Love makes the world go round. But help with planning a wedding it does not. That’s when pairing up with a team that’s garnered The Knot Best of Award multiple times can make all the difference, and keep the happy couple happy.
Yoj Events owner and lead planner Monique Semper has a long history of planning and executing top-notch celebrations in the Lowcountry—an approach that makes her full-service boutique design firm a standout for both clients and industry professionals familiar with the Yoj team’s professionalism. Whether you’re a born and bred Charlestonian or coming to the Holy City for a destination wedding, Yoj Events pulls together with ease all the pieces that go into creating your special day.
“We’re based in Charleston. Our roots are firmly planted here,” says Semper. “We feel we’re ambassadors to the city. And through my relationships in the market, my history and reputation here, vendors and venues want to work with us.”
For Semper, planning a successful event comes from a simple place of listening and caring, qualities she embraced during her early days in the hospitality industry.
“My dad convinced me to work at our family’s restaurant after I graduated from college,” explains Semper, who majored in philosophy. At 21, she became manager of a front-of-house staff of 60 at The Trawler on Shem Creek. “That was my foray into the events industry. I was in charge when guests reserved our private dining room for a gathering. It was nice to execute that different type of application—I loved to see these personal events come together. I gravitated to those more emotional experiences—seeing the mom’s or bride’s face light up as the day unfolded.”
Semper’s father, Horst Semper, was a hospitality veteran whose culinary credentials included circling the globe seven times as a chef on the SS Rotterdam. Both he and his wife, Helena, hailed from Europe. Before the family moved to the South, he’d worked as executive chef at seven restaurants in New York City until heart issues drove the family to seek a milder climate.
“He was a tough boss,” says Semper. “He expected more from me because I was his daughter, but he was very fair and very old-school. I learned from him that consistency is key—to say what you mean and mean what you say. When your staff sees that, they trust your decision-making. It’s vital to be a steady hand in what can be a very chaotic environment.”
Semper left the restaurant with a 15-year track record that propelled her into the special events manager slot at the Greater Charleston Restaurant Association.
“Those were big events,” says Semper, who was charged with the planning and execution of annual events like The Taste of Charleston, Lowcountry Oyster Festival and Charleston Restaurant Week. “I was part of the team that launched those events.”
In 2014, Semper says she took a leap of faith, leaving The Greater Charleston Restaurant Association to start her own business. “My first event was at the William Aiken House,” she recalls. A national historic landmark, the sprawling mansion is one of Charleston’s most sought-after wedding venues. “The restaurant association really put us ahead in the event planning industry—people trusted that we would do a good job.”
Elevating the design of Yoj Events is a team of professionals that includes longtime lead planner Jessica Laskow, along with Lindsey Burtchaell and Jordan Simonis. Semper also credits her staff for the company’s agility and responsiveness to a client’s wishes.
“Our planners respond quickly to challenges,” notes Semper. “That ability to pivot was especially helpful during the height of the pandemic, when there was so much rescheduling.”
And with many planning firms delivering online-only services, Semper believes that having a brick-and-mortar establishment in the Charleston suburb of Mount Pleasant is a plus, enabling a planner to develop a face-to-face relationship with her client and understand the client’s personal style.
“The tuxedo shop we have on-site differentiates us too,” adds Semper. “It’s a nice added benefit to offer a couple that option.”
The team’s unique sensibilities combine with a wide knowledge of local venues and impeccable working relationships throughout the Charleston market to create an event that’s a dream come true.
“Food and conversation are the heartbeat of every relationship,” says Semper, waxing philosophical. “The event is an occasion for people to come together—a time of joy.”
And that makes the world go round. *
Wendy Swat Snyder is a Charleston-based freelance writer (sweetgrassandgrits.com).