Meet Danielle Pasternak, owner of DPNAK Weddings. She is a talented, wise, and very reliable wedding planner in the Lehigh Valley! Her fun facts and inside tips are a definite must read!
Photography: Michael Pangilian Photography
How did you get started in this business?
My background is in theater and dance. While I was a ballerina for over 20 years, my favorite place to be was always behind the scenes, in the wings, making the magic happen for those that were on stage. In my early 20s, I had an injury that resulted in my retirement from the world of dance. After a 41-day road trip across the country and a lot of soul searching to find what my next chapter would be about, I discovered wedding planning and the magic that is the wedding industry. I love bringing events to life and organizing a day that flows seamlessly and organically for couples and their guests.
What is your favorite part of a wedding?
There are not many parts to a wedding that I don’t enjoy, but I think my favorite part for my couples is their introduction into the reception. It’s this exciting moment where everyone’s energy is super high and there’s this electric anticipation of the party just getting started. On top of that, the couple gets to walk into a room full of their favorite people on the planet who are cheering and clapping for them and their love. How awesome is that?!
Photography: Alison Conklin Photography
What song/music is in heavy rotation for you right now?
When I’m driving or need to get myself pumped up, most of the tracks from “The Greatest Showman” are my jam. When I’m working and need to focus, my go-to Spotify playlists are Zen: Indie Folk and Deep Focus. More than anything, I’d say I’m a podcast girl though.
What is one of your hobbies?
I’m not sure that you’d call it a hobby, but I love watching audio commentaries on movies. For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved knowing behind-the-scenes of how something works and comes together. I love knowing how magic tricks are done, I love seeing how kitchens work in restaurants, I love it all. So I guess my hobby is being nosey?
Photography: Danielle Coons Photography
What is your best advice for a couple planning their wedding?
In the world of weddings, it’s hard not to come across the many rules, must-do’s, must-have’s, and don’t-even-think-about-it’s. But I think your wedding should be intentional and full of things that matter to you as a couple and not things that don’t. I love when couples stretch the boundaries, break the rules, and truly create a day for their guests that’s a direct reflection of themselves.
At the same time, I also believe that it’s so important to listen to the team of pros you’ve hired to create your day. Sometimes, a great idea on paper doesn’t execute as well in reality. Your team of pros is there to guide you and brainstorm with you. If they aren’t doing that, maybe they aren’t the best fit for you?
Photography: Asya Photography
What brought you to the Lehigh Valley?
Technically, my home base is in beautiful Bucks County, just south of the Lehigh Valley. But I’m originally from the Scranton area and happily travel throughout Eastern and Central Pennsylvania for weddings each year.
What is your favorite restaurant to eat at in the Lehigh Valley? Your favorite dish to order?
My favorite spot is The Bayou in Bethlehem. I’m a picky eater but I think I can order just about anything on that menu and devour it entirely. (I often have to hold back from licking the plate). I’ve crushed pretty hard on their blackened catfish or hanger steak, but I’d say my favorite dish is their hush puppy appetizer. Pro tip: Order them with a side of their house hot sauce to dip. Seventeen thumbs way up from this gal!
Photography: Alison Conklin Photography
What is your fondest wedding memory-either from your wedding, if you are married, or from a wedding you attended?
I’m a fellow bride-to-be, so I don’t have any memories from my own wedding day… yet. Professionally, one of my favorite moments that stands out in my memory is from a wedding that happened a few years ago at Allentown Brew Works. It was the end of the night and the last song (“Send Me On My Way”, Rusted Root) was playing. Without any instruction or rehearsed choreography, the entire group of guests surrounded the couple in a big circle on the dance floor. The couple shared their final dance together surrounded by everyone they loved. It was simple but beautiful and happened completely organically. To this day, whenever I hear that song, I think of that moment with a huge smile.
Photography: Love Me Do Photography
What is your favorite movie and/or book genre?
