Shauna Hamby

By Gretchen Eichenberg

Wedding Planner, Coordinator and Designer

You might say the words “I do” have more than one meaning for wedding planner Shauna Hamby. While she helps her brides and grooms prepare to say them at the altar, they also describe Hamby’s business philosophy — because there’s practically nothing she won’t do for them. Hamby started her business later in life, after being a stay-at-home mom and private voice teacher for more than 20 years. Now in her tenth year as a wedding planner, Hamby told Wacoan she loves the job more than she ever could have imagined because it is both joyful and fulfilling.

Tell a little about your professional background. How and when did you first become interested in weddings? And how or why did you decide to pursue it as a career?
When I moved back to Waco in 2014 as a single mom with three kids and one of them starting Baylor, I did not know exactly what I was going to do, but I knew one thing for sure: God is not finished writing my story. I love helping people and I love the whole creative process, so it felt like divine intervention when within weeks of moving back, my longtime friend, Lois Ferguson, a legendary Waco wedding coordinator, offered for me to shadow her to learn about the industry. So, I spent the next several months learning from the best before venturing out on my own. At 40-something, on complete faith, I created “Weddings by Shauna” and I just dove in head first, and when I came up for air, I realized, ‘Oh my goodness, I LOVE this job.’ I love my brides and I love every minute of the planning, the designing and the coordinating.

As a wedding planner, are you more a right-brain or left-brain person? How are you able to use both sides of your brain — your best talents and skills — in your role?
Well, those who know me, know that I am almost completely a right-brain person. However, I recognized very early on, that in order to be able to truly create and orchestrate a wonderful, smooth wedding day, I had to hone my left-brain organizational skills as well. I honestly love problem-solving and this job gives me many opportunities to do that every week.

Creating a detailed timeline for my clients is one of the most important tools that helps everyone involved to navigate the wedding weekend with ease. But I find the most joy in assisting the bride in designing the vision that she has for her wedding and then, with the help of so many amazing vendors and my Weddings by Shauna team, we bring that vision to life. I am always so thrilled when the bride and groom, and often their families, walk in and say, ‘This is exactly what we envisioned.’

What are a couple of the highlights — or most treasured experiences — you’ve had as a wedding planner?
As a right-brain, emotional person, I am all about the relationships and, honestly, true friendships that I find in working with all these wonderful couples and their families. Most of the time, I start working with these couples as soon as they are engaged and I see them all the way until they exit the wedding. My favorite moment is when the music swells and my assistant and I slowly open the doors for the bride to walk down the aisle. More often than not, you will catch me crying at that moment. I really love my job. And it is an incredible honor to get to be with these couples on their happiest day.

What are your responsibilities as a wedding planner?
As their wedding planner, I assist the couple in finding a venue and all of their vendors, including photographer, videographer, caterers, bartenders, florist, rental companies and many more. I answer etiquette questions ranging from specific wording on invitations to place setting details and how many forks we actually need. I assist the couple in creating a budget and figuring out what their priorities are for allocating that budget. I accompany the couple to most of the vendor meetings to ask all of the pertinent questions and talk through all the details of the wedding day. Many times, I create a digital inspiration board displaying all of the design ideas for the wedding so they can see an overall picture. I will create their specific timeline, which I send out to all the vendors prior to the wedding day, and will also coordinate all day-of deliveries.

And when the big day arrives …
On the weekend of the wedding, I coordinate the rehearsal, alongside the officiant, making sure that I cover all of the logistical details like when to hand off the bouquet, who is escorting whom and what to do if someone drops a ring, or better yet, how to avoid dropping it. On the big day, my team — Martha Smith, Emma Greener, Dare Goodspeed-Overton — and I do all of the set-up, coordinating of vendors, orchestration of the timeline and complete clean up at the end of the night. And the couple and their families just enjoy a worry-free day. I have the most amazing team members who are the hardest working people I know. I could not do any of this without them.

What is your personal mission when working with each bride?
I have a saying: ‘I serve at the pleasure of the bride … like the president.’ So, whatever the bride wants, that is what we will do.

How is working with brides different from working with other types of clients that a businessperson might have?
I get to know these families really well and they get to know me. I am typically hired about a year before the wedding, so by the time we get there, I am almost like family, which is wonderful. They know that I truly care about their wedding and I will do everything possible to create a beautiful, calm, stress-free day for everyone.

What are some of the current trends in weddings — some of your favorites and ones you don’t love as much?
So far in 2024, we have seen bows and pearls everywhere. I love it and if you ask me, I think they are both timeless. This spring, we have seen some gorgeous floral bridesmaids’ dresses as well as beautiful, classic black bridesmaids’ dresses at a recent all black and white wedding. Even though it is always fun to incorporate trends and fun details into the wedding, my main design focus is to help the couple create a wedding that is representative of who they are and that really tells their personal love story. On the day of the wedding, I love to overhear guests say, ‘I love this. It is so them.’

