Get to know your wedding pro
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Episode 14 (Ray Van Winkle, Ray Van Winkle and Associates)

[00:09] Hey everybody, welcome to Get to Know Your Wedding Pro. My name is Reid with Best Made Videos. We are a wedding videography company based out of West Seattle, Washington and I am joined today by a very long time friend, Ray Van Winkle of Reverend Ray Van Winkle and Associates. And I wanted to thank you so much for coming by. And why don't you tell us a little bit about who you are and what you guys do.

[00:30] Well, thank you much. I'm Reverend Ray Van Winkle and Associates. We are freelance wedding officiants. We've been in business since 2003 and have performed a little over 1500 weddings in the past 15 years. We serve the greater puget sound region, performing secular ceremonies, religious ceremonies, serious, lighthearted, whatever you want.

[01:00] And uh, I'm going to, I don't know if this is a surprise to you or not, but you actually performed the ceremony at the first wedding that I ever shot. Really? And it was Andrew and Bridgette at Pickering Barn back in 2014. I just pulled it up this morning to make sure I have the date because I remember them in the venue. And you. Yeah, but it was I think July, 22nd and it was a really hot day. We were out in the lawn area in the back. No shade, very sunny, but it's funny just to take a. I didn't know what I was doing it all the time, but I remember I remember you were tripping over your equipment and everything. It was terrible. Uh, so it, it, that's why I say when it's been a long time friend, it really has, in terms of like people that I recognize in the wedding industry, you are certainly one of the longest that I remember it. So, uh, you guys really are, you know, you and maybe just a handful of others in the Seattle area are I think the longest tenured and most kind of well known. I mean, do you have, how has that, how have you built that over the years and how has that been? I mean, I think you guys are like one of the top.

[02:09] Yeah, well part of it, part of it is just longevity, just slogging away at the, at the business and the reputation and everything. And there have been other officiants who have retired over the years. Um, a lot of it I think has to do with, uh, various and sundry industry awards. Uh, we've been king five evening magazine, Best of western Washington for about the past 10 years. I'm always a finalist with Seattle brides. Best of awards programs. Um, there is uh, being established with a lot of venues and wedding planners. Um, we are currently on the recommended vendor list for about, I think 25 to 30 of the more popular venues here in the region as well as working a lot with, uh, some very big heavy hitters in the wedding planning and coordination industry.

[03:13] Is that something that you had, I mean obviously when you started the business he wanted it to be successful, but did you guys ever really kind of think, I mean, did you ever think longterm like that you would be one of. I kind of,

[03:26] not really, not really, I just, I just wanted to do something that I loved. I'm to the point to where, uh, much to my wife's Chagrin, I used to, uh, used to tell people that, you know, I would, I would do this for free and I would, I would, I love being a wedding officiant. It does pay the rent and the bills and everything though. But, um, no, never, never had a quote unquote business plan or a goal that we aimed towards except, uh, just performing as many weddings as we possibly could.

[04:04] It wasn't about weddings in general. They kind of drew you to that in the first place.

[04:07] Well, it's, I, I've been in other incarnations in the wedding industry for a long, long time. I'm back in the late eighties down in San Francisco. My wife and I owned a small catering company, so we did wedding receptions as part of that. Uh, my wife is a retired floral designer and I worked with her as a floral assistant. She taught me how to make bouquets and boot nears and, and whatnot. Uh, which is why which came in handy because typically when I get to the ceremony, the florist is delivered all the flowers they take off and there's people standing around holding a boot near in one hand and pins in the other saying, what, what, what do I do? And I invariably end up pinning all the guys and sometimes the ladies.

[05:00] That's fantastic. That's a great point. I'm sure that comes in very handy. I've, yes, I've learned that the Taco technique or whatever, I've done the videos. So you guys had done a lot of weddings. When you fill out my questionnaire it said, uh, it was very specific. It said 1,347 that you had done. I've done personally, yes. That is an astronomical number. Uh, I'm sure that that's gone up now even since you filled this out a couple of weeks ago. Um, does it ever get old, is it still exciting and talk about that. It is still still,

[05:33] it is still exciting. Um, I wouldn't say it gets old because I'm very conscientious about approaching every wedding and every wedding rehearsal as if it were brand new to me because it's brand new to the bride and groom and, and, um, the wedding party, the parents, the, so you, you, you, you make that little mental adjustment and that keeps things fresh.

[06:03] Yeah. And I have noticed that we were talking off air when you got here. We had just worked a wedding together over Memorial Day weekend and you know, it really struck me and I emailed you after the about, you know, how personal and I knew you knew them, I think through work or.

[06:18] Yes, yes. I knew Stephanie of the bride. I, I knew her. Yeah.

[06:22] Yeah. But it's still, you know, it just struck me that it just, it felt like although you were, you know, a professional and, and you know, and hired to do, but it felt like you were their friend, that you were somebody that the way that ceremony was constructed a, is that intentional. Talk about that.

[06:37] That's, that's just my style. Everybody, everybody is, is treated by me as if they were a dear friend, whether I've just met them the day before or it's a family wedding where I've, I've known them for years.

[06:56] I'm talking about the do couples, uhw, , w, what is their reaction to that, you know, to the ceremony and to kind of after you do everything. I mean, what do they, what is their feedback? I guess

[07:09] to be perfectly honest, at least directly, right after the ceremony, most couples, brides and grooms both have reported to me when we're done and we're signing the documents. They don't remember anything I said. They remember the feeling and how it felt and how comfortable they were up there and, and appreciative that they were being directed during the ceremony by a professional, efficient. Um, the further reactions usually don't come until after awhile after the ceremony you get back from honeymoon. I get a very nice card or an email or other people who were guests at the wedding or getting married and they contact me because they, they saw what a wonderful job we did. And I say we, because I've got three associates and the all trained in what I call my style of officiating.

[08:07] Do you have to have any sort of a training any way? What kinds of talk about the you that you guys had? Any sort of professional things like that?

[08:18] There are, there are some organizations I am told that do seminars and training for officiant. I think they're mainly back east. I'm of the probably 40 to 50 professional officiants here in the puget sound area. I think there are probably only a couple who have actually gotten formal training. It's um, it's basically a ojt on the job training. I'm learning a, uh, learning how to write a ceremony was probably the thing I had to work at the most. I have stage experience. I was a stage actor down in, in California growing up. And so I'm very comfortable in front of people and speaking and have those techniques. We were just talking about that. A ceremony we just did together the other day and we are on top of the roof at bell tower and the microphone crapped out and so it's okay. You're on stage 3000 seat theater.

[09:30] They don't give you a microphone, you take a deep breath, support your voice and project. And that's, that's what I did a talk about that. Talk about your stage background. That's fascinating. Down in California. Yeah. That uh, I was, I was bit by the acting bug when I was in high school. We all know our, our high school cliques, the nerds, the jocks, the politicians. I was one of the theater geeks and um, took drama all four years in high school, uh, did a couple of the high school plays but wrapped by the time I was 17. I was auditioning at and working at community theaters in the bay area and um, did, uh, did a lot of performing a stage managing costume work, lighting sets about. The only thing I've never done it in the theater is actually direct a play. I've actually even written some stuff before.

[10:30] Um, and so I was doing that up until about age 30 and then it just, you know, a lot of my friends in the theater because they do it all their life for me, it a fulfilled its, its purpose, um, acceptance, responsibility, things that I wasn't getting at home and at school, uh, were provided in the theater. So then I, you had said that you and your wife ran a catering company, so when you met her, were you still acting? That's how we met was a, was performing. I was the master of ceremonies in a Vaudeville style musical review. And my wife Stephanie was one of the lead singers. It was kind of a wild west Vaudeville revue actually. She squeezed into a green velvet plunging neckline dress and sat on an upright piano and saying hardhearted in the vamp of Savannah. And My job, my job was to go onstage, introduce acts, get ax off the stage, tell bad jokes, keep things rolling.

[11:49] And she was one of the acts and that was, did it for ya? Yep. That was in, that was summer of 1976. I just graduated from high school and a her in the, we're rehearsing in an elementary school and uh, met her during a cigarette break. Its back when everybody smoked. Even when you were a singer. Met Her, uh, during a break. She was, uh, complaining about her boyfriend and that was in 76 and we were good, good friends for a couple of five or six years actually. And uh, things got serious in 80 and we married in 81.

[12:30] I'm talking about your wedding and then talk about, uh, who did the ceremony, how did that work

[12:35] when you were married in the Catholic Church? My wife is Catholic. I'm not, which means we didn't get to have a nuptial mass or as I tell people, I avoided having to eat the Jesus cookie. Uh, we did get married in a little chapel next to the church by a priest. It was a 15, 20 minute ceremony. Kind of like what we do here. I'm very low pressure though. The priest was actually a personal friend of ours. We knew this fellow for a long, long time. Little Short Irish priest, Father Joe. And so it was a very comfortable thing. I was in the military at the time, I was in the Coast Guard and my, uh, my whole input to my wedding was, where's it going to be? When's it going to be? What do you want me to, where I'll be there. Ironic considering the business I'm in now. Uh, I'm married the youngest of three daughters though, so my wife didn't. It was not really into all the wedding planning and stuff. So my mother in law, uh, went to the Rolodex. Everybody remembers what a Rolodex is. Don't think a good flipped out the Rolodex and when the church, the reception hall, the food, the band, et Cetera, et Cetera, et cetera.

[13:57] I'm being married now. Do you feel like that gives you, you know, I'm always fascinated. I think I became a better wedding vendor having been married to Kinda got, not that you can't the other way, but having gone through the process and, you know, obviously being married and in love, does that kind of help inform how you approach the day or what would you. What's your thoughts on that?

[14:16] All right, thanks. So not so much how I approach the day more so though, uh, the, one of the things that we offer but don't require as premarital counseling. Um, I do that myself, my associates don't just me and uh, I'm finding more and more that while I use a formal system for premarital counseling, it's called prepare enrich that uh, a lot of what I'm talking to people about is just based on 37 years of me being married about that premarital

[14:52] counseling.

[14:53] Yeah. Yeah. I use, I use the prepare enrich system. It's about a 250 questions survey. It used to be done on paper and mailed in, but now it's on the Internet. Like everything is, it's not counseling like g Ray, we've got a problem. We need you to fix it. It's more getting all the issues out on the table before you get married. So there's no surprises. We talk about a family backgrounds, children, money, sex or politics, religion, everything under the sun. Um, I equate it probably kind of crudely, but I equate it to when you buy a used car, you want to take that car to your mechanic and have them check under the hood and make sure everything's copacetic. So I'm the mechanic. Your marriage is the car and again, we're just looking at are there any issues that you guys are in, in conflict about?

[15:53] Um, I think that's fascinating. I just had a Tory, a wall on a last week on the podcast and she has a psychology degree and she's a wedding planner and she was talking about similar, being able to just kind of read people a little bit better when it comes to planning and kind of seeing people's motivations. How often do you guys do the premarital? Is that like a one in 10? Couple thing is to have the one in 50.

[16:18] Oh, I would probably say it's about a one in 25. I do. I do roughly 100 weddings a year and probably four couples want to do the premarital counseling.

[16:31] Is that successful? Obviously. I mean what is, what is their reaction to it?

[16:36] It's, um, for the most part, um, and I warn my couples about this, you know, for the most part you're going to discover things that you already know, but it's formalized and codified and yes, we knew we were going to have these answers occasionally. Every once in a while there'll be something kind of a surprise, oh my God, I didn't know you felt this way about this subject. And then we kind of dig in, dig into it a little further and discuss. And that's where a lot of my experience being an old married guy comes in. [inaudible] seen it all. It's like, like the, like the, the, the allstate commercials, you know, I've seen it, I've done it.

[17:21] Yeah, that's a great point. I, and I mean, that's a great just to know his customers. Not all state farmer's been there, done that, the car in the tree or whatever. Um, do you? Uh, I think that's a nice bonus, I guess for people that have right where they don't feel like they're obligated that they have to sign up for that. But that's like an extra thing. Exactly. So going back to now you're married, you're in California still. Um, so you guys started a catering company. Yup. So talk about that and kind of getting into the wedding industry even though

[17:55] it was, um, uh, that was uh, an idea that my wife had. She's very much an entrepreneur as it were and um, we had, uh, we had worked as catering assistance for other catering companies just as kind of a side thing. I'm, do they call it these days? It's a side hustle. Yup. Yup. And she decided that she wanted to have her own company. It was very small. It was basically the two of us and we'd hire on a couple of assistants when we needed, needed it. Um, we didn't have a commercial kitchen back in those days in California. You didn't have to have a commercial kitchen to be a caterer as long as you did all your, your food prep and cooking on site, which is what we did. We were small. We were mobile. That lasted, I think just a couple of years. It's catering is a young person's, especially when you're doing the, uh, the onsite stuff, it's a young person's job, you're hauling heavy stuff and food and ice. And

[19:03] so, uh, you guys did that for a couple of years. Uh, and then did that lead into the floral or was that.

[19:09] Nope, floral was totally a totally unrelated to that. My wife, uh, had been working an office job office managers I recall for a baby clothes manufacturing company here in town and she left that work and wanted again in the entrepreneurial spirit to open up or at least become a florist there are no longer open, but at the time there was a company in pioneer square that did a very intensive, like I think three or four month courses on floral design in the floral business. And she took those and originally was going to just go out to a try to get a job in a florist a was unable to. Nobody wanted to hire brand new, inexperienced florist. So she said, well, we're just going to open up our own shop. And uh, she, her first shop was in Ferndale village in admins. And she was there for a number of years and then moved over to country village in bothell. So that was up here, right? Either Washington near the coast guard, military. My last duty station was, uh, was here in Seattle. And uh, we just stayed.

[20:33] So you guys are up here now. She's doing the formal thing. How did then the idea of becoming an officiant come about

[20:41] that again? God bless her. Was My wife her? Yeah. See I. Everything I do is because of her. Um, she had a notion that we were going to buy some property out on the coast. I think we had recently maybe been out there on vacation or something that we were going to buy some property out on the coast and make it into a wedding venue and I was going to be the inhouse wedding officiant. The real estate portion fell through, but I had by that time, uh, gotten myself ordained online universal life church. Nothing wrong with that. Most efficient ants around here are um, online, ordained. Got Myself ordained. And there was, I remember specifically a Saturday afternoon, or I was watching steffes shop for her, I was at the front register, she was in one of the other rooms doing a floral consult for a bride, the bride and the bride's mother was there and I happened to overhear the bride complaining to my wife that they really didn't like the fellow that they hired to perform the wedding and they were thinking about letting him go and getting somebody else.

[22:05] And so I just kind of shoehorned myself into that situation. I'm ordained. I'd be more than happy to do your wedding ceremony. I'll charge you. I'm not going to say how much it was because it was a ridiculously low amount because I was starting out and I wanted to make sure because she was going to lose her deposit with this other fella. And, but a long story short, that was in March of 2003, a very first wedding ceremony. I did a, had one of those clouds parted. Come to Jesus moments. This is what you were put on earth to do. And just took off from there. Uh, so how did that first wedding ceremony Gal, you know, it's, it was, it was interesting. I, I, uh, performed the number one rookie mistake for an officiant. I'm standing up on the altar, groom standing next to me. I ask everyone to rise. Dad Walks the bride in, gives her a hug and a kiss and the groom goes up and Shakes Dad's hand, takes his fiance, his bride to be, takes her up to me and I start the ceremony and about two minutes later I noticed the mother of the groom looking at me trying to subtly wave her hand, motion her hand down, and I looked around and went, oh, everybody's still stands, please, please be seated. Sorry about that. And that. Yeah, that's kind

[23:46] of a common, uh, if you ever have like, yeah, like a friend do the ceremony, like we'll remind them like 80 times picture everyone city and made sure everyone say because people, it's like a wedding. It's like sheep, they just kind of walk and they do what they're told. Don't, don't get me started on friends doing ceremonies. Um, so, uh, well I do, I do. I'm talking about that. I do too, but, so, uh, so the ceremony goes well though. You have a come to come to Jesus moment. That's what were you nervous? Uh, I mean, you the obviously stage acting and things like that.

[24:19] Funny thing I, I was, I was. And it's very perceptive of you to, to catch that because they're the main difference. I mean, I, I've been on, you know earlier I mentioned 3000 seat theater. I've been on stage with 3000 seats. Maybe I exaggerate a bit, but it's not me up there. It's whoever I'm playing. So that first I'd say probably the first three to four to five weddings, it was a little bit nervous because it was, it was me, um, but got very, very quickly. Got into the swing of the thing, the comfort level increased. Um, and every year I add on another 100 some odd weddings. Uh, I tell people these days you could wake me up at three in the morning, give me a posted note with a couple of people's names on it and I can stand up and, and, and improvise a 15 minute wedding ceremony.

[25:21] Yeah, if you need to. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Um, so, so you're going along, man, you know, you've got a couple under your belt. Um, when did then kind of this, you know, Ray Van Winkle and associates, how did that kind of grow and come about?

[25:35] That came about? I'm around, let me see. Probably around 2010 I was, I was just by myself up until then. Um, I had actually, just as a sidebar, I had actually been working a full time day job when I started doing weddings. So the, the wedding thing was my side hustle, uh, in [inaudible] eight I got laid off during the great recession. I was in my fifties, nobody was going to hire, you know, that just wasn't the way it was. And so I was able to spin that off into full time. So from Oh, eight wedding officiant full time in 2010 though I was contacted by a very good friend of mine who has always been fascinated with my business and how an officiate works and everything and he kind of introduced me to the end associates concept mainly because this fellow is a business attorney and that's how law firms usually run right around the time he started talking to me about this.

[26:46] I was realizing that I was turning away a lot of business, a referring over to other colleagues that we, you and I both know, but I was sending a lot of business out to other people, but I wasn't getting a lot of referrals back the other way. So when my friend bill introduced me to the and associates concept, I took him on, trained him in how I do things and how I like to see things done. So whenever I was contacted by a couple who I could not help, I could refer them over to Reverend Bill and that his schedule filled up. The next year. Later I brought on my second associate. A couple of years later. I brought on my third,

[27:32] uh, so I want to get back to, to, uh, you being no layoff or corporate in the way you did before, but I, I don't want to forget to ask. So when you talk about, and I think it's important, uh, you know, you hired bill, like how you wanted to see a ceremony, you know, be performed, go off, like if you had to verbalize that, you know, in terms of like what, what is your vision for that or what is the ideal vision? How would you describe that?

[27:59] Oh boy, interesting question. Um, first things first. What I visualize is, um, it's not my way or the highway. We don't dictate the wedding couple. They are our boss. It's like we're a taxi cab driver or uber driver. The bride and groom there are fair. We will take you where you want to go, the way that you want to go. Um, I've also insured and kind of what the vision for the company is both myself and all of my associates. Um, we're very lighthearted. We're not terribly serious. We are gathered here today kind of kind of people. So we're fun, we're lighthearted. Um, our job is to, is to serve. So, um,

[29:02] you were working, you said you were working full time while you're doing your officiant. Uh, what were you doing or if you wanted to talk about it?

[29:08] Sure, sure. I was a, a sales administrator for a marine manufacturing company in the u district. Was there for 19 years. I'm one of these, uh, just a desk job jockey. It was in the sales department. It was basically the sales manager and myself and then we managed a whole network of dealers and distributors and international distributors, etc. So phone work, computer work, doing the occasional a boat show, that kind of thing.

[29:42] So. And you're doing weddings on the side, right? And so then like use it. So then when you got laid off, like that had to have been really scary, right?

[29:51] Yeah. When you look at how much cobra is for your health insurance, that was scary and it was a against smartest thing I ever did was be in the military by a weird quirk of my timing. I was able to get va healthcare. I still pay copays for everything, um, that the va does not give healthcare to everybody. who is, was in the military, you have to be a war time vet. And I was in from 79 to 84 and in [inaudible] 81 or 82 is when reagan invaded Grenada. And that's, that was, that was a declaration of war by congress. Uh, I was up in Alaska at the time, but it doesn't matter. We're at war. I was in the service so I get my healthcare through them and that freed me up to be able to do the wedding officiating full time and not have to worry about getting another job and get insurance, etc. Etc.

[31:01] Uh, this is probably terrible to me. I should have asked before. why, why did you get into the coast guard? What was that? What inspired you to do that?

[31:08] You know, what inspired me to do that is I was living at the time in a little farm town in southwest Iowa population 100. I'd moved out there from san francisco, so it was quite the culture shock. Uh, but I had family out there and uh, just wanted to try something new, different. I was there for I think about nine months and just no job prospects, nothing really going. I wanted to head back to the coast. I felt very landlocked. The only water was the Missouri river, a little muddy river that ran nearby and I was used to being near the pacific ocean. So I went to omaha, Nebraska once in one of those multi branch recruiting services. And I'm considered my options, no offense to anybody who might've been in the army, but back then at least anybody could sign an x on a piece of paper, went into the army. So I said, no, no, I can do better than that marine corps to tough navy. Don't know why I didn't consider the navy, but I didn't. But I was, I was going back and forth between the air force and the coast guard and decided on the coast guard. And they Sent me right back to the bay area. The, A bootcamp at that time was in alameda, California. And uh, the first ship I was on was based out of alameda and the second ship I was on, it was based here in seattle.

[32:37] So yeah. So then you got sent back to san francisco

[32:40] and how many years were you in the coast guard? I was in for four years and nine months. It was a four year enlistment, but by the time I figured out what service school I wanted to go to, it was a nine month long school and they required that I have at least two years doing that job once I got out of school. So I had to add an extra nine months into my enlistment. So what was that experience like? I mean, did you like it? I did, I did. It was, um, I'd recommend it for anybody actually. Uh, what I also recommend though is a lot of the people I was in joined the service when they were 17 or 18. I waited until I was 21. And I think that helped a lot having a couple of years out of school and living on my own before going into the service.

[33:29] But in general it was a, it was a real wake up call, it was kind of a pick me up, slap me across the head, you know, grow up, get a job, be a man, that kind of stuff. It was your wife helping you out at all or was this kind of year venture then? Uh, As far as the officiating, um, it was, it was pretty much my kind of thing, my though, but my wife has a lot more business experience than I do. She's really savvy as far as advertising and connecting with people and whatnot. And she would often turn to her for advice that I would sometimes take in sometimes not much to her chagrin. Um, in regards to the business matters, do you find that there's specific issues in terms of being an efficient company that are unique to you in terms of like other businesses or other wedding vendors?

[34:24] I mean, that might be a broad question, but it is, but, but specifically in regards to other wedding vendors and what I have found over the years is unlike a videographer or photographer or a dj, um, I find that actually paying for advertising or more importantly paying to be in a wedding show really doesn't get a lot of result for people in the efficient business. And I think it'S not part of it is because some people are getting married at a church, other people are having their cousin fred do the wedding. Um, but unlike a lot of other vendors, officiant don't charge all that terribly much. I mean there are a couple people around her are doing like the 800 to a thousand, but for the most part it's like anywhere from three to $500. And so you're putting out a lot of money to do a show. It, it just doesn't, uh, you know, for example, in your business, you book one wedding and you've, you're making. For me,

[35:38] I need to book a couple of weddings just to break even. Yeah. And then that's a great point because we were in the wedding show this year, we had just kinda upped our, you know, our, we're going to be a sponsor for videography and, and we had said like, well now, you know, we got a book at this number of weddings to break even. but yeah, like I said, I'm sure it's a lot less and we're not in the business to break even.

[35:57] You want more than that.

[36:00] Um, and then so talk about your, your thoughts, uh, about, you know, hiring a professional versus doing that. Friends or family and, and, and I know it's, you know, and I'm sure it's a deer, a topic, you know. and the same with me, you in terms of people that say they don't need a videographer, whatever, but you know what, let's talk about the pros and what do you feel like, you know, the pros are to bring in our professional versus, you know, rely on the family and friend. Years ago, years ago,

[36:27] and I used to have this on an older version of my website years ago, I tried to make my website more of an educational kind of thing and I would talk about how, um, about why you hire a professional in general. You don't give your cousin mechanics book and some tools and say, hey, fix my car. You don't go to your sorority sister, would you need open heart surgery? Granted, nothing that You or I are doing is open heart surgery. But I, I've, I've subsequently kind of tapered off on that over the years because I do understand and acknowledge that a lot of people feel that their ceremony is going to be more personal if it's somebody they know standing up there. And sometimes it is sometimes the, uh, the nonprofessional efficient. We'll do a good job. A lot of times, and I know you've seen this yourself and wedding planners and photographers will, will tell you that a lot of times they don't.

[37:37] I'm to the point to where I'm. Dave don't remember to hold the microphone up in front of their face. They don't move off to the side when the bride and groom are kissing, and so their photo bombing the, the picture, they forget how to fill out the paperwork properly and then you're not legally married until that gets all rectified. The miCrophone craps out and the person just can't speak in front of lots of people like that. Uh, but again, I've, I've kind of mellowed on that because I have, I have met couples who have said, well, you know, it, it did feel like more personal in our guide. Did a really good job. God bless him. That's great. Um, I, however, I also feel that part of the, part of the reason we have ceremony in anything, a funerals, weddings, baptisms, anything we have ceremony to make something different and more outstanding from the rest of our lives.

[38:46] and that's why we, that's why we celebrate the ceremony. And as you discussed earlier, you were talking that I'm the weddings that we've done together, even when I don't actually know the people very, very well. They're not like dear friends forever. The ceremony can still have that personal, heartfelt, wow, that guy really knows this couple feeling without actually having known this couple for all those years. That's part of being a professional. And to get back though onto the, uh, the ceremony and why it's special is that a lot of times, and I would ask anybody who's, who's been to a ceremony of wedding ceremony where they know the efficient, you know, that's, that's my cousin joe doing that. It doesn't, it doesn't bring the ceremony up to the level to my mind that it should, by having somebody that here's somebody up there, we don't know them, but they stayed. They speak with respect and dignity and then fun and humor and a more of a sense of gravitas I think is the word.

[40:05] Uh, and I mean and, and to be fair, you know what I mean, you're speaking to me too. I mean we, we had had my wife's a brother in law, you know, perform our ceremony, you know, for the same reason. Right? Oh, read, read, read, read. I'm leaving now. How did, how did that work out? But it was good. I mean, he and we specifically, she had actually had a couple of friends that had volunteered to do it. Then I had specifically said, you know, we're not goIng to have, you know, your sorority sister do the wedding, you know, he, he's a lawyer and he wears a suit and looks and speaks with words. Yup. Yup. But, uh, but no, I mean, but that's with words as opposed to american side. Uh, but, you know, but I mean, I do think that that is a really great thing that, you know, you can be, have it be personal habit, be heartfelt, haven't had that connection with bringing in that professional. I mean, I think that that is a really great point to make, right? Yup. Yeah. I can't, I can't tell you how many the

[41:02] weddings I've done where I arrived at the rehearsal and the wedding planner sees me coming in and you just see this sense of relief and the shoulders drop. Oh ray, thank god it's you. Um, last week I did this wedding and I tell you I had to stand there and hold this guy's hand and, and you know, having, having a professional fill in the blank makes everybody else's job easier. I'm going to make your job easier because you don't have to coach me and what's going on. The dj, the photographer, the planner, everybody, um, with the exception of the caterers probably doesn't have much effect but it makes everybody else's job easier.

[41:55] well, and I would agree with that and I would agree also like you said with that during the rehearsals and things where you know, like our friends got married, my wife's friends and like I showed up at the rehearsal and you know, they didn't have a planner in their officiant was. I can't even remember who it was. But like I'm sitting there like, and luckily I was doing the video and like I have a brain, but like I was trying to figure out like, okay, where are people going to stand in the order? And things like that's not something that I did. I. And they had no, I mean they wouldn't have known. I told dorothy, I said they wouldn't have known, they wouldn't have known. Like if I wasn't there, they still be standing. That's,

[42:28] that's, that's another aspect of that goes toward a professional officiant is I'd say probably about 75 percent of the weddings we do. There is no wedding planner or a coordinator. So we run the rehearsal. Um, so you're not, again, having to have some people standing there going, okay, what do we do? Well, I don't know, how do you think we want to do it? Et cetera, et cetera. Uh, we come in at the rehearsal and just like a day of coordinator, we take over line everybody up and do a proper and thorough rehearsal

[43:11] because I think that that is a great point because I don't think that people like, I think you think like, oh, we're going to get married in like, we're going to stand up there. But like they don't think about the 1800 things that lead to that in terms of like, well, where are we going to line up? What order? Where are we going to stand?

[43:28] A lot of that I think is due to movies and tv. You watch movies, especially hallmark, but anybody you, you watch a wedding in a ceremony or wedding ceremony and a movie and it's usually like 90 seconds. They don't even show you naturally. They don't even show you the entire ceremony and people get in the mind that like you said, it's just kind of magic, oh, we're just going to appear here and we're going to stand here. Then we're going to turn out and face face the audience is going to look just like it. It does in the movies, but there's all that other stuff that, that contributes.

[44:09] Yeah. I remember even rebecca, our planner was like, you know, you're going to need to rebecca, granted and you know, hold your hands in this, you know, I didn't even think about all that stuff. You just think out we're going to get married and you don't think. Yeah, like the actual, like, functional, getting up there and the mechanics. Uh,

[44:28] yeah. It's, it's a, it's like thinking that, okay, I want, I want this beautiful painting hanging on my wall and not being given some oils and brushes. And where do you go from there?

[44:45] Um, so in terms of you've done a lot of ceremonies, we talked about that. Are there some that really resonate with you even now years later or months later? Like I know that we did matthew and alex last year up russell's loft and I mean that was like heavy really vows and the ceremony and I mean they were email a lot of stuff. I mean whether what resonates with you now or what keeps going, we'll,

[45:13] we'll, we'll see these days. It's funny you mentioned matthew, the knowledge these days pretty much any same sex marriage I do still resonates me with me mainly because all the work everybody had to go through and struggle to get where we are today. So, um, in addition to that though, um, I think specifically of a wedding I did, it's bear creek golf and country club, I think it was a number of years ago, the groom, a unbeknownst to his wife, taught himself to play the guitar, wrote a song for her and had the guitar waiting behind his line of groomsmen. So the bride didn't see it and in the middle of the ceremony drops to one knee. The best man gives him the guitar and he serenades his bride. It's got. Yes. That's. Yeah, I didn't do anything like that. I mean either meaning here, go for it now.

[46:24] No, I was going to say, uh, I mean there are ceremonies that are memorable for those kinds of reasons. There are ceremonies that are memorable for when something goes wrong or unexpected. I officiated a wedding once with a catholic deacon. We're at a masonic hall in burean and deacon teddy walks his daughter down the aisle. I stopped them. I usually don't do this, but they wanted me to ask the question, if anyone sees any reason why this man and woman should not be married, et cetera, et cetera, and I asked the question and this fellow stands up and raises his hand and he says, I object big gasp. Everybody's, oh my god. What's going on? Number two, guy number three. Number four, by the time guy number five, standing to object. The pork room. He Is doing one of those face plants just standing there and the altar shaking his head. Deacon teddy turns around, points to each one of those five guys and says, you guys just sit down and shut up and thank god your sister's getting married. Wow. Everybody breaks into laughter. It was insane. Uh, the, uh, the groom I guess knew he was getting married into a family of practical jokers. The saving grace to the story was that she told me right before the wedding they were going to do that.

[48:03] Oh yeah. I know. I would've been. I would've been standing there and going, oh, uh, no, no.

[48:10] can I ask you nets? I would say maybe two out of 20, 25 they ask that anymore. Is that just kind of passe, that skiing that people have jack? Oh yeah.

[48:20] No, that, that, that only comes up once or twice a year. Yeah. Yeah. The, the and people avoid that. Not. Well first off, the people who do want it, they want it just because it is quote traditional unquote. It's what you've seen in the movies in a church, et cetera. Most people stay away from that. Not so much because they seriously think anybody's gonna object because who's going to invite that person, but invariably the groom will be thinking of some groomsmen. He's got up there who's going to want to be a smart ass and say something just to be funny and that's why we stay away from that.

[49:02] Yeah. Cause I, the only times I've seen it is it's always played for jokes. Like they'll be like. And if you have anything to say like, get outta here.

[49:11] Yeah. Yeah. And I've done that also on the few times I've done that question. I've had people who want me to say speak, you know, if anybody objects sit down and shut up, they're getting married anyway, but that would be the bride or groom would ask you. Right? Oh yeah. You know, I do not. Um, I do not go awful. How can I put it? I normally don't go off off script. I'm not gonna improvise. Say anything. They don't want me to say unless something goes wrong. if, if the bride is having a hard time getting that ring shoved on his finger, I'm going to say something. I can't help it. But you're trying to ease kinda. Exactly. Exactly. Knowing people, people welcomed that and enjoy that. And if something like that happens early in the ceremony, it's really great because you see the tension. If the bride or groom or tense or nervous, you see that once, once everybody laughs and that tension just kind of melts away and the shoulders drop down a little bit and they're good to go.

[50:20] Yeah. We got married at salty is and as we were doing the rings this boat, like a, like single engine fishing boat, it was like, I think one guy had his shirt off and the other guy had a bright orange vest, you know lifevest on. Yup. Yup. Big beer guts drinking beer and like 10 feet offering the salty dog going by. So I had the wherewithal because I. And I was like, well I think we should wait here for a minute, but you know, we didn't have a friend that was like, you know, should we keep going? And I said, well no, we should stop and wait.

[50:53] That kind of thing happens on the scan. Sony up here a lot on the, on lake union. you're in the middle of the ceremony and somebody going by in a kayak and occasionally it's usually applause and whooping it up. Every once in a while he gets somebody going down to run. It's not too late.

[51:14] Uh, I was happy that the last wedding we did with the cruise ship, there was some people that they got married as defining. And jason got me, or stephanie and jason got married at the bell harbor and there was a cruise ship. They're big, big norwegian. It hadn't, it was, I guess it was supposed to depart like an hour before and it wasn't and I really was worried because we were getting set up and there were some people that were making yelling from the ship, scott, the dj, you know, we were talking and then maybe you were, you know, we were all kind of getting ready and I thought, man, I'm really going to be. And luckily they didn't win. The actual ceremony was there, you know, because that is tough. I mean, you don't want somebody, I don't know, trying to make a joke and be the star. Is there common mistakes that you see couples make in terms of approaching the wedding with the officiant or things that you wish more people would know? Like easy stuff that you're like this, that you see time and time again? Interesting. Besides like relying on you uncle bob.

[52:13] Oh yeah, yeah, yeah. Let's, let's, let's take that off the table right now. Boy, you know, believe it or not, and I talked to people about this when we have our initial consultation, the big thing is remember to get your darn marriage license. Um, I can't tell you how many times I'll arrive at the ceremony and asked for the marriage license and they look at me and go, weren't you supposed to get that? And I did a wedding recently for a, actually somebody who is a professional in the wedding business who will remain unnamed, I'll tell you when we're done. And he did not have a marriage license.

[53:03] Well, and for people that don't know, I mean, you, you, it is an official thing. You hAve to go in with your, you can't just pick one up when you want to do. And they'd say you physIcally can't get their marriage certificate.

[53:16] Yeah, yeah. No, the bride and groom or bride and bride or groom and groom as the case may be. You've got to go to the county anytime within 60 days of the wedding date, but not within three days because there's a little waiting period. They post your documents. No, no. Los vegas weddings. Here. You don't want to meet on a wednesday night and get married thursday morning kind of thing. Um, but yeah, that is the most important aspect. Without that, there's no marriage. And, and like I said before, when we were, uh, talking about the nonprofessional officiant, if it's not, paperwork's not done properly. There's no marriage. Um, yeah. So that's, that's, that's the big thing. That's the big thing.

[54:02] Uh, I, we did have a wedding that joe my associates shot and it was a quote unquote professional officiant who will remain nameless, but I, joe rode for about 20 minutes of footage in the back with him trying to explain to them how he forgot the certificate, but that it was okay that like, they were still married and oh, well I'll just meet up with you guys tomorrow at starbucks. And I'm like, no, but that's not like, you know, he was trying to explain to them, oh, you are still married. And it's like, well, not until tomorrow. Then it starbucks. Right, right.

[54:35] Well, you know though, I mean for first off in these circumstances, we go ahead and do the ceremony naturally and we do get together afterwards. Sometimes what happens is they've left the paperwork at the hotel and the hotel is like an hour away. Sometimes they just haven't applied for it. Um, if it's a case of the paperwork's been left in the hotel again, that paperwork's good for 60 days depending on how far back you got it. In addition, the officiant has 30 days after the date that it's signed to get those documents back to the county. So there is some, there is some slop time there. If it is a case that you just forgot to get the paperwork, then yes, indeed. You are not actually officially married until that date that that document is signed. Um, there is a keepsake certificate though is you'll recall, which is not a legal documents. So you can put whatever you want on it. If you want to put that original date that you had the ceremony, you're perfectly welcome to do that.

[55:43] I'm moving forward here. What do you have any longterm goals or any. What does the future hold for,

[55:52] for well, you know, longterm goal number one is actually to increase the business mainly because, uh, for me at least, and I think for some of my other fellow, a wedding vendors, uh, this past couple of years had been kind of slow. There's been a lot more diy, do it yourself, both in officiants video, djs, et cetera. Uh, I don't know if it's for economic reasons, political reasons, you know, we're all worried that we're all going to be nuked and you don't want to spend all that money anymore. So short term goal, get business back up the way it was a couple of years ago, longer term. I'm actually had been branching out lately and, uh, doing some funerals. Uh, I was actually back in [inaudible] nine, I think it was. I was trained in writing and performing funeral services. Uh, that is one of the things that is kind of diy proof. Most people don't want to deal with speaking at a funeral. I'm beyond that. It's simply a matter of just keeping on, keeping on,

[57:16] keep on the hustle. That's it. Well, I want to thank you so much for coming in today. It's been a really fun and insightful. I feel like I've learned a lot about you just in terms of personally because you know, you see these vendors, you know, I see you at weddings, but it's not like we have hours to kill.

[57:34] You had said when I got, when I got here today, there's just, this is the first time you've seen me out of a suit and tie. I am wearing clothing. Everybody just not in a suit and tie

[57:44] and uh, so they, you so much. If people want to learn more about, you know, you, your associates, what you guys do, your philosophy in regards to weddings, what would you have them do at checkout?

[57:54] Yep. They're going to want to go to www.seattlesbestofficiants.com. You can also find us on Facebook if you search for Reverend Ray Van Winkle and Associates

[58:08] and that it is a Good easy name to remember. I always remember that Ray Van Winkle.

[58:13] When I, when I was a little kid growing up, I wanted to be a Smith or Jones or a Williams like everybody else. As soon as I got into a business where name recognition was a plus everyday, it's thank god I'm a Van Winkle.

[58:26] Okay, that sounds awesome. This has been another episode of Get to Know Your Wedding Pro. Check back next week for another wedding vendor interview. Thanks so much.

Episode 13 (Torry Wahl, Raise a Glass Wedding and Event Planning)

[00:09] Hey everybody, welcome to Get to Know Your Wedding Pro. My name is Reid with Best Made Videos. We are a wedding videography company based out of West Seattle, Washington and I'm here today with Torry Wahl of Raise a Glass Wedding. They are a local wedding planning company. And Torry, why don't you introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about who you are and what you guys do.

Okay. Hi Reid. Thank you for having me. I really appreciate you inviting me over. Um, so Raise a Glass Wedding is a small boutique wedding planning business. So I do about um, 12 to 20 weddings a year so nothing extravagant but I like to keep it small. I still like to have a social life, hang out with my husband sometimes, but we are based out of Snohomish, Washington, but I go all over Washington state. It's predominantly me. Um, I run the business so if you're booking with me, uh, we're having all of our consultations together, we're having all of our meetings together. I'm there for the full 12 hours of your wedding and then also there to assist with the reception and ceremony. So in rehearsal, so I'm pretty much there the whole entire day just to make sure everything runs smoothly and then I also have some assistants that help me, but if you're hiring me or working with me and that's kind of what I like is I keep it very personal and then it's just a really relaxed, fun business.

Talk about what kind of drew you into weddings in the first place.

[01:37] Um, I've always been super interested in like weddings and the ceremony and the ritual of getting married and so that's kind of what I went to school for. Um, so that's kind of what drew me there, but I never anticipated owning my own business or being a wedding planner by any means. So I love planning, I love organizing things. Um, I'm really into like the service industry. I love pleasing people, making sure that their expectations are met and that everything that they have envisioned or worked hard for just gets executed. So it's kind of selfish in a way. Like I, it really makes me happy and I enjoy it and people pay me to do it. So

[02:17] that is good though when you find something that you like. I mean I could shoot video all day and it's not, you know, you do feel like, well I'm, yeah, I get paid for them.

[02:24] Yeah. Like it's crazy sometimes when I'm like, people are giving me money to do this real life. Uh, so would you go to school for. I went to school for psychology and then marriage and family studies. So, um, I got my, a double degree in marriage and family studies, so I love the culture of marriage and like why people get married and the different ceremonies and traditions that people get married with and things like that. So that's kind of what drew me in, but

[02:52] I didn't even know that that kind of degree existed.

[02:55] Marriage and family studies. Yeah. So where was that at? Central Washington. So I don't know Berg. So

[03:01] yeah, I definitely do a tour that when I did I, I went to school in state too. So that was part of my, part of my tour through across to spokane where I ended up, uh, what drew you to that degree? I mean, that's not, I don't know if that's a typical undergraduate that someone would be drawn to.

[03:17] Um, so since high school I've always wanted to do psychology. My grandpa had Alzheimer's when I was younger and so I lived with him and helped him. And so, um, I went to school to do psychology. I want to do geo, the study of like Alzheimer's and how that developed and that's kind of what triggered me to do that. And then once I got in there, um, I was really, really drawn to marriage and culture and um, I started taking all these classes and based on like why people get married and psychology of marriage and um, I started studying a lot about John Gottman and things like that, so I'm Kinda just fell into it and I never thought that I'd be a wedding planner. And then people were like, hey, you should help plan these weddings. And so family and friends were asking me to help plan weddings and that's kind of how I fell into it. So it's Kinda all pieced together really well. I wanted to go to school to be a marriage family therapist after that, and then it evolved to I don't want to go to school anymore,

[04:16] so why do people get married?

So nowadays it's a lot different than why people got married and so before people got married for um, you know, when we're cave men and women, I guess it wasn't, you weren't getting married, but common partnerships for survival to continue on procreating and um, things like that. So it's evolved now where it's not so much like you need a man and a woman to run a household. It is evolved in so many different ways of having a family and that's what, that's what I love about it. It's a constantly growing and evolving. So now people get married for security reasons, financial reasons, health insurance reasons. I'm just the tradition of it all. So it really depends.

[05:03] Uh, so then you said you kind of learned a lot about different marriages and cultures and things like that. Does that make you feel more prepared now in terms of like the clients that you guys can look after and help out?

[05:15] Um, not necessarily, like I'm not counseling them or saying like, what you're doing is not correct. Like I'll notice things with couples where I'm like, oh, they're going to make it, like how they're communicating is really, really effective. Like that's going to work. And other times I'm like, oh, maybe I need to work on that a little bit. But for the most part it's a way for me. Like I love incorporating family traditions. I'm into weddings and I love that clients like to incorporate like what their grandmothers wore, what their grandfathers war or they rings or the style of their wedding that they had. So I really enjoy incorporating all these different elements to a wedding that have to do with past marriages and past traditions and things like that.

[06:01] Yeah, I do think that that's a common trend now that I just had on um, um, well there. So with a hey sweets and she was talking about, you know, desserts and just kind of all aspects of the day, right? That the clients really want to make it their own, you know, and whether it's like a, you know, my grandmother is part of their, her dress is sewn into my dress or I mean, are you finding that, you know, a lot more customization and a lot more like be a brides and grooms, like really want their hands on everything.

[06:30] Yeah. Yeah, definitely. So, um, I've noticed with a lot of my couples that they want to plan their own thing so they want to find the vendors themselves for the most part, um, seek out or at least get my advice with some things, but they like to find ones that match their style really well and they like to find vendors that work really well with them and what they're looking for. So I've noticed that that couples now are generally moving towards planning their own thing, incorporating their own family traditions and not being so traditional in that sense. Um, but making it more of their own, which I love that. I love clients that do that. Like a couples that make their wedding their own, I think are the more intimate and more personal and they feel it a lot more. So I love that.

[07:15] Uh, what's your favorite part in terms of that planning process with a couple way? Is it kind of that initial getting everything going? Is it seeing the finished product? Is it somewhere in between?

[07:25] And the finished product for me. So when they come out from like getting their pictures done or getting ready and it's their first time seeing the venue and they're like, oh my gosh, this is what it looks like. This is amazing. This is exactly how I envisioned it. This is how I thought it was going to look. Or like this is above what I had expected. That for me is like the spot where I'm like, Oh yeah, I'm like, I can leave home or go home like the end of the night with like crazy sore feet and being hungry for not eating anything whole day, which probably isn't good for me, but I can go home feeling satisfied and happy after knowing like, oh, like everything that they had worked so hard for an envisioned was executed. That's, that's like perfect for me.

[08:06] Uh, so you're married, uh, talking about your wedding experience, what was that like?

[08:10] I'm at my wedding experience was different, so I was in the midst of my second year of wedding planning as a business. So I gave that to my husband to do. I had like 13 weddings last summer. So, um, and that's when we got married, was in September. And so we had a really short engagement. It was like maybe three or four months that we had planned everything. And so I was like, I'm busy. I've got stuff to do. If you want to get married on this date then you're going to have to figure it out. And he did such a good Jew. Uh, there were obviously some hiccups, like we didn't hire a photographer, we didn't hire a Dj, we didn't hire her. I'm like, I didn't have a traditional wedding dress like we didn't hire. Like it was just us in my brother's backyard with our family and friends. We had some catering come in, which was really nice. We had a food truck that was perfect. And um, so it was really simple. There was a lot of things where I was like, man, I probably should've done that. Probably should have put some effort into that. That didn't turn out okay. But we had all our family and friends there. We had great food. The weather was perfect. So we got married. That's all that mattered.

[09:21] Must set a high bar now, you know, in my experience the groom is, is not always the most involved. You know, some are, some are, but some aren't. And so, you know, your husband really taken that on, but you must look at guys now and be like, come on, you can, you can get it together.

[09:37] But I have noticed a lot more than now the men are feeling a little left out where they're like, I have an opinion to like and like, and it's been suppressed in them for so long. Like you are not supposed to care about your wedding day. Like it's not your day, it's about the bride, it's not about you, but that's not the case. Like it's about both families coming together and a lot of times too, like there's same couples, same sex marriages, so the men in those cases are probably planning, envisioning their wedding their whole life and not leaving it up to a bride. So it's, for me, I love incorporating the groom's opinion into things as much as possible because my husband had a lot of opinions. He's like, this is the food I want, this is like the time of the year I want. And I was like, okay dude, if you want to do it then do it. But I don't have the time for this.

[10:26] Yeah. That was. We got married in August too and it was similar. I ended up doing a lot of the planning and my wife wasn't as helpful. I mean, she was helpful but not as involved. It was probably be the bad word. I'm going to cut this part out. I don't want to get in trouble. Um, so, uh, anyway, uh, you guys got married in September, having been married now, do you feel like that gives you extra insights now into working with your clients or what do you think about that? Yeah, definitely. So I think going through the whole experience also,

[11:00] there were things where I was like, oh, like I really should have hired a planner, like things did not get done that hurdle gotten done and um, so I definitely learned that was a huge learning lesson for me is to like play it and it was embarrassing to in a sense where I had all my family and friends there and they probably are expecting some high bar crazy thing and I was like go out into the yard and like hang out, here's food and stuff. Like for me it was kind of like, Ooh, I'm sorry this didn't turn out. Probably how you envisioned it, but for me it was a learning experience of like this is what has to get done to have a successful wedding. You really need to, if you want to plan it in that short amount of time, you really need to stick to like a really great timeline and great vendors and um, don't get me wrong. We had an amazing day. It was great for us, but it was definitely learning whereas like we didn't hire a DJ so the music didn't turn on at the right time. Like little things like that where it's like if couples are spending so much money on an event, then you want to get the right vendors and the right people there. So those was a learning experience.

[12:06] Yeah, it is always something we try to educate too, you know, like you don't know until it's too late kind of thing. Exactly. It's the same with videography. Like, you know, that's like a regret people have, but it's like you can't, you can only tell people so much ahead of time and then people are going to plan a. What do you find is some easy things that you see the couples like, pitfalls that they, like you said, like the Dj thing or like what are some pitfalls now that like are easy ones that you see that you can kind of help couples with?

[12:38] Um, so relying on family and friends to do things, that's probably the main thing that I see where I'm like, hm, I don't know. Like I, I know they are very reliable in real life and on your wedding day they have to go get ready themselves. They have other stuff they're doing. So um, that's kind of the main thing is relying on family and friends to do stuff after a couple of drinks they might forget that they are supposed to put the cheese board out or whatever it is that they're supposed to do or put the presence in the car, whatever little tasks. So the fact that I'm there to either remind people or to just take over those tasks myself, um, is a really good, um, like comfort for them. It's a great comfort for them knowing like my mom's not the most reliable, like my sister is not the most reliable. So things like that I think is like the biggest pitfall.

[13:26] Uh, I do have one quick story, the interject, um, couple of years ago we had it, it was more of a diy wedding and the bride and groom, when we had met had talked about how they were going to incorporate it in like a lot of tabletop games and like Legos and they're big into, you know, all that kind of stuff. And I think it was like the ceremony was supposed to be 4:45 and it was like 4:15, 4:20. We're at the venue over in Bellevue. She's no hair done, no makeup done, no dress on, but they had had legos that they accustom, made Lego's for. There was like 70 people there. So each person had it custom made like hat face, you know, this whole Lego made to look like them. And then they all had signs on them that have like, you know, the person's name and that that was going to be like where you were sitting at the table and I'm sitting there, you know, we're, we, I get in and I see her and she's, the flags had come undone in the box and so they're sitting there at the venue like trying to figure out like, you know, it was like a that a guests who were that pop up game, you know, where it's like I'm wearing a mustache or whatever, but they're trying to figure out.

[14:32] And I'm sitting there with Steve and the photographer and I'm like, I'm having a meltdown. So, you know, that's kind of thing that like if you had a plan or you know, she was trying to do all of that where if you had somebody that was there, right? Because it was like her and her sister were trying to put it together. So

[14:45] yeah. And they're probably trying to go get ready themselves or at least experienced that day with their sister or daughter and people to see them getting ready or half a glass of champagne with them or whatever it is. And yeah, I can be there to be like, okay, you guys go, I'll take care of this. You guys go worry about, you know, what you need to worry about and this will get done. So just that reassurance I think is really, really a, a confidence booster for a lot of couples.

[15:10] What kinds of couples do you find are attracted to you or that you attract to yourself to work with?

[15:16] Um, I feel like I attract a lot of really laid back couples. I'm myself, I'm really laid back myself and I'm really organized and I'm really on top of things. But I'm not someone that's like, oh my God, you got to go get this done. We gotta do this now. It's like, it's fine will work itself out. I'm really go with the flow. And so I think those are a lot of the couples that I, um, that I attract and vice versa. And then also for traditional Pacific northwest kind of couples, like I love the outdoors, I love family traditions and vintage and um, just anything like that makes couples happy and I have such a vast, um, price range of people that I work with that it, it, I don't narrow it down just to certain couples. Like I feel like I'm a chameleon when it comes to, um, a lot of things and a lot of styles. I listened to tons of different music. Um, my style is different all the time. So I think that I, I work really well with a vast array of people. I have a, a really vast background of different like races in my family and different people and friends and it's not just a very specific group of people that I, I usually work with which is really nice. I love it. It's always been entertaining and it's always something different and I feel really passionate about what I do all the time.

[16:35] Yeah, I definitely have, you know, if my wife asks me when I come home, you know, you have a lot more to talk about when it's, you know, a really personalized wedding, you know, with whether it's the ceremony or the venue or you know, details. Then it's like, oh, that was fine. You know what I mean? It's great and like, but yeah, it is like having those touches and those, you know, like the different ceremonies and the different kinds of things. Do you work with a lot of different wedding ceremonies you talked about kind of your background and knowledge in that regard?

[17:01] Yeah, I love it when people incorporate their own little ceremony ceremonies, like my husband and I, we did a tree planting ceremony. Um, it's nothing religious or anything like that, so it's just something that unites us. So our trees growing in our yard right now, it has an apples on it. So it's not dead. It hasn't. We were worried for a minute during spring where like it's a dying. I hope it's not dying, but it's live, it's cooking, it's good. But little things like that, I love when couples incorporate in their ceremony, in their ceremonies or like I have a couple getting married this summer that's getting married in Kirkland and they're doing a ceremony in the little arbor area that they have there and then they're taking their guests on a cruise around like Washington. And I was like, that's so cool. It's so different, like really fun and very personal to them. And that's the kind of thing like kind of couples that I love working with.

[17:53] So, uh, so you go to school for psychology and in the very complicated sounding marriage degree, it's escaping me now. Uh, so then how did that evolve in into where we are now? So, you know, you graduate, are you, is it immediately working with them?

[18:09] No, no. So I graduated college in 2011, so it's been a while now. And then I immediately started working at a massage school. So actually it wasn't a school, I apologize, it was massage envy, so I worked there at the front desk doing sales. And so I did that for a couple years and um, was manager doing sales there, so I'm got to talk to people and you know, I feel like I learned a lot about um, people in just communicating and talking and things like that. And then after that I moved on to doing some nanny work. I was like, I'm just want to be outside, I want to have fun. So I did that for about five years and that's what I'm currently doing. I'm on the side, is some nanny stuff, which I love my little little girl a nanny for. I've watched her since she's three months and she's three now.

[19:00] And so she goes on venue tours with me. She goes to tastings with me. I feel like people hire me because she's so cute and she's so well behaved. They're like, you could take care of that kid that well. Like he'll be fine. So she's awesome. It's really fun. So, but I go full time in September. Is that exciting? Yeah, it's really exciting. Talk about that now. Yeah. So full time in September. So I um, after I kind of did a couple weddings for friends and family, I was like, I had just met my husband and I was like, I want to do this, and he was like one of the only people that I've ever met in my life that's like, you can do, like, you can do this, everybody else in my family and my, my life is very hesitant. Like, well maybe you should think about that. Like maybe that's not the good idea. You should, you know, very hesitant and scared where like for me, like for him to be like, you can do this, go do it. Like I just immediately started my business and I did it and it went really well. So

[19:55] were there some, you know, obviously learning lessons early on, anything that sticks out?

[20:00] Yeah, because I had never like planned weddings professionally before. I, like I'm never had done that. So it was something that I was like, I thought that I could do it. I believed in myself that I could do it. I had done a couple for friends and family, but to start a full business was, was a huge leap for me. Um, but I'm sorry, what was your question now I'm just talking,

[20:22] talking about you, anything you, you learned early on. I mean like, you know, for me it was like, I always say like getting the business license and like figuring out like the legalities of Seattle and King County. Like, I mean, what were something.

[20:35] Yeah. So, um, things like that he didn't really have, I didn't struggle with stuff like that. I really struggled getting my website up so I had to hire someone to do my website or maybe because I just didn't have that skill of doing computer stuff that wasn't just, that's just not my skill, that's what my skillset. So I had to hire someone else out to do things like that. So, um, marketing, advertising, learning where to put my money, I'm learning how to best serve my clients. Um, I'm very old fashion. Like I keep everything in notebooks and binders. Like it's not all on my laptop or anything, so I'm super old fashioned in that sense. Um, and then also, um, just just the learning of how to run a business and how to juggle being a business owner. Also working full time also, you know, in a new relationship. So things like that was what I was like grasping, but I feel like I really have a hold of everything now and have a really good sense of, of um, time management and you know, my, my sense of clients then also making enough time for myself and my husband and my family and friends. So that balance has, I've learned a lot to balance.

[21:47] Uh, as you were talking I was going through and analyzing your website and it is, it is very good and I could not have done that. So Kudos to that. No, but it is important to talk about the name, Raise a Glass Wedding and Event Planning.

[22:01] Yeah. So, um, I told my friends that I wanted to start a business and I've been friends with my best friend since preschool and my other friend since elementary school. And so like, we really know each other and I feel like we have such a great bond, but I was brainstorming some ideas and they, that's kind of like what we came up with and it's based on, um, like having just a nice intimate dinner with people around a table and cherishing those people and celebrating those people and that's kind of the basis of what, you know, my brand and how I, how I want to be seen as like, you know, just to celebrate each other and be appreciative. And that's what it's about.

[22:42] No, I love it. I love the name. I liked the logo with the, uh, it's like the Martini glasses or cocktail wherever it goes. Just like uniting my best friend did it actually. So I love that. I think that's good. Is that the friend that got married this weekend? She got married this weekend. So talk to me about that. When Torry came in, she had said that you had just gotten back from your friend's wedding. Uh, so what was that like? It was wonderful. It was absolutely down pouring on Saturday. So like we were in Snohomish, it was clear for the ceremony, it was absolutely beautiful and we were at the lookout lodge out in Snohomish. I don't know if you've ever been there before, but it's really cool. Um, cricket is the owner and she put out like all these tents and it was super cozy with heaters

[23:22] and my friend that did my logo, um, she does graphic design for Nordstrom, so she did all of the graphic design for the logo or for, I'm sorry, for the table settings and all that stuff. It was just really cool. She did such like an artistic cool job and all the vendors were, were really great and it was just a really wonderful day and for her, like she was just dancing in the like totally happy content and I've seen other brides where it's like not ideal weather and it kind of ruins the day for, for people. And I loved that she was just able to be like, I'm going to have a few drinks. That's fine. It was really, really fun.

[24:00] Yeah. I was trying to, in my head, remember back in, it's like, wait, what was that? We had the same. They had gotten, we were done at five, so they had gotten married but they were fearful of the rain and so it was sunny and they came out. We had gotten ready at her house, like a, a kind of Indian ceremony kind of coming out and then um, they had posted later on that day on Instagram, like the same view from their porch and it was just like, oh man, we're really, that would have been really bad, like exit into the Limo. Um, you know, a couple of hours later. Uh, so that was you. You were the best or a maid of honor. So that had to be kind of unique. Now going back, you know, be in the wedding planner, it's like when I attended the wedding and if I'm not filming that, you know, like, what was that like?

[24:45] Um, it was interesting. So luckily they, I was doing some of the planning, so it's helping out with some of the little tasks, but I'm at the lookout lodge. They have a planner, like a built in planner there, Jamie, and so she ran around and did all the stuff that I would have been normally doing, so it was really nice actually, like being able to like sit back and not worry about a lot of stuff for a while and especially with writing, so it's like, thank God I'm not having to deal with this right now. Um, so I was just able to sit and enjoy my dinner and eat and talk with my friends, but I was still running around and felt as though I had to do certain tasks and get things done. Like even though it wasn't my job necessarily, still from Jamie probably was like, get out my way. Um, I still felt as though, you know, it's kind of just ingrained in you I think to.

[25:32] Yeah, you're eyes relaxed. Yeah. No, I agree with that. I'm talking about the first wedding that you did, a not friends and family. Like your first year

[25:41] someone paid me, I'll give you money for the one to hear about that. So my first wedding was in April 2016 and that was, um, Taylor and Andy and they were at the Georgetown ballroom and it was really beautiful. It was really cool. It was a great wedding. Um, I was nervous, but I felt really, really competent. Her mom and her parents were like this sweetest people ever. And so, um, they really helped me out a lot with um, she, they were really organized. They knew what they wanted. Um, it was really nice, but they also had the Seattle seahawks band, I don't know what they're called, blue sanders blue under came in late. That was their entrance. So it was really, really cool and there were no hiccups. It was really wonderful. I got some really kind words afterwards so it really solidified to me like I'm on my right path. Like, this is what I'm passionate about. I know what I'm doing. Like, uh, it really kind of set the tone I feel like for me to feel confident about continuing on.

[26:43] And so

[26:44] you're based in snohomish, do you do a lot of weddings up there now? It's kind of that booming. It's growing, it's crazy. So I prefer to be snohomish, skagit, Bellingham. I love working on the islands. Um, things like that. I hit a bicyclist in Seattle when I was driving one day, so I prefer not to drive. It wasn't for a wedding or anything, so it's just me out and about running over bicyclist so nobody got hurt. It wasn't anything serious, but I try to stay off the roads in Seattle as much as possible.

[27:16] Is this a, I'm looking at your website. Is that the, the Georgetown wonderful photo in front of Georgetown ballroom. So do you find, um, are, are you excited about the growing snohomish and you know that the barn wedding trend and kind of that rustic look, I mean, do you see that trend continuing? Do you enjoy that? What are your thoughts on.

[27:38] No, it's a love hate relationship with it. Growing up in my area, I grew up in Lake Stevens, snohomish area and it was very like small town idealistic. Now I'm in stuck in traffic a lot, so that part is a downfall. But um, I love that it is growing in the sense like I love the Rustic, I'm like industrial kind of look and I feel like I'm snohomish in the area up north is like, there are barns, there's definitely lots of barns, but I think that it's going to be more of like a trendy. I'm not just rustic, not just barn or you know, there's lots of other options out there for have like a classic classic wedding or to have more of like an industrial field wedding. I think that it's really growing and I love it. I love all the vendors and I, I, I love, um, I'm part of the snohomish wedding guild and so I love being able to meet all of these different vendors and collaborate and that's like one of my favorite parts is a, being a wedding planners to be able to collaborate with people and have a community of people.

[28:39] And that's really important to me.

[28:41] Yeah. I was going to ask you about that. This will air later than them right now, but talking about, you know, how much wedding tour were were you out and what'd you think about that?

I was at the feather ballroom, so that is a historic venue. It's like right in, like on first street, I believe it's like right in downtown. Um, so it's really cool. It's perfect for all year round weddings. And so I enjoyed myself. I like meeting people. It was a, um, like a under the stars galactic kind of theme. So it turned out really cool. I had a great time and I think that so many couples get a lot from attending it. It's free and they meet so many different vendors and they meet, they get to tour the venues, they get some inspiration. Um, there's, there's just so many talented people that are part of the guild that for them to be able to go out and meet them without having to set up all these appointments and just get a feel of, of their work and who they are as individuals. I think that's really, really important. So

[29:41] I, do you enjoy the networking and building your own web and kind of you are there certain vendors and stuff, do you like kind of building that, that roster that you have that when clients come to you you can recommend people?

[29:53] Yes, I love it. I, they really enjoy it and I love being able to point them to the people that I think fit them the best and to be like, you know, I have a couple different people that I have stored in my arsenal for you to be able to pick from and you can pick and choose who you feel fits your personality best and where your price range or the field of the venue or whatever it is. So, um, I love that and I just love promoting like small businesses. Um, I shop a lot of small businesses. I love promoting like farm to table kind of foods, catering, drinks, things like that. So, um, I love when there's veteran owned businesses, women owned businesses, things like that, um, where I can promote people who definitely don't get the majority of promotion normally anyways. Probably so love the small businesses. I'm all about that community, that's Kinda like my main thing. I love being part of a community and supporting people. And

[30:53] what in terms of writing a small business, what are some of the biggest challenges today that you're facing or that you're trying to, you know, work through or it could be like day to day stuff or it could be, you know, kind of more of a longterm stuff.

[31:06] I'm so small business wise it's like for me just trying to figure out where I'm putting my money, what's the best way to put my, put my money in, how do I, um, how do I treat my couples like in having little parties for them and investing in things like that. The best way. Um, I'm not good in the business aspect of it. My husband does a lot of that so I luckily he's a lot smarter than me, so he does like all of the taxes and all of that little stuff that I don't really have any kind of knowledge and he's really great at doing all of that. So I get a lot of help from him. Um, so I'm learning and growing and in a lot of fields.

[31:42] Yeah. What is your. I was going to ask that too. What does your husband do?

[31:45] And he was in the navy, so he worked on submarines on nuclear submarines. Um, so he was like under water and summary Living for months at a time. So now he works through, um, Microsoft has contracted, his business is contracted through Microsoft, so he does like engineering type things I think. I don't really know. They'll tell me stuff and I'm like, oh yeah, okay, cool. I don't know what that means.

[32:14] That is the one benefit of having like a tangible, like, you know, my wife like understands like a wedding and so I can show her back here is like, you know, and it's, it's way more tangible but it's something like that. But you find, he gives you a lot of help in terms of. I mean, do you obviously appreciate that?

[32:30] Oh yeah. I wouldn't be able to do anything without him. I'm like, I need you to build me a giant moon out of a six foot piece of plywood. Please. Could you just go do that? And he's like, Yep, got it. Doing it. Like he's just on top of her. Anytime we take them to a wedding, everybody's like, he's so nice. I love it so much. He's so sweet. How did you get a guy like that? I'm like, what? Excuse me. Like I have qualities too, but everybody just loves ray. He just was so sweet. Where'd you guys meet? We met online, so we met in the good old fashioned way of online dating. Okay cupid or match couple preceded the whole like tinder and all that now. Isn't it funny? I think like eventually when we, like if you guys decide to have kids or you know, my husband and I have kids, like our love story that we tell to them is going to be able to. It's just, it's interesting to think like it's such a time stamped way of meeting I feel like.

[33:23] Yeah. And she's got a good, you know, we have, uh, our friends who got married a couple of years ago, like I think it was like he had been on for like two years and it was like literally like her first match and Dorothy and I were similar and that, uh, I think I had been on significantly longer than she had, but she was, she tells the story of how that summer that she was on, like she didn't buy like groceries for a month because she would do like a lunch date and then a dinner dance about it. Yeah. I mean she doesn't eat a lot anyway, but she's like, oh yeah, like I didn't buy groceries for like four months ago. It was awesome. It was like, oh, I always like taking girls every week. You know, this was like expensive. Uh, so, um, but he helps you with the business now. So, uh, talk to me about Kinda, you know, how you envision your business model and what you stand for in terms of like, well,

[34:17] business. So being a small business and it's just me. I really have like, um, a few key terms or words or things that I like to portray to my couples to make them feel, you know, comfortable, and this is what my business is about, is transparency. I'm really transparent with my, my couples and like, this is, this is who I am. I love to get to know you. Like my day of coordinating. It's not a day of, it's not month of. They'll hire me nine months in advance and we go through this process together, like they email me throughout the day. We have parties, we go do stuff together. Like it's a really, um, uh, building relationships so they, they get to know me and vice versa. So I know their families. I've met a lot of couples, their mothers and their sisters and I get to know them and so they're having that transparency of like, this is what my life is like, this is what your life is like.

[35:10] We're kind of working together to make this day perfect. I love having that. And then also, um, clarity. I love to provide as much clarity to my couples as possible. So when the timeline should be done, when vendors should be there, what's important, what's not important, things like that, as much clarity that I can provide to my couples is really important to me. Um, so I'm available all the time so I'll respond to emails like at 9:00 at night before I go to bed. Like this is my passion, this is what's important to me. So I make it work as much as possible. But um, yeah. So the clarity of making sure people know what's happening on their wedding day is really important.

[35:53] No, I think it is important because I think that like, uh, and I've gotten to that point to where I think early on, um, you know, you're just trying to kind of get work and, and you know, you kind of take it as it is and yeah, I mean like knowing kind of who you are, what you stand for, your business, but then also being really realistic with people and being like, that timeline is not going to work. We need to do this or like, you know, that's just like the way it is, you know. And so I, I think that that's important. I think the clarity and I do think, like you said, talking about like getting to know your couples, like that's kind of the whole reason I'm doing the podcasts right. It's like, you know, like I am my couple, they got married Saturday, like I'm emo scene meme on Instagram, like on their honeymoon now. And like I think that like, you know, it's so important like you know, as, as I'm working on, you know, their video, like you know, that connection and you know, that you had that connection with your clients, right? I mean you really get to know them and their families and stuff. Talking about kind of that whole process.

[36:50] Yeah, it's really fun. Um, that's kind of a lot of like why do it. And I think that's where my background comes in is that the marriage and family therapy aspect of it is like families are dynamic. There's so many different dynamics that come with family that come with traditions that come with marriage, come with family relations. And I love how messy it is. Like I love all of that. And that's really fun to me and it's just to make sure everybody has a great time and that they are experiencing phenomenal day. And that's kind of like, what's the most important thing, like I want to make sure that the moms get heard. I want to make sure that the dads get heard and that the grandparents feel like they have a say in things even though like obviously it's not their wedding, but they have envisioned it for these people for so long. So just to incorporate or make them feel as though they are, whether it's to bring them an extra drink and be like, hey, how are you doing? Can I get you anything? What can I do to make you relax and have a great time? That's, that's kind of like where my enjoyment. Like, like I've said before, it's kind of selfish where it's like, I do things like to make other people feel better and feel good. But really it's more of like a selfish thing.

[37:59] Uh, and you know, obviously with your psychology degree not built. Like, I always kinda think about it like Keanu reeves in the matrix. Like you're kind of like thinking outside of like the people as they exist for them mean you really are able to kind of see like what these people's motivations are, where they're coming from, what they're looking for. I mean, and you know this to help them and facilitate value. I mean that's gotta be a really helpful skill as a, as a wedding planner.

[38:23] Yeah. Well, and I'm also like probably more empathetic than what's appropriate. Like I'm extremely empathetic. I'm always putting myself in other people's shoes of like how would I feel if, you know, so I try to come at people and also we don't want to boss people around. Like, I mean I do, but I don't want to boss people around in the sense like showing up he places and be like, I'm running the show. This is all about me running the show. Everybody needs to listen to me. It's more like what can we all do together to make this such a great day? Like it's not about me, it's about the couple and it's about the family. So that's kind of like where I come from in the sense of like, I just want the data to be great and I think that's the same for the families too.

[39:02] Uh, so as you're continuing now and you're going full time, uh, you, you're talking about you have a video blog now and kind of talk about that and kind of expanding and, and other things you're kind of putting your fingers into.

[39:13] Yeah. So, um, I'm not confident in my writing skills. I feel like my personality might be portrayed a little bit more clearly and effectively via video. So I do a video blog and it's just a, it's called Raise a Glass Wedding, presents Washington Weddings and you can find it on like youtube and things like that, but it's just a way for couples in Washington state to be able to gain some clarity in their wedding planning process. Um, so I start from the beginning, um, so locations then use planners. I just filmed an episode doing planner pod, so, um, it is, or a planner panel. So there's me and three other wedding planners in the area that are getting together. And talking about wedding planning. So it's not just how my opinion, what my opinion is, it's just not how I feel about wedding planning. It's a community effort. It's a group effort. I want people to. I'm not the only wedding planner around. I want other people to be able to get, you know, just as much exposure as me. So

[40:14] what's, uh, what's the reception been like for that?

