I was thrilled to be included in the DC Ladies “Dreamers & Doers” section for women in business this week. DC Ladies, founded by Mother-Daughter team Shelley and Sarah, does great work connecting women in our area with resources, information and one another. The DC Ladies mission is to provide “an eclectic mix of what is fun, fashionable, family related and just plain fabulous in our Capital Area for women.” It is wonderful to have their supportive community available to us. Since joining the DC Ladies group, I have made great contacts and friendships with other awesome women in our area, and look forward to connecting with others!
Photo Credit: Lisa Marie O’Quinn – Sweet Tea Photography by Lisa Marie
Bright Occasions, LLC is a boutique wedding planning company. We work with couples in the Washington DC, Baltimore and Annapolis metropolitan areas. As a small business, we currently only take one wedding per weekend in order to provide 100% of our time and service to each couple. We work with a variety of Wedding budgets and styles, from modern to classic, simple to grandiose, rustic to glam. Bright Occasions offers services for any stage in the wedding planning process from Complete Wedding Planning to Wedding Coordination, and any stage in between. Our goal is to ensure each couple has a beautiful, happy and stress-free wedding day.
I started my company after helping several friends with their wedding planning, and realizing that I wanted to do this for a living. I love working with couples to carry out the best day and most important moment in their life.
I specialize in designing weddings with creative ideas and attention to detail based on each couple’s individual style and personality. It is important to me to keep Bright Occasions small and personal in the approach we have with working with our clients. I want every couple to feel that they are getting tremendous value and support for their wedding.
Nothing but the truth:
What was your first job out of college and how did you land that position?
I was an Administrative Assistant at the Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions. I found this position through the Ford Agency, a woman owned staffing agency. Shortly thereafter I was promoted within the company to the position of Committee Administrator. I worked with Telecommunications Standards Committees in planning their meetings across the country and providing support to many senior level executives. It was a great position for a future Wedding Planner, because I learned how to be directive, and communicate effectively with many types of people. I still keep in touch with my main supervisor at ATIS, who was a mentor to me in many ways.
When did you discover your passion for Weddings and Events?
When I was a little girl I was always a Bride for Halloween! But it wasn’t until later that I discovered my passion for Weddings and Events. When I was in college I interned for the DC Commission on Arts & Humanities and was able to take a large role in planning two very special events for the DC Community – Fete de la Musique and the Larry Neal Writers Award Ceremony. This was my first experience planning special events professionally. I still remember walking into the Folger Shakespeare Library for the first time to set-up for the award ceremony and reception, and how I felt after the night was over. I was so happy and proud to have played a role in putting this great event together. It was a year after my own wedding, when I was helping friends plan theirs, that I realized my passion and excitement for wedding planning.
What’s your mantra?
Lately I love the mantra “Keep Calm and Carry On”. In many ways this is how I try to run a wedding. That day is very organized in advance, but there are always external factors out of our control. Weather, traffic, and other emergencies may arise. I maintain a calm presence, while problem solving anything out of the ordinary that may come up. People are looking to me to set the tone for that day, so I feel that the best way for me to handle myself is to be calm and carry on with all the details.
Describe a typical day working, and how do you balance it all?
One bride has commented that she doesn’t know how I do it, keep everyone straight, remember all the details and make her feel that she is my main priority.
There is no real typical day, I usually start with checking email and seeing what is happening on Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest. Social media has become important in many ways, but for me it is mostly about keeping up with current trends and sharing ideas with wedding professionals and couples that I work with.
I am working at varying stages with each couple; I periodically check and review timelines, budgets, and vendor contracts. For all clients, I am open in terms of communication and I am always available for any questions they may have. On any given day I may talking with vendors to receive quotes and answering logistics/etiquette questions for couples planning their wedding and working with me for wedding coordination. On other days I may have a walk-through for an upcoming wedding, meeting with prospective clients, or attending a networking event to see industry friends.
What is the most important lesson you learned since starting your business?
There is no ‘one size fits all’ for weddings. Every couple is different and every wedding is different. This is common sense in a lot of ways, but it has helped me to shape my business model and approach. There are certain things that all weddings do need to be successful, but at the end of the day each is unique.
Best moment of your career so far?
As cheesy as this sounds, every wedding so far has given me a wow moment. I love seeing the couples and their parents so happy.
If I have to choose the best moment would be a wedding I did this fall at a Private Home in Potomac, MD. We literally brought the venue to the home, complete with a portable bathroom trailer, generator and several tents. My sister was attending the wedding, so she got to see me in action. I loved talking with her the next day and hearing all the great things she and guests said about the wedding. I could tell the couple had the best time and that she was proud of her baby sister.
What’s next for…
I am going to work on updating my Website this Winter. I created my current website on my own through a very basic template. I’d like to work with a designer and make it a little more special. I also recently bought the domain www.brightoccasions.com and will work on dropping “The” off my name.
A place that inspires me…
Italy – I spent a summer in college living and studying in Tuscany. I was fortunate that summer to take trips all over Italy and really learn the country and it’s people. I love the attitude and beauty of Italy. During my time there I really appreciated the freshness of the food, delicious wine, gorgeous renaissance gardens, architecture, the landscape, etc.
It’s not worth stressing over…It’s not worth stressing over what other people are thinking and doing. We can really only control ourselves, and our impact on those around us.
Do you have any tips for budding entrepreneurs?
Take calculated risks. Be realistic about what you can do; think carefully about your finances, what you need to be successful, and then go for it! Trust yourself and your instinct. Be honest and true to yourself. Set goals that are just outside of your comfort zone but can be obtained through hard work and dedication.
What advice would you give to your 23-year-old self?
At 23, I was still discovering myself and my future career. I wouldn’t change anything that I did, because I might not be here today. But I put a lot of pressure on myself. I would have told myself not to worry as much and not be as afraid to try new things.
No one knows that…
I can’t ride a bike!