Of all people in the greater Washington/Baltimore wedding market, William Grace truly embodies the concept of “fabulosity” (a word he really should trademark!). A consummate professional and a creative visionary, William very clearly loves what he does and so do his clients! We are so honored that he’s shared his experience and thoughts with us here. Ready to learn all about William? Here we go!
How did you get started in the wedding business? I got started in the business over 12 years ago working for Hyatt Bethesda as a Catering Assistant. As I was working as a Catering Assistant, I started seeing fabulous affairs the catering sales managers were planning and truly wanted to understand the inner workings of an event. After a couple of years and promotions I started working at the Hyatt in Coral Gables and planning some amazing events in southern Florida, which then took me to work for Omni Hotels, Marriott Hotels, and ending here with Westin Annapolis for Starwood/Davidson Hotels. The interesting key item with my career is that I never wanted to do weddings and I was against doing them. But I knew I wanted to move to Florida, and at that time the Director of Catering at the Hyatt in Coral Gables would only hire me to do weddings. She is still an amazing mentor to this day. Over 12 years later, I absolutely love doing weddings!
What do you do when you are not working? Food, wine, running, traveling…maybe not in that order but close to it.
How would you describe your approach to weddings? My approach to weddings is pretty simple: rely on professionals and have fun planning….if you are stressing out everyone else around you is being stressed as well.
What inspires you in your work? Inspiration comes from every level when you’re a Director of Catering and Convention Services for a busy hotel in Annapolis. My biggest inspiration is seeing my staff enjoying their job and the hotel staff working to please the client this truly inspires me to be the best that I can be on a daily basis.
What do you find the most rewarding about your job? The most rewarding item about my job is that I can create fabulosity on a daily basis and truly think outside the box when needed.
What's the one thing you wish everyone knew about you or your hotel? The one thing that I wish everyone knew is that we just completed a $5.5 million dollar renovation and we are only six years old…..now that’s pure fabulosity and our hotel showcases truly remarkably well.
What do you think sets your hotel apart from other venues? Our staff, amazing renovated product and not your typical wedding food. Our executive Chef, James Barrett, loves to think outside the box and take events to the next level. I love seeing my clients at a tasting and looking at me saying, "this does not taste like wedding food" and then they go on by saying which wedding they were at recently and what they did wrong.
What do you love about weddings? I absolutely love when the couple walks directly into the room and the décor is sparkling and they turn to you and say, "it is more than I have ever dreamed, thank you!" It truly is that thank you in the end when they have that glimmer in their eye, because then you truly know it was everything they have ever wanted.
What do you hate about weddings? There is nothing I hate - hate is a really strong word for me. I believe there are parts that I may dislike. One thing that I think is hard for couples to understand is that in sales, even though the hotel is 24/7, most sales people are not 24/7. They have normal business hours just like everyone else: Monday through Friday 8-6 and some weekends. I think a lot of couples do not realize this, and once you talk to them about how the hotel works they truly then understand.
What is the coolest thing you've ever seen at a wedding? I have seen so many things with doing close to over 600 weddings in over 12 years, but the coolest thing I have seen is I once did an event in Florida where I had the chef create individual ice sculptures for each person for the intermezzo course. As the guests were being served in sync, each sculpture was up-lit from underneath and pyrotechnics were going off in the ballroom through each centerpiece. Seeing the guests’ faces were truly priceless!
What's the best piece of advice you can give to couples planning a wedding? The best advice I can give is to hire professionals. Utilize the hotel to gear you into the right direction. Also, the hotel contact is not your wedding planner - they are there to make sure that all items are working smoothly on your wedding day. I highly suggest all brides have a wedding planner. If I were to plan my own wedding it would be the first contract I signed, no questions asked.
Who is your favorite artist or band? I cannot get enough of the Lorde album, just truly fabulous and a remarkable artist.
What is the worst song of all time? Just like hotel mirrors on the center table for décor, get rid of the Chicken Dance……it needs to be retired immediately!