[40:17] I'm good. It's going really well. I'm excited and I'm the, the Gal that helps me, Ashley with Ashley. I'll productions. She's just killing it. She's doing a great job without her being my partner. Like I wouldn't have been able to do anything. Like she just, she does such a wonderful job putting it all together. So I'm like so appreciative of her work and everything that she's done. So, um, I think that hopefully it's getting out to couples and they're seeing it and they were able to. We just toured three new venues and so they're getting to see and access new venues that they might not have seen before or known of him before. And then, um, I'm going to do a photographer plant panel and then a videographer panels. So you might have to come and do that. No pressure. No, exactly. So, um, things like that is kind of what it's based on is like the start to finish of what vendors you have, tips, trends, um, things like that that's happening in Washington state. So

[41:14] is it a, and this is a question I'm like where you're getting to like talk with people now outside of weddings and see venues and stuff. Um, I would think that it would be beneficial, you know, like a lot of the vendors and stuff that I know, you know, when it's the wedding day, you have maybe a five minutes to be like, hey, how's it going? You're like, but you know, you're really in that work mode. Don't like in terms of like seeing venues, talking to other planners, stuff like, is it nice to be able to do that outside of the realm of like an actual wedding?

[41:43] Oh yeah. It just um, kind of alleviates the pressure a little bit. So you're not stuck on a specific time frame. You can just enjoy having a conversation with someone like after the planner panel with the girls that I met up with, we were like, we should do this more often. Like it was super fun. We got a lot of great insights. We just like sat down with like a cheeseboard and wine and just talked and it was like really, really fun and it was a great way for us to. We had never, like I hadn't met any of them before, so, um, it was a great way for us to, you know, meet each other and if I don't, if I'm booked for a wedding and that somebody is asking for a specific date, then it's easy for me to say I know these, these people, they do a great job. They can refer you to them and they'll take care of you. So I love having that kind of comradery and like being able to meet people on a different level where it's not just like wedding. We can talk about a wedding for like five minutes really quick. Like you said, it's, it's more in depth. You get to know someone's personality and, and what they're about. So I like that.

[42:40] Walk me through the process. If a couple comes to you, you know, to work with you for, you know, their wedding day.

[42:47] Yeah. So generally, um, I get messages through my website. Um, I wish Brian to people within 24 hours we'll set up a consultation for an hour and talk about your wedding, what you guys are about as a couple, um, what you envision your day to be and what my expectations are. Um, so things that you expect of me, what is needed of me and then we go over, I'm pricing, stuff like that. And then if they want to book me, they booked me. Sometimes it takes couples a couple, you know, they need to figure out um, their budget, things like that. And then they'll email me and we'll link up again. And then from there we start the planning process. So whether they're hiring me for full planning, partial planning or day of coordinating really depends on where we go from there.

[43:36] Yeah. And it is nice kinda how you have it laid out where you can be as much involved as they would like. Right? It can be that day off or full on, you know? Do you like, is there one that you prefer more? Do you like doing the whole day or the whole Shebang because you get to know them like a lot, lot more.

[43:52] Yeah. Um, I actually really liked the partial planning so it is more in depth than this the day of. But um, I love seeing couples work together to put something together to work on a wedding. I'm not just having somebody else necessarily like come through and do everything, but more of like it's a, it's a good way for them to bond and to um, learn pretty much what it's like to be married. You're going to have to compromise, you're gonna have to say, okay, maybe the things that you don't want and um, you're gonna have to like roll with the punches. And there's little things with planning a wedding that I think really set the tone for a marriage. And if you can get that right, think it makes a huge difference when going into the rest of, of your marriage.

[44:36] I completely agree with that. Can you. I don't have a more eloquent way. Can you expand on that, that, that idea that you know, the choices in, in, in that give and take and kind of going through that. I mean especially with your psychology degree and how you. I mean, do you feel like a therapist, like you're walking, you're observing them maybe or.

[44:55] Yeah, so it's, it's nice to see, like I said before, see some couples how they communicate like Oh that communication might not work for the rest of the 50 years. You guys want to stay together. And then I'll see other couples where I'm like, oh my gosh, that is the sweetest thing ever. So I really like being able to work together on creating something that's going to be a final piece of, of work I think. Or like a final event I think is a great building. I'm building block for couples and they can really get to know each other on a different level that they might not have, like having to deal with budget. A lot of times couples don't talk about budget or they don't talk about how much money they make necessarily or finances before, before they get married. And so to set that up and be like, okay, this is our budget, this is what we're working with.

[45:43] This is how, you know, setting boundaries and limitations. And I think that's super healthy for relationships. I'm not an expert, don't quote me on things. Um, I just have a bachelor's degree. That doesn't really mean much anymore. But from my experience I think that I can really see where. Or like if a couple is having a problem and they face each other and they're like, okay, well let's work this out. Like that might not be what you want, or that might not be what I want, but we can compromise and we'll make it work together. And then that's really important than just showing up on a, on a wedding day and being like, we're getting married. I just don't think that is the full spectrum of the process. It's really, I just think I love couples enjoy the whole process.

[46:27] Well and I think it is more than just the day, you know, like you said it is kind of that like two parties kind of coming together, you know, merging families and in different, you know, ideas and wants and stuff that like, you know what I mean. I know like Dorothy's got friends that had been together for 10 years and just never gotten married and you know, and that's fine and they're committed and whatever. But I do think that there is a benefit to having to kind of merge together and you know, and like when I film a wedding, like it's more than just like, you know, documenting the day, but it is like that couple's story. Right. And like that day is kind of, you know, not necessarily like the conclusion by the good starting point then for the next chapter. Right? Yeah, yeah,

[47:09] exactly. And weddings are stressful. Like if they're not like the easiest things to do, like they're stressful. There's a lot of work that goes into it, a lot of planning, there's a lot of emotion from family members and things like that, so if they can work through that and have that as like the basis of like foundation of what, you know, there were from the foundation of where they're starting for their marriage and I think that's a good step is like we didn't agree on everything. We had a lot of stress working through this and like dealing with each other's families, like nothing, like life's not ideal. Marriage is not ideal. There's challenges and there's hiccups and I think that if you can work through one of the most stressful days getting married, then I think then people should be pretty good.

[47:54] Well perfect. Well I appreciate you so much for coming by today to chat. It's been really great getting to know you and, and I think it's fascinating your background in

[48:04] just adding that extra. Like I said, that Keanu reeves in the matrix, but kind of seeing outside the box on that. If people want to learn more about you and your company and your approach to wedding planning, what would they do?

[48:17] My website is www.raiseglasswedding.com. I also have an instagram account, Raise a Glass Wedding, and then facebook, same thing. So pretty easy. Um, contact me. We can set up a consultation and chat. Talk about your wedding day, but yeah, I've had so much fun. Thank you for having me on here.

[48:35] Awesome. Well thank you. This has been another episode of Get to Know Your Wedding Pro. Come back next week for another wedding vendor interview. Thanks so much story. Thank you.

Episode 12 (Candy Block, Thrifty Events and Yeti Yard Games)

[00:09] Hey everybody, welcome to Get to Know Your Wedding Pro. My name is Reid with Best Made Videos. We are a wedding videography company based out of West Seattle, Washington and today I'm joined by a true double threat Candi Block, of Thrifty Events and Yeti Yard Games. So thank you so much for coming by. Why don't you say hi and tell us a little bit about who you are.

[00:29] Yeah. Hello. Thank you so much for having me on the podcast. I'm really excited to be here. Um, so yeah, so we actually own two wedding industry businesses. Um, so I started Thrifty Events and 2015 and we primarily focus on wedding day of coordination and wedding planning. And then in July of 2017 we launched Yeti Yard Games and we provide all sorts of yard game rentals or weddings and other private events. So

Super Fun because if you're running your own small business wasn't hard.

[01:05] Yeah. Let's add a second one, add on a whole second one there. Yeah.

[01:09] But it sounds like, and I was doing a little reading on your website, it sounds like hopefully you have a good support staff and you have a husband that's helping out.

[01:16] Yeah, I do. Yeah. So my husband is definitely my right hand man. He actually builds all of the yard games, so he's really hands on with that business. And then, uh, this summer I have an assistant that helps me with wedding day of coordination. So I also kind of have a team there as well.

[01:35] Yeah. I've mentioned before on the podcast, my wife's a teacher and you know, works and it's all I can do to get her to, you know, come for four hours for a wedding show and here you have, you know, manual labor that's coming out.

[01:46] He had. Yeah, I mean before I had my assistant and my husband was helping me at almost every wedding. I mean he's a great extra set of hands to move tables, moved chairs can help with set up and tear down. Um, so I think he's pretty excited that I have an assistant handle that this year.

[02:04] Yeah, he can go. And what does he do?

[02:06] Yeah. So he's a project manager for Shin Mechanical. Um, so he does a lot of mechanical contract type of work and construction. So yeah, he also has a full day job as well. So yeah.

[02:20] Um, cool. So let's, uh, let's start off here with Thrifty Events since that was where, you know, kind of the start and we'll go from there. Tell me a little bit about, I was reading on the side about how you guys were planning, I think it was you and your younger sister were planning your older sister's wedding. How many years ago was that? And walk me through that.

[02:38] Yeah. So my oldest sister got married in 2012. Um, and so kind of during that process, so my family's all from Indiana. Um, and so at that time when she was engaged, I was still in Indiana and college and then had moved out here to Seattle. So during the, her wedding planning process, I was here but I was helping with the bridal shower, um, and like bachelor party things like that. But it was all from a distance. So I was really relying on my younger sister to help me and you know, I thought that we're both enjoying that process and like keeping track of details and it really wasn't until a few years later when my older sister and her husband were having their first child and we started planning their baby shower that my younger sister like I don't want to do this. And I'm like, wait, you're my like local person, you're there.

[03:32] And then she was just like, yeah, I don't really like this at all. Like I don't like, she just didn't enjoy like tracking the RSVPS and budget and coming up with decorations or anything. She's like, yeah, was pretty forward. And so that's kind of when I realized that not everybody enjoys the process of planning events as much as I did. So yeah, I mean even if somebody, you know, uh, that I was in the wedding industry when we got married, like I think I literally like blacked out that whole summer in my mind in terms of like, you know, meetings and problem that we needed. So a lot of work and I'm sure people that are listening that are going through it, but like even, you know, having spent a lot of time with events and weddings, like it's a lot of work. Do you find that the clients that you get, are they receptive to obviously your planning style and you are happy that you kind of take that weight off their shoulders?

[04:25] Yeah, it's definitely a little bit of both. Um, so we have some clients that, you know, they come to me and they are really overwhelmed with the process and are looking for someone to kind of take the lead on that. Um, and I think especially for day of coordination, that's by far our most popular package and I think it's because people enjoy planning, they really enjoy picking out their vendors. But then once you have everybody booked, there are still a lot of details that need to fall into place and it need to be tracked and managed. And so that's really where the overwhelm starts to kick in. Yeah. Because I think a lot of people will think, oh, you know, my mom will do it or you know, I mean talk about how that generally might fall apart or might not always work out. Yeah.

[05:13] Yeah. Um, so I think it's all kind of even give our own wedding as an example. So my husband and I got married in 2016 after we had started the business and we really wanted a coordinator on our own wedding day just because we knew how much work that was going to be. And one thing that Eli said was that he did not want to be setting up tables and chairs on his own wedding day. And so there's just a lot of pieces that I think couples don't realize have to happen behind the scenes to make for a really smooth wedding day. And then it's also really time consuming. So, so often we're setting up from the moment we have access to the venue all the way up through maybe like 30 minutes before the ceremony. And if you're trying to assign that task to your parents or your wedding party members, they don't have as much time because they have to get their hair and makeup done. They have to change, they have to start taking photos. And so it really is a lot when you try to assign all of that to family.

[06:18] So you guys got married in 2016? Yes. When did you start at Thrifty Events?

[06:22] I started it in 2015, around March of 2015.

[06:25] So what were you doing before kind of making that leap into that?

[06:29] Yeah. So I was actually working full time at the University of Washington. I was um, working in the office of admissions for undergraduate students and there I was actually planning a lot of on campus events for them. So we did a counselor fly ins where we actually brought high school counselors and from around the country and we would host them on campus and in the Seattle area. So almost like a conference style event. Um, I would plan a lot of incoming student preview days and campus tours and things like that. Um, so even when I was working full time as a day job, it was still in the events industry.

[07:08] So then in terms of that transition was really scary. Or were you, did you feel confident than the other? What was that whole transition process like?

[07:16] Yeah. So, so I know, um, I've talked to a lot of other people in the wedding industry or any small business owners and it's different for everybody. Um, I think I was really, um, calculated about it. Um, so I actually worked full time for almost a year running Thrifty Events, um, and then moved to a part time position on campus and the visitors center, which has freed up a lot more time for me to kind of dedicate towards my business and I was in that position for almost a year and then I jumped into full time with Thrifty Events. So it was a really slow process. I mean it is a leap still, but for me it felt more like I was just taking steps to get there and kind of consistently growing my business throughout. I don't think I would have had the courage to just like up and quit my day job without knowing that had like clients in a well established business.

[08:14] No, but I think that that's a good point. I mean, I do think that like, and I even hear, you know, like people like get an idea or you know, maybe they're unhappy and they think like, well, and you know, that was my own case. I mean I was really unhappy at my job for three and a half years before I even figured out what I wanted to do and then it was still another year of kind of doing so. I mean it is a process and I think that like doing that, calculated like you did this probably the best way to go. Oh, so when was the final kind of full leap that you made?

[08:42] Yeah. Um, so it was um, probably around February of 2017, so just last year. So I've been full time with Thrifty Events for a year now and talk about,

[08:56] you know, the sense of, not relief but like flexibility maybe that you have and talking about kind of that, how your workflow process is maybe changed since then.

[09:06] Yeah. Um, I mean it's changed a lot and you know, I just remember even when I was working part time at the University of Washington, um, there's always that thought in your mind that like, oh, I can be doing so much more if I could just dedicate like all of my day to my business. Um, and then, you know, making that transition, I suddenly really learned that without all of that structure there and without having to sit down for a very limited hours and get as much done as possible, that I really wasn't as productive as I thought I would be. And so it's actually been a huge learning curve of just how to manage my schedule. Working from home and I'm working from home is amazing. But there are definitely struggles to that too. If you don't have some kind of structure set up on your own.

[09:57] Yeah, I mean there's definitely an overlooked, you know, that you really do have to be a self starter and somebody that, you know, you could, you know, dorothy gets up at six in the morning than I could sleep till noon if I wanted to, you know, you really do have to. Um, but, you know, I think that speaks to kind of in your work ethic in terms of like everything, right, you know, in, in clients and all that. Yeah. So you had started thrifty. You guys are kind of planning your own wedding. Did you, were there any specific things you guys learned, like planning your wedding and besides the fact that your husband didn't wanna, you know, setting up tables, but like what, what tricks or tips did you learn that you learn to do better afterwards?

[10:36] Yeah. Um, so the one thing, the biggest, biggest lesson that I learned, um, is that planning your own wedding is so much different than being a wedding planner. So even having like all of the skills and resources and knowledge to put together a well organized day, um, it's still really emotional. Like planning your own wedding, uh, I mean there, there were definitely times that we were getting rsvps back from friends and you know, you're getting the yeses and nos and so you go from like being really excited to being like bummed when somebody can't make it. I'm at one point in time we had a friend officiate for us and he wasn't sure if you'd be able to fly in for our wedding because of like work complications and so, you know, there's just a lot of wrenches that still get thrown into the mix. Um, and so, so that was definitely something that I learned is that it sometimes feels like there's two parts to wedding planning, you know, the, the detailed pieces where you're staying organized and tracking your vendors and your budget and those logistical items. But then you also still have like the stress management and dealing with emotions and family and opinions coming from everyone. And so it is both sides. Um, yeah, to whole process.

[11:54] Yeah. I think, you know, and having a coordinator or planner, you know, like your company, you know, it's nice to have like an objective opinion. You know, like you said, there's a lot of emotions and stuff and like it is really helpful just to like have kind of like a, not a blank slate, but somebody that can like totally like look at like what should be done. You, you can be emotional, but yet you can hire somebody that be right. Do you find that that, that is a good clients appreciate that? Yes.

[12:21] And it's so much easier. You know, when I'm working with other clients I can just say, you know, this is what I've seen work really well and this is what I would recommend that you do because I am just far enough removed that I'm not hearing, you know, all of the opinions and emotions from all of the family and friends that is kind of weighing on the couple shoulders when they're making those decisions. And then sometimes it's nice for them to just say like, okay, you know what, that makes sense. We're going to go with what you decided. Um, and sometimes there's even that little bit of like a scapegoat or they can tell their parents like, you know, what, our wedding coordinator has seen this happen like hundreds of times and this is what she recommends. And so that's what we're going to go with. And then parents will like, okay, then that's fine too, you know. And so, um, so that can be really helpful for people.

[13:10] Yeah, I love that. We had our own wedding planner and yeah, you can definitely kind of throw them under the past. It's like, Hey, you know, we really wished, but, you know, and like you said in the meantime, like, you know, when we planned our wedding we had specific things and like I would have to go to rebecca and be like, this is how it's got to be, you know, because I had had five hours of conversations on my hand and said either you, you just have to execute that vision sometimes and you don't have to get caught up kind of in all that minutiae. Yeah. Um, talk about, I'm looking on the site, you know, so you guys offer, you know, not only the day of coordination, the full wedding planning, which I think, you know, is maybe self explanatory or maybe not. Why don't you tell me, explain to me kind of what your vision for a day of coordinator is and then what your vision is for a complete wedding planning package.

[13:57] Yeah. Um, so I'll start with day of coordination because that really does tend to be kind of our most popular package and usually that's couples that no, they want to handle the majority of planning on their own. They're really excited to plan their wedding. They have lots of ideas. Um, and so usually they're coming to us once they have, you know, their venue books, they've got a date, maybe they've started booking some other vendors, um, but they know that on the day of the wedding they want to be pretty hands off. They want someone there making decisions, managing the timeline. And a lot of my couples also come to me because they want their family and friends to relax as well. Um, and that can go both ways, so sometimes they're, you know, transplants to Seattle so all of their family and friends are flying in and they just don't have that option for them to be really hands on or they might have somebody that's really overbearing and they want us to kind of be that buffer for them and make sure that it's handled so that person does feel like they can kind of step back and enjoy the day as well.

[15:06] Um, so for, for day of coordination we really help the bulk of the work happens, you know, you know, about like two to three months before the wedding where we'll make sure there's a well established timeline. We go to the venue together and talk through the layout and decorations and I'll reach out to all the vendors and confirmed timeline in details. Um, and then of course manage everything the day of. And we also help with the rehearsal as well, which I think is really helpful. So I can actually meet the parents and the wedding party before the day of the wedding and they can put a face to a name and know they can come to me on the wedding day as well. Um, and so, uh, even though the bulk of the work happens, you know, two to three months before the wedding day, we still, you know, I think it's so important that couples have a resource and a person they can go to when they have questions.

[16:00] So from the moment they book me, you know, they can always ask me questions along the way if they have something come up or they just need like an extra opinion on something. Um, and then for full planning we actually have two different options. So I have the traditional kind of full planning package where couples are working with me in person and that's from like the moment they're engaged through their wedding day. So I'm actually helping them find a venue and locked down a date. I'm, I'm creating and managing their entire budget. We really talk about priorities and what they're wanting and looking for on their wedding day. And then I'll help them find the right vendors to make all of that happen. Um, and then of course it includes everything that day of coordination includes as well. Um, and then this year I launched something new, which is an online wedding planning course and it's, it provides, kind of all have that same guidance that I would give to my couples that booked me for full wedding planning. Um, but it's all online, so it's great for kind of the diy couple or maybe anyone that doesn't have the budget for a full wedding planner, but they still want to know what steps they should be taking. Um, kind of throughout the whole process.

[17:19] Yeah. Target about kind of the idea behind that because I think it's a really good idea, you know, and obviously that's something unique that you guys offer. So talk to me about why you decided to do that and maybe the challenges of getting that off the ground.

[17:32] Yeah. Um, so I mean, one of the biggest reasons I thought to create the course was just because I was taking other courses from other people about how to manage instagram. And I was doing a lot of the online courses, um, when it came to like running a business, so they were all kind of like marketing based or business based, um, and I really just thought like this same format would work really well for couples. Like there's no reason that this couldn't be applied directly to the wedding planning process. Um, and so, uh, it was really kind of during the off season last year and the fall, um, that I just sat down and kind of wrote out the entire outline for it, um, which once I got going that like, it almost just like flowed out of me so easily just because it's the work that I'd been doing with so many couples. Um, and then, you know, the hardest part was actually like sitting down and filming it because that is not my background. But learning how to like film and edit and I'm actually get all of it posted was kind of the most challenging part.

[18:38] So you've done all that yourself? Yes. Well that's a tremendous feat. Thank you. Talk about just, I mean, I didn't even know if, you know the sheer number, I mean like do you know how many videos it was and how much time it took. I mean that's just, it's a lot.

[18:52] Um, so, so the course itself is 10 chapters, so it really starts with like you're engaged and um, you know, the first chapter is really all about like just kind of settling into that moment of like we're engaged and enjoying it and not jumping into planning too soon because that's usually the biggest mistake that couples make is that they just start booking things and then need to like backtrack when they realize maybe they don't have the budget they thought or maybe that doesn't really align with their vision of what they're wanting on their wedding day. Um, so it kind of starts from there and then it goes all the way through. I'm like prioritizing what's most important to you. Um, there's a whole chapter on establishing a budget and actually provide the budget template that I use with my couples and walk through that. So along the way there are downloadable worksheets and templates that they can use.

[19:48] Um, we talk about booking vendors and you know, some of the different questions to ask and then the latter portion of the course does kind of talk about how to create a timeline and keep track of those details. And then the very last chapter goes over coordination and really talks through what the wedding day looks like from the perspective of you as the couple versus the coordinator. So I really do try to make sure a couples are clear if they decide not to hire a coordinator, what the day is gonna look like for their family and friends and what kind of tasks they're going to need and that way hopefully they can make that decision. Then now they plan their whole wedding, okay, do we need a coordinator or do we want to choose to diy this?

[20:36] And I do think that nowadays, I think with millennials or whatever you want to call it, I do think there's a lot of like we can do things and figure out how to do. Um, and I had just interviewed Danielle, a vanity photo bus in like, you know, they did their whole figure that how this star the bus in the photo booth, you know, just through like online videos and stuff and we're like, you know, I just think that's like a new thing that people are, you know, and obviously that would relate to wedding planning this, well, you know, if you can, if you can teach somebody to do something you can teach them to be a wedding coordinator.

[21:08] Right. Um, and, and I think that's kind of always been even my, my own personality. I mean I definitely did not study business in school, so everything that I've done to launch, you know, both of our businesses has been me like taking courses online or listening to podcasts. There's courses I've taken at our local community college and so I just am always focusing on like learning and educating myself and there are, you know, a ton of wedding resources available. But the one thing that the online course offers is still kind of that a one point person. So they can still come to me with any questions. There's a facebook group that goes along with the course so that way if they are, you know, in the middle of a chapter or in their wedding planning process and you know, have these questions, they can still come to me because one of the, you know, the biggest issues I think a lot of couples have is going online and trying to find information and you're just reading blog posts like back and forth and one's going to tell you one thing and then the very next post is going to tell you the complete opposite thing.

[22:13] And so sometimes it's still nice to just have somebody to kind of talk through those things with.

[22:18] No. And I agree with that and I think that, you know, going through the site and everything, I think it's, it's a pretty accessible tone. Right? I think that like even kind of in the wording that you use to describe like, you know, your day of coordination package and things like, I think it is very accessible because I do think it's very overwhelming and I do think that it's Kinda the best of both worlds, like you said, where you get kind of a online resource, you know, on demand whenever you need it, but you also get kind of the personality, right, that the couples that hire you for that full process. Um, you know, we get right. What has been the reception of bad? I mean, has it, has it taken off like you've expected or hoped it would?

[22:54] Yeah. Um, so, so it's kind of, it's been fun to kind of see it all unfold this year. Um, I think, you know, with a lot of projects when you're trying something new, there's definitely gonna be a learning curve. Um, so we actually did a lot of the wedding shows this winter. Um, and I think there was like a little bit of confusion just with couples that are like, I've never heard of this before. Like, what is this really? Um, and so, uh, so that's kind of been been new for me just to kind of explain like what this is because there's really not a lot of like online courses for wedding planning or if there are, they're teaching people how to actually become a wedding coordinator, not necessarily geared for the couple themselves to plan their own wedding. Um, so, so that's been really interesting just to get feedback from, from individuals. Um, I've also had a lot of feedback where people are kind of in the middle of the wedding planning process and so I think probably the next course two point, oh, that version, um, my actually split the course. So kind of the first section where you're starting from the very beginning, but maybe have a second course that can kind of start where couples might be at after they have their venue booked already. They have their date, they have quite a few vendors and they kind of want to focus on those latter pieces.

[24:15] Yeah, I think it's a good price point, you know, I think it's a good introduction like you said, and obviously there's going to be, you know, a learning curve involved with like any sort of new idea, but I think that like the fact of having the new idea right is, is a success in and of itself. And then like you said, so it comes with a facebook group. I mean I assume that's beneficial, right? For people.

[24:36] Yeah, definitely. Yeah, they can ask questions there. So that's been super fun. So we have a handful of students enrolled in the course. Um, and, and yeah, we've had great feedback so far when students are in there. Um, it's kind of fun. One of my students in the course has booked me for their wedding in August and so it's Kinda been cool as a coordinator to see her, like shared documents with me and I'm like, oh, these are like all of my documents, like my templates. And so it's really easy for me to kind of just like jump right in to where they're at and planning because they've kind of followed all of, um, you know, the steps that I've laid out as if I were planning with them as like a full planning client. What are,

[25:20] uh, maybe some common mistakes you see couples make early on or maybe you know, some things that you've come in and Kinda help them that they maybe could do better than maybe somebody that's listening to kind of learn from.

[25:33] Yeah. Um, I think, you know, one of the things that I mentioned where couples get engaged and they're really excited to start planning and they really just kind of immediately jump into it. And I think the first thing you know, everybody does is just start looking at venues right away without really having any kind of understanding of how much venues very just in what they include, what their capacities are going to look like, what their price points are. Um, how choosing a venue location can drastically impact, you know, the logistics of your wedding day. Um, and so I think oftentimes couples, you know, find their venue and they get that booked and that's usually a pretty big piece of the budget too. Um, and, you know, and then maybe they run into problems with like, oh, it's not quite the capacity we needed, or maybe we spent too much of our budget on that or are they didn't realize that it didn't include something that now they have to rent.

[26:31] And so, um, so there's a whole chapter in our course that just talks about venues and things to consider and like a worksheet that couples can bring with them to site visits to kind of compare, um, the different, um, you know, items that are included at all of the venues. Uh, and so I think that that's a huge piece to understand because there are venues that, you know, definitely cost a little bit more, but they might include a lot of the items that it's going to save you some money down the road versus booking a venue that's maybe like the state or city parks where they are less expensive but couples may not realize that that means they have to bring in everything on their own which can cost a lot more down the road.

[27:17] So yeah, I think, you know, we talked with a lot of the couples that the wedding shows and stuff too, and at least, and maybe you can either echo this or disagree, but I think the biggest thing that I've seen recently is we're a couples pick a date and they don't have anything else. And so, you know, we'll be talking about, hey, congrats or you know, the couples will come by the wedding show and like, Oh, when you get married at like, oh, September first. It's like, oh, you know, where you get married at all? We don't have a venue yet. Well, I, you know, I think the venues gather confers because you know, you can pick whatever date you want, but if wherever and wanting to get married, do you, do you see that? Do you run into that?

[27:54] Yeah. Um, and that's where, you know, if a, if a couple is really firm on the date that they want, then they have to be flexible in the venue options that they have. Um, whereas if, you know, if they have some flexibility, they have even, you know, two or three dates that are preferred or even just opening that up to like we know what month maybe we want to get married and um, or even a season, you know, that can be helpful because then when you're going to the venue and you're asking what's your availability like, um, you're kind of giving that venue some options, a few different dates. Um, and yeah, and then usually that's the best way to, to find a good, good location.

[28:36] Yeah, I think you're like, when we had gotten engaged it was like, I think we made a list of like, you know, what things can the person only do one, you know, on the one day. Right. So like, you know, your venue can only be on, you know, it's got to be on your day, you know, your photographer going to be available, you know, and then there's other things like if you're renting like linens or a florist or whatever, right. I mean, do you, do you help kind of break that down in categories of like, you know, these things, you know, be able to, you know, accommodate.

[29:03] Yeah, definitely. Um, and, and right along those lines, I think one of the things that um, a lot of couples don't understand, and I think most people don't until you're actually in the wedding industry out here in Seattle, is that it is very, very seasonal. And especially in Seattle, we have such a short peak season that's really from like July to August with a little bit of a shoulder until like June and September. Um, and so it's really important that couples understand when they get engaged at, you know, to just say like, oh I want to get married September first of this year is going to be much, much harder to find a venue than if they had picked September first of 2019 or things like that. So just finding, you know, the right amount of time that they need to plan and understanding the seasonality of that.

[29:59] I also tried to do, you know, a little bit more education with my clients of understanding like when the best times to do tastings will be and when, you know, vendors are going to have a lot of availability to sit down and do consultations and you know, be able to get back to them right away because it is a slower season versus you know, if you're sending your vendors and email on a weekend in August, you're probably not going to get a response until the weekday and just making sure they understand just how, how much that seasonality affects the work that wedding vendors do.

[30:32] So I wanted to talk a little bit about, besides the online course that you provide a lot of the other resources that you have available on your site, you know, so I was perusing through some of the blogs or Vlogs I guess earlier today, the blogs and then now I'm was just kind of browsing here while we were chatting about this diy challenge and these different challenges on there. Uh, so maybe do you want to start with the challenges and then we can work back.

[30:57] So we have a whole page on my website called freebies and one of them is the diy challenge and it's a seven day email sequence and each day kind of talks about a different topic. And so, um, I created this after the wedding shows and so I had actually sent an email out to everyone. I had talked about the wedding shows and a lot of the upcoming clients and just ask them like, what are you planning to diy and what areas do you want the most help with? Um, and then I took all of those responses and created this diy challenge. Um, and so it ended up being seven days just because the responses were so overwhelming with what people are wanting information on. Um, and so, uh, each one includes either a video or an interview with another wedding professional, kind of in that realm. I'm giving tips and advice. There's some key takeaways there. Um, but it's really just kind of helping people get started and avoid some of those common pitfalls when it comes to taking on a, a piece of the wedding to diy.

[32:04] Yeah, I mean, I think that that's like awesome. I think couples really thrive on getting that, you know, those free resources and different ideas that you have. And then you, you have this whole blog series to riot kind of talking about different venues and making the most time with your photographer. Um, oh, what was, how long ago has that been going? I mean, what was his surname

[32:24] you just started that? I'm actually at the beginning of this year, so kind of what the launch of the online course it was really when I started blogging. Um, I just, I mean, I think video is great. Uh, it's, you know, it's so much easier, it's much easier to watch a video and get so much more from it because I, I know that reading wedding blogs can be a time suck and so I thought that, you know, of logs would just be such a fun way to like connect with couples and with all of my new found like video editing skills, it was a lot easier to start creating those. Um, and so yeah, so, so we actually, we just have a youtube channel with all of our vlogs. Then they're also posted to our website, so I'd try to blog weekly or every other week, kind of depending what we have going. Usually if it's every other week, then in the off weeks we'll highlight one of our weddings from the past year and we'll kind of show photos so people have a lot of inspiration as well on our website.

[33:27] And you'll go through and walk through that with people. Me On the video?

[33:31] No, usually the, we call it just like real wedding blog post, just kind of show the photos from the day we provide who the vendors were and I'd usually just try to share like what I really liked about the day, what they did really well, what was really unique about it. Um, and that way couples can kind of scroll through those and just gather some inspiration and then, um, if we're not posting about a real wedding, then it's usually a blog post.

[33:56] So it's kind of like a pinterest board kind of come to life. Yeah, that's awesome. Uh, so, you know, through the, the online course, right? We've got the blogs, we've got the wedding planning, and then you guys decided to launch yet a yard games, which I think is awesome. I think it's a great name. I think I told you as you walked in, I just tagged you in the post in the wedding community about it. Uh, what was the inspiration behind starting this kind of. I mean, I guess the sister brand related in weddings. Talk about that.

[34:26] Um, so, so it all really started. So my husband does a lot of woodworking, he's incredibly talented. Um, you know, we have an entire shop really it's our garage, but our garage is actually larger than our home. It's like that kind of, um, kind of space on our property. And uh, he just, he loves woodworking. He used to do work like framing houses and all sorts of stuff. And so, um, it all started with our wedding and I really wanted a giant Jenga set at our wedding and so he had built that and uh, we had gotten married at Camera Beach State Park. So it's, it's on the water. It's like a really beautiful state park, gorgeous trees. And so he had found this like I'm branding iron that was of like a little tree and so he had put that on all of the Jenga pieces. And so fast forward, you know, I'm working with other couples for coordination and people knew we had the Jenga set and so my couples were like renting out our Jenga set and then I started to get questions from other wedding vendors saying, Hey, can my couples rent that out?

[35:30] Like do you have other games? And people were asking for like different, you know, the corn hole sets the giant connect four, that sort of thing. And my husband's like, yeah, I can make that. So, um, so he started building more of the games and then I really just decided, you know, it, this kind of needs to be its own business. Um, it needs its own website for people to be able to find it. A lot of people aren't thinking like, hey, I want to rent a corn hole set, let me go talk to a wedding planner. Um, and so, and then the name kind of came about because my husband found another branding iron, have a Yeti, and then he kind of likes, I know exactly. Um, and then he actually, he's like, we should call it Yeti Yard Games. And everything about the business has just been super fun and really lighthearted. We really don't overthink a lot of those decisions were like, yeah, sure. Like Yeti Yard Games. Sounds Fun. Um, I like started up the website, we kind of put the name out there and it's really just taken off ever since it's such a Pacific northwest business I feel like, which is so fun for us.

[36:41] Yeah, it really is. And I'm looking through here, you know, you've got your core in the hole on your giant Jenga, but they need a giant tic tac toe and mean there's even this huge connect four and it looks like it's really good craftsmanship. I mean like, I know like we have a, my brothers got like called ladder golf sad, like anytime, you know, even if it's for five minutes, like anytime we do a family get together, it's let's gooply lender golf, you know. And so it really is. I mean, is that like a new thing, these games? I mean, I guess I started seeing them at weddings a few years ago. Have you noticed that it's been this explosion now or.

[37:12] Yeah. Um, I mean, I think it, it has kind of started over the last couple of years. Um, it's nice to have the games out as guests are arriving for the ceremony, for any early arrivers, maybe if you have family photos happening before the ceremony, so people that have to get onsite early, it kind of gives them a little bit of something to do. Um, and then also during cocktail hour it's great to kind of have that entertainment and they're all games that are really easy. Everybody knows what the game's ours, they don't really need instruction. Um, and yeah, they're really fun. And then I also think it's a great option if you're not sure if you have a dancing crowd, you know. So I mean we've helped coordinate a lot of weddings where people know, like their friends and family are really more chill. They want to enjoy a few good drinks. Um, and so the games are a great supplement to that as well.

[38:08] Yeah, I think it's a great point. You know, that obviously you want everybody to be comfortable in that funding your wedding and yet not everybody is going to want to go out and do like the cupid shuffle or whatever. And so I think, yeah, like you said, like offering that alternative and I mean, you know, kids can play with um, you know, older people can play with that. Yeah. You know, everybody in the middle. Um, I think we were talking off here before too about how I, you know, I, I see some of these kind of diy every in a while, like even when we go film wedding and we'll see like people get like Jenga, but they'll just get like two by fours to the store I was sending. I don't really know how like woodworking works, um, but there's nothing more frustrating than like going to a wedding and having the things like be Janky or not work, you know. And I think people think like, oh, we'll just whatever. Well that was a waste of, you know, four hours of your time if it doesn't actually work or people don't enjoy it and talk about kind of the quality and making sure it's all kind of high caliber stuff.

[39:04] Yeah. Yeah. Um, yeah. So all of our games, so I mentioned my husband handcrafts all of our games. Um, and that is really important. Um, and also, I mean like the size of the games like our connect for sits like five feet taller so, so it's like at like eye level when you're playing and it really is like that thing that people see sitting in the yard and they're like drawn to it or like Whoa, like that's so cool. Um, because there are places you know, like you can buy games online or buy them from stores. Um, and they're like, they're giant compared to like the tabletop games, but like to kind of have that wow factor is pretty cool. Um, and then I mean we have, we've coordinated weddings to or we've seen events where people have like the ladder golf that's out of like pvc pipe but you like tasks like one of the golf balls at it and then it like breaks or tears over. So like, you know, it is important that the games can be played in there, like sturdy and um, yeah, I mean that's important.

[40:07] Well, and also like I think even people that like try to build them and then afterwards like you have to deal with all this stuff and I think that like, you know, I mean after we got married, like it was enough just to kind of go through like the gifts or whatever bags you have another one like oh now I have like 10 pounds of wood sitting in my corner, have to, you know, get rid of or giveaway. Is there, is that a struggle between kind of, you know, running the two businesses now, like you said this, the Yeti Yard Games is a lot of fun and it's a little more casual. But just juggling those multiple balls. Is that, what's that like?

[40:40] Um, so, so it's been, again, like another learning curve, um, because a lot of the requests are coming in at such different times. So for Thrifty Events, you know, my summer calendar has been filled for quite some time because people book coordination and full planning so far in advance. Um, whereas, you know, we're still getting requests for this coming summer for yard games and you know, we tried to accommodate as many of them as we can, but it is just really different for me to kind of balance that with the Yeti Yard Games. We may not have a firm idea of what our weekend is gonna look like until about two to three days before. Um, whereas for the wedding planning business, everything is like so set so far in advance. Um, so it's definitely balancing both of those, which is great now that I have an assistant to help me with thrifty. Um, my husband really is the person handling like all of the deliveries and pickups and dropoffs for the yard games.

[41:40] But that's great. I mean to have kind of the whole family involved and I think we had talked off air a but yet like having those were the associates here and kind of having those two different sources of income with also just like different parts of your brain that is going to both. Is this where it stops or are you, you seem, you just sitting down with you here, you, you strike me as somebody that's always kind of trying to think about expanding what else is going on?

[42:08] Oh Man. Um, I have more ideas than I could probably. Like I couldn't even do them all. It's weird. It's like once you start getting into entrepreneurship and running a small business, um, it's like your brain never shuts off from it, which I really love it. It's Super Fun. Um, I mean I'm, I'm excited to be here and doing this podcast because I love podcasts. I think it would be so much fun to even start my own, um, you know, just talking to couples or other wedding vendors about the wedding planning process. Um, and that also goes along with like, just really enjoying putting together my blog every week and things like that. So yeah, I, I'm always kind of dreaming up new ideas or new things to incorporate into our businesses for sure.

[42:56] Yeah, I think it's uh, it's interesting nowadays where like you really can't kind of do whatever you want, you know, in terms of like we have the resources and we have the technologies and we have, you know, it's like it was like the podcast, you know, like I kind of been like, you know, trying to figure out stuff since I went to the wedding mba back in October. And then, you know, there's nothing really stopping you from building your own online directory for couples. In terms of the wedding planning, diy, um, do you see like growing that more or do you see still your bread and butter is going to be like your day of coordination and working? Do you prefer working hands on with couples?

[43:33] I do. I really enjoy working with my couples. Um, and so I think that that will always be our, our bread and butter. Um, and then I think it's just a matter of, you know, kind of what, what else we offer to couples on top of that. Um, I think, you know, kind of what we've talked about in the beginning where there's two parts to wedding planning of the logistics and day of details, but then also that like stress management piece and kind of managing the emotions. Um, and so there are a lot of things that, that I've been kind of thinking about what are ways that I could help couples more in that realm that may not kind of exist already. Um, and so yeah, lots of, lots of things in the works right now for sure.

[44:19] And then just talk about, I think what you like with your own personality, what would you think is the greatest benefit that you give to couples? I mean, besides like logistics of like, you know, I get contracts in order, but I mean, is it just that sense of organization or is it like a sense of calm or what do you think, you know, with your own personality that you bring to that?

[44:40] Yeah, yeah, I really think it is, um, that, that sense of calm. And so I think, uh, it's, you know, every planner is a little bit different in every coordinator handles the wedding day differently. Um, and so, you know, my approach is that we're, you know, we're going to stay on schedule as best as we can. We're going to follow all of the details, but you can also only plan up to a certain point and then you have to roll with the punches and you have to kind of be on your toes and able to change things up if you need to or find quick fixes. Um, and so I think that that's a huge part of coordination that a lot of people don't see and even a lot of couples understanding that like, Hey, they'll admittedly say like, I'm really type A, so I know all of the details, but they want someone there so that way if problems do arise, they can handle them because they're like, I can't handle that type of thing where we really can. And so, um, I think that's kind of the other specialty is just really being able to like stay calm in those situations and think on your feet. Um, and kind of keep a level head throughout the entire wedding day is really important.

[45:55] What is your favorite part of the wedding day?

[45:59] Yeah. Oh man, that's really hard because there's so many, like parts of it, um, I think kind of watching as like setup is happening to go from like a completely empty space or like nothing on tables, um, to like the full transformation because what a lot of people don't know is that it looks really, really messy until it looks beautiful and sometimes that can really freak out. Couples if they like step into the room, like mid setup and they're like, this does not look like it's going to come together. And I'm like, I promise you that it will. Um, but there's always that like little bit of rush when you're like, okay, we're putting the final touches on everything and like stowing away boxes and crates and whatever else. And then you look up and you're like, whoa. Like, how did that all come together?

[46:51] I think that's a really fun moment. Um, but yeah, most people don't know, like it all looks really disorganized until it looks really beautiful, like it comes together at that last moment. Um, and then I also love getting everybody down the aisle and that's like a moment of like take a deep breath for me because once the ceremony's going, like, I kind of have that moment of like, all right, that first part of the day is finished and now we're gonna move into like cocktail hour reception, that sort of thing. Um, and then I think that same moment kind of happens after like the first dances are done in the toasts are finished and like dancing has started and everybody's just hanging out and that's kind of like, okay, that last piece is in place.

[47:34] Yeah, I think it's cool. Something that we've, not all the time but I've seen recently is, is doing that like, and that is kind of weird in concept to polite that reception room reveal to the couples if the timeline allows. Were like, because people don't think about that. But you know, you spend all this time and energy and money on, you know, the tables and chairs and lights in the room and then you and you getting coordinated been styling everything and then it's like, you know, if the guests I'll come in and everything's, you know, obviously you want to do that grand entrance to kind of see everybody, like hooting and hollering. But it is kind of cool to like see everything as you envision it. I mean, do, do you try to do that or have you noticed that? That's more of a thing now.

[48:15] Yeah, yeah, yeah. I mean I love when couples get a chance to like see the reception space before they're doing the grand entrance, like before everybody's, like sat down at the tables and like moved favors and Napkins and things like that. So, um, and if the couple, you know, can't sneak away for that moment, then I always make it a priority to at least grab the photographers or videographer and say like, Hey, the whole space is set right now and it's empty. Like go ahead and go up there and get some room shots. And detail shots, um, and that way, you know, after the wedding day, the couple can also kind of have that moment of seeing like what it looked like before anyone was like in the room.

[48:54] Yeah. Cause it's, you know, once you get everything.

[48:57] Yes. It's ones, any guests start sneaking into the room, like it's not going to have that, just like everything set perfectly kind of look to it. So you're welcome.

[49:07] Cool. I want to thank you so much for coming here today and talking. If people were more interested in or interested to hear, learn more about either Thrifty Events or Yeti Yard Games, uh, what would you have them do and check out?

[49:19] Yeah. Well thank you so much for having me again. This has been so much fun. Um, so uh, instagram is a great place to find us. Um, we're at Thrifty Events or at Yeti Yard Games, so both super easy to find. Um, you can also check out our website. It's www.thriftyevents.net that is important that it's dot net, not.com. Um, and then www.yetiyardgames.com for that one.

[49:44] And the, like I said, you know, we had talked about all the blogs and stuff. I mean, I really do think that that's like a priceless resource that couples have in. And I commend you for, for doing that in terms of, you know, the weekly blogs and then doing this, um, if you, if people are interested in learning about the online courses as well that they can take as well. This has been another episode of Get to Know Your Wedding Pro. Come back next week for another wedding vendor interview. Thank you so much.

[50:08] Thank you.

Episode 11 (Dan Manning, Dan Manning Photography)

[00:09] Hey everybody, welcome to Get to Know Your Wedding Pro. My name is Reid with Best Made Videos. We are a wedding videography company based out of West Seattle, Washington and I'm here today with Dan Manning of Dan Manning Photography and I was gonna make a joke. We'd been a frustrated here for the last few minutes trying to get the audio situated here in the room. I was going to make a joke that I was trying to equate what interviewing Dan would be like for a wedding vendor podcast interview and I think that it would be like if I was a Survivor podcast and I had the interview Jeff Probst because Dan is really a quite prolific in the Seattle wedding and Snohomish wedding community and somebody that I respect and I only mean that half joking. Uh, so Dan, thank you so much for being here. Why don't you tell us who you are and a little bit about what you do.

[00:59] Uh, yeah. So I'm uh, Dan with Dan Manning photography and yeah, my wedding and portrait, a specialist photographer based out of Snohomish, Washington. And uh, yeah, everything I do is about beautiful photos and an amazing client experience. And uh, we're at Dan's awesome studio down here. And Snohomish, uh, tell us a little bit about where you are and where we're located. Yeah, so we're all in a first street in downtown, Snohomish. It's a really awesome historic historic district. That's pretty cool. It's one of those unique places where people actually purposely drive to, to park their car and get out and walk and check out the shops and all that and great restaurants and things like that. So, uh, it's kind of unique to have a studio, a studio store friends as a photographer. Um, so it's just an office that we call our studio, but um, yeah, there's nobody I've ever heard of.

[01:49] It's a photographer that has a space like this where it's actually an office that's in a, a commercial area. Well, and I thought it was cool because like, when I pull that up, you know, you were sitting here importing footage kind of looking at, you know, we got a banjo playing down the road. Other than that, if we hear that on the, on the audio, but you know, you're sitting here at door open, you know, kind of the wind whipping through. I mean it's a nice. I would have to think it would be a good creative outlet and a good space to not only serve as an edit in place but also, you know, attract clients and such. Yeah, it's been really great on that one. Definitely get a decent amount of people walking in here and saying hi and all that going to meet a lot of awesome people.

[02:27] Shop owners down here are fantastic. We have several different companies that are wedding vendors that are actually here on first street. So there's laney, meg, which is a dress shop just right down the street. There's much pie shop, a company that I share a wall with a does a lot of pies and things like that for weddings and yeah, it's just good people watching, which obviously can be a distraction. So I'm definitely a people watcher, but uh, yeah, it's, it's super fun. It's a great place to be. Yeah. And it's. Our friends got married years ago down here, I guess it's called crossroads now when they got married there was Thomas Family farm and he, uh, we came up here and did photos and stuff. I know this because Zebo well and Kinda the whole waterfront. Uh, I guess it's the Snohomish River, right? That this or there's a will.

[03:10] Cool. So tell me a little bit about what you guys do in terms of weddings, portraits, proposals, engagement, things like that. Tell me a little bit about, uh, what sets you guys apart or what's kind of your calling card? So yeah, so, I mean, I think generally like our brand and I say our, it's my wife and I, she's, she was very much involved behind the scenes. Um, you know, our brand is definitely like the northwest. He kind of nature, epic, location kind of photos. If you were to be here in my studio, you see that my pillows are in the shape of mountains and there's a lot of natural wood in here, a lot, a lot of art in here that actually kind of is, is that style. And we tend to draw a lot of clients who really love nature and kind of almost a blend of beautiful landscape photography mixed with really stunning portraiture.

[04:00] So that's, that's kind of, if anything I think is like our calling card for the style of shooting. And then on the business side of it, everything is about really high level customer service. So giving your clients an amazing experience that pretty much nobody else provides. And I, you know, I was only being half facetious with my introduction talking about, but I mean you are somebody that I've seen this, I've kind of joined this community in the last couple of years in weddings and seeing people pull us online. But you know, I knew the name damn man, even before we even met face to face a few months ago, getting ready for this, no much wedding to herself, you know, it's really cool to finally meet you. We've met now and talked but, you know, sit down face to face and I really appreciate your time and having me into your space.

[04:43] It's sort of cool. Uh, so if you weren't doing the podcast right now, what would you kind of be working on or what would, what would you be doing? A man? A lot of different stuff, you know, as a wedding photographer and as a portrait photographer, I kind of refer it to the iceberg kind of ideology where, you know, our clients only see about three percent of our work that we actually do a of actually shooting thing. Um, so it's importing photos calling, which means you're narrowing down the photos and then obviously enhancing the photos. But um, yeah definitely a lot of that behind the scenes. So I just had a really amazing engagement session with clients last night. So as you got here I was importing those photos to go through and it was an insanely amazing session where the couple you normally have to kind of pose couples and Kinda give them instructions on how to stand and how to do all that.

[05:30] And it could have been completely silent. We almost didn't have to say where do these guys, they were super connected and just interacted together and we really liked the lifestyle non kind of candid style of just documenting their love and not really telling them how to be. And so it was great and it was the most perfect. Got a horn honking. It was the most perfect sunset I think I've ever seen in my life. Um, so I'd probably be right now going through those photos or, and also be hanging out with my kids now. Isn't it nice when you have a couples that you know and you don't. I didn't even think like, you know, I even know like how comfortable I would be with my wife or you know, if she was my girlfriend, you know, like posing and whatnot. Like we had a wedding on Sunday and it was the same kind of thing where like, you don't even either pose a riot, like they're just, they were kind of existing in their own space.

[06:18] And I even, uh, I was working with a Mega Montalvo down Indian summer and I, you know, I yelled at him like, man, I really wish you guys were more comfortable together because they were so comfortable and they were so, uh, I mean, how good is that for you in terms of like creative energy to be able to feed off of that. It's fantastic because I can just actually focus on coming up with really great angles and paying attention to just the lighting in general and I don't have to worry about trying to get them to actually look at each other or to give each other a kiss or to have the, the traditional like relationship roles of a man and a woman and have her like snuggle into him and do all of that. I don't have to try to show them how to be in a relationship.

[07:03] They just kind of do it on their own naturally. And so I just focused on the technical details and it creates even better. Photos. And photography is all about chemistry. It's about the photographers chemistry with the clients. But more importantly, it's the client's interaction with each other, so to have them just innately have that perfect chemistry without us telling them what to do just is so much more authentic and the photos you can actually see it. Um, when you guys are doing the engagement sessions. Uh, I can't remember. I was having a conversation recently with another photographer that, you know, I always lament as a videographer and them get to do that a lot. You know, we um, you know, you can do like day of, kind of in the life we're pre-wedding I'm editing the pre wedding video right now, but like talk about being able to do the engagement session without maybe the time constraints that you have other wedding day where, you know, you guys can really like pick the time, pick the location, you know, I mean the weather, but talking about that.

[07:58] So yeah. So actually meet with my clients ahead of their engagement session or even if it's family photos and meet with my clients ahead of time. Like I said, portrait portrait photography is about connection. So not everybody's a professional models. So it's about, first of all, setting the foundation of actually getting to know people ahead of time, letting them get to know you and so when you actually go out to take their photo, you already break down those walls of being a little bit uncomfortable with someone taking your photo. And I'm as bad as anybody about getting my photo taken. I'm like so super awkward and weird when people go to take my photo. So I take that into consideration with my clients. So I'm setting that foundation is everything for the actual shoot. And then when we go out to actual shoe, um, yeah, we, we talk about where they're going to go do the session.

[08:42] We actually do a wardrobe consultations ahead of time so they can text us or email us whatever photos of their outfits to make sure the outfits not only match each other if they're uncomfortable with that, but also if they are going to order an order, any wall art from us that the actual outfits they wear, the location that we actually choose would match their home. So if their house is very contemporary, we would try to shoot it in a more temporary place if their house is more rustic, kind of decor, we would actually try to go to a place that kind of fit that more. So it's very intentional. It's very thoughtful. Um, and then yeah, time of day, you know, like most photographers it's about, you know, right around sunrise or about an hour and a half, two hours before sunset for an actual great lighting and all that.

[09:20] But it also really like people. I'm going to places that like speak to them that they feel connected to so that the feel natural in that environment. So I don't want to put someone like downtown in Seattle when they'd rather be up in the mountains and say it's almost like inception kind of level of thinking that, you know, I wouldn't even necessarily, um, I don't think I would ever think about that, but I guess it makes sense, right? That you want it to compliment them and their lifestyle. Um, what kind of feedback do you get from clients when they kind of get these engagement photos and are able to print them and hang on a, it's pretty awesome. I mean, we do what's called [inaudible] sales, so we actually sell products, books, wall art and albums, and our clients get an image reveal slash ordering session a few weeks after their shoot, whether it's family photos, engagements or weddings.

[10:12] So they come to our little studio office down here in Snohomish, sit down and we'll play a slide show. And uh, I actually get to see their faces when they see their photos. There's so many photographers and miss out on that because they just deliver digital files, whether it's via a Usb in the mail, sometimes they'll hand them to, um, but they don't get to see their reaction to it. Um, so actually get to see my clients reacting to their photos and person. And it's such a great validation for us as artists to see our clients get tearing up or going, oh wow. Totally reacting to, to seeing the art that you create for them. And so it's such a special thing of, of photographers like us who do sell the products and do the in-person slideshows. It's really special. Yeah. I mean that's something that I'm guilty of it as well, you know.

[10:56] Right. And to me that video started to. I mean, I mean I guess it's hard in any medium, but I, I think that there will be definitely be like a real tangible benefit to that. And I, you know, I got to think that that is rewarding for you. It's amazing. Yeah. Um, do you ever get tired of, you know, like meeting new couples are working with new couples? I mean, obviously the answer is no, but, but, but why is that, I guess is the more important question. Uh, you know, I, I'm a portrait photographer because I like people, you know, it's, it's building those relationships and getting to know people and everybody has it. It's amazing. There's 6 billion people on the earth or so, and you know, imagine walking around an entire day, like through a busy streets and you won't see two people that look like each other and you want meet to people that are just like each other.

[11:43] And so there's such an amazing dynamic of different personalities of people that exist. And uh, when you do like weddings and engagement photos, there's the, there's the love story that's behind that. And I actually talked to my clients about that. You, I want it. I want to draw out their emotions of their connection and all that. So I asked them about how they met and how he proposed and all those things so that the, they bring up those emotions and it very much like rises to the surface. And so, um, the whole processes is really beautiful. It just amazing to be able to actually be a part of. So obviously engagement, photography, portrait, photography leads to wedding photography. So how long have you been, you know, quote unquote a wedding photographer, wedding vendor? Uh, I mean I've been shooting weddings for like 17 years now, but in all reality, uh, I was one of those people who I've kind of switched my mindset over to being a business person as well as an artist and I was always that kind of person who thought, well, if I just take better photos people will hire me more and that wasn't really the case.

[12:41] So really about tier two and a half years ago is where I just kind of hunkered down and said, look, I need to change my mindset because I'm not as busy as I want to be. And so I switched over to like changing that mindset and I've become much more of a busier successful wedding photographer, a portrait photographer by changing that mindset. So even though I've been shooting for 17 years, I would say that realistically I, as a business and taking myself seriously would be about two years later. So before that though, like you said, so you were more about the maybe more so focusing on art and business. I mean, is that what you're saying? Yeah. So what were you primarily shooting then? A just random stuff, but I mean honestly I went from being a person who wasn't a very good business person to being a person who I think has a pretty solid business person and now actually even mentor other photographers on how, how would it be good at selling those products and, and it's kind of crazy to be at that point where actually I'm able to mentor other people in areas where I personally was very unsuccessful previously.

[13:38] What caused that flip? I'm having kids. I mean it was one of those where I had kittens and I was working a full time job still and it sucks hardly ever seen my kids because I was still getting some shoots occasionally and that was working full time and just barely ever get to see my kids. And so I just got to the point where I'm like, I don't want to have a normal day job anymore. I want to work for myself. And so I just looked at like what options I had and started really learning about the inferences yells thing and how to sell products and all that and everything would be sell products. And I mentor other people. One is always doing less in the client's best interest, no matter what, treat everyone like they're your grandma. Um, and so, you know, even though I talk about like being good at sales and all of that, it's, it's very much in the client's best interest and everything.

[14:27] So, uh, you said it was when you got kids and you're married and your wife helps you out, you know, we'll talk about that dynamic and how does that work and is that successful? It's, it's interesting because on some levels it's the best thing ever because most photographers and videographers like yourself, we're, we're kind of like one people army is we have to do all of these things ourselves. We don't have anybody to kind of kick into gear for having a bad day. We often don't have people to bounce ideas off of. And so, um, my wife has a very good accuracy for all of that and she's been doing tons of research and helping out with so many areas. And like I told her earlier, I showed her a photo and she said that this photo I'd taken was one of the greatest photos she'd seen, like at Dairyland, which is location down the street.

[15:13] And uh, I told her that I took that compliment with a, a higher level of, of like wow. Then I would like from some famous photographer because she is, she is my own worst critic and um, it's really cool to have somebody who actually like holds you accountable and pushes you. But on the flip side of working with your wife, it's really hard to separate that and talk about other things that aren't photography business and still maintain a marriage. So actually right now she's actually kind of working your way back out of the business and it's going to be me taking over more so she can actually just kinda like be away from not always a business partner because it's a tough balance. Is it a really tough balance? As much as it's awesome and it helps out, it's difficult. Yeah. It's got to be, you know, my, at Dorothy's the teacher kind of does her own thing during the day and yeah, we kind of check in from time to time, you know, when I go to her school and stuff.

[16:05] But yeah, it's like when you, when you live in what you eat and what you do or what do they. I don't know, whatever the saying is. But um, it, uh, so is that going to be a challenge then when she moves out or do you feel like you've set yourself up now? There'll be more successful. We've been sending it up so a lot of systems in place. So we have like a studio management slash client software that we've been implementing. Um, we've had interns that have been helping out so we're transitioning from one interview to another just because the interns and college and works and all that, so she's less available. So we have a new intern coming on is going to be helping out with a lot of the behind the scenes stuff. And then, um, one of them we're looking into right now is actually starting to outsource our photo editing, so it's expensive, but, uh, hopefully it creates a better work life balance for us.

[16:50] So actually spend more time with my kids and my wife and I can focus more on like the behind the scenes business aspects as well. Yeah, you can focus more on the clients here. I mean that's always the thing. And even with video, you know, but they all even like talk with like the Grandpa, the way the. And they'll be like, oh man, you got to go home and go through all this footage and you're like, yeah, I really wish. Like, like I could just be at the wedding and then go the next wedding. But then it's, you know, it's 80 percent or 90 percent of it is the behind the scenes stuff. Uh, so before you got into photography, uh, you said you were working. Talk about kind of that balance of what you were doing before where I worked. Yeah. So I worked for Costco, so actually, uh, worked in the stores for a long time.

[17:31] And I also actually did photography for Costco is corporate office, so there's like one main day to day photographer and for awhile it was actually the secondary photographer that was there. And uh, even though it was an amazing experience and it sounds good for the resume, it was, uh, taken me away from actually spending more time in my own business and to be honest, the commute out, I'm going all the way to ethical every day. So, um, yeah, it was not very good balance before, so as I've just about a year ago I went part time with Costco, so I just worked there in the evenings occasionally and just to get benefits basically because health insurance is obviously extremely expensive. So I just worked there part time for benefits to be able to provide benefits for my wife and my two little boys. Um, but yeah, I mean it's been a great opportunity to have, have had that career.

[18:19] It actually honestly worked there for 20 years, which is kind of crazy. Makes me feel old. But um, yeah, it's, it's been great ever since I went part time, uh, the income's only gone up and uh, my clients are way happier and I'm running a much better business now and, and it's, it's all for my clients. Everybody can do this for my clients. It's been great. Yeah, I mean it's tough when you, you know, when you have a full time job and you're trying to devote and, and you know, I think he be energy. Maybe you spend on trying to move around to other things. You, you don't have them to be creative or exactly what have been, uh, so obviously now you feel like it's a good balance and your clients are happy. Um, in terms of like weddings and approaching the wedding day, um, how do you kind of differentiate what you do in terms of like storytelling or in terms of like your approach to the wedding day and kind of the deliverables you give 'em?

[19:08] So it all starts from the communications. So I on average from the time that actually meet with my clients in person for the first time till, well after the wedding, it can be up to about 14 times in person. We're actually meet with my clients, um, which is completely crazy. I did them, I did the math on it, it like earlier this year. And I came up with like, I think that the number was like nine or 10 and then my wife and I went over it again and we're like, okay, it's actually closer to 14 times will actually interact with our clients in person. So most, all of it is the initial setup of just getting to know them. And again, I can't stress it enough building that trust portrait photography is all about trust. You have to be their friend, you have to get to know them.

[19:53] And then when you do it just opens up that relationship like it would in normal everyday life. I've given you to know somebody and you start finding out more intimate details. And the more comfortable people get, the better the photos of them are because they don't have that barrier that comes up there and it's so crazy how much a lack of trust will show up in a photo or like the other day I was shooting portraits for a guy whose running for us Senate and he's a Harvard graduated physician and he got a little nervous about the photos and he clenched his fist kinda tight and it works its way, right? If your arm and your shoulders up your neck and right into your face and you can actually see it in a photo. So the whole buildup I initially is just making people feel comfortable with getting to know them, learning their love story.

[20:36] And then, you know, it just curious through when you're, when you're there taking their pictures at that point. It's like my session last night, I've been meeting with those clients several times. Now they've, they stopped in here to introduce me, other daughter and I'm just come visit. So, you know, they definitely turned into friends and I want my clients to hire me for life. Um, so they just get so comfortable that there's no awkwardness that happens and then all of weddings include a leather album and some products on some of the upper collections and all that. So we want people to know that we're there for them for the whole process. We're not flaking on them and we respond to emails and phone calls extremely quickly and um, we're going to provide them with the most stunning artwork that's archival that's going to last for decades, if not centuries there.

[21:23] They're super high quality, really beautiful. So the whole process is all the way through. Do you like doing weddings as a concept or is it just that you like doing portraits of people and then like wedding? So the next logical step, uh, I don't know, I think it's kind of a balance of both of those. It's kind of a deep thought on that one, but, uh, I every once in awhile. Yeah. Yeah, no, it's good. Um, yeah, I would say I just liked the people connection in general, but yeah, I'm kind of one of those like weird sappy dudes who um, I love all that kind of stuff, like the first look of a wedding where they, the grim gets to see the bride, you know, coming from a male photographer perspective, we tend to like see things, how our own world is. And so um, I think that super special to have the groom gets see the bread and the dress and get that shot of his face because let's be honest, weddings are generally about the bride and not so much about the groom.

[22:19] So that's the one shot that's really about the grant and it's such a special moment and I always, it completely encouraged my clients to do the first look well before the actual ceremony so that it's actually much more intimate for the gram to actually get to see her. Um, but yeah, so I mean weddings are beautiful. I love all the, the aspects of weddings and people actually building that bond, I believe in the state of marriage and everything that it is. So yeah, I mean whether it's a giant crazy wedding with like 600 people or like the one I'm doing tomorrow is in a low moment for two people and it's going to be me and an assistant and then the groom's parents just for the ceremony with the bride and groom. They're all amazing. I mean as long as the bride and groom really love each other and there's that connection that's there.

[23:05] All of it's amazing. Absolutely adore it. Do you find it in. I have a in terms of like our summer season this year. Um, do you find a lot more weekday events and weddings and things because what's today? Tuesday. So tomorrow these, are you seeing more of that or have you seen them? And I just, I have different pricing for allotments. So my allotment pricing is for weekdays so that way I can keep the weekends free from the actual, like normal traditional weddings with you see a lot more of those happening. And that's what I've seen. It's been, to me it's been an increase this year over the last two for me in terms of bit during the week I have more like weekend weddings, like almost all my weddings are on Saturdays. Um, but I do have one Sunday wedding. I have a actually the Thursday wedding, a traditional wedding, but on a Thursday and then I have an elopement that's on it on a Wednesday.

[23:54] So yeah. But people are people often these days it seems get married like kind of based on the date, like it's 2018. So all the photographers I know and all the videographers I know are slammed in August, especially on August 18th. Like we kind of have a running joke amongst photographers and videographers that there's not going to be any wedding vendors left if anybody last minute decided to actually get married on August 18th because it's eight, 18, 18 if you didn't catch that yet. Which is funny because like the way that I, I have that too. And the way that, like I did the day of all my videos, I always to see what like August, whatever in the year. So like you wouldn't even, we had a client that got married and on seven slash 11 slash seven and I run to this July first in all my everything and even on the video and it wasn't until, I think it was like the father of the bride was like, well, you know, seven slash 11 slash 70.

[24:44] I didn't even realize. So um, do, do you prefer the larger scale or do you prefer the more intimate, smaller weddings? I don't shy away from the large ones, but I prefer the smaller ones for sure. I think that it will be easier for us to be able to actually make better connections when there's less people. But I mean big weddings can be a blast to. There's, there's certainly nothing wrong with it. I just think generally like my wheelhouse of where I'm comfortable and I think a lot of weddings are really fun is when they are a smaller my own wedding to my wife, Chelsea, we had, I think it was like we still debate on it. We have to go back and count, but it's somewhere between like 30 and 34 people, including ourselves. It was, it was really tiny and it was awesome.

[25:28] Where'd you guys get married? Canva beach state park on Camino island. And it is stupid. Beautiful up there. Absolutely amazing. Uh, did you guys have good photography? Like, yeah, it was pretty good actually. Had a couple friends who were like Kinda. I mean it was like their amateurish, like one of them's taken her business much more seriously and her skills and she's a lot better now, but both of them did a great job. They did good. We didn't get like the most, like big time wedding photographers. Was there things that you learned from kind of your own wedding and photography that you want to either emulate or improve on now that you work? Like having gone through it a little bit? I think if anything it was just a, one of them, one of them was because our, uh, one of our wedding vendors ran late.

[26:14] Even though I stressed to them, I didn't think they're gonna have enough time. So I'm not going to name names, but whatever wedding vendors ran late and um, we just didn't have enough time. So one of the things I really encourage my couples, so it's not even my shooting, it's actually setting up the rest of the day. I really encourage them at the wedding vendors are my wedding clients too. I'm strongly evaluate that I go with them as the timeline to make sure that the timeline actually makes sense so that they have enough time to get all the photos they want to get and not feel rushed, stressed because it just makes the wedding days so much more smooth and they'll get all the different shots and looks that they want. Yeah, I do think having a realistic timeline. It's funny, I always remember the one a couple of years ago and they had us arriving to the hotel at like two, putting the dress on at two.

[27:01] Oh five. And then we were going to do the first look at the Tacoma environmental services building, which was like a 25 with a driveway. I get to 20. I was like, ah, that's going to be really interesting to show up. I mean, even just getting your wedding dress on could take half an hour. I mean, depending on. It usually actually does. Yeah. It's almost never less than half an hour. I actually a lot, at least half an hour for it. I never tell people that I should be less than half an hour to even get the dress on. But. So do you find that, that you do a pretty good job of like establishing realistic expectations for your clients in terms of timeline idea? It doesn't. I mean most of the time it follows through, but it's still things happen sometimes people run late or you know, so you can't, we have no control over it.

[27:43] But um, as far as my ability to kind of guide them, I feel pretty confident in the fact that like generally speaking, if I tell them I don't have enough time and they run out of time, I warned them I just be married. Does that affect you as, as a wedding vendor? Does that make you more sentimental in the day or more? You know, taking more care, I mean, or did you take as much care before and now it's just this continuing. I'm probably a little bit more of being married, but to be honest, I think being a dad, so you know, going through the process of actually taking these kids from the moment that they're born. Um, and man, it's tough for the first couple of years, especially my, my kids are almost two and a half and almost four years old. They're little and you love them to death, but they're, they're not easy.

[28:33] It's a full time job that you'd like to have for 18 years, seven days a week. So, um, knowing how much work it takes to raise these little kids into adults and then picturing my kids getting married, like I get teary eyed just ever thinking about that. So I now view weddings as these are these people's kids. So like seeing the parents reactions to their kids during the wedding day kind of changed everything for me. Like it really was one of those where I never had any thought about it really. It was like, oh yeah, that's like the mom and the mom of the bride, you know, Data Brian, you know that. But it was never like any kind of real emotional connection to that. And now I'm like sappy, like tearing up whenever I see, you know, like the other day it was the, the grind dancing with her dad and them almost sitting there with her hand on her chin and she just had tears streaming down her face with the biggest smile you've ever seen me human have.

[29:26] And like I was like wiping off tears off of my face because it was just so beautiful to see. Yeah, that's interesting because I do think that sometimes you know, that you'd like the first dance is kind of the big. And then I do think sometimes it gets short changed on the father daughter and the mother side, you know, and you know, maybe like they're kind of having their moment and I don't know, sometimes if I'm filming and you might see people walking around and stuff. So I mean you're taking it the other way. I mean not the vendor's walking around, but yeah. The guests, you're taking it the other way that you think that you find a way more emotional now? Yeah, definitely. It's, it's, it's pretty incredible. And so I try to, uh, definitely, um, take notice of that and pay attention to that even throughout the wedding day of recognizing the importance of the parents being there because as, as like all of us having parents and us being kids, two parents of some sort, um, we can't really understand how much our parents have done for us until we become parents ourselves and then kind of have a couple of years of practice and then you're like, well, I was kind of crappy and my parents before, so, you know what I mean.

[30:30] It's like, not to get too deep on that part of it, but it definitely, uh, makes me have a whole new respect for the parents on the wedding day because you just see them and most of the time they're just glowing. Do you, do you find yourself trying to capture more, kind of intimate moments in between them or like kind of pay more attention to that? Like during the reception and stuff? Yeah, I mean obviously like, you know, on the wedding day the emphasis is the bride and groom, but a lot of times what I'll do is we'll be getting like the, the shots of the bride and groom together and you know, often like the mom or dad are kind of standing there in the background and so I'll usually just kind of quickly turn around and grab a couple of shots of them and try to get candid shots without them actually like looking at the camera, have them there and I usually have second shooters for all of our weddings and so I'll usually have the second shooter, definitely keep an eye on the parents and try to get some candid shots of them as well.

[31:21] Just just observing and you know, just getting their actual natural reactions to what's going on. Yeah. I, I, we had a wedding a couple of years ago, uh, in Woodenville and I remember the father of the groom actually was, you know, he was, the group itself wasn't like super emotive. I mean, he was really nice is, you know, reserved and you know, his dad was kind of gruff and I remember them when they actually did their first dance and you know, they just, we just happened to be kind of set perfectly where it was all in the, like the cake room and the dad was just over their shoulder and like, you know, you could do like the focus from them dancing and he's like sobbing, but you know, and like if you're not paying attention to that, right, yes. The photographer like that moment's gone.

[32:04] So it really is talking about the importance of like capturing those kind of, those moments where you know, you don't have or like it if you don't have the video of the photo, but like it doesn't exist. Yeah, exactly. You know, the wedding day goes by so fast that it's really hard to kind of remember all those little details. So that's Kinda the beauty of, of why we're there and it's so important to hire a professional wedding industry people. And it's not just saying, oh, this person's a good photographer, a good photographer can take great pictures, but it doesn't mean that they have the experience to actually think of those things. Like you said, I think of that and I didn't think of that. That's what to me makes a person that really like professional, you know, it's, it's not just taking pretty pictures, it's about actually being very thoughtful and intentional so that you know, the importance of those things.

