Hello, I’m Sheila Dodson-Wright, owner and lead designer of Tableau Events, a bespoke wedding design and custom papery studio based in Petoskey. With over 15 years in the event industry, eight of these as the owner of Tableau Events, I have had the pleasure of working with over 200 clients on their event and creative needs. Tableau Event’s work has been featured on ABC’s Good Morning America, NBC New York, TLC, numerous national and international blogs, and publications including The Knot, People Mag.com, Style Me Pretty, Elizabeth Anne Designs, and so on. My range of experience has allowed me to plan events against the backdrop of the aqua blue Caribbean Sea to designing luxury weddings against the perfectly painted Northern Michigan sunsets. I feel very thankful to live and work in a truly unique and beautiful lakeshore community with my husband and children
How did you get into the wedding industry?
I always knew I wanted a career in a creative industry, but it wasn’t until I worked aboard a private motor yacht in the Bahamas and Caribbean that I fell in love with event design and planning. It was my responsibility to organize personalized guest charters and execute some amazing and unique experiences while anchored in the middle of the ocean. Seeing all the planning and prep come together in a successful execution was exhilarating. I loved every minute of it! Following my return to Michigan, I met my amazing husband and we relocated to Petoskey, where we began our family and I harnessed my creativity and experience to launch Tableau Events in 2008.
How would you describe your style?
My design style is a definitely transitional. I’m drawn to a mix of traditional, eclectic, modern, and natural elements. I would say I’m very versatile in my design aesthetic, which is why I can relate and translate each of our client’s unique style into a wedding design of their own.
What is your favorite part of a wedding?
Hands down, when the bride walks down the aisle. No matter how many weddings we do, I still get chills and tear up witnessing all the emotion in that moment. Truly.
What are some of your favorite trends from this wedding season?
Some of my favorite trends I see among our clients are:
Locally Sourced Goods:
Our clients love Northern Michigan so they definitely want to see it in their wedding day. Some of my favorite ways to do this is through farm to table food options, local epicurean guest favors and gifts, and Michigan brews and wine.
Heirloom Dessert Bars:
Incorporating favorite family recipes into their dessert presentations such as assorted pies, cookies, homemade fudge, etc… We had a destination client last year whose family members brought in or shipped the bride and grooms favorite desserts for the reception and it was seriously the cutest thing!
Designing with natural elements. I love being inspired by our beautiful local surrounding and incorporating elements into our designs. We’re using more driftwood, Petoskey stones, ferns, sand, birch, the list goes on…
What advice do you have for couples about choosing an event designer?
When selecting your event designer, definitely browse their portfolio to determine if their overall brand resonates with your own style aesthetic. There are so many amazingly talented Northern Michigan vendors, each with their own look and feel - wedding clients have a wonderful selection to choose from. Also, definitely do your homework. When consulting with potential designers, it’s important to ask how many events they take on annually and if they work independently or have a team behind them to execute. This is a good indicator of the level of service to anticipate.
How far in advance should a couple look into booking your services?
I recommend considering an event designer/wedding planner as soon as you begin the planning process. This will be beneficial in streamlining your overall budget and aesthetics of the wedding weekend. On average our clients book our services a year in advance, however, if available, we love to assist clients that are nearing their wedding and find they want the peace of mind of having additional assistance.
What advice do you have for couples about the planning process?
The majority of our clients are destination brides, so my biggest recommendation would be to hire a team of wedding vendors that have experience working together. Chances are the quality of work that you are drawn to on one particular website is a collaboration of talents beyond one individual vendor. This also makes the planning process a bit easier as each vendor is familiar with the specific roles they play in the process and can communicate directly with one another behind the scenes to ensure a truly seamless experience.
What do you love about living and working in Northern Michigan?
I love waking up to our little slivered view of the bay, walking to the downtown farmers market on a summer morning, the comfort of knowing my children can play safe with friends at the park, smiling and waving to friendly and familiar faces I pass while about town. There is truly an incredible amount of support to authentically live, work, and play in Northern Michigan.