Black Destination Wedding Planner: Joye Speight

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

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

Courtesy of the author

“There will be a buildup of levels to the event, it’s never static. It’s constantly interactive. And it’s a vibe.”

That’s how entrepreneur and wedding planner Joye Speight describes what it’s like to attend an event planned by her company Virtue Events.

Speight, a Durham native, was destined to become an entrepreneur and event planner. Her family’s local business began 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 to finance a lot of the businesses on Black Wall Street and our family is one of the legacy families still in business today.”

They say that you can run from your destiny but you can’t hide from it. Speight originally wanted to go into law enforcement and become an FBI agent, but it wasn’t to be. She held positions at banking institutions, became a credit analyst and even obtained a real estate license, searching for stability and job fulfillment.

wedding planner, Black couple
Joye Speight puts effort, vision and care behind each wedding she plans. Courtesy of 3RD iPhotography

The full-time event planner ended up coming back to what her superpower is, which is bringing people together. Through events, building community and bringing people together, that’s how she gets it all done. Curating experiences has always been in her DNA. In high school, she would play host to after-school social gatherings at her parents’ house on Fridays. She always had a plan, became a ringleader and organized her friend group to maximize the fun.

“I’d have a plan,” Speight said. “Everybody would deploy and we would hit up all the parties and all the games together. And it’s it. I didn’t realize then that, that was what I would be doing now.”

After she’d dumped her law enforcement plans, she went into marketing and opened a now-defunct firm with a partner in Raleigh, and they moved together to Charlotte.

Selling event packages at an event center in Charlotte was where the wedding planning seed began to grow. Within six months she booked $80,000 worth of business. Her clients followed Speight wherever she was stationed because she sold them on the dream she was able to create.

Speight also might just be something of a lucky charm for her clients.

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

With stats like that, it is no wonder why Virtue Events is highly sought after.

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

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

“I wanted to create a space that was safe 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 push. So with any client that books me, I’m putting the money, either local, back into the community, or I am putting it into the hands of Black and Brown people.”

It’s not lost on Speight that she is a part of a couple’s love story. It’s her job to solve problems, to think ahead to the vision of what you imagine your special day to be. It takes resources, guidance, expertise and dedication of a professional planner to make a couples’ vision come to life. And Speight, along with her Durham-based team at Virtue, has that in spades.

This story was created by Detour, a journalism brand focused on the best stories in Black travel, in partnership with McClatchy’s The Charlotte Observer and Miami Herald. Detour’s approach to travel and storytelling seeks to tell previously under-reported or ignored narratives by shifting away from the customary routes framed in Eurocentrism. The detour team is made up of an A-list of award-winning journalists, writers, historians, photographers, illustrators and filmmakers.

This story was originally published June 8, 2022 10:00 AM.

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