[32:51] And you know, the flip side of it, like it's kind of a goofy thing, but often the parents are paying for or helping to pay for this as well. And I think it's a bit of a kind of a slap in the face to them if you don't actually show some respect towards that and actually get shots of them as well. Here we have a mother of the bride that was, you know, she was like trying to, we're doing that bridesmaids, go into this. And she's like, Oh, you know, do you think it's okay if we can't get in there? You know, it's, you know, it's, it's, it's your day to day, but it's your day to, you know. Yeah. My finger on that part is, is that generally speaking were there as wedding professionals to kind of help guide things because obviously most all of our clients haven't gotten married before, but it's also our job to kind of just document what happens.

[33:36] Not necessarily dictate everything. And so if the mom wants to jump in there as long as the bride's not giving me the, you know, scaring any, I shaking her head real fast, like, no, stop this, um, let's do it. Let's, let's get that shot. You know, that's, that's to me like the mom wants to go down there and no one bats an eye against it. Absolutely. Is there something know you've learned now kind of having gone through weddings you know, that you wish that you would have known, you know, five, 10 years ago. Kind of going through that. I'm sure there's a lot of things like, you know, what's a couple of big lessons you've learned in terms of like how you approach the day now? What's important? Or maybe what you thought was important before, you know, most of it is communication ahead of time.

[34:15] So I actually meet with my couples usually about one to three weeks before their wedding day and just go over all the details and that's sorts of biggest thing is, is that really clear communication ahead of time, of having no surprises so that when it comes around to the wedding day, you know, if they're going to do like a special little like pouring the sand together, melting candles together, whatever else during the ceremony. Um, so yeah, it's just a matter of like all of that communication sets up a really easy wedding day because you know, a lot of other photographers who were like family photographers, they don't want to shoot weddings because they're super stressful to them. But if you go into it and you have a really good plan, do you know all the details? You know what spot at what point during the ceremony so you can get that one perfect shot because they're going to do a certain thing.

[35:00] If you communicate it all ahead of time super carefully. It's not really a surprise and you just knew how to do all of that. So you know, it's one of those where if you talk to like professional athletes and all that, they'll tell you how important it is to perform on the day of the game. But every one of them will always talk about the preparation that goes into it and if you don't have the proper preparation you want succeed when it's the game day, air quotes of Game Day. But uh, you know, it's like, it's that idea that you, you just, the more you know, going into it, the better everything turns out. Yeah. It's tricky now and I've, I've tried to get really good too about Kinda like my pre [inaudible] I think my opinion is not all videographers are. I do think like, I tried to emulate photography in terms of like, you know, how you guys go about, you know, making sure you have the right timeline and the right, you know, all of the contact info and all the locations and everything.

[35:50] Because you know, I look back at like, you know, our first year, and I was like, how did I even know their names are like, whoa, you know, like I knew the venue and like to be there at 2:00. But like he didn't know I wasn't the best about that. And you know, I do think that like I feel and I think the clients appreciate and feel like they're in good hands with it. Again, it goes back to trust the man. That's all it is. One hundred percent. It's us being professional. You go back to the sports idea of, you know, if you talking about like the local football team here in the Seattle Seahawks, if they're going to play against an opponent, they studied that opponent. They study and they practice and they, they mentally prepare themselves for every possible outcome. Every scenario. And you know, a wedding obviously isn't like an opponent, but it's the same idea if you go into it and you have that mindset of, of actually being mentally prepared and actually doing your homework ahead of time and just making sure your, your mindset and all of your, your kind of game plan is there.

[36:44] It's, I mean honestly like this is going to sound like not that good. But weddings are easy. I mean they, they, they really aren't that hard. They're not stressful. It's just fun. And it's a great opportunity to be able to document someone's love story. I've never really amazing day at a beautiful place with them looking their best year. Right? I mean it's, it's, it's, it's not hard when everything is, is, is, you know, people are dressed to the nines and they're looking the best that they're ever going to look. And you know, you're just not hang out, but you get to take part in them out and you have your camera on a. do you ever find yourself, uh, do you still get excited for weddings or do you get, is it just another day at work or how do you get, how do you pump yourself up for, for each wedding?

[37:27] Um, I mean most of it as far as like getting pumped up is because we've already spent so much time with these couples ahead of time. Um, I mean we have like the initial consultation, booking, pre engagement as shoe a meetup, shoot engagement photos, the image session after their engagement session, they come in and pick up the products from us and then they come in to meet with us before the wedding. So they meet with a six times before the wedding day in person and if they ordered Walmart and we come and deliver it to their house for them and we actually hang wall or on the wall for them. So that could be seven times that we had actually interact with them in person before the wedding day. And so generally speaking, these people, I mean they're like family by the time the wedding date comes around.

[38:11] So you know, people don't realize how much wedding like professionals do behind the scenes. I mean, it's usually like the night before your guyses wedding, we're going through and actually gathering all of our gear and checking all of our batteries and make sure the batteries are all full and charged and going through a bag like 15 times to make sure that all the lenses are all in there and all the gears there and then we're usually going to bed early because we want to be arrested for you guys and then we're eating healthy meals that day and preparing meals and everything else. So, you know, everything leading up to the wedding is like Kinda hyperfocused of like going through everything and making sure that you have like everything quadruple checked if not more. And then, um, once you get there and you get to see the couples, it's just fun at that point and all the, all the preparation sets it up.

[38:57] So once you actually start shooting, it's, it's really just, you know, you stay focused but you gotta have a blast. It's so much fun. Uh, one thing I think got buried in there and said if you have Dan Manny and shoot your portraits and hire a bio walmart, he will actually come to your house and no art. So I think that that should be a more higher selling point for them. Your list. Yeah, I know, but I do think, and I think with video too, but with photography you do deal a lot with like the uncle Bob that could shoot it or like, you know, we all know uncle Bob or like, oh my friend from college, you know, have a sorority girl even whenever it's going to shoot it. Uh, but you know, when it is what you do, you know, every month, every week, every weekend, um, you know, you're ready to go.

[39:37] Right. And so there's not even, like you said, the preparation, like, like I just have my gear and I just know like I just need all this stuff today. You talk about kind of that differentiation between, you know, you being like super prepared versus like maybe like a family friend. That could also be like an awesome photographer. But yeah, I mean, yeah, that's, that's the whole thing like we talked about. I mean it's, it's Kinda going to the same thing, but to address that it's, yeah, it's, it's about being very prepared and you know, we have man, you know, all of us is like photographers, most any wedding photographer, we'll have two camera bodies that were each shooting with or we have an extra one in the bag. We have professional lenses that are, you know, like thousands of dollars each. So we have all the professional gear.

[40:22] But like the idea of uncle Bob, uncle Bob's kind of like that guy who's at every wedding who has his camera and he's like an amateur photographer and kind of thinks he knows more what he's doing. Then he probably actually showed he's a little overconfident. Um, but uh, yeah, so we have all the nice gear and all that. But again, it's all the preparation and years of experience behind the scenes that really make the difference. It's what photography is about, taking great photos, but it's about establishing that trust and it's about building the relationship and having a really good game plan for the day of their wedding. So that when those situations arise or you um, yeah, just to compare it to like the guy who's like the family friend, it makes all the difference in the world, but you still have to take great photos too. I've been out of this.

[41:04] It's super important and if we don't have great photos, what's, what's the point of all the great customer service and all the preparations. So they're very much go hand in hand. Uh, so you were telling me off air before we got started. You've got a really cool opportunity coming up this summer, uh, with a surprise proposal. Right? So talk about, you know, specifically that the idea of proposal photography too, because obviously that's like the pre wedding, pre engagement, like that's where it all begins to talk about that. So yeah. So I'm a guy who is kind of like a friend of a friend who added me as a friend on facebook a long time ago. He's been like a good supporter of photography as far as like liking a lot of facebook posts and comment and all that, um, is wanting to propose to his longtime girlfriend.

[41:46] And so he contacted me with a pretty solid game plan already in place. And so he, uh, is chartering a Kenmore Air Sea plane floodplain. So he's actually going to have me go down to Kenmore. He's going to give me some supply, so I'm going to have a table and chair and like linens and all that. I'm going to hop on a float plane by myself and the pilot is going to fly me his supplies and my camera gear up to a remote lake in the cascades. So kind of on the way to Stevens pass land the flood plane on the lake and pull up to this tiny little sandy beaches up there helping get the gear out of the plane. And then he's going to leave me there by myself with this super remote lake for about an hour and a half. Well, he actually flies back to pick up the couple.

[42:29] Um, so as far as she knows she's going to be hopping on a float plane for a scenic flight and then I'm not quite sure if she knows that they're going to be landed on a lake for lunch or whatever, but um, yeah, so they're going to be landing on the links will actually be a heightened in the woods and the side of the hill shooting photos, the plane coming in to land and obviously that I'm getting out of the airplane and then popping down under me and actually proposing to her and getting those really cool behind the scenes candid shots. And so, uh, yeah, pretty amazing experience coming up. All of my photographer friends are either super excited, jealous or terrified for me of getting left up in the mountains for an hour and a half. So yes. And if anybody's wondering, I'm actually either going to be buying or barring some bear spray from somebody to have up there because it's definitely a in the wild a as you know, somebody that you, I had my proposal photographs, um, best decision I've ever made.

[43:19] I mean, I guess I would say of anything for our wedding because I didn't realize how am I, should act like how important the proposal was, you know what I mean? Obviously it was nice and whatever, but like, you know, my wife has told that story a thousand times and I didn't realize like I again, like I had been married yet I wasn't sentimental or like to the end of all that stuff. So like I didn't get that. And like now, like anybody, like even video, like we've done, you'll video proposals for like at least like get your, you know, whether it's a friend that side yet bushes or whether you're hiring come out like [inaudible] she is told that story a thousand times. She has another phone. She shows everybody in the photo I think even more than our wedding photos. Really it was like, you know, she knew the wedding day was coming but you don't know.

[44:06] Do you do a lot of other proposals? Are you going to try and do more? Yeah, I've done some in the past and I definitely would love to do more because yeah, the storytelling of people's romance and love story, that's kind of the foundation. I mean it's obviously like I have to meet and have your first date and their courtship and all that kind of stuff, but as far as like the actual marriage itself, it's all based on the proposal. And so yeah, I actually, it's funny how you say that. I had my dad who has no photography experience whatsoever. I had my parents helped me kind of set it all up and uh, I had my dad the night before with my, my big fancy professional camera and my big telephoto Lens should've had to use all of the settings and all that and it had my dad hiding in the bushes to actually shoot photos will be proposing as well.

[44:48] So yeah. So I'm totally there and it's, it's really important. Even if you don't hire a professional photographer, like get somebody who's like, even honestly, it's like hire professional photography. I got better photos, but like bring a friend who you're, you're soon to be fiance. Doesn't even know and have them just sit there and pretend like they're taking pictures of their cell phone and get a video of it because it's a really beautiful experience and it's something that you guys will never forget. Yeah. I have a couple that we, we correspond to the lot, but we had just done everything on email that they were out of town and know we couldn't really meet up before the wedding and when I was getting ready to do their blog post, I gone back and looked at their wedding website and they had the two. I think it was like two angles that people with cell phones taking that.

[45:32] But like, even that for me, like I was like, oh my gosh. Like I just felt like I got to know them so much more and like really experienced that and like, you know, these are people, like I had a great day and we really got along. But like I felt even more connected to them having seen that because it is like a log with your wedding. It is such a, um, just an emotional time. I mean, it really is. Um, you had said that, you know, the guy who kind of met up with us through social media. I'm really curious, kind of your thoughts about, you know, using social media to market, you know, not only like kind of word of mouth and networking, but I mean, what are your thoughts and you're in the, you're pretty, like I said, coming into intro pretty prolific in terms of like commenting and giving you advice and posting things online.

[46:15] What's your mentality behind that? I mean, number one is stay active, you know, post, post a good amount. Um, don't be annoying with how much your post, but, you know, it's definitely a post to get them out on social media. Um, be thoughtful, you know, try to try to, like, whether it's connecting with other people who are in your industry and being supportive of them or reaching out to clients and just saying, Hey, look, even if you don't hire me, let me help you find your career professional photographer who actually knows what they're doing because uncle Bob, he might take great photos, but it was mean that he actually knows what he's doing. Um, but yeah, social media, it's just one tool. I don't rely on it too much. I mean I'm one of those people who have fully says that if I wasn't a photographer and trying to grow a business, I might not even have a facebook page, but it's a nice way to, to get to know people he wouldn't normally get to know or for people to get to know you a continuing those longterm relationships.

[47:09] And I mean honestly I have some fantastic friends that I've met through social media that live on the other side of the country and we occasionally like fly to each other to like go snowboarding together and hang out and all that. So it is, it is incredible. But um, yeah, social media is just one tool. I mean I, I mostly go with word of mouth as far as any kind of marketing I want my client to be incredible and second to none. I mean, that's probably the biggest thing that I would ever say that, you know, besides taking, hopefully if people will think our photos are absolutely stunning and we usually get pretty good feedback on that outside of that, our customer service, it is hopefully going to be considered second to none. And so, um, to me that's the core of our marketing that we do.

[47:48] Social media is just one of those landing places for people to actually get to like go and see. Oh yeah, he's an active photographer. He's not a person who's like just kind of a hobbyist or whatever else. And so, um, it's just, it's a tool to connect with people and it's great, but it's not everything to me either. Yeah, I mean I do think it's a tough line. I mean I think nowadays I think it could be kind of like all consuming or not. And so, you know, I worked with a photographer on Saturday and they said like, oh, we don't even know, like we don't really do it at all. Right. And then there's on the other side where there's people that post pretty regularly. So, you know, I never know. Right. And that's what kind of, I'm kind of curious what people think about it.

[48:26] Yeah. And I mean the thing is, is that the biggest thing that people can do well on social media and there's some people who were fantastic. I, it, like I'll say Tiffany Burke, photography has added Tacoma. She is her relic as far as truly, really being authentic when it comes to online presence because she spills the real stuff of like showing photos of what your body looks like when you gained like 60 pounds, whatever it was after she had a baby and you know, so it's, it's, it's hard because generally speaking, most people on social media don't put out like the worst moments. So it's really not often very authentic and it's a fine balance because you want to come across, across, it's like a whiner if you're trying to be authentic. And so it's a really hard balance. But um, social media is always a bit kind of contrived.

[49:15] It's, it's always a kind of phony I think because people just generally aren't always themselves. And so I tried to find that balance of like being honest and real, but not coming across as like a whiny person, but also I'm being real and with people. I think it's a really important factor. Do you find though it's helpful in terms of connecting with clients and staying in touch and kind of knowing like you said, that they know that you're a real person and then that either you're, you are login and are good at what you do. I mean obviously that's definitely important is establishing like that you're up to date, you're current, you're actively working. So I think that if you don't have an online presence of a website, a blog and instagram and a facebook page as a photographer, if people go to your site and they see that you haven't posted anything in six months, it looks like you're just out of business.

[50:04] I mean you walk by any like tangible, like goods store and nothing changed in six months and you haven't seen the open sign on once. No one's going to even give you any thought that you're actually a legit business. So it's kind of hard as a photographer because we're human beings, but we're also businesses and so we have a hard time kind of separating that and demonstrating that to potential clients or current clients that we have that. So one thing I do is we actually have a facebook group for our clients specifically have one for our brides and grooms so that they actually can connect with each other if they have questions as well as connecting with us and a more private and kind of safe space. So it's not so public. And so I, I've seen things in like photographer, like facebook groups where a photographer, you just get annoyed because clients try to add them as a friend on facebook.

[50:55] And to me it's the funniest thing in the world because when a client adds me as a friend on facebook, I pretty much know I have them as a client for life because it gave them an amazing experience as, as a business coming from me as a person. And so, um, to add people to that facebook group with you basically have to become friends with me. I can't add them to it unless they're actually a facebook friend. So, uh, that's one of those things where I love it and I get clients who love that as well and it's, it's a really cool thing to actually build that real authenticity. Yeah. And I do think I'm the exact same way and I always find that funny and like I said, a lot of times like that's the reason like to do the podcast and to do everything is, you know, having that accessibility right and at least like having people be able to like, you know, hear it from you and email with and kind of see that.

[51:42] Um, uh, we'll, we'll wrap up here soon. I want to talk about, you know, your, you have the store front here, you know like the Seattle wedding, a wedding tour. Talk about as a photographer building that brand out in terms of like, you know, like not that you have to have a physical location, but you do have either brand to talk about the importance of that in like struggles that that is. Or is that easy going or how, what are your thoughts behind having that brand kind of out there? Um, yeah, I think it's hard for a lot of people, like as business owners, especially as a photographer where people, um, so we're people who are businesses and so it's Kinda hard to build a brand that's you as a person, but it's not necessarily directly you, if that makes sense. And so it's kind of like weird balance on that one.

[52:32] Um, so for me it was going through and, and like evaluating like who I am and how I want my business to be seen by potential clients that reflects what they'll actually get when they meet with me. And so if you like look at my logo, it's basically kind of like, it's supposed to be a rough outline of like Mount Rainier, um, but it's also a bit in the shape of like a traditional kind of diamond. So it's kind of that blend of like, and it has some trees and the bottom of it and it's green and gray and all that. So it's, it's the kind of blend of like the wedding kind of feel, but nature and all that and I'm definitely a person who loves being outside and being really active. Um, like I said, my pillows on my couch and the shape of mountains.

[53:15] Um, I have furniture in my studio that I built with my own hands out of, out of wood and all that. So the bench Reid's actually sitting on, actually made with my own two hands and then I have a little, a cabinet that's in here, but how is this a mini fridge? And it's like a shelf space and has a cabinet underneath of it as well. I actually designed it on a sheet of paper and built it myself and I purposely made it kind of rustic eat and all that. So, um, everything here like to sound like fancy with the word cheery, but everything in here was like very specifically curated. Um, even the, like we said, we sell products. The art that we sell to our clients was we spent eight months. I mean legitimately eight months selecting is very specifically what we would carry because if I love it and you hire me because you like who I am as a person, you liked my art and you liked the experience that I give you.

[54:07] We tend to have a lot in common as it is. So more than likely you're going to end up loving the products that I have to offer. And so everything has been extremely intentional and I think that that's a great point to make the email. I get emails sometimes where they're like, hey, you know, I've maybe like, I like your price or I like your whatever, but I like this other person's work or I like this other thing. And I do think that like, you know, connecting with who you want to work with and like really liking that work and the, you know, the, the whole feeling of that I think is really important because ultimately right, like you want everybody to be happy at the end of the, at the end of the day. And so yeah, if you're like, if you come in here and you see what's on the walls and you're happy with that, you know, and, and, and that excites you, right?

[54:53] Then you're going to be excited that the. Yeah, exactly. So yeah, it's all about just like I said, I can say this a million times over and I can't stress that enough. Doing everything in our client's best interest is everything. I was just listening to an audio book and it's one of those like kind of like traditional, like how to close the deal auto seal kind of thing. And uh, but it was great. It's one of my favorite guys. His name is Brian Tracy is really great speaker and all that. But one of the things he's talking about is if you are a business and you want to continue to do business with the person that you're doing business with and you're negotiating a contract, which is what anybody is doing by hiring me or how I run my business, you have to make an amicable on both sides.

[55:36] You have to make a profit to run the business. And of course, like if anybody recognizes any business that you want to stay in business and you want to support, you want them to be profitable, but you also want good value on your side of that. And so everything I do is to make sure that yes, I'm staying in business and I'm not burning myself out so I continue to be their photographers for life, but at the same time I want them to know that like they're going to get an experience and that nobody can even match. And on the flip side of that, there's still a great value in that one in it. And um, they know that it's just a pampering experience where they don't have to stress, there is no work for them. Perfect. Well I thank you so much for letting me come here today.

[56:17] Visit your studio and then we had some technical difficulties getting started. So I appreciate you helping me work through those. If people want know more about you and who you are and what you're all about, what would you have them do? And check?

So our website is www.danmanningphotography.com. Instagram is just Dan Manning Photography. We have a facebook page, so it's just Dan Manning Photo is like the thing that's on there, but you could search for Dan Manning photography and you can call us at 206-334-3233. And if you'd like my email it's just danmanningphotography@gmail.com.

Perfect. Well thank you so much. I really appreciate your time. Come back next week and check out another wedding vendor interview. Thank you so much Dan. Thank you. I appreciate a lot. Thanks. Bye.

Episode 10 (Taryn Holmstrom, Skagit Valley Wedding Rentals)

[00:09] Hey everybody, welcome to Get to Know Your Wedding Pro. My name is Reid with Best Made Videos. We are a wedding videography company based out of West Seattle, Washington, and I'm up here today in Skagit County with Taryn Holmstrom, the owner and designer of Skagit Valley Wedding Rentals. And I wanted to say thank you so much for letting me come into your beautiful showroom today. Can you just introduce yourselves and tell us a little bit about who you are?

[00:34] Sure. Thanks for having me. I'm like Reid said my name is Taryn and I own Skagit Valley Wedding Rentals and we are a rental design firm here in Skagit County, located in the farmlands of Mount Vernon and we've been doing this for, I think this has gone under our ninth year and we just help clients in customers as they're planning their weddings and they're looking at their pinterest boards. We helped bring their pinterest boards to life. So you see here on our listeners cannot, but I have a full showroom with a 60 inch round table and all of our chairs here. We'd take our linens and put them right on the table, so we take a look at your pinterest boards and we will find the pieces that you liked the best out of them and then we mock it up right here. So when you walk away, you're, you have a dream design right there in front of you?

[01:20] Yeah. Have you seen like obviously the pinterest thing is somewhat new in the last couple of years. I mean how is that kind of reshaped how you guys go through the process or has it made it easier or harder? I mean their expectations different.

[01:33] It's a double edged sword. I mean I wish it was around when I got married because my wedding would look dramatically different than it did, but it's great because our clients can just send us their boards ahead of time and we can look at them before and we have a really good sense of what they like. Um, it's nice because we can go through it with them and they can tell us exactly what pieces they enjoy and pieces they like and not everything in the picture. Do they like you pin something because you like just the flower or the chair sash or something specific and so we can go through that and it helps us really visualize for them. The hard part about it is most of the pictures you see on pinterest are not actual full weddings. There are a lot of them are styled shoots and so it's one table done up really, really beautifully and we wish we could do every table that way, but it doesn't always align with the investment that our clients want to make in their table designs.

[02:19] Yeah, it's tough. I mean we work with that too with video and photography that yet you see a lot of these stylized shoots and you know, like I know our wedding over the weekend, you know, you might have two minutes from when kind of everything is set up until when the, you know, the, the guests come in and sit down and like even us trying to get these pictures that you see like most of the time it is, is it tough, like kind of managing those expectations that clients have?

[02:43] Um, I don't, I wouldn't necessarily call it tough, um, I think during our process we do a one hour design consultation that's complimentary with our clients. Um, and during that process we do talk about what they like about the different linens that have textures and colors and kind of the feel that they want for their wedding and you know, the, the investment that they want to make is discussed as well. But really they, they leave and they get to sit and think about it. So we give them their pie in the sky dream design and then they get to go home and decide like how is that going to fit with what we want and how we want to spend our money and how we want to make our day happen. And so I don't feel like it's too difficult to manage. I, you know, we give them their options and then they get to decide what's important for them.

[03:25] Is it rewarding to go through the process with them and kind of you really are that integral part where you get to see that whole finalized vision? I mean, talking about kind of going through that from scratch, maybe scratch paper and pinterest boards to seeing the final result.

[03:39] Um, we asked. My favorite part is especially during the design consultation, so when we sit down and they come in and they love, you know, really it's like three or four different styles and they want to make it all come together and make it cohesive and there is a fine line between, I don't know if you've ever tried decorating your house or any of that kind of stuff. There's a fine line between it looking really great and then looking like it's just thrown together. And so we really help make all the different pieces that you love about your wedding come together. And then in a cohesive design. And I think my favorite part of that process is when we're sitting down and they come in with like they see all the colors, they see all the different textures and they're overwhelmed. And then within half an hour we have that dream perfect design a setback.

[04:19] And there's that light bulb moment of this is exactly what I want. And a sense of calm goes over them and that's my favorite part is because I'm sure you know as you work with different couples, as they plan their weddings and you got married, it's very overwhelming and it's very stressful and to have one thing checked off your list and it's just like, oh, it's done, it's calm, I'm happy. This is exactly what you want and you can move onto the next piece. And really the linens and the table designs there are a huge part of a wedding. They really do set the tone. People overlook it sometimes and it does really set the tone and theme for your wedding. It's what is the background for your flowers to really show on the table or your menu cards or whatever other pieces you've really taken into it. So I love seeing it all come together at the very, very end.

[05:04] Are there some trends right now that are really popular or especially as we're kind of getting into this, you know, it's married and May. Right now we're getting into this wedding season. Are you noticing certain things this year that are popular that people are gravitating towards?

[05:18] In the past we would say it's like certain textures and colors, like we've all seen the burlap and lace and I'm sure many of us who are in the wedding industry are pretty excited to see that go away because it's, I mean, as much as we love it, but it's not as unique as it used to be. And so we're seeing these new trends come through. So greenery was a big trend last year. We're still seeing a lot of the green garlands with, um, the English, English laurels or Eucalyptus, which is, I think that'll always be mainstays. I'm still a lot of blush and blushes, always a romantic color. Um, the thing that I'm liking the most that I'm seeing this year is that my clients and brides that we have, they're really stepping away from what's on pinterest even though that's what we specialize, helping bring their pinterest board delight and they're thinking really of the whole, the whole event and how it reflects them as a couple.

[06:03] So they're picking pieces in as you know, certain pieces within their wedding that reflect them. So I have one couple that are getting married in a Labor Day and they are writing their tandem bike down the way down the aisle and it's like how cute is that because that is, that's them, you know, and so people are picking things that really reflect them. I have another couple that's in New York, they're not even from here, but they love hiking so they're coming all the way here and having their wedding in the north cascades because they want to share the love of hiking. And so instead of having this like cookie cutter wedding that matches all the pinterest boards, people are taking pinterest as their inspiration, but they're really developing it into what we flex them as a couple and it was unique to them.

[06:43] Yeah, I do think that, you know, the clientele nowadays really kind of like to make things your own know and, and have, you know, something that kind of speaks to them and what they are. I, yeah. It's funny. We're sitting here with these chairs and I recognize some of these rental, you know, chairs and you know, like even when I walk into a, like a reception room, if you had Scott, what is this? The bone kind of cheering Jafari chairs. I always know like, oh, this is a good wedding. Our wedding on Saturday at Bell Harbor had those and you go, okay, well this is, this is good. But it does, it sets the tone and it lets people know like this is a nice event and you know, we're really coming together to celebrate. Um, do you guys talk about the area you guys service, you know, obviously you're based in Skagit county, but talk about that and how far you guys go.

[07:27] So we'll go anywhere for a price, right? Like if you want to take me to Hawaii, I'm happy to come to your wedding in Hawaii. Most of our clients are here in the Watkins, Skagit, snohomish counties. We do go into king county a little bit, but most mostly you really are located here in Skagit. So we do serve all the way up to the border quite a bit in Bellingham, Mount Vernon and Burlington and then down into the snohomish, but we have stuff going out to Montana this summer, Idaho, eastern Washington, because we're a rental company, we don't necessarily physically have to go like we do offer the option of we will come in and set up for you if that's something you need and we'll break it down if that fits for what you want to invest in, if it's for the timeline that you have. But most of our clients they pick up their stuff days beforehand and they take it to wherever they want to go and then they bring it back to us the following week.

[08:18] There has been kind of an explosion in the last couple of years with all these great venues up here in Sonoma county and you know, Kinda like the more barns settings and things. Has that been obviously helpful to you guys as well? Just kind of be expanding demographic appear have in terms of how many different wedding venues there are?

[08:33] Yeah. Over the last eight years we've seen a huge change in the type of venues and the price points of the venues that we have up here, number, we're seeing a lot more brides and couples coming out of Seattle moving north to us because, I mean I love Seattle but it is expensive to do anything down there, especially if you want to throw a larger party. And so there's a lot more flexibility being up here. If you could make the. And I think a lot going back to the couples trying to make it their reflection of them. They want to give their client, they're not their clients, their guests and experience. So instead of just showing up at 5:00 one night and there for a couple hours and leaving, they're trying to encourage their guests to come for the weekend. Like they come out to the San Juan Islands and stay at Roche Harbor and tour, you know, ride bikes around the island and do a little fishing and whale watching while you happen to have our wedding as well.

[09:18] So we're seeing a lot more come up here doing room blocks that the casinos or at some of our nicer hotels and then getting charter buses to take you to and from the venue and yeah, there's a ton of barns being converted. We're actually in the process of converting a bar and just a couple driveways down into a venue. So there's, there's a lot coming and it's great because each place has its own pieces that are so unique. And so does being connected with all of them and seeing them, we can easily, if someone says they're getting married, say at Greenfield farm and gardens, which is a kind of a Red Sharpie barn here in Anacortes, I can recommend certain things that go specific to that style of that barn or Maplehurst has a completely different look even though they were both their barn venues, they're both different.

[10:01] Yeah. And I don't know if that's a vignette that everybody thinks about. Right? Because even us in filming you though, there's like totally different. Like, you know, it's so much like dairy land or um, like hidden meadows and things here. They all, it's all like kind of that similar vibe, but if you do really have to like specially Taylor kind of what you're bringing in there because like you said, you don't want to like clash or you know, you want it to compliment each other. Um, so kind of getting into this wedding rental market, how did you kind of find yourself getting into this? I know we had talked off air and setting this up about, you know, you're a mom and kids and, but you were, where do, how do we find ourselves today here?

[10:40] So related to this new story, I think I'm very similar to a lot of wedding professionals in. This was never my plan. Um, I went to school to be a teacher. I taught special education for Middle School for years and I loved it. And um, when I got engaged I, we were young and didn't have a ton of money and I started looking into getting rentals and I need a chair covers because the venue I had had really horrible chairs that I was not okay with. And when I started pricing it out, it was just, I couldn't handle it and I started researching like, what if I just bought it and sold it and that was my plan. Like I got married in 2010, I'm going to buy these things, I'm going to sell them. I don't want to see them again. I just want to save a buck.

[11:17] And then my friend was getting married. We were in February, so we were a winter wedding. My friend was getting married a couple months later. She's like, can I just borrow them? Just wait to sell them, like, Oh yeah, sure, no problem. I'll just wait til summer. And then her friend was at her wedding of course, and I was like, Hey, I'll give you 200 bucks. I'm like $200. At the time my husband was a commercial fisherman so. And I taught. So I had summers off. He wasn't here like, what am I going to do? So I just kind of put an ad on craigslist, like set up a website if I could. I wish I had printed it off or kept it somehow because it was horrible, but you know, you'll live and learn and so it just kind of snowballed and then we just did it part time for about four years in the summer and this was before I had kids and then once I had my first son, um, I decided that I just had, I wanted to be home with him and my husband gave me the gift of allowing me to come home with them and I was a stay at home mom and that was it for six months and I got really, I mean for those moms who can do it, I applaud you, but I cannot be the stay at home mom only I needed something else.

[12:18] And then I just dove deep about four and a half years ago into the business and we've been doing it semi full time for the last four years.

[12:25] Low is a. What was that process like of kind of making that leap? Was that scary? I mean, was it, was it a slow build or how, how is the actual setting up in, in kind of like. I mean, you guys have a huge inventory now. I mean did it start with one wedding or five or how did that go?

[12:42] So I'm starting it. It wasn't super scary I think because I didn't, I didn't quit a job to start it. I didn't feel like I had to like I have a certain amount of money I had to bring in doing it was really just a side Gig. I love making money. I love helping people. Solving problems so it fit nicely. I had done other side gigs in the past, used to install lawn. I used to. I mean there's all kinds of things I've done in the past with my other lives that I had basically. And so it fit naturally for me to find something that wasn't an hourly thing that I can make a little bit more money and have the creative part to like I'm really good at managing things because I can manage a classroom of children. So managing the moving parts of a, an event and helping clients work through that process was super helpful and it's a fun time.

[13:25] Everyone like planning a wedding for the most part is enjoyable people. It's a happy day. You're planning for something. It's not typically a sad day or. I mean it's stressful but it's a beautiful day and so everyone has a lot of excitement around it and I love that creativity and that, that feeling around them. So I wanted to surround myself when I started. I literally, and I'm sure if you talked to any of my past clients, I have, I considered myself the bag lady. I would take a little bag of a sample of all my sashes that I could get in any color. We didn't meet at starbucks, the starbucks Baristas just laugh because I'd be putting chair covers on their chairs and I mean that was where I was at and I didn't have a showroom. I didn't. I was home based for the first six years.

[14:05] We've only had this building for two years that we've been actually having a showroom, which has been a game changer. But I went slow and I was committed to not going into that for it and just to keep making it fun and so when things got to be overwhelming or I wasn't enjoying it, I would pivot to what my clients needed and what I enjoyed more because for me, whatever I do with my life, I have to enjoy it and I have to have a good time and if I'm not enjoying my work that I need to pivot to where I can enjoy it so that I can really support my clients in the best way possible.

[14:33] It's fascinating. I'm just thinking back, there were some movie where a guy had to go, like door to door selling like a sewing machine. There's something back in the fifties and you know, that was Kinda like you. Right. And it was like the hustle every day.

[14:45] Uh, was that, um,

[14:48] rewarding kind of knowing that you were that solely easy way? Was it frustrating?

[14:54] I was actually, I would say it was more rewarding because for the first couple of years I was still teaching full time and I worked this into the cracks of my life outside of that, so I didn't have children for the first couple of years, so it was no big deal to not come home till nine or 10 at night. If I was working at school, planning my lessons and then meeting clients in the evenings or on a Saturday, having a whole Saturday gone. I'm used to working 60 or 80 hours a week at the time, so for me to add a few more hours, it was not a big deal. I really enjoyed it and if it was just like an hourly, like here's your coffee type job, I probably wouldn't have. I used to waitress and I gave that up, but since this was like that light bulb moment and people feeling like calm because they were able to.

[15:34] Like I felt I had what they needed and I had what they wanted and they could check it off their box and they can move onto the next piece of planning. Knowing that I was solving a problem for someone else and making their life easier, made it more enjoyable for me. And so then I kept going and I was like, I'll just keep doing it. But like I said, those first couple of years we might have only done five or 10 small weddings, like $500, like really small events. Um, because I was the space I had in my life at the time. And then once my kids got a little bit older and I decided I didn't want to be a stay at home mom anymore and I needed to find something, I'm able to dive in and really expand. The other thing that we did is, you see, I mean tons of colors and samples here in office and you looked at my back room with two or 300 bins of linens, gets a lot of limits.

[16:18] We didn't have that. We had samples and then as a client was like, oh yeah, I want red. I'm like, okay, I have it. And then I'd go order it. Like I would bring in whatever they needed, but I didn't need to have 100 of every color because who knows if they want anybody's going to want that or not. So I just grew really slow and I had some really great mentors. There's a couple other rental companies in the area that I was able to kind of pick their brains and they were able to share with me what worked for them and what didn't. Um, and I just asked lots of questions, lots of questions of other people that are in the industry and like how do they find their clients and what did they enjoy? And I aligned myself with the people that had the same heart to serve that I had.

[16:55] It's, it's tough for me as someone who's. My wife's a teacher and he works all day every day. Weekends too. I mean I couldn't imagine her having to av on starting the business. I mean there really is like as someone that lives through it every day. I mean that's a lot. You said you asked a lot of questions and you had a lot of mentors. What is something that you know now that you wish you would have known years ago in terms of like a lesson or?

[17:19] Um, there's a couple. So one of the first things that comes to mind is you can set your own pace. So there's this idea like in our lives even whether we're business owners are not that we compare. So we look on facebook or instagram and Oh, they're a better mom than I am. They have a cleaner house than their job's amazing. They're working for a beer company and they're going to these beer things or whatever it is we can pair. And then we think, oh, ours is less. And so in the beginning it's like I would compare myself to where they're at. I should be there, I should be doing what they're doing. And you run yourself in circles. So there's a ton of stuff right now with facebook and instagram. They're algorithms and pinterest and email marketing, all these things that we should be doing to be quote unquote good business running.

[18:01] But really I get to decide how I want to live my life. Do I want to spend 30 hours a week doing that? I don't. I, I did. I have done it, but I wish I had learned sooner that I'm on my own path in. I have to do this so it fits me so I can be here in the long run. If I just run myself ragged, I'm just going to burn out and then I won't be able to help. I won't be able to provide the service I provide and how many other people are going to go straight to Amazon order tablecloth have to be super wrinkled and that happened. Not Fit their tables correctly. Like, and then they have a basic design like they're not going to get the same service that I can provide them. So knowing that someone put it to me as I'm, I'm on a train and I get to decide if I go fast or slow where I want to turn off, where I want to go and if I want to hop off the train at any point and go back on it later, I can do that.

[18:49] And so having that piece has been really good for me to just be like, they're doing a great thing and I think that's awesome for them is just not right for me now I'm going to do what's right for me and my clients and my family now. So I wish I had known that sooner. But it is tough.

[19:03] I mean it's similar to because it's like you're doing rentals and somebody else you know, like is. I've talked to people about that in the past, like if we all work at the same company, maybe I'm doing the numbers and you're doing the logistics or whatever. Like it's kind of apples and oranges. But yeah, like if I'm doing wedding videos and somebody else is and it's really like it's direct, you know, you're able to look at somebody else and say wow, this, should I be doing something different. I mean it is hard. Yeah. I'm tell you, you talked about the Amazon and I didn't even think about that. So you know, people ordering, you know, on that versus kind of the personal approach that, you know, you were others, you know, local service base, you rental companies. Talk about that difference and if you heard horror stories or maybe not horror, but yeah,

[19:46] if I have a love hate relationship with Amazon because Amazon prime is like my best friend there at my house all the time. But um, I was that, that bride, the do it yourself pride. I ordered table online, I brought him in, I spent the 40 to 60 hours a week before my wedding irony, like, because that's what you have to do in order to make them look right. And it was a lot of stress. So there are, if people are super detail oriented and they are on a super tight budget or they don't want, even if you're not on a tight budget, you just don't want to put your money in the design. There's other pieces, whether it's the live band or a videographer would, you know, a lot of times people don't budget for that. Um, as great. Let me give you a couple of great websites.

[20:28] These are companies I like to work with. They have, you know, the thicker tablecloths. We've heard table cars coming in from China that like literally you can see through them, so if you have a one of the. If your venue has tables that are like the dark wood top instead of the plastic top and you have a white linen, all you're scene is wood under it and it looks super tacky. We've also seen like people buy the table cause themselves and honestly it can be cheaper than renting sometimes, but when you rent a table, cloth were precedent. We're having it professionally cleaned. It's ready to go in a box. We're guaranteeing that that size is going to fit. We've done all the research already and then we're also doing the design. We're helping you bring your, your whole design together. So I do feel like there's nothing wrong with ordering online.

[21:07] You just have you. You're going to pay one way or another. Is it going to be time or money so you can either save time because we can never get more time back and spend a little bit more money and have it all done for you or if you have more time than money than maybe the do it yourself option is a good option. I still recommend reaching out to some professionals and getting some ideas and help have them help guide you a little bit and it's not an all or nothing. Some of my clients, they have a friend that has like basic white tablecloths, so they use borrow those, but then they come to us and they get the sequence runners from us and the backdrop or something and so we can. Those two models can mesh together. It doesn't have to be all or nothing, but you just really have to decide how much time do I have? If you're a busy professional, do you really want to spend every waking hour crafting an irony? I don't know. I mean that's something that you would have to decide.

[21:57] Yeah, it is because like you said, it's going to cost you were either with time or money. I mean I know that like when my friend got married, uh, the florals, that's what they were going to save, but you know, he, I saw him the more because I filmed the wedding and I saw him the morning of and he said, man, we're up till 3:00 AM, you know, putting together, you know, the bouquets which um, you know, you save money but you know, it's time and like you said, you know, some people, like I'm the kind of person that like I just wanted to pay and have it done, but you know, yeah, if you're trying to be scrappy and I totally get that too. Then you, you know, like I, I got the deal, my videographer because you know, I could whatever. But then we were able to spend out on the other stuff.

[22:37] But yeah, it's tough enemy. It is true too with like, you know, even just the presentation and stuff. Because I do think that like some couples, and I've seen this with because our clients, some of our clients are more a planner in rentals and then some of our clients are more diy. They'll get some stuff in boxes and I don't think they've ever taken it out until the morning of and you know, you put it on the table and it's like, oh no, like we need the steam that or we need to press it. I mean I've even done a wedding shows where we've had our linens are provided and I've shown up and been like. Whereas my steamer, yeah, you know, like this is and you know, cause it is whether or not you, um, recognize what it is that you're noticing. You do notice something, right? Yeah. I mean it does. I mean I'm say

[23:23] the wrinkles and a tablecloth do not make or break a wedding for sure. Like your wedding will be beautiful. I do recommend real tablecloths over plastic any day. Right. But it's not gonna make or break. It is a subtle thing. But when you walk into a room and there is not a crease on any row table cloths and everything is just flowing so smoothly and just, it's stunning luck subconsciously walk in and it's just a sense of calm. So if you walk in and everything and even just the base has just those wrinkles on the tablecloth and maybe your Napkins are all folded ahead of time and pressed. It is a different feel even if you don't really care about the look of it walking in subconsciously, you feel differently. And so, um, the one thing I do really recommend is when I have clients that are in a little bit tighter a budget, I really just want to educate them and tell them like, you decide how you want to spend your time.

[24:11] If, if you want to iron, that's great, but this is what I'd recommend. Pick out a really good show to binge watch the week before and just sit and watch it on Netflix. Do it. Don't do it the day of. Don't leave it to someone else because the day of you want to be drinking Mimosa, sitting with everybody, getting ready, enjoying your time. You don't want to be wondering, is aunt susie actually ironing all the table cloths the way that you want? Because she's not, it's not happening. They get, they'll do one or two. I'm like, oh, the head table. That's fine. And then the rest won't get done. Like I see it over and over and over again. And so just being really realistic about if you go that route, these are probably the things that can happen and these are ways to like maybe combat it and see if maybe you can make it not happen in that way.

[24:52] Yeah, I mean I do think education is a key and it's, it's, you know, it's what we do every day and I do think that that's something I've talked with other clients and vendors and things that like, you know, when your do, when you do your wedding, you know, obviously like we want it to be exactly how you want it, but like there may be tricks or like you said, a little bits of advice that like, you know, that you can kind of take in and kind kinda have that make it a little easier or make it run a little smoother. Uh, what was the biggest thing you said you were doing, the rental or the diy kind of for your own wedding, but were there any lessons you learned from that? Of how she's nodding her head?

[25:37] How many do you want? How much time do we have? I think one of the biggest things is my husband and I grew up together and so we all went to, we grew up in church together, so our family, our church family really, like we self catered. We did our own Dj, I hired one wedding professional and it was a photographer. That was it. We did everything ourselves. Um, and I just distinctly remember sitting at our head table dinner had been served and I looked out and there were like, because we all grew up together, we have like, you know, that aunt and uncle or that my mom and dad's friends are like your second mom and dad. I walked out, I looked out, I saw them out there in their wedding clothes. Like they're beautifully dressed up clothes. They're invited as a guest to our wedding and they're busing tables because I did not plan on, oh, we got the food out, but what do you do afterwards?

[26:23] Someone has to bust your tables. And so one of the things I tell my clients all the time is, even if you're self catering or you hired a caterer who's just dropping off, hire somebody to bust your tables. There's a youth group out there, there's a baseball team, a cheerleading, like there is a group of people out there that are looking to raise money. You don't have to pay them by the hour, you can donate to their nonprofit, to their organization and they get great experience because this will go on their resumes if they're 15, 16 or 17. If your caterer provides busing, services, do it. Just hire it, pay for it. It is. I wish I had done that because just looking at like we had worked so hard the day before and the morning of because we did our own floral and are booting years all froze and the next morning we had to do them again.

[27:06] Like all these things happened and so just after everyone had worked so hard and then when it's time for us to enjoy it, they're still working hard and I mean I'm, I'm so thankful for them because they never made me feel bad about it. They did it with a smile on their face. They were happy to serve, but I wish I had thought more about it and now that I know that because we were in the first in our group to get married and so all my friends, my siblings like that, you're getting someone's busting the tables. If I have to pay for it, someone's doing that because I don't want anyone else to have to experience that,

[27:37] but it's, you know, it's things like that that you, you know, you can either, not even just like the specifics of busing, but like thinking about all those different odds and ends. Um, because yeah, you know, especially like if you're the first, you know, sibling that the first in the friend circle. I mean like I think with when my wife and I and I obviously work in weddings, but like, you know, a bunch of our friends who got married by the time we got married. So we were able to kind of talk about, you know, well this is what we like or don't like or that we should steal that idea or whatever. But you know, it's, it's tough because you kind of are judged, right? Like even though, I mean everyone's coming together but you know, you want it to be good and fine and have everyone, um, any other kind of. You said you had.

[28:22] Yeah. So I also wish is for the ladies out there that I had done airbrush makeup and eyelash extensions, which to me at the time, like I'm not spending $150 on that. That's ridiculous. You can always make more money that day does not come back around. I wish I had done that. Like, and just for the photos. And then the other thing, and this is kind of like a nod to you a little bit, but um, videography. So I had a photographer that I hired and she did an amazing job. We love our photos. We have one framed, that's it, but we loved our photos. But since then, knowing what I know now, we have lost two of our grandparents and they were there that day and to have been able to hear their voice again on that day, giving us advice for an ar, vr. All of our grandparents had been married for 50 years plus, but the same person.

[29:07] And so to have two of our grandfathers have passed away. I could cry now just thinking about it, wishing that I had their voices because at the time it was all about me and my wedding, but now that I've had children and families become so much more important to me as I've gotten older, just matured. I would trade that. I would train, I would have written something else off and hired someone to see. I mean even if I couldn't afford it, I would have asked someone to go around and just videotape people's voices and their well wishes for us because you don't get that back and time is short, so I mean sentimental, but that's, I wish had done that. But I do tell my clients, you know, think about these pieces and it's not. I mean I love my husband and shareable rewatch like someone did video or like ideas and our bowels like that. It was really, I'm a people person so it's the other people that were there that I didn't get a chance to really interact with that I would have loved to have heard from again.

[29:58] Yeah. I mean, that is a big thing that people, you know, we have clients fill out kind of preferences of what they want to see in their wedding video and you know, usually them mingling with the guests or even just the guests, not even with the bride and groom, you know, it's usually rated very high, uh, which, you know, until we did that, you didn't necessarily, I didn't know, you know, that's, you know, that's really important. So I want to get to kind of this showroom here and everything now. So you're doing the suitcase sales. So how many years did that go on?

[30:30] Um, I would say probably three or four. It was a couple of seasons because I was teaching and I taught special Ed, so it's heavy and paperwork and um, it's, it's emotionally draining and so I needed something light and fun in the summers. But I also enjoy the weather. Like I kinda have a, a thing now where if it's over 70 I try not to work because I really liked it, didn't enjoy my summers and like the heat. Um, and up here in the northwest we don't get too many of those days. Um, so I really kept it really small and I just, you know, if it came, it came, but I didn't do, I didn't have a facebook page at the time, I didn't have anything. I had a website and I would maybe once a month to put something on Craig's list and that was it. And I didn't even think about like connecting with other wedding professionals and helping them out and having them help me.

[31:14] Never thought about that. It was really just going after the client and then after I had my son and I was home for awhile and I just needed something more for my brain to do besides change diapers and feed the mushy food. I um, I kind of dove into like, well, what is my target client and where do we find them? And I went to the Wedding Mba in Vegas and um, which is like a national yearly conferences a couple days long. I think you've been to it, right? Um, and it was eye opening that first time is going and realizing, oh yeah, there are these other ways that I can market myself and other ways that I can connect with other professionals and I've always been a fan of community over competition. So I never really felt like if I did it that someone else couldn't, I never really felt like if I get the sale then those dollars aren't available for someone else or there's not another client for someone else or vice versa if someone else gets the sale, I don't think they took out of my pocket. Like there's plenty of clients out there. There's over 7,000 weddings and Skagit county last year. I don't want to do 7,000 weddings to you.

[32:17] No. That. And that was a good uh, Heather Ryan that we're just on the podcast. We had talked, um, I at some wedding about that same idea about competition and you know, other photographers and Ryan said the same thing, you know, there's, am I making up the number but you know, 10,000, whatever. Weddings in King County like, Oh, I need to do is get $50, you know,

[32:36] and I want, I want, I want 50 to 100, the right clients for me, the ones that love what I do that love my services and want to do what I can do for them and then the other clients that maybe aren't a good fit, that's great. Like meet me or reach out and I'll refer you to someone. I am connected with other rental companies in the area because they do things differently than I do or maybe sometimes you need a little bit from both of us. I don't do any tables or chairs. The chairs and tables that you see in here read. These are Pacific Party canopies that we partner with them. They don't do any sequence. They refer clients my way all the time and so if you can find out what you are specialized in, what you niche into and then you can tell people about it, it's easier for them to refer you and then you get to work with more people you enjoy working with and you solve a problem that they really need salt.

[33:20] And if I can't solve your problem like a, you want nice no farm tables, you don't really need Lennon's great. That's the look you want. Let me refer you over to Amanda. She is a rustic event. Rentals. She hand makes them like we'll send them out. And so I'm not all about getting the dollar. For me, it's more about how can I solve the problem and get you the best look that you want. And so we kind of approach it that way. And I have found that the more that I approach it that way, and I'm all about community and sharing, um, the, the sales come, the clients come, the weddings come and I don't really worry about the bottom dollar as much as I do to solving problems and helping people happy to, for weddings.

[33:58] But that seems like it's been a pretty big switch. I mean, was there, was it just the wedding mba or was it,

[34:04] um, I would say the wedding Mba was part of it. I think honestly, the skagit wedding society, a shout out to them if, if you're a wedding professional, you art part of it, I highly recommend it. I'm very similar to the snohomish wedding guild. They had started, it's been five years now. They started and this will be our fifth year that we're doing the tour. And it was just a networking group that they just started from the ground up. And being connected with the people in that networking group was huge. They really modeled for me, uh, like what kind of, how to do business and how to treat clients the right way and how to refer each other and I just went out and because I'm not, I don't have a degree in entrepreneurship or running a business like I worked at my dad's business growing up and so I knew the ins and outs a little bit of being an entrepreneur, but I had no idea but I just ask lots of questions and I read lots of books and my, my, the shift started happening and it wasn't at first it was all about the sale.

[34:57] I just want to get the sale and I'll do anything for that sale. So like you want this, I'll bring it in, you want this. And I was bending over backwards all the time and discounting and discounting and then I couldn't deliver in the way that I wanted. And so now we, we will source things, but instead of me trying to get it into my office, if I know someone else that has it, I'd rather refer it out to them. It's actually better for me. And for that other professional and for the client, because if I bring something in that I'm, I don't normally use, there's, there's areas that there's a learning curve with a new product and so if I don't want to, if I do that, it could not turn out well for our client. Whereas I'd rather send them to someone who like if someone in the tent, I don't want to commit to sending up a 60 by 40 10 for you, it's going to fall down like it will.

[35:43] I don't know how to do it. And so I want to send you to someone who does it every weekend for the last 20 years with multiple crews. They will get it in and out. You're, you know, you only have so many hours on that wedding day and needs to be run it really efficient and you need to make sure your time is spent well. So I, yeah, I'm all about community. And just as that, that shift in my mindset happened as I kept reading, kept talking to people and I just kept aligning myself with professionals that treat their clients the same way. And how the same philosophy and it's been super rewarding.

[36:12] It is. Um, interestingly, uh, we're going into our fifth year now of have some room bookings and like the more you learn, I think the, the bigger the picture you see. And like I, you know, I think like go into the wedding Mba as part of that. But like, you know, I think like that first year when I started like you, you know, it's like you just got to get the book, you know, because I was still working in the, like I'd get called for a wedding and I wouldn't even know if I could get the day off, but you'd have to yell, you know, I'll take it. And then it's like, you know, as the years go by you do, it's like an iceberg or glacier, whatever, you know. But you see that like the 10 percent or whatever you thought. But there's all this other stuff. And like I even think about stuff that I used to really care about their pay attention to or not pay attention to it. Now you're like, man, I know this totally in the same with networking and then kind of reaching out and am referring because you know, like you said you want to focus on the things that you want to focus on and you know, people might just think rentals and they, but you know, like you said, you focus on, you know, certain things and somebody else might have a specific campaign or whatever. Well,

[37:17] so going off of that, like what I specialize in, so I don't do tables. Chairs are tense and I've many times it's crossed my path. I get calls for. I'm sure I would make money doing it. I know I would because I get calls all day long for it, but it's not what I want to do. I don't really want to like lug around 200 chairs and go set them up somewhere. I like my weekends and so I specialize in custom drapery installations and custom backdrops. Like we so backdrops for clients specifically for their events. We specialize in textured and colorful linens. I have basically linens just like white and khaki and ivory table linens and basic dishes too, just like a lot of the other rental companies, but I have really small quantities like up to two or 2:50. If you need more than that then I refer you somewhere else so you have a complete set.

[38:03] I will. I want to specialize in the parts that I enjoy and the things that I do well and so I just am and it's very tempting to bring in something else but then I can't do what I do well and so I've learned that I used to have vases and all decor pieces and signs. I can't, I can't do my job well with the good quality control and treat my clients the way that I want to treat them. If I'm doing 120 things, I need to really focus on the three or four things that I do really well and have a good network to refer to for those other pieces.

[38:35] So talk about the showroom here. It's quite a big space. Yeah,

[38:39] it's like 1200 feet. I mean it's not huge compared to other rental companies, but it's good for us.

[38:43] Yeah. So I mean, what was that process like in terms of, you know, acquiring this and setting up and then, you know, talking about, like you said, it is like a game changer. It is.

[38:51] So, um, it all started actually when I had my son, I did not plan on having him in the middle of summer, but I did. And so he was born in August and within 24 hours I was back to irony. I was in active labor with a client on the phone, like my life had gotten out of control and I had. And so after I had had him, my husband was home for three months with us. Thankfully he was able to take the time off work and be with us. I did a lot of reflection into like, what do I want this business to look like? Because I'd had a two year old at the time and then a newborn in the middle of summer and I was still working 60 or 80 hours a week and I determined in the next six months I wanted to hire somebody, so I'm a Christian and God just put somebody I really feel like in my lap I wasn't as advertising, but my assistant, my lead designer, Whitley, she just reached out and said, hey, I'd love to have coffee and just learn a little bit more about what you do and share what I'm doing and maybe we might be a good fit to support each other.

[39:41] And I'd had my, my six month old son with me and I told her is like, I don't know how I'm going to hire you but I'm going to figure it out and then you're just going to kind of my house because that's where I do my ironing in to my house. And I had a, we had a larger shop and it was like my husband's hunting and fishing shop that was taken over by wedding stuff. So it's dones of wedding stuff everywhere and it's like I don't know how we're going to make this work, but you just come and within a couple of weeks this space that we're currently in, it just kind of crossed my path and had been sitting vacant for over a year and I'm making the jump from a home based business to a, a retail space is a big jump and I had to sit and think about our numbers and I decided we're just going to go for it and we'll try it for a year and if it doesn't work we'll just go back.

[40:22] Like it's not a big deal. Like and so. And I determined like if I just sold a little bit more it would cover the cost. So we got the space and I'm with my assistant was hired the same month that we got the space and so I called her. I was like, Hey, I sold it or how I'm going to hire you. I don't know the legalities of like Lni and all of that. But I got a space for us and so we just, we've been here for two years and it was the perfect space because you walk in and the showroom is like a double doors and you could just see the beautiful linens. It's nice and tall. We've done custom drapery installations in our ceiling. We can showcase our barndoor drapery over our entrance and then we have like an office and we have the back room.

[41:01] And the things that I didn't think about is when I go home, I'm home and I don't have to check my email and I don't have to do my contracts while the kids are napping and when I'm at work I work. And so that separation has been really good for us. Um, and then also my, my younger son, he does sleep here in the afternoons and I have the flexibility to work through his nap. But when he wakes up, we're done. We're done for the day and we go and do our next thing. And so being able to have that balance and then not having to meet at starbucks as much as I love starbucks. And I love supporting them with all the coffee buy I, it's nice to have a space for clients to come and we can really dive deep and I don't have to feel like I'm holding a table all day or you know.

[41:43] And so I really enjoyed having the space that's been really good. And the thing I like most about it is we're not in a traditional like downtown, like business center or we're out in the flats. I mean you drove out here, he might've thought where am I going because you're passing dairy farms and the tulip fields and grasses and it is a good job. And so we're really in the middle, not the middle of nowhere but about 10 minutes off the freeway. And I love it because that's where I grew up out here. And this is like part of who I am. And so to have a space out here is. I love it. It's perfect for me.

[42:16] Well it's, it's basically like a bigger suitcase, right? We didn't have everyone in, but do you, do you think that having the ability to have the client see everything set up, touch everything obviously right? Leads to better sales?

[42:29] Yeah. Well, part of the training I had as a teacher was we talked about learning and how people access things and either auditory, visual or tactile. Well, most of us are visual and tactile. If you just hear something, if you don't, you think breeding. If you listened to a book on tape, you may not understand as many of the concepts if it's a nonfiction business book or something. Whereas if you're reading it and you're touching it and you see it while you're reading it, then you ended up retaining more and so taking that, I took some of that knowledge that I have about how we're different learners and we try to make it visual and tactile and auditory all at the same time. So no matter how you learn best or access the information best, it's here for you. And most of my clients, they just like to see it and they'll bring a whole box of their stuff.

[43:11] So if they have their own bases already or they have their own menu cards already printed out or whatever pieces they'll bring, they'll have their florists make a mock center piece and bring it in and we mock it up here and then once you're one of our clients, the other thing that we offer is because people are so tactile, they need to see it in person. Thirty days out we'll go to your venue, will bring the box of your linens to the venue and we set up your mock table. They're at the venue because it's one thing to say see it here at our office on the same size table with the same chair, but to see it inside the building with the lighting that that building has is completely different and so we do offer that as an option. We go in and we'll do a mock setup there for them and that has been really helpful for people to walk away and be like, okay, that's exactly what it's gonna look like.

[43:54] I think that's fascinating. I mean, I love the idea of what people have done prior to what they're doing. Now and bringing that in, you know, like I know certain things that I do because like I worked in news and kind of that environment, but I think like you talked about what you had learned as a teacher. I mean, I just think that's fascinating that you're able to kind of take those lessons, you know, and it's like you're kind of building every step of your life. Right? And like what you learn now might help you continue this or if you're going to do something else. I mean, I'm talking about that, just kind of that, that life progression, you know, you said you had been a waitress and a and a mom and a lawn rolling.

[44:32] I'm talking about just that, you know, how you kind of see your life bar graph or what do you call a line chart? Yeah. Um, so I grew up, my, my dad owned a turf farm actually right next door here. And so I grew up like literally mowing fields on a tractor, backing up trailers, set, setting out irrigation, and then I'm pretty good at communicating I feel like. And so they stuck me in the office and I would clean the office and then when the phones rang, if someone is busy at answer it. And so I started my customer service that like 15 doing that. And as I went through the business and I worked my way into it, um, I ended up being like the lead sales manager when they sold the business. I was hired to train the new owner how to do it like I, so I know the INS and out.

[45:18] And so I'm so thankful for those opportunities because my dad and my uncle who owned that business and the new owner that rich who took over the business, those three men, they were like open books for me. If I asked any question about profit or how do you set pricing or how do you find clients or how do you treat other people that are doing the same thing? They are very, had very great integrity and honesty around it. And so they really put that seed in my head. I never thought I would own a business that was never my plan. I always wanted to teach. I have dyslexia, I, you know, so I wanted to like, I, my brain works differently and so I wanted to help students that had the same type of disability and learning, learning challenges, um, and I was so mad when I, I wanted to work part time and it just didn't work out in our, for the district I was in and with our family life and I was, at the time I was mad.

[46:05] It's like I don't want to do my business full time, I want to teach. That's where I want to make an impact. But I have found that and I'm so thankful for my path now because because of this I can give back in other ways that I couldn't beforehand. So when I was teaching there, I mean you have a set salary and that's it. And so we can only donate or give back to our community at a certain rate because that's all I can make. But now the sky's the limit. And so a percentage of all of our sales we earmark and we'd give back to our community. So we get back to Lydia place which helps in homelessness and families and helps give them on their feet and gives the families counseling and new clothes for kids and so they can be involved in football if they want to be in football.

[46:43] So I'm able to add the more money Aaron here, the more I can give back to my community and so taking I can still serve children is maybe not in the same way that I did when I was teaching. And I don't. I'm still a certified, like maybe I'll sub, maybe I'll get back to it eventually. I don't know where my path is, but I do know that now where my children are and where my clients are and where I'm at in my life, this is where I need to be and as long as this is where I need to be and people have problems that I can solve and people are getting married, which everyone's gonna always get married and as long as I'm enjoying it, I'm going to keep doing it because it's, it's fun. And yes, everything does build. So I used to waitress and so I can keep a lot in my head at once and so, and I can read emotions and people's body language pretty well because as a waitress you're working for that tip and so you need to make sure you're anticipating their needs.

[47:32] And so I can do the same thing while I'm working with clients. I can anticipate what are the professionals they might need or um, you know, what other extra tables that we thought about, do you need tablecloths for your bar is you're a DJ, bring the table cloth, you know, um, what do you put in your cake on? Like one tip is we recommend putting cakes on cocked on cocktail tables. You spend a lot of money, you're making this cake beautiful and having it designed and fit into your style. And when is that a regular small table? It's not a show piece, but when you set it on a cocktail table, it's a little bit higher of a, all the other tables in the room. Then it becomes a showpiece and it gets photographed. Well, people can walk by and see it. It's not just lost in the corner, so we pay attention to those little details and because my past is all about details in sales, like I was able to kind of folded over, make a fit to them.

[48:19] That's a great point with the, with the cakes, because I know we always try to get video of the rooms and stuff before everyone comes in and like, yeah, sometimes you're like, wait, where's the. And like it'll be an empty room. So imagine if it's full, you know, filled with 200 people trying to make your cake or other things. That's a great point. Um, so you miss teaching.

[48:38] I, yes, I miss my co teachers and the people I worked with and I missed the students a lot. Um, I don't miss the paperwork, I'll be honest. It's a lot of paperwork. Um, but I do miss that light bulb moment we talked about earlier, like when I'm working with clients here and the design comes to life and they're just like, ugh, it's perfect. That's what I wanted. And they sit down, they're just calm. I think I liked that so much because when I taught, when the kids were like, oh, I understand subtraction, now I get it, I understand borrowing 10 and what it means. Like that light bulb moment for them is so rewarding. And so I've just transferred that from students to couples planning their wedding. But that's what I look for is I look to take the complicated and make it simplified for them. And so they understand it.

[49:23] Yeah. I mean there is something to be said for a newly engaged couple is kind of like a child that you're trying to kind of lead them, kind of corral them around and the design. Nobody. My wife's the same way. I mean she moved schools this year and she's still always talks about her own kids and you know, and she wasn't even that bad school for that incredibly long, but you know, but she was there for years. But, you know, I do think that that always kind of keeps it part of view. Um, you know, and it, it just something that I guess you miss, but you know, if you feel like you can make an impact here.

[49:51] Yeah. And I feel like my experience teaching and that because I've always had that heart to serve and to help people had I not been in the schools, I had not gone down that path of like three years of night school while working full time and part time to get that degree that I'm not even using. But if I had not gone down that path, I would not have the skills I have now to serve the clients I have. And so everything in the past does play to where you're going. And I just, I've learned that instead of trying to control every piece of it, I just kind of go with the flow and pass will open and I'll go down the path and I will help people. And so if I had had more control over it and said, no, this is what I'm doing, I'd still be teaching and I probably wouldn't be super happy because my kids to have the flexibility and I wouldn't have the flexibility.

[50:37] But like, for example, this Thursday I'm going to the zoo because I don't have to tell the boss or ask for a day off. My kids go to the zoo, I'm going with them. If the teacher appreciation day I could go in and just help. I can volunteer in the class and I can work my schedule to fit my family needs now. And then a couple of years when my boys are in school full time, maybe I'm going to scale up and really grow and do something different, open up new facilities, I don't know, but I'm open to options and the right now this is where I'm at and I take what I've learned and apply it however I can.

[51:08] But yeah, like you said, where everything's to learning. I mean, like I really, after I graduated from school I had to go do news and Bakersfield, uh, which was really not a good fun time for me, but you know, learning, you know, what you've done or what you don't want to do, you know, really kind of like helps me be really grateful for what I have today, you know. And so it's like even with the missteps, right? I mean there's, there's certain things that you gained from that either being, well this is really is what I want to do or that's something that I don't want to do, you know. And like you said, even with a degree and kind of going through that work lets you now manage a family and then you know, your house in the business and come to all these other things. Um, what is the hardest part for you now? Is it that home life balance? Is it running the showroom? Is it scaling up? I mean, what, what, what's the biggest challenge you have today?

[51:58] Um, because I think right now I'm struggling with the most or the biggest challenge I face is I have a lot of flexibility in what I do. I can make or make my schedule however I want. I can, you know, I have certain days that I meet people but a lot of days is just behind the scenes paperwork, getting Lens Ready, ordering, checking orders, like all the busy work and that can be done anytime during the day. Um, so my biggest challenge is that I am a procrastinator and like I said at the, if it's 70 and um, I'd rather just be at home gardening or lay by the pool and take the kids to the beach. And so sometimes I can put things off and like my client works always done. It's always ready. Clients are always hearing from me, but it might be a month until I've reconciled my, my checking accounts on quickbooks or a made my social media is not being posted every day because I haven't been around or my blogs are a little behind.

[52:50] But honestly at the end of the day, I'm going to look back and be, I'm glad that I had that flexibility. I took care of the clients that I have, but I don't always have to be looking for more. It's more important to take care of what I have and then to enjoy my time with my children. So, um, I don't like working a ton of hours anymore and when I'm on I'm on and I'm working. But when I'm off, I'm off. So if you would, I don't know if you emailed me yesterday and maybe got the response, I'm on vacation. I'm not responding until Tuesday and anybody that emailed me from Friday on, that's what they got. And if it's emergency then you have my number, like people that my, as we can, they have my phone number and so they could call me and I could solve a problem with I needed to. But I'm, that's been a challenge is just knowing where that line is and not procrastinating. And so that I feel like I can still have that balance. But ultimately my, my family comes first and my clients come first and so any, anything other than the marketing stuff that can wait, the paperwork can always wait. But my clients are taken care of him. My family's taken care of. Then I'm good to go. And if it's over 70 I'm not working, we'll move.

[53:53] But also either when I had emailed you about, you know, we had gone back and forth about the podcast and I think it was like 8:00 AM and then it was nine, 10 and back and forth, back and forth. And then it was like, oh, let's hop on a, you know, an Internet call at noon. I mean, you know, so it was like either you were very immediate wanting to get, you know, face to face in front, figure out what's going on, you know, and getting connected that way. Which I really appreciate it because I've told other vendors now kind of going through this process, I learned how different people work and there's a lot of different ways to kind of bake the same cake. But you certainly see, you know, the people that are kind of like putting the clients and things first, you know, and other people that you might have more of a delayed response. So I mean, that is really appreciate that at least for me, you know, and trying to, and I think that obviously that kind of correlates to how it's going to be for your clients as well as my last question, uh, biggest goal now, what, where, where is your next step in terms of just adding more clients or you know, acquiring more inventory or what's your next?

[54:51] I don't want more inventory. I think my next, my, we have a couple big goals. Um, I mean my pie in the sky goal out there is to bring my husband home and have him have more flexibility in his job. And so he has a wonderful job and he has allowed me to really do whatever I want. He would say if you want to be home and just be home and homeschool, the kids go for it. He would be so supportive if I wanted to shut the business down. Um, and since he's allowed me to have that flexibility while my kids are young, I want to provide flexibility for him and so eventually I'd love to see this grow to a point where maybe he doesn't quit his job, but he can walk in and say, I'm done if you wanted to have choices, and so to have that financial freedom and then to also that would in turn mean that I'm serving how many more clients, how many more people am I helping them create these wonderful weddings and how much stress are we easy for them and so it's a win win.

[55:45] And then again, the more money I make, the more money that we can donate to these nonprofits and that's so part of my heart. And so I would love to be able to donate half our income to these nonprofits in the area. Still live a comfortable life and serve clients and help. Like my assistant here, my lead designer Whitley, she came to me and she says, I want to be a wedding planner. Great. I'm going to mentor you. She's a wedding planner. She has her own business. Her second year now, and I don't want to say I did it for her because she is super phenomenal and she's so strong and super smart and she knew where she was going, but I do believe I added some steps in her path and make it easier for her and I've modeled things for her and I would love to do that for other people that want to get into the wedding industry or want to get into teaching whatever my background is, if I can support someone towards their dream, that's what I want to do. So that's where I see myself going is continuing giving hopefully making more money and serving more people and giving back to my community would be a win win and going on field trips more and more as the. Yes, we have chips.

[56:44] Well I want to thank you so much for letting me come up for today. I see your great showroom division gets a visit Skagit County. Again, if people want to learn more about you and your company and what you guys do and the services you provide, what would you have them do?

[56:57] Um, I would say if you want to learn more about the services we provide, you can come to our website www.skagitvalleyweddingrentals.com. It's a long one. I know I probably should have abbreviated that, but I'm mostly information. Our pricing's online, how we work with clients. We have two levels of service. We know their traditional rent in return and then also the deluxe or we come in and set up for you. Um, you can always email us on our contact us page if you just want to get inspiration. We have our pinterest is Skagit Valley Wedding Rentals, instagram, facebook. They're all the same, Skagit Valley Wedding Rentals. You won't find us on twitter or any of that, but instagram and facebook and pinterest are mean like social media places and we post try to post every day some picture of inspiration or some we had lots of advice because we really just want to help. And so whether you work with us or not, we just want to make sure that we're somehow in the path of your planning, helping you get one step further. So that's our goal.

[57:50] Well, thank you so much for having me. This has been another episode of Get to Know Your Wedding Pro. Check back next week for another wedding vendor interview. Thanks so much.

[57:58] Thank you.

Episode 9 (Yasmin Shirdel, Samila Boutique)

[00:09] Hey everybody, welcome to Get to Know Your Wedding Pro. My name is Reid with Best Made Videos. We are a wedding videography company based out of West Seattle, Washington, and today I'm joined by a very special guest, one of my probably longest term friends in the wedding community. Yasmin Shirdel from Samila's bourtique. Uh, she is the operating partner here. And Yasmin, why don't you say hi and tell us a little bit about what you do. Thank you so much higher

[00:35] everyone. Super excited to be here. Um, my name is Yasmin Shirdel. I'm the operating partner here at Samila's in Redmond. I also am the lead stylist here as well as do all the buying for the showroom both here and in our outlet showroom. That's new for us in west Seattle. Um, and uh, yeah, super happy to be here.

