The wedding day, for most people, is one of the most stressful of their lives. So how has wedding planner W. Donnie Brown, JWIC survived more than 1,600 of them? He has a secret weapon.
“I try to use humor on a day-to-day basis,” he says. “I think humor makes the day far more fun.”
But Brown’s warm and wacky sense of humor has done more than just smooth over nuptial nerves: it’s also made him a reality TV star. Fans of the Style Network’s top-rated reality show Whose Wedding Is It Anyway? tune in regularly to watch Brown and other big-city wedding planners pull out all the stops to give couples the weddings of their dreams. And with his clever one-liners, gregarious personality and goofy on-camera antics, Texas native Brown has quickly become a fan favorite.
“I let things come out of my mouth that generally stun everyone around me,” the energetic planner admits, laughing.
Brown’s mix of TV-ready charisma and calm professionalism was exactly what producers were looking for when they came to Dallas in 2002 looking for wedding planners for a new reality series. They envisioned a wedding program that focused more on the role of the planners than the bride and groom, following the professionals as they coped with last-minute crises and emotional overload. But for the show to work, the planners had to be not only pros who could handle the pressures of their job surrounded by cameras, but also lively, entertaining personalities who could draw viewers in and keep things interesting. They knew immediately that the talented Brown would fit the bill.
Indeed, during the course of the show’s six seasons, Brown has survived some of a planner’s worst nightmares — a stained wedding dress, a cake threatening to topple — all while on camera. And while viewers tune in again and again to see him handle them with grace, they’re also hoping to catch some of his mood-lightening quips or hilarious hi-jinks. Because you never know what you might see Brown do during the hour-long show — whether it’s making a nervous bride giggle by bursting into a silly song, mugging for a photographer while he’s setting up, or waltzing giddily through the aisles of a floral expo.
“I am constantly trying to come up with crazy things to do that will lend themselves to the matters at hand, but make people laugh in the process,” he says.
Brown’s career as wedding guru began at age 16 in Lubbock, Texas, by helping out some family friends who owned a floral shop with weekend weddings. “It was different and fun, and it was doing something for someone’s special day,” Brown says.
In 2001, Brown landed a high-profile celebrity client when country star LeAnn Rimes and fiancé Dean Sheremet hired him to create their internationally published wedding day. The couple had been impressed by his enthusiasm and positive energy, which they knew he’d need for their star-studded nuptials.
“Clearly, a low-key wedding is much simpler to get through,” says Brown, who has also worked with actresses Dixie Carter and Emma Thompson as well as the Democratic National Committee and The Dallas Cowboys to show his amazing versatility. “One thing to note is that there is so much excitement surrounding a high-profile wedding or event.”
In 2003, Brown became a celebrity himself when Whose Wedding Is It Anyway?debuted and quickly became a cult hit. The Style Network immediately ordered another season. And then another. By the sixth, Brown was the only original planner left. When the network launched another wedding-related series, Married Away, in 2006, Brown was back, to the delight of viewers, helping couples plan and execute destination weddings.
Now that he’s a TV star, Brown sometimes finds the shows crossing over into his planning business in unexpected ways — like when fans hire him to plan their events.
Between tapings, weddings and his day-to-day business, Brown travels the country speaking at bridal expos and other wedding-related events. Fans flock to see their favorite TV planner in person, and he doesn’t disappoint, delivering a gut-busting comedy routine that draws on his real-life experiences and instructs couples on how to get through the big day.
“I use some of my crazy wedding stories, and then as I go through them I elaborate and point out the insane and funny things that go on during weddings while keeping their anonymity in check,” he says.
Brown is currently compiling some of his best anecdotes and most useful wedding wisdom into a humorous nuptial planning manual that will feature his trademark bon mots and belly laughs.
Also in development are several new television shows, which, like his hit Style shows, will draw on both his seasoned experience as a planner and his larger-than-life persona. Because, as the man who once dreamed of being a banker has learned, given enough time, life tends to lead you down the path where you most belong. And for Brown, that’s undoubtedly in front of the cameras.
“I was made for this!” Brown says, laughing. “I have this internal switch that comes on all by itself when I get in front of a large group of people — and I just turn into this crazy personality!”