How This Fashion Maven Became a Sought-After Wedding Planner
Wedding planner Kim Mohnani speaks about working in fashion and beauty, dream projects, and love stories.
Tell us about your career trajectory.
I started things off with merchandising at Sephora’s headquarters in San Francisco. I was in the midst of incredibly smart, talented, and creative professionals, and it was such an empowering experience. It didn’t hurt being around makeup every day! Then I moved to Ralph Lauren in New York, where Jerry Lauren routinely walked us through the following season’s assortment six to 12 months before they hit stores worldwide. As Ralph would put it, there’s a story to tell for every collection. At Ralph Lauren in Hong Kong, I worked with some wonderful people from Japan, Korea, China, Southeast Asia, and Australia. It was amazing to see how fashion varied across the different cultures—each market had a distinct take on the brand. Those were some of the best years of my life.
How did you become a wedding planner?
My brother, Kevin Bitanga, and his wife Jinky renewed their vows and I landed the role of planner. I enjoyed it so much that I immediately started working on my brand and officially launched Weddings by Kim Mohnani within two months.
How do you differentiate your company from other wedding planners?
I handle only a handful of weddings at a time to ensure I can stay hands-on with each one. My company is highly digital—we prepare online mood boards, offer in-house wedding website creation with online RSVP, and communicate through shared iCalendars. It’s focused on intimate gatherings, not necessarily attached to a specific number of guests but to meaningful and personally styled experiences.
What do you enjoy most?
The collaboration of ideas that truly showcase the couple’s personalities.
Favorite wedding theme?
Rustic with a lot of organic elements in place.
A Napa winery wedding.
What do you advise married couples do as soon as they start planning their wedding?
To work on their guest list to have an idea of their audience from the beginning as well as to fix their schedules to
What is it about planning weddings that makes you passionate about it?
Other than being back on Microsoft Excel, which I oddly enjoy, much like in fashion merchandising, the creative process and storytelling are the most exciting parts of planning weddings. And the couples’ love stories.
What inspires you?
People’s stories and experiences—something I took on growing up around my late grandfather Espiridion Laxa, who was called a pillar of the Philippine movie industry.
Nicole Richie and Olivia Palermo, but my mom and her coordinates also made an impact on me. Describe your clothing style. Preppy. Clean lines. Organized prints. Subtle twists. I like unique pieces but and I don’t like following trends unless the trends fall into my style.
Fashion Bunker, Revolve, and Club Monaco.
A blazer, a long vest, or cape of some sort.
What’s your go-to outfit?
Something comfortable—a black or white top, skinny pants, and flats.
Favorite brand/designer of clothing?
To gaze at, Marchesa. To wear, C/
What’s the newest piece of clothing you bought?
A Vania Romoff dress that I’m obsessed with!
Gucci Marmont metallic block sandals.
A Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso I got for my 20th birthday.
What fragrance are you wearing?
I easily get allergies, but on days I can take a scent, it’s Tom Ford’s Mandarino di Amalfi.
What do you like most about your appearance?
My smile. Tell us about your own love story. My husband Dinesh and I were classmates in second grade, but never really talked until after college when I visited Manila for the holidays. We started dating officially over phone calls while I was at Tomorrowland, a music festival. Because I lived in New York at the time, we flew to see each other when we could. When I moved to Hong Kong we saw each other at least once a month. We dated long distance for three years and then on a Tokyo trip, while we were at Joel Robuchon, he proposed. We married in 2015, and that’s when I returned to Manila.
Quality you appreciate most in a partner?
Thoughtfulness down to the simplest things. My husband places vitamins and a glass of water by my side table at night.
What do you wear to a hot date?
A bodysuit paired with a fit midi skirt and nude Louboutins.
Who are your dream lunch companions?
Young entrepreneurs from across the globe. There’s still so much to learn especially from the younger generation and I want to continue evolving.
Do you cook?
Yes, but not every day. My go-to dish is roast chicken.
How do you entertain?
With good music.
Any guilty pleasure today?
French fries, always!
Traveled from San Francisco to Manila and back to have dinner with my family and Dinesh. My two flights took longer than my stay in Manila.
Were you given any great advice today?
Inhale and exhale.
What was the prettiest thing you saw today?
A tree-lined street I saw during my walk.
What do you dream about?
Great things for @wedbykm.
This story was originally published in the December 2017 - January 2018 issue of Town&Country.