[00:58] And I was thinking about this on the drive over because we are at your guys's beautiful Rednibd location today. Trivia fact, do you know where we first met?

[01:08] We first, probably one of the, the Jamei June, uh, functions I'm guessing.

[01:14] Yeah, I mean, years ago I think you had done the dress for Jamie and I was there filming for her and you know, we, I think we even did an interview, Jamie interviewed you like on the red carpet, but the thing that now, I mean five, six years later that, that, you know, it just really talks about kind of how small wedding community is that we're still, you know, and like we went down to Vegas together for the wedding MBA and uh, it just goes way back. And then the other trivia now, and I wanted to make sure we included before I forgot is you actually sold my wife her wedding dress. That's right. And uh, that was big for me because she had, you know, this was three years ago now had said, you know, she was really struggling with the dress and I said, well just go talk to you as mean like, and I don't know anything about like a good wedding dress or a bad way.

[02:04] I mean, I know how to make them look cool or like hang them up in a high spot and uh, get a photo of it. But I said, well, go talk to her, like she's not going to be us. You like, she's going to give you the straight. And then it was like three months later she ended up buying it from you. And so, uh, there was just really cool. So I'm was really glad. Yeah, absolutely. It's come full circle for us, hasn't it? Indirectly and directly in so many ways yet. Uh, so talk a little bit about just what you guys do currently, what you guys are focusing on right now in terms of, you know, addresses and two season and what's going on. So we're at the tail end of our, our prom season and we're fast slowly

[02:41] approaching bridal season, um, while the bridal season for actually finding your dress is more in January, February, March. But now we're actually approaching the wedding season. So we're getting our brides ready with their fittings and their alterations and their accessory appointments, making sure they have everything they need. Um, you know, sending off our prom girls to their proms, we're kind of at the tail end of that and then I'm, the mother of the brides and grooms are coming in. They always wait till the last minute because they just, it's hard for them to see themselves in that light and they don't want to outshine the bride and the wedding guests are coming in shopping for wedding. So we're kind of in between seasons right now. We're very seasonal business.

[03:24] Yeah. And I guess I didn't notice that. So my wife went through it that, you know, you think, oh, I just go get the dress, but no, you go, you know, look, and maybe you go a bunch of different places, but then you know, you buy the dress and then you have to alter the dress and fit the dress. And so it is like three, four or five appointments.

[03:40] It's quite a process. Um, there's a reason they tell you, um, you know, if you just search on Google, you know, they say, what's the timeline for a wedding dress? Shopping? It is one year in advance. You should start looking, getting an idea of what you want 12 to 14 months in advance because by the time you check out a couple bridal salons and figure out who you want to work with and where you feel comfortable, you know, going through that process, who you feel comfortable going through that process with, you want to pick your dress 10 months in advance depending on the designer or the salon that you're working with. Addresses can take up to six to eight months to come in and then that tail end of three or four months of wiggle room time before the wedding is meant for fittings and a last minute styling decisions with veils and accessories. And um, you know, unfortunately it's part of our industry, but brides tend to fluctuate a lot towards the end of the wedding planning process. And so you have to make sure that the fittings are quite a few times to make sure that the dresses are fit properly. Yeah. But you're right, it's a, it's. We see the bride at least three to five times between when they first walk into our showroom and when we send them off with their dress.

[04:53] And I think it's interesting again, in something as a guy, I just never really thought, you know, you know, the wedding dress is important and we've done videos for you guys talking about, you know, who you are and what you do and you know, the dress is so important to the bride and that process is so important and you know, you guys really try to make it a real personal experience here. Uh, can you talk about that kind of, your philosophy with, with that and kind of going through that process? I would love to. Well,

[05:22] with women, I think you just start dreaming about what you're gonna wear on your wedding day when you're little. I mean as early as, I don't know, when you're five, six, seven year watching cartoons, you're, you know, into these Disney movies and it's all about the wedding dress. And so I feel that, um, I think a lot of brides will agree with me that the wedding dress is the center piece of the wedding and it's also the most self reflective, um, choice in, in that wedding journey, a process because when you walk out into your room of your family and your loved ones and you are walking down the aisle to your groom, it speaks volumes about who you are as a person and you know, how you want to present yourself to the world. So it's a very personal choice. It's not just, you know, what kind of food do we want to serve? I mean, it's a very personal self-reflective garment that you put on and it says a lot about you. So it's really important. Um, I would say,

[06:21] and uh, you know, it's interesting too because not only is it reflective of who you are, but you're also kind of the wedding and the vibe you want, you know, like I've talked with photographers were, I don't know, it's a country wedding and maybe the dress, you know, really complimented that or not. Yeah. And it's, it's kind of, it really is kind of has to be all encompassing and it really kind of fit in with the aesthetic you want in terms of your wedding day to talk about the Simula, a client here, what the kind of brides that you guys attract and what people are looking for that come here.

[06:57] Um, I would say there's two parts of it that set us apart from some of the other bridal salons because we've been in the evening wear category for so long. Um, we tend to procure or bringing gowns that fit a little bit more of a nontraditional bride and a nontraditional budget. Um, we have a lot of options in our showroom that are off the rack, meaning you can just take it home. Um, uh, because we're able to procure or selector bringing gowns that aren't the traditional bridal price point, meaning closer to like under $1,100 and things that you can take home. Not all brides. I think specifically in the Pacific northwest, like this big traditional, you know, I'm a concept. And then on the other side of it, I'm really embracing the fact that we've done so much evening. Where is that we're able to bring in gowns that really have a little bit more attention to detail when I say that. Um, I would say generally I've heard from my brides that in the area, um, the dresses tend to have a little bit more simplicity to them. They have more of an understated looks, a lot of lace. And here we specialize in bringing in more heavily beat. It looks, um, Swarovski crystal. And then most importantly, uh, we work with factories that you're able to completely do custom modifications and custom measurement so you're really minimizing the alterations on the other side.

[08:26] And so, um, so here at the salon, you know, you do the bulk or all of the purchasing, right? Is that what I don't even know. What does that, what does that mean? And what is that like? I mean, now that you're kind of are responsible for kind of bringing in all this stuff that sets the stage for the rest of your guys that spend a lot of pressure.

[08:49] I remember last year I was in Dallas and I sat at the table and you know, the designers are just giving you coffee and beverages and sugar and you're standing there looking at a sea of white and you're like, oh my God, you know, what's here? That's different than what I already have in the showroom. And you know, what price point is a customer willing to pay for the stress. And so it's a lot of pressure, but it's so much fun. Um, this is really important to have a good sense of what your clients are looking for. I'm understanding what you're, um, the fashion is the trends are. And so I do spend quite a bit of time both on social media and then of course, um, I try to do almost like an exit interview with my clients if they're not finding what they're looking for, you know, really trying to hone in on what's missing in our collection here in the showroom. And so I spent three or four trips a year and I travel around the world, um, and you know, dig through designer showrooms and, you know, review the new collections and piece together what we feel we want to represent our brand here in the showroom

[09:57] because it's tough because, you know, what might be on trend today, might not be on trend tomorrow or what,

[10:03] what's in trend in Chicago or Miami and Los Angeles. It might be one of the, you know, best selling styles of this particular designer and it's just not going to sell for us here in Washington state. So it's really about taking risks to, you know, trying to show the Pacific northwest community some styles that are trending, but really, um, you know, trying to figure out what, what they're looking for and, and, and how far they're willing to, to push to.

[10:33] That is a great point you bring up because I think that's across the board, right? Like venues that are really popular here are certain aesthetics or whatever. You know, if you're on the east coast, it might be a totally different thing that people are looking for. And um, you know, that doesn't affect me as much because, uh, like I'm just going to go film, whatever. It's kind of in style, I guess filming styles can change, but you guys, you know, you really do have to be what people want and what people are looking for. Um, so I'd like to go back a little bit and talk about kind of your start, you guys, you know, bridal is, is newer. It's not new anymore. Yeah, I think you guys are pretty established in that. Now I go back to Kinda the, the star, the boutique here and with your family and can kind of that history. So,

[11:19] uh, our store name and company is Samilas Boutique, Samila is actually my mom. Um, she created this business and, and in 1997 I was in high school and um, I think the love of fashion has always been in our business and our family. Excuse me, my grandmother studied fashion in Paris. She had her own design house. And so I think that love just kind of trickled down and my mom had an opportunity to start her own business in 1997 and initially it was never evening wear category. It was more kind of contemporary in the nineties. It was like suits and things like that for women and I one day she just, um, you know, decide to clear a rack and add some evening wear and the next thing you know there's a line out the door. And so that's kind of the niche that she created and very successful for a long time.

[12:12] I'm pretty much primarily based in Redmond, most of her, most of our company. And I'm about nine. Was it nine? Five years ago, seven years ago I decided to. I was living in Miami at the time. I was pursuing my own career and I'm a finance and business management and marketing and I moved back here and my mom and I just decided, you know, what, it's time for her to retire. And we decided to extend the category and go into bridal. And the reason we did that, quite frankly, is because we've been dressing so many women over the years for prom and they kept saying, how come you don't have bridal? And, you know, we decided to ask ourselves that question and um, we decided to add bridal. And it was, it was a lot of research that was done. It was a lot of, you know, checking out which designers were in the community because we didn't want what everybody else had.

[13:14] We wanted something very different. We wanted to exceed our customer's expectations and provide that exclusivity and uniqueness that we'd always provided in Washington state. So we decided that, as you said, I'm add bridal about four years ago, five years ago, and it's been an awesome journey. I've, I can't tell you how many women who bought their prom dresses from us have now returned and then found their wedding gowns. And they celebrate that with us because they say, oh my gosh, I think it's amazing that I've bought my prom dress here and now all these years later, you know, we're, we're here finding our wedding dress. It's really special for us. It's exactly what, why we decided to add bridal, it's because we want it to grow with our customers and still be part of their stories.

[14:03] When you were, like, you said you mom started this when you were in high school, I mean, was that ever a thought of yours to join in the family business?

[14:10] So when, um, when she started it, I mean, no. Right. But when it's a family business, you're involved whether you like it or not. Right. So, um, I was going to youtube at the time, but I was helping her. Um, we like I would help her on the weekends and I'm not really sure. I don't, I'm not really sure what I wanted as far as what my place was supposed to be. I think I needed to work a little bit here, understand how a family structure works and then venture out and do my own thing for awhile because it helped me appreciate what I'm, a family business is like and stepping into the world and working in both the restaurant business. I worked in five star fine dining for quite some time and I worked in retail for quite some time. Um, that helped kind of honed the craft of the customer service aspect, the procurement aspect, um, the finances, and then I was able to bring that back in.

[15:12] Um, but to answer your question, no, I never thought that I would see myself here. I'm in this position now as involved as I am, but it's a gift. You know, I, my mom and I had a talk, you know, seven years ago when, when I decided to enter back in and she said, you know, this is your legacy, you know, um, I think it's time. And, and I said, yeah, I think you're right. It's time. I've talked with a lot of the people that have done kind of corporate and other things and then have brought those skills back in to running their own businesses now. Uh, what were some of the biggest things you learned or strategies or skills now that you're able to employ back in to the boutique here? As far as the internal, I would say just really building a structure within what we do.

[16:04] I'm making sure that the girls that are here, that the stylists that are working for us, whether they're younger, kind of not as experienced in retail or where they are, you know, very seasoned that no matter who's working with the client, that they're, that they are receiving the same quality of service, the same knowledge, um, you know, the same love and care. Um, so the structure that I was able to bring in from working on the corporate side was really important. Um, and then just the brand awareness aspect of it, you know, my mom had done a really good job to what she knew and her capacity for so long. I mean we were famous but we were famous in this aspect of it's that pink house in downtown Redmond and we still get calls and they're like, are you still the same business? Are you the pink house in Redmond?

[17:02] And I'm like, yeah, but that just goes to show how I was able to bring that corporate side and really provide a more of a brand awareness to our name to what we do. And so we really pushed the name, the Samila company, Samila boutique. It made it more of a brand as opposed to just that pink house in Redmond. Yeah. And I do think that that's got to be a big challenge where, um, you know, seattle has quite a few, you know, established bridal salons and designers in Luly Yang and all that. I don't even know all the, I just think it's got to be tough to really kind of establish that. And now, I mean, you guys are in the wedding show and you know, you're sponsoring things in the, in the runways and things like that. Uh, I mean that's got to be really right

[17:50] in so sure that time right now. Talk about that kind of this, you know, it's like exploded in the last four, five years since you guys expanded.

[17:59] Um, I think that a lot of that was able to happen because of just my awareness of social media and my experience and web design now and um, you know, marketing and really figuring out how customers are finding us, how, how their needs are being met, what path they're going through to find what they need and us, um, it's been a very fun and exciting learning process too to do that. Um, but I think the more you get into the network and the community of what we do, Mike, you know, yourself included with me, you know, I've learned a lot. I've met a lot of people through you through the Seattle wedding community. The more you put yourself out there, both personally. I'm actually just really personally, the more you put yourself out there, the more people are drawn to understand who you are and what you do and have a better level of respect for each other's industries. And it's, it's a huge learning curve. I, by all means, don't have it figured out. I'm still working on it, but it's very fast growing because the power of the Internet and social media, it's amazing.

[19:19] Yeah. And you know, when we were down in Vegas last year and you had gone to the Wedding MBA the year before and we were talking to a wedding show and you said, you know, read like you have to go, you gotta come and you know, and then we would go and you know, for anybody that doesn't know, you know, it's a three, four day long conference and you know, all day and everything related to the wedding community. And so, you know, they have these experts not only in photography and you know, wedding planning and things. But uh, you know, it's like cutting edge stuff, right? Like, Oh, here's a new. Like I remember there was this is a better way. You can text people from like your computer and all this stuff. And I remember we would go and get a drink afterwards and kind of recap because I mean, you're like me where if there's like a program you can buy or like an APP that you can figure out there, they'll save you 10 seconds and in every transaction, you know, uh, why is that so important to you to kind of be on the cutting edge of that and to really take advantage of all the different trades?

[20:22] Because our customers are, I mean, it's as simple as that. Um, I think the, for the biggest lesson I learned at the first round, first year Wedding MBA that I went, that you didn't attend, um, two years ago was you have to communicate with your customers the way, the way that they communicate with you and technology right now with all the different ways of communication, whether it's whatsapp or, or facebook, um, you know, telephone, email. I started to find that customers didn't want to talk to me anymore. I would call them to tell them to pick up their dress. They wouldn't answer the phone, but if I texted they responded in two seconds. And so for me, really embracing which, um, you know, areas of technology would really help our business and help with opening the line of communication and even though it felt like it was shutting down was huge for me. So I just really wanted to know how to connect with the, with this, I don't know if you're wanting to call it millennials or x generation at this point. I'm the generation that's really majority is getting married. Um, you know, it's important for me.

[21:30] Yeah. And I've talked with a couple other interview people now about kind of going through this, you know, podcasting and scheduling interviews and like dealing with, you know, different vendors or different types of seeing which people are really communicative and not. Uh, I was actually emailing the planet or last night we have a wedding this weekend and I, you know, I like to reach out to the photographer and I've emailed them three or four times in the last two months and I've never heard back. Right. And like, and I, I kinda track emails so I know these are being read and I, I was doing some last minute, you know, finalizing with her and they said, hey, you know, have you been in touch with the photographer, you know, I've emailed them and she said, well, you know, like they're just really not good at emails. Like they kind of go through waves and sometimes I just thought like, you know, if I'm the vent, like if I'm a vendor, you know, and I'm, I'm reaching out three, four, five times to try to, you know, just say hi before the wedding. Well imagine if you're a client, right? You, I'm, or a potential client, right? Like someone is trying to find a dress here and you know, if they emailed you three, four times are called and you never responded. Right. I mean I just think it's kind of a learning process for everybody that you need to be accessible like that.

[22:40] The experience, like for you, you just plan your wedding not too long ago. Even though you are in the community and you know, everybody, you know, was that a learning curve for you on just even your reaching out to vendors?

[22:54] No, it was huge. I mean I would email people and then have booked that service before other people have even gotten back to me because I'm not exactly, you know, I'm not one of those people were in the, you know, and rightfully so. I have a lot of people that are hired during, you know, a videographer and I email them back and they go, you know, banks were trying to get three or four or five quotes together to um, you know, make the best decision, which I think is probably a better way to do it. I don't do that right. Like I'm trying to get things checked off the list, you know, and like you and me, you know, you're running a business you need to go. And so I would get, you know, if the first and came back and it fit and it was a personality.

[23:34] I mean, I moved on and then yeah, it would be like three weeks later I heard back from videography company and they were like, oh, hey, you know, the, that I was like, man, I'm, I like that. Yeah, we're moving. And I think that's how a lot of clients are. I mean, I think a lot of people like, you know, mom's ready to help you book a videographer or buy your wedding dress and we're trying to get on that and you know, even though that process of you might be six months in terms of buying it and altering, you know, they want to find where they want to go and the people that they like to work with. Right.

[24:04] And I think it's so important to you. We have to have our own lives too. I mean, we can't be accessible 24 slash seven, but I think once that connection's made in that outreach is made by the client. I'm just being very authentic and um, you know, showing them that love right away is, speaks volumes about how you're gonna treat them through the six to 10 month journey. Um, you know, for myself, like I said, I'm touching the bride four to five times before their wedding day, so to speak. Um, so I need, I need to build that trust right away that they're being heard, that they're being understood and the,

[24:42] their needs are being met. Yeah. I'm like, I'm looking to bride right now for next January and you know, she was like texting me the other day like, Oh hey, like I just had a question and you know, like five years ago, like I don't think that would have been a thing that people did. Right. Like whether you have a landline or brick and mortar, they're not. Or you know, or like I had another bride on instagram and be like, Hey, you know, we really need like this shot at our wedding. Can you make sure that we had that? And it is just like fascinating to me how far that accessibility has gone, which I think is really quickly. But I think that, and that was kind of the whole reason I wanted to do the podcast, was to get, you know, the accessibility and to get people's personalities out there. But uh, so obviously you kind of agree with that and totally on board with that. Um, you have to move with the time

[25:34] and if you don't, you get left behind and you know, that's just the way that our, um, our generation is speaking to each other right now. Whether it's just a friendship level, a family member or someone that you're potentially going to hire. I mean, people just when they want to talk to you, they want to talk to. And that's it. It doesn't matter. A lot of these folks are planning their weddings at 2:00 in the morning. They're sitting in their beds, you know, after they've either put the kids to bed or I don't know the day that they've had and they can't get to a place that they can shut down and focus on their wedding until two in the morning. I have so many emails that come through at two in the morning and I'm like, oh my God, these people don't sleep. But that's what it is.

[26:15] Yeah. I just think that, you know, we don't sleep a lot. My wife's a teacher. We got pretty early, but you know, even getting up like at five or six, you know, you have quite a few emails from, you know, we go to bed at like 11, 11, 30, just that like four or five hours. There's a lot coming in there as fascinating experience. So I want to talk about now, um, the actual bridal suite here because I think I had been in here before doing some events stuff and then you had hired me to come back and do the video, you know, when you guys kind of launched the bridal suite, but I just kind of saw it appear I will hear from you about what was that experience like of taking an established, you know, physical location and kind of building this on and making what I think is a really beautiful bridal suite.

[27:02] Oh my God. I was obsessed with it at that time. I think I, there was nights that I spent the night here because the builders were here till like two in the morning. It was a really fun journey. I wanted to make the space in the back. I designed it and I wanted to make the space in the back when we decided to do it, um, intimate and cozy and we didn't want it to feel like a, um, you know, um, assembly line of experience type experience where there's just so many fitting rooms and, and, and so many people walking around while you're, you know, in your intimate moment with your friends and family. So we have two suites in the back, one that accommodates up to nine guests and one that accommodates three guests. And, um, I wanted it to look like, have the aesthetic of something that was very high end because we chose to bring in and procure dresses that had really high quality of a Swarovski crystal.

[28:03] And I'm the lace and the detail. We wanted the lighting to really have a great, um, a location in the showroom to, to bounce off of those crystals and we, it worked because a lot of the customers when they come through and we don't put our dresses and garment bags for the bridal portion, we keep them exposed because we want customers when they walk in to feel like this is their closet and um, they can touch and feel and peruse through the selection and really see just even hanging, um, how it's going to. The lighting's going to bounce off and how it's going to look. Um, instead of even waiting to put it on. Um, so the, the, the design aspect, we had the mirror brought in from the east coast because it was a huge mirror that it's like 10 feet wide. Um, and we wanted, we didn't want just a small mirror, so that was really fun.

[29:02] It's, uh, it's interesting because, you know, the only real Ivan go in a lot of dress sweets or whatever. Um, but when we were over in spokane, my wife, her friends getting married and so they went in spokane to go. They just, yeah, it just happened that we coincided and that, you know, the spokane, this is a different market than Seattle. And um, I said, oh yeah, how did they go into this? Uh, you know, it was really weird because like people kept coming in and like they were making deliveries and other people were kind of browsing and, and it really kind of turned them off, you know, I even know if they really knew

[29:42] or not, but it really turned them off to the process because like you said, you really do want to make that intimate environment. Right. And so it was really fascinating to me to kind of hear that and it'd be like how turned off they were. And they were like, oh, we didn't like that at all. Like we felt like, oh, just anybody in the talents kinda coming in today. And that's exactly what it is. I'm brides have been waiting for this moment to celebrate. It's not just the wedding day, right? It's the day that you're celebrating with your friends and family that you're finding your gown and so that in and of itself is such an intimate moment that can't be distractions. There can't be kids running around like crazy. There can't be other customers walking through that space. It's intimate. It's like, um, it's really special.

[30:25] So you want to really make them feel comfortable. You want to also have that space to connect with what the bride and their family too. And so it needs to be nurtured, it needs to be protected and that's why we limited it to just the two, um, showrooms and we're pretty selective of not having the appointments stagger too much or be intrusive of, of customers even coming back there. We basically barricade other customers from even going back into that space because you want it to be unique to that person. I'm talking about, you know, being a local here for so long he had been established and I know that you guys hold a great importance to that and we've touched on that a little bit, but just having the space here and being here for as long as you guys had been and having people be able to come in and um, and being local, you know, to Redmond talk about that and just kind of that family legacy you guys have had here.

[31:21] So we've been on Redmond way for, I dunno, over tea over 15 years. We've basically stayed on Redmond way on the north side of the street and just shifted up and down a block. And so I think that while Google kind of changed everything from when my mom started the business and for myself now, um, where, you know, we kind of have this argument back and forth where I'm like, if we ever moved the store, she's like, nobody would find us. They know we're in Redmond for 20 years. They just come and they know they'll find is here. They, they, you know, they're comfortable knowing that we're here and I'm like, no, Google will, you know, they'll, they'll find us, don't worry wherever we go. But, um, I think it's just been important for us to, this is where we grew up so to speak. Um, and this is where our blood, sweat and tears have been for so many years. We just, we talk about it, but we've never been able to move. Um, it's really important for us that these people that have known us and purchased from us and found these special occasion dresses from us over the years because we've done prom for so long and evening wear category and Galas and pageants and things like that, that they, that they trust that we will always be here right where they, us from the beginning.

[32:41] Um, and something that we haven't even really talked a lot about even off air, but I'm really fascinated about is your guys's new kind of location you guys have over west Seattle. Um, which is like, right, we're terrible. We haven't come in yet, but I want to hear about data and kind of the idea behind that now and expanding out, you know, in starting that.

[33:03] So, um, our price range and the redmond showroom has always kind of stayed at an average about 300 and um, you know, we just have a lot of people that come through in the, from the community that tell us that they have friends or families that can't afford these types of dresses. And so what we decided to do, we had an opportunity with the property in west Seattle to um, the vision was my mom didn't want to stay in retirement. She wanted to still continue to serve our customers and um, you know, we said let's, let's do this for them. Let's have, um, an extension of our store here in Redmond and let's create an outlet store. And at first we thought let's do it as a pop up concept because we didn't know if it was going to get take. Um, and so we opened it in March.

[33:55] It's about 1100 square feet showroom. It's a really cool industrial building. Um, loved the lighting, has a really cool vibe in there and we brought in at least 1500 to 2000 dresses. Um, actually we took all the dresses that were in this showroom prior to January 2018 things, items that we're up to $600 and we literally just grabbed a u haul and took it all over there. So these are really nice dresses. Um, but we just thought, you know, let's just quickly shift our inventory a little bit quicker and give the opportunity to the community to purchase an even more expensive dress. And the great news is, is all the garments there are between $99 and 99. So there's no reason that any woman in the Seattle community or Pacific northwest now can't have a smell, a gown that isn't affordable.

[34:54] And so you said it was kind of originally a pop up longterm. Now, what's the plan for that space? Yes.

[34:59] So longterm, um, you know, we're open weekends there, Saturdays and Sundays from 12 to five, no appointment necessary. The idea is that as long as the community will have us, we'd like to continue to, to offer the, the merchandise there at the off price. Um, so for now it's been very promising. The community has been very receptive. We've had even Miss Universe pageant contestant and they're finding her gown the other day. I have to post a picture of it on, on instagram. Um, you know, girls are sending us their pictures of the dresses that they purchased their, that they wear for prom. Everyone's loving it. So we're happy, they're happy and um, hopefully it's going to be permanent

[35:48] when somebody decides to come through your guys's showroom and go through the process of finding the address. Who Do you guys, uh, like we said it's really kind of personality driven. You, you guys, it's a family environment. Walk me through the process of if I'm somebody that's interested in coming here or at what is that and what does it feel like that process of coming, you know, working with you,

[36:10] you guys, um, our customers tell us that it's felt so easy. So our customers mentioned to us as they're checking out, wow, that was painless, that was so easy. That was fun. Um, and the reason I think that they feel that way is because from the moment that they walk in the door, we greet them and we ask them questions, you know, what's your name, what's your event, when is it, what colors do you like, what style do you like? And so very early on they're experiencing that stylist experience of the person who greets them as interested to know what they want and um, you know, they quickly pick three gowns that they like and we bring them into the fitting room area. And the stylist, um, asks the family member to sit down and enjoy, um, they don't have to help them in and out of the gowns we do.

[37:04] So the stylist will individually put each stress on your body, will zip you and unzip you and we'll show you how the dress has meant to fit properly. You can go to these big department stores and you can shop online all you want. You will never get that personalized experience, that level of customer service because most people don't know how a garment is supposed to fit, there isn't anybody telling you that has Taylor experience or fitting experience what some things are supposed to look like. And I think that's why we make it so easy for customers to enjoy the experience and, and kind of see from a to z what it's supposed to look like as opposed to trying to figure it out and maybe going out there and finding a tailor and this and that. We just do it all for them and with them, if that makes sense. Yeah.

[37:51] And so then once they are, you know, they find the dress that they love, um, it's pretty easy then to kind of get everything else finalized. Right. In terms of like alterations and accessories and things.

[38:01] Yeah. So we have an in house, Taylor, she's amazing. Her name is Lana, she's from Ukraine. She's amazing. She's a master seamstress. She's been doing it for 30 years and um, so we can schedule an appointment for them to meet with our tailor based on her availability. Um, so that's really easy and accessible and then we have a list of Taylor's, so we kind of walk them through the process again of, of finding what they're looking for. Then that's on the evening, worst side. And then on the bridal side, a very similar experience except of course it's by appointment. I'm the bride has a 70 minute appointment with a stylist, kind of a similar process. We sit down and we interview them and talk about what their needs and wants are and then we spent 75 minutes with them to help them find what they want and then if they do say yes to the dress after the celebratory pictures and, and um, uh, all that we um, of course, um, set them up for a timeline of what's to come after they've said yes to the dress as far as appointments and fittings and expectations and things like that.

[39:04] When you talk about that Salvatore Picture, I do want to hear more about that because to me it's really interesting because, you know, you guys I think really easily could have kind of like you said, stayed in evening wear or you know, if your mom wanted to retire or very easily could have not been what you guys are today with, you know, without the work and kind of the know and the modern edge that you guys are bringing now, uh, you know, with social media and instagram and showing, you know, not only like Brian because I see online, you know, Brian's been happy, but also like, hey, we just got this dress in or here's that, or this is what I'm talking about. Marketing through social media like that and the importance you put on it and what your philosophy is when you post the way that you do or do the things that you do on there. There.

[39:54] The idea is for the general public to see what's going on inside of our space without obviously making anybody feel uncomfortable, but it's a celebration. These are special occasions. These are momentous occasions and we want to, not documented, but we technically, yes, we want to be able to capture, let's say the moment. So we, um, you know, social media, again, it's such a big part of our lives and we like to share the steps of these moments with our friends and family. So we like to take a picture with the brides and the bridal suite with the. I said yes. So the dress sign and um, we also have recently brought in a photo booth which has been so much fun because there's video on there, there's boomerangs on there and um, pictures and then they add, we have snapchat filters on there and so that just texts right to the customer's phone and they can just share that on social media.

[40:56] I can't tell you the laughter that that photo booth spreads in here watching grandmas do boomerangs. So much fun and laughing is contagious. And so it's a really good energy. And um, you know, going back to what you were saying with the social media marketing, um, we didn't really know how to engage with our customers. Maybe a year ago. I, I personally didn't understand that, I think, um, I met somebody at the wedding mba this past time that we went and um, she really taught me what it is that, that customer is looking for out of the experience of visiting our social media pages and that, that they want to know who you are besides just the product photo, in other words, not just a picture of what the designer is putting out there, but who are you, what are you offering? Um, you know, they have to trust who they work with, whether they're using you as a videographer or me as a stylist. They want to get to know that person and really know that they know what they're talking about. And so we just learned that we need to show off more of what the product is that we offer in the showroom and the experience and so more so the experience than anything, but just how proud we are of the merchandise that we're selling and how much fun we're having in the showroom and the laughter and the smiles and things like that. So um, it's just giving people a small peephole into what we do here everyday.

[42:32] Yeah. And also with, you know, you do these real, I think you call it real brides now. A real client customer images anime because I see those things like to me, you know, obviously seeing the bride, you know, in the, in the show room and in with the photos you guys post is, is awesome too. But you know, seeing them out or you know, seeing that girl like entrepreneur or even like email, but like seeing them out like that, you're like wow, you know, like that's really real.

[42:58] I live for those videos and those pictures because we spend hours here with our brides and our customers are putting the whole look together. But when we get that, I just tell you, I get instagram direct messages. Like we said it like two in the morning. I got one last night from a prom girl and when I get that Ding on social media and they're sending us the photos, I'm just like drooling. Like I can't wait to open it because it's so exciting. That's what it's all about, right? So just dressing them is not enough. We want to see them on that day. We want to see that smile on their face and, and the messages that flooded with the appreciation and how many compliments they received and how special it was. That's what we're here for. That's what makes us keep going.

[43:47] What is the biggest challenge moving forward that you guys see or what is something that you are going to have to. What's the next concrete step that you guys are going to have to work through or what do you think is the hardest thing is kind of a, a business owner, whether it's a business owner or as a bridal?

[44:06] How do I put this? I think the biggest challenge that we are, we have been seeing in the last couple of years and are continuing to see is making sure that we're helping people in the community not get duped with, um, bad quality of garments and, um, have the right expectation of what they're supposed to receive as far as a beautiful gown or garment because there's much horrible counterfeit websites out there that people are getting duped. And it's so sad. And so competing with that has been really difficult for us because we, you know, we sell it. We're not just selling a service. We're also selling a tangible product. And so they see these images, whether it's a bride or a prom customer online, and then they received the garment and it's nothing like what they thought. And so, um, you know, communicating and connecting with these customers and saying, hey, this is, this is not the product that you're going to get.

[45:09] This is not all the experience that you should be having when you're having your say yes to the dress moment. Whether you're finding a problem just in your mom's sitting in front of you and you guys are going to talk about this memory 10 years from now or um, you know, in the, in the bridal category, um, you know, setting the right expectation of, of, of the value of, of these gowns and why some of them are so expensive. Um, it's, it's really tricky to get people to understand these things over images. So, um, that's something that we're working on. I think connecting with customers through social media is helping a lot with that. I'm setting the right expectations and providing the product knowledge that's been really big for us.

[45:53] Yeah. Because I've seen some of those posts on facebook where, you know, a prom girls or whatever posts like this is the photo that we thought we were going to get the dresses.

[46:04] Exactly. I don't, you know, um, some people don't care, um, but a lot of people do. And um, I actually just ordered two dresses from those sites and I'm going to hang them in the showroom because I want people to, just, not that I'm trying to like, shame other companies or anything like that, but I'm talking about these like Chinese based companies that are really just rip offs and we're going to hang them in the Sherman. We're gonna allow people to educate our customers so that they're not feeling that they're getting ripped off. They can understand, you know, why we're here and what we're doing and what the value of it is. Um, so they can touch and feel and see these things that are just horribly made. And I've been to those companies in China and see how they'd make these counterfeit products and it's amazing what they do.

[46:53] That's crazy. Um, the last question I guess I have is, uh, you know, moving forward, what's your next big goal? Um, you know, was the next thing that you guys are looking to accomplish here. I mean, it's been kind of a huge growth in the last four or five years and now and expanding the west Seattle and all of that. To me, where do you see in the next year your focus is going, whether it's like a personal thing or a company thing.

[47:15] Um, I think that, um, we are pretty consistent with wanting to just continue to service the Pacific northwest community. Um, have so many customers that just still say we had no idea that you existed. We had no idea that you can make a customized wedding dress. And so it's just building more and more connection with people that didn't know that we were here. Um, and you know, bringing them in and allowing them to see what we do here and I'm connecting with with the brides and it's going to naturally grow too, right? Word of mouth is so important in our industry and when you take care of customers, you know, they tell other people. So we just want to continue to serve as the community as we always have, but obviously, um, continue to grow.

[48:10] Well, I want to thank you so much for doing this interview with me today. We're actually recording this before the store is even opening, you know, you've come in and graciously kind of opened up the space, which I also think speaks volumes, you know, just a, your dedication as a business owner and the, somebody you know that you would come in early to do this. It's my pleasure. If people want to know more about you guys, if they want to learn more, get online, where would they go and what would they check out? So,

[48:38] on our website, www.similasboutique.com. There is a tab for about us and it does speak about my story, my mother's story, my grandmother's story, and how we got here. Um, you can reach us on, um, info at samilasboutique.com. You can reach me directly, yasmin@samilasboutique.com. You can always, like I said many times today, you can direct message me on facebook, instagram. Um, you, you can really, I'm very actually accessible, which is amazing because I don't think, I don't know a lot of other people that are as accessible as I am that you know, you have your connection with somebody who really has their hands on the entire bridal market and evening wear market. So you can always call me, ask me questions, email me, text me if you want. I, I have my business card here available to people can always get ahold of me.

[49:33] I echo that sentiment, that even trying to schedule this a very on the ball except you, you say, Hey, I'm with a client right now or I'm at the shop, you know, I got to be present for the client that. But otherwise, you know, always really accessible whether you're in person working with you or online. So

Thank you reid and I have to say the same about you. You've always been such a pleasure to work with whether you were just seeing you in your zone, like out and about, you know, when I saw you doing work for a lot of people in the community or coming in and doing the videography for our store, um, helping us build our brand awareness in any interaction I've ever had with you. And always just, I'm really warm and friendly and authentic and I, I really appreciate you. Thank you.

[50:16] Well, thank you so much. This has been another episode of Get to Know Your Wedding Pro. Check back next week for another wedding vendor interview. Thank you so much as. Thank you. Bye. Bye.

Episode 8 (Melissa Reiner, Hey Sweets)

[00:09] Hey everybody, welcome to Get to Know Your Wedding Pro. My name is Reid with Best Made Videos. We are a wedding videography company based out of West Seattle, Washington and I am joined today by Melissa Reiner of Hey Sweets and thank you so much for coming by here. Melissa tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do?

[00:26] Well, thanks for having me. I am a custom dessert buffet baker. I have owned my own business since 2013 and I focus more on many desserts.

[00:40] So besides the traditional wedding cake, right? That most people think about that there's, you know, lots more varieties, especially now in 2018. So when you talk a little bit about like kind of the different options you guys offer.

[00:51] Yeah. So, um, I always tell everybody, they kind of asked me about, you know, a menu. So I have a menu on my website. It's a guideline of desserts, but being a custom dessert company, sky's the limit. So I can, you know, if you have a family dessert that you absolutely love and you wanted at your event, I will gladly take that recipe and created into a mini version for you guys. And um, I did a wedding back in 2014. That was a fusion wedding. It was an eastern Indian and Hispanic and ended up taking grandma's trust, let chase recipe that was in Spanish, translated it and had it for everybody at the wedding. It was, it was unique and fun. So having the options to go from a cake, which has been traditional for many, many years to cookies, brownies, tarts, many pies, marshmallows really big into custom marshmallows. There are a lot of fun. Um, you do not have to have a fire to enjoy a marshmallow. Um, you know, per phase kind of sky's the limit.

[02:17] Yeah, I was thinking about that when I was kind of doing my pre podcast research that like, I, I do think nowadays couples really want to customize kind of every part of their wedding, you know, whether it's the dress or the vows or the venue in desserts is no different. Right. I mean you want your guests to enjoy, you know, they obviously want to enjoy. And so, I mean, are you seeing a lot more of that nowadays, that customization,

[02:42] the customization has been on a forward trend for probably, I would say the last three to four years. Um, because a lot of people don't like cake. And when you show up to a wedding and there's a big beautiful cake, don't get me wrong, they're gorgeous, but that means that everybody's going to have cake. Whereas when you walk in and you see a cutting cake, which can be anywhere from a small six inch intimate beautiful cake in the middle too, you know, a two tier with a 10 and an eight inch gives a little more stability and then a variety of just cookies and brownies and cake pops and macro rhones. It just, you get so excited you're like, oh, desert. And there are many so you can have more than one and it creates a variety. So it is a big trend and a lot of people are going away from the big cakes.

[03:41] Yeah. And I was thinking about that too. I mean, and I'm not, this is blasphemous as a wedding vendor, but like I don't really like cake a lot of people don't. And you know, I was saying not fair. You know, if I had a cake at every wedding and we filmed it would be not a good situation. And so, uh, yeah, I mean I think that even as somebody that films, you know, in my, I might like just a little snack or as a guest, right? I mean, you want to have those options as somebody that, you know, might not like cake.

[04:07] Right. And it's also nice because you can take, you know, the couples, um, you know, everybody has different likes, some may not like chocolate and some may not like vanilla or you don't like the cake that you have pie. I have a bride and groom coming up this summer, bright as not a sweets person at all. She was totally hands off in choosing the desserts, left it up to her groom and her mom. And you know, grandma had a definite opinion. She wants chocolate. There was no chocolate on the menu. And Grandma's like, there has to be chocolate. So we're doing a special chocolate dessert just for grandma.

[04:50] That's good. Uh, yeah, we were talking to you. Just, it is so funny to me nowadays though that you know, the cake and the cutting of the cake is still so like prevalent where, you know, we'll film a lot of weddings where, you know, there might not be a bouquet toss is kinda gone out in certain regards or like we didn't do a garter toss belt thing at our wedding. I had filmed too many kind of crazy ones of those. Uh, I told Alan I was like my dj so we're not, I'm not going to crawl on the floor and do that. But uh, you know, I was telling you off fair even though we had a wedding on Monday and this was, I would say more of an eclectic couple. You know, they certainly have their, you know, it was just different. It was kind of more off I would say, like an offbeat bride kind of wedding. And you know, one of the traditions they still had besides, they had a great dessert table with cookies and whatnot, but they wanted to cut a cake and talk about that with parents and everybody and still wanting to have that. But then you guys offering another. Yeah.

[05:50] So yeah, one of the big things that everybody expects tradition, right? There's traditions in every wedding. Things that when you go to, you expect to see them when they aren't there. Um, you're kind of like, oh, parents still expect to see their children do a cake cutting ceremony. Um, perfect example at the wedding tour this last weekend as soon to be bride. And her mom were um, talking with me and, and she was looking at the table and she like this beautiful and she looks at her mom and she goes, I don't want to cake. And almost like you're having a cake. And she says like, no, I don't like cake. I don't want a cake. And I said, you know, we can just do a small cutting cake. And then that way you have this ceremony, it makes the parents and grandparents, you know, happy. And then you can take that cake and either serve your wedding party or the parents and the grandparents. And so the trend is going more towards the small, intimate cutting cake. That's kind of the focal point of a dessert table, but then not everybody has to have the exact same dessert, open it up into a dessert table and you get a variety and it makes everybody happy.

[07:10] Yeah. And we've even done once lately where like the bride will have a cake and the groom will have a. and they'll both have.

[07:17] Yeah. That tradition. You don't see a lot of grills cakes anymore. Um, I have, you know, I've been in business since 2013. I have yet to do a groom's cake. Wow. Yeah. I've never been asked for groom's cake. Huh? Now anniversary cakes I get asked to do all the time because it's hard to keep a cake. Good for a year. Frozen. You can do it. You just, it takes a few steps, but by the time you get done with your wedding, your home, you leave for your honeymoon. It takes a couple of days to freeze a cake and rapids, it's still good at your later. So I do a lot of anniversary cakes a year later.

[08:01] That's funny. We, uh, we got married at salt. He's back in 16 and so they had given us, I think, you know, we had saved the top part or whatever and uh, so we had it in the fridge or the freezer for a year and I think we were under the assumption that it was wrapped and it was like whatever. And so at the either last year at the anniversary, dorothy pulls it out and like, it's still had like the flower on it and she ate it. I mean, I don't know how it tastes like, yeah, not touching that, but they, you know, they just put it in the box, but the lips sealed to us so we didn't eat.

[08:37] There's a few steps to try and keep it moist to where it'll taste. Kind of the same as it did on your wedding day. But, you know, honestly, I would much rather just remake your cake for you if you want to do that ceremony. Um, a lot of people don't continue with that tradition. My husband and I did it and we've been married 18 years and my cake was, it was okay. I think it was more the nostalgia of the wedding and remembering everything and I was like, yeah, this is good. No, no, it's not good.

[09:13] Uh, so talk a little bit about you personally. You said you started the business in 2013. Uh, what were you doing before that or what kind of led you down that path? Well,

[09:23] before that I was a mom and worked in the banking industry. Had kids. I have two boys. They're teenagers now, but my youngest needed a lot more attention. He had, um, he has some learning disabilities, so I, you know, have sense my own wedding, which was huge. Took lots of planning. I kinda did, filled in for friends and family over the years of, you know, helping them facilitate their weddings, which then led to the creation of, hey, sweets in 2013 kind of as a, I can do this in my spare time. Joined the guild, the Snohomish Wedding Guild. And it blew my business up ridiculously fast. Thanks to an amazing photographer and amazing wedding coordinator. They just took my business and our concept and literally blew up our business. I'm crazy busy. I did have a business partner at that time. We've since parted ways, took a little bit of a hiatus and over the last, just over about the last 15 months really started going again and because my boys don't need me at home anymore, um, I have a 16 year old and a 14 year old will have two in high school.

[10:50] So I've really had a lot of time to focus and rebuild. Um, Hey Sweets to what I originally envisioned it to be, where I can focus and give that undivided attention to each of my customers. And um, yeah, so it's just, it's, it's been phenomenal. This year has been great. I am booked to the hilt and already, which this has never happened. I'm booking a year out in advance, which is awesome for me.

[11:26] Is that, am I going to know the answer to this? Is that typical for desserts? I mean, videography is dessert or

[11:32] more like four to six months in advance, but there's been such an increase. Um, and I think it comes along with booking venues, right? Um, they are typically a year to two years in advance, um, and you're finding wedding coordinators are stepping in and saying, you know, you really need to think about all of your vendors and desserts is typically probably one of the last to get booked. And I am turning away so many August couples right now. I am blown away that like last last minute. So I'm really excited to see, um, my year starting to book out and having much earlier brides. Um, so my wedding season this year didn't officially start till May next year so far my first January actually will start of a January already booked in April, so it's starting to book a lot further out, which for me and my family, um, I'm having to plan my, my family's life out a lot sooner in advance. So

[12:48] what is that like? Do you enjoy that? Is it stressful? I mean, I know that, you know, if you have like a normal nine to five, you can take a week off or call in sick. But you know, when you're like a wedding professional, when you're booking, you know, a year out, what do you enjoy that is that?

[13:04] Well, it's funny, I just had this conversation with my husband the other day is that, um, I was kind of caught off guard with how early brides are wanting to book for next year. Um, I don't really have plans for vacations and things. So the nice thing for me being my own business owner is that I don't have a storefront so I work out of a commercial kitchen and I'm able to pick and choose my how busy I am and when I want to take time off with family. And so I'm kind of like, oh, oh, I already have to think about next summer. And actually, you know, early spring next year, which I know my boys have events that I'm scrambling online to see when do we have to go to Houston if my son makes it to worlds for robotics. So trying to fit that in. So it, it, it is great to be booked so far out. But on the other hand, family life, I'm like, oh, I actually might miss a few things next year, which I've always held a job that has allowed me not to miss out on those things for my boys. So it'll be an interesting year. It'll be a learning year next year. Definitely with the advancement, the advanced bookings.

[14:21] Yeah. And I do to, just to echo that in terms of like brides, you know, we were at this wedding to her too and like yeah, having these conversations with brides and grooms now for 2019 is like so refreshing because yeah, you do get these like, you know, and I'm sure with desserts like these last minute, you know, like I'll get an email, hey, so you know, we were thinking about maybe potentially on though and they'll be like June 30th and you're like, no, we've been like, that is a day. Like, you know, they're like, they're like, it's just like the nugget in their head and you're like, well no, there I've already turned down a bunch and we are booked. But. So I mean, I think like for any vendor and for, you know, like any brides and grooms, like book the vendors in a dance and like figure out, you know, make a list of like what you want and what's important to you. But like I do think it's getting to that time where like Seattle is so competitive in terms of like the seasonality that we have and the dates that, you know, I mean we, it, you know, I have two Saturdays in August next year in the, are gone now.

[15:27] Yeah. I have two dates in, two prime dates in August that are gone for, for where we live in the area we live in because our summit doesn't really start til then for nice weather, which was very surprising to me. I almost didn't book them because I was like, that's a long ways out. And especially with, with my line of business, of course, you know, I'm working with fresh ingredients. I never know what the costs of butter's going to be. Vanilla has gone through the roof, which affects my pricing. Um, so I'm, you know, I'm having to give that caveat of here's kind of, you know, where we're at price wise, but it might have to change depending on butter, eggs, vanilla, if it goes up again, oh my word, I don't know what I'm going to do because it's like gold right now. So, um, and they're all really comfortable with it. It's built into my contract, you know, if, if ingredients goes up, sorry, but going to have to change your pricing,

[16:33] that's crazy. I would never have thought that the price of like, Oh yeah, why is that just so

[16:40] vanilla used to be for a bottle? Eight 99. And then um, uh, the uh, major farm, a major producer, it got flooded and went up to $35 a bottle. Yeah, it's, it literally went from eight 99 a bottle to 34, $99 overnight. It was crazy. Same thing with chocolate. I use a free trade chocolate and what the farm, one of the forms that I'm, I get chocolate from. They had a big flood also and so I couldn't get chocolate in the bulk amounts that I had wanted for a while because they lost their crop. So it, it's very, it can be very temperamental.

[17:30] That's crazy. Yeah. Yeah. Uh, do you have, do you do more than one wedding per day?

[17:35] No. So, hey, sweets is me, myself and I, um, if I have a really big wedding I will have someone come the day of to help me set up, but for baking and planning and meeting with customers, it's just me and that allows me to give 100 percent of my attention to each wedding and I can give all focus and I'm not worried about multiple weddings. So no, I try not to do a Friday, Saturday, Sunday. Um, this summer I actually have one weekend in August. That is crazy, but two of the days are just cutting cakes and the Saturday is a huge 400 person wedding. Huge, huge wedding. So no, just one I, I would be pulling my hair out and it'd be great.

[18:32] Talk about the process of working with the clients. I mean, what, do you, what I mean, is it just the baking that you love or is it kind of this scene, the complainant,

[18:41] all of it, all of it. I mean, I'm a mom of two boys that live in a house of boys. I'm a very girly girl. I love weddings. There's nothing more exciting than a wedding and seeing it all come together. So, um, I started out, I'm normally either a phone call or emails kind of talking back and forth about their date, where their venue is kind of, you know, what they're looking for. Then we will do a tasting, so we will meet, um, I bake out of a commercial kitchen. It's not a pretty place. So we don't meet there. I go to my clients, um, so it's comfortable in their own setting. Um, I go all over Washington, um, and we meet, they pick out a few things. We kind of design a table together, we talk about display items. Um, if I have the cake stands, I've really downgraded over the last couple of years because they take up a lot of room.

[19:44] It takes up a lot of room to keep cake stands, but I kind of, I have a huge collection. I love them everywhere I go, I'm always looking for cake stands. So if I have them and it goes with their theme, their decor, what they're looking for, they are there to use. I do not charge extra. I don't charge a rental fee for my cake stands or my platters or plates. Um, and then if we do have to rent, then I will meet up with them that one of the many different rental companies will kind of choose, you know, what will look best, plan the table out together. Um, and then we kind of touched base about a month before. Make sure, you know, numbers haven't drastically changed, that they don't want to make any flavor changes. Um, and then I show up on the day of and produce and beautiful dessert table that they were dreaming of and hoping that their guests all love everything that they have.

[20:47] Whether some of the biggest challenges maybe that people don't think about that you go through are the hardest things about kind of what you do.

[20:54] Well, one of the hardest things around this area, um, and a reason why I do not do stat big wedding cakes anymore is driving with cakes. Um, I have told my husband since I started this, that I want a neon sign for the back of my car that says cake onboard, stay back 50 feet. Um, so driving, it's always the day of delivery is always very. I get very anxious once everything's loaded that it leaves the kitchen and shows up at the venue the exact way. But I of course always come prepared with buttercream and everything in case there is no slam on the brakes and everything shifts, which does happen out here in the Seattle area. We have crazy traffic.

[21:49] I uh, I stumbled across a facebook video the other day of like cake, like fail kind of thing where like, you know, it'd be like a big 20 foot thing with like little plastic and they fell over, fell in the pool and I was just kind of funny. I mean a lot of this stuff was dated, you know, you could tell us from like the eighties and these pig extravagant. But I mean it was funny. I mean I couldn't help but laugh. I mean I would probably be upset if that was my wedding cake.

[22:15] Yeah, it, it has happened. I have had a few, a few fails in the past and with that anxiety I don't want that anxiety to pass on to my customers. So I'm like, we're going to go with cutting cakes. And also I'm a butter cream only designer. I don't work with fondant. Um, it's a personal thing. I'm not a big fan of it and it's really finicky to work with. So I design and buttercream, which is nice because you always bring extra with you and you can always fix a little dimple here or there when setting up.

[22:56] Yeah. We uh, we had the wedding on Memorial Day and they have a, it was a nice, I mean, you could tell it was really nice cake and uh, yeah, you could tell like in the corner, you know, and we don't know if it was like a kid did

[23:09] when swiped it out. That's always, I'm like, should you do you put a sign up that says stay back, don't touch until the bride and groom. Some of them do it. Um, it also, you know, depends on where the dessert table is set in the venue. If it's um, you know, with everybody in the same room or if it set off somewhere where somebody can't see it and have a watchful eye on it. Even. I even had so funny. I've even had people as I'm setting up the dessert table before the wedding has even started. Oh, can I have one of those? No, you can't have that before the bride and groom do either. Cut the cake or have a piece of pie or whatever they're going to do for their discharge people. No, this isn't for you to touch yet.

[23:56] People love desserts. The wedding on Monday. Then the offbeat, one day I was taking shots because they had just set up the cake table and they had. So we got down at five, so this was probably three. So it's not like a late, you know, it's 9:00. We're all starving. I think it was 3:00 PM just on past apps and uh, I think it was the grandfather of either the bride or the groom was like, you know, I'm trying to take shots at this and he's coming up. And I said, sir, you know, I say, I think, um, you know, I think we, you know, we, we, we all need to wait, you know, like acting, like I would try to do it too. Oh yeah man, we got to wait. But uh, and then his daughter had had come up and was like, oh, you know, we need to go. He's like, well, I'm hungry. Then she's like, well no, the buffet is coming, like there's still more food, but people love.

[24:46] I mean, you deserve, you get. I mean, it's a sugar it, you love it, you'll love it and it looks so good and which is, which makes me happy because I put a lot of heart and soul into every piece that I make and meeting with um, my brides and grooms about, you know, how do they want their cupcakes to look, what do they want to top of their brownies, you know, how decorated do you want your sugar cookies. Um, so it's, it, it's, it's a work of art for me and it's fun and I get really excited and I literally wait on pins and needles until after the event to hear back from them. Did you love it? Was it everything that you would hope for your guests? Did they enjoy it? So it really, I get so invested into each wedding that I do or event because I don't do just weddings. I do birthdays, baby showers, bridal showers, I do dinner parties, I do corporate events, but every single item that I bake for, I put so much of myself into and I take great pride in my work.

[25:51] Is it nice to have that creative outlet? I mean, do you view it that way?

[25:55] I do, yeah. That is, that's my definitely my creative side. Um, you know, I don't do a lot of like arts and crafts, but I used to when I was younger and before kids, you know, kids take up a lot of your time and you give up a lot of your hobbies. And so this really allows me to try new things, new techniques. There's always something new coming out in the desert world, um, to try. And I love being able to present that to my customers for the wedding tour this weekend I actually did painted buttercream on my cakes and I use glitter and I painted sugar cookies. So I use a couple of new techniques that I've been playing around with. And the tour was a great way to put it in front of people to get their feedback. And it went over like gangbusters. I absolutely loved it. So I'm like, great. So I'm going to spend more time financing these techniques and creating different. It's just different ways to add a different style and more options for my customers to choose from.

[27:00] Do you find it difficult to stand down A. I mean this is the market. Is it real competitive market? Talk about that.

[27:06] Yes it is a competitive market, but everybody does their own unique spin on desserts. Everybody has a different recipe. There's always something new coming out, a different style. But honestly, whether it's me versus another, you know, dessert company, everybody works together. And if I am in a bind, I have my list of other desert providers that can help me out in a pinch. And it's really nice because I've created some great friendships, um, you know, over the years. Um, so yes it is competitive, but everybody has their own niche and their own personality. And I may not click with a bride, but that's okay because I'm going to refer them to someone that I think would be perfect for them.

[27:59] What would you say your niches then in terms of how you, how you like to portray you and your company?

[28:05] Um, I would say that I am, I'm a scratch Baker Baker, so I use fresh ingredients. I'm small batch because it's just me. It's, I don't take on multiple events per day, per weekend, so I can really focus on getting good fresh ingredients. Um, you know, I live in a rural area where I have access to farmers markets and tons of farms that I can go and get fresh ingredients from. Um, like right now I have um, a couple of weddings this summer that require rhubarb for strawberry rhubarb pies. I think I've kind of flashed back this summer to the seventies in between carrot cakes for cutting cakes to bunt cakes to strawberry rhubarb. Um, so right now I'm literally getting all the rhubarb that I can, processing it, freezing it, getting cut up and ready to go. So I have it stored and ready access to fresh berries, make my own preserves. So just being able to. I'm not, I don't make things in huge quantities. It's for that event. And um, I, when I shop for ingredients, it's for that event. It's not for the month.

[29:28] Uh, we have a carrot cake. Does that mean you know,

[29:32] I just, it, it kind of, it's funny. Things come and trends in waves and I have been a little shocked at how big the request for carrot cake has been this year. I normally probably make one a year and it's normally for my husband because he likes it. I'm not a huge fan of it, but I make it for him because he likes it. But I have for brides this summer that I'm doing carrot cakes for Bundt cakes, mini Bundt cakes, pancakes, pancakes are huge. Huge trend coming back and strawberry rhubarb.

[30:05] It's like with all this new.

[30:07] Exactly. Yeah.

[30:08] Yeah. She just, dorothy likes it. It's carrot cake has to be more healthy because it's got nuts in it. Right? Well, well

[30:16] see everybody likes a different carrot cake. So I have a base carrot cake, which is just your character with, you know, just your, your spices. Then you can literally go from eight carrot cake to a loaded carrot cake. Massive. I'm from coconut in it to pineapple to nuts, golden raisins. I mean, there's so many attitudes that you can and everybody likes something different. Um, so it's fun when they say carrot cake, I'm like, what does that mean to you? Like I can make it this way or you can choose all of these different ingredients to add in. And it's pretty much my loaded carrot cake for the summer.

[30:58] I'm talking to you about trends. How do you deal with the gluten free? Kind of a trend I than that if it's a trend or lifestyle, it's a lifestyle like that.

[31:08] I think more out here. Um, I think, you know, it's more an intolerance out here. So I do all I can offer gluten free items with the caveat that I do not work in a designated gluten free kitchen. So there is cross contamination, but when it comes down to gluten free, I always tell them I have one other person in the business that I refer to that makes absolutely phenomenal. Gluten free, dairy free, Vegan free desserts. And I always, I'm like, I can make it for you. Yes, but if you want like phenomenal, if you don't bake that way all the time, it's not a finesse for you. And if I'm not 100 percent like, oh, this is to die for because that's what I think every dessert should be. You should take a bite and be like, oh, then I send them off to a local baker. Um,

[32:13] talk about, uh, I have asked this earlier, but, uh, the cake at your own wedding, when did you guys do?

[32:19] So my son. So I had the big huge stacked cake. We had over 400 people at our wedding and it was gigantic. My husband's family, my family are the first to originating families and mineral. So everybody was invited to our wedding. It was ginormous. I'm the bakery that did our cake is still in business down in Kent. Um, our cake is still offered. I have never ordered it sense,

[32:57] um,

[32:58] because I kind of prefer my own baking, but it was massive, huge, beautiful buttercream cake with cascading flowers down it, it was your traditional wedding cake, but does it, it would have never come into our minds 18 years ago to do a dessert buffet. It wasn't a thing. I mean, you literally went to the wedding shows and you tasted cake after take after take after kicked to the point that you're like, ah, I don't, I don't care. It's cake.

[33:32] Do you do a lot of tastings for your clients?

[33:35] Yeah. So I always offer a tasting. I'm, I do charge a small fee of $25, but if they end up booking with me, that feed just goes towards their total cost because I'm not a bakery and I'm all, I am a bakery, but I'm not a storefront where that overhead is covered in day to day operations. I. um, so yes. Uh, I always recommend doing tastings. Got a nice thing about, you know, the wedding tour was that people got to sample my stuff. So now those brides that I am following up with, those aren't ones that we have to schedule tastings now we just have to sit down and do the fun part. Right. Choose what they want, how many different options they want to offer their guests. Um, and you don't dry out a beautiful dessert table with stands and you know, do you want flowers, do we need to, do I need to coordinate with your florist? So

[34:35] yeah. So you do a lot of that coordination.

[34:36] Well, yeah, I, I get as much information from um, my brides and grooms as possible to meet with their florists because especially if they're not going to do a cake topper and they want flowers, I need to know, you know, are you going to have a set piece there for me that I just placed on top or do you want your florists? Do I need to make sure that the cake's there at a certain time that you want your floors to put the flowers on the cake or are they going to leave stuff for me to, you know, set organically,

[35:09] um,

[35:10] on, on the cake. And then it's always nice to kind of tie the dessert table in with a few similar flowers that you have around the venue to kind of make everything cohesive. So I always recommend that they have a piece or two, um, for their dessert table

[35:29] because that was, I'm flashing back now. That was actually kind of like a big sticking point at our wedding and we didn't have our, it was pretty standard, like I don't think we had that many issues kind of planning. But that was because we had our cake through the venue by a third party and there was the issue of like, okay, when they, kate gets there, like they wouldn't do the flowers, but then the flower person wasn't sure if they would do that. And he was like. But it was like a thing where I'm like I don't really. Somebody needs to do this.

[36:01] Yeah. So I always like, um, actually before I came in I was emailing with a coordinator for a wedding coming up this summer in August. And between talking to the bride last night and talking to the wedding planner, I'm getting kind of the ideas together so she can go to the florist to make sure. And then, um, basically we decided that I'm just going to place flowers organically on the cake, which means then I need to make notes for myself that I need to make sure I have my shares with me, that I have floral tape because you can't stick fresh flowers into a cake. You shouldn't stick them. There's only, there's particular flowers that are okay. But you know, if you took a poinsettia and stuck it in, that's a poisonous flour and you put it into a fresh cake, that's not good. So, you know, I, there's things that I need to bring with me. If I'm doing the flowers, the flowers is just going to drop them off. They're going to be by the table and then I'm going to put them in. And if they're going into cake, then the stems have to be wrapped.

[37:07] See, that's fascinating. Thought about that.

[37:10] Well, it's something that you learn as you're in the business. Um, and yeah, you wouldn't think that by putting a fresh flower, but you got to think about it right? When you cut a flower, there's always some, you know, they're live so stuff comes out of their stems. You're sticking that into butter, cream and cake, then that means that you're going to eat it. And unless it's an edible flower, you really shouldn't be eating that.

[37:38] Well, I mean that's obviously why you need to hire somebody because I'm, I just, that's all I do is stick point. Said this good idea. What do you. And that actually segues to a question I wanted to ask you. What do you know as a, as a baker, as a dessert maker, you know, wedding vendor. What do you wish that people knew more that they don't know either when they approach you or when they get ready for the wedding, whether you wish clients knew more.

[38:07] I. Well I wish they knew more of like what flavors they like and don't like. Not well, I want everybody to enjoy this. The dessert table is a great representation of the couple getting married, right? It's a showcase of their likes and what they like. That's what should be showcased on your dessert table. So what do you like when it's your, what do you have to have every year or at Christmas? What is the dessert that you have, you know, you have to have. So come with, you know, a better idea of kind of flavor wise, what are you looking for? And then my part is to then take that and go. Okay. So we're going to stick with a color Palette. So let's, how about if we do, you know, if it's. Well, let's go with the color theme from the, the Guild, uh, the wedding tour that we just did.

[39:04] I was at Moroni meadows and our colors were white, green and gold. So, um, I did sugar cookies that had painted green glitter on because I do royal icing cookies. So those were painted. I did, um, coconut lime cupcakes. So the green and the white came out in the cupcakes decorated with lime zest and a toasted coconut. I also did pistachio Brownie bites. So the green color came out of that. Um, and then I did per phase that had golden Kiwis in it, so it kind of brought out that greeny gold and white color, so kind of taking different flavor pallets and giving them different options, um, to make sure that everything is cohesive with either their colors or the theme.

[39:55] I, uh, as somebody that my dessert is a box of Oreos in the fridge

[40:00] being dipped in any color,

[40:01] lemon zest a I seen in. That sounds pretty good. Yeah. Um, talk about, I mean you talked about, you know, trying new techniques and things. I mean, what, what's like the new thing right now or what is the big, the big hotness?

[40:18] Well, there's a, there's, well there's always more than one. So I'm painting with butter cream is becoming really popular. And then the smooth glazed I'm shiny cakes are a really big one and I'm playing around with that. It's really tricky. Um, and the um, letters and number stacked cookie, their cookie cakes. So there, you know, like two feet by two feet and it's either like a monogram with in a couple of layers with frosting just round dollops in between. And then on top covered with flowers and macaroni and I'm a fruit so it's a really pretty, but it's like, it looks like a cake, but it's actually a sugar cookie. Um, I haven't ventured out into that one because I don't want a cookie cake. I want cake. I want a cookie. Um, so yeah, there's, there's always something new. But the big, the big thing that I'm really playing around right now I'm painting with buttercream.

[41:35] Do you struggle with tasting too much defined? Or is it. I always curious about that. It's like a caterer.

[41:44] Yeah. Everybody's like, how do you not weigh a thousand pounds? I have been working with my recipes for a very long time to the point that I don't really have to even look at them unless I'm like, quadrupling, you know, the recipe, then I have to do math in my head to increase the volume. But no, unless it's a brand new recipe, I really don't taste a lot. My boys are my Guinea pigs, my husband and my boys. My boys are a bean pole bean poles. They luckily got my side of the family's metabolism. Um, they're being impulse, but they complained that they're kind of spoiled. They are always having my desserts and when they have functions at school parties and stuff, people are bringing, store bought stuff and they're like, eh, there's cookies waiting at home. So, um, my, my tester is, my boys are very honest, whether they like something or not.

[42:51] My youngest is very adventurous and flavors. So when I have, you know, a couple of years when I started baking with lavender, he was my Guinea pig and adjust last week. He's like, when are you making your lavender cupcakes again? And I said, actually this summer because I'm making them for my sister's baby shower. So he's like, oh good, you have not had anyone order those in a really long time because there's always extra and it always comes home to my house and either my kids eat it or my husband takes it to work and his employees really appreciate that.

[43:27] Um, I guess just from your email, I think obviously like, you know, cakes important to the wedding, desserts are important, you know, what is your philosophy of food or desserts like in that place, like where do you see your place, you know, I could say like why is he deserts is like, you know, it brings everybody together. Like what is your philosophy, you know, where do you place yourself and kind of that the snapshot of that Wedding Day, the importance of the dessert table.

[43:56] Well, I think that sticking with tradition, it's still a really important piece. You, you have your toast, you have your father, daughter dance, you have your groom and mom dance and then you have your cake cutting ceremony. Whether it's a cake cutting or whatever that is. That's a big part where that's Kinda like right before the party really starts everybody, you know, at a birthday party, you do your gifts and everything in. You kind of then end with blowing out the candles and cutting the cake and everybody, you know, desserts about gathering and sharing and enjoying something sweet together. So I see my part just as important as the officiant who starts the wedding, you know, everybody has their place, you've got your, whether you say dessert is open or they actually do a cake cutting ceremony, then that leads into the party and then when people are out on the dance floor, they always, if there is a dessert table, they are always making extra trips back to the dessert table to grab a bite here and there. And that's what's really nice about doing many desserts because you can have multiples instead of one piece of cake. Because when the cake is gone it's gone. And I always bring more than what my brides and grooms have ordered. There's always extra because people always come back for more.

[45:36] I do think, yeah, I do think you could have like a couple of different. I'm desert without it. Like I think Jim Gaffigan, I always made the joke where like if you ask somebody like, Oh I hate that I ate a whole pizza, you'd be like, oh good for you. But the fuck, oh I eat a whole cake. In fact, man, you got a problem, right? And like, you know, maybe like, yeah, one piece of cake, you know, may have three pieces of cake. But yeah, if you have like

[45:56] many deserts, they're either the stuff, the items I make, they're either a bite or they're two bites. So one bite you're like, oh, well that's just like one fork of a cake. Well I can come back and get some of that or I can come back and get some of that. And when you've been out on the dance floor dancing and having a drink, you definitely want to grab something sweet and have in your hand to, you know, sustain you on the dance floor.

[46:23] Uh, in terms of, you know, moving forward now, uh, whether your goals, you know, in the next year, where are you looking to kind of expand to.

[46:32] So my big dream since I started this was that I wanted to retail space. I've been helping my girlfriend close down a retail clothing store. She's going out of business and so I've been filling in here and they're in the retail capacity. I don't want to retail store anymore, so plants have kind of changed. What what I'd like to do is I would like to have my own dedicated kitchen laid out my way. That works best for me. I'm currently, we're an at. I don't have a marble top where I can work with chocolate because I like to play with chocolate. Um, so that is our goal. That's where we're saving up all of our extras is to build out our own commercial kitchen up in Monroe. No, well the kitchen I work out of is in Monroe, but I live in snohomish. I'm more the area. I'd like something a little bit closer to home just so that my travel time isn't so far. I have been up until

[47:38] this last summer when I, I'm at a new kitchen. I'm in Monroe, which fell into my lap and then I have been absolutely ecstatic that it's available to me because they don't share it with anyone, which has been phenomenal for me. I have been traveling to Woodinville Redmond, uh, you kind of have to pick and choose who has availability. We don't have a lot of commissary kitchens up in the snow much county area, so it's been a struggle over the years. Now I have a dedicated kitchen that I know that I can go to whenever, but it would ultimately be great if I could build my space out to my, how I bake.

[48:18] I do think that that's a tough balance or to try to like, I don't know if there is a right or wrong. I mean, you know, I just interviewed a damn manning for the podcast and like he has his own studio and like there's lots of photographers that are home base, you know, I'm home in my living room. Uh, yeah. And it's like, would I be more productive if I had my own studio space? Like probably, you know, but then you obviously have to wear like the risks,

[48:43] the risk and the cost and the insurance and all of that. Um, but

[48:49] where I'm at, well, one, I don't want to bake in my house. I, I want, I like to get out of my house. I do all in. I'll probably always keep it this way to do all paperwork and all business out of my office in my house because I don't need to go to the kitchen and do that, but it's nice to escape. And also I'm a night owl once I'm done with my family for the night. I leave the house at about eight, 8:30, literally will get done with dinner and I will pack my stuff up and I'll be like, see Ya. I won't come home until like 2:00 in the morning, which is how I like, I can go to the kitchen, crank the music up. I am not disturbing anybody. Um, because who I share the kitchen with, they're never there past 6:00. So it's me. I can come in my sweats and my t shirt and yeah, just do my thing. Jam Out and have fun. I love baking at night. Awesome.

[49:48] What has been so fun having you come in today? Uh, I've enjoyed meeting you now face to face and thank you so much for taking the time to come in. If people wanted to learn more about, you know, your company and what you guys do, what would you have them check out?

[50:04] My website is www.heysweetsbuffets.com. I am on Facebook and Instagram. You can follow me at Hey Sweets Buffets on both of those and I will be at the Big Fake Wedding this year at the 101, um, in November, uh, on the 15th. So if they want to kind of see another, you know, what a wedding setup would look like and what kind of a display I would do. That would be my next show. Otherwise it's just the guild.

[50:33] And for people that don't know, that's a wedding show where they set it up,

They set it like a, like, like a real wedding. They have couples come in and kind of do a vow renewal and you the whole place is set up like, like a real wedding, like kind of similar to the wedding tour at each venue that we did.

[50:52] Awesome. Well thank you so much for coming in. Be sure to check back next week for a wedding, a wedding vendor interview. And thank you so much, Melissa. Thanks a lot. This has been Get to Know Your Wedding Pro. Bye.

Episode 7 (Angela Strecker, Blue Wings Events)

[00:09] Hey everybody, welcome to Get to Know Your Wedding Pro. My name is Reid with Best Made Videos. We are a wedding videography company based out of West Seattle, Washington, and I'm joined here today by my good friend Angela Strecker of Blue Wings. And Angela, thank you for coming in. Why don't you tell us a little bit about who you guys are, what you do.

Thanks Reid. I am Angela Strecker with Blue Wings Events and we are based out of Tacoma, Washington, but we cover all of Washington state's wherever we want to go. Really our clients want to send us. We do weddings, corporate events, um, life celebrations. We do a lot of weddings during the summer and then during the summer we're been picking up quite a bit of corporate events. We do different types of corporate events, like picnics, networking, meetings, all types of different types of events. Um, and we've been in business for about three years now and we have two or three staff members. Depends on time of the year. Right now we're picking up more staff, but I have a one full time person and then myself, I'm full time too, so this is a full time business for me. It's not a, not a fly by the night or part time business, so I do not have another job. I am full time for my clients and so it was my one staff member and then I have another staff member that is part time and then we pick up other staff members to the summer

[01:34] and I do think that that's a really good differentiating point. A. And I was reading about that on your website too, you know, talking about how this is full time and talk about. It's obvious to you and me, but why is that a key differentiating point to you and why is that something that you really like to emphasize that this is what you do full time?

