The wedding genie
ERICA STRAKER uses her magical fingers to create fantasy wonderlands for couples on their big day. She is like a genie in a bottle that brides request to grant their wish of a glamorous and elegant wedding.
She said that although people think it is easy to make events look pretty and fancy, a lot of hard work and dedication are required to fulfil the wishes of a bride.
“Brides are very picky and particular about what they want for their big day,” she said.
“And it is crucial that my team and I pay attention to every single detail, no matter how minor it may be; the biggest wedding I have ever done, the reception was held at the Sea Rock Dome.”
Erica shared that experience, noting that it required several hands on deck.
“It was really hectic,” she said while laughing, “Up to the last minute I was running around”.
“The couple found me on the company’s Facebook page, and when we met they told me they wanted a rainbow wedding. I tried to get all the right colours for the theme, knowing they requested a specific shade of every colour.
“The wedding took place at the Nazarene Church in Collymore Rock and the couple had a professional drone taking pictures during the ceremony, so I had to do everything in a way to operate around it. The ceremony part was easy but when I had to prepare for the reception it was intimidating – the room was huge and that was the first time I went there.”
Erica explained that she had to cater for 300 people and she had to figure out a way to completely transform the room at the Sea Rock Dome since she could not use draped curtains.
“I came up with the idea of making invisible ball decorations. I hung a transparent string to the roof and in a decorative way I attached different coloured balls ranging in size. I cannot stop stressing how big the room was and the thing is I could not set up the night before the wedding; I had to do everything the same morning.
“So I got help from my family members and the manager of my company, Swans Exquisite Event Planning, Shawn Best, and his daughter came on board and helped. I got someone from the church to indicate when the ceremony was over but some of the guests did not attend the ceremony and came straight to the reception.
“I was not even dressed appropriately to meet the guests and our team had to finish prepare the room. We managed to get everything done to time and when I heard the couple and other guests say that our work was fantastic all I could do is exhale.”
Planning a wedding for a bride can be stressful but Erica has shown she can work well under pressure. She had to plan a wedding for a bride who was getting married in Barbados who never stepped foot in the island.
“All of her guests were coming from England so I had to step up my game but I did not have the tent decorated in the way she wanted. I had sent a photo to the correspondents at the place where she wanted to have the wedding and they did not stick to the photo.
“When I met the bride her focus was on the tent and I was trying to get her mind off of it but tears started to come from her eyes and she said, “My wedding is tomorrow and this is not what I asked for.
“When her family saw her crying that put even more pressure on me but I gave her my word that I would find a solution.”
She was so determined to make up for what had happened she worked feverishly with little sleep.
“Her husband Sylvester pulled me aside and told me that if I don’t come through his bride-to-be Nicky would freak out.
“After talks with the owner of the establishment, I told Sylvester that the lining of the tent cannot come down but I would still do the drape exactly how Nicky wanted.
“When Nicky got out of the limousine I saw a little smirk on her face and I started to feel good. She came to me and said she loved it.
“When she and Sylvester were cutting the cake I was in the kitchen trying to organise the cake boxes and I heard them shouting my name.
“I ran outside fast because I thought something had happened but to my surprise they said “Thanks to this lady right here, what was a disaster yesterday came out wonderful”.
With help from her faithful assistant Shawn Best, Erica has incorporated arranging gift baskets and room décor into her business.
She said that she was grateful to Shawn for the advice, noting that his role in the company was very important. Shawn, who has his own company named Treshaunte’s Car Rental and Lease, is also Erica’s best friend and the two have found that their businesses complement each other.
When Shawn is not helping Erica at work he is heavily involved in the community. For the New Year he is planning a road trip for children in children’s homes.
“Some of us are really fortunate, and me giving back to the community is my way of saying thank you Father, for helping me throughout the years. I would really like to take the kids out for an activity and have them stop at major stops in the island.
“Erica and I are even trying to bring back the life to River Bay, St Lucy. Once upon a time River Bay was like a liming spot for the elderly. Sundays were days for the entire family to go down there and spend quality time with food and music. So we would like to see it return to its former glory days.
“I think it is an important venture because we are slowly losing our connection with the past and I feel it is time we bring back the community spirit our foreparents talked about.”
Erica has recently launched a magazine, and she said she is seeking out small, up coming businesses to feature in the next issue of the magazine. She told EASY that it is important that small businesswomen and men help out each other because together they can grow their product or services.