Have you ever had a wedding “disaster” and how did you work to resolve and make the event turn out great?
I have a few stories that will probably go in my memoir after I retire. [laughs] One that comes to mind happened several years ago. My team and I had created about 35 floral arrangements for the reception, so I took them to the venue the night before to place them in the walk-in refrigerator. The next day, when we arrived at the venue, we realized that someone had also put the beer in the walk-in refrigerator and then turned the temperature down to about 35 degrees. Every one of the arrangements was frozen and ruined. But with the help of several local vendors, including Wolfe Florist and Jennifer Vera with Action Rental, we recreated all the arrangements in just a couple of hours and the wedding was beautiful. Her mom and I decided to wait and tell the bride the whole story about a month after the wedding. This is just one example of what a unique and wonderful community of vendors we have in Waco who will go above and beyond to help each other.

What’s a misconception some people might have about hiring a wedding planner — and how would you dispel that?
I think that many people do not know exactly what all we do and how incredibly helpful it is to the family to have someone there who is taking care of everything so they don’t have to. And in the planning process, I explain to brides that because I do this almost every weekend, all of the details are in the forefront of my mind and I can help them to make sure every ‘t’ is crossed and every ‘i’ is dotted. I think the best way to dispel the misconception is to encourage potential clients to talk to my former couples and their families. As most of my clients are referrals, this has probably already happened.

What does a typical work day look like for you? What kinds of things are you doing? What do you look forward to each day?
A typical work day for me is filled with meetings with couples, phone calls, emails to secure vendors, gathering inventory for an upcoming wedding, creating custom signs and much more. I look forward to every meeting that I have with couples and vendors. The people are definitely my favorite part of this job.

What is the most challenging thing about your job?
On the day of the wedding, everything is extremely time sensitive, so we do not have time for errors. We have to be incredibly organized and move fast. We often go way beyond ‘getting our steps in.’ Last Saturday, we clocked 14 miles at a wedding at The Earl Harrison House in Waco. Most people do not realize how labor intensive this job can be, but it is absolutely worth it to be able to create a magical day for each couple.

Is there someone who has served as a mentor or an inspiration to you in your profession?
My greatest inspiration in my job and in life has been my beautiful mother. Even though we lost her two years ago to Alzheimer’s disease, her faith, her encouraging words and her unwavering love continue to inspire me. She graduated from Baylor in 1957 with an art degree and went on to become a highly successful interior designer for Drexel Heritage. And in 1953, she helped to build and paint all of the backdrops for the very first “Sing” at Baylor. She was so creative and had an uncanny way of making decorating and parties deeply meaningful as well as fun.

Tell me a little about your family.
My husband, Scott Hamby, an Air Force veteran and a high school and college football and basketball referee, quickly learned to distinguish a pillar candle from a tealight when making a run to Hobby Lobby. He is so wonderful and selflessly helps me and my team with the tear down and clean-up of almost every wedding. We were married on my birthday, September 22, in 2018. Together we have five children: Collin Pittman (28) and his precious wife, Grace (Mathis) Pittman; Nathan Pittman (26); JoEllen “Joey” Pittman (19); Ally Hamby (23) and Jack Hamby (19). And two black and brown long-haired dachshunds, Tank and Winston.

What kinds of things do you enjoy doing for fun outside of work?
I still love teaching voice lessons each week. I have always said that if I ever sit down at the piano to teach and I do not want to be there, I will retire. So far, in 28 years, that has not happened. It is so exciting to watch young singers get excited about music and start to feel confident about their voice. I also love spending time with Scott and our children. My youngest child is a freshman musical theatre major at Long Island University in New York, so I find an excuse to fly up there as often as I can.

What does your perfect day of rest look like?
Even though I usually wake up on Sunday morning barely able to walk after a 16–20-hour wedding day, we always try to make it to Sunday morning church. The church, in general, has a very special place in my heart and my faith is a huge part of who I am. I will be forever grateful that God led me back to Waco, Texas and opened the doors for me to become a wedding planner.

What do you do for self-care?
Two of my favorite ways to decompress is walking in my neighborhood and sitting at the piano, playing and singing just for fun.

What passions or causes do you like to support? Any local organizations near and dear to your heart?
I am a strong supporter of The Alzheimer’s Association, especially after walking through years of the disease with my mother. I am very grateful that she still recognized and knew my sister and I to the very end.

Do you have a personal motto or mantra or scripture you try to live by or that is grounding for you?
I always come back to my favorite passage of scripture in Lamentations 3 where the prophet writes, ‘Because of the Lord’s great love, we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning: Great is your faithfulness.’