[01:51] Well, I like to emphasize it because I'm not distracted by another job. I don't have another boss. I am my boss. I'm not distracted by a nine to five job or um, you know, another job pulling me apart, pulling me away from my wedding so that when, when my couple's call me and want my attention, I'm there for him. Um, yeah, I do have office hours and I do shit. I don't work on Mondays, but if it's an emergency I will work for them and. But when you're working another job, a lot of times when they're working part time somewhere else, they can't answer the phone and they're distracted. And plus I'm engrossed into the business. I am, I, I tell my clients all the time. I'm like going to a trade show a 100 times over the amount of people behind me. I'm this filter.

[02:48] I'm a funnel. I'm one person at the top, but behind me is hundreds of vendors because I work the business, I'm involved in the business, I go to the trade shows, I, I'm really involved in different things. So because I have invested myself into the business and I'm full time, it makes a difference. I'm really involved in the business so I know what's going on and I think that that's kind of where I like to make sure clients know that just so that they know, oh, you're really serious. This is not a, you're gonna be here tomorrow. You're not going to be gone.

[03:23] Yeah. And obviously not, but you can't be a wedding vendor and have a have a part time job. But I am finding as I'm interviewing people that I really trust and that I know are talented professionals, a lot of them are like you and can come over here at 10:00 on a Tuesday or whatever day of this is because it is something that you do full time and you're able to build your schedule. And also I think that's helpful with you know, meeting with clients and you know, if they need to meet after work or on the weekend or whatever, that you can kind of accommodate that. Whereas yeah, if you're working like a nine to five or something that you might not, it's difficult. So

[04:03] I do get a lot of clients that are, that come from out of state. I do a lot of events at thorn with castle down in Tacoma and a lot of those clients are coming from Alaska and Idaho and California. They come from all over the place, Hawaii and they come in and they come in out of town and they got, they got a day and I got to bring vendors in, you know, lining them up and so a lot of times I need vendors, I need people that can be flexible in their schedules and so I'm looking for sometimes looking for certain vendors that are, that can be flexible with their time schedule because this person is flying in or. And then I have a lot of clients that are professionals. Most of my clients are professionals, lawyers, doctors and they were crazy hours.

[04:51] I'm meeting with clients at 9:30 at night sometimes or I'm meeting with them early in the morning or the doctors at lunch hour. You know, it's kind of one of those things where I'm really flexible and not that I don't, like you said, I don't. Some of my vendors do have other jobs and I know it's only because they're really good at what they do, but I'm a, I like to reiterate it again because I'm insured and I like to make sure that all my vendors are insured and usually sometimes part time ones aren't insured so I kinda. But yeah, it's something that I like to let people know that that's how we work more full time.

[05:30] And so your guys' tagline for Blue Wing Wedding and Events is "Letting you be a guest at your own event." Talk about that and kind of the. I think when you're a company, I think you know, your branding and your tag line is really, really important. Right. And I've actually been hired to do videos for companies and they're like trying to come up with a tagline like as we're doing the video and I'm like, that's a terrible, you know, you should really know, right. Who you are talking about that and what does that mean to you? Letting you be a guest that you're on the event?

[06:00] Well, when I introduced myself a lot of times to people before I even tell them that I'm an event planner or wedding planner, because usually the first thing they say is, Oh, I'm not, I'm not getting married. I don't need you. I usually tell people what I do is I allow people to be in the moment. I allow them to be a guest at their own event. Being in the moment and being a guest at your own event means mom's able to stand there and see her daughter walked down the aisle and not be worried about did she get the right flowers or is her, is her dress lined up right in the back or is the catering got the appetizers out? Mom's just standing there looking at her daughter walking down the aisle and the videographer and the camera guy's got the great picture of it.

[06:54] Um, or you know, if it's a corporate event there, they're allowed to be able to network and be there in the moment and be worth their clients. And making sales without worrying is there. That vendor didn't show up. Why didn't they show up? So to me it's about not having to worry about anything about just being there in the moment, not having your phone in front of your face and taking a picture because we've got it. We've hired the professionals to take the pictures. We've hired them to do things. So I just had a client just the other day just yesterday, asked me, well, who's going to take down the tent and who's going to take down the tables and who's gonna to. Because it's, it's a whole setup. I mean we're talking food trucks were talking and everything and they're like, because we're renting everything and they're like, well, who's going to take all that down?

[07:51] We're going to have to bring in people. I go, no, we hired professionals. When you get up in the morning, it's gone. And she's like, oh cool. Yeah, you get to leave when the last guest leaves. And she was like, oh, that's amazing. This is. Yes, that's why you hired me. I will be the last person to leave. I will make sure you get your deposit back and everything will be fine. So just leave. And that's what I want, that's what I want people to do. I want them to say, oh my gosh, I got to see my daughter walk down the aisle and I didn't worry about a thing

[08:31] and that reminds me. So we were talking off air about where we met in. We agree with that. I think it was the Green River Community College Open House and that was a slower show and we did a lot of talking. I'm kind of waiting there and I, I remember telling you that to me, a wedding planner, as you know, if you asked me any other vendor know, photographer florist to me, I think a wedding vendor or a wedding coordinator or planner has the hardest job trying to sell their services to the client because it is a fact that you can't get married without a, you know, planning or coordinator. That doesn't necessarily like it just because you got married. Yes. That is a success in terms of like you got married but you know, was the food hot or where people. Did people feel like they knew what was going on or where the vendors taking care of her, you know, there's a lot of intangible things that Kinda go into, yes you did get married, but like maybe you know, you tripped 18 times throughout the day to get there where I think it is working with doing weddings with the planner and doing weddings without a plan or as a videographer.

[09:45] I mean it is a night and day experience in terms of not only my experience but more importantly the bride and groom, you know, their experience and not only that, like you said, their families, you know, the mother of the bride, father of the bride. What challenges do you find in trying to sell who you are and your services to clients out there in the world?

[10:08] Well, you're right. It's, there's nothing tangible. There's nothing that they get at the end of the day that they look at a picture and Oh, I've got this picture that says I hired a planner. Um, so it is a little harder to sell. Um, usually I, um, I usually, it's stress usually is never one thing that brings them to us is stress. Usually they're overloaded. We usually with clients, my clients, a lot of them are professionals. They are both working and they just don't have the time. They really don't have the time. And we have found with a lot of our clients, um, I just tell them just handed over and I'm like, I will let you pick your venue. I will give you three or four choices. I'll let you pick your venue. I will let you pick your photographer. And that's about it. And the rest of it, you're just giving me the money.

[11:10] And most of them you just see the stress just drop right there. They're like, really? I go, yeah, well you get to pick the food. I mean, you get to pick the color but you don't get to pick the rest of it. That I'm going to carry the contracts, I'm going to carry it. I'm going to do it all. You're not gonna touch anything anymore. I'm not going to make you sign another piece of paper. And when, when I start talking to them, because that's kind of how we're, our plan is with, with us, we're a little bit different than some other planners. We're going a little bit of a different route. Um, so when, when we deal with that with client, when I tell clients that and they realized that they don't have to do anything after they hand over their check of how much over their wedding is going to cost and then I'm going to them on budget because I've got all their money, they're like relieved and they're like, really?

[11:58] I don't have to do anything else. Nope. You don't have to. Nothing show up to them. They're just done. And so I, that is kind of what I sell to them. And then I sell to them that I don't even sell to them. I, I, I convinced that even have to convince them. It's just telling them, you know, I don't want you to be, I don't want you to have to think that. I don't want you to be that person that has to tell somebody at your wedding. I'm sorry, you have to stop drinking. I don't want you to be the bad person. I don't want your mom to be the bad person or your aunt or your cousin or your third cousin. I don't care who they are. I don't want any of them to be the bad person. I want to be the bad person.

[12:45] Let me carry the load and turned to the caterer and say, get the mold off of the bread and fix it or let me turn to, you know, the best friend that has passed out and his streaking down the hallway, which we've had and have to deal with that so that I can be the bad person, not you, because no one likes having to turn to their aunt or uncle or the caterer and say, can you fix, you know, you can't do that. But I, I, I'll do it in a second. So when I tell people that I get to be that person, they're like, oh, I'm dealing with all the time, you know, restraining orders. I mean, there's all types of things. You know, the family dynamics. I got restraining orders. I've had all types of things you wouldn't believe. Um, but I just deal with it and so what I tell people that I've had clients hire me just to deal with restraining orders and issues with moms and be the third party, be the go between. And so when I tell people that, then they're like, oh, okay, please can I, can you charge more? I'm like, yes I can.

[14:05] No. And I think that that's a good point. I mean even just that simple, not simple but that tangible. Have you been that person that we had the wedding and the couple of weeks ago and there was an issue with the catering and then we're in the middle of, you know, doing family photos and like that's not really the best time. If you're a bride and you're getting all these portraits that you're going to hang on your wall for the next 50 years. And to know that like, oh, something is seriously wrong with the catering, you know, luckily they had a planner and she said, you know what, like I'm going to go figure this out. Like you guys aren't paying for anything, you know, like, we're gonna take care of this. And you know, and she disappeared and then came back and everything was resolved and I think like, yeah, if you were the bride or groom or mom or whoever that had to go deal with that, like that's a terrible of your wedding

[14:52] day, terrible memory. And I actually tell my clients when I meet with my clients about a week before their wedding and I tell them we walked through the entire day. I mean every point of the rehearsal in the day, because I tell him I, we walked through it because I'm like, you're so distracted you, you are, you've lost it. You got friends, you got family. Videography is in your face. Camera Man's in your face there. Everyone's and you know, you don't know what up and down is it? I'm like, yeah, whatever. So I walked through the day when I had their attention. And then I tell them, you tell me what I asked them, what is the most important thing of the day? Is it the cake? Is it, you know, what is so important that I have to tell you about it is, you know, the cake fell apart and I got to Redo it, or the flower or something happened with whatever and they'll tell me exactly what it is I says because you know what, the rest of it, you ain't gonna hear about it and you might not ever hear about it ever.

[15:52] You could ask me up down the wall and you'll never hear about it. And I had a wedding out at, um, in sumner at Laurel quick manner and we had a huge alcohol issue, huge alcohol issue. And um, and I was on the phone with the delivery people and they were, I was not friendly, not friendly at all. And I went upstairs and was put non booton ears to the groomsmen and everything and they knew that there was going to be an issue and they were like so to the alcohol show up. And I was like, everything's fine. And they're like, really? And I was like, Yep, everything's okay. And they're like, are you going to tell us? Even if there was an issue as like everything's fine, it's walked back downstairs and they knew nothing. It was like, why would I destroy the pictures? Because that's exactly. You're right. It shows up and that's what I was. I do tell people, I says, see those stress free pictures in that ontime wedding. I've never had, knock on wood, I've never had a wedding. Not Start on time. All my wedding start on time.

[17:02] That's good. That's a good track record. And Are you going back to, like I said, they did. The challenges of selling is the best planner. You'll never know is there. Right. And so it is really hard. I didn't like

[17:18] they don't. They. Oh, my aunt can take care of it. My cousin can. I get it all the time. And I'm like, okay. I and you know, and usually they come back to me and say, Oh yeah, it didn't work out. I'm like, I, you know, I can't convince them. I can't, I can't convince the ants or the cousins. I mean I used to do them for people to, uh, I don't anymore. Even for my own family. I still charge, I'm like, good dudes. I charge because I'm not going to be the planner. I was not the planner at my son's wedding. I did not. I mean I planned my son's wedding with his wife, but I had my staff do his wedding. I had a drink in my hand. Hello, was to deal with it. So you know, I, I get it. And so that's what I try and tell people is I get it.

[18:09] I was there, I was a guest at my son's wedding and I want you to be guests at your own weddings. So the people that get it are the people that we'll hire a planner, a even the ones that hire just month, they call it day of. We don't like the word day of people. There's nothing that's called day of just anyone that's listening to this. It's not data. Anyone that you hire that's just day of, please don't. No one can do it day of you. They have to hire so that they get to know who the videographer is, the photographer is and everyone who everyone is. So usually we do month of and we will still do a month of, but we started about 60 days prior to [inaudible]. I got to know the vendors, I got to do that timeline. I have to know what's going on because there's no way I could do the job because I'm, the bond's going to get blamed if I'm on site and the food's wrong, I'm blamed. Uh, no, I'm not going to get blamed,

[19:09] you know. And in this time of year now I'm, I'm solidifying the lot of, you know, timelines and plannings for my wedding's coming up this summer and it is very clear to me which ones have planners and which ones don't, you know, because I send out my questionnaires and stuff too, just in terms of like shot stuff that they want to see in the, you know, in the video and like it is very apparent. Like when I have a planner that's, you know, immediately responding back, you know. Or like if I have a question of like, Hey, can we get the right? Do I have the right address for where the groom's getting ready? Or like, hey, you know, can we confirm whatever when you get those immediate things back because then that's like, that's 10 less things that the couple has to deal with. Right. And that's why like, you know, it's like the week or two before the wedding, like you can't even get in touch with the couples, you know, because they're so busy and families in town and all that. And so they have that dedicated planner, you know, that knows somebody that's experienced, that knows videographers like 15 to 20 minutes alone with him. The

[20:09] couple. Uh, I mean at least that's what I always give them. I let them decide if they want it or not. Sometimes they don't. Sometimes they do, sometimes they'll just tag on with a photography with the regular photographer. But I like, you know, there's all this stuff. Hair and makeup number one reason a weddings, late hair and makeup every time. I swear, but I know I'm not supposed to, but it's every time I will not let that happen. It never happens at my weddings and I get it all the time from the hair and makeup people. They love me. They're like, wow, this is amazing. I'm like, yeah, not going to happen. Especially if there are, if got traveling because usually hair and makeup is not done at the venue, so I've got to travel. I've got to get the bride to travel and then I will wait a second.

[20:57] I got to touch her up if she's redone, you know if she's at, she's done at the venue or the. We're just getting ready at the hotel. Then I've got to get her to the venue and then I got to get it redone because she's had first look in between and your done. I was like, so they don't realize that and I always tell them I'd rather have you stand around and be bored and enjoying and talking and relaxing and getting some extra shots. Then have you stressed and thinking, oh my gosh, we're not going to get on time. I'd rather stand. Have you stand and wait with your dad for an extra five minutes.

[21:29] There's never been a wedding ever where I've thought, no, we had too much time. There was just way too much, you know, we did not have enough going on because you haven't worked with me. So I'm looking here on your site. You're talking about a I want to kind of get into now your, your past, getting into where we find ourselves today. Uh, so you say you married your husband mark in 1986 so long ago. How many years ago? Is that what? It was? Thirty one because I was 42. So it's 32 years. It'll be 32 years this September. Yeah, I was born in [inaudible] 86. Oh my gosh. Uh, certainly, uh, certainly dates. So I was very young when I got married. The youngest wedding and then has ever been talking about your wedding.

[22:11] Oh my goodness. My wedding was, was very organized. I'll tell you that. Uh, I remember we got married up in Arlington, so I'm local. I'm, we had over 300 people at our wedding. It was an open invitation at the church and in the paper and we had a lot of people from family. We had a huge. I have a huge family. So it was, it was an event, I was ms dot Arlington at one time. So it was an event. Yes, yes. Reid. Um, so there was a lot of people there, um, and I was not working. I had been in a huge auto accident before I got married, so I was not working and so I had a lot of time to plan my wedding and my husband and I paid for it, paid the whole thing ourselves. He's quite, or quite a bit, but he's about six years older than I am.

[23:07] So we play. I planned the living daylights out thing started on time too. And it was very much formal. We was in a Catholic church, was very, very formal. Texas has been more tails and we had was harp player. I mean it was typical Catholic wedding, obviously harp player. We had singers we had, um, and I think back to it and I think it's Kinda funny because I think about the things that were most important to me was the timeline. I think, I mean this was 30 some odd years and was the timeline was making sure everyone was on time and everything. We did have a video we had, so we have a video of it. We had it photography. Uh, we had semi large wedding. If I had to do it over again, I would have to say I would probably not have a large wedding party. How many did you have a. I, I think we each had five on each side, which is like small by today's. I've done them where it's 12. I know, I know, but I think if we had to do it over again, it would just be, it'd be no one really. It would be no one. My favorite thing to do is I had a wedding in January where they drew names to pick who'd signed.

[24:28] I have, I actually had to, I was like a witness because they have over there, which is different. So things that you learn then that you're carrying onto today. You said timeline

and be. Do it. Do what's you. We had a lip sync band. I mean hello? Who has lip sync bands nowadays? People didn't know it was lip sync band until you know, a few drinks in and then they realized, wait a second, those people are really not playing that music. It was a lip sync pant, but they really had real instruments and drums and everything and they realized they could get up and karaoke because it was a lip sync band. So they were all after were. I mean it was a lot of people that were drinking a lot and because it was so unique, no one really was. It was so us. It was so us.

[25:20] Where was your, you said it was a church and the reception was just downstairs. There's. Yeah, it was potluck by the women from the church

[25:29] and so there was a lot of food because there was a lot of people there and my husband and I made her own cake and that was it. It was great. And when we left we left in a really fun car. We left in a really cool. I wish we'd stayed longer. My Dad had to kick people out at two in the morning out of the church because they would not leave because they were lip sync band and there's a lot of alcohol. You, the Catholic Church. So they were just having fun. So yeah, I would have to say that, you know, and be who you want to be. I mean, make it you. That's what I tell all my clients. We're not going to cookie cutter your wedding. It is going to be you. It is going to be you. And that's what, that's, that's what I did. And timeline. Oh, that was all about timeline.

[26:18] Um, so after you got married, uh, you talked about going into the corporate life. Yep. So talk about, I guess, that experience. So I went in and into

[26:29] the corporate life. I worked for a, you're in Washington state, you would know seafirst bank, Bank of America got into the corporate life, was working off and on within the bank. Twenty years I worked for the bank and probably more than that between the off and on kind of a thing, but I was eventually through the time there I kind of morphed into a whole bunch of different positions and I ran, um, I worked for the president of the bank, a hr manager of the bank, you know, the for seafirst bank and Bank of America. Then I eventually became started. I was in Tacoma and was managing the foundation down in Tacoma and western Washington. And then I started working for a gentleman who covered commercial banking and then he became a commercial banking for the Western Wall, western United States. And we managed all of the western United States and then we became government banking.

[27:36] So it kind of morphed into all these different roles. And I became kind of like a sales person, not I wasn't sales, but I was like a sales manager. But through the whole time I was running all the events and I was doing the nonprofit events and I was doing all the different types of events and eventually I became Iran. All of the. Any kind of client or internal event in the West Coast for the 11 states and at the very end I started doing New York City for government banking. So I dealt a lot with governors, a lot of the protocol. So we did a lot of protocol training at ticket training and I did a lot of speech writing because we were doing a lot of, a lot of governor kind of stuff and mayor stuff and I did just events upon a fence upon events and I started doing trade shows.

[28:36] We were doing a lot of trade shows, going to trade shows, participating in trade shows, helping them at trade shows. And I would do just, just, I was doing events. I was traveling every week. Uh, so. And then I started doing these huge forums and I started teaching how to do them all across the country. And I was doing them in New York and large events that were 600 people in New York. And it was just. And I would. And I would run them. I would create the. Okay. They'd want to do a team thing and I'd be like, okay, what's the topic? And they give me a topic and I would create everything from nothing to powerpoints to talk everything, everything. And so I was good at it. And then my gentleman that I worked for out here in the West retired and they had asked me to, uh, move or take a package. So I took a package and they gave me a really nice package. The bank was very good to me. Very.

[29:44] You've been there a long time. I'd been there 26 years. They were very good to me. Yeah.

[29:48] So they're very good to me. Gave me a package. I got unemployment and then I got a package and I went back to school and I got my degree in entrepreneurship because I knew I wanted to be a planner on my own because I had already kinda. It was like everyone kept saying you could do this, you could do it. And I was like, well, I want to know how to run the business though. I want to know the nuts and bolts because I knew I could plan, but I wanted to be able to say I know I want to be able to because it can be distracting and I didn't want to be distracted by the business end of it when I'm working with clients, so I didn't want to have that distraction. I want it to be able to know that because it running a business can consume you like no tomorrow can consume you.

[30:37] It's a lot of sales. It's a lot of, oh, there's accounting, there's insurance, there's a lawyer, there's people don't realize. And when clients come to you and say, why do you charge so much? Well, let me tell you why I charge so much. I got it. I got the state, I got Ellen, I got, you know, I got staff. There's a reason I have to pay my staff because there's all this stuff. I can't just 10 99 them. So there's all this stuff I have to do. So I know the laws so that I am correct. So I went back to school, got my degree in entrepreneurship and started up my business. Or did you go to school? Pierce county or Pierce Pierce College.

[31:15] And that was that. Was that intimidating, was that scary to talk about that experience

[31:20] first? Going back to school in, you know, in my, at my age, kids, my son was already out of school. My daughter was already out of high school or college. So going back to school at that age is a little intimidating. But actually once I got in there I was like, it was so easy. It was so easy to go back to school because I was already knew most of it. I can actually probably teach most of the classes. So it was, I was a four point. Oh,

[31:47] it is a, it is like you were talking about though in terms of running the business. I mean it's, people don't know how much of my day is not just shooting or editing, like it might be 7:00 at night and I'm finally like, okay, now I'm actually going to edit for the day. Um, because it's everything else. And like you said, with the county and then just running and everything and where you have employees and stuff. I mean it's. Did that give that education they'll. I mean, were there some lessons in there that you learned? Or.

[32:19] I learned that I had to have employees in. Washington state is kind of an interesting concept in Washington state. You can hire people to work. Um, I took employment law because you can't take, implement a lot to get your degree. So in, in, in anywhere, in any state, you hire people just to see how do I put this? If I tell you where to show up and the hours you're working and exactly what you're doing, you are my employee. I have to have you on payroll. If I tell you, hey, here's your project. I'm like, I'd have, I have a gal that works for me and I say, here's, here's the work. I don't care what time you do it. She works from home. She works at midnight. I said, just don't email my clients at midnight during the work hours, but she's working all these crazy hours. That is, that is just somebody that's contracted, she's contracted, I can contract her all I want, but as soon as I should have her show up at my event and I say, here are the hours and this is what I need you to do and this is exactly what you're going to do. She's payrolled unless she's doing it for somebody else too.

[33:34] Well, and that's fascinating because I don't know if everybody knows that it's against the law. I don't know if I know that. Uh, but, uh, no, I, I, I try to do proper.

[33:44] We're working with me because I look at my business as I'm going to be here a long time and I'm going to grow my business and I'm going to have, I'm going to eventually hire a full time wedding planner. I'm going to have somebody that's going to sit over here and she's going to manage all my weddings and I'm going to hire somebody that's going to manage all my corporate events and I'm going to be over here doing my network protocol training and I'm going to be doing life celebrations. That is my passion over there. I'm going to do that. I love doing event. I mean, I'm going to go do the events. I'm still going to do the day of, but the, this portion over here, I'm going to grow my business. I'm going to get a brick and mortar, I'm gonna, I'm going to have business, I'm going to be big.

[34:31] I'm not going to be. Yeah, I want to. That's, that's my plan for my business. I'm going to keep it, I'm going to grow it. I'm not going to sell it. It's going to be, it's going to be a business. So for that I had to know all the rules and the laws and how it works. And I've seen too many businesses get shut down because they didn't follow the rules and laws and, or get sued by employees. I mean there's some big companies, some big caterers out there right now getting sued because they did not follow the laws. I ain't going there. Ain't going there.

[35:09] And I think that goes to back to like you said, we're, this is what you do full time and having that be a focus and knowing that. Yup. Um, so you were happy though in corporate you were happy with it because I think usually it's the opposite, right? People get out because, oh, I made great money and then you, you know, because he retired and everything, you know, so then you start Blue Wings and what was that? That first kind of initial.

[35:39] It was scary at first. Uh, you know, it was funny because I had this whole group of people that run me because you all know when you start a business you always have that core group of people that are your support group. And um, I had a group of people, I think you actually met one of them. Deena, she's a, she works my corporate events for me and she, um, because I have some people that are very specifically really good at certain things because I try and match them up with their. And that's one great thing about having different people on my staff is I match their personalities and their talents with my clients. So Dina, as a corporate person with me. And so she was kind of my first core person that kind of hung around me and, and she was kind of my first coach kind of thing and she was like, you just need to do it, you need to do at Nsi king.

[36:26] No. And she's like, you've got to get out there. And so I did that first little one and I was like, ah. And I, I don't even think I got any business out of it. And your first finger, first one, I think it was my first wedding show and I don't think I got any business out of it. I don't think I. no I didn't, I didn't. It was no. And so then I did, I waited and I think I did the Tacoma one that to go away and just come a wedding show in the spring. I can't remember when I did it. Um, and I was like, I didn't want to do it. And she's like, just got to go and do it. And I was like five. So I got a half booth or something like that. Brad got me a, but he gave me a full booth and I was like, oh great. And I went and ate. It's kind of like, you're, you're afraid. You're like, oh, what happens if I book something?

[37:19] And I left with a, I think I left with seven bookings for that year. And then I went to the effort show and I booked 14 of 40. I had 40 people inquire and I booked 14 of them and it was like, oh wow. So, um, no, I actually have to do this, right? Yeah. Yeah. And then I had to reevaluate why, why was I so afraid? And I think that's why I was afraid because I knew I could do the job and I knew I was really good at the job and I was afraid that I would get too booked up, that I would, I wouldn't be able to do the job properly. So yeah. So I reevaluated my business plan, a redid my business plan and how I do things now and, and my focus. And so I, because I don't want to have too many weddings because as a planner I can't have too many weddings, I can't have 40 weddings, there's just no way I would be. I'd be my clients would hate me, I'd get bad reviews and I got a lot of good reviews right now and I'm not gonna let them go. And so I can't, I can't do a lot of weddings. So right now I just, yeah, I had to reevaluate to make sure I didn't take too many weddings.

[38:50] Um, I just was reminded when we were talking about, uh, the first wedding show the first time I did the wedding show years ago. And um, I was like, what if, what if everyone wants to book me day off, you know, not even. Yeah. And like I think I went, like we were driving, it was down somewhere. It's out. And I stopped by my mom's house because we didn't have a printer and I had to print off as I go. I got to print out contracts and like I didn't even, I don't even know if I had a car, you know, I, I found the contract online and I was like, well, I got to have a bunch of contracts if people and like my wife Dorothy is like, what is, she wasn't even my wife. She's like whether we, I could. Well I gotta you know, people want a book. I got to have um, for couples came through the whole day. So needless to say, my, my, you know, stack of a blight contracts you need to fill out. Was it a. and I go to the Tacoma show and I have no contracts,

[39:45] none. I'm like, no one's going to book me. And they're all like, do you have contracts? I'm like, no, fine, I'll bring some tomorrow. I mean I did the Seattle show and I have to laugh. I was like, this is the first time I'd done the Seattle show this year and I think it was this year was January. Yeah, I did the Seattle show and I was like, okay, I'm prepared because I have it online now. My contracts are online now and I actually had people come back the next day and say, can we sign a contract right now? Was like, Dang. He come back just they were so intent on booking because they were. They knew my calendar was full. It was getting full. I was like, this is. I show my calendar. I'm like, you want me? This is how you, you know, we got a book in and I just met with a couple of last night.

[40:38] We're looking at next year, I get couples looking at 2020 already. I'm like, wow. But I started thinking about. I go, yeah, I'm booking. I just had a couple that just got married in Indiana. I went there Indianapolis and they booked me a year and a half, year and a half ago. They were one of my first clients that booked me. We finally got married, but you know, it was a year and a half planning. Both of them professionals. She was getting her doctorate. They just were busy, extremely busy. They didn't have a lot of time and they couldn't. They couldn't plan their weddings. So I planned it for him. Yeah.

So Blue Wings, talk to me about that.

[41:19] The name, the name? Well, it's a, it's a dragon fly. The logo is a dragon fly. It's about the dragonflies. Dragonflies are, um, dragonflies can therefore wings and they can hover and they can fly forwards and backwards and sideways and everywhere. And so just like an event planner, which we are, we can maneuver. We look at an event and we can say, oh, we need to back up, we can reposition ourselves and kind of easily maneuver around whatever and readjust our situation quickly to whatever is happening. You know, we're over here and grandma's got dementia and we need to, we need to deal with that and have a really soft side to that. But over here we've got our stripper and streaker that's rented down the hallway and I got to deal with that and I got to be the tough person. So, you know, war, you know, so we're just. So that's the idea of it is that, um, is the, is the, it's based off the dragon fly.

[42:27] That's a good. That was good. My mind, I'm watching listening to the story. It's like. No, that's good. That's great. I think that's really interesting. Um, talk about your first wedding as Blue Wings. What was that like?

[42:44] Yeah, the first, the first official client, first official client. See if I can remember my first official client, first official client was, well call it my first official client. He was somebody like my son wasn't my son, but he was like my son. Um, so first official client, I've done so many events that it was not any different for me. I hadn't been in the corporate world and having done so many events, uh, it was, it was an interesting concept because it was actually a family event. So the gentleman that was getting married was my son's best friend since he was four years old, so he is like a son to me. My entire family was there at this event and my son was part of the wedding. He was best man. So my daughter was there and my parents were there because they were considered grandparents and everything.

[43:50] So, so everyone there, I knew everyone, I was working it and to a point and then my assistant was there to take over most of it. So when I start working I became a different person. I am not the same person. And they noticed that. It was like, they were like, wow, you're a different person. My family was like, you don't talk the same way. You don't act the same way. I'm like, yeah, there's a, there's a wall here and I am a different person. And they were like, because they're talking to me and I'm just like, blank wall. I'm like, you are Tuck in to the wrong person. It's like bipolar or something like alter ego, alter ego. I got to, yeah. So I am. I'm a different person. And it wasn't. I didn't know I was that way. They were the ones who pointed it out and I was like, wow, I did that.

[44:48] And I asked my assistant, I go and my that way. And she goes, Oh yeah, that's interesting. And so that was an eye opener for me that I was a different person. Not that I'm going to change at all because you have to have that, you know, that persona to put on you when you're at an event because you have to have those people go away. Um, you know, you have to have that say, I can't, I can't be that way anymore. I can't be, I can't be the. Sometimes it can't be the nice person. I got to be the dragon fly. I got to change all the time. So that's kind of, I thought that was really interesting for me. But you know, my mom. Yeah. Yeah.

[45:34] That's funny. Yeah. Because I'm not, you know, uh, you may around and I'm really not that extrovert. They're dry. I like to just kinda sit and do whatever. But um, yeah, you know, when it's like wedding day, you know, like you got to be on. And so, uh, I think even, you know, my wife or whatever would probably be surprised just in terms of like, you know, the differences, um, you know, and you just, you learn and you adapt to kind of like what you need to be and what, you know, what the situation calls for. Um, and uh, you know, going to that first event that you planned. I do think that probably doing like the large corporate events, um, you know, weddings are, I think their own stress, but certainly that kind of, you know, accustomed you to what to do and you know, having the level of stress

[46:21] and stuff. And when I look at it, you know, the bank taught me a lot. It taught me you, when you are working at an event, you're onstage. I look at it being on stage, I look at it as being an actor. I am this totally different person. I am onstage. You've paid me to be this person and now I am this person. And so you've paid me to be what do I need to be right now? And so that is kind of, you know, he's paid me to be the professional I am and when I'm talking to my vendors and the people are just amazed. Like I did a huge event last fall and the everyone said Oh last year, but didn't get out of here until 1:00 in the morning. Even the venues that they've got charged. And everyone was like, it was a mess. And I was like, well why?

[47:16] And they were like, because no one got out of here on time. Well I first thing I did with all the vendors. Okay, you're a professional. I've paid you as a professional, you will be out of here at 1145 and if you're not, you will be on the sidewalk at 1145. I don't care. And they're all like really? And I and I just kept reiterating it ready. And I go remember when they, when they checked in, I go, remember you're on the sidewalk at 1145, you are not inside the building at midnight. And they were like, okay. And 11 at 1140. I took a picture of my watch with the guy standing there, no one around. I says, we're out of here at 1140. There were sure everyone was like the venue. Everyone. The client was like, I can't believe. How'd you do that? I go, I treated everyone like a professional. The way you would pay them, you paid them to be a professional. And that's the other thing I tell my clients. We don't sometimes ask for discounts because if you ask for a discount or if you don't pay your, your friend to be your photographer, you're going to get the friend deal. And sometimes that's not show up,

[48:35] you know. And that's a, that is a fair point that I had a wedding a couple of weeks ago and we had a same day edit where they wanted. Basically they hired three of us as opposed to the normal too. And um, they wanted, you know, we filmed the ceremony and portraits and then edited that. I edited it and to play at the reception. And so I show up at the reception, um, you know, looking for the projector and, you know, the two we need to know. It's a time crunch, right? I mean, there, I think it's 4:15, they're coming in at five, you know, we got about 45 minutes and um, their sound system had been graciously provided by a friend and I'm trying to talk with a friend about like, hey, you know, the laptops here, we need to get the laptop plugged in.

[49:27] You know, I don't have a bunch of audio, you know, I have what I need, you know, the typical. But, you know, I was under the assumption that, you know, things would be there. And his response to me was, well, I'm not, you know, I'm just giving them the sound system. I'm not getting paid for it today. And you know, it was, it was frustrating because, you know, I said, I understand, you know, that you're not getting paid, I am. And you know, more than that. I mean they are a pain, a lot of money for us to do this same day edit. And so that kind of like rationale to me was kind of insane, right? But like a, it's your friend, you know, and we're trying to get going on this, but um, you know, they're paying a lot of money for everybody else in the photography in the event and you know, it, it's, it's a larger sum than just you in this moment. Uh, but yeah, when it is like real working vendors, you know, you do expect that everybody, you know, you expect the Dj is going to work and you expect that the flowers are going to get there on time. And um, you know, I mean I just, that's okay.

Great Story. Yeah, I don't, I don't, I, and I tell people that all the time I was eight. Pay Your vendors, every vendor, even if they're friends and they are not the, Oh, I don't need any money. The photographer, they don't want. No, you pay him because it, that way you have a car, you get a contract, you're going to get a contract with them because that way you have something to hold them accountable with because if you don't. I had a bride a year, she did not get her photos for a year, a year. People really. You would expect to get your photos more than a year before? No, and like I said, even if it's like 500 bucks or whatever,

[51:10] just to establish that client vendor relationship I think is huge because he kinda like I'm the people that are getting married and sometimes we film with and sometimes we don't. But like yeah, you need to really establish

[51:22] and it helps them, it helps them be professional, it helps everyone be professional so that, so. And it's also so that the professionals can treat them as professionals so that when they are going and saying I need this setup, I need the sound system, I need this projector, I need, I need, you know, I need the food proper. Are you licensed to surface? You know, that kind of stuff. I mean, you have to make sure that that is, that is proper and we're rolling. Okay. With everything so that you have the event the way you want it to be in. And I hesitant on asking vendors for discounts. I'm not really, I'm not one of those. I don't like asking. Some of my vendors will give me discounts and, but I pass them onto the clients usually. But I don't particularly like them. A lot of times I'm like, can you just, you know, give me the price because I don't, I, I want people to get paid for their job and I want them to do the job well. So if they feel, I find that if vendors feel that they're getting, oh, it's just a discounted job, they're going to do a discounted job. And I tell clients that, do you want a discount a job or do you want a really good job?

[52:42] I had been asked by a planner, you know, that I had, I still have never worked with, um, but I kept trying to like, you know, talk me down in price. And I said, you know, I'm happy to do a flat rate at this. And I just thought that was so interesting because it's like, you know, you're still getting paid, you know, we should all, like, everybody should all get paid what everybody needs to get paid, you know. And like,

[53:10] I probably shouldn't have even offered that had he not having that worked with her before. But, you know, I felt like, you know, in good faith, well, you know, it's uh, it's all about, you know, opening doors. But, um, yeah, you know, I mean ultimately your goal is to find the people that are most and you know, your client's budget and if people work then they work and if they don't, they don't. Yeah. Uh, the other, uh, you were talking about, um, when we got married, my wife's friend had graciously offered to help coordinate, um, the day off for us. And I told her no because I wanted somebody that I could yell at, you know. And I said, you know, we love you too much as a friend and you are one of the life's really good friends. Somebody you don't know, I don't want that. Rebecca, I'm sorry. Um, you had talked way back, uh, about, you know, some key differentiations between, you know, how you guys handle your clients versus everybody else. Summarize that for me here. As we kind of wrapping up the podcast, how do you view what you guys do as you know, different and slash or better than, than what others do?

[54:27] Well, we're just kind of switching over our plan, how we work with our clients. We're slowly working our clients that way, that we are working more towards our clients come to us. We're finding that the client, the clientele that we get is again, a lot of professionals that are not that we won't take other clients, but we get a lot of clients that are just don't have time and they really just want to hand the whole thing over to us. So we have found that we are and it's how we work our corporate clients already. So it's something we already are used to doing and it's where we write the contract. We, we pretty much a couple comes to us and if they don't have their venue already, we help them find a venue, so we contract with them, we help them find their venue.

[55:22] Then what happens after they find their venue is we then planned their wedding for them, kind of we, we go out and we say, okay, I help them with the vent, with everything. I go, okay, what is it you want? I sit down and it doesn't take me long. I pretty much can read clients pretty well. I got some questions and I've pretty much got it down and I have so and, and I've gotten so good at it. I can sit there and talk to the clients and go, yeah, I know the, here's the DJ, just sign the contract, you know, I pretty much know who they want, so we just decided that we're done giving them options and they love it. So what I do is I say, okay, and they come back to me. They gave me, okay, what's your budget? They gave me their budget and I say, okay.

[56:09] Then I go out and I hired. I find out all the contractors, they want video, I find the videographer that's going to fit, I asked for bids, I go out to all my vendors, okay, I need a bid and then I find the ones that are gonna work personality wise because I'm, I match personality and budget. So to me that's very important personality style. I'm really after the style and the personality. Um, so when it comes to photography that really helps because the couples and with that photographer all, all day long. So personality, absolutely Dj, it's sound. The voice got to be the sound, the voice. Um, so there's a lot of things, but I'm, well, you know, catering, all that kind of stuff. So I will come back to the client and I'll say, here's everything. They'll hand over the money to me. I will contract through Blue Wings events. They're done, they're done. There's nothing else. They get to choose food. They get to go to a tasting. They are not going to pay for anything anymore unless they go above and beyond. Unless they say, well, I want all roses now, or I want all of something, or I want to, I want to change and I want, you know, I want 10 bridesmaids versus one, okay, well then you know, now we're going to change something, so then we'll make an amendment to the contract. But other than that, they're pretty much done.

[57:45] And I do think that that is a lot of when I'm contracted for corporate work, you know, events and stuff. I mean, I do think that that's kind of the way it is. Um, and I do think that with you, it really is like, there's not a lot of bs, right? I mean, I do think like you are in, you know, handle things. Like you said, you know, we're all adults and world, you know, kind of dragged. Didn't, didn't like even taking the bids and stuff. I'm like, you know what I mean, it's, it's, it's work, right? And like who wants to work and who's ready to do this? And then you know, okay, now we get past who's available. And now what happens is, is

[58:21] clients don't realize is when there's a contract between the bride and groom and let's say the, the florist and the contracts between them and there's something that goes wrong or even the cater to something that goes wrong and I step in and try and fix it. They're going to say, well, what's the bride want? And then they're going to go back to the bride. And I'm like, dude, the bride told me I know what's going on. Listen to me. But they're not gonna listen to me. And I get it all the time. I go to venues all the time and they'll, they'll go, we'll all ask the bride. I'm like, really? She doesn't have time. So I get that a lot and I, it, it kind of frustrates me because my brides like, I don't want to talk to them. I'm talking to you. So, so it.

[59:12] So it makes it easier. If the contract is in Blue Wings Events name you read will answer to me that the vendor will answer me and they will know they're answering to me. If they want to do business with me again, they're going to do what Blue Wings wants and so they are more apt to actually really. They're still going to work with the client. You're still going to talk to the client and make appointments, the photographer and the hair and make up. They're still going to make those appointments and say, what do you want? How do you want to do this? That kind of thing and what's your song list and what's, you know, that kind of stuff. But the contract stuff is going to be me and or Blue Wings events. So it makes it a little bit easier for the clients. And I think clients don't.

[59:58] They don't under. I mean, unless they're really into contracting and knowing that stuff at work, most people are, they're not. They don't understand it. And so for them to be able to say, Oh wow, I don't have do that, and you actually don't even have to carry the contract, guess what, I'm going to carry the contract now and it's going to be under me. So it makes it a little bit different for them. So that's kind of what we're doing a little bit differently for our clients. We will still do it the other way because some of the clients like date month of the month of clients, they've already got all the contracts going and all that kind of stuff. So. But, but we are offering this way now and select couple I met with last night, literally you saw this groom go, oh, and I mean literally he just melted into the table. I mean he's got a brand new job. He's working this huge job, they're remodeling a home, they're trying to get married. He just, he just melted. He was like, and I showed them two venues. He goes, I want that one. I was like, oh, that was easy.

[01:01:05] It was amazing. And he was like, that is so much easier. I was like, yeah, it is, isn't it? Because I could just get to go to the tasting. Yeah, pick food.

[01:01:15] Yeah. People, people like the idea of getting married, but the actual process of getting married,

[01:01:21] they don't need to learn how to be a planner. No. They don't need to learn how to run. How to, how to what, what videographers, what you know, do the research, why do they want to do that? Why would you want to do all that research and figure out which caterers are really, really good at doing certain things. Which one's got the best tacos? Which truck? taco truck. Which trucks? If you want food trucks, which ones really do a good job and which ones don't really do want to learn that I know

[01:01:52] well and just to. I think that's a great point. Yeah. I see a lot of things like in the wedding forums and separate people are like, you know, Oh, you know, looking for a videographer, 100 people post. I'm looking for a forest. 100 people plus that. Yup. Because there are a million. Right. And so yeah, like you know, if they choose to work with you guys, you either have people already or you can do the research because. Right? Because yeah, like you look at that and people I sit there sometimes and people, you know, they'll get all, I'm looking for three different things and they'll get a thousand different results in. Like they're either going to go through two of those or they're crazy and they're going to go through a thousand of map for something that they're probably never going to need to know ever again. So I think that's, I have a couple that's getting married in Stevenson, Washington, which is okay, go to Portland, turn left 45 minutes. That's far. Far Away. Okay. It's far away. People, beautiful venue, beautiful venue. We found it. I did a lot of research finding it because the couple was like

[01:02:58] on opposite ends of venues that they want. It took me a long time but I found it so. But what happened was the photographer, they couldn't find the frog or you know, it's kind of those things where I just, every photographer I just was like, nope, nope, nope, nope, nope. And I was sitting with them with their dj because I had found a Dj for him and I, and she, the bride said something and it was like, I knew it. I knew exactly what photographer. Okay. These photographers are in Bellingham, but I had had them at a wedding in Bellingham and I was like, that's it, that's who they are. And as soon as I matched him up and told him, hooked them up and they saw the photos, they were like, Yep. They had a phone call with them. They were like, Yup, that's it.

[01:03:45] It was. But it just took me. They would have never ever, ever found these gaps opposite ends of ever found these gals. And. But it was exactly the photographer they needed, but it was just me taking a, Oh, you know, finding that something. I don't know what she said something to the bride said something. And I was like, I know what they want. I figured it out, but it was, you know, they wouldn't, they would never find these people and we're in the business. You're in, you see it all the time too. And also we see it, we see it. And you go, Oh yeah, now I know. Yeah. So that's kind of where I like to. I like very personalized my vendors with my clients. So I don't. Yeah, I have a lot of vendors and I like certain vendors, but do I stick with them all? No. If, if a different vendor works price point wise and personality wise, I'm Oliver sending my clients to him.

[01:04:47] Well is it ultimately it is about your clients, but my clients it's gotta come first. You always. It's like you have to defend your client. Always say, look, I don't, I don't

[01:04:59] per say stick to any linen vendor or anything. I'm all over the place with lenons. I'm like, whatever works. I'm like, you know, whatever, whatever I can get. Um, so I don't, I don't stick with any videographer. I'm like, not a lot of people do videography right now with my clients, but I don't know. So

[01:05:19] I'm calling me. I know, I know, I do. I send them to you as well. This has been such a delightful conversation. I've really enjoyed you. Thank you so much for coming here today and talking a. If people want to learn more about you and Blue Wings events, what would you have them do?

[01:05:37] They can. They can definitely go to my website, www.bluewingsevents.com and it's Blue Wings Events with all plurals. They can, they can give us a call. They can email angela@bluewingsevents.com. Totally worth getting. You know, we'll set up an appointment with you. Thirty minutes. I'll do a call with you. I'm more than happy to chat, to chat with people for a few minutes and just kind of find out where, where they're at, what their. Because a lot of people don't even understand what their budgets. I kind of. Okay. Let's talk a little bit about budgets. You know, I, I kinda help him a little bit through that budget budgeting because budgets are. They go, Oh, I want my wedding. $5,000. Okay.

[01:06:23] How much are you Reid? Uh, you know, and um, and then I go,

[01:06:29] will, you know what? Then I started asking, well, how many people you know, let's talk about that. Do you realize in the one question that I always tell you or I ask people is how much do you pay for a cup of coffee at Starbucks? Times that by how many people now you've just got a cup of coffee for all your guests. Catering is not cheap. So it, I like to just kind of bring people. I'm kind of that reality person bring in a and I'm that big, big picture. So I'm. So I allow them. Yeah, give me a call. I would totally be or shoot me an email and we'll set up a time at angela@bluewingsevents.com and totally, I'll set up a time. We'd love to hear them.

[01:07:16] Awesome. Well thank you so much and thank you for listening. This has been another episode of Get to Know Your Wedding Pro. Check back next week. We will have another wedding vendor your interview. Thank you so much. I appreciate it. Thanks.

Episode 6 (Claire Fernandez, Party on the Rocks)

[00:09] Hey everybody, welcome to Get to Know Your Wedding Pro. My name is Reid with Best Made Videos. We are a wedding videography company located in West Seattle, Washington, and I'm here today with a good friend of mine, Claire Fernandez. She is the co owner of Party on the Rocks, the Pacific Northwest's premier event staffing and bartending service. Thank you for being here. Claire, why don't you introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do.

[00:32] Yeah, thanks for having me Reid, we are Party on the Rocks. We do event staffing and bartending for all types of private events. We do corporate events. We do house parties and we of course do weddings and we are on the preferred list and have many venues. Um, we work with a lot of different vendors such as planners and of course like videographers and all of that kind of services. Um, we kind of all work together to make sure that you have the best team possible. Um, we also have our liquor license so we can host alcohol for you or we can bring in cash bars. Something really popular at weddings for this summer is that you host beer and wine and we bring in the cocktails for charge

And Claire and I actually met last year at the Seattle Wedding Show. We were neighbors there for two continuous days, long days. And I guess yeah, just first off, uh, I do think that differentiation with the liquor license right is a big thing because like I think if I'm a bride or groom you, they just think, oh, we'll just hire, we'll just have alcohol at the wedding. And were like, there's a lot that goes into that.

[01:42] Yeah, there's a, there is a ton. A lot of companies that you'll work with, especially when you find reputable company is there. We'll come back to buy a million dollar liability policy and that's fairly standard. And we really tried to encourage our couples or clients in general to go with a company that has liability insurance because just like when you go to a bar and they have to cut you off, you want that to happen at your wedding. If people drink too much and they go and have caused an accident, it comes back to you. It comes back to our company and being backed by that liability policy. It saves a lot of people. Um, a lot of grief and liability in the end. The liquor license is really great because we can resell and just take a lot of the stress from having to plan how much alcohol. You always know that you'll have enough alcohol. Um, when we are providing it. It also, it kind of gives you a little added bonus of knowing that the state trusts us on a. anyone can get an insurance policy if they have some money. But if with a liquor license we have to basically jump through hoops to make sure that the state trusts us to resell alcohol.

[02:52] I think that nowadays where a lot of people, you know, you can have your wedding anywhere, right? Like, and uh, you know, where a private event or rather maybe a nontraditional, not like a restaurant or something. So having that, you know, being able to bring in liquor. I mean I see that a lot. People post online, they're asking questions, right? Like what do we do or what's allowed because I mean, I think for the most part people want to follow the law and makes sure that like their guests and everybody I've taken care of. Uh, I mean, do you guys talk about kind of the work, like you said, that you have to do to kind of get that liquor license and uphold that reputable brand?

[03:25] Right? So the liquor license, what I'll be honest, I have, I have a partner, her name is Jan. She's awesome. She does all of our legal things. What typically happens is if you come to me and say, hey, what can we do? I will point you straight to Jan because she is the one that goes through all of those hoops for us. Um, and she's, she's great, so when you hire us, you also get a team, you get me who deals with all of the customer service and everything, but then when your venue wants to make sure that we're all sorted out legally, they go to Jan. Um, in order to do it, we had to apply, they had to do background checks on us and as well as my spouse, um, which was very, we had to like give the last 10 years of addresses and I moved around a lot, um, and jobs and have references and we had to get our catering license.

[04:15] We had to have a commissary kitchen. Even though food is not something that we specialize in, we still had to have the health department come out and make sure that our commissary kitchen was all checked out. And these are things that you've probably had to talk if you've, if you've booked your caterers, then you know that they also had to go through all of this. We just had that extra bonus of the liquor license and they have to make sure, like they track our sales. We have to tell them what county and how much, um, and track all the taxes. And so it's, it's definitely, it's an addition to the business

That's interesting because yeah, I think it's like in my field, you know, and like videography and people think about like the video but not necessarily like, you know, backing up or preserving or whatever. And the same with you, you know, people think about like liquor, but they don't think about like all the different liability that you guys have to do.

[05:06] Almost never, which is why we really read going back to it because it is just so important. We encourage the clients to not hire their best friend. Um, I have been at weddings where we did staffing instead of bartending because they had a friend do bartending and the bartender was drunk by the end of the night. Totally illegal if anyone had walked in, if it had been like a state venue or anything like that, um, that probably would have gotten shut down so incredibly fast. And it just for the rate difference, knowing that your bartender is professional and you're getting the best service. Totally worth it.

[05:45] Yeah. We did a wedding a couple years ago. The it was like an air VRBO or whatever on Bainbridge and it was the same thing and they had just, they had found some people on craigslist and that guy was literally blacked out drunk in the closet. I mean they know and you know, not only is like, you know, the bride and groom upset, like the guests are upset. I mean you don't besides like the legality of it, but like what do people remember about that? What do you remember the time of the bartender was really drunk. Like I don't think that's what you want. Is like a memory, a lasting memory from your wedding day?

[06:14] No, I feel like the one thing you really just don't want to. I mean there are so many things that you shouldn't skimp on. Like if you're already spending a certain amount on your wedding, I'm honestly, regardless, regardless of your budget, we have been hired by people who have probably spent $500 on their entire wedding, um, and we've been to two weddings that have cost, you know, $100,000 and it is so important that you just make sure that your vendors have you taken care of and that you're, you know, we also have experience working with planners, um, and, and other and like venue site reps, um, which joe schmo from craigslist isn't going to know how to do that. You just get that added bonus.

[07:01] Perfect. So, and I mean, right now, talk to me a little bit about kind of your company as it stands now. I mean, you guys are blowing up, you know, talk about like, just kind of like, um, you know, staff, right? You guys are expandIng and then we'd talk about what's going on. I know we just saw each other at this. No much wedding, a guild meeting for the tour. You know, you guys are doing multiple events for that. So talk about just kind of the business as it stands right now.

Yeah. So the business as it stands right now, like I said, I do a lot of the customer service, whereas Jan does a lot of the legal things. We have a new gal Cadena who has been working with us pretty much from the beginning. In fact she did some staffing for us, um, at my bridal shower, which is how she got hired on. So she was first employee and um, she now is a lead, which means that she can manage an event. She also is going to be doing some admin stuff for us. Um, so when you book with us, uh, you'll work with me up until we introduce you to the staff going to be at your event and then she'll send you a follow up review, which is really, really nice to have that addition to the team and you Just get that added focus on your specific event.

[08:11] So currently all of our 35 employees are w2 to instead of contracted, which our clients really like because that means I'm, we don't just go find people and like call them on the phone and say, hey, do you want to work for us? We interview each individual, we do a new hire orientation which lasts two hours. We do a ton of on the job training. We will never send you someone we have not worked with. Um, and that's really important for the integrity of our company versus those international company. You know, there's tons of stuffing and bartend tending agencies out there that just send you someone they've never worked with and yeah, they might have insurance but you're not getting any level of customer service from them. Um, so we, we make sure that's really important to us. Um, just as a team.

[09:00] That's really interesting. Yeah. This in terms of like, the fact that you guys have worked through the same with me, right? Like you can't just, you can, you can, you can find a lot of people and send them out, but that might not necessarily be the best way to do things.

[09:12] Sure. We, I would much rather have you book and know that your getting the person I hand pick for you. Um, then then to just be like, oh, this person's bartended before because there is a huge difference from a bartender at a bar and a bartender who does private events. Frankly, there's a difference between a bartender that does a corporate event or a private home party from a wedding bartender. They're all different kinds of services and I want to make sUre that you have the best people for your event.

[09:47] So I'm looking here on your site, it says you've been working in the industry for years now, lead hostess for the invisible hostess and bartender for the past couple of years. Talk about kind of your past experience and how that kind of segwayed into where we find you now today.

[10:01] Yeah. The background story I think is pretty funny. Um, I worked for the invisible hostess, which is a reputable planning company who used to do bartending and event staffing and I worked with them starting when I was 18 and I, as soon as I turned 21, I started bartending for them and then basically from there it was a couple of years of bartending with them and working with them and I was a lead for them. So I managed events, um, and kind of one of the go to people and they decided that they wanted to focus all of their energy and planning and they are fabulous planners. Um, they didn't want to do event staffing in bartending and so it was actually jan who heard wind of this and said, hey, let's start a company. And I was like, oh, that's overwhelming. Um, but all right, let's do it.

[10:51] And so that's how party on the rocks came to be and we kind of very quickly, uh, Jan and I have worked together often in the past and um, for years. And so it was kind of just a natural. She went into the legal side. I handled the customer service and it's, it's, it's really where we shine. Um, she's an insurance broker by day and so, so laws are kind of her, her thing. um, and we started party on the rocks in October, 2016. We thought it was going to be super slow with everything and it very quickly that first year we were like, oh, this is a real thing. And then start in on this year we've already booked 96 events for 2018 alone in 2018. Um, whereas last year our total bookings were 126. So we've been able to improve our service to the clients and provide them with more. And I think a big part of is having the ability to handle liquor differently than most companies out there in the industry.

[12:00] That is a very good chance that a company that does, you know, liquor and events that deals with a lot of liability and insurance and things that you have somebody that's so, you know, like, oh wow, it's a. That would be good. That'd be good to get recommended for anybody if it was going to start this.

[12:18] Yeah. Have, have a partner who knows laws.

[12:21] Yeah. Have an expert in the legal field that can take care of that. I talk about the customer service and kind of, you know, like you said you had worked on the bandstand and bartending and things in the past in terms of like client management and outreach and relations. Talk about kind of that experience and now how you manage people now in terms of like talking with clients and bookings and things.

[12:41] Alright. So I'm going to tell you my biggest secret. I use my cell phone number as the number. Um, I have had people call me at 10:00 at night and I answered it and they go, oh no, I thought you would be a voicemail and you would just get back to me. And we worked together on a contract right then and there and got it settled. And I really, I really want to be able to connect with the people when we go through our calendar and I do all the scheduling. I know who I'm booking things for, I know names and which is super fun to talk about with jen because she'll be like, I have no idea who that is. I'm like, no, she's so sweet. She's great. Um, I think maybe the hardest part with the customer service being so I'm fulfilling for our clients is that I don't work at every event and oftentimes I'm asked like, oh, where are you not going to be there all because we have 35 employees because we want to make sure that we can cater to everyone.

[13:37] And so I still work events and so you can, you can request certain people if you'd like to, but the chances of that we just, we place people where we want you. Um, so yeah, it's really great that my phone number is plastered everywhere and you get me directly as well as I'm going to our website. We're actually redoing it right now. Um, but right now you can go to our website and fill out a contact form and that gets loaded directly into my system and it asks you a couple of questions. You answer those and boom, we have a proposal. Um, a lot of people want to talk to me, you know, to make sure that they can trust me, which totally understandable. I much rather talk to a client before they just booked me. Um, and then all of our contracts is online. You can sign it electronically and the payment is all online, do that, um, and it's all through the same system and so it's really easy for people to use, um, and contact back and forth and make sure that every week, you know, we can add your planner or your mom or whomever into the end of the files as well so that they get all the information, um, that you have and you don't have to send everyone different files.

[14:48] Yeah, I do think that the thing in wedding planning is that accessibility of, you know, vendors that, you know, I hear that a lot too and I experienced that when we had our own wedding two years ago and I would, I would email certain vendors for certain types of jobs and I would have booked whatever vendor for that job. And then when you hear back from like other vendors and so it's like, not only did somebody else get back to me first, you know, or maybe multiple people did, but like I already checked that off the list and then moved on before you even got back.

[15:23] Yeah. I am the vendor that gets back to you and then you email me back saying I'm waiting for quotes. I have never been the vendor. Like, oh, we were waiting for your quote so that we could like, look at everyone's, which I think is great. It's so, it's such a quick turnaround. And we really try and make sure that that happens for our clients

Because I think it's, it is indicative of the whole process. I think that, you know, if it's, if you get off on a good foot, you know, with the immediate communication and then like you know, that that level of service is going to be there. Um, I do find that interesting time to time where like, I've had that where, oh, we're waiting for other people. We're waiting. We're still waiting for this last guy. We're still waiting for that last guy and then they end up like, you know, going with somebody else, which is fine, but then you're like, huh, that's interesting that they took that guy a month to get back. And then like, yeah, I'm sure that'll get. Yeah, I'm sure that will be good.

[16:17] I tell all of my clients, if you haven't heard from you within 24 hours, there's something wrong. I try to make sure during the summers, vacations are off limits. In fact, last year I had gone to Japan for two weeks. I still took care of clients in Japan. Um, I would still take phone calls at 3:00 AM and it's kind of just one of the things you do. I think that's when you work with a small business owner, that is something to look, whether it's bartending, whether it's me, whether it's anyone look for that because you want dedicated. It's one thing to take a day off, but like you can't. There's no way you can take two weeks off. Um, I love what I do. There is no way that you can start and hold a business, especially full time if you do not absolutely love what you do. If you were talking to a vendor that owns their company and their eyes don't light up when you talk about, you know, their niche, there's something, there's something missing and you might want to go to the next vendor.

[17:19] Yeah. As, as somebody whose wife likes the vacation that far, they've every summer I will tell you that there's a lot of the summer we're booking the were our friends are getting married in Italy and I said wherever we stay I got to have wifi because you know, and to me I liked that time zone thing because then everybody can email me or I'm asleep. I'll wake up everybody back and then we can go out for the day because you don't want to sacrifice, you know, your life. But I do think that knowing that people can get in contact with you is a pretty important a talk about the these fundraisers and philanthropists. I can't even say that philanthropy, philanthropy organizations, philanthropic. You're so much smarter than I where he's talking about that. What's going on?

[18:04] Um, yeah. So I grew up in, I'm working with nonprofits. Uh, we were members of, if people know what the, who the freemasons are, we were part of a woman's. Um, I was an elected state officer of the girls. This is awesome. Um, and so I basically grew up planning auctions. We, every year I, I, myself raised thousands of dollars for the service projects that we had in that range term northwest harvest to the burn children's recovery foundation. We did walks, like I said, auctions, all kinds of different fundraisers for these organizations that gave back. So it was, it was really nice to do that. Um, as well as now in business. Um, I think one of the coolest things that we do is we love to donate back to the community. so we've done donations to multiple school auctions. Can you just have to ask us? Um, we are currently doing the seattle international film festival this year. They have a new lounge and we are sponsoring the bartending, so go check us out there. Um, and that's really, that's really neat to be able to sponsor that type of event. we're also working with the international firefighters guild. they're doing their hundredth anniversary in Seattle and we are also donating. We have 25 bartenders going to be there on a single day.

[19:38] That's really impressive, you know, in terms of where you guys started, um, you know, just a couple years ago and now kind of establishing that brand across. I mean, that's something that I always kind of strive to do too, in terms of like being kind of omnipresent in, in doing a lot of different things. I mean that's really impressive and that's good to hear. Especially the film festival. I'm talking about this elected position a little more. I think we buried the lead.

[20:06] Um, so the girls organization, it is based in Washington and Idaho and um, I think the membership at that point was about around 500. Um, and they had state officers because these were girls, they were um, young women under the age of 20. It was, I think you aged out at 20. They had state officers to make the girls feel more important and there were things like, um, this is an international organization like they have, they have people in Brazil and australIa and all over the world and so they would have reps that would talk to the girls and other org like other places. Um, and then they would have a team of girls who basically ran the state organization and they have the top person and then they have four people under her that are also elected by all the, basically the past presidents of local chapters. um, and I was elected into the four girl pod. So

Was that exciting?

[21:15] You know, it was really exciting. I think there are a lot of good things. Um, it's one of those things where it's like girls will be girls. Um, and so there was, there was a lot going on and I think it really did help my leadership to be able to move into leading a team of my own as far as party on the rocks is concern and being able to learn how important it is to give back to the community and to be able to lead younger girls into doing the same work because it is so important to um, I will always give back to my community no matter what.

[21:51] So talking about kind of you are young in terms of as a business owner, you know, as somebody that I didn't figure out what I wanted to do till, you know, years after where you are now. And that puts me even older. Talk about you being the business owner, being a young business owner and managing teams and you know, clients and things like that.

[22:11] I definitely think it's one of those things where sometimes I get people that don't quite want to listen to me. Um, and I think as soon as they start talking to me and realized that I actually know what I'm talking about, it makes a huge difference because there is that passion and dirt is a basic, well, not basic. There is a deep knowledge and understanding of what I'm doing and how I'm doing it and how I want to work with people. Um, I've kind of always been a people person, um, you know, really outgoing, very charismatic and people tend to be better suited with that. Um, and I think it's one of those things where as I age and my knowledge just grows more and more, it's going to be an even bigger help for the clients and I'm just owning the business in general. But I definitely think there are struggles. Um, but it's also really nice. I think there's another piece of it personally that having figured everything out by this point, I'm just just shows how much more into it than I am.

[23:22] Yeah, I definitely think it, it, it shows a work, work hardness and in general, you know, being able to do things, you know, competently. And I think that, well you said once, you know, there might be that initial hesitation, but then once a client talks, you know, I think it's very apparent, you know, in terms of just like communication than just your general demeanor that you know, what you're doing a talk about your first wedding party on the rocks, a talk about the first kind of event that you guys had. And how did that go?

[23:51] Um, so our first wedding that we worked, we had five staff members and it was at Within Sodo and it was gorgeous. And the one thing that we did have, it was a room flip and that was, that was really challenging because if you are planning your wedding right now or as a vendor listening in, have had to work with room flips, they can be a little bit in the pain of the pain in the butt. Um, however we were, we took, oh, I think it was like a 200 person wedding. We had to move all of the heavy chairs from the ceremony area to around the tables and it, it probably took us a full 45 minutes. Um, and it was hard, are heavy. We had to move through guests. Guest didn't want to move, um, but we, we, we did it. We stuck through it.

[24:41] We did our jobs, we made sure everyone was taken care of and it was one of the first reviews we received from a client and they were just thrilled and how we handled ourselves. I remember in fact from the mother of the bride specifically in her view, she and go read these reviews on, especially on facebook. We have a ton of great things that people have said about multiple peoples on our team. People on our team. Um, she mentioned that one of my staff people, and it wasn't me, went up to grandma and made sure that she was specifically taking care of, that she had a drink in her hand when she wanted it and that her plate was cleared in a timely manner. And thosE are the kinds of things that you want something really great about that wedding in particular as well, is that we were there from setup through the entire wedding to tear down and it was a long day, but it's not out of the norm for us to do 12 hour days.

[25:35] Um, you know, we made sure that we were working with the planner to get all the place settings set and clearing the tables throughout, making sure the trash was taken out all the way into the end. Um, so often I hear brian saying, oh, we don't need help with that. My family will do it. Well, no. Um, yeah. You might have a couple people, but I didn't even know what my own wedding. My family drank. They were tired. They had a lot going on, or they knew they were supposed to stay and they left. It just happens and you know it. It's one of those things where if you can avoid even asking your family, yeah. Are they going to say they'll help? Sure. Do they really want to help? Not if you can hire a whole team to do it.

[26:18] No, I mean, in your family, shouldn't, that shouldn't be a, a to do on the wedding day is, you know, my, my daughter's getting married, then I need to pack up the stuff and move it out.

[26:28] We get hired by moms all the time because they're like, my daughter asked me to do cleanup, so I'm hiring you to do cleanup and I have so many contracts and mom's name because. Or even dad, uh, like I've had an aunt who was told that she would be in charge of cleanup. So she, that's her wedding gift.

[26:48] Uh, I wanted to talk about. Yeah, you said in terms of the length that you guys are there and they're working harder than me. It's the same with me were like the bride and groom will generally tap out before you know, you will or your staff will or I will. Uh, and I do think that that's an underrated, I guess not skill, but the ability to have is to work that long day that, you know, like you might be there before anybody's even there. And then they're passed after where everybody's long gone. Totally.

[27:17] I think one of the biggest differences, as you know, the brand, they also have a lot of stress on them and so like when you have, your adrenaline is so high and you, you know, the pressures on your, in front of everyone and you get exhausted. I mean, especially with the days leading up to it, for us, this is our job as much as I basically cried every wedding because I am just an emotional person with the whole love thing. Um, but like I am, I'm trained to do this. I have done this for years. This is what I do. And it is not, it is not something where like I have, I've expended energy on something that I didn't need to. Um, it's just, it's what we do.

[28:00] Yeah. Especially when you've done enough and people talking, you know, or I don't know, it's always interesting. People will talk to you about staff. And again, I know I've done, you know, this is not a nail a id. Remember, just as a side note, a room flip. I remember when I had met with a bride and groom and uh, this was about an hour and a half into our consultation in my consultations are usually about 15 minutes and they were explaining to me why room flip was and that it was like the most incredible thing that they had ever thought of. And I thought and you know, it's, it's okay, but they were like, so we're going to get married and then there's a, like a dividing wall and we're going to move everybody into the other side for cocktail hour and then they're going to set up the dinner tables where the reception, where the ceremony was and it was like they had never. Nobody had ever done that before.

[28:53] I love brides and grooms that, that is something super important to remember is your vendors. You want people who have done this before and have experienced it and have a team, you know, if it's something where you need a team to be able to do something, have their team, they've done it before. Um, if they, if they ever go like I had, I had no idea that was a thing at a wedding. Find someone who knew what it was because this might be your first wedding and hopefully it will be your last, but it's not ours.

[29:26] And not to disparage any brides or grooms making fun of. I mean, but it is just a, it is interesting because I do think that you get into, um, I've talked to my wife about this to work, you know, I mean it's your wedding and you want it to be, you know, your way and you're it the first time, you know, like you said the whole it the last time. But like, yeah, you should surround yourselves with people that even if they're not directly telling you, I've done this a lot more than you did. At least that knowledge base is kind of there that uh, you know, we can kind of guide you, guide that blind ship kind of going through the icebergs

That's what we're there for otherwise sure. Hire your friend to bartend or take a video and have it through their iphone. Um, you, you have contacted us because you trust that we have an opinion that can help you with one, you know, this data and get a do over you. You are pouring your heart, soul and money into this big event to show your friends and family and share with them your love and why not just do it right.

[30:31] You talked about getting emotional at weddings. Um, talk to me about kind of your favorite part of whether it's the wedding day, favorite part of their wedding day or in terms of the process. What do you really get excited about when it comes to like the day to day work that you guys do?

[30:47] Oh, I, oh, I love bartending. I love being able to work with the bride and groom on their cocktail list and where they get wind. Hint asked me about trader joe's wine because it is the best. Like you can get for a dollar bottles of wine and your guests will think there were $25 bottles of wine, but mostly like working with them to make sure that everything is going smooth for that. And then I just love the physical act of bartending, I love interacting with your guests and bartenders tend to get a little bit more chatty with people, whereas the event staff stay a little bit quieter, you know, they do work with people one on one, but it's not quite as much as the bartender. And so that's that. I would say that that's my favorite part, my favorite part of weddings or it's the first book, it's when they get to see each other and it's like we're starting this new piece. Like it's like even with after, like before the vows, they see each other and they're like, this, this is my person and this is what they've done up until this point for me. And then they just, they, they never, they're never a part again,

Circling back to the energy with the bartending. And I guess I would assume, you know, your high energy, you know, you look for people that are also personable, bartenders and people. Uh, I will say as a vendor that I don't drink at weddings, but I won't go get water or cranberry juice or lemonade or whatever. There's nothing worse than seeing the bartender standing there that wants to be anywhere else, uh, as a vendor and I certainly have to imagine that as a guest, but I see that a lot where you're at, like, um, you know, a lot of, even like nice venues where you would think that, you know, there's a lot of money here and you, you want, I think you want people that are excited. I mean, your excited to be there. I'm excited. I'm, you know, I think that goes the whole way through and I think the people serving the drinks, you want to have somebody that's really personable, right?

[32:45] Yeah. I find it one of the biggest compliments as when the guests or the couple asked me to dance with them, um, I don't do it because legally I have to need to be behind the bar. Um, but they'll, you know, they'll see me like singing along those songs are jamming out and they're like, no, no, no, no. Come be with us. And it's so nice to know that they see that I'm having fun. They're having fun when everyone is. I mean, that's what it should be, is just a ton of fun and a ton of energy and I love, I mean, I love to party on the off time and I love to party when I'm actually working. So I'm having vendors that can, can really get involved with you. I think it's so important and so much it just makes for a better time and then, you know, guests will see me dancing and they'll be like, oh yeah, like I'm going to get up and do it too.

[33:35] Um, or like singing along. I think that oftentimes they'll come up and talk to me or just go join the party, um, and getting people you know, or if you go alone to a wedding, if you ever been alone at a wedding, you find the staff to talk to because they're a nonthreatening. And so being able to have a not an awesome nonthreatening person at your party for them to talk to you is. So. I mean, I've had, I've had people sit there and talk to me for over an hour longer than you probably wanted, but, but, but it proves that they were comfortable with me and even if you know, they're, they're probably not going to tell their friends. Well that bartender was super awesome, but they know they go home and you know, as the vendor that they had a good time and you help that.

[34:24] And even I think that relates back to your name, you know, Party on the Rocks where it is, you know, I do think that the emotes that, you know, uplifting feeling, it's supposed to like the most refilling continued staff and the guys are not, you know, upscale and all of that. But I just think that even at the core of kind of that name and the branding and I think it exudes kind of that I'm a little more uplifting and in terms of.