If you follow along with me or anything that I do, it becomes clear pretty quickly that I am a BIG Harry Potter fan. Books, movies, doesn’t matter. I’ve read the series countless times and can proudly say I’m a loyal, loving Hufflepuff.
What does the perfect day look like to you?
Of course, I love any day that involves a wedding, but personally I love days that have a great balance of productivity, a little bit of “me” time, and time with my family. If board games or card games are also involved, I’m a happy camper.
Photography: Littlewing Studio
What is a common mistake you see couples make while planning a wedding?
No one goes through wedding planning without making a few mistakes here and there, and that’s a-okay. But I’d say to be careful of things that feel “too good to be true” when it comes to investing in your wedding. You don’t have to spend every last penny you own to have a beautiful wedding, but it’s often better to skip a thing than invest in a cheap version of a thing. The saying “you get what you pay for” rings very true in the wedding planning world and it’s typically better to invest in quality over quantity. Though not always the case, going the “cheap” route (especially while expecting “expensive” results) will result in disappointment, resentment and regret. Three things you do NOT want to associate with your wedding day.
Photography: Tyler Boye Photography
What is your favorite season and why?
I’m honestly a fan of all the seasons, but May is probably my favorite month of the year because of the anticipation of Summer coming and the longer days of sunshine. I’ve often said that Winter would be much more awesome if the sun still went down at 7:30pm instead of 4pm.
What do you like to do in your free time?
I’m not ashamed to say that I love a good Netflix binge or going down a YouTube rabbit hole. On a more healthy note, I also love yoga, dancing, reading and cooking (but definitely not baking). Above all else, just about anything I can do with my family fills my heart to the brim.
Photography: Pat Robinson Photography
Do you have an embarrassing wedding moment? That happened to you/or that you observed?
My lips are definitely sealed on this one.
What are some of your favorite aspects of your business?
I really and truly love all the things of this business. According to every personality test I’ve ever taken, I’m a helper. My role in this world is to help others and that’s what makes me excited to get out of bed every day. So I’d say that my favorite part is that I get to help couples plan a day that they feel good about it and can’t wait to see come to life. They come to me with questions and we work together to find answers that feel like the best for them. I make things easier, clearer and much more organized so they can focus on the many other things they have going on in life.
Photography: Tyler Boye Photography
What do you wish couples knew about your part of the wedding industry?
Having an independent planner or coordinator on your team is no longer considered a luxury. Couples are investing more than ever into weddings and there a lot of moving parts to each event. While you can be the most organized person on the planet, on your wedding day, you can only be in so many places at once. If you’re spending your entire day managing what’s going on behind-the-scenes, you’ll have very, very little time to focus on your partner, your guests and the fact that you’re getting married. As it is, everyone will tell you that the wedding day will “go by in a blink”. The less tasks you have on your plate that day, the more time you have for the fun stuff.
I also want to add that a “venue coordinator” or the “wedding planner” at your venue very often plays a much different role than that of an independent wedding planner, like myself. While many will tell you that you might not need anyone else, I can’t tell you the number of couples that come to me last-minute when they realize their venue coordinator isn’t quite doing all that they hoped. Venue coordinators are often managing dozens of weddings each year, usually on top of other events like meetings, fundraisers, corporate gatherings, birthday parties and more. It’s a difficult job and they can naturally only dedicate so much time to each person. Personally, I take a max of 25 weddings per year and many of my past couples have commented that they felt like I was their only client based on the amount of attention and time they received from me. That makes me really happy.
Photography: Maggie J Photography
What is the best way for a couple to prepare to meet with you?
Ten pull-ups and a run around the block should do it. Just kidding, I can’t even do one pull-up… yet. Whether you’re newly engaged or at the final stages of planning, I’m more than happy to meet with you to get a feel for what you need help with. Our first meeting is always free and can take place in-person, over the phone or via video call. I usually recommend having your venue and date selected before this first chat, but I’ve also helped many couples find their perfect venue, too.