Black Destination Wedding Planner: Joye Speight

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Joye Speight’s Virtue Events is among the largest black-owned planning teams in North Carolina.

Courtesy of the author

“There will be an accumulation of levels in the event, it is never static. It’s constantly interactive. And it’s an atmosphere.

This is how Joye Speight, entrepreneur and wedding planner, describes what it’s like to attend an event hosted by her company Virtue Events.

Speight, originally from Durham, was destined to become an entrepreneur and event planner. His family’s local business started in the early 1900s as a model for other businesses in the area.

“I come from a family of entrepreneurs,” Speight said. “My grandfather helped finance many businesses on wall street black and our family is one of the legacy families still in operation today.

They say you can run away from your destiny but you can’t hide from it. Speight originally wanted to go into law enforcement and become an FBI agent, but he didn’t. She held positions in banking institutions, became a credit analyst and even obtained a real estate license, in search of stability and professional fulfillment.

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Joye Speight puts effort, vision and care behind every wedding she plans. Courtesy of 3RD iPhotography

The full-time event planner ended up coming back to what her superpower is, bringing people together. Through events, creating community and bringing people together, that’s how she succeeds. Organizing experiences has always been in his DNA. In high school, she hosted after-school social gatherings at her parents’ house on Fridays. She always had a plan, became a leader, and organized her group of friends to maximize the fun.

“I would have a plan,” Speight said. “Everyone was spreading out and we were doing all the parties and all the games together. And that’s all. I didn’t know then that was what I would do now.

After dropping her law enforcement projects, she went into marketing and opened a now-defunct business with a partner in Raleigh, and they moved to Charlotte together.

Selling event packages at an event center in Charlotte was where the wedding planning seed began to grow. In six months, she booked $80,000 in business. Her clients followed Speight wherever she was posted because she sold them the dream she was capable of creating.

Speight could also be something of a lucky charm for his clients.

“I have about a 98% closure rate where once I marry you, you stay married,” Speight said. “I’ve only had one couple in 25 years that broke up.”

With statistics like these, it’s no wonder Virtue Events is highly sought after.

wedding planner, Black Couple 2 _3RD iPhotography
Virtue Events ensures that each couple’s vision of their special day comes to life with brilliance. Courtesy of 3RD iPhotography

Currently, Virtue Events is one of the largest black-owned planning teams in the state.

“I wanted to create a safe space for people of color that actually helped and contributed to people of color,” Speight said. “The vendor list is 98% black owned, and that’s what we advocate. So with any client that books me, I put the money back, either local, into the community, or I put it back in the hands of blacks and browns.

It’s not lost on Speight that she’s part of a couple’s love story. It’s his job to solve the problems, to anticipate the vision of what you imagine your special day to be. It takes the resources, guidance, expertise and dedication of a professional planner to bring a couple’s vision to fruition. And Speight, with his Durham-based team at Virtue, has that in spades.

This story was created by DEVIATION, a journalism brand focused on the best black travel stories, in partnership with McClatchy’s The Charlotte Observer and Miami Herald. Detour’s approach to travel and storytelling seeks to tell tales hitherto underreported or ignored by moving away from the usual routes framed by Eurocentrism. The detour team is made up of a list of award-winning journalists, writers, historians, photographers, illustrators and filmmakers.

This story was originally published June 8, 2022 10 a.m.

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