[34:46] Yeah. Yeah, I definitely think so. Um, I mean even our dress code is described to our clients and our employees as party black. Um, and that means that yes, it's all black, but the men wear collared shirts, but you know, it doesn't necessarily, they're not wearing ties. Um, they, they can if they want, but it's not a requirement for us. It is, it is closed that are kind of like business casual but black and like they can, you know, they can be a little bit more on the fun side. You can wear a cute blouse if you want. Um, and honestly we've, we've worked side by side with companies who have a very strict, strict dress code. Um, we even worked with a company where they weren't allowed to wear their wedding rings. I'm like, yeah, it was, it was, it was intense. And at the end of the night they were like, oh yeah, this, our dress code. And we were like, oh, so was our dress code a problem? They were like, oh, we didn't even notice that you had anything different on. So I mean it's, it's one of those things where we, we blend in almost like a guest, but since it's all black, we're very clearly vendors. Yeah. And like

In terms of just that, that easy going this too and in outreaching, um, like when we were together at the wedding show, you know, in terms of like, that's like a really kind of high stress, you know, not too similar from a wedding, but in terms of trying to talk with people and like, you know, Dorothy and I are pretty good at like talking to people and outreaching am I, I don't think there was anybody that went by that you were jan hadn't like gone out to and you're like, you know, running into the aisle, talked to him, but, you know, but it just, it speaks to just that kind of, you know, that personality and that outgoingness and also just the work ethic to that, you know, really being able to kind of um, shine in that environment. You know, we don't do, um, like I said, I don't drink a lot of weddings or whatever, but I do appreciate that kind of work ethic. You know, when I see it. And I think that that translates kind of a cross the cross the way. Whatever you're doing. Definitely talk about, and I want to keep this pg, uh, uh, any fun stories, uh, in terms of like, you guys have, must've seen a lot of different environments and crowds. Is there anything that stands out where you think like, oh, I remember that one.

[37:00] I feel like I don't know if it's pg.

[37:02] Well, you can try and I'll, I'll make, I'll make the final decisions.

[37:08] Um, wow. Let me, I mean

I had, there was a wedding where it was a very tall bar that I was behind and I literally had someone like slide across it to try and kiss me that happened. Other than that, I'm trying to think of anything like,

[37:34] um,

We once worked at a party where Pearl Jam was so worried about that they were just gets, it wasn't even me who got to work it, it was, it was, um, one of the sweetest clients that I've ever, ever worked with. And she was just so nice and jan was bartending there and um, yeah, all of pearl jam was at the party just as guests. Um, and she thought that was, that was pretty cool. And we've, I bartended for the governor and that was really cool. It was that a kcts retirement party. Um, there are definitely, there's been a few different like news anchors that have shown up at parties. Um, so that's, that's pretty cool when you get a, get a see that kind of, um, you know, familiar faces.

[38:21] I'll tell my own story just because I was thinking about, there was this guy out on the dance floor for like two hours, just crazy, crazy, crazy dancing and like, you know, to the point where kind of everybody's watching and, you know, really just kind of going crazy and really seemed, you know, just really excited. And um, we're like a Jeff or I was talking with his wife and she's like, oh, that's, that's just the way he is ccause we're like is he just as he had too much to drink or. Oh no, that's, you know, Bill that's just the way he is. So at some point he had come back and he had kind of read all the way down his pant leg and we thought, man, that's really weird. And so Jeff had gone into the restroom, uh, upstairs, there, there's like two different sets of bathrooms and there was like red wine projectile, like all over the bathroom and it's like obviously, like he had at some point had, you know, relieved and gone back out and feel. But we were just like us for like two hours. The wife was like, oh no, that's just the way he is. And it's like, no, this dude's like pounding, uh, and uh, but I think that you could have results, little bartending staff, take care of that document. I guess talk about that. Talk about, you know, in terms of like kind of maintaining control that you guys have been help with guests and, and liquor consumption.

[39:36] Yeah, definitely. Um, so in order to become a bartender legally, you need to do a MAST 12 and it's a lot like the food handlers permit. Um, but this is the mandatory alcohol service training is what MAST stands for. And what it does is it basically goes through all the laws so that each of our bartenders knows exactly what they are liable for and what they're responsible for. It tells you you have to have at least three signs of any variation, so, you know, if you walk with a limp, we're not, you're not walking up to our bar and saying not you're drunk, just because there's that or like maybe you have glassy eyes because you have a condition or you just happen to slur your speech. Again, maybe you have a medical condition. so you have to exhibit three signs of that. Um, in order to be cutoff.

[40:29] Oftentimes our bartenders are so concerned about cutting people off. I'm really, we do it in a very tactful manner. I'm offering water as an alternative, asking if, you know, they wouldn't mind coming back and 30, 45 minutes. Um, it's never your drunk go away. Um, and I've, I've seen bar, you know, when I'm at events and it's not as bartending, I've seen people cut off where the bartender, like the company just goes, oh, you're drunk. And that's totally inappropriate. Embarrassed you're embarrassed is your guests and nobody feels good about it. Uh, so we don't do that. We train each person. It's like sensitive activity training for our bartenders. I'm making sure because we do want to have everyone have a good experience like our bartenders included and that doesn't make for a good time. Um, so thAt, that mass 12 permit, I mean legally even if you're hiring someone off craigslist, they have to have that permit to even think about serving alcohol.

[41:29] You're causing me. Ultimately it is about kind of the guests know experience and you don't want it happens, you know, it's like the guy at the wedding and I was talking about, you know, I mean it, you know, it happens and it's, it's why dns and it's fun and especially when like, you know, it's an open bar with liquor in it, you know, it's people I get carried away sometimes or maybe it's just the bridal party member that's been up for 15 hours, you know, it just, you know, so it is good I think to kind of exhibit that sort of tact and.

Something can always go wrong, but making sure that you have a reputable company, they're taking care of you. The chances of it happening or it being detrimental to the event, it basically goes away.

[42:11] Are there any questions that you wished people asked more in terms of brides and grooms that things that you wish that they knew that they don't ask or what are, what, what are the biggest, like missed kind of things that people that you wish that people asked more or knew more?

[42:30] Oh,

[42:32] it's a tough one. that one is tough. It's a tough one. It's a hard hitting the podcast here.

[42:38] I wish people made sure that their vendors worked well together. I love being asked. Um, if I have any recommendations for anything and I love hearing that other vendors have sent. I mean, you even sent. We've got a wedding coming up together. I'm at metropolis and it should. I mean, that should be really fun. We love working with planners. Um, and that's, that's a big thing I definitely recommend to people. There are a few things that are just so necessary when you're having a wedding and a planner is one of them. Um, because they will handle everything. We've walked into events where it was mom who did all the talking and she never actually told the staff what she wanted and then it was disappointed that they didn't know this nuance thing that she had told me once five months ago and a planner would have noted all of that. Um, they're professionals, they know how to do their job as great as it is to have a family member help. It's even better when you've got someone who really knows what they're doing.

[43:43] Yeah. I would echo that sentiment that are our wedding over the weekend. We had a lisa with elegant affairs and it does just make it a lot easier going into the day. Uh, and not that it's not a necessity, but I shouldn't, you know, even having the day of coordinator that can, you know, and that's not necessarily, they don't just do day off, you know, they'll do, you know, a month or two hours and make sure they get everything situated. It just ran really smooth for us. and at the same, like you said, with people packing that they were, as the guests were dancing on the one side of the venue, either they were already going through with the staffy mayor and breaking things down and you know, cleaning things up so that it wouldn't be, you know, the family members or bridal party weren't regularly get regulated to do that. Talk to me about kind of the, either maybe the biggest people have

[44:32] in terms of like alcohol at the wedding and there or how that kind of is involved. Right? So this is a very serious thing, a huge topic because one of the services that We end most bartending companies will provide you with is a shopping list of everything that you need to buy to make sure that you have enough alcohol. We personally, I, when I give you a shopping list, I have already overestimated so that you don't run out of alcohol. I very clearly remember a wedding from last summer. I'm the father of the bride, but twice as much as I told him to buy. So you and you had already overestimated, already had overestimated for him. Um, what we do is we cap the guests off at four drinks because even if your wedding is eight hours long, there is no way that they can drink eight drinks.

[45:28] So we cap it at four and then take everyone over the age of 21 and multiply that. And that's how many drinks. So if you're only having a two hour reception, you do it only for two. They'll have two drinks. So it's one per hour up until four hours. So for percentages, what we do is if it's beer and wine service, we do about 60 percent wine, 40 percent beer. If you're adding cocktails in the mix, we do about 50 percent wine, 25 percent fear, 25 percent hard liquor, and you will have enough. What happens is if you don't trust my judgment, okay, sure, I don't a couple of extra bottles, I get it. You can either drink it at the end or you can return it depending on where you buy your alcohol.

[46:14] I don't care how much alcohol you buy, if you buy double the amount, your guests will become so wasted that they can't stand up. And they will have been cutoff, we legally have to cut them off. That is part of the training that is part of the insurance and the liability of everything is we want to make sure that they have a safe and fun experience. And so we can't just serve them until you're out of alcohol. That's just not an option. Um, you have hired us to make sure that they get home alive and healthy. Um, maybe a little tipsy and that's a okay. But we don't, don't waste your money. I'm on all of that. Alcohol. Can I do another one? There's another misconception then. I do have a note on that. Great. Okay. Uh, one more misconception that we see is champagne toast.

[47:09] I get a lot of people that think they have to do a champagne toast because of tradition champagne. You can, you can read articles about it. Champagne is one of the number one money wasters on weddings these days. People just don't drink it. If you want to do a champagne toast, what we do is we pour an ounce to two ounces into a glass. And if people really want to come up for more, they will come and ask for more champagne. But typically what they do is they take a couple of sips and then it goes in the garbage.

[47:43] I will echo that sentiment a because we did just a, I think they call it drink in hand for our toast. Where that means that I think like, I think we had champagne, like I think maybe like my wife and I and like the bridal party. But yeah, everyone else is fine. It would just be beer one or whatever. I will say too in terms of estimating the guest count and the alcohol and all of that. Like that was a really big thing at our wedding because my wife's parents were, you know, helping to put it on and like, you know, they're there besides running out of food at the wedding, you know, you don't want to run out of alcohol and you know, you want to be a good host and you want to make sure that everybody is taken care of. And so like, that was the thing that we really struggled with because, you know, you don't just want to get, you know, 10 kegs of beer or whatever, but you know, you want to make sure that, like everybody has enough. And so that was, you know, we had, uh, our planet, rebecca also kind of helped with that in terms of like figuring out because you want to make sure that you have enough, but you don't want to make sure that it's like you said you're wasting money or you throw it all away or whatever.

[48:46] She's on it. Let's do it. Um, so third misconception is that kegs are cheaper than bottles or cans. Um, a lot of people don't want to do cans at their weddings because it's not quite as refined as a bottle. Um, but fun fact cakes take four times as long to serve a single beer than opening up a bottle and a lot of tech, you know, depending. I totally understand that. The weddings that, where they get the, you know, I, at my wedding I had cakes because they were donated to me like they were given to me by a family friend who just happens to work in the industry and not everyone has that. But in all reality, since it takes so much time, depending on your guest count, you may have to add a whole nother bartender in which I, I promise you is more expensive than doing the bottles. Um, it also creates a lot of waste with kegs. Yes, there's waste with bottles, but you're wasting actual beer with kegs. I'm very seldom do they go through the beer and yeah, people sometimes are able to like throw parties afterwards, but if you're going on your honeymoon, it's not going to. You

Isn't there like a, you only yield so much right from a keg. It sounded real time. Like if you have a whole keg of 100, ounces it only yields...

[50:08] Yeah, true. Yeah, that's totally true. Fun fact about that to you. The first two pitchers or beer and I mean full picture, it's like pretend it wasn't or I'm falling. I'm sorry. It's all head. Um, it is. It's healthier beer. Yeah. No, it's, it's all foam and that means two pitchers, which is like really like four pictures of foam or just throwing out right away and you lose so much. So it's, it, it can be good, it can be an alright option. Um, but a lot of times that's the misconception is that it cheaper

And as somebody that enjoys a silver bullets of Coors Light here at my house and a tall boys go out to a restaurant. I will tell you it is okay to have a, a tall boy have a beer at your wedding. Nourishment. Yeah.

[50:58] Or a bottle. Totally. Totally. I mean, we, I've bartended so many weddings that like bud light was the thing. Um, and you know what, it's your wedding. I have also bartended where they didn't have wine because nobody drank wine that they knew. um, it, this is your wedding. Um, you get to do what you want, especially when it comes to alcohol. I will promise you if you have a hosted open bar, nobody is complaining about your selections. They are happy. You've provided them with a drink.

We'll Claire it has been wonderful having you come in here today to talk all about party on the rocks and what you guys do. If people wanted to learn more about you, your history or what you guys do now in terms of bartending and event staffing, where would they go? What would they check out?

[51:44] They would want to visit www.partyonthe.rocks. I know it's tricky. There is no.com. It has.rocks. Everyone loves it, but still gets confused by it. You can also call me at 206-619-4604 and if you listene earlier. You know, it's my cell phone. You can even text me if you include a name and I am here to help you.

[52:13] You are certainly utilizing the new. What did they released a couple of years ago that.like you can do dot video or dot rock sort of dealt with ever. Um, I picked up a couple of those that haven't made the switch over yet, but I think if you go to www. seattlewedding.video, that will a redirect back to my website. That's awesome. Well thank you so much for coming in today. Stay tuned next week for another wedding vendor interview. This has been another episode of Get to Know Your Wedding Pro. Thanks so much.

[52:42] Bye.

Episode 5 (Danielle Yellam, VANity Photo Bus)

[00:09] Hey everybody, welcome to Get to Know Your Wedding Pro. My name is Reid with Best Made Videos. We are a wedding videography company located in West Seattle, Washington, and I'm here today with a new friend that actually ended up finding out that we are actually old friends. Uh, Danielle from VANity Photo Bus. Why don't you say hi and tell us a little bit about who you are.

[00:30] Hey guys, this is Danielle. Thanks for, it's nice to see you again. Uh, so we are VANity Photo Bus. Myself and my brother, we started a photo booth business out of a 1959 Voltswagen van. Um, we take it around to weddings mainly and pretty much other events, anything that would want a photo booth at their events.

[00:54] And Danielle is actually, as I mentioned, an old friend. We found out through the grapevine that we actually at a wedding together back last year, summer. You were the maid of honor of Christina, at Christina and Tanuj's wedding at Newcastle Golf Club. So talk about that wedding. What was that like?

[01:10] Uh, that was really fun. So Christina is my best friend and then my brother Michael actually is to news his best friend, so we set them up, I'm however many years ago and it happened to work out and so we were best man and maid of honor at her wedding

That, that, that toast is coming back to me. Then I do remember that it's all coming back. I was telling her off air that I have a terrible time remembering anybody that's not my bride and groom at a wedding, uh, I've talked to mothers of the brides at wedding shows and she goes, like, you've actually filmed, you know, my daughter's wedding. I don't remember that. I remember your daughter. Uh, so that's great. So is that the, in uh, the reason you guys started this company or was this ruminating because before that?

[01:51] Uh, no, not really. I think we had had the idea before their wedding, but I am a flight attendant and so I was flying with another coworker and he said that his son and daughter in law ran a photo booth business out of a van in Arizona. And I thought it was such a good idea, I'd never heard of it ever. I thought they were the only people in America to ever think of it. So I called the son, talk to him about it and I said, hey, I want to take the idea. He said, go for it. We're in Arizona, you're in Washington. There was really no competition. Um, so then after researching it I realized that it's kind of all over the country, all over the world. And there just happened to be another company in Seattle that did it. Um, and so I pitched it to my brother and he said, let's do it. And so we started looking for buses and just kind of all history from there. And so when was that, how long ago was? That was an, um, I think August of 2017. And we bought our bus in October and then kind of started it in November.

[02:50] So you guys are really moving because what is it may now. And, uh, uh, somebody from my own heart who, when I got my camera, it was nine months before I quit my job and did everything. So it is something to be said to move quickly. I think it's a great idea. I love the name. Uh, I love the van, the t for the bus. It's, it's easy for me to remember. Is that, how long have you guys, is it something you've always wanted to do? I mean, you start a business. Yeah,

We've always wanted to start a business. My younger brother and I, we just have never pulled the trigger or we never didn't know what we were going to do. We've thought about dog daycares, uh, because those are pretty popular right now, but we've never really actually done anything. And this seemed like something that was easy to get into. Not a lot of overhead by bus put a photo booth in. It can't be that hard. Right.

[03:42] Do you guys have a photography background at all or did you. So how did you learn about that?

[03:47] Uh, it's an ipad that we choose and then an APP. So really there's no photography involved, are on our end at all.

[03:55] Um, so back to being a flight attendant because I think that's a pretty interesting thing. What, what led you into that or how did you wind up going down that path?

[04:03] Um, my mom, she was a flight attendant for 20 plus years for Alaska Airlines and um, I never wanted to do it, but she kind of convinced me back in 2011 to start and I said fine, I'll apply. And I did and I love it and I would not do anything else. It's such a good job.

[04:22] So I would have to think that when you're a flight attendant you have to do what with a lot of different email management of people and their expectations and customer service. Talk about that and if you agree that that translates good into being a business owner now and dealing with lots of expectations on that end.

[04:39] Um, yeah, there are lots of different personalities on an airplane and you know, trying to talk to one tab of minute visual versus the other can be challenging. But I'm really laid back on the airplane. Uh, I get along with everybody. So for me it's pretty simple. I like people, I like talking to people. I think people are very interesting. They all have different stories and so getting to know who they are is kind of a fun part for me on the airplane. And it kind of goes the same with meeting people at weddings or events or things that we do. There's just everybody's interesting to me. I like people.

[05:16] Um, and so then the relationship with your brother. Have you guys always had a good relationship? Uh, is he always been somebody that you've gotten along with and wanting to, like you said, sorry, the business with?

[05:25] Yeah. I have three brothers and so he's my youngest brother and then me and then I have two older brothers. Him and I are just really close. I love his wife. We all get along so well and they have two kids and I don't know, they're just like my people. And so him and I have always done everything together and we just thought this would be fun to do. And it is. And we're having a really good time.

[05:47] And so you guys are both working full time still. You're a flight attendant, you said he works with Anthony's. Talk about that balance between, you know, not only starting in the business but running the business while working full time still.

[06:01] Yeah, that's really tough. Um, just because he lives in Auburn. I live in Berrien so the bus is stored at his house and anytime I, I want to work on it or we want to work on it, I have to go to him. Um, so it's just that part is really hard to juggle. Um, but like this entire week I'll fly in the morning and when I get home I'll work on the bus stuff, make props or make backdrops or emails or things of that nature. But it is kind of tough because he works nights, I work mornings, so it's hard to get us in the same place at the same time.

[06:37] Do you work a consistent flight rather? How does that work?

[06:39] Not really. I mean yes and no. I do a lot of west coast today. I went to Salt Lake City most of the time I go to Oakland, San Jose, Vegas, Denver. So something Kinda two hours away and back leave around five. Get back around noon.

[06:55] So you just got back from Salt Lake and that you're here doing the podcasts. Probably going to go work on the buses. That's dedication. Have you always had that drive, that entrepreneurial drive?

[07:06] Yeah, I think so. My Dad, he's owned his own business businesses my whole life and I think I just got it from him. I've always ran lemonade stands or babysitting services. I house it for a lot of people. Um, I don't know, I just, I guess I like being my own boss.

[07:22] Um, so talk about this bus now. How did we acquire that or where did that come from?

[07:26] Um, so I looked at lots of buses and my brother and I both looked. We started out in Washington and there's two different types of buses. I don't know if you're familiar with them. I was not at all. I'd never actually been in one drove one. Nothing. But there's two types. There's a bay window version and a split window version and when I was researching all the companies kind of around here in Oregon, the one in Washington, Arizona, um, they all had the bay window version typically. And so that it's like one solid front window and I didn't want, we didn't want to look like the other company in Seattle, so we started looking for the one with a split window and that's just two separate front windows and they sometimes they pop out there called safari windows. Um, and so then we couldn't find any in Washington and we test drove a few up here. Uh, I have a brother who lives in California, so I went down there to visit him, test drove a couple down there. They sold instantly. It was nuts. So then we kind of came back to Washington, went back to the drawing board and then we found one in Idaho. So I flew over to Idaho test, drove it, bought it, and then a few weeks later went back and drove it home. And that was in October

Because yeah, you're probably, you know, there's probably not a lot of other people looking the meaning, you know, collectors or restoration people, you know, anybody else that might be interested. So what year is it? It's a VW, 15

It's 1959. That's pretty. Pretty old and it's like a bright blue, so it, it certainly eye catching. It's two tones, so it's white on the top and then kind of a lighter blue on the bottom and it's beautiful. It's pretty rare. It's a transporter type two, I believe, like a microbus and it has double doors on both sides, which is extremely rare. I don't. We really lucked out. I mean the bus was in immaculate condition when we got it. The person who owned it, her and her husband divorced, she wanted it in the divorce, didn't drive here for five years, was going back to school, so she was selling it and the inside was gutted, which was great for us because we had, we wanted to get it anyways for what we were doing. And then my brother and I fixed up the inside and just kind of happened from there.

So you're. You pretty handy when it comes to that sort of thing or. I mean, I wouldn't even know where to start with that sort of thing.

[09:46] No, we weren't at all. We just kind of youtube to everything and asked help and advice from so many friends and family and we had a lot of people help us. So it was cool.

[09:57] What's that like to, to kind of be able to count on support like that and, and, and know that you kind of have the support of your friends and the kind of help get your dream off the ground. What does that feel like?

[10:07] It just feels great. It's nice to know that people do care about us and want us to succeed. And um, I hope we can help other people one day if someone else is trying to, you know, start something or whatnot,

Just as long as it's not a photo bus company from Seattle.

[10:25] I think it's really cool on its own. I want everybody to have a photo bus. It's really fun.

[10:30] Um, so October, so you get the bus, you fix it. How long did that restoration process take?

[10:35] Probably maybe a month total or less just because again, we're on opposite schedules. So we really owned that, only had the weekends to put it together. I'm probably about a month. And then our first thing was Apple Cup. We bought a ticket to tailgating and kind of debuted it there. Talking about that. That's fascinating.

[10:54] Yeah. So we, I called UW and they said if we want it to be a vendor it would cost this much to be a vendor and we didn't think that that was necessary so we just bought a tailgating ticket and kind of opened it up for free and pass out business cards and as long as we didn't charge, they said it was fine and so that's what we did and we actually got a few couple of business opportunities from it. And so that was good. Uh, was there like a line out the bus or how did that work? Kinda. Yeah, it was, it was a hit. No one had. I mean, people have seen it and there was definitely people that were like, oh, we've seen this before, but not a lot of people have and I thought it was such a cool idea and it made us feel like it was a really good move and great to start and so it kind of just validated everything that we were doing.

[11:39] Um, so I know nothing about sports. I have no idea, I do know what the Apple Cup is? When is the Apple Cup?

[11:45] It was November 25th right after Thanksgiving.

[11:48] Okay. So, and in November now you guys have kind of done your test debut, what the next step after that?

[11:54] Um, the next step was just what do we do? We booked a holiday party from that in December, so then it was kind of just trying to advertise it, trying to market it, trying to make different props or see what worked and what didn't work. And really I just kind of looked at other photo buses to see what people did. I didn't want to really reinvent the wheel, I just wanted to make it better. And so that's what we tried to do.

[12:18] What challenges early on did you find in terms of marketing or was there any sort of like sticking point that you saw starting your business to me trying to make like an llc or like apply for a business license was like, I couldn't even like wrap my mind around it. I just don't work that way. What, what challenges did you guys face about that

All that stuff. I'm not really good and he's not really good with bookwork. Um, I guess budgets and paperwork and like the technical part of a business, him and I can do our great customer service, we can talk to people, we can do the hard work, we can build anything, but when it comes to paperwork and numbers and our billing brain doesn't work that way. There were really hands on in customer service people. So that's a really challenging. And I think it still is for us. Um, we're a learning day by day how to do those things, but still, that's a challenge for us.

[13:15] Yeah. I talked with a lot of people about that, that, you know, they think, oh, I'm a photographer or I'm a Dj or I run a photo bus companies like you also have to be a marketer and the web developer and in the captain and you know, like a designer. So it made it really hard. So now in terms of like weddings, you said you booked a holiday party. What has, I guess, what has been the response, I guess when your show people are, when you show clients, whether it's in a wedding or, or elsewhere, like what kind of response do you get from people? People love it.

[13:47] They think it's awesome and it, it really, it hits all generations and all people. I have dads that come up to me, oh, we used to have one of these and we're a kid or even moms or like kids of the parents that had them and say, oh, our parents had one of these, or Oh, we think a photo bus is so cool. We've never seen it before. We get such good feedback. It's really fun to say that's the best part. Um, yeah,

[14:11] yeah, I love the idea of a photo booth just in general, like you know, we have that at our wedding. Uh, I remember years ago I had done a, just a vendor, like a tour or for a bunch of people and there was another photo booth company there and we did just like after party just for the attendees. And you would have thought that that was, and this is usually like wedding vendors that spend every weekend that, you know, weddings and you with the thought that they had never seen a photo booth before. I mean it really is remarkable. I kinda kind of the fun and the attention that draws and to talk about you got to have people hanging out at the bus and stuff. What's that kind of like?

[14:48] So we did a Seahawks game too. So I did the same. I drove it down to a Seahawks game. I paid a vendor, a hot dog vendor right outside Centurylink, 20 bucks and he let me park right next to him and we had 12 grown men hanging out of it. It was awesome. And so now our challenge to see who, how many more and more people we can get it. So I think our record is like 13, which is pretty fun. I Dunno. It's kind of a fun game.

[15:14] I'm talking about you said the mechanics of the bus. So you need, you got the IPAD and whatever. Uh, in terms of like are you guys designing like what comes out of that? Are you, like you said you're building props. I mean talk about kind of all those nuts and bolts and maybe people don't think about when it comes to having the photo company.

[15:32] Yeah. So whatever event or wedding or theme, the event or Party is. We kind of go back and forth with whoever is the host of it and we'll tailor the props Kinda to whatever they want. We just bought a cricket machine. I don't know if anybody has ever heard of a cricket. It is a, it's from, they haven't met say craft stores like Michaels or Joanns and it's this machine that does cutting and so it can cut anything. It you tell it what you want, if you want it to cut stensul letters or it can cut. We do use it for props because my brother and I are not crafty in any way. We don't have the best handwriting, nothing. And so the cricket, we've been using it to make backdrops, so cut out bigger letters, stencil them, you know, draw around them in like paint the letters. Um, so we do a lot of that. So making props, making backdrops. We do kind of design the photo strips, that printout. There's a, there's a little logo part on the bottom where you can personalize it and say whatever you want. So we do that. Um, we just use a printer and it connects to the IPAD and through Wifi and it just prints out instantly there. Um, yeah, yeah.

[16:51] When you guys started like, you know, you kind of did this like guerrilla style, a marketing unit illegally parking at the Apple Cup. What was your, in your wildest dreams, what was your expectations versus like how like the reality so far, like where we are today in May.

[17:10] I thought we would be blown up. I really did, I thought Russell Wilson would see it because I tagged him in every post and I thought he would pick it up. Um, I used to work for the Seattle Storm, which is the women's basketball team in Seattle, so I tried to contact them thinking like super is going to see it and just call me up and say, Hey Danielle, we need your photo bus outside care enough for our game tonight. So my expectations that'll get there one day, but right now it hasn't. Um, why do you think that is? Um, it's really hard to market. I don't know how to. I'm trying and I really just look at other people and see what they do. Um, but it's kind of a hard market.

[17:52] It is, it's the wedding community is somebody that never really intended to find myself in that. I mean it really is interesting just in terms of like putting yourself in the mentality of I guess like an engaged couple or just doing, I don't know, I'm just not good at doing like beautiful things. So like a wedding, you know, I'm more of like the filming news and I just kind of come and see what I get. But um, now that you guys are booking more weddings, what is the bin that process like in terms of like going through that kind of journey with a client from them reaching out and then you guys doing the events?

[18:30] Um, so we've only done one wedding so we were in the Seattle wedding show back in January and that's where we got a lot of our clients for this summer and it's really just them emailing us or calling us and uh, picking a package. We have two separate packages, zero to three hours or four to six hours and I'm then picking what they want. I send them kind of a wedding questionnaire. What time would you want the bus there? What time do you want to set up by who to contact the day of things like that. And it Kinda just goes back and forth through email and then I just email them a couple of weeks before just to kind of finalize everything. And that's it.

[19:12] Did you go to a lot of weddings before you guys were wedding vendors?

[19:17] No, I mean we've been to weddings in our lifetime, but we never. It kind of moves so lucky that we never really thought by the time we started at started at wedding season was over. So no, we didn't really actually think to do that. That would have been smart.

[19:32] Well No, I just mean like if somebody had done any weddings before I heard it. So it was like, it was like a new. It was, it was like learning Greek or something. Like I just had no idea. I was not as popular as my wife and I hadn't gone to as many weddings in my, you know, early the late twenties. I mean, do you guys feel at home there is, is that a new environment for you guys when you think.

[19:55] I've been to lots of weddings. I've actually been in so many weddings and I think my brother has been to quite a few to um, we have lots of family that has gotten married. We're kind of the younger ones and our cousin circle and whatnot, so yeah, we've been to plenty of weddings and I think we've practiced the whole photo booth so much that when we did our first buddy Nick, it was fine. Like we were familiar with it. It wasn't really nerve wracking. It went off pretty well. So that was good.

[20:25] Talking about prior to like the Apple Cup or do you guys like run in your garage?

We do. We've run it for family during Easter, during holidays or birthdays, but we've done it so many times that we're learn something new every time we did an event I think last week in Seattle and our generator, we didn't realize you had to put oil in it and clunked out on us towards the end and we realized we need to check for oil or one time actually at a our first wedding we realized that with the ipad you can't use an iphone charger for the ipad. You have to use one of this lightening bolt chargers. Otherwise it doesn't charge. So we learned that. We learned. We've learned something every time, which is great. Nothing catastrophic. So far though.

[21:10] Good. See, I do think that's fascinating and I told you that like I think that a good thing about this kind of interview series is hearing from other people because there are people that are, have been doing this 30 years that you could go through wedding with her eyes closed. I certainly feel as though I am getting more comfortable as this summer approaches where I used to get a little panicky before I would go to weddings. I feel like I'm slowly transitioning out of that. I don't think those nerves will ever go away. Uh, but then you guys, you know, kind of learning this and going through it. I mean I think it's really interesting. Um, talk about the wedding show and what was that experience like? I guess you obviously had like the Apple Cup and these general public, but like that's more like wedding and event focused client tell. Talk about that and the reception you guys had there. And what was that experience like?

[22:03] Uh, it was really fun and the reception was more than we actually even expected. We were next to two booths. We are in the middle and they were kind of empty and we were just swarmed like we had lines and people were calling us to move a line out of their booth and I mean we just really couldn't keep up. It was. We did not think that was gonna happen at all. It was one after another after another and we didn't really get a lot of bookings. Say the first day, the second day we got a few more bookings but after that it just kind of like flooded in of bookings and we have. I mean we're pretty full this summer on the weekends and then we have a few for next year already, which is great. We never thought that would happen at all. It was so successful for us and we, we applied to the wedding show in December. I sent the guy an email, he said we actually have space and we don't normally take anymore photo booths, but yours is so unique that let me get back to you. And then a few hours later he said, yeah, you're in. And so it Kinda just, it went fast again. It was kind of just a dream

That was a similar we, I got in, so this will be our fourth year at the wedding show that I was the same thing, like I applied in October, had no real expectations of kind of getting in and I think that was the same thing where like videography is a little bit more niche, you know, like a photo booth where there might be 30 different photography, you know, there's like a seven year wait list if you're a photographer in the wedding show. Wow. I talked to like photographers now and they're like, hey, you know, I'm thinking about applying to the wedding show and I go, man, I had to at least get on the list because it's a legit, like six or seven years. Um, but yeah, it was the same thing for us. Right? Like we got in there the first year and had no real expectations and now you know, like kind of once you're in, you know, you're in a. So I think that that's great. Talk about filling that calendar and kind of like getting these bookings now. Is that like rewarding? Obviously fulfilling like talk about going from like zero now to having you know, weekends filled through the summer.

[24:05] Yeah. It gets exciting when someone wants to bug us or they email us and ask for more information. It kind of is sad when they don't ever respond back or they don't actually follow through, but when they do, it feels so good to know that someone wants us, they, they trust us to actually be at their wedding and they trust that we're legit. I mean because we haven't. Before this, before we started booking, we hadn't done anything this our first year and I looked at my brother and I was like, we really like, we can't back out now we have to do this. People are counting on us. So that was kind of scary. But now that it's into it, I'm really excited. A few months ago when nothing was happening just because it was the lull before the storm, I felt like a failure. I felt like I wasn't doing anything and now that it's starting, it's getting really exciting and I feel busy and I feel so much better.

[24:53] I do agree with that sentiment of like feeling like now you're committed, right. That like, and I think that it's, it's different where we're the only industry where, um, well there might be others. The one I can think of where like you might have a date booked for a year from now or a year and a half from the habit, like you can't break, right? I mean it's, it's like, and I'm not even talking like, you know, monetarily or whatever. I mean, I would feel horrible. Right. Our friends got engaged. Uh, I guess it was last winter. I don't even think we were at this house yet, so it must've been a year and a half ago. And they, we were talking and they said, oh, well, you know, we're thinking about getting married, you know, like end of June, early July of 2018. And I said, well, I'm booked June 30th, so, you know, it can't be that weekend, you know, because in there they're getting married in Italy.

[25:49] So it's, you know, it's more than just like down the road and there. What do you mean? I said, well in my, me and my wife looked at me. She's like, well can't you? And I go, no, I can't. You know, Allie booked me like a year and a half with like, I can't, you know, you can't change that. I mean talk about that for going from like maybe a flight attendant is a little bit more like unpredictable or maybe like this day it's going to be that. I mean now you're set in stone for stuff coming up. Talk about that going from zero. Yeah,

[26:17] I mean as a flight attendant I can work any day I want and not work any day. I don't want to. It's the most flexible job in the entire world and now this I'm committed. I can't break it. I'm scared. What if, what if the bus breaks. I looked at my brother, I said, what if the bus breaks? What if it. What if something happens? We're in trouble. We have to hope that nothing happens.

[26:38] I've become very good friends with the tow truck. Just pull the thing down there.

[26:42] Yeah. Well, we have realized that if it's, if it's far, we just rented a Uhaul and we tow it and we built it into our travel price and people pay it and it's fine and it's a lot faster than to actually drive it. It's really slow. It's a slow 55 on the freeway. It's so slow, but it's fun to drive in the wintertime. It's not because it's rainy, it's cold, the wipers don't work if there's no circulation or visualization, penalization ventilation, ventilation. Um, and so it fogs up and it's not fun, but now that it's warmer and the sun's out, it's really fun to drive.

[27:18] Yeah. You like roll those windows. So fun. There's no role and you just kind of push them. Something that I, I'm curious about just talking to a new vendor, like you said, where you're emailing clients, um, you know, not everybody books, not everybody gets back. Uh, and that's always hard for me. I mean, and this is now like our fifth year, you know, in terms of like regularly getting turned down by clients, just whether they decide the geography isn't for them but they want to go with somebody else or something happens, talk about and not like rejection is a bad word, but like talk about that rejection and like what does that, is that hard or do you get used to that?

[27:56] Um, it is kind of hard in the beginning because we want everybody to love us and we think it's so fun and anybody that emails us, we think, oh, we got somebody, we've got somebody and then you don't have anybody until they actually book you. And so it is kind of a letdown, put it. But I then I just realized, well there'll be somebody else if they're not, if it's not meant to be with them, hopefully it's somebody else. So I just kind of push it away and go on to the next, the next person.

[28:23] Yeah. To me that definitely was like the hardest thing because like you said, you know, you think your photo bus is awesome, right? Like, you wouldn't own it for the bus company if you didn't think that was like the coolest thing. And it's the same with me, right? Like I think everybody should get my wedding videos and you know, you just learn like, you know, there's different styles and different prices and different budgets and you know, maybe somebody just didn't have the money at the end of the day. I mean it is really difficult. Is that, is that the hardest thing right now you guys are working through or, or what is your biggest challenge right now?

[28:54] I think it's just finding time to do a real job. And then this job, I think that's the hard part just because my brother and I were on different schedules and we don't live in the same. We live close but not that close. So it's hard to find time to get to each other. Um, so I think that's the hardest part. Just finding time. I wake up at 3:30 everyday to go to work. So by 7:00 I'm done where you could get a lot of stuff done from seven to 10:00 PM, like normal people when they go to bed. But for me, I can't stay up that late.

[29:26] So how long do you guys anticipate that work life balance going or?

[29:30] Um, I would assume. I mean, I don't plan on quitting my job. He doesn't plan on quitting his job. We started this more as a hobby. If it turns into a business that's awesome. But really we just wanted to something we wanted to see if we can do it. We wanted to have fun. We want other people to think it's fun and to have fun. We are doing a lot of charity this summer we were doing Relay for Life on Saturday in Kirkland at Juanita Beach Park. Um, we're doing a lot of charity. We're doing this children's hospital thing. Um, when is it in September? I think up north. So for me it's really not about, I guess the income, it's more about the what makes us feel good and makes other people feel good. So that's kind of why we started it.

[30:15] Talking about that charity work and why you guys, obviously that's important to you guys to do that. Talk about that.

[30:20] Um, we, we just want to help other people. That's really was our main goal. We just think it's fun when other people are having fun and especially kids like, I dunno, kids light up actually any age lights up when they see a photo booth. Um, so I think it's just fun to give back. There's so much that you can give and even when you give back, you, you give, you get back so much more. So it's kind of a great feeling when you see other people enjoying it and having fun and it's going to a good cause.

[30:51] Talk about that kind of manning the photo bus, you know, that whole experience of being there and kind of seeing people go through that. What is that experience like for you guys?

[31:01] Again, it's just, it's cool to see people light up. They get in there and they've never seen anything like it. They think it's so cute and unique and inside we have a vanity and it has a huge mirror so everybody can see themselves, they can see how they look, they fix their hair, they think, oh my gosh, I'm so glad you have a mirror. I look at my hair, they think it's amazing and they've never seen anything like it. And so to me that's really cool that our idea is in motion and people are just in all

When uh, when we were off air here before we started, we were talking about like social media, right? And like posting. Are you guys finding traction on that or what do you, what are your thoughts on that and staying relevant on that?

[31:41] Um, we try and post, I guess as much as we can, but we're not big on social media. Me and my brother, his wife, the three of us, we really, I mean we're in our thirties. We don't, we didn't grow up with Snapchat and Facebook and Instagram. And so for us it's so foreign and we don't do selfies and so it's hard for us to show our lives because we don't think they're that fun, but we do know that it is very successful because that is the world we live in is social media and so a lot of information can get past it very quickly through it. So yeah, we have 300 followers on instagram. You know, or were really big.

You do good stories. I don't know. Do you like that that to correspond with clients and stuff and have them kind of see if you guys are setting up or the other, you know, setting up with a party or something that made you like that sort of interaction? Or is that.

[32:38] I do. I think it makes, it gives people an idea of what we're doing and not just, I guess what they've seen in our pictures, but they get to see who we are and see that we're just normal people and we're doing something fun. And like my brother and his wife have two kids and they help and they get in the bus and they get silly. And so I guess it's probably, it's fun that probably that people see kind of our lives as well. I don't know.

[33:06] So you seem like you're doing everything here. I don't know what Michael's doing except working right now. Whether your strengths for the business. And where do you think that he, you know, you guys kind of compliment each other.

[33:19] Um, he keeps me level headed. I want to do everything. I want to make t-shirts and I want to make hats and I want to have a video camera in there to have a live feed and I want to do all these things. He's like, okay, let's just get through year one. Let's just do a wedding. Let's see if we can even do it. And I say, okay, sure. Right. And then I throw them another idea and he's like, no, just calm down. I said, okay, you're right. You're right. So I think he's great at building stuff. He has all the tools, he can do all the everything. He has a really good mind and an eye for how to design the inside of the bus and how to get it done. And I throw him suggesting and he's like, okay, one suggestion at a time, let's try this first and then he'll, we'll do it. And I'm like, oh, well that was a good idea. Good job. So I think he is more, the handyman keeps me level headed and I'm just crazy. I want to do everything now and he kind of just brings me back down to earth.

[34:13] When you're working as a flight attendant, do you ever have a second to even think about it? Are you just so busy with that work?

[34:20] Um, no. I think about all the time. I think, who am I going to email? Oh, I'll see something. I'll think, oh, that's a good idea or this would be a good idea. Um, or go to Alaska and ask them to use at their events. I mean, I think of all these ideas all the time

It's exciting to talk about. Like, yeah, my mind never stops talking about just that you've expressed already, but just, you know, having all these ideas and stuff. Is that exciting and overwhelming is that

[34:50] I think if I wasn't having ideas or I wasn't thinking about it, then I don't think we should be doing it or I shouldn't be doing it just because I wouldn't be like, I wouldn't like it, but I think it's great that I am thinking about it all the time and wanting to make it better or find something to put it in or design it this way because then I think, I think we can grow from that. I, I bet if we didn't think about it and want to improve it, then it would probably be a failure.

[35:22] Talking about, um, and you've, you've mentioned a couple of the scariest moment you guys have had so far in terms of, uh, whether it be at an event or outside, but just the scariest moment in terms of like, oh, I don't know if this is going to work or oh, this was a really close call or talk about that.

[35:40] I think last week when we were at the event in Seattle, what we were at the collective Seattle and we did their grand opening and our generator was going out and we didn't know what was going on and had gas in it and I was pretty scared that the owners were going to come out and are though people that booked us and say what's going on here? So we kept turning it off. He would come, we turn it on really quick and it would print and then we turn it off and so no one really knew. I mean some people did, but nobody really knew what was going on. So we. That was really a scary moment for us for me at least. I don't know about him.

[36:19] Are you guys good car people? I mean, I know nothing about like I wouldn't know anything about agenda

I mean not really. No. We have really no background in mechanics of anything of that nature.

[36:32] So it's just a lot of YouTubing?

[36:33] Yeah, everything is YouTube.

Is that, I mean, do you, do you wear that as a badge of honor? Felt like you were resourceful, you know,

Ee don't know everything, so yeah. I don't mind asking for help.

[36:48] I'm looking into next year. What's the next big goal? What's the next big milestone besides a Russell Wilson's personal photo busl?

[36:58] Hopefully we're busy enough to purchase another bus. That would be a goal. Two buses.

[37:04] Talk about that. The logistics of that. What would be the biggest challenge?

[37:08] Oh, we would probably have to hire people because already it's tough between us, my brother and myself and his wife as trying to manage events just because he works nights. I work mornings and so it's hard to get. We want to people there at a time just in case something goes wrong and so finding two people, two out of the three of us to be there, that's kind of hard. So we'd probably have to hire somebody to help us.

[37:37] Is that scary to expand or to put your trust in other people? I know it is for me, like when I'm sending people out, you know, kind of in my stead. It took me a long time to find, you know, kids, they're representing you. Right. Talk about that.

For me. I do everything myself. I don't ask for help so it would be really hard for me to trust somebody and these vehicles are old and we take care of things just because I know that's who we are and their stick shifts and so not a lot of people know how to drive a stick shift. Um, so that would be really hard to trust somebody to take it out and drive it and if something happened, you know, it'd be hard for them to fix it or whatnot. And just even growing, like I said, the book work, all that stuff is really hard and I think to expand and have more people and have more stuff is above me. And so I don't know if we'd have to kind of hire somebody to help with that too.

[38:32] Danielle, right now to talk to you a year and give you some piece of advice that you've learned right now to help you kind of get to this point right now. What would you give Danielle a year ago, if you could tell yourself, if you could hop back in the door and go, uh, go give yourself some advice that you've learned, you know, up until today.

[38:51] Oh Gosh. Everything works out. Like, no, doesn't matter what happens. Whatever is thrown at you does, it works out, you know, with the event, nobody found out. Nobody knew that our generator wasn't working, but in my head I was freaking out so I would just calm down. It's okay. It's all going to end up fine. It's not life or death for the most part. So maybe just to relax.

[39:16] Well, Danielle, if people have heard you today and wanting to learn more about who you guys are or what you do, what would you have them do?

[39:23] We have our website. It's www.vanityphotobus.com. We're on social media, at VANity Photo Bus on Instagram. Facebook. Check us out there. Follow up, get our numbers up, please check out our sweet instagram story. Check out.

[39:38] Those stories are very fun and not to throw you under the bus. It is funny. Every time I asked somebody like, well, what's your url? They get really close to the microphone.

[39:48] I want to make sure they hear it.

It's all so casual until then, the final sell, but you can check this out www.vanityphotobus.com.

Uh, well thank you so much for coming by today. I really, really appreciate it. This has been another episode of Get to Know Your Wedding Pro. Come back next week and check out our next wedding vendor interview. Thank you so much. Thank you.

Episode 4 (Heather and Ryan Shipley, Events by Heather and Ryan)

[00:09]Hey everybody. Welcome to another episode of Get to Know Your Wedding Pro. I'm Reid with Best Made Videos. We are a video production company based out of West Seattle Seattle, Washington. We primarily focused on wedding videography and corporate videography and today I am joined by two guests who are very dear, special friends of mine. I know I say that a lot. I'm sure at some point I'll finally interview somebody I don't like, but today is not that case as I enjoyed by Heather and Ryan have events by Heather and Ryan, why don't you guys introduce yourselves?

Hi, I'm Heather. Hi, I'm Ryan. And we're Events by Heather and Ryan.

[00:46] I was thinking about that. It's a good thing that you guys aren't like Jim and Noreen or something that would have been.

[00:51] That would make it a little awkward.

[00:53] And a Heather Ryan are very good friends of mine. They go back way back into like my origin story of being a wedding videographer. Probably my second summer, I think we did a three weddings together. Back-To-Back-To-Back, which was an interesting experience. And so, uh, why don't you guys come to tell me who you are and what you guys are all about.

[01:15] All right. Well, we're heather and Ryan. We are a married couple who loves shooting weddings. We, um, have been together since 2003, um, and got married in 2005 and started our business in 2007. So it's been a long road for us. Something when we first met, you know, photography was a hobby for both of us. We both enjoyed it and learned throughout the years and dating and getting married and when DSLRs first came out and became big, we bought our first big camera and really just had fun learning, learning all about photography and teaching each other. Um, and it was one of those things that it was a hobby and we just thought it would be something for fun and would go to a friend's weddings and take family portraits for friends. And everybody kept telling us, Oh, you should do this, you should do this.

[02:05] And we kind of chuckle and think, oh, you're our friends and family. You have to tell us that, right? We just took photos for you and you know, so it took us a little bit, um, but I think for me, what was kind of the turning point of like, oh, maybe we should do this was we went to a, it was a friend of my dad's wedding and um, we took a bunch of photos and try not to be those annoying wedding guests that are just kind of sat back and captured what we thought was fun. And uh, ended up sending the bride a DVD of the photos that we took. And I got a call from her two weeks later and she, she called and said, you know, heather, I just want you to know you guys really need to do this. She said, I paid my wedding photographer to $3,000 to photograph our wedding day. And the wedding photos that'll be hung on our wall and put in an album are the ones that you guys took. And I finally thought she didn't have to call and tell me that. And so I thought maybe we do have something.

[03:02] And so I think what's interesting too is we, when we first started out in 2007, we, we plan on doing this for a hobby and I think we wanted to, you know, we said, well, we'll do five weddings a year. That'll be great. That'll be some vacation money. And I think that first year we, instead of doing five, we booked 24 and then we decided, OK, well maybe we have something here. And then the next year that's 24 turned into 35 and then year after that and I think we were in the fifties and then every year since then we've, uh, been doing, you know, over 50 weddings a year. So, uh, you know, Seattle has been really good to us. I think we have something here.

[03:41] So before you guys decided to do wedding photography, what were you guys doing? A, I guess professionally before that?

I was actually a customer service manager, uh, um, locally here in Seattle.

[03:56] Do you guys think that that experience with working with customer service and the public and kind of helps you guys today now in terms of like customer relations and working with clients and stuff?

And I want to piggyback on that, I think, uh, one thing I have found when we formed our company, we want it to be that one company where customer service was part of the experience. I know there's a lot of other companies out there that have either that creative aspect but not the customer service or they have the customer service but not the creative. And I wanted to have a company. I think we had a good, good thing going with the photography, but I wanted to focus on customer service as well. I didn't want customers to say wow, they were great, great pictures, but their customer service was horrible. Um, uh, so that's one thing when we designed our wedding photography, when we designed our packages and basically the experience with the customer, I wanted to make sure that the customer wasn't saying, wow, we got great pictures, but I wish we wouldn't have gotten this or I wish our package would have included this and that's how we molded our company. We wanted to make sure that the, you know, the customer's got exactly what they were looking for. There was no lacking. There was no, um, there was nothing missing there.

[05:20] So, uh, when you guys are working on getting the, you know, photography business off the ground, um, when you did those 24, were you guys still working full time at that point or how did that work?

A few years of our business and that was one of those things. It takes a leap of faith to become self employed. Uh, we also have children. So that's a big thing to us is that we wanted to make sure that, you know, we were very stable and what we were doing because we still had a family to provide for in a mortgage to pay. And so for us it's kind of took some steps in a few years to make sure that we had everything under our belts. The other big thing too that we wanted to make sure of is we didn't go into debt opening our company either. So every year we buy new equipment and upgrade things and you know, new computers and hard drives and kind of go from there. So I think that's what helped make us successful too, is that we didn't have to go into debt purchasing all of our equipment and making sure that we had everything. So we worked, we both worked full time for the first four years,

Five years ago when we started, 2007, I think 2011 was when I went with a company full time. And then in 2013. So it took a while. Then the, uh, um, but, you know, the rewards have been worth it.

[06:42] We just did it in steps. So Ryan quit his full time job first and did the business full time and um, and then I was still working full time and working with the business and um, a lot of it for health insurance reasons too and being able to, you know, make sure we can provide that. So, and then in early 2013, um, I quit my full time job and then we both have been full time in the company ever since. So I don't regret that for a minute.

[07:07] And now since you guys had been doing it for, you know, four or five years at that point when you quit. But I mean, was that scary? You know, taking that leap, I mean, in the entrepreneurial ship, uh, know when you guys have the normal nine to five or what was that thought process?

[07:24] Because we had already demonstrated a track record of success. Uh, we, we had a loyal customer following. We, um, we had the business figure it out enough where it was a natural progression to go self employed. I don't think, I don't think we ever had that moment where we said, why are we doing the right thing? I think it was just very natural, very much.

[07:50] Yeah. I think we had gotten to the point where we knew it was the right thing and so it was a really easy transition to go from, you know, working full time to taking over the business full time and it's allowed us to do more things to um, whereas I think we kind of opened up our business from doing primarily weddings, which I would say that's still a majority of what we do. But then it allowed us to do a lot more, you know, families and you know, headshots and Ryan does some commercial. And so it kind of allowed us to open up other avenues too, which was really nice because before it was, you know, a lot of the weekends of shooting and editing during the week. And now we kind of have been able to open up our schedule to allow us to do more.

[08:32] Obviously spend more time with your family too. I mean, you guys have how many kids?

[08:41] We just had to look at each other to do that to say, you know, yeah, we have, um, we have four kids, so we have a 17 year old. I'm from Ryan's first marriage and then we have three boys together that um, our oldest will be 10 next month. And then, um, our middle son is seven and our youngest is three. So we have quite the household to take care of too. So yeah, it makes it fun because, you know, we're the nice part about, you know, being self employed as we can somewhat set our schedules. I mean obviously our clients have a lot to say in that too, but you know, we work a lot of nights and weekends, but the trade off is, is we can get our kids up in the morning and get them to school. You know, I can go volunteer at the school if I want to, you know, where they're at night. So it makes it, it makes it fun.

[09:26] Well the flexibility there too is if a customer needs something, let's say at 11:00 during the week day or a meeting at 1:00 on a Wednesday, we're able to accommodate that much better than some, uh, somebody who's working your nine to five job and doing this part time.

Talking about being married now, talking about being married now and working with the table to talk about being married now and working with couples, you know, new couples, engaged couples, um, having gone through that process, you know, does that help you guys? I always say that I became a much better wedding vendor after being married and, and I didn't even know, you know, it, you don't even know until I talk about that and kind of being able to help couples go through that process.

[10:12] Yeah, I think it definitely helps. I think it helps to know, you know, being married and having, you know, we planned our wedding when we got married. We planned it ourselves, so we paid for it mostly ourselves. And so we kind of knew what we wanted and what we didn't want. Um, and I think that helps us connect to a lot of our clients to being married and having gone through that,

Our clients are a reflection of what our wedding planning was like. Let me know. I'd say a majority of our clients are planning it themselves or paying for themselves and maybe their parents or they have relatives that are helping them out. This maybe a little bit, but that going through that process are with us back in 2005. You know, we know what that's like. So, you know, our, our pricing's affordable. We, we realize people don't like getting nickel and dimed to death. And that's one thing that I, I, I'm, I'm very much against is having somebody buy our product and then later on telling them, well if you want this then you got to buy this. And you know, Oh you, you know, we took the pictures. But now if you want to buy the pictures, if you want the pictures and you have to pay us more money. But that's never been our business model and that's nothing that, that's something that we will never do

Anything that comes from planning your own wedding and going through that. And so, uh, in terms of like, you know, that Heather and Ryan, the client, you know, who is that, you know, somebody that, like you said, this plan is a wedding, but what, you know, what kind of clients are the ones that you find you're attracted to you, you know, what your fun, you know, easy going. And I mean, what kinds of clients you guys really look for it.

[11:46] The Fun, easy going, I don't want to say laid back, but, uh, not. I mean, I, you know, it's hard because you look at your clients and you want them to be your clients and like you and people that you can relate to.

So our company is an extension of us. And when I say that it's, um, we, we have a lot of clients that, you know, we'd become friends with after the fact. I mean, we've, you know, we've kept up with a lot of our clients and granted, you know, there are some clients that, you know, they'll buy our service and then once we deliver the product, we don't hear from him again and that's normal in any course of business. But we do have a loyal following of um, you know, customers that will follow up with, you know, a year later will be with him for anniversary pictures, for family pictures. But it's not only that, it's, you know, we'll, we'll do, you know, we'll hang out with some of our customers to. I mean, I can think of a handful of customers that, you know, we talked to you on a daily basis or weekly basis, non photography related. I mean, it's, it's, it's that kind of relationship that we want to foster with our customers. We don't want them to hire us thinking we're hiring a company. We want them to think, well, we actually like heather and Ryan, they're actually cool people and how they happen to do wedding photography as well. And they happen to do it really well. But, um, W, we want them to think of us as, you know, more or less friends, not rare that one vendor so right, we're real people. So we want to connect with our clients and connect with our families too and be able to kind of take it all in. And I think, you know, that's one thing too that I think sets us apart sometimes is just listening and listening to our clients and getting to know them. Um, you know, a lot of our clients, you know, we follow on facebook and on instagram and on their personal social media pages and I think that it's nice to see and it's fun to see just those little tidbits into their life and to pay attention to those. I think it helps you connect with them. So, you know, we always say too, like, we never want to walk into your wedding day and like, oh, those are our photographers, you know, we want to walk in and Oh, heather and I are here. And, and so, um, being able to connect with everybody. Let me take a lot of pride in that. And I think that's kind of why we've been in business for so long and been able to build our businesses, like Ryan said too, you know, we've connected with these clients on their wedding days, but then it's fostered into a different relationship. So we've built a whole other business with portraits off of, you know, wedding clients and referrals from her wedding clients.

[14:21] Yeah. I think that that's always something that I miss in videography is, you know, the need for a professional videographer is, is really like your wedding day and then if you know your brides and bridesmaids or somebody is looking for a videographer. But being able to grow with a couples like that I think is really cool. And that's something that I always envy with photographers as being able to do mini sessions every year where you get to see them, you know, talk about that and kind of getting to see him grow every year. And in you guys.

[14:50] Yeah. That's one of my favorite parts actually. And it's, it's fun to watch the families grow into, you know, I, I have, I can't tell you how many times I've, I received the email or that the texts saying, oh my gosh, heather, I just found out I'm pregnant, but nobody else knows. But I had to tell you, you know, I'm that person that they reach out to and to me that is the most amazing thing and that we've become, you know, that person in their lives that they're so excited when they find out that they're pregnant, that they're calling and they're telling me first before they tell anybody else because they wanted me to know also the server is actually going backing up a little bit from the surface up to the actual wedding day. I'm, Heather's really good at developing and fostering a relationship with a client where I can tell you a few times where the wedding day stressful for the bride.

[15:40] Granted, you know, it's the most important day of their lives and there's a lot of stress in the room and the bride has actually asked her family and her friends to leave. But Heather can stay. I've seen that more times than I can count on my hands and it just goes to show you what kind of person, how there is, um, I'm more of a technical person, but I don't foster relationships like she does, but I think we're, we're a good combination. I mean, I'm very technical. Um, I'm, you know, I know the equipment well, the, the, the dynamics behind the picture, the technical side of the picture. I'm, I'm good at getting those pictures, but heather is good at getting that personality out of the person. So, um, and you need both components to get a good picture if you have somebody that knows how to work a camera and can talk to you for hours and hours about how the camera works, but if they can't get that personality to show through, the pictures are only going to be as good as the lighting was. Um, you really have to have a good rapport with those, with your customers. Uh, in order to get good pictures.

[16:52] I know there's a wide variety of photography companies, you know, they're solo photographers and there's dual photographers on. I do think that the dynamic between the husband and wife team is really fun to have on the wedding day, uh, both being I think behind the camera with you guys, you know, kind of alongside. I have fun, but I also think that, you know, it's gotta be fun for the client as well. Uh, do you want to talk about that and kind of displaying off for each other during the wedding day? I do think it kind of like, eases some of the tension and Kinda like helps, you know, you guys are like able to divide and conquer or how do you look at that?

[17:26] Oh, absolutely. I think our clients enjoy our banter back and forth, um, because we're very sarcastic to each other and we like to have fun. But I think it's fun when they kind of see us, you know, going back and forth with things. And um, I think that just kind of puts everybody at ease. They like to see that relationship. Um, and you know what Ryan said too, like he's the and I'm the, let's just try this. You know, and our clients know that and they see it and they're like, OK, yeah, let's try it.

[17:55] No, they forget about their worries and their problems that day. And they're like, well, aren't really.

[17:59] Yeah, it's fun. And I think it keeps things real though. I think it keeps them less stressed that way. Um, but they also see the connection. I think it does allow us to, to divide and conquer on her wedding day too. I think it allows us to, you know, with the, both of us and, and you know, Ryan can go hang out with the guys beforehand. I'm with the girls. We kind of trade off back and forth. Um,

[18:25] I think that they see that we're not stressed if we're joking around and kidding around. Usually sarcasm comes about when you're comfortable with, with everything else. If somebody who's really worried about stuff there that's sarcasm doesn't really. Or having fun doesn't really come out. You know, everyone's really serious. So if your, if your vendors are stressed or yeah, if your vendors are stressed, then you're still going to be stressed because you're thinking, well what do they see that I don't, but if your vendors are relaxed and they're joking back and forth with each other, then that's kind of. That's actually our goal is for the customers to feel at ease with their day because everything. There is a method behind our madness. If the customers are relaxed, they're going to be relaxing the pictures. The pictures are going to be better. If we appear relaxed, if we appear in control of everything, then the customer sees that.

[19:24] Then they become relaxed and their pictures are better and then they like our pictures and then hopefully they tell their friends and that's the goal behind all that and it actually flows naturally. It's not really a script that we do, but it's, it's, it's natural. It's kind of how we operate because you know, granted if, if the customers are worried about something and they don't like their pictures, it ruins their day and that's the one day that they, they have to look forward to. So we, we want them to know that, hey, your day is happening, whether you like it or not, it's gonna be it's gonna be fine. And Yeah, there's a lot of times where I've talked to brides and grooms and say, hey listen, it's, everything is fine. You're looking at it from one perspective and we've seen a number, you know, we've, we've probably done over 500 weddings and we know what works. We know what doesn't work and we can usually walk into a room and know if it's gonna work out or not within the first five minutes. And you know, we set the stage to make, make sure that that day successful.

[20:30] And I figure if they see that we can make marriage work, then there'll be just fine to use a low bar. That's can make. If I can be married to this guy for how long you can do this to trust me. So that's what I was, you know, we're joking back and forth to, you know, I always tell people I don't always like him, I just have to love him. So you don't always have to like your spouse to love him and we're together all the time. So your relationship will be like this. So people laugh at that and it's just fun to keep it light hearted. Right. You know, it's marriage can be a scary thing. So you know, let's, let's have fun with it.

[21:04] Obviously when you're an entrepreneur, you know a lot of your life is work and your work is life, but I think if you're a, you know, where your husband, wife, team that you work together, you live together, obviously have your family. Does that provide you the unique challenges or what is that like provides unique challenges? I think most, most couples are not together 24 hours a day. Whereas we are, I think that we, we learned years ago that we have to take time from ourselves outside of our kids and outside of our business we were, we got into the habit of date nights were, you know, stopping someplace on the way home from a wedding or the way home from a session or a meeting. Um, and we've kind of found that we need to really separate our time as opposed to our company time and our kids time. And so we really, you have to be really conscious of that because otherwise you just kind of get into this routine of things and you don't really take time for yourself anymore. So I think it does provide unique challenges working together, living together, raising kids together, running a business together.

[22:05] Um, you know, it's hard when you have disagreements on things, um, cause then it kind of spills in from either your personal life or from your, you know, from the business. So you really just have to be able to step back and reevaluate things. Sometimes, you know, we can't have a bad morning at home and then go shoot a wedding. And let it affect that. So you kind of have to learn how to balance those things. Um, I think we do a good job with it. Um, I think that, you know, we have, we have different strengths and weaknesses and so I think we need to remember those sometimes and kind of step back and reflect on that and let you know, decisions being made and things like that, you know, really kind of, you know, just happened.

[22:49] So yeah, I mean, you have to. It's being in the business that we were in before. I mean, we both had professional jobs before. Um, I mean, you, you, you learn to work with your, your peers. I mean, do you, you learn to communicate. And I think a lot of that comes into play in communicating this, I feel this way because of this and I understand how you feel and then coming to a consensus. But um, I mean we've been doing this for for many years so it's, it's easy to say that we're successful in mitigating any conflict that comes up. So.

[23:26] And interesting. I remember, I think it was during that first drink until we had worked on and I think I had a wedding with Ryan, you were working in another, whether in their head splitting it had even just come just to be like a third photographer just to kind of hang out with Ryan and after, you know, when you, like you guys had wrapped or whatever and I always that that was really cool. Like you talked about like making your own date nights or stopping somewhere after a wedding or you know, or like we had the wedding show up at the northwest, a bridal show case and like you guys had gone out for dinner and the date night, you know, [inaudible] did, someone was watching the kids or whatever. So I think that that's unique, but I always thought that was kind of a fun story man. They must really like it, you know, a doing weddings and be just kind of being together if you're going to get done with you know, your work and then go and hang out. I thought that was Kinda neat.

[24:14] Yeah, it is fun and it does make a different and I think even the times, you know, there are times in the summer we'll shoot to weddings in a day and we have other photographers that work with us that we've worked with for years, but it's almost a odd feeling being a part sometimes, um, because we do do this together all the time. So those times of the year,

[24:32] I don't think you'll like it. I think you're telling us, you're telling me we're not gonna do that anymore. Um, seattle wasn't so uh, seasonal as far as weddings go, if it was you know, a year round wedding, a wedding season one thing. But unfortunately we do have to, um, you know, some of the busier days we do, you know, heather, I'll go to one wedding, I'll go to another and we'll have people that work with us, but the people that work with us are seasoned in the industry. I mean they're, they're not the high school or college students that are looking to get their foot in the game. They're, they're people that have their own own companies, but for whatever, for one reason or another they didn't book that day or they decided not to to book their own wedding that day and we'll just have them work with us.

Well a lot of the people that you guys have known for years like and whoever that you know.

[25:23] Yeah, we've had a few other, yeah, that have worked with us two years and they just, they don't just shoot one or two weddings with us. They're with us all the time and so it makes it nice because then we still have that ebb and flow, but I think two of them are apart. I think it's a slight control thing for me because I'm always wondering occasion Ryan get this shot, you know, things that I normally get or things you know, cause there are things when we work together that we know, like I don't have to ask if he's getting like the, the table shots and some of those details shots because that's normal for him. And so I'm always like, if we're not together, I always think in the back of my head, OK, did he get that? Did he get the shot, you know, so it's, you know, and are our, our are uh, you know, kind of what they're familiar with the product that we deliver to the customer. They know what components go into that product. So they, they know it. It's not just the bride and the groom. I mean they, a lot of our brides and grooms, they, it's their money that they're putting on this wedding. It's, you know, they, you know, painstakingly over the months they will, you know, put together the place settings. I'll pick the colors and the day is a reflection of months and months of planning, sometimes years of planning and we know it's important that on that wedding day they're not going to necessarily be able to appreciate that and see it. So we want to make sure we get those pictures so they can look back and say, wow, this is actually what I look like. And talk to me about.

[26:48] Talk to me about your first wedding together with, you know, having it Ryan. July 16th, 2007. We actually photographed her wedding with um, uh, I actually skydive and it was one of our skydive, a skype friends. I think she actually worked at the drop zone and um, it was our first wedding July 16th. Um, and yeah, I think we learned a lot from that wedding ring I think. I think one of the things we learned is you need two cameras and you need batteries. Lots of batteries. Lots and lots about was the, the uh, luckily I learned it on the first wedding that the flashes will go through batteries really quick and you know, putting a half charged the batteries and the flat one flash will not last the full day. So, um, were you guys nervous? I mean we were because it was our first wedding for hire.

[27:46] And you're the first wedding. I mean, yeah. Was a lot of, you know, a lot of learning that we did at that wedding. But I think every wedding we learned something new and that one thing that we know to this day is every wedding is unique. It's not the same. So you can't go into, you can't go into a wedding and say, well, I have 10 or 12 or 11 or however many years of experience, um, and rely on that experience to be successful. Um, the way I look at it as we're writing a book and that book is not written when we show up for that wedding day, it's a whole bunch of blank pages that weddings and story and somebody needs to tell it. And we're actually capturing the story behind that which goes into our pictures. The pictures aren't just have a bride and groom. It's, there's emotion behind those pictures. So we want to get the story behind those pictures. And I think going back to that first wedding, I think that's one thing I've learned is we need to be able to capture that story. We need to be on our game. We need to not rely on our experience, but we need to look at the situation and we need to look at the, the wedding that's in front of us on the present day,

Especially our first wedding season. It was, you know, average wedding, kind of reevaluating, OK, what worked and what didn't work and what do we need to do differently. And I think that's too, even with like our equipment and rechargeable batteries and cards and everything, you know, kind of learning systems and what works and what we need to do and what we, what can we do better? Um, and I think we really, you know, we took those, especially those first few years and really tried to figure out the best way for us and what we wanted to achieve. So I think, you know, every wedding, especially that first year, we learned a lot and we took that with us. You know, I think that's why, you know, we kind of have the systems that we have in place and there is a method behind our madness with certain things, um, is really just taking that and learning from it.

[29:51] So when you guys talk about, you know, doing a lot of the weddings, you know, 10 years, 500 weddings, yeah. How do you get excited every day, uh, or how do you approach that to be fun and unique and to kind of keep bringing that energy?

[30:07] We talked to those brides and grooms, um, in the months leading up to their wedding. So is unique. So it's hard, you know, it's almost like, you know, you look at, we look at each of our clients is almost an extension of us as a friend because it's somebody that when I, when I see a client, I see somebody that has looked at our work that loves our work, that says, wow, I want you to do the same thing that you've done in the past for me. So there's, there's a lot of responsibility that goes with that. So we look at it as a job. We look at as somebody that likes us, that somebody that you know, once, you know, it's trusting us with the most important day of their lives. When you have somebody that you know, gives you that much of gratitude, the gratitude that they gave you by simply hiring you, you don't want to fail.

[31:06] So you're, you're on your game. You don't want to be, you know, rest on your laurels and you say, wow, I've done this before and I don't need to prepare. So, um, without, you know, attitude, I think it's really easy to say, you know, every wedding we have a wedding this weekend and I mean it's where we're preparing for that wedding where we have our systems in place, but we have the communication and the um, and the desire to really communicate with that bride in that room to make sure that they're very successful. And it's almost an internal feeling that you feel it's, it's an obligation that you feel inside of you. It's not, um, it doesn't get old. And I think once we start saying this gets old, I think that's my maybe where we're done with the business. But at this point, I mean we're still as excited as we were that first wedding because every wedding as unique and it gives us an opportunity to, to really work with some great people.

[32:08] Yeah. I think it's, it is still that excitement for weddings and do you know, we love what we do and I think that's why we can do it and why we've done it for so long and being able to connect. And so, I mean even thinking about this weekend and what we have to do and you know, we're at a different church on Saturday that we've never been out. So. OK, what's that going to be like and you know, and, and, and being able to capture different things, you know, and then we're at [inaudible] lodge so, you know, whereas we've shot there, you know, 50 times before. OK, what's going to be different about this weekend and kind of going into it. Um, you know, so we kind of, it's, it's not a mundane job that by any means, every day is something different. And I think that's what keeps it exciting for me is that every day is something different, every client is different, every job is different. And so that's what keeps it fun for us. And like Ryan said, it's still fun for us. And so we know that we're still doing the right thing.

[33:02] I'd like to see answers from each of you, but a favorite part of the wedding, whether you in terms of the wedding day, whether it's you're getting rid or the ceremony or first dance or whatever. What, what is it and why is that your favorite parts?

[33:17] So I would say my favorite part are probably the getting ready and the first look because I love the excitement that goes on during that part and then the emotions and the excitement and the anticipation and you know, I feel like once we, once we shoot those things in the rest of the day just kind of goes from there. And I think you almost get on an adrenaline rush after things like that. Um, so, you know, I think it's that first part of the day you're really connecting with your clients and learn, you know, meeting their bridal party and meeting more of their family and getting into that groove. And then for me after that, you know, it's, it's all fun from there. Um, because now I know who I'm working with today and I can, you know, get into my groove. Um, and seeing that first look when they see each other for the first time, I'm usually, there are some tears. Um, I've even teared up a timer to, um, and so, you know, it's just, he keeps. Yeah. But I do, I still cry at weddings. Ryan laughs at me that, you know, how after doing over 500 weddings, do I still cry at weddings? I still cry at weddings and I think it's because it's that emotional connection to our clients. So it's the first part of the day is fun for me. You know, I love all parts, but I would say that's where I kinda get, get into my groove of the day and really get it.

