to this day. 

What is one of the most memorable weddings? A love story that really touched you?  

My former clients and now cherished friends, Eric and Edgar, had been together for 17.5 years before it was finally legal for them to tie the knot. Their wedding brought together two families who had already loved each other for almost two decades and the love was palpable throughout the entire weekend. Epic.

Where is one of the most interesting places you coordinated a wedding?

It’s been an honor to plan weddings on top of a mountain, lakeside, on the beach, at the zoo, in a vineyard, on a yacht, and even on horseback. Each one has been as interesting and unique as the clients getting married!