The namesake of Em Devaud Events shares her journey to becoming one of Newport’s most in-demand wedding planners.
Bubbly. Adjective, lively; effervescent; enthusiastic. See also: Em Devaud.
Em Devaud is perched in a handsome leather chair in her home office. To her right, a hand-written chalkboard sign informs future wedding guests of his-and-her cocktails, while behind her an oversize, paper flower unfolds against the window. Her signature smile is broader than ever, as she animatedly chats about her event management career that has bloomed into her own events mini-empire.
Cradling her 3-month old son, Devaud extolls the virtues of her early-career apprenticeship at Longwood Venues + Destinations that eventually led her to venture out on her own. “I still love working with Longwood, without them I don’t think I would be doing what I do now without them. I love working with everyone in this town!” she exclaims. “Newport is one of the best places to work because all the vendors and planners know each other, love working together and love weddings and events.”
Her enthusiasm for event planning started well before Longwood, when in high school she would plan weekly theme parties for her friends. “Then, I saw The Wedding Planner movie, and I realized people did what I was already doing for a living,” she says. She studied communications in college, launching her career in corporate events before transitioning to weddings and moving to Rhode Island.
Newport is one of the top wedding destinations in the country, and as a result there are plenty of weddings to go around for all the vendors. This means, Devaud says, everyone knows everyone. “There is so much talent here, I always recommend vendors based on my client’s personalities. Even the wedding planners, though we’re technically in competition with each other, we’re really friendly with each other and will work together to create amazing events for our brides.”
Devaud certainly knows the ins-and-outs of the Newport wedding scene. This high-demand planner limits her portfolio to 15 weddings per year in order to ensure she can provide her best services. “I get to know each of my clients and their families personally,” she says. “There are so many moms that I still call ‘mom!’ I keep in touch with all of my past clients in various ways, I remember so many details from each of the 300+ weddings I’ve done so far.”
Some of her favorite challenges are when she encounters a budget bride with visions of something bigger, and trying to figure out how to make the event work. “It’s always fun to pull off a big look with a low cost,” she says. “Brides like that, their love can really make my heart sing and I want to make sure I help them have the wedding of their dreams.”
As a transplant into Newport from growing up in Maryland, Devaud says it’s her awe of Newport that keeps her ideas fresh and her events unique. “You fall in love with this town. It’s this quintessential New England charm, with brides coming into town from away to plan destination weddings and local brides staying in town for their weddings.”
In terms of style and design, Newport is on the leading edge of trends, says Devaud. “As a wedding planner, you have to be a chameleon and adapt to the style of your clients,” she says. “I limit the number of events I do so that I can focus on my brides and their big day.”
While Devaud’s personal style, reflected in the decor in her home-office, is rustic-chic, she’s done it all from big, glamorous ballroom weddings to outdoor, laid-back fetes. She commands a small army of assistants and event interns, who assist Devaud day-of in executing the weddings. While Devaud offers full-service event planning, she also will handle smaller tasks, like day-of coordination and event styling for the DIY-bride. It’s being involved in any part of a bride’s big day that puts Devaud’s signature, wide smile on her face.
“You have to be ultra-passionate to do this job,” she says. “It can be crazy, but it’s also so fun. I have so much enthusiasm for weddings, I could probably knock over an elephant — which I’ve had at a wedding, by the way!”
Lisa McCurdy lives and works on Aquidneck Island and is a recent Newport Bride herself! She has a passion for storytelling and has professional experience in a number of fields, from writing and editing to brand management and marketing, and has been published in numerous multimedia outlets. Outside of work, Lisa’s interests include photography, sailing, traveling, art history, cooking, and running. She’s a social media addict and a born-and-bred New Englander.