[34:37] Well we will talk to the bride separately, we'll talk to the grim separately. So, so when you see that first moment, you know, the individual story behind each, you know, what's going through that grooms mine. Do you know what's going through that brides mind because you've talked to them. Um, but I would like to say know probably my, my best, my most favorite of my favorite, most favorite part. My favorite part is actually the bride and groom together. Um, when we, when we take them aside and we take them away from the crowd here, we get pictures of Tesla to them because it's a collaboration. It's more taking the pictures but you know, talking to them, you know, letting them unwind a little bit because we usually, typically we'll do that after the ceremony after donor, but you know, before all the, the main event starts. But um, you know, I love getting them together and getting some of those, you know, a couple of shots where, you know, we can be a creative.

[35:38] I'm letting them enjoy each other. I think that's too. I, we always tell our clients to like, your wedding day is about you and I think a lot of times in the excitement of everything and having all your friends and family and being pulled in a million directions, you know, that's something that we really strive is to let our clients have that few minutes of just the two of them. Um, and so, you know, we have fun with that. It's the two of them and us and hopefully, you know, our videographer with us and you know, but it's just nice to give them that time and let them breathe and take it all in.

[36:10] There's a lot. I mean that's what people, you know, if you're planning the wedding either or have just gotten married, you know, it is. Especially nowadays with I think like family pressures and other people taking photos, you know, in, in this planning and money and everything and your wedding day is. It can be really stressful. And I do think it's nice to have um, you know, an easygoing vendor team and especially, you know, with your photographer is Kinda the big key to that. Um, I always have like a Go-to joke, um, after the first look is, like you say, there's a lot of um, you know, pressure to that moment in, uh, in our one on Sunday and, you know, they turned around and locked and then I said, all right, well we're done now. Like that's what we're going to go home because it is like so much even for that build up. Actually no, we still have any more hours, but, you know, at least it's a, it's a good kind of moment of levity there. Um, in terms of, you know, kind of working with you guys, um, what is kind of how Ryan process look like in terms of, um, like Ryan said, hey, you guys have a lot of systems in place and talking about that and kind of the organization and kind of, you know, really kind of a holding people's hands through that process.

[37:16] No, I think that's something too that, you know, our years experience gives us is that we've really tried to fine tune our process. So we want it to be easy. We, you know, we always tell our clients we don't want to be that pain in the butt vendor, we want to make things very easy for you, but we also need to be very organized and everything as well. So, you know, we have forms that go out from the time that we get a lead in know we enter them into our client management system. They get questionnaires from the very beginning so they're filling out information and giving us information that we have and it's stuff that over the years we've found that it's important for us to know I'm even going into a first client meeting so they fill out a questionnaire telling us a little bit of who they are and a little bit about their wedding day. And then after they book with us, you know, all that can be done online. We found when we started it was the days of paper contracts and mailing back and forth are sitting there as a client was, was filling out the contract and we didn't like that. That was not something we enjoyed. Um, and so now it's very, you know, non-pressure they can go home, they can read through the agreement, sign it online. Um, and it's nice because the client management system, we have everything gets saved in there, everything gets pre-populated. So we have a questionnaire that we send out, get that questionnaire when they book, but if their wedding as a year later a that's alive for them for the next year, so they can go in and they can update that form as things change as they think of things, then they can constantly update that. We meet with the clients, um, typically the week before the wedding and we'll discuss, we'll have that form in front of us. We get updates whenever the client updates that forum. We get, we get an email saying this is what's been updated. So you know, we'll, we'll know, you know, the ins and outs of the family dynamics. I mean, well we know that the bride, you know, has a two year old child that has an attention span of 30 seconds. So whenever we go to that wedding, we have already developed a plan to make sure that we have that two year old taking care of, we know, you know, maybe the grandmother or the grandfather or cannot stand for more than, you know, five minutes or can't be out in the Sun or light or, or something. We, we know everything that you've told us. Um, and we had come up with either a plan or course of action to make sure that that doesn't interfere with the day to make sure that we're able to get what the client wants, you know, withstanding of all those.

[39:51] And I think over the years that we've kind of learned what we need to ask. And you know, I always tell our clients to family dynamics is huge on a wedding day. Um, you don't often have all your family together and so, you know, we asked those questions. Are Your parents married or divorced or they remarried? Have there been any deaths in the family that we need to know about? Um, who are your siblings? You know, in this day and age we have a lot of split families. It's very rare that we have, you know, the bride and groom's parents are both still married and have one nuclear family most of the time. You have a lot of split families. And so I think that's something too. We both come from split families. Both our parents are divorced and have been for years. Both our dads are marrying, both our moms are not, you know, we, we kind of know how that is from a personal standpoint.

[40:36] And so for us to, it's important to know all that and I think it makes things go so much smoother because we've asked the questions ahead of time and it's not something that they have to sit on the phone and answer with us. It's that they can fill these forms out on their own time. Um, I know especially the family piece, it helps the family photos just go smooth for us. We don't have to think about that because I know all these answers. Um, and I think that's [inaudible] why I say like the beginning of the wedding day is one of my favorites is [inaudible]. Then I'm putting the pieces of the puzzle together. I'm figuring out who his mom and his dad and his step mom and his Stepdad or you know, just kind of who's who. And so then it makes it go so much easier when we're going to do family formals and you know, we always get, you know, mom's wall in Dad's wall and the brides, you know, Brian's family side and the groom's family side.

[41:24] And really that's something that I strive for, especially coming from a large family illness, but family is making sure we have all those different combinations of people. Um, I did already in a few years ago and both the bride and groom's parents are divorced. They're both remarried. So you have four sets of parents. You have half siblings, step siblings. And so. But I knew all this ahead of time and family pictures went smooth and I had all four sets of parents come up to me later on in the reception and say, I can't believe that you just did that and you did it so smooth without there. There was no awkwardness, there was no pressure. There was no, you know, you got every combination we could ever think of. And they said, this is our third. It was the third wedding and the family and they said something's always missed or it feels awkward or it doesn't feel natural and that's something, you know, we, we try to make sure that every single wedding that that's, you want that to be just fun and smooth and natural and not standing around for hours taking these formal portraits and you know.

[42:21] So that's something that we really try to strive to make sure it's done well.

[42:27] Even when we started working together. I mean, I think I've gotten a lot of my forms and stuff, you know, from Ryan or, or help with contracts and stuff. I mean, it is something that you just can't, you can't teach experience, right? You can't teach, you know, years of, of work. And I mean even I know now like going into this season, you know, I feel more prepared than I was last season and so I can only imagine, you know, in another five years or 10 years, you know, I'm really refining that process and making it easy for the client because like you said, I made it really is kind of about their day and, and I think that efficiency that you guys bring I think is really, um, appreciated and I think that it allows for a lot more, you know, personal time with, you know, the couples and the more fun things, right? Because nobody likes to do family photos.

[43:13] I'm not trying to tell people and especially like when we're talking timelines and stuff and they think they need all this time for family photos. And I'm like, nope, 30 minutes, I can do the biggest families in 30 minutes as long as I've everybody there because we're just gonna, you know, boom, boom, boom. Go right through it. And I think that's the other nice thing about us is we have that kind of down to a science between the two of us, whereas I'm getting everybody in place. Ryan's taking the photo and so as he's shooting, you know, that section, I'm already, I already know in my head who I'm pulling out and who I'm putting in for the next photo because we know everyone to be those photographers that talk, you know, people talk about later of a family, photos took forever. We stood around and it was so unorganized and it's like, nope, we start big. We work our way down and you know, and that's something I think that over the years we've really been able to, you know, we have it down to a science now.

[44:02] I think, you know, being clear and upfront and being very transparent with the client is very important as well. And that goes back to my business experience. I, um, um, I worked with, uh, one of the departments that I work in. We dealt with, you know, customer complaints and I was able to take to heart why customers complain and I actually learned, um, you know, very early on in my career or how to make sure that, you know, you treat the client well, that you communicate with them, that your are in place. Um, that enabled them to, you know, to feel like you're communicating with them, to feel like you're being open. That there's nothing hidden. That stuff's not in the fine prints and we've never told a client, oh, well that's buried in the fine prints. It's everything is very transparent with us. Um, our processes even going down to our agreements.

[44:55] Everything is spelled out in our agreement and it's very, uh, uh, it was written by an attorney, but fine tuned by me to make sure that everything is very clear that it's not a, in some cryptic language, but it's very, um, what, what are the expectations? You know, when you, when you hire our studio, you know, here's where you took, you can expect from us, here's what will give you, but in return, this is what we expect from you. To have a successful relationship and to get successful pictures and um, we've really never had any complaints on that front where, you know, our client has said, well, I didn't know it was going to be this way.

[45:36] Yeah. I think in terms of wedding planning, either cross kind of any, any category, whether it's photography or photo booth or whatever. I mean there's a lot of like not fun parts about planning their wedding. I in terms of like, you know, meetings and calls and paperwork and forms and contracts and stuff. And so yeah, I think like having that process in getting people through, um, really gets to the fun stuff. Right? I mean, like you said, where you're kind of like you have everything in place. And then finally it's the wedding day. Um, I think is as exciting as the clients are for that to, to finally kind of come. I, I do think we are as well. I mean I, when I was in news, it would be a lot of you've learned an hour from now what you have to do or whatever. And then even the idea of having something six months for six months away and I look forward to it was unique and exciting to me. Um, but yeah, I think that you guys, um, have really fine tune that to kind of get a lot of the clutter out of the way. Um, because it's, it's kind of unavoidable. Uh, but I do think that it kind of leads to a more kind of seamless approach me that you guys think.

[46:43] Yeah, absolutely. And Yeah, nobody likes contracts and online forums and you know, and so it's something that we definitely have tried to fine tune and make it so, you know, we can get through all that and then enjoy the rest of it. You know, we've, we've taken things out in the years to that I'm like, uh, this doesn't matter. I don't really need to know this or something. I can figure out on my own or anything that we can kind of take out to make it. So it's just what we need and not anything more. It makes it better for the client.

[47:10] We have our systems to the, they, they talk to each other more now than they did in the past. And so you're not having to tell us the same information multiple times. So, um, I mean if you, for example, you put your, you know, your parents name and one of the forms, well now the system knows where your parents name is so you're not having to tell us multiple times while the, OK, this is my dad and this is what you need to now. I mean, everything is designed to be very, you know, very easy on the clients.

[47:41] One thing I'd like to talk to people about is, um, in terms of is there something you guys did have like gone to so many places and seen so many, whether bucket list kind of venues left or things you guys have left to do, whether it's abroad but especially here kind of in the Pacific Northwest. I mean, if you guys could have an ideal, where would you like to go? Or what would you like to see?

[48:02] It's like traveling for weddings. I mean, I, you know, Seattle, I mean, we've done seattle. Seattle is great. I'm gonna Grind. I mean there's some beautiful venues. Um, I, I don't think I can say that there's one particular venue I wish I would shoot at, but it's, I, I love. Um, I love think it's the people that make the picture. I mean, we can put a couple in any setting. It's the couples. What makes the pictures. So it's really hard to say that our, oh, I want to shoot at this venue or oh, I wish we could go. You know, I love sunset pictures. I love doing technical lighting on sunset pictures, um, church weddings. But it's, you know, it's, I think it's hard for me to say I want to narrow it down to OK, this particular venue.

[48:51] Can you answer this question? Are you answering OK. So outside of the Northwest, my bucket list, wedding locations, I would love to sue wedding in New York City. I think it'd be awesome. I would love to do, um, a wedding and there's a lot. I guess there's a lot of places I'd like to travel to a, I think New York will be fun. I think, you know, I've done a few destination weddings abroad and I think it would be amazing to do weddings, weddings in Europe, um, and be able to travel the, some of those destinations. Um, I think here in the northwest, I think, you know, as we over time, you know, shooting a lot of the same places, which is great. And I'd love to get over to the San Juans more. I think that's a, it's a fun destination here at home. It's very pacific northwest.

[49:41] Uh, but it's, it's fun for everybody. So I'd love to be able to shoot more over there. Um, you know, I think that you see new venues popping up every year and so it's kind of, when I see the new venues I want to shoot there, I want to see what they're like. So there's some, there's some new venues popping up to you. And then we have a lot of our favorites too that we know are kind of, we know we can get good stuff no matter what you know. And so, you know, I think that we're lucky to live in the area that we do. You know, when you look at Sonoma, Steven, like snohomish, when we first started there were a few wedding venues and now it's the place to get married. And how many, why didn't, you know, there's tons of new wedding venues every year out there.

[50:21] So it's fun to see some of those grow. Um, you know, I love Lord Hill farms, Hidden Meadows or to have, you know, some of my favorites. I love shooting at Monte Cristo and every one of my go to's. Um, yeah, I think, you know, we're lucky to live where we do because, you know, we, we love the venues to where you can get all different looks and feels just right in that one location I'm traveling from, from location to location can get your heart on her wedding day. And so, you know, when you have a location like Rose Hill and Michael too where you have, you know, the grass in the park kind of setting up at the venue, but then you go right down the hill to the White House and the beach and the boardwalks and you know, where you can get everything just from right there. So um, you know, I think it's fun to shoot at new places. It's fun to go to some of our old favorites too. So, I mean I'd love to do some more destination weddings as well too.

[51:20] Like Ryan said, that it is ultimately about the people. I mean I think it's funny, we did like Matthew and Alex's wedding over the summer and I think we ended up just having to do because of timing some of their portraits like on the sidewalk outside, right? Like maybe like where you wrote on paper and you're like, well that's probably not super exciting but it actually was like really cute and really fun and like they talk to each other's back and get like a piggyback ride and stuff. So I do think that it's kind of like both sides of that coin where absolutely, you know, you can make the venue kind of worked for you or else. I mean obviously like if you're on the beach with the sunset, you know, that can be amazing, but sometimes you're on a park side.

[51:57] We'd joke to like we've done receptions at the Elk lodge, like I can make an Elk lodge look good, right? Like, it's funny as a photographer, the things that you see and you know, when you're. Most people look at that and I'm like, oh that's no thank you. You know, and I, I tell our clients to, I'm like, I can make an alley look amazing. So it's all about how you see things too.

[52:18] If you take a picture, I mean a lot of times people will look at a picture and I look at the whole, the whole setting, they won't look at the components. We look at the components of the picture. So where somebody may see a backyard, you know, I look out at the backyard and I see I see are agreeing three and I see some red flowers and I see some, some grass, I see he's talking about my backyard. I have to have a visual reference. But I think what, um, you know, the, the smaller components of the picture and I think that's what helps get, you know, where you can take a picture that's maybe not as desirable and you make it more desirable because you, you're minimizing the, the components in the picture and you're basically focusing on one component versus the whole whole thing.

[53:07] When I think a destination weddings to, I guess I should say a little bit more about that because every time we've done a destination wedding, most of our clients have been from here. So we've traveled with them, we've got to know them. And so it's, to me it's fun because it's so much more than just the wedding day. Um, we travel with clients, you know, are there with them before the, you know, a couple days before the wedding and where they're at the rehearsal dinner and so it's fun because you get that whole experience with them as well too. So like this summer we have a wedding in Napa and so we're going down and, you know, the day before we're doing the meet and greet with all the friends and family and we're going to a winery and you know, so it's Kinda fun because it's that whole experience. It's not just the wedding day. Um, and so it's fun to experience that with people.

[53:53] One story I, I was, I meant to bring up earlier and I couldn't, couldn't find a good time, but we're talking about, reminded me of this last summer for more, more or a weekend where I got a last minute inquiry on, I think it was like a Monday or it might have been like the week before, but for the Memorial Day salary that. And I message you guys, um, because you're one of my go tos and you guys were actually on vacation in Europe. And what a 12 hour time difference or whatever it was and I think we were like literally on Facebook Messenger for like, you know, two or three days trying to figure out, um, you know, the details and stuff and scheduling and I just think that's kind of a testament to you guys. Right. In like your dedication. And I had been a heartbroken if I hadn't brought that story up. Yeah,

That was fun. Yeah. So we were over in Europe on vacation and um, we were traveling around and I got your, your facebook message

Yeah we were at a train station going to Berlin or remember we had like 30 minutes we had just left.

[55:02] Yeah. So we started messaging you and asking you about the clients and then the client had emailed us. But yeah, there's a 10 hour time difference. And so it was kind of the trying to juggle that and answered questions and the emails and stuff of the clients. And um, and we ended up actually talking to them to, on the phone while we were over there and answering questions and trying to send agreements and everything. So we could get it taken care of and yeah, it's kind of fun when you have experiences like that.

[55:32] I thought we were a bad ass because it's like it was 12 noon there, which was 2:00 in the morning and their clients don't know where in Europe. So they're thinking while they're answering their email at 2:00 in the morning. Really dedicated, but it's really 12 o'clock in the afternoon.

You guys were at like happy hour.

[55:46] Well yeah, we were sitting having a glass of wine, but you know, we were still answering emails. That's the joy of technology, right? Yeah. That was fun to book a wedding while we're on vacation and we're like OK, now when we get back we have this wedding and you know. So

[56:04] I mean in our systems are such. I mean we're, we were able to do that and with all the information's available to send the client. So it's not a. We weren't, didn't have to use the excuse. We're out of the office will be back in a week.

[56:16] Yeah, I don't, I don't think we've ever set an out of office email memo. I've, I hear those still. Yeah, it never happened with us, so you know, we try to be there and, and you know, it's a good thing we are cause then we got to book another wedding and you know, have more experiences. Right.

[56:35] Well, perfect. Well thank you guys so much for coming on today. Um, if people want to know more about you guys are interested in your services, what should they do?

[56:44] So they can visit our website, our website is, www.eventsbyhr.com. They can also send us an email info@eventsbyhr.com or they can also call us at a 4256109223.

[56:58] Perfect. Well thank you guys so much for coming in today. I really appreciate it. This has been another episode of Get to Know Your Wedding Pro. Check back next week for another wedding vendor interview. Thanks so much you guys. Thank you.

Episode 3 (Stephanie Skeffington, Seattle Flashing Lights Photography) - 

[00:09] Hey everybody, welcome to another episode of Get to Know Your Wedding Pro. I'm Reid with Best Made Videos. We are a wedding videography company based out of West Seattle Seattle, Washington. We do wedding videography, corporate videography, and basically film any other live event that you might have. And today I'm joined by Stephanie Skeffington of Seattle Flashing Lights photography and she has been so gracious to come in and talk with us a little bit about her professional background and why she's a wedding photographer. So Stephanie, why don't you introduce yourself?

[00:42] Well, hi everybody. My name is Stephanie Skeffington I am the owner of Seattle flashing lights photography, which is based out of Shorewood Washington, just a little bit south of West Seattle. Um, I have lived in Washington my whole life except for a little stint in college where I was down in Arizona and I've been doing wedding photography for seven and a half years, which has kind of flown by. Um, yeah, and I love what I do. It's Kinda the best job in the world, getting to meet new people and capture love stories all the time. Like it's pretty great. Yeah,

[01:21] Stephanie's actually my neighbor, I don't think we ever realize how, uh, how close we actually live to each other, but uh, and I will preface now and say that like any good podcasts or I went to a rock concert last night and lost my voice. So, uh, fortunately in the old deal, a lot of the talking today, but, uh, that was a good move on my part. I'm Stephanie. I was going on your website, uh, in, in preparation for this interview and um, you have quite a unique background. You're a certified pilot and uh, why don't you, uh, go back and even if it's before that, but you said you got a camera at an early age and started taking photos. Right?

[01:58] That's always a favorite question is like how long have you been doing this? And uh, obviously been in business for seven and a half years, but I think like most photographers I've been doing this my whole life, like I don't really remember a time that I didn't have a camera. So I got my first, my first official camera, which was still film, like the old school film when I was like seven or eight and it did not leave my side ever. Um, but yeah. So then I went to, I wanted to do, I love traveling, so I wanted to do something where we get to travel around. So I went into aeronautics and a bachelor's degree in aeronautical science. Um, graduated from embry-riddle Aeronautical University, which is where I met my husband and both of us are commercially rated pilot pilots. Pirates were also parents. It's very exciting, but we're a commercially rated pilot. Uh, my husband's actually a instructor pilot as well, but I'm graduated college during the economic downturn, so that was a great time to try to get into any kind of job. So I went into corporate. Yeah. And then I'm still kind of just pursued photography on the side. And uh, in 2011, a friend of mine from college who was actually a pilot as well, we started Seattle flashing lights, just kind of on a whim and it just took off. It was crazy.

[03:23] Going back to um, what was it about that, that appeal to you? Was it, you know, the sense of adventure?

[03:34] Yeah, it was mostly, um, I mean it's a really cool profession, like getting to fly planes. Um, I always joke around, I'm like working my way through the alphabet backwards, like doing piloting and now I'm a photographer, next will be petroleum operator. Um, but no, yeah, I really wanted to travel when it's you see the world and get paid to do it. Um, and that was really what drove me into, you know, pursuing a career in aviation and I actually worked in aviation for 10 years before, like entering during the start of my business too at Boeing and Alaska Airlines. I'm, I never actually flew professionally. Um, I have a commercial license so it's a little bit tricky. So you get a license, I'm qualified to fly prepay or higher, but then you have to get, like type rated in the planes that you want to actually fly and stuff. So I have a multi engine instrument rating as well, so I can fly multi-engine planes. I flew aerobatics for awhile. I'm kind of done the whole gamut. The only thing I haven't done is getting Roto, like helicopter certified or sea plane. Yeah.

[04:45] Hard to get certified. You gotta be smart. Right? Brave, right. I mean I couldn't do that. Talk about that.

[04:54] Um, yeah. I mean it was really challenging. So like during college, um, I was going to school full time doing my degree and then was also flying full time. Um, so I have four hours a day where I was either doing ground ground instruction time or flying in air instruction time and I got a multitude of licenses like while I was in college. But yeah, I mean it was, it was really challenging to deal with. My husband's like super smart so he had much easier time and lots of math, lots and lots of math.

[05:27] And so you guys met in college and then you guys had been together and you've been married for six years now. Almost eight as well. Um, so now you're a Boeing, you're working right out of college.

[05:38] Out of college. I worked, um, in. Oh my gosh. And the business side. So kind of moved around the company. I was in government work for awhile, like working with the Boeing defense side, um, did procurement, finance analyst work with them, worked on at AWACS program, got secret security clearance to work with them and traveled around a demo flight sims for them for awhile so it wasn't flying, but I got to actually demo the pad, which is the airplane that's taking over for the [inaudible] Orion, which is like super old for the navy. So the piano is like the new fancy airplane that they're selling today, US Navy. So I download, I blew around, um, to like Washington DC, got to go to the Pentagon and then demo their flight controls for like different, higher up maybe professionals. So it was pretty, pretty awesome.

[06:34] Um, so then why, why go out on your own? Was it from that then that you transition to photography?

[06:43] Yeah, I was at Boeing when I originally started in Seattle flashing lights, um, with my buddy Doug and he, we, we started it together because we're really good friends. He's obviously got a really great eye for photos as well, but had a great background like web design and could do a lot more technical stuff than I am capable of doing. So it was a really good mix and he actually still like, so I um, took over when he got married and he went back to Grad school and didn't want to be a part of the business anymore. So, but he still helps with a lot of my technical, my web design stuff still. So it's nice to have him around.

[07:20] Was it, was it scary to make that decision or. Oh yeah, I mean like anything

Like self employment is amazing. Like it's amazing to run your own business to have 100 percent ownership of what you're doing. Like corporate America is great, but you never. There's nothing like being. I mean, you know, there's nothing like owning your own business and every success and every failure your 100 percent responsible for. So it's um, that's really scary. But uh, when the success has happened, which is way more often than the failures, there is nothing like it. So, you know, anytime you don't do great you learn from it, you know, and that's what's kept me going and doing really well and being successful in photography too. And I think my background helps, you know, like I have a background in lean and lean certified, did that at Alaska Airlines. So that means like for processes and procedures, like going, especially for manufacturing, making things more efficient. So I'm pretty good with my workflow and process flow for from the point of like customer introduction to delivering my final products of photos. Everything's very organized and uh, moves very effectively and efficiently.

[08:38] Um, so then, uh, was it always going to be weddings or was it, was that the primary focus or are good question. Um, you know, honestly, when we started,

[08:49] uh, I think both of us, both doug and I were, we're just excited to be doing something we love so much. It had always been a passionate hobby of ours and to be honest, I wasn't, I, I couldn't believe people were actually going to pay me to do something I love so much. Um, which is great because obviously I have a huge passion for what I do. Um, but yeah, so we, we kinda just dove in, didn't really know what we were doing in terms of running a business, but we did know how to take really good photos. So, um, we kind of jumped in with both feet and you know, it's a little, it's, it's been daunting. There's been a lot of learning. I'm just from the business side of running things. But um, yeah, we didn't necessarily at first want to just focus on weddings, but it worked out that that was an area that both of us really enjoyed like cat because you get to capture a whole day's worth of story installed pictures, which I think is kind of a unique challenge in and of itself to tell the story within the words.

[09:48] Um, so yeah, it's been a, it's great to start and build a relationship with a couple. Um, we don't just show up the day of the wedding, were working with them ahead of the wedding, doing mutual engagement photos or at very least like talking through months in advance. And uh, there's, yeah, there's just really nothing like the relationships we have with our wedding clients, like I still do photos, like family photos with a lot of people that I worked with for weddings and it's so much fun to watch them grow not only as a couple but when they have kids and see their kids grow. Like there are several families I've worked with for almost the entire time we've been in business, so like seven years and now their kids are like in elementary school and it's really fun to like continue seeing their families grow and get to capture those special moments for them.

[10:34] I didn't know a lot about running business, you know, it's a daunting task. Are there any early mistakes or learning lessons, I mean obviously, but anything that stands out or anything that you thought man, like we could have done that better?

[10:48] Oh yeah. The biggest one was a sales tax. Washington is really tricky with sales tax, especially when you're running a service based company. And obviously I, you know, I have a unique background in piloting and corporate business. Um, but not from a, I'm not a tax accountant, um, when we were first starting off, we didn't really have the budget to hire a CPA, so we're doing a lot of research ourselves and relying on friends that were Cpas, um, but we got some bad advice and weren't collecting taxes correctly and got audited and it was a really, I mean, it was a great learning experience though because like I learned that, um, and it wasn't anything we were doing, like maliciously or anything, it was just a total misstep. We just had bad information and thought we were doing it correctly and weren't. And so we had to pay a fairly large backpacks tax.

[11:43] We hadn't collected taxes owed on the amount that we charged. So luckily at that point our business was in a very stable, successful place and we were able to do that without, you know, putting a huge financial strain on the company. But, um, I did learn that the Washington state auditors are very nice and they, um, are very, they're very willing to work with you, especially when it's an honest mistake. They understand that people, a small business is not an expert in everything, even though you have to be an expert in everything when you're run a small business.

[12:17] I think that's something that, you know, if you're like a wedding photographer, you're not just a photographer, you're a web designer and marketing and a contract manager CEO is very tough. Uh, well that's a good. That's a good lesson.

[12:31] It is. Yeah. And now, um, I have a wonderful CPA so we're doing everything perfect,

[12:39] which is great. I have a similar one. I brought on our account, there was a lot of questions about stuff and luckily I had paperwork and stuff that, you know, they called me up in the panic and it's like, oh my gosh. And I said, hell no, like making sure, you know, cause you wanted to do everything correctly.

[12:56] I mean, you, you on the forums that we are a part of [inaudible] that's like one of the biggest questions I think for all small business owners is like, the tax law is like so crazy and so confusing. So it's not, um, it's not a mystery as to why.

[13:11] Well, and it's different too for video than it is for further, which doesn't make sense to me at all, but we have been in like an entirely different, um, anyway, uh, do you get off of it, the tax here as we're, we're, um, uh, so, so you're doing weddings now? Uh, so if you, you started seven years ago flashing and then you guys have been here for eight years. So you guys were engaged when you were starting to either. How did that timing work out?

[13:38] It was right after we got married that the business started. So we were married in January. Um, well that's a little bit of a fun story to you. So we were officially married in June the year prior in 2010, uh, because my husband got laid off and we needed, um, insurance for him, so we legally got married in June and then waiting until January tablet or official ceremony. So our eighth anniversary is this June and then that's a drum roll until January first. Second. So then we started, um, after it was like in February, but the flashing lights kind of started taking shape.

[14:18] Where'd you guys get married just out of curiosity?

Fiji. Yeah, we're really, we're like avid travelers, which is great. I finally figured out that I don't need to work or get paid to travel. I just get paid and then I go on vacation, which is kind of awesome.

[14:36] Um, so you guys are newly married and getting ready to start your business. It's a lot of changes going on and talk about, uh, so I know that I became a better wedding vendor after getting married and where you guys had just gone that process. What was that like in terms of starting to do it again?

[14:54] Yeah, I think it gives you a lot of perspective. Obviously. I'm like how difficult it is for the couple planning, everything. And I worked with a lot of couples. I'm actually like, you know, Adam and Maria and I worked together for a wedding. That's how we met last summer was on last summer. Yeah. Um, know time just flies though. It doesn't even feel like almost a year. But um, they're, they're planning their wedding from out of town. I worked with a ton of people that are planning from out of state and I did the same thing when I got married. I was planning from Washington getting married in Fiji. I didn't get to meet any of my vendors so I was putting a lot of trust in people and I know what that's like. So I have a really good perspective on that when I'm working with winning clients. Um, and I feel like it gives them comfort knowing that I was in the same scenario like not terribly long ago doing that. Especially from out of country.

[15:47] Yeah. I think it's tough for me and I know that obviously you can be a wedding vendor a and not be married, but do you think that it gives you a unique where you've gone through that process and because I didn't know, you know, like when I deal with people or, and I had said like having cried at my wedding, like I totally get now the emotions from maybe I didn't get that before. I mean, do you feel like the same way

Absolutely and I, I mean I still like after seven and a half years of doing this, I still cry at every single wedding I photograph because um, you know, I get to know my clients and then B, I really liked my husband and we really liked each other so it always brings back those memories, like you remember what it was like when you were standing up there saying those vows to each other and your first kiss and how exciting the whole day was. And I mean just, yeah, the difficulty of planning a wedding, like you're working full time and then trying to play in this gigantic party and spending all this money. So we, yeah, I think it gives you a real, it gives you empathy for your clients. Like you understand what they've been going through, like the headaches and the challenges and just everything. It does not make me jealous of them either of doing all that planning.

[17:00] Yeah. Um, so, you know, early on you guys are doing weddings now. Um, I mean, was that intimidating? Were you worried? Were you nervous about, you know, just the pressure of it or

Um, I think we jumped in wholeheartedly and without a ton of, you know, background on it when we first got started that we weren't, um, we weren't, we didn't have the fear because we didn't know any better, if that makes sense. And even now I still get nervous before every wedding and I think that keeps me relevant and keeps me on my toes. It keeps me doing a great job at my craft. Um, I think if I got complacent that would be when we're looking at it. But um, yeah, um, you know, and now I guess I have a better perspective on like how, how things should flow and you know, obviously doing this for seven and a half years, you get a really good idea of like timelines and keeping stuff on track and making sure that your couples getting the most out of their time with you during the day. But we knew from the beginning though a wedding is a really unique event because you can't redo any part of it. You know, really like the first case, you can't miss that. You have to be, you have to be ready. So luckily we were never in a situation where we didn't capture something which is good, but there's always that fear, which I again, thanks I think keeps you on your toes and keeps you doing the right thing and then good.

[18:38] It's interesting. Yeah. Cause like you sit with a you and it's that one time. I do think a lot with, you know, photo and whether it's product photo or a or corporate. Others say with video, like sometimes people they're like, oh it's a wedding, but to me that's the most, the hardest thing because you can't redo any of it. You can't miss any of it. You know, you have to be on every second of the day, right?

[19:03] Yeah, exactly. You do what you have to be on your game from start to finish until like from the second that you arrive to the second you leave, you have to be ready to roll and paying attention and I'm giving your all to the people that you're working with because they have spent probably a year plus planning all of that and dumping a ton of money into creating this awesome day to celebrate their lives. So yeah, no pressure. Um, what's your favorite part of the wedding? That I love the couple of portrait time. Um, I don't like necessarily calling it like portraits because that seems a little stiff, but just like taking the bride and groom away from kind of the hustle and bustle of everything that's going on and spending time with just the two of them. When I first started, that wasn't necessarily a huge focus, but the more I've been doing weddings, the more I realized that that is a huge piece of the day. It's like getting them away and spending time just with the two of them together to take pictures so that they have a little bit of time to breathe too. Not just me selfishly wanting to take adorable photos, but yeah, I just um, so that's always been my favorite, like spending time with just the two people in seeing how much they're just feeling their excitement and I'm seeing their love for each other and yeah, seeing everything kind of culminate promised planning that they've been doing.

[20:30] No, I mean it's exhausting getting married and now I'm not all brides and grooms me and make it through. Sometimes it's, it's a long day. It's, I think it takes a special kind of, you know, a professional photographer or dj or whatever to to really nurture the couple through and kind of get them through that. I think it takes a special kind of temperament and skill. And so, um, uh, did, did your husband ever come help you in any way and starting now or.

[21:02] Yes, he came, um, to help, like do shot shot list, check off the different wedding groupings, the family poses and hope lights for me. Um, he did that like two or three times and hated every second of it. It's just not his jam. And that's OK. Um, he, he's very supportive of, uh, I mean the first three or four years of me getting my business off the ground was exhausting and I was gone. I was working full time at a corporate job and running my business and it is for a lot of people that could've broke the marriage, but he's been amazing since the beginning and he was the one that really pushed me into doing this full time. And because it is scary, it's scary to take that leap and leave the comfort of a corporate job to the unknown of self employment where you're not sure how each year is going to go financially. And it, it's been, I wouldn't have been able to do it without him just from an emotional, um, support stand point. I'm very lucky.

Do you find, I find with Dorothy. She helped me kind of that first summer and I think I have four weddings and she came to three a month and then it was like the more successful I got busier I got. Then it's like, oh, well you got this, like you actually need the help more. Did you ever find that? I'm like, man, I could really help, you know, I can really use your help now.

[22:28] Yeah. Um, well I was lucky to have that dog, my business partner at the time for the first four or five years that we were. Actually, it was four years that we were in business, so I had like a built in helper buddy partner and so that, that made it a lot easier. And I think Matt, my husband and appreciated Doug, my work husband even more because he's like, oh great. I don't have to be there to hold lights and check off your checklist of families. But yeah. Um, I think in maybe you can relate to this to the busier you get, obviously the better cashflow you have. And so then you can actually up your game and hire people to help you. Do stuff which is nice and it's invaluable when you find good.

[23:12] Um, so, so you said you, you were still in corporate, you started the business. Uh, so you said it was a four year transition.

[23:22] So we started in 2011 and then I officially became full time in January of 2016. So it's been two years, a little over two years. So what, what was that transition process like? Um, what at the time I was working at Alaska Airlines, which was a dream job for me. I love that company. I'm their customers are like a lot of companies in this area in Seattle, especially like Nordstrom's, Alaska, emulate a brand of customer service that I think I've built my business on. Like my customer service is one of the most important pieces to me. Obviously delivering amazing photos is a huge piece, but like offering the customers a great experience from start to finish is like so important, um, as a huge cornerstone of, of Seattle flashing lights. So anyway, um, was working in Alaska as a senior analyst for them in the warranty maintenance and engineering department. So I basically just put in my notice that, uh, the transition, it was a crazy busy job, like it was very time consuming and very stressful. Um, so it was taking a toll on my quality of life because I was working 50 hours a week at that job and then working still about 30 to 40 hours a week doing photo. So I was like, not sleeping, you're not doing anything, you know, I look back on it and I'm like, I don't know how I survived. To be honest.

[24:56] I couldn't. I mean, I always found that nine, 10 month transition brought the, almost the end of me and I could imagine that um, you know, stress out over five years. That's a lot.

[25:08] It was. Yeah. Um, so, but yeah, I mean the, when we actually decided, I think when Matt and I sat down to look at the actual possibility of me doing this full time was in June. And then the transition basically took about six months to like figure out when the best time was to like notify and give my work enough time to like find a replacement. And I didn't want to leave them hanging either because I still love that company.

[25:33] So what, and that is interesting that you brought up where you have that because of that customer service that you want to emulate because I didn't think about that a lot where you know, what we do in terms of like the visual medium. I mean it's a, you're right, like people may like your photos are not picking on me like, you know, my videos or not. But in terms of like things you can control, like everybody appreciates good customer service and everybody appreciates that sort of thing. So, uh, I guess talk about that more about what you hope to your clients, kind of that experience that you hope they go through it.

[26:05] Yeah. Um, I mean it's like I said, it's a huge cornerstone of my business. Um, I treat every client that comes to me. How, like, how I would want to be treated and you know, if there, if there's any issue that they encounter that something within my control, um, I want to do everything in my power to help solve the problem, to help whatever, whatever it is to help make it an easy transition. I know besides just I'm documenting a wedding day or like taking photos of a family or whatever it is and I want them to feel at ease with me and know they're in really good hands and that if anything were to go wrong, but I wouldn't just leave them high and dry ever. And I think it's reflected well. Like we've, we are the top rated photography business on yelp. If you search for photographer, we're the number one that pops up. We have a five star review all around and I have customers that have been with me for the entire time I've been in business even though my pricing has gone up, which I think speaks to the level of service that we provide them. They wanted to stick around because they like knowing the relationship factor too of course. But like they like knowing that they're going to be well taken care of always. So I'm talking about

[27:23] it's January now. You've, you've made that transition a, do you remember that first day or that first week when you were like, this is it, I mean, do you have any memory of that?

[27:34] Um, I remember being super excited that I didn't have to put on like work clothes. I think I spent the end, January is like January through march is usually my slower season because in Washington it's like the worst weather and obviously not high for weddings typically. Um, so I kind of purposely picked that time of year just so that I had an easier. I wasn't like hitting, hitting my busy season. I actually had like a whole week off and I got to sleep in. It was so amazing. Um, so I just remember like lounging around quite a bit, which sounds really professional and awesome, but it was definitely something I needed. I needed a little break.

[28:16] You're working 80, 90 hours a week, I think for a long time.

[28:21] Right? It was, I felt, I felt like it was well deserved.

[28:26] Um, do you, and this is probably a no-brainer question, but I mean, do you enjoy having the, uh, your own company and something that you can take pride in, in terms of like kind of how you present yourself out? I mean, I know that working in corporate, like you said, this is great, but it is something to have ownership over something your own

[28:45] 100 percent. Like I, I absolutely love my business. I love being self employed. I love creating my own schedule and I love being flexible. Like that's a big piece of the customer service to being flexible for my clients and not having to have a full time job to juggle with my business allows me to be extra flexible for the people I'm working with. Um, it's also really rad to actually get to spend time with my husband and I have a couple days off every once in a while, which is pretty exciting. And my work life balance is noodles better. I'm so much happier. But yes, owning my own business has been one of the best decisions that I've ever made in my life. And I'm so glad I took the leap.

[29:29] Yeah. And not that you can't, um, you know, do, do both and be successful. But I do think when it, when it is your primary focus in your primary source of income that, like you said, that flexibility and that service does through we're like, yeah, you're trying to juggle and can work weekends or critical days, don't like you may just not be able to be accommodating. Even if you want to write, I have to go to work or I have to. And so I think that, um, having that sole focus, I think writing, like you can just meet your clients kind of whenever they need maybe because it's, you're able to build your schedule around that.

[30:03] Um,

[30:05] I did want to say, uh, so you guys just got back from a trip, right? When you're talking about work-life balance and you guys go somewhere super exotic. I saw on Facebook,

Well unfortunately this year my husband doesn't have a great amount of vacation time, so I had been doing a lot of traveling, which is really awesome that he is supportive of that. I actually just started working with a travel company as well, um, in terms of doing photos for them, which has been amazing because as I told you, getting into piloting was so I could travel. Um, it's been a cool transition to see the photography marry up with. One of my other passions is traveling. Um, so I'm working with a company called troopers journeys and it's a startup out of Austin and I just got paid to go to Ecuador and take pictures of an eco lodge out there and a nature photos of all the animals and wildlife and all that. It was amazing. So yes, I just got back from that. Um, but it was technically a work trip, but that's great if that's your goal. I'm actually going to Nicaragua at the end of this month with them again and doing a yoga retreat out there and they really focus on sustainable travel. So like five percent of all of their profits go to the local community to either do more education and women's empowerment and like ecological preservation for like the area. So I, I totally get on board with all that because I'm very much a dirty hippy when it comes to environmental work and being sustainable. So

Do you, is that going to be a focus now or partial focus?

[31:46] It will be, yeah. I hope this kind of opens some new, uh, you know, obviously everything with photos you can get into an area, but it's to, I feel like to keep myself creatively relevant. It's good to not just do one thing all the time. I'm obviously do weddings, you know, I'm really good at doing weddings, but um, you know, I switch it up, do family, newborns engagement, which is kind of wedding related. But um, it's been amazing doing something completely different with the travel photography. But to kind of answer your question, my husband, we're saving up all of our vacation right now. We're on vacation. We're going to Antarctica next, this upcoming January, and that will be the last continent that will check off my list.

[32:27] I saw that as well. Uh, that you've been to. All the continents are big travelers.

[32:31] Yeah. So we're really excited. We're going to Buenos Aires and then I'm down. We're taking like a two week boat ride to the actual continent Antarctica and will be camping one night, only one night on the continent. So I'm really stuff's Kinda terrifying. Terrifying. Yeah. But that's, that's our jam, you know, it's the adventure.

[32:53] Um, so to get back, uh, so, so now you're, uh, you're working full time, you're doing weddings a, you're loving that, happy, successful.

Um, what, was there a point there now? Like do you feel like it's just kind of being on that upward growth or do you feel like there was a point where you feel like, OK, we're really cliquey now or we're really, I'm really doing what I'm supposed to be doing in terms of like numbers and clients and happiness and things like that?

[33:23] Well I think, um, you know, kinda working full time in corporate America while I was building up my business, allowed more flexibility for me to like get my feet under myself and make sure that I was on track to doing what I wanted to do financially. Um, so that I didn't feel like I was struggling my first year. Um, you know, photography especially with weddings is kind of unique because your people are planning pretty far out in advance. So it's nice because you usually book weddings a little bit further in advance to kind of have a projection of what you're going to deal with, which can be both a blessing and a curse because if you're not looking out then you can get a little stressed because there are some last minute, you know, planners or people. I'm a people not jumping on the, the photography piece of their wedding as soon as maybe they should to ensure availability.

[34:21] But, um, no, I think I really, the first year that I went full time with photography, it was the year I felt like I really reach my financial goals. Um, yeah. Anytime you do any changes, I feel like, um, it takes, it takes your business a little time to stabilize after doing a rebranding or price changes or anything. Um, but I felt like my skill level and the experience that I was offering my customers deserve to a more appropriate price point. So I did increase my pricing and offered more to my clients and this past year 2017 I saw a decrease in bookings, but it was kind of Nice because I was able to offer that was part of the goal was I wanted to take on less clients and offer a more personalized approach to their wedding photos, which is exactly what I was able to do. So

Talk to me about Seattle flashing lights where you talk about, you know, your brand new. If you could sum up kind of what you are about or what you want people that are looking for when they find you. What is that?

[35:26] That's a good question. Um, I think my ideal client is somebody who fully trust in my creative process. Like obviously you can go on mine and see. I have a lot. I have a large portfolio, have lots of full collections people can see. So like you said, it's very subjective. If they liked my work, they liked my work, but I want them to put trust in me and know that they're hiring me to do a job that, that I will do well and I'm not necessarily micromanage or try to show me a pinterest board with 8,000,000,000 photos on it that they want me to mirror, you know, because I feel like that doesn't help the creative process. Um, so yeah, my, my ideal clients are people who trust me, who are, who are fun to be around and uh, enjoy living life, you know, not putting the entire focus of their wedding planning on the actual planning, but on the fact that they're getting married and they're marrying their, their person. Um, because I think that's, that's the end goal of the wedding is that you get to them and be married to somebody and it's great to put a lot of emphasis on the details and planning. But, um, they, you know, I, every time I talk to my duke, my pre-wedding console with my clients, I always like try to like remind them like, enjoy this, this is the last, the last time you're not going to be husband and wife and like this is a big, this is big time to me. Still is one of the best days like I've ever had in turn. Memorable. Yeah, the energy and the couple. And they were excited, obviously. Beautiful. But I mean just, it was just something about like, I don't know, it was just something in the air that day. I mean even going back now, I'm like watching that video again. And just so if that's the kind of clients that you're attracting, I mean then that's obviously gotta be pretty infectious, you know, to you and pretty addicting, right to that kind of energy. And we talk about that.

[37:24] People that I do get to, I get the opportunity to work with, have similar personalities to me and I feel like we've done a good job with my branding to attract the right fit. Because it is such a personal business. It's not, you know, it is a business, but at the same time, like it's really personal photos, that's what you're going, how you're going to remember everything or videos, how you remember the whole day, all the rest of your investments that you make for your wedding, that's how you're going to archive them is with the pictures or the videos. So it's a really important job, right. But, um, I feel like the people that I attract are more on my personality level, which is awesome because then we click and it makes it way, way better for both of us. Like they feel a rapport with me, I feel to record with them. Um, we get excited, you know, together and feed off that energy together and it's great. And I feel that way about the wedding pros that they work with to like obviously it was really fun working with you and uh, we kinda had a similar work process that we did while we were there and enjoyed the couple, enjoyed the day, enjoyed everything. So

[38:32] I mean that, that goes directly into like, like I wanted to do this interview series and in cause nowadays I do think a lot of the Times people are choosing their wedding vendors, you know, because of who they are because of their personalities and you know, they might meet with, you know, 10 or 15, you know, I mean I know all the couples meet with a lot of photographers, especially for the book. And so I think that like, you know, whoever like whenever your personality is now is very important than like instrumental in like the businesses that you have, like the types of clients you've attracted. I think like you coming on and doing this is so important because that does show kind of your personality and that people that are attracted to that, you know, we'd be attracted to work with you.

[39:13] Yeah, I totally agree. And then like the, you know, obviously I think everybody who's been in the wedding industry for awhile that they like to work with, right? And that they refer other people out too, which is great because it's like when a couple's going into their planning, that's it's overwhelming, you know, there's, it's great that there's one wire and the knot and Google reviews and yelp and, and all that. But like they don't know those people reviewing from anywhere. So if they find a vendor that they feel like they're really clicking with and it has a similar style of work that they like the personality that they like and then refers them to other vendors, they can kind of rest assured that like, dude, you've been doing this for a really long time. Like, you know, the people in the industry and these are people that I can trust and that will probably have a similar style and feel in terms of their personality and quality that you as the vendor that they hired do as well. I hope. Anyway.

[40:09] Um, talk to me about, um, you know, so I'm Mary Jane and I'm going to get married and I am interested, you know, in, in your photography. Walk me through that process, right? What is the experience of somebody working with you all flashy lights? What does that look like?

[40:26] Um, well, usually it starts with an email. Um, I mean it can, we start with the call too, but usually we get an email in and um, I always like to meet up with my potential wedding clients first. You know, I give them some basic information to see if we're a good fit in terms of basic pricing style, all of that. And usually it's right away we are because they've done some research, but then I definitely want to meet up to make sure that I'm a good fit for them personality wise and that they're a good fit for me too because like I said, it's so important to like be able to feed off of each other through the entire creative process and make sure we're spending the whole day together. I don't want them to be miserable because they don't enjoy spending time with me.

[41:11] Like that's not going to do anybody any favors. So like, if I'm not their style, um, in terms of how I am as a person, it's not going to hurt my feelings because I want them to have a good day, you know, so we meet up, usually I like to see if they want to grab a beer or coffee either is totally fine. Um, and then we just chat and be like, look through a more extended portfolio of my work. I get to hear more about like how they met here, more about their story, um, answer a lot of questions for them and just spend some time talking and getting to know each other and then if they decide on the right fit, it's always a celebration. We contract from there. And then, um, I continued to help them answer questions and stuff throughout the whole planning process.

[41:54] Um, I do have a list of preferred vendors, trusted vendors that I have loved working with and happily send them their way just to help with, um, their planning process. And then usually we do an engagement session so that they can, in a more low key setting, get to see how I work. It really helps too because then the day of their wedding they have the full amount of trust. They know what I do specifically with them so they can see or they already know, like she's going to take great photos. Even if we feel awkward, like you can always just seem like they just feel so much better. Especially usually the guy. So I'm not like, that's something people do on a normal basis. Like pay somebody to follow them around and take pictures. I mean, maybe they do, usually not my clients. Um, so yeah, it's great.

[42:45] So it gets worked with them ahead of time. Um, and then we always have a pre-wedding console, you know, a couple of weeks before the wedding, I send them over some homework. I have a shot list that I provided them to make sure we're all on the same page because I want them to maximize their investment in me to make sure I'm getting what exactly what they want. Um, because it is all about them, to me that's, that's the service I want to provide is like, it's never cookie cutter. I always want to get to know my clients, know exactly what they want, you know, it's so hard. I, I developed such great relationships with all of my clients to be honest. I don't mean to sound like cheesy, but it's true. Like I could any of the weddings that I've done in the seven and a half years I've been doing this.

[43:35] I remember their names, I remember their probably the names of their bridal party, their colors, like where are they got married? Like I, it's important to me like I'm being invited into their, one of the most important days of their life, the beginning of their official love story, right? So, um, each winning I feel like is so unique anymore that there's, there's cool things about each one. Um, I did just have a winning winter wedding and Suncadia this January and it was so amazing. Like everything about it from start to finish was amazing. Like the couple was just awesome. They totally trusted me and they were so much fun to work with. It was a little bit smaller of a wedding, but like they really paid attention to the details and they were so all about each other that it was so much fun to like watch them. That's you, Britain, Delaney. If you watch this, you guys were so rad. I had so much fun working with you. Um, so I know I'm going to point them into the direction of this podcast. But yeah, it just like, it was a great way to start 2018 like totally refreshed me and you know, gave me so much energy about the upcoming wedding season because it was just snow, like snow at a wedding. So. Awesome. Yeah, everything about it was great.

[44:52] Do you ever, uh, do you ever get anxious? I know that uh, you know, October, November, whenever things start to slow down in Seattle and then it is like that except for maybe, Oh, you know what? Either whatever, but like do you feel that need to be creative in, in be doing things like that?

[45:12] Um, well yeah. You know, like to kind of almost like refresh your creative eye right. I, you know, it's, it's great. I get to do a lot of side projects. I'm just on my own, especially with like the travel that I get to do for me because I don't just do weddings. Um, my busy season stays busy usually until mid December because I'm doing a lot of family pictures and like holidays and stuff. Um, but yeah, so for me, slower season is usually like January through march and that is the time I get to kind of refresh myself. Like take some time off. I usually do a lot of travel during that period just to like get away because I don't get to vacation during the summer, you know, you're, you're editing when you're not taking photos are not doing video, you're editing and you're delivering in galleries and you know, meeting with clients and all of that. All of those behind the scenes fun things. Uh, but yeah, it's, it's good to like go out and hike around the area or just like get out and take pictures of stuff that you fully want to take pictures of it and sometimes I forced like my family into doing like my sister and my nephew have forced them into doing photos just because I get to do that.

[46:22] Do you? I am and you've spoken to mean you do this. The second again, another obvious question, but one thing I lament as a videographer is the need for a professional videographer is like your wedding and then maybe if like your sister's getting married where I always do have envy where you get to live with. I mean I really do because like you said, you get to do the wedding, the engagements, you know, family or newborn photos. I mean talk about that and just being able to live with your clients like that.

[46:54] It's, it's so awesome. Like I said, I, I just absolutely love the fact that I have families that had been wearing a, they are families on because they have kids and you know, like they, I've been watching them grow and documenting their lives for years and it's just such an important part of it invigorates me and it's just so much fun to like see a family from the time we've done engagement photos to like their kids going into school and like getting to see them once a year actually just booked a family. They have a little boy who I think he's turning four this year and I've worked with them from engagement all the way through and I get to see them every year and it's so fun to like see how big he is now and getting to continue to tell people's stories over the years with my photos is one of my favorite parts of the job. And like just the amazing clients that I've, that have now become friends, um, is just so special.

[47:52] Something I've been thinking a lot about lately. I think the only other. My wife's a teacher and I think that that maybe has a similar right where obviously you're, you're these kids and then they go on and you're kind of able to see, but I do think that our industry is unique in that way where even if you only touch that client, you'll one time or two or three, you know, that you're able to kind of follow them and be with them. Right?

[48:19] Oh yeah. And it's, I mean this might sound a little creepy, but like I've gone over to client's houses, like to do family photos with them or whatever and to see it like to go into their home or obviously the welcoming into somebodies home like that and then capture their life is fantastic, but then you walk in and you see your work up on their walls and you're like, this is why I do what I do is because I'm preserving these moments for them that obviously they treasure as well. Um, they find value in and there is nothing, nothing like that. It's great.

[48:48] Tell me about your first wedding.

[48:52] It was super small. It was at, see I remember the couple was Bill and Olga and they got married, um, over at woodland park, the Rose Gardens over there. So like outside of, um, the woodland park zoo, their photographer had fallen through and they contacted us the day before their wedding, but it was like 11 people and that was our very first wedding. It went great. Their photos were on our website for a really long time because they were awesome. But even that first year we, um, we had an 11 weddings that we shot our very first year, um, but a much smaller scale, which was a good way to get our feet under us to get an idea of what we wanted to do. But yeah, even that there was so much energy and so much love and like seeing bill the first time he saw his wife that day, you know, like the first time their first look. Um, I don't remember any other feeling like that, like just, you know, like the excitement and the love and just, you could just see everything on their faces. And it was just, it was so awesome and it doesn't get old like that never gets old. So yeah.

[50:07] What's next in terms of professionally, where do you see yourself or what's your next big goal or milestone?

[50:18] Um, I really want to get into more intimate weddings. That's kind of my favorite genre to, to work with, um, particularly because I feel like the focus for people that are doing smaller weddings, um, they're really focusing again on their marriage, their love for each other. They don't necessarily have to have every single detail exactly perfect because their relationship is perfect to them, you know, and to, to people in their life. And so they're really focusing on celebrating that love. Um, I think it's more my style to like my husband and I had a really small wedding, um, all the people there, it was like 30 people obviously because we are getting married in Fiji, but, but that's just more my speed. And um, so I'm really trying to like market myself more towards a more intimate weddings. That being said, the big weddings can be really fun and really awesome to like Maria and Adam's amazing. Truly.

[51:18] I remember sitting there filming a cocktail hour. It was like surreal and I'm like, Oh that Steve Ballmer sitting right there. He didn't totally see ball. He goes, oh yeah, that's like our neighbor or replay it all for. It was something like super casual, you know, richest man in the glass in these stands in here at the cocktail hour one.

[51:48] Yeah. That, I mean, that was just such a gorgeous. Have such gorgeous wedding.

[51:55] If people want to learn more about you, what you do, what you're about, where should they reach out? Where should they look? What should they do?

[52:05] A website. It's www.seaflashinglights.com. There's a lot of wonderful information in there and they can always reach out via facebook, instagram. Um, I would like to think that my instagram page is fairly exciting. I post a lot of professional stuff, but also a lot of like day to day stuff. Um, you will see a lot of my dogs on there because they're adorable and amazing. But uh, yeah, instagram's great. Facebook is great. Email is always great. Call me up. We can go grab a beer and go grab a coffee. I love talking about my passion, which is Seattle flashing lights and doing photos. It's great

Bucket list venues around here. I mean, obviously you can check out.

[52:54] I don't, I'm going to space on the name, but it's the, I think is it tree house point, the one that has the tree houses over in his acquire, something like that. Yeah, it just looks so unique and amazing. I would really like to do a wedding over there. I feel like that would just be a fun venue to work at and just really unique. Um, I also wouldn't mind doing like an elopement or something smaller up at a rattlesnake ridge. That'd be pretty Rad because it's so beautiful up and your big outdoors-y yeah. Um, but I mean there's just, there's so many venues, so many venues. I'm Chateau St Michelle, I feel like would be a really cool one to do a wedding at two. I haven't been up there yet. Yeah. Perfect. Well thank you so much for coming on today. I really appreciate, uh, your time and willingness to come on and share your story and uh, this has been a lot of fun and uh, stay tuned. Next week we'll have another professional wedding vendor interview coming up. Thanks for listening on. Get to know your wedding pro. Thanks.

Thanks Reid.

Episode 2 (Alan Chitlik, Puget Sound DJ) - 

[00:09] Hey everybody, welcome to get to know your wedding pro. I'm Reid with Best Made Videos. We are a video production company based out of West Seattle, Washington. We do wedding videography, corporate videography and film basically any other live event that you might have. And today I'm here with a very special guest, Alan of Puget Sound DJ and Alan is a dear friend of mine. And Alan, why don't you introduce yourself?

Well you did such a great job. I'm Alan Chitlik of Puget Sound DJ and I am indeed. Reid's friend and I'm thrilled to be chatting with you today.

And, uh, Alan, we go way back. Uh, you actually was, were my DJ for my own wedding. And uh, how was that experience?

[00:48] Great. It was great. I, I, you know, it was fun to get to know you professionally and then get to know Dorothy or now wife from the standpoint of all the wedding planning.

[00:58] And so I wanted to bring Alan on here today to help launch this podcast in our new interview series. A because he is a friend and I think he's somebody that's very talented than somebody who's work I stand but B I do think has a very interesting story and one that I think would really translate well to kind of this long form interview series of podcasts that we're doing. Um, first off, Alan, why don't you just tell us a little bit about, uh, what is a wedding DJ what is it you guys do?

[01:28] So I am a sole proprietor of puget sound. Dj is basically my company name. So when I work with a couple it is me and that's important for couples to know. There are some DJ companies that are literally that and they've got multiple DJs that you may or may not meet, you may or may not develop a relationship with. And that's fine for some people. For some people who want to have a partner by their side and know who that partner is. That can be one of the benefits of going with more of a sole proprietor, standalone DJ.

[02:04] And when people talk about, you know, a DJ versus an MC or you know, I think a lot of people kind of intersperse those words. Can you give a little bit of background and like what do you do as a DJ? What do you do as a master of ceremony?

[02:18] That's a great question. So I think when most people are starting to plan their wedding, they think of DJ and they think of music. They're like, OK, this DJ is going to help me play music and people are going to dance. And then as you get a little bit more into it, you realize that there's a lot more to it and a lot going on. In my opinion, the role of an MC is so critical to your whole day where you want to make sure your guests know what's going on and that they're engaged with you and your story as a couple. So I think that it's important to evaluate as you look for a DJ, for somebody who you feel confident in both of those skills.

[03:09] Yeah. I see a lot of the people post or are frequently asking about just simply play music at the ceremony, you know, what's the best ipod setup or what's the best way? Is this possible? I mean, what do you tell people or what do you think, uh, what advice would you have for people that maybe think that they don't necessarily need that?

[03:28] I think that you have two distinct areas. In most case you've got a reception area where usually you will eat and then you will celebrate and then you've got your ceremony area. And for me the ceremony is really the heart of your day. It is why you are pledging yourself to this person and you want to make this very public. And it's nice when couples can be heard and when their vows come through and usually if there's a bride in the wedding, they have selected a song to come down the aisle to that's meaningful to them. And so you really want someone who can make sure that all of that happens appropriately. Um, so that for ceremony sound, in my case, I set up whole separate sound system and have the music there. I have a microphone usually on the efficient and the groom and I have several sources for the music just to make sure I've got a backup because I think that ceremony is very important and I think every has got to figure out what their values are and what their priorities are. And for some couples that's not going to be that important and that's great, but for others who are, then it's very legitimate to ask your DJ or however else you're going to get your ceremony amplified, figure that out.

[05:02] So nowadays you focus mostly exclusively on weddings. I'm sure you guys do other live events as well. What I want to go back now and talk about kind of where you got your star and I guess what were you doing before you got into being the wedding DJ?

[05:18] Sure. Well, I, I'm going to take you all the way back. I grew up in Louisville, Kentucky and my dad was a pharmacist and he was a pharmacist in an era where the men did one thing their whole life and literally I saw him come to home from work almost every day and it was the same for him. You know, virtually every day he was counting out the prescriptions and he was giving advice to the patients about how to take the medicine and things like that. But I really felt like he was bored and so one of the lessons that I always took from that was that I wanted to do something that was different every day and that had a different set of challenges. And so in my. My first career actually out of college, I was a newspaper reporter and I can hardly even tell you how much change there isn't that one day you might be covering a trial, one day you might be covering at county fair, one may day you may be covering a company being bought or something like that.

[06:27] But it really caused me to have that experience where it was always different and I just loved that so much and probably one of the things that I still draw upon from those days is an ability to listen because as a good reporter you have to understand what the people are telling you so that you can communicate that. And when I work with a couple now I really focus on what they are telling me as well. So I love personalizing weddings. I love figuring out what is it that makes this couple of tick and how can we present that. So I do take the time to listen and sometimes I'll keep asking questions and just to try and find out what is it that's going to make this evening unique and different and not some sort of cookie-cutter wedding. My travels eventually took me to Seattle where I worked in the corporate world for awhile at what we sent him.

So we would call the Redmond software giant and some of what I did there involved doing different presentations and things like that. So I would literally be on the road and be doing demonstrations of Microsoft products and I even had one event where Steve Ballmer and I shared the stage and what that gave me was a pretty strong confidence in my ability to be in front of a crowd and gather people's attention and communicate what I needed to communicate. And I think those presentation skills are so helpful to me today. When you have a wedding DJ, you want them to be able to communicate with all your guests and let them know what's going on. I mean there are times where I'll hear back, I never knew the cake cutting was taking place and you want somebody as a couple. You want somebody who's going to give the guests all the information that they need so that they understand everything that's happening. I enjoy introducing a wedding party so that the guests know who are these people so important that they're standing up with this couple on their wedding day. To me, that's important. I absolutely introduce everybody who's giving a toast and try to get the guests in a of mind to understand why is this person so important to the couple and to pay attention to them. So there's elements in that background of Microsoft years that really still come into play. Every wedding I do,

[09:10] I will really, uh, echo that sentiment of, of your organization and kind of knowing, um, you know, making sure that you introduced specific people. I mean as a videographer, I don't know how many weddings I go to where like we're getting ready for the entrance and the Dj is with the mother of the bride. Like, OK, now who's coming up next or you know, before the toasts, like, OK, well how many toes and you know, like for our wedding, you know, you were instrumental along the way with making sure that we knew OK, well, who are the people that are going to toes, why are these people toasting, you know, when should the toe sap and all those sorts of things. So, uh, I mean, I definitely agree that, you know, you need to have somebody more than just hitting play on the ipod or whatever, that somebody that's really working with you in terms of kind of who's important for your day. Going back to, um, when you were a newspaper reporter, do you feel like that got you used to maybe a little bit more of the organized chaos is a wedding today. Do you think that that made you really good on your feet in terms of knowing, you know, being adaptable or how, what skills did you learn back then that you still translate now?

[10:20] I would definitely say organization is important for a DJ and really your whole wedding team, I think you want to find people who have that in their background. But yes, as a reporter, you're often even just on a single story, you're trying to gather different sources of information and bring it all together in a way that makes sense to everybody. And you know, in the same way I might go to a couple's wedding website, I might chat with some of the people in their wedding party or their parents or things like that to really, really, really fully understand who they are and what their relationship is all about. And that way when I introduced them into the reception, I can make sure that I have all the nuances and all the things that really help tell their story.

[11:18] Yeah, I would agree with that. I think that, you know, when we were planning our wedding and a lot of the questionnaires and other things that, you know, you had us fill out and I think that research that you did I think really did help, you know, when we had our grand entrance and you were able to give a story, you know, about the proposal and I do think it makes the audience or the people that are there, the guests really feel like you're connected to kind of what's going on, um, that you are more than just somebody that's kind of in the corner. I mean, do you think that that's important? And obviously you do, but why do you think that's so important?

[11:48] Well, for me, the really rich reward of this job is to work with a couple and and get to know them and help them get the wedding that they want. Not just play good music and create a dance party, but really understand at a very fundamental level what makes, what makes them tick and what do they want from their wedding and try and help them get that. And I think the only way you can do that is to have this personal relationship. I'll tell you a quick story. I learned once about a DJ company in town that trained there DJs to say bride and groom all the time. And the reason they train their DJs to say bride and groom all the time is in case you forgot. Then you wouldn't be on the spot. And I want to tell you, you know, I, if you say now I'd like to welcome the bride and groom for their first dance.

[12:53] That is way less impactful. Ladies and gentlemen, for their first dance, Dorothy and Reid, you know. And so I get to know all of my couples and I'm not gonna, forget any of their names. Um, and so to me that's, that level of personal relationship is really important and it helps make the career quite satisfying and I think from a couple's standpoint, knowing that somebody is going to take the time to get to know you and have your back boy, that can just give you a lot of confidence on your wedding day. So going back to when you were working at Microsoft, um, where you fulfilled there, were you happy? I mean, why, why, why aren't you still doing that today? I guess it was a, it was a corporate job. That was fine for a while. Uh, but I, I never intended to stay in the corporate world forever. And what had happened for me, I was always that music guy I had, I'm almost ashamed to admit 2000 cds. I'm used to go to all sorts of concerts and things like that. And so, um, my friend Annie called me on a Wednesday and said, Hey Alan, might my DJ just bailed? Can you DJ my wedding?

[14:26] Yes, Annie, I can, um, and I and I went and she had a very clear idea of what music she wanted to hear and it was in an era where it was mostly about the music. Then, um, I don't think I did introduce the people who are giving toasts or whatever, but um, I really enjoyed it and I was so happy for her that it went well. And then I, I ended up sort of starting to DJ for some of my work friends. I was in a department where lots of people were in their twenties and getting married and so it was very obvious to them, hey, I'm going to DJ for a wedding. And I really came to enjoy it.

[15:05] I mean, did you have the equipment or. I mean, how did you, it's not a simple feat, you know, the DJ wedding like that.

[15:12] In my early days, I would rent I, that was my, my quote-unquote fee for those friends was I asked them to reimburse me. But then as I started doing it more, I started buying more and more equipment. And over the years, especially as I went full time and committed myself to it, uh, I have found that having good equipment and having backup equipment can make a lot of difference. I think in particular, having good speakers and good microphones will help everybody here. Everything. And when somebody gives a toast, you want to hear that inflection in their voice and if it's the ceremony and the groom is getting emotional and his voice is cracking during the vows, you want to hear that. Like those are big moments over the years I've definitely upgraded all my equipment, big garage full of it.

[16:09] Um, so then how did that final transition work, uh, when you decided to kind of take the lead full, full time, how was that a scary decision where you sure are?

[16:19] How did that come? I think anytime that you, that you dive into the unknown, it can be a little bit scary. But my, my wife was still working at a corporate job and so we had that. And um, I just really, really, really knew that this was something that was going to be fulfilling for me. And it's just exceeded all my expectations.

[16:49] Yeah. So, and I probably should have prefaced with you are married, uh, you guys have an amazing family. Did you guys have kids at the time when you were starting out or how.

[16:58] I had weddings a many years prior to us getting married or a skin having our twins. Um, but it's also a field that is great for me in my family situation where I get to be with my kids mostly during the week, you know, I get to take them to school, get to pick them up. And most of my work is evening meetings and events on weekends. And so we never had to have daycare and I have, it's, it's worked out great. And honestly at their school, uh, I was a pretty cool that um, you know, if I had still been at Microsoft and been going to school, like that's not uncommon in this area, but at their school or their elementary school being the DJ was pretty, pretty cool.

[17:59] That's awesome. That's really funny to think about. Um, so now you're, you know, your Puget Sound DJ, you DJ weddings full time. Uh, was it immediate an success is start slow. I mean, I joked with Dorothy when, when I was doing my interview that, you know, after I took the leap and quit my job, um, there are a lot of really long dog walks and a lot of really a lot of the time I spent volunteering at school trying to fill my time. What was it like when you, when you quit your corporate job?

[18:33] I would say for me, I knew pretty early on that if I was going to do this, that I would, that I wanted to do it well. And one of the challenges in the field like deejaying and wedding videography as well, is that you are doing it alone. You're, you're not in an office environment where you can talk to 10 people who just do the same thing you do. So I completely embraced training and education. I went to the National DJ Conference for many years in a row, um, any resource I could get my hands on in terms of training DVDs and, and I would travel all over the country for workshops which are usually six to eight people and you get up in front of the other students in the workshop, you're being videotaped and the instructor says, OK, how would you introduce this mother son dance, and then you show how you might do it and then you get critiqued on it. No, I didn't believe you. You didn't have a lot of emotion. It's pretty intense, but it really helps you understand more about your role and makes you able to do it so much better. So I committed myself to a lot of those kinds of things. So it really helped me elevate my skill level quite a bit.

[20:06] That's absolutely fascinating and I would never even think that that sort of thing exists. What were some of the biggest lessons that you learned from that? Or are best advice that they gave you or takeaways?

[20:18] I think that when I first started, before I went to my first workshop, I had a fear of not getting in the way is an MC, you know, cause there is a reputation of DJ was sort of being too much of a clown or feeling too desperate or not and I never ever, ever wanted to be that guy right there. DJ was so annoying so I back in that era was too quiet and, and, and I didn't do enough. But as I took, workshops are learned the importance of being a good skilled mc because with that capability you can really enhanced the reception for people. You can really let everybody know what's going on. You can really represent that couple on the mic. So it gave me a lot more confidence to take some control. One of the lessons though that I learned is that every time you speak on the mic, you are inviting every guest to pause their conversations.

[21:36] So every time you get on the mic you're interrupting. And so you really, really, really want to only interrupt for something important. And I take that to heat. So for instance, if I'm in charge of sending people to the buffet, who would never get on the mic and say, table seven, table seven, please see or turn as arrived because you've just interrupted tables one through six and eight through whatever for information that means nothing to them. So if I'm going to do it low key, I'll actually go from table to table and just physically say, oh, all right, you're invited to the buffet. Now, uh, there is something else that I enjoy doing if the couple likes it where I will actually be on the microphone armed with questions about the couple and I'll invite the people at the table to try to give me the correct answer.

[22:34] And maybe it's what is the name of Dorothy and Reid's dog? And if they get the question right, the rules are they get to go to the buffet and if they get it wrong, they have to point to another table and send them to a buffet. Um, and so usually I'll try and help them out. Nobody wants, nobody wants to sit there with their arms folded and not get to go. But that does a couple of things in my opinion, it does allow for a smooth eating experience where you get people through the buffet, but not everybody goes at once, but it also helps give more of the couple's personality and their story to the day and especially if you've got good questions, having just turned 15 new things or maybe things that you didn't know. And also I would say we really enjoyed that. I mean, I think also it just kind of kills the bore them. I mean there's nothing worse if you're a guest today and I do think that weddings are really supposed to be fun and entertaining and that's what we liked about what you did with not only our, um, our grand entrance and the story and weaving that, uh, but also, yeah, the introduction to the buffet and the Trivia game. I mean, if we're hiring you to be a DJ, right? I mean we want the entertainment and the fund and I think any of those little moments where you can intersperse that fun and your personality, I think kind of just adds to that overall package. Right? In terms of like who you are and what you're selling besides, you know, your expertise and the equipment, but the personality and kind of those little touches I think are really nice. I just think that's fascinating. I had no idea that you would go into a room like we don't. I suppose there are places now on facebook, I guess there is, but you can post wedding videos and ask for critiques and I'm probably too thin skin to, uh, to, to participate in that. But I couldn't imagine, you know, like putting up a screen and showing my wedding video in front of, you know, 15 or 20 other people and then being berated. So I mean, I just think that's fascinating that that's something that you went through.

