By Sandra Varner Dreams really do come true. From humble beginnings to soaring above and beyond achieving her wildest dreams, Los Angeles-based, renowned wedding and event producer and designer Diann Valentine continues to turn fantasy into reality. This vivacious, innovative mastermind gives deserving couples the wedding of their dreams as the host of Mark Burnett’s highly anticipated TNT series, “Wedding Day.”Sought-after and admired, Valentine is the creative genius behind the jaw dropping weddings of Usher, Toni Braxton, Kelis, Lela Rochon and Boyz II Men crooner Shawn Stockman just to name a few. Born in Oakland to a contractor father and mother who were both savvy real estate entrepreneurs, Valentine has always been pushed to settle for nothing less than her dreams. The self-confessed “daddy’s girl,” credits much of her success to her father who always told her that she is “smart, beautiful and can do whatever [she wants] to do;” and her mother whose advice has never failed her, “when in doubt, pray,” two mottos that continue to guide her life. While attending Oakland’s Skyline High School, the overachieving Valentine was part of the debate team, active in student government, a school representative for the Oakland School District, and asked – for the first time ever – by her cousin to plan her big day. Honored by and excited for the opportunity, Valentine got to work. She not only enjoyed the excitement and chaos of planning her cousin’s wedding; but found herself really good at it, too. Not wanting to give up a good thing, Valentine formed her own wedding planning company called Memories, before she even had her high school diploma. After graduation, Valentine went on to attend college at California State University, Hayward Campus, graduating with a B.S. degree in Business Administration with an emphasis in Marketing. Throughout college, Valentine continued to prosper with Memories and through word of mouth, was hired by the Bay Area’s elite to plan their weddings and events. Her first celebrity wedding was for actress Lela Rochon (Any Given Sunday, Waiting To Exhale) to director Antoine Fuqua (Training Day, The Shooter). All aspects of the wedding, from picking the linens to the final dance, were covered by the style and trendsetting bible, InStyle, which solidified Valentine as the expert of all things wedding. Suddenly, hers opinion mattered to the vastly growing industry of wedding planning and she was now the “it girl” of the business. Firmly entrenched, D. R. Valentine & Associates, Inc. was born and her reputation expanded. Valentine’s dinner parties were featured in Essence Magazine and InStyle and sought-after by some of the biggest names in entertainment. Valentine will host “Wedding Day,” the newest lovechild of Mark Burnett, the mastermind behind the runaway hit series “Survivor” and “The Apprentice.” Each episode of “Wedding Day” features Valentine and a team of dream makers, including famed food expert Alan Dunn, making the wedding day dreams of a deserving couple go from fantasy to reality. The show takes the wedding plans of the couple and throws limitations out the window as they seek good-hearted volunteers and tap into their creative craniums to really make the big day, truly magical. I have seen Valentine’s career soar having known her since the mid-90s; recently, we spoke about this dream of a lifetime opportunity. Read the full interview at www.Talk2SV.com
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