Courtney Ajinça and her ability to transform her clients’ dreams into elaborate events should be studied. She started by assisting loved ones nearly a decade ago, and now she’s a household name—often being tapped by some of your favorite stars and influencers for over-the-top events and weddings.

Ajinça uses her artistic vision to bring people’s dreams to life, and that momentum won’t stop anytime soon. It's also what landed her with a role as co-star of VH1's My Celebrity Dream Wedding, where the world got to see her creative abilities on a larger scale.

We spoke with the celebrity event planner to learn more about her business and how she draws inspiration to curate such elaborate projects.

EBONY: Can you tell us about your background and how you got started in event planning and interior design 

Courtney Ajinça: I’ve been designing for eight years. I got started by doing small projects and events for family and friends. One day, my husband, Alexis Ajinça, said that I was really good and should take it seriously, so I did and never looked back. 

Walk us through the process of planning an event from start to finish? How do you stay inspired and innovative during the process? 

I have a proven strategy when planning each event that has given me huge success. I start with the consultation. This is the step when I meet with the clients and learn about their vision for their day. Next, I submit the proposal and quote, which detail the scope of services for my firm. Then we move on to the design phase, where I supply the client with an exact render of how their day will look.  Once the client approves, my team and I move forward with securing vendors for their day. The last phase is the execution, and we execute every time! 

I stay motivated by taking time each day to meditate and visualize different elements of each event. I'm inspired by nature, architecture, fashion and culture.  In every event, I aim to evoke all seven senses, fully immersing the guests in the experience.

Can you share any tips or advice for individuals planning their events on a budget? 

My biggest tip is to choose one focal point and maximize impact. Every couple may not have the biggest budget to create a dream wedding, but focusing on one main area can create wow moments without breaking the bank. For example, the sweetheart table and backdrop are some of the most photographed areas of the wedding. Maximizing impact and focusing the decor in this area will give the entire wedding a luxe look for less. 

What was one of the most memorable events you've planned? 

One of my most memorable events was the holiday party for LeBron James’ company, Uninterrupted. Lebron had just released his Uninterrupted Air Force One with Nike; I created a 9 ft. replica of the shoe and used it as the focal point to fully immerse the guests in the event. Guests were able to sign the shoe, and it created an interactive element for the evening. Other dramatic features of the event were the custom neon tunnel, suspended neon swings and the neon lights that were synced to the beat of the music. Guests are still talking about the event until this day! 

How do you handle unexpected challenges or last-minute changes during an event? 

Events are ever-changing, and you must be on point and go with the flow as a planner. Building rapport and having great relationships with your vendors ensures that, as issues arise, you can be confident that they will be resolved with ease. Relationships are everything.  

Can you tell us about any upcoming projects or events you are excited to work on in 2023? 

I’m so excited to have just launched my newest venture, DINE by Courtney Ajinça. DINE is an immersive vibe dining experience that merges dining with entertainment and nightlife. Guests will be fully immersed in the experience through live entertainment, four celebrity chef-curated meals, custom cocktails and more. It’s truly an out-of-this-world experience.

What advice would you give to aspiring event planners and interior designers who are just starting their careers? 

My advice for new planners and designers is to just go for it. The more you wait, the more time you waste. So, jump in, learn as much as possible, find a mentor and just do it.

Lastly, you're booked-and-busy. How do you balance it all as a working mom?

Work-life balance is something that I’m still trying to master, but it always seems like it’s out of balance. I am a wife, mom and entrepreneur, and I recently returned to school to finish my bachelor’s degree. I attend Harvard University, and the workload is massive. I’m constantly adding more to my plate, but I am intentional about spending time with my husband and children. I never want to look back on my life with regrets of not attempting to succeed in things that bring me joy, but I also want always to ensure that I’m not neglecting those closest to me. Family is everything. It’s not easy