[24:54] Well, one thing that almost nobody would've would realize is that in the world of wedding DJs regular people like myself can actually train with the best DJs in the country because that's part of what satisfaction they get from their job is offering workshops, shops. So there's a fellow named Mark Farrell who introduced a lot of the personalization that happens at many of the good weddings these days and I sort of think of him as the, the Babe Ruth of wedding DJ is like the best that ever was and what he does now is these workshops and it is so inspiring to get to go work with someone like that. And there's many of the other most prominent national DJs that present at these conferences also offer workshops. So it's great access and I don't know of any other field. If I was a surgeon, I don't know that I would necessarily get to train with the country's best surgeons if I was a plumber. I don't know that. I don't know who the best plumber has, but if I did, I don't know that that wouldn't necessarily be available.

[26:14] When you. So you mentioned Mark Farrell, um, about him or another DJ. I mean, I guess, what is some traits that they have that you find in, you know, that you emulate or that you want to, to know that inspires you? I guess that you would put him above, you know, a crowded field of, you know, wedding professional DJs.

[26:33] I would say the, the, the thing that some of these DJs would have that would set them apart is just sort of the results that, that when they work a reception that it's, it's going to be very personal for that couple. It's going to run quite smoothly and hopefully you're going to see some things or here's some things that you've never heard before as a guest. Um, from a personal level, what I have observed is a lot of heart that, that these people, I'm just care immensely about their couples. And one thing mark always says at a, at a wedding, everything is a big deal. The toast is a big deal. The cake cutting is a big deal. The, the garter toss as to like everything. And so you really want to understand some of the reasons behind the traditions. You want to understand what motivations a couple has for wanting to do something or not wanting to do something. And I, I personally find it very rewarding to just give a couple of my all, you know, and really dedicate myself to them. Um, and then at the end of the night, hopefully they, they hug me and they say, Alan, my God, that's exactly what we wanted.

[27:58] Um, I think that's really interesting. I think, um, I, I deal with that a lot in terms of where we do corporate videos and wedding videos and I think that a lot of people, you know here weddings or like the gardener or the cake and um, or even a lot of the older generation like my neighbor thinks like, oh, well, you know, why is it such a big deal and why are we putting all this time and energy and money, um, you know, into weddings now when you know, will that you could put a down payment on the house or you could buy a car and a w. I'm generally curious to know like what are your thoughts about sometimes that cynicism, I guess, I don't know if that's the right word, but that people might have or like, well who cares about like cutting the cake? Or why is that? How do you combat that? Or how do you educate that? Or what are your thoughts on that?

I guess big picture. I believe that every couple needs to decide their priorities and decide how important is the wedding to them. And for many couples, the, maybe it's not for other couples, maybe it is. And then within the idea of deciding about how important the wedding is, then what are your priorities? Is it d├ęcor? Do you want it to look a certain way? Is it the food or is it an unlimited bar? Is it guests staying and celebrating to the end of the night? What exactly is it that are your priorities? And then that can really help inform how select a team. There's very few people I know that have unlimited budgets for weddings. So it's all a process of prioritizing what's important to you and what you really want. And then at a specific micro level, I guess on the actual wedding, um, I think there are things that come and go and that feel dated. I would say I probably do both and Gardner, man, half half-ish weddings that I do. And that's fine. I'm, I'm, I'm happy to really go through with each couple and figure out what, what feels authentic to you, what feels like you and what doesn't. And we scrapped the stuff that doesn't.

[30:36] But do you ever feel like, um, and, and, and I don't anymore because I'm really happy with, you know, kind of our decision to really focus a lot on weddings. But like I know that like some corporate clients look at, you know, weddings and they're like, oh, well that's not like a real videographer, you know, we needed a corporate videographer or we need. I mean like, do you ever hear that sort of thing about like, oh, like weddings, like, well that's not a, it's not any more valuable or that's not as challenging and it's like, you know, being an mc for like a fashion show or something might be ideal. Because I mean, I, I've heard that a lot over the years and like I'm really comfortable now with what we do and I'm happy that we, you know, I'm a big fan of like building your own hype and your life and like, you know, like Dorothy and I went to Las Vegas and saw there's some hype for it.

[31:28] And um, you know, Dorothy and I went to Vegas to go see a magic show a couple of months ago. Criss Angel and you know, I really was really excited and really made a big deal and Dorothy either was like, I think her friends were like, what is the deal with this? And I'm like, you can't make your own hype, you know, for things that you're excited about. Um, you know, the, what's the point and that's Kinda how I feel about weddings now. Like, man, you know, if you want to do to people on the mountain top and that's awesome. And if you want to have, you know, ice sculptures at the Fairmont. Uh, but I mean, do you ever deal with that or I mean, is that resonating kind of what I'm saying? Do you, do you get that?

[32:09] Oh yeah, absolutely. I think in the DJ world, sort of the equivalent is what events you might specialize in. So for some people, school dances are an option for me, school dances require a real focus on lights and sub woofers and uh, and things like that that are not really my area of focus. I mean, my focus is on that, that relationship and trying to help a couple get what they want. So I am super comfortable at how my career has evolved and I wouldn't have it any other way. I do get that. There's plenty of, um, there are club Djs for instance, who can go out and they can do some amazing mixing and scratching and things like that. Um, and, and that's their passion and they don't really like weddings necessarily because of all the other stuff that you need to be conversant in as a wedding DJ. Whereas I wouldn't particularly be comfortable up on stage at a nightclub just pounding it out. Um, in terms of, uh, the actual wedding day itself, you know, people say like, well, you know, it's just one day, ah, how important do you think the wedding day is in terms of that life of a couple.

[33:50] Nobody forgets their wedding day. And I think most people when they look back will cite their wedding day and the birth of any children as some of the biggest highlights for them. So I think for most couples it ranks right up there and it's been, it's worth, um, making sure you have a day that feels authentic to you and that authentic can mean 10 people on a beach in west Seattle or it can mean, as you were describing before, you know, it could mean 300 of your closest friends at the most luxury hotel or whatever it is for you. Tell me about your wedding day. We, um, we had a Montra no hard choices as we were doing our planning because it can really be, um, it can be a lot as you plan a wedding and it's like, oh, do we invite uncle Jim or do we invite this coworker?

[34:56] That kind of thing. So we, we had it at the Seattle Design Center, um, and we did the ceremony there and the reception there. And that was, that was important to us because we didn't want to lose that, that travel time. Um, we just, I, I still look back and it was such a blast to look out and see all those people from different jobs that we've had from different colleges that we went to and my wife has a big family and, you know, we, we took a big group photo at the end, which I think is a brilliant idea and I encourage everybody to do that. Um, but so we, we take this group and you know, in the front row, uh, there's one of Sarah's cousin's, I guess he would have been about 12 ish or so at the time and 12 years later I DJ his wedding a. So it's just, it's kind of fun to think back all the people, uh, who were there and we had a blast. Um, and we did invest in videography because we're smart. Uh, this commercial plug for best made video is brought to you by Alan look. Um, and Ah, what else should I tell you? Uh, it was, it was a blast. A is the Seattle design center. That's the one that's down in Soho, right? Uh, I think I did a clo bride magazine and event there. It's like the two lawyers, two floors right now, honestly it in, during the week. It is a high end fashion mall where, uh, you know, interior designers go and they have a lot of that, but it has a big wide open sort of courtyard ish area in the middle, which was perfect for us because we needed space for people to be able to spread out and things like that.

[36:55] And in terms of the DJ that you guys had, because I know that if you talk with a lot of, I just worked with the photography a couple, a couple of weekends ago and they had just started doing photography and it was because they had such a terrible photographer at their wedding or there's a lot of video companies to do videos now because they didn't have a videographer. W did you guys have a good experience?

[37:17] We did hire a DJ who we thought was about as high end as we could find. I mean I had done, I don't know, maybe a dozen weddings by then. Um, so we definitely felt like it was important and my, my, the, the story that I, that I'm reminded about him was that during our ceremony there was a point at which my wife had a, a friend do a reading and she was up on this podium lectern thing and he wasn't paying very much attention, so he never, he didn't turn that microphone on and everybody was kind of looking around and we were like, what are we going to do it? And so I literally went over to her and because I had a working lapel mic on my Tux, uh, she was able to read her reading into my microphone and it worked. And in retrospect that was totally a highlight and it made for a great moment on our video. Um, but, uh, I guess I would say he was adequate. Um, but I, I, it definitely helps set a bar that I hoped to exceed.

[38:41] Do you think that I'm now being married and having a family and kids w after Dorothy and I got married, I felt like that made me a better wedding professional. Do you think that having gone through that process makes you better at what you do now than you were before, regardless of the number of wedding, you know, obviously you've done more since being married than before.

[39:05] Absolutely. I think there's a couple of things there. One is that I enjoy the dynamic of working with an engaged couple because they are generally starting to get into a range where the decisions that they make are more complex and more substantial. When you were dating, your decisions are mostly where do you want to eat? What movie do you want to see? Do you want to take a vacation? Um, but then you get engaged and it gets real, you know, do you want to get married indoors or outdoors? Do you want to get married religiously or not religiously? Um, do you want to elope? You know, do you want to invite uncle jed a or do you want to, you know, those are the kinds of things that you have to start thinking about. And so I enjoy working with couples and sort of hearing the dynamics between them, about how they're figuring all those out. Um, and Gosh, virtually every ceremony I ever do, I think about my wife, you know, [inaudible] and that, to me, that's one of the, the great things about weddings is that you are invited to contemplate and recharge your own relationship batteries. And um, so I think if we're a good ceremony or even good toasts a guests usually do that as well. So how fun is that for me to go back and try and be a better husband the next day?

[40:41] Uh, I totally echo that sentiment that, um, as somebody that I think he'd done two or three years of weddings, you know, before I got married, I really didn't get like the groom's emotions. Like I didn't get a lot of that. I mean obviously we're there to work and you know, you know, it's important. But, um, as somebody that broke down and like solved walking down the aisle on my wedding day, like immediately afterward, that switched, totally flubbed my. Remember that. Um, my friend Dominic got married last year and like, you know, we're filming and she, his wife Brooke started giving her valves and like legit, like sobbing, like in the, you know, and that never like I could even cry like now like thinking about it, but that never would have happened before and I, that you know, now being able to commit or connect I think and you probably feel the same way, like really connect with like if the guy is nervous or if the girls nervous or if you know they don't care about something or they do really care about somebody and I think that you can kind of empathize with that.

[41:48] Right. So I'm talking now just kind of about day to day in terms of doing weddings, you have kind of a favorite part of the day. I mean you talked about the ceremonial law than the love. Is that, were you think that, you know, if you had to kind of pinpoint whether it's your favorite 10 minutes of your day or is it a or is it like medium? A couple before me I guess. What is your favorite part of your job?

[42:13] I think that it can really vary depending on the couple and I can never predict when it's going to come about. Um, certainly a beautiful ceremony is great. I like it when people enjoy the entrance and you've created some energy there and the couple enjoys themselves. Um, there are times where the ceremonial dances, that first dance or uh, you know, we're a couple of dances with their parents where you can look at that mom or that dad and know that that two or three minutes they're spending dancing is so meaningful to them and you just look out and there's no other world right then it's just that data and her daughter, you know, I, I just really enjoy that. Um, but you, you just, you can't always tell. I had a wedding last month and during the planning process, the bride had told me that a river of dreams by billy Joel was sort of a run up runner up selection for her father daughter dance. Because they always used to sing it together as a family. And I sort of tucked that information away. And then when Dan and I had gotten, I went to the rehearsal so I got to know the family a bit and her sister as well. And so at one point during the reception during dancing, I started playing it and that's not a typical song I would play, but the reaction of the bride and her sister and her mom, her dad, they were just so excited and they were just, I could tell they were reliving all of those moments when, as the two girls who had been growing up, they would have family dances to that. Like those kinds of moments you can't know that it's going to be like. But when you are in it, it's just amazing.

[44:16] Can you talk about the music playing? I know when we went through our wedding planning and with you, um, I don't think dorothy ever thought that she would care as much about music selection as she ultimately ended up carrying a lot. And I think that it was really cool for us to be able to. I mean, obviously besides what we're going to walk down the aisle too, but I mean I'm talking, you know, reception music, uh, you know, dinner, music, a general dancing music. Um, how much do you work with your couples and how does that selection process work because I know that that was kind of a fascinating as somebody that films weddings all the time and here's the exact same four songs, 98 percent of the time. Um, I thought it was really nice that we didn't have to worry about that. So can you talk about that?

[45:06] I think one important item to point out that when you think about music, you normally start thinking about dance music, but really there are hours of things that are happening before you get to dancing. And so I love eliciting from couples feedback on what they listened to and what they like and what their tastes are and trying to find spots where we can use that. So often it happens that, um, that we play things at dinner or during cocktail hour that sort of reflect their personalities but maybe aren't quite as danceable. And then in terms of music for the ceremony, I like to start with the song that the bride is going to come down the aisle two and then I try to, because that's such a big moment, right? And then many people have thought about what they want playing in that moment and then I like to think about some things that could feel connected to that as everyone else is coming down the aisle.

[46:16] So I backup one song and that other processional song, you kind of want to match that. So if you're doing classical music for bride to come down the aisle, you don't necessarily want to have Frank Sinatra or Tracy Chapman for the wedding party to come down the aisle. So you want to make all that feel pretty coordinated and then even backing up further what guests are going to be seated to. And so whatever a couple's tastes is, I try and design something around that to be playing while all the guests are being seated. So from a guest standpoint it seems very coordinated. Um, and in, in the specific way that I interact with couples, I actually have a website that I set up and I think some many DJs probably do this too, um, where couples can go in and pick as much music as they want and designate it must play play if possible do not play.

[47:17] And I take all that very seriously. If somebody who's got a song on there must play lists that I, I don't know, will achieve what they want. Um, I'll try and diplomatically share that with them. I do have some expertise as a DJ, um, but if they want me to play it, I will play it. And, and I'll, I'll tell you this on the big planning forum that I have, which goes through the whole day, not just music, I literally have taken out maybe the top 12, what I would call polarizing songs where most people have an opinion about the macarena or the chicken dance or the electric slide. And I've literally said, yes, you can play it. No, don't want to hear it. Maybe if somebody requests it or something like that, because I literally want to know from a couple which ones they want.

[48:09] And for many couples, I mean it's, it's not that common to play the chicken dance anymore, weddings, but it should be, I can tell you that in those weddings where a couple has wanted to play it, I will hit play on that song as the first note is out of that speaker. People are running to the dance floor. So for many families are many communities that surround a couple. That's an expectation and it's a highlight. And so I, I want to make sure that a couple gets the music that they want. I think it's important to reflect their personalities in that. Um, and then I'll give you one more piece of my philosophy with regard to dancing. I love hearing from couples what they want and what they like. And I will start by trying to play the most universal things early. So the Beatles, Motown van Morrison, things that many people know, earth, wind and fire, and all the guests feel included because at a wedding you almost always have people of various backgrounds and age and, uh, to, to, to mention a favorite of yours. If you break out pit bull too early, you will find that it brings a certain number of those OK highlight moments earlier. The Times when I see grandparents, grandkids will always remember dancing with their grandparents. Wedding videographer will have some footage for them.

[50:27] What I, uh, I guess what I really want to know is, uh, of those songs, you know, the mockery that chicken dance, what is still your favorite? Because we, I've I don't know how many weddings a Bruno Mars, uptown funk. My Assistant Jeff, every time still taps his foot and singing along the words. And we've probably heard that song 10,000 times. So I want to know a gun to your head. What, what, what, what could you still listen to?

[50:58] I don't get sick of songs. Even if they are popular. And how many times did you say you've heard that one? I, you know, and an uptown funk is a great example. It is a great song and it achieves a great result for my couples. People get up on the dance floor and they dance and in most scenarios, that's what my couples one. So I'm happy. I love, uh, I love doing that. Um, and I'm, I'm thrilled to play virtually anything that works. Um, I do try to shy away a little bit from some of the songs like celebration. We are family love shack, a little bit, ah, old time rock and roll that are so frequently played at weddings that it can come across as though you've got a cookie cutter wedding. Um, so in, in my case, I try and find some more universal things. Um, you know, I play some kc and the sunshine band or September by Earth, wind and fire that are still stuff people know, but it doesn't necessarily make you go, Oh yeah, wedding song.

[52:25] What would be your least favorite song? You never, if you could never hear it again, you know, like cupid shuffle or uh, what would be the one that you're just done. Like I like Whitney Houston I wanna dance with somebody, I could hear that song every day for the rest of my life and never get tired of it.

[52:45] OK, I'll admit it. Um, shots, there's, there's the song because it's, I have a clean version of shots, but when you play a clean version of shots, you've cut out about a third of the lyrics. Um, and w we, we did play that we did and I think we play the not clean fishery that. Um, but I, I would say that that's a challenge for me. I'm, I'm pretty committed to obtaining edited versions of all the songs. They have two services that I subscribed to so I get the same copies that radio stations get. Um, but, uh, there, there are some songs that are just by the time they're edited, it's not that song anymore.

[53:33] Will you talk about that briefly in terms of the music and they, like you said, the services that you have and what you subscribe to and how that works. I mean, like, I know in terms of videography, you know, I have to pay the license songs to put in the wedding video. Um, I mean, can you just play anything or you, if somebody wants something, how does that work?

[53:53] Question. In the old days, mostly DJs purchased a CD and ripped it to their computer or the old old days they would have albums. Um, was that legal or was that just in order to be able to play music? There are very few legalities. It's usually on the venue, um, to have the license, to have commercial music played in their menu so we don't have any additional licensing. But it's true, like you probably run into, if I ever want to post a, uh, a video showing Alaska a couple did or something like that, a youtube, we'll pull that down because they hear the music in it. Um, but I, I, uh, w now most of the music is digital, so if a couple tells me that they want something in particular, I'll go to Amazon or itunes and just get it for them. Um, but in terms of the newer music, I have two services that really, really keep on top of all the current stuff and then I'm able to download those copies.

[55:13] One of them is once a month and the other is basically throughout the month they'll send me an email that says two new songs are up. Um, but that's what helps me keep up to date on all the music and the AF actually have specially edited versions of the songs that have what we call intros and outros. So they'll just be the music for about 15 seconds at the beginning and at the end, which makes it really smooth to make transitions between those two songs too so that people aren't left on the dance floor. Like, oh, what's coming up next? Or you don't have that silence. You can really blended in nicely to the next song.

[55:56] I guess one of the last things we'll start to kind of wrap up here I want to really talk about is, uh, you know, your role during the dance. I think, you know, when we were talking about, you know, our reception and you said, you know, hey man, um, you know, before the big dance starts, you know, you're going to go get like your last cup of water or go do whatever you need to do because you know, at that point your job and you don't know how many times I've film weddings and they go look for the DJ that, you know, either the music stopped or request a song or maybe I need something I need, you know, and they're not there. And so talk about that and kind of your philosophy of how you important it is to kind of monitor and kind of, you know, maintain that dance for during the reception.

[56:41] Sure. I, I love the art and science of the dance on a given event so that you, you know, what a couple of likes, you hear some requests, perhaps you've even gotten requests in advance, but you take requests from the guests right then and then you just look out with your eyes and see what people are responding to and what they seem to be enjoying. So I rarely go into dancing with a preconceived notion of what I'm going to do during that period. I usually will have a playlist set up for the couple to have easy access to all the songs they want, but in general I look out and see and if people are going with motown, then I might just drop respect or something like that. And I like that. So no, I don't leave, um, you know, actually once the first dance starts, usually I'm there and I think it's important for the DJ to set a mood to that.

[57:49] I'm trying to make sure everybody knows it's OK to let loose and enjoy yourself. So I'm kind of dancing around back there as well. Um, I will say that one of my personal philosophies is not to be one of those Nag DJs. C'Mon everybody. We're going to play the macarena. Let's get out to the dance floor. Read. Really wants to dance with you right now. You know, you don't want that. Like, just play good music. There's deejay tricks that you can do to help fill the dance floor. Um, but that, that's sort of my philosophy is just not antagonize guests. Do you have a go to trick? What is your go to track or is that a trade secret or A. There's a couple. I mean, a slow dance is sort of an obvious one because that tends to bring out a new set of people who may have been sitting on the sideline.

[58:46] And then you got to follow up the slow dance with a killer, a follow-up uptown funk because that will help keep them on the dance floor. Sometimes depending on the venue, I'll do, uh, I'll try and initiate a Conga line and started with a bride because that way people will pay attention to the Congo line. But if she goes around to a song, a like, locomotion grand funk railroad was one of the three prominent artists to do that. Um, so if you do grant from railroads version a, you can have the Conga line end on the dance floor and then go into something like, don't stop believing in or something like that because then you've brought everybody back, things like that.

[59:36] And I will say, um, as a, if you were to do like an ipod thing that a lot of people talk about, that is something like, even if it sounds great, you hit play. It plays the whole way through. I mean, these are all givens, right? I mean the ipod could stop playing or not work or they're connected. I mean if everything goes right and you're able to do an the ipod reception, um, that is not something that you can do, right? I mean, you can't read the room that I have the wedding,

[01:00:04] I don't know, month or two ago. And uh, you know, they just had this string of songs and you know, I think we were scheduled to be there until 10:00 and I mean it was like eight and we were, you know, I mean because you know, people, if it's not building or going or if it's too much or if it's just like songs they really liked to hear. Like you said that maybe that's a great song to play during your cocktail hour, but that's not a good dance song. Right? I mean,

[01:00:34] I don't go to very many ipod weddings, so I don't have as much first-hand, uh, experience even as you do seeing them. But I'll share that with you. Probably don't, but I'll share with you that I, I was, um, taking my kids to Golden Gardens two summers ago and I could hear and that's a place if you've never been there where it's a very nice little community center building and then right outside the door is this very, very public beach. And so people are playing volleyball and uh, they're doing beach things out there, which if you're comfortable with that contrast and you like, it is a great spot. Um, so we were there not for the wedding but for the beach stuff and I could hear the music coming from the building, but almost everybody, all the guests were out on the beach and not as a group, but they had really dispersed quite a bit.

[01:01:40] And I was listening to the music and I will take a back seat to nobody in terms of loving Michael Franti. But two of the three songs I heard where Michael Franti songs, which made me think that it was just on shuffle somewhere and so if you're going to have an ipod wedding, at least heavy thought through playlists, you know, um, and I, I hope that represented what the couple wanted. I don't know, I didn't, uh, I didn't speak to them or anything like that, but it is one of the things that an experienced DJ can bring is really the knowledge of all the music and what typically works well at what point in the evening and that kind of thing. Is there anything else that I haven't touched on that you wanted to talk about in terms of your approach to working with couples or your philosophy in terms of kind of how you approach the day and the other?

[01:02:46] Well, when I was thinking when I was coming over here, I was reminded of a meeting I just had this weekend with a couple who's getting married in July. And it's part of what I love about this job. I love the, the events themselves, but planning can be really fun too. So at one point during their early discussions, they were saying that they liked star wars and they had been listening to a bunch of different music to try and figure out things. So as we started talking about their grand entrance and I was like, well, what about if we play that Cantina theme? And they're like, oh yeah, let's do that. And then the discussions sort of kept going to what if we did light sabers? And so they're going to give their wedding party light sabers that are going to be in the, the guy's pockets for the actual entrance.

[01:03:40] But when, when the couple enters a, they're going to come out and have maybe a standoff light saber battle. But then all of the wedding party is going to either form a tunnel with theirs or do some sort of a cute, interesting entertaining things. And it's just one of those things where you brainstorm and some fun ideas come up. And then later as we were speaking, um, we decided we were going to do this game called a shoe game where we ask people questions and they are answered with either the groom's shoe or the bride's shoe, each member of the couple answers in that way. And so a typical question is who is more likely to eat dessert for breakfast? And then everyone laughs and it's usually, I mean it's, it's a good moment. One of my philosophies is make it as personal as you can.

[01:04:35] So often I will try and write questions just for that couple of what I know about them, but they were pretty eager to keep it going. And they're like, well, what other games can we do? And I was like, well, there's a potential lip sync battle. And they're like, no, I don't think our bridesmaids are. I don't think our wedding party will really go for that. And I was like, well, could you all. And they both were like, oh yeah, I'm. So during the shoe game, one of the last questions is going to be who's better at lip-syncing? And then they're going to each answer themselves and then I'm going to say prove it and then I'm going to hit play on a couple of songs that they will have selected. But I think that's going to be a highlight moment and it's just, it's so fun to play, you know, help people come up with those kinds of things and plan and execute them

and just some didn't and you don't even a very interesting for me when I hear you talk about things like that and now you say, you know, well I know them so I will write these questions. You don't know how many shoe games we do where they'd Google shoe game and the DJ or the MC or whoever just pulls up, you know, cause it's the same if you google it, it's the same 20 questions, you know, who goes to the bathroom the longest are either not, whatever, you know, not personal things. And like you said, it's all about kind of getting that couples personality out there for the gas. So it just, I didn't know you were going to bring that up, but that's really interesting that they, I see that a lot. So

I think that that is an excellent example of an activity where the results can be widely divergent depending on how it's orchestrated and how it's done. Um, and it is absolutely true that people who download that were the questions from the Internet and they just sort of ask them, that's not really going to get the results that most couples want. But in my case, um, I do try and customize the questions and I try to be really in that moment. So I'm not just focusing on what's the next question I'm going to read. But you know, if I ask who's always running late and Dorothy puts up her shoe immediately and you're hemming and Hawing, I'm totally going to call you on that. I'm going to be a read Dorothy didn't have a problem figuring that one out or something like that. To just make that moment more interesting and entertaining and make it seem like you, you make it seem like the couple and just as a, as a follow-up, uh, even the anniversary dance that we did for our wedding and then, you know, I don't really love the anniversary dance. I think you really do. And we had talked about that and you like, you know, and I think a lot of the DJa do, they like to see if I'm a wedding DJ or wedding professional. And what I do is see people in love all the time, you know, it's cool to see like, oh, here's all the people. Five years it had been married in, for people obviously like anniversary dance. Well first off, just explain where the anniversary dance is.

In a good anniversary dance, you invite all of the married couples to the dance floor and then you dismiss them based on the shortness of their wedding or marriage. So the couple is typically the first one off and you don't invite them to leave the dance floor. Only stupid DJ would invite anybody to leave his dance floor. Um, so you, you, you have a spot for them and then as you invite people who had been married one year or five years, they sort of form a semi circle and by the end of the, the couple who has been married the longest is surrounded by all the other people and yes, I'm a sucker for that moment

And as we had talked about in the planning, that is not how most DJs do it, where it really is the opposite where it's whoever's been married less than two hours and then it's obviously it's a couple and they go get out of here, go, you know, and everybody laughs and I mean it's funny, right? But it's also like really weird because it's my wedding day, you know, I don't want to be shunned to the back because we just got married right where it's like the old timers club, you know, you want to be included on the dance floor. So just, you know, as a follow-up to you customizing the shoe game and just doing that first dance. I really enjoyed how we did that because having filmed a lot of those. I do not like the traditional way that it's done and I certainly appreciated, you know, your more unique spin on it. So. Well it was, we were talking about before about personal moments, like it's often grandparents or great aunts or uncles or things like that honor that person that you're winning. The one that we had on Friday, I think it was two of the couples both had been like 45 years of marriage, you know, each of them. And they were, you know, because normally you get like one at the end that's, it's spoiler alert, you know, it's usually pretty easy to tell who is going to be, you know, as a videographer I can pretty hone in on like these people can't really walk anymore and then you know, they're probably going to be here near the end. But that was cool because you know, you're like man, that's 90 years of marriage. Right. And then you ask them like, well what advice do you have? And you know, it's usually, it's something funny, but I mean it is a neat moment, but I just like it when the, you're able to incorporate the couple back into it like you do with having everybody in that semi circle

And uh, you know, there is a moment at the end where I try and create a connection between that oldest married couple and the couple whose wedding day it is a, which I think is, is, is often a very nice moment.

[01:10:20] Yeah. A funny. Did you know, um, so, you know, with our wedding it was. Dorothy's parents had been married the longest and when you ask a Lucinda, her mom, you know, what advice you have. And they were like terrifying because we hadn't told them that. And I was so glad we had not told them that we were going to do that because I think they were probably just wouldn't have had the anniversary that they wouldn't have known that they would have had to because they were very terrified to do that. But it was, I can't remember what they said and I'm sure it's on the video somewhere. I could pull it up and see it, but yeah, it was this funny. Yeah, the range of answers is always interesting to hear a well, Allen has been really fascinating. Uh, I really appreciate you coming by today. Um, if people want to know more about you or your company, what should they do?

[01:11:09] That is a great question and I very much appreciate you asking. Um, the best way for somebody to find me is to go to www.pugetsounddj.com and all my contact information is up there. You can read all sorts of things about me. I probably have too much background in such, but that's where it all is.

[01:11:28] But also you have a lot of good testimonials and things. I think in terms of I'm getting real client feedback. You write, you think that that's important to have.

And you know, that's a great topic that we didn't really chat too much about. But real quickly I would say if you read reviews of DJs, read what they're saying and read what they're not saying. If the review was bob played good music and everybody danced, that is one level of experience, but if the review is Alan was an incredible partner and he helped me plan everything out and executed the whole wedding night perfectly. That's a different level of review. And so most couples are Super Generous, um, with their feedback. And so really all the decent wedding vendors have four point nine star averages, but you got to read the text and you've got to figure out what it is that they actually are doing for their couples.

[01:12:30] Uh, well thank you very much for coming by. Uh, this has been another episode of Get to Know Your Wedding Pro. Come back next week and check us out and we will have another interview with a wedding professional. Thanks so much, Alan.

Thank you.

Episode 1 (Reid Johnson, Best Made Videos) - 

[00:08] Hey everybody, welcome to Get to Know Your Wedding Pro. My name is Reid with Best Made Videos. We are a wedding videography company based out of West Seattle, Washington. We do wedding videography, corporate videography, and basically film any other live event that you might have, and today is a very exciting day. Not only is it our first official podcast, but we have a special guest. So special guest, why don't you introduce yourself.

[00:35] Hi everyone. I'm Dorothy. Nice to meet you and I'm excited to be here.

[00:39] Dorothy is my wife of two years. We got married back in August of 2016 and I brought her on here today to help interview me because as I'm launching this new interview series, I thought it would only be fair to put my money where my mouth is and give my own origin story of sorts about how I got into wedding videography. So Dorothy was gracious enough to take time on her weekend to come and help do this interview.

[01:04] I'm so excited to be here and to help launch this podcast. It's going to be awesome.

[01:08] So, uh, Dorothy, what's your first probing question?

[01:13] So, um, I guess just kind of wanting to hear a little bit about your story and how you got started in videography. Take us. Take us back.

[01:22] So I started back in 2004 when I went to college over at Gonzaga University and I always think it's funny now having married a teacher that I think I must've selected something on one, a sheet of paper at one point talking about how I was interested in teaching because my first class ever at Gonzaga was actually in the teaching building, which, um, apparently they had signed me up for like six different teaching courses, which I quickly discovered that maybe I should diversify a starting out. So I started taking journalism classes and one of the first classes I took was radio broadcasting and that involved this city in a small recording studio two or three days a week and basically recording the same PSA every time that we would come in to the class where you would come in, record it, edit it, and then it would seem like every week we'd come in again.

[02:16] Then the professor would forget that we had just done the exact same thing.

[02:20] The PSA is a public service announcement?

[02:22] Yeah. And so it got really repetitive because um, it just felt like we were never really growing or doing anything new and ever felt challenged. No, never felt challenged. And so luckily I'm, one day our professor was sick and we had Dan Garrity come into the class and you know, Dan, we were just, we were just at his retirement party last weekend in Spokane and Dan was the director of the broadcast program at Gonzaga and we hit it off and ended up doing some editing work after class a. and he basically told me, hey man, it seems like you really have a knack for this. And so he basically said, hey man, I teach the TV side of this program and the class is always full, but if you wanted me to I could reserve you a spot next semester and I couldn't get you in.

[03:18] So I thought, well that'd be, you know, that'd be really interesting. I had never really thought about working in TV or broadcast or anything like that. But I took them up on this offer and so that would be the second semester of sophomore year I started on the broadcast program.

[03:33] So you probably felt like you learned a lot more under Dan's leadership and then the broadcast program than you would have in the journalism program.

[03:42] Yeah, and also I, I took a lot of print journalism classes and it just a lot of it seemed really antiquated to me at the time. We were doing a lot of newspaper front page layout, how to, you know, print and cut and format and newspaper and even back in 2004, it really seemed like everything was moving online. And so even as a freshman, sophomore, I sat there and thought, man, why are we spending time talking about how to literally, whether the correct margins to print the front page of a newspaper or to put it on like a spool, like old school.

[04:20] You know what I mean? Who, I don't know anybody in my immediate circle that even has a newspaper delivered anymore.

Interesting.

[04:28] So anyway, so we started doing the broadcasting and basically it kind of spiraled from there. We started doing news programs and comedy programs, interview programs, and it wasn't until junior year when we really got into, got to go out in the field and produce our own videos, which was a lot of fun.

[04:48] So you got experience doing not only videography but also being behind the camera and video are and I'm interviewing people and different aspects of broadcasting.

[05:01] Yeah. I mean the coolest thing about Gonzaga was you really got to do everything from in front of the camera, being at the anchor desk, behind the camera, doing the post production, doing the editing, doing the producing, running the audio. And I, I really did enjoy that more hands on aspect were taking journalism classes or math or any, any sort of thing, you know, you're stuck in the classroom and this.

[05:30] I really have always struggled with that. The sitting and you know, the lecture and the note taking. And so being able to go out, take a camera on a Saturday afternoon and film a music video or having to go. Like we would go to the local park to shoot videos about, you know, the ducks or a new restaurant that opened at Gonzaga or you know, a new program that was being offered that was really fun to go out and do those sorts of things probably really set you up well to, for news, which you eventually, you kind of segued into that then from Gonzaga. Right.

[06:07] Do you want to talk a little bit about that?

Yeah. So, um, basically I had no intention of ever going into news and I think I've said that probably in any interview I've ever done. Um, we, I had a lot of friends that wanted to be in front of the camera.

[06:22] They wanted to be television reporters and so they would basically enlist me to go out every day to shoot and edit stories for them. So my friend Ian Cull, who we just saw at the, he's a reporter now in, uh, the bay area outside of San Francisco. You know, we would go shoot stories and I would help him edit and put together to be a TV reporter. You need to have a demo reel to send to your local news stations. So basically you get two, three, four of the best new stories that you have them on the DVD or a vhs tape and send it to your local news station. And so in, you know, the basically probably the end of junior year through senior year, I had two, three, four different, you know, colleagues, I guess students that I was helping to get there, demo tapes together. And at the time I was wanting to get into video production.

[07:20] And so I had been sending my own demo tapes to the bay area. My friend lived down, um, outside of Santa Clara at the time and I had been sending tapes all over the bay area and not realizing that the San Francisco television market is super, super competitive to get into a, as a, you know, a college student. I didn't realize that. And basically I was, it was a losing effort that I was never probably ever going to find anything of any substance at all. So it was probably late spring and I was really frustrated and I didn't know what I was going to do and I think it was my friend Sebastian, who was another reporter had told me, hey man, will you've been putting together a demo tapes for everybody for the last two years. Why don't you just put together a news demo reel and send it out and go into television and even if you don't end up being in news for your whole life, at least you could do it for a couple of years and get your feet, let you put together the demo reel.

[08:29] And then you got picked up by a station in Bakersfield were successful?

[08:38] Yeah. So I put together I think three or four different stories and I mailed, I think I mailed three out to Yakima, Washington. I think I mailed three out to Medford, Oregon, which was another starter market. And then I send them out to Bakersfield and I got one phone call and it was actually funny enough I was taking a class in the exact same building where I had my first teaching class and I can't remember what the class was, but we were sitting there in class and it was literally my last class, the last hour of class I would ever have a gun. Sega and I got a phone call and went to voicemail because I was in class and I just thought, who is this, you know, whatever number calling. and low and behold, it was John Pilios, the news director of the NBC station in Bakersfield calling to do a phone interview to see if I would be interested in working there.

[09:35] Wow. So you skip that class and got a job?

[09:39] Yeah, it was a pretty amazing. We uh, did a phone interview and I, I remember feeling more prepared for that than any job interview I've ever had previously because I had worked at blockbuster and Jamba Juice and other jobs where, you know, maybe you're not super passionate or not, you know, what do I know about fruit smoothie blends or whatever. But, you know, for the first time ever I really did feel confident about my skills and expertise, you know, or what expertise I felt I had to college, graduating college student, but I really did feel comfortable and so he offered to fly me down for a job interview. And this was the week before graduation, I guess there was actually a direct flight from Spokane to Bakersfield, which is really weird.

Random.

Yeah. And so I remember talking to our engineer at the time at Gonzaga, Phil Taylor and I had said Phil, you know, I'm really, really nervous, you know, this is my first real job interview.

[10:39] I mean this is, you know, it could be the start of my career and I remember Phil telling me, well, they're flying you down to Bakersfield for a job interview. Like I think you probably have a pretty good shot, you know, they're not going to fly too many. What, 21 year olds down for a job, you must have made a good impression during that phone interview for them to want to do that. Yeah. So I went down and interviewed and toured the station and I think at noon that day I'm John and Mike, who was the assistant news director, uh, offered me a camera man position job and I'm Kinda, the rest was history.

[11:18] Wow. That's crazy. And then you moved down there right after graduation?

[11:23] Yeah. So I moved down to after graduation, I think it was the day after or two days after my mom I'm sue helped me move down and we drove from Spokane to Seattle and then down to Bakersfield over the course of two days, I think it's a 15 hour drive from Seattle and I rode, like, drove my car down there and followed my mom behind the u haul the whole time down.

[11:48] So. Wow, that's crazy. So then down in Bakersfield you spent how many years and yeah, what you learned a lot, I'm sure.

[11:58] Yeah, I was, uh, you know, it was a really interesting time. I had never worked in the real TV station before. I never interned in a TV station before because like I said, I, you know, I thought it was going to go with the video production and so going in literally the first day they gave me my camera, you know, you get your assigned camera tripod and you're a news vehicle. And I remember them saying, well you need to be on call tonight because in Bakersfield we didn't have a full staff when I worked in Seattle. You know, you have guys that work at midnight and 4:00 AM and a pm and 2:00 PM and work throughout the day when Bakersfield, I think we had eight photographers on staff.

[12:41] And so every night a different person would have to be on call. And so that meant that you would take your gear home with you and basically if anything happened from the day, um, if anything happened from the time you got off the clock until the next morning or whenever the next guy would start that they would call you. And you would have to go out and cover it. And I remember there was a time when I worked, there were, I think I went into work on Thursday or I went into work on Friday and I would work Friday, Saturday through on call. Basically I was on the clock for like four and a half days straight.

[13:15] So kind of a rude awakening coming from college life where you're just having classes and your time is your own.

[13:26] Yeah, it was interesting. And so that first day I came in, they gave me my car, they gave me my camera and they said, well, you're on call tonight. And I mean never used a broadcast camera. I had never. I mean I had been in Bakersfield I think for four days and it was really hard and that night I got called at two in the morning or whatever and it was a fatal homicide crash. And I was out there filming this and having just graduated, you know, I think it was like a week before. It was definitely a new experience and uh, it was really interesting.

But you felt really capable and prepared for that.

[14:00] Yeah, I did. I really did feel like my education got me, um, you know, where I was and I felt pretty confident about it and in Bakersfield that people were young. I mean there were a lot of kids out of college or had graduated from Uc Bakersfield and then stuck around, but there wasn't, it wasn't like Seattle where there were people that had been there for 20, 30 years. I mean we were all fairly young, which was nice because, you know, you would have people to hang out with and you know, go out and drink or whatever. But um, yeah, exactly. Yeah. We were all learning together, so it was fun.

Awesome. So then you really learn a lot down in Bakersfield and then transitioned back up to the Seattle news market.

[14:46] Yeah. So my goal always was to get back to Seattle. That's my family was. And that's where a lot of my friends from high school were and it's really hard because it news, you really have to build your way back up. So you start somewhere small like Bakersfield or Medford. Like I said, I applied to, I think Bakersfield was 126 and usually then you would go to like a, maybe a top 50 market and then, you know, like, like Vegas, a lot of people would go from Bakersfield to Las Vegas because that was, you know, kind of that next step up and then you would get back to somewhere like Seattle, which I think Seattle is market 13. And I was like, if you're in the top 15, top 20 market, that's, you know, unless you want to go national and work in New York, I mean that's a pretty good spot to land. And so again, I don't know if I knew that or again, like applying to, you know, the bay area out the college.

[15:48] But I thought well I'm just going away and I'm going to go from Bakersfield to Seattle because I really didn't want to make that another. It would have been another two, three, four years to do my time in Bakersfield, go to Vegas and then go back up to Seattle. So I applied and applied and applied to a bunch of different news stations in Seattle, I would apply to new stations, video production companies. And it was tough because I was working in California. And so, you know, I always have to preface and say, well, I'm in Bakersfield, I would be up for a job interview if I need to, but, you know, it was a really tough style. And so finally I thought, OK, I just need to get up to Seattle so that I can find a job and then that can be available for an interview if they need me to.

[16:38] And so I just decided that I needed to do that. So I gave my notice. We took a family vacation to Washington DC and again, just like Gonzaga, I think it was the first day we had gotten to DC and we went out on a, um, to like a happy hour with my family. And I got a voicemail from the news director at Northwest Cable News wanting to offer me a job interview. And so I thought, man, this is great. You know, just like college. And you know, this is, this is really, I'm on track. And so, um, we ended up scheduling that and then when we got back from vacation and I drove up to Seattle for that job interview.

[17:21] Wow, that's crazy. Then you, northwest cable news doing videography?

[17:31] Yeah. So I actually didn't get that job, which was, which was fun. They ended up hiring somebody else and that it was a devastated. And I actually ended up taking the job at Google for a couple of weeks doing, um, the map mapping, Google mapping software, which was interesting. I the bad again because I was sitting in a room, um, you know, kind of doing all this work all day and it was during actually during that time, me and then I got another call from Northwest Cable News. They have a pretty high turnover rate at the time. So Keith, the, I think he was called the chief editor at Northwest Cable News, offered me a job as a video editor that northwest Cable News, ah, during the recession had actually fired all of their, laid off all of their videographers. And so at that time, northwest cable news was kind of already on the decline.

It since has closed down. I think four years ago, it closed down three years ago, uh, even at that time, they had already laid out the videographers and kind of started a downsizing, but they still would use a editors every day. They would recycle news from the local affiliates, King 5, and then they had a bureau in Spokane and the bureau in Portland. And so we would just consolidate the news and other that, that life glean the news from other stations and then edit it down. Yeah. So I did that for about a year, uh, did not get paid a lot, but it was good because I worked with the executive producer. They're a Tairsa Swenson who now I think she's the, um, she does PR for safe way, but she got the job at q 13, Fox News, the Fox affiliate, and they were starting to launch at 5:00 news that before that time, a Q 13 only did a nightly news.

[19:33] They would do their morning show, but then they would do a 9:00 news. And the 10:00 news at night, so they were launching the 5:00 news. They needed to bring in all new team. So they hired, Tairsa said to be the executive producer and they needed to hire a videographer. So Tairsa had helped get my resume in with Keith Bride who was the, I think it was a news operations manager at q 13. So, you know, it's really hard to get a job as a videographer in Seattle. Um, you know, there's four stations and each station probably has maybe 30 videographers on staff, so you figure for the city, there's probably a hundred and 130 videographer jobs give or take. And so it was really competitive and I do think that it was a terrorist is on her suggestion that helped me get that job because, um, you know, I was young, I was 25, I think the next oldest videographer at 13 was 32.

[20:38] So it was a lot different than bakersfield where it was kind of all of us finding our own way. Uh, it was, you know, kind of sink or swim time. But as a, just a funny story, I always remember, um, when I was getting my demo tape together to apply the q 13, I had asked the director, um, and one of the other guys had worked with at northwest cable news. Hey, uh, what stories do you think, because I had actually shot a couple stories when I was at northwest Cable News. We would, um, do these northwest postcards where I would go out with Ed Muir who is the weather guy and I think we did maybe a dozen of them when I was there, which was kind of extra curricular from the editing that I was hired to do. And we had gone up to Mount Vernon and shot when the snow geese came in and every year the snow geese come in and migrate.

[21:30] And so I think Steve and ed had said, hey, put, you should really put that snow geese story on there. I think, uh, I think that's really cool. And so I'd put that at the end of the demo tape, which, you know, most people that watch demo tapes don't, you know, maybe you watch the first five minutes or you know, if you're, if you're keith in your, the news operations manager at the [inaudible] station, you're probably not watching different tapes all the way through. And when I went in and I think I was getting ready to leave and you know, he was going to let me know if I was going to get the job or not. A, he goes, man, you know that, that these story, you put it on their demo tape. Man, that's really freaking cool man. I love those snow geese man. And I thought, well, Hey, I'm really glad I put that story on there because, you know, I, I wasn't going to and be.

[22:18] That was at the very last story on my demo tape and stuff like that. Man, he must've really watch, you know, was really thorough about his job and really watch through. And that meant a lot to me that they would take the time to watch my whole demo tape.

[22:30] Wow. That's awesome. And also it's cool because it was one that you had shot and edited.

[22:36] Yeah. So I had done that one of the northwest postcards we had done. Yeah. So that was exciting. So yeah, so I always ran the fricking snow geese. Uh, so yeah, so then I started the q 13. Um, I think I was hired Monday through Friday at the time to do the 5:00 and then I had transitioned over, I can't remember when they hit, transitioned me at work the weekends, which was fine with me because um, I had worked weekends all the way through and Bakersfield and uh, so I was just kind of used to that which kind of transitions while now to the fact that I do weddings every weekend.

[23:15] So even now people ask me, man, don't you hate working weekends? And I think, wow, I've always worked weekends all the way through. And Bakersfield in Bakersfield. I was actually hired as a Monday through Friday and on our third week they're, um, they came in and laid off half the newsroom and so at that point I was sent to the weekends anyway. So that was, yeah, so I, I took that so I've always just kinda been happy to work when they need me to because I've seen that the opposite of doubt if you don't have a job and so I would always rather work a weekend with a job than the job. Uh, so yeah I started to q 13 and that was a lot of fun. Um, you know, I would go out and do a lot of stories with reporters during the week and then on the weekends I was by myself and so I would go cover a lot of stuff on my own and either put it together on my own or I'm bring it back and have, you know, reporters and whatever work on that.

[24:13] So yeah. This was your, your first, real main experience buying the camera because before you were focused on editing mostly except for those postcards, like you said.

[24:21] So this was really a year chance to shoot video while I was fun. Yeah, cause I had, it had been a couple of years cause I, you know, in Bakersfield I kind of did both. And then after working, doing the Google thing and the northwest, a cable news thing, it was really nice to go out and shoot videos again and really be, you know, get to be creative. Not that entity in itself isn't fun and rewarding, but it really is fun to kind of see a project from the start to finish and edit it and put it together on your own, kind of put your skills to, to use. Exactly.

[24:54] Nice. So then from 13, how did you segue to starting your own business and that make that big leap?

[25:03] Yeah. So, um, you know, I think it was Q 13 for almost four years and a lot of times when you work in news or at least when I was there, you would talk to a lot of people on the outside and they would say, oh, well are you going to get a promotion or are you working towards a new, you know, a new title or a new anything. And, you know, and it's tough because like I said before, you know, you can work market to market, but you know, once you get to Seattle, um, you know, unless you're going to go to LA or New York and I know we had, you know, talk back years.

[25:40] Yeah. When we first met.

[25:41] Yeah, we had talked about um, well, you know, do we see ourselves staying here or whether we want to do. And you had really a indicated that um, Seattle was very important to you that your family was here in your home was here and you know, your life was here.

[25:55] And so I applied to a job in Arizona or something, right? Yeah. When we had met I had, uh, I had just applied, which was funny because I think you thought that I was lying about that. Yeah, I think, yeah, when we had met and I said, hey, well just so you know, I, I am in the running to get a job as a, I think it was an investigative videographer in the Arizona market, I guess, which was supposedly, at least the guy that tried to hire me, told me it was, you know, super competitive market for investigative news because like I said, so you know, in Seattle there's no progression or in news, so you know, you work and you know, you get to do stories every day, but there's no real. Where we going next is sort of a dead end. I mean mainly, I mean it's not, it's not a dead end, but it's really hard to get, uh, you know, I mean you get a two percent raise every year or you know, like I would apply a submit for awards and stuff, but it was really hard to figure out like, OK, well what's next year?

[27:00] Where are we working towards? And you know, plus news as a grind. I mean that's a lot of repetition. It's a lot of long nights and the elements and covering stories that might not be the most ideal to cover or whether it's, you know, crimes or core or fires or whatever. And so yeah, which, you know, as somebody that is very strong willed is a challenging to kind of be at the whim of a management team or in the assignment desk that might have other ideas than you think is important for the day of the cover or whatnot.

[27:39] Yeah. And also you're really creative so you enjoy the fact that you get to edit and put together pieces and this. So yeah, transitioning, I guess to starting your own business really allows you to do that.

[27:52] Yeah. So, uh, I remember we had gone out on Valentine's Day of 2013. We had gone out, we were going to go the wine taste. Uh, and then, uh, we had dinner reservations and I remember talking to the guy that owned the bar. It was to them, and this, I think it was him and his wife and we had talked about how they owned and operated their own winery and that they could, you know, make their own schedule and really kind of have something that they could own and invest in themselves and continue to build. And I thought, man, that'd be really cool. That would be something, you know, if I could figure out a way to have something that was my own that you could, you know, I could take pride in, you know, not that I didn't take pride in the work that I did the q 13, but to take ownership of I guess. And so we, I think we went out to dinner that night and I said, hey, you know, what do you think if I got a camera, you know, because all the equipment that I had before was all owned by the station. So I couldn't like for example, go take a station camera out and do a product video. So I said, well, what do you think? And you know, luckily he said no, I think that would be a really good idea.

[29:07] Good. Yeah. And so then, so then you were on your way to starting your own business, but then you still did work at q 13 while you were getting your business and your feet on the ground with all of that. So for awhile there you were doing kind of double duty on jobs, right?

[29:25] Yeah. So my friend Paul, who now works at KTLA in Los Angeles to him for advice because I had no idea about what equipment together, you know, anything about. I mean, you're still, you know, you learn every day, uh, as a small business owner. But that was certainly a learning at the time. And so he helped me get together, you know, we built a list of OK, we're going to get this camera. I'm because the intention was the, he was going to kind of help me out and do some work and he ended up getting a great job in La pretty quick after I started. So, you know, it ended up good for him and good for me. But he, uh, we got together a camera list and figure it out. Um, you know, the name best may videos, uh, one of my friends helped me come up with that name because we thought, well that would be good for search engines and searches in general and people might type in, you know, best video or best videographer or whatever.

[30:22] And so plus, um, I've always discovered that if you have something near the story of the Alphabet, most sites lists you alphabetically, so just a tip. But it's always good. You don't want to be z best wedding like pizza, a martyr, exactly. A pizza or like sounds unlimited, which is a DJ company. They're always listed as us. Sounds unlimited even though that doesn't really make sense but in a smart. So yeah. So I got together a camera list and um, you know, started an llc and you know, I had no intention of quitting yet, but I was going to see kind of what I could do while working, you know, with the goal to transition eventually. So yeah. So then you did that for about a year while you were getting the business all put together and set up. Yeah. So, uh, I remember right after I bought the, my camera, there was the mudslides up in Derrington, uh, up north in the northwest and people might know that was a pretty big national news story and you know, the governor tour that and flew in the helicopter and everything.

[31:33] And um, I remember I was up there and you know, it's like four and a half hours away and there was a craigslist ad because I was, you know, always looking at, you know, because once you buy your camera and stuff and you're like, all right, well let's start doing work and you know, work doesn't just come to you, you know, you have to really go out and hustle and find it. And there was a Craig's list ad for a magic show that night that they had come into town, you know, I assume from Vegas or wherever and they were doing a performance and they thought, well, we, let's have a videographer come and do it. And so I, you know, emailed or called or whatever, and I talked to it was Christian for I talked to his, I think it was his dad, it was his manager, but it was, it was his dad and he had said, well you know, whether you want to come film the performance tonight and I know literally no idea.

[32:27] And I said, uh, you know, 200 bucks, let's, you know, a hundred bucks an hour, that seems, whatever. And so they said, all right, you're hiring. And so I hadn't really hadn't done the math of how long it would take me to get back from Darrington to q 13, you know, we were already working over time. So like by the time I would get back, get back home, get my camera and then get all the way back up. It was an effort. It was about an hour north of Seattle. That performance, I think I got there 10 minutes before show time and it was a, it was a very, very stressful a car ride up that night. Oh my gosh, I forgot about that story. Yeah, you were rushing to get there.

[33:07] And that was, yeah, that was your first Gig, the infamous Christian Ford Magician.

[33:12] Yeah, that was my first.

[33:13] I think I had done a couple of things for free. I can't remember what we had done, that masquerade ball event and I can't remember. That was. No, that was my first paid gig. I can't remember the order of them, but I do know that was my first paid gig and I had no idea what I was doing and I think I only used my camera like twice because you know, everyone, you go by your camera and then it's really kind of awkward to go out and just like create content for me anyway. Unless someone's paying me or I'm hired to do it, I don't just like go out and film the trees blowing for no reason. So, uh, it was tough but they were happy and I brought my laptop because they wanted to just transfer the footage and um, you know, they were looking at it and they were really excited because I don't think he had any expectations really at all.

[34:06] And he paid me 200 bucks cash and that was it. And I thought, man, this is really cool that like a, I got paid basically what I would get paid the whole day, q 13 to work for two hours and then b, it was just really cool to like film something and like give it to them and see their excitement. I just remember that he had had some trick where he did stop the decker cards or something with a knife and they said, oh, did you get that? Did you get that? And so I, you know, I'm pulling up the footage and they go, oh yeah, you know, and I think they like high five each other or whatever. And I thought, man, that's really cool because, you know, in news you don't always get that sort of feedback or it's a lot of like, well, what have you done for me lately?

[34:47] And everyday you come in and it's a new thing. And so it was really cool to see that, you know, that visceral excitement that they had and to get the money and then to go home and be done. So there was a lot of things with appeal to that what you were doing was appreciated and then you also got to edit it right down into your own package and that's kind of part of the fun too for you, isn't it? Yeah. So He. Yeah. And he ended up hiring me. Uh, I ended it a couple more things for them. He ended up being actually a pretty good client for a year, year and a half or so. And I actually got repeat workout of that, which was really cool as well.

[35:24] So then once you finally made the decision to quit q 13, you kind of started focusing more on shooting weddings or.

[35:33] Yeah. So it was funny that, um, I ended up doing the job for a bride, Seattle magazine, Seattle Bride magazine, and they needed a series of six videos put together for an event they had coming up. And I don't think they would've paid with my level of expertise, which was not a lot of time doing a corporate video work. They probably wouldn't have hired me outright, but they say, hey, you know, we'll, we'll do a trade deal, we will give you, you know, whatever you tell us, whatever you think it's worth an advertising dollars because you know, getting a spot on their website. It didn't cost them anything, but it was. Well at the time I proceeded valuable. So I've put together a deal for them and it was funny because in the meeting we, Paul was still there and we sat down and they said, well, you know, we could offer you work a, we can offer you advertising space in Seattle, bride magazine as well as Clo magazine. And I said, Whoa, we, I don't think we're going to be doing whether it's, I don't think that's anything to do. I forgot about that. And so looking back it was very funny to think that, you know, I think that was, I only had my camera a month or two, but you know, that I had really no intention of doing let them do it all.

[36:48] So, um, anyway, a long story short, I started doing a lot more corporate stuff and increasingly discovered, you know, it's hard to find work and I was still working in q 13, but I'm thinking, man, you know, I'm, we gotta get over this hump here. I think, you know, I had been a couple of months and you know, I thought it was going to be overnight and it's not. And it ended up only taking nine months, but you know, nine months is a long time when you buy your stuff and you think, well I'm starting this new adventure and then, you know, it took nine months to quit and really do everything. But um, I ended up getting a call for a wedding, a, I think it was a Friday and the wedding was on Sunday at Pickering barn and this aqua and he, they were going to have a uncle or somebody filmed the wedding and you know, they spaced out or couldn't make it or whatever. And so, so they said, hey, we'll give you 100 bucks. That's what they had to pay. If you'll come out and do our wedding. And so I thought, all right, so, you know, I had never filmed a wedding. I didn't, I really hadn't even gone to that many weddings because I didn't hear a lot more popular than I am. But I, I didn't have a lot of friends who were getting married, at least it was 25 or six at the time. I think we'd been.

[38:03] Yeah. But I didn't, you know, you're not ever really paying attention to this is the order, you know, you're just kind of eating and drinking. And so, um, I don't even know who the photographer was, but they were really nice and they helped me get through it. And I always remember Ray van winkle was the efficient and I still work with him today. I was with him this last summer, so that's fun to still have that connection. But I filmed the wedding and I thought, well, I'm going to go, how am I going to make this different? And I thought, well, I'll go do a bunch of interviews and really cover like a news story. And I did. But I quickly discovered that, um, people don't want, they want you to film and, you know, it took a little while to kind of figure out the tone of our videos.

[38:48] But Ah, I got done that night and I think I called you and you saw, well, how's it going? And I said, man, it's really great because, you know, when you're a news, nobody really wants you there, whether it's, um, you know, somebody just had an accident or somebody got robbed or whatever. People don't want you there. You get thrown out of a lot of places in news. You are not allowed in a lot of places in news. And so it was really great to kind of be welcome, you know, everyone wants to be wow, for the most part, everyone wants to be on camera at a wedding or hey, let's say it's a photographer or take a photo, hey, take video of us. Yeah. So it was really cool. And so I ended up doing their video for them and you know, they were happy because I don't think, I think they had had pretty low expectations. Um, and they were happy and that was kind of, we started rolling that way.

[39:40] Wow. Yeah, that was probably a nice, like you said, to be really feel like appreciated, but also feel like it's a happy, joyous occasion. Not a sad or scary news story.

[39:51] Yeah. Everyone, you know, we got fed and um, you know, I mean you see people do drink. I didn't, I wouldn't drink it, but you got food and you got um, you know, listen to music and film people dancing and stuff. I mean there's a lot worse ways to make money on a weekend and cover it in the things that I had done previously.

[40:10] Yeah. And you're recording someone's probably one of the happiest moments or memories of life, so yeah, they shouldn't be happy and appreciative. Yeah. Yeah. Awesome. So then, then you just started rolling with the weddings and we went to wedding shows together and kind of started getting, trying to get more advertising and right.

[40:32] Yeah. So I ended up doing, I think we did four weddings the first summer together. I had, um, one of my friends, his friend was getting married, so we did their wedding and then I think I bought two other ones on Craig's list it and set first year and I think by December when I put it in my notice, I had maybe four or five weddings on the books for the next summer and I think you start trying to do the math and thinking like, well, what's the absolute minimum that I would need to spend this year? The live Ah, you know, to be able to quit and survive. So, um, I ended up, you know, with my mom's blessings and with your blessing. I'm quitting right before Christmas, uh, in 2000, I guess it would've been that same year 2013.

[41:24] 13. Wow. Yeah. So I guess it was about, like you said, about almost a year later. Yeah,

[41:31] it was scary, you know, it was uh, a lot of pressure and I think that first year, you know, Rosie and I are dog took really long walks and I had a lot of spare time, uh, to, to come into your schools, to, you know, you're a teacher to come in to your schools and volunteer and uh, then, you know, a year after year now it always seems like, um, it's busier than the last year and so I think that's a good thing.

[42:00] Yeah, that's awesome. Wow. So then, and you've really been, I'm trying to get a lot of SEO, search engine optimization and you've done a ton of work with um, wedding wire and the knot and you just seem like you have lots of different venues as far as advertising and getting the word out there about your business, which I don't know how you do it, but you always managed to be on top of that stuff as well as you know, hustling for business and actually shooting video and editing and sometimes I don't know how you find the time to do everything.

[42:36] Yo. It's a, like I said, we did a four weddings at first year and man, um, I think we did 39 the next year. You know, not all of those were full price, you know, there was um, a lot of friends or other people and whatnot. And then at that point I discovered that um, we did a number of dates that people would hire a videographer for, was very limited. Right. And so it would be really hard because maybe in December or you would have to take a booking for August 10th or whatever. Well, that was it a. so, you know, at that point you were deciding like that's the maximum out of the money I'm going to make on that day and I need to hold that day for that client. So very popular for wedding. Our wedding season in Seattle, as you know, is basically like Memorial Day to Labor Day. And so I ended up finding Joe Murphy who now has been with me for four years to come on so that I could hire him and train him to shoot wedding videos for us as well. And then I would do the editing and so that's been really beneficial now because we're able to offer more people, um, you know, a quality service that I think that we provide, but also maximize our reach and the ability that we have to accommodate dates during the summer.

[44:02] Yeah. Yeah. That was a big transition. And uh, also a big one though too, because even though you are able to double book and he's going out and filming weddings separately than you, you're still taking the time to edit and go through and actually put together the final finished product. So it's still, yeah, it's a ton of work on your part too, cause you're hustling for the business. And then also putting together the actual finished product with the editing. So

Yeah, it's a lot of work. It's a lot of marketing. It's a lot of editing, you know, client meetings. I just had an email come in that uh, one of our phone calls later today has to be rescheduled. You're accommodating a lot of different schedules and dates. But yeah, it's been good. And like I said, I stand by, um, you know, the product that we offer and uh, I think that we do a good job for people

You're impeccable with your response time for people. You're always, um, super quick to respond, which I think a lot of people appreciate. And also, um, I'm just always impressed by your turnaround time for the videos that you're able to, to, um, put together and edit and just really succinctly, but also, you know, just really high quality but still in a pretty quick manner. So I don't know how you do it .

I had a last minute, wedding you come up yesterday that the uncle of the bride had called me on Friday and said, hey, I just got into town and I just discovered, you know, my niece doesn't have the money to hire a videographer and can you come record your ceremony for. And so of course we did. And we were sitting there talking before the ceremony and he said, well, um, what would you say makes you stand out? You know, what's, what's your niece or what's your. Well at first I said, oh, wedding videos is our niche. Because a lot of people ask, oh, you do video production, you know, what, what do you focus on? But I said, oh, you know, we do a lot of weddings and see, so what? No, but in terms of weddings, you know, what, what makes you stand out? And I said, well, um, I think just our responsiveness and I do think that the customer service that we offer, you know, I talked with one of my other friends key who's a photographer and we both agree that um, you know, videography or photography or your talent level in terms of shooting this objective, right?

[46:33] I mean, you might like one thing over another thing or I might like a certain style, but uh, you know, one thing you can always improve on is your customer service and that is objective, right? You can either be responsive or not, right? And you can either deliver quickly or not. And yeah, I mean not everybody's going to like the different types of videos or you might have like a certain style more than somebody else, but you can always improve on the customer service that you have for clients and you can always work on that. And He, the gentleman had mirrored that sentiment that where he had said that he had, I think email's like 10 different people and I was one of the only two that got back to him and I was the first and then you know, I don't know what other end of the packaging with the other company, but you know, not that every wedding we book the day before or two days before. But you know, people like to know that. Right. But you're going to respond and that you're going to be available. So

Yeah. Wow. You're not just going to be, MIA it's nice that you are really on it. Like I said, with the communication and kind of able to control what you're able to control. Right. Like you said, the style might be different depending on what you like or what different people like the stuff you are able to really, um, to control and, and do your best dad, you really do a good job with that. So yeah. Well this is awesome. So fun to hear the whole history. So what's in and what's, what's next?

[48:08] Yeah. This year has been really good. We're starting to approach the peak wedding season. Uh, we have a triple threat on, uh, this next week on May fifth. Uh, we have two weddings on the fifth and then we have one on the sixth.

[48:23] Wow. You never have three in a row like that, have you?

[48:26] So Joe's working, uh, the one, uh, Joe and Matt and then I'll be out the one with the doing the same day of the actually. So that will be a lot of fun. And then, yeah, this year is looking good. You know, we still do a lot of corporate video work. Um, you know, I just filmed a high school play last night and uh, we did, uh, we're filming the human resources hiring video for a company up north, but, you know, I do think that weddings are always going to be kind of a major part of our business model now. Um, I enjoy getting to know the couples and their stories and meet the man before and US spending the day with them and even if it's the ones that joe shoots me were, were involved in, you know, everything where, you know, we're able to follow each other on social media and, you know, kind of follow along with each other's, you know, I'll see people post like, Oh, I've got my bridal shower today or yeah, like are a couple for this weekend.

Jazmyn and Josh, um, we added each other on social media a couple months ago and it was really fun because he went on his bachelor party and she went on her bachelor party and kind of I was able to really follow along and, you know, they see me shooting other weddings and uh, other weddings and it's really fun to kind of be a part of each other's lives. I mean, this is kind of the whole reason why I wanted to do this podcast and you know, next week now we'll talk to, you know, another different wedding vendor that's not myself, but I think it's so cool nowadays where we can be so accessible with our clients or couples or however you want to call them. But they can get to really know me before the wedding and I can really get to know them. And I think it's so different than even five, 10 years ago were, you know, you call somebody on the phone or hire somebody or maybe you have one meeting with them or whatever. And then, you know, they're going to be with you on your wedding day, which is, you know, one of the most intimately personal days of your life.

[50:24] It's also nice because then you can track them or you know, follow them if they have big news, like if they're expecting a child or um, help them celebrate their anniversaries.

Right. Today, the day that we're recording this April 29th, Dominick and Brooke, you know, just had their one year wedding anniversary. So I was able to re share their video and you'll message them and tell him congrats. You know, it's really exciting to her. It really did. Used to bother me that like the first couple of craigslist weddings, you're not intimately personal with these clients. Right. But it really would bother me though that I would spend, you know, one of the most important days with them, be with them, you know, as they got their wedding dress on. And as they did their first look or cry during their vows in all these personal things. And then I would never see him again. And I just thought, man. So that's why I've tried to be really good about the follow-up and the social media and really doing that because it is really cool for me to kind of build this network of, you know, hopefully really happy couples that, you know, we had a really great experience together and now we can continue to be close to each others lives.

You know, Emily who was one of my first wedding for three, four years ago, um, you know, her good friend's getting married now, you know, Ali's getting married August 18th of this year and she was one of Emily's in her bridal party. And so it was really cool that I've gotten to know Ali for five years now and she was dating, you know, Paul at the time and now they're engaged in, um, you got to meet them and I'm really excited to do that this summer. And it's cool that you're able to keep in each other's lives like that even after the wedding day. So yeah. And you can keep making this kind of just spreads. Also word of mouth. I mean, if they had a really good experience with you, then there'll be more inclined to recommend you to friends and family as well. So yeah, no, it's a, hopefully it's a win-win for everybody and we just Kinda keep on trucking and keep on hustling and hope that, uh, it keeps going.

[52:37] Good. So Nice. Wow. Well this was so interesting and fun to hear the full story. I know. Um, I pretty much experienced in along side you most of it, not the college stuff and all that, but um, it was so fun to hear the whole story and yeah, for you to share some of your, some of your thoughts and some of your feelings about, um, your company and all the experiences that you've had that have led up to it. So yeah, this has been awesome.

[53:08] So thank you so much for taking time out of your weekend to come here and do this next week. We'll have another interview with a wedding professional that hopefully, you know, our listeners can get to know. And again, just really, um, the point of this podcast is to let people, um, know whether they're photographers, videographers, you know, disc jockeys, wedding planners, ah, I want people to be able to tell their stories and so our listeners can get to know them. And so then if you were planning the wedding and you are thinking about hiring, you know, Alan, who I'm going to interview for, he's a disc jockey. Well, if I'm thinking about hiring Alan from my wedding and then if I can, you know, listen to him in his own words, tell his own story about being in the wedding professional. I think that's a really invaluable resource and I really hope that, you know, over the next months and years that we can build a really cool directory of people stories and they're, you know, the kind of their backgrounds and biographies. And so it can be a real growing and ever evolving a directory of wedding professionals.

[54:14] Yeah, sounds great. Hence the name Get to Know Your Wedding Pro.

[54:18] So that does it for this week's episode of Get to Know Your Wedding Pro.. If you want any more information about our video production company, you can check out www.bestmadevideos.com You can search Best Made Videos on any major social media platform, so thanks again for listening to Get to Know Your Wedding Pro. Bye.

Episode 0 - 

[00:09] Hey everybody, welcome to Get to Know Your Wedding Pro. My name is Reid and I'm the owner of Best Made Videos. We are a local wedding videography company based out of West Seattle, Washington and we provide videography services, corporate videography services, and basically shoot videos for any other live events that you might have and I wanted to come on here today to make a special announcement and to let everybody know what's going on and if you haven't guessed yet by listening to this. We are in fact launching our own podcast series called Get to Know Your Wedding Pro. And the reason behind that is that I have recently become fascinated here in 2018. We're just how accessible we can be with our clients as professional wedding vendors, whether it's through facebook, instagram stories, twitter, email, text or phone. We really can be totally accessible to our clients from their preliminary wedding vendor search all the way through them booking us for their wedding day and through the wedding day itself.

[01:14] And as somebody who got married in 2016 and had to plan his own wedding, I know how hard it is to find the wedding vendors that you feel like you can get to know and trust to spend. What is one of your most important days with you? When I got married to my wife Dorothy, I had been fortunate enough to work in the wedding industry for a couple of years, so I was able to book and hire vendors I either knew professionally or personally or both. And I had a lot of the trust and the vendors that I brought onto our team to work with us for our wedding day. But not all couples are as fortunate as me. And when it comes to booking wedding vendors for their wedding day, they really do have to rely on text or email or maybe a handful of in-person meetings prior to their wedding day.

[02:05] So I found it will be really fun to start this interview series and go out and talk to local wedding vendors and interview them about who they are, what they do, and what they can bring to a couple's wedding day. That way when couples begin the search for their specific wedding vendors, they could go on here and find interviews with them, hear directly from the vendors mouths about what inspires them, why they do what they do and why they love what they do. Your wedding day is a very, very special day and you really want to make sure that you know what makes the people that you are going to have around tick and so I really do hope that through the course of this interview series where I get to know local wedding vendors that couples listening can get to know them as well and decide who may or may not be a good fit for them on their wedding day.

[02:54] Thank you for listening to this preliminary episode of Get to Know Your Wedding Pro. I'll be posting a new interview each week with a local wedding professional. Next week I will bring my wife, Dorothy, onto the podcast to conduct an interview with me because I figured if I'm going to go out and ask other local wedding vendors to talk about their lives than I should be opened as well with my couples and let them know what inspired me to start being a wedding videographer in the first place. I want to thank you so much for listening. It means the world to me and I appreciate all of your support as I launched this endeavor. I hope this interview series will be filled with lots of information that you can use in planning your own wedding, and thank you so much for listening to Get to Know Your Wedding Pro.