Weddings by Weaver | Kara Weaver
KARA WEAVER | WEDDINGS by WEAVER
Kara is a wedding planner and blogger in Austin, TX.
*edited for length
SO WHY DID YOU START YOUR BUSINESS?
Great question. So I started Weddings by Weaver after my own wedding. I'd been in a couple of friend's weddings in that time period and realized nobody hired a day of coordinator or wedding planner for their weddings because #1, they thought a wedding planner/day of coordinator would be out of their budget and #2 they didn't want an old lady in a pant suit yelling at them and telling them what to do on their wedding day. And so I had assisted in some friend's weddings and just seeing how much of a help it was to have somebody there at the ceremony and reception site...being in charge of your vendors, seeing where everybody was going and doing and not having to worry the bride and groom was a really awesome opportunity.
And so we launched our business once I realized our services were needed from a bridal perspective of having an affordable wedding planner come in and assist on your wedding day. We booked weddings last September. September 30th was our first wedding ever. And from that, I just really loved working with brides and grooms and serving them in a way that other vendors couldn't.
WHAT SETS YOU APART FROM OTHERS?
1 is how we operate as a business. I'm not formally trained as a wedding planner. I kind of picked this up after planning my own wedding and being in friend's weddings and seeing what the needs really were. I think something that does set us apart is my background in sales and understanding how a business cycle works. And having that corporate experience and moving into our company and we booked our 27th wedding. Which is ridiculous but at the same time...and that's within the past four months of booking all of those. And so that corporate experience and that consultant's hat of understanding how to reach a customer, how to book a client, how to make them feel like you truly do care about them and support them in their marriage is something that I have not seen in a lot of other wedding vendors unfortunately.
WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE PART ABOUT PLANNING A WEDDING?
I think my favorite part...so we do two portions of wedding planning. So we do full planning and we do more wedding day management. Full planning is once the bridal couple gets engaged, we are there helping them pick out the date, the venue, the vendors, the flowers, the decor, all of that. And with wedding day management, we're coming in 30 days before just to tie up any loose ends and create that personalized schedule and everything we need to run smoothly on the actual day of the wedding.
But I think my favorite thing about all of it is really becoming friends with my bridal clients. I'd say the majority of my bridal clients I've had a double date with my husband and/or we've gone to visit them. So I had this one bridal couple this past July who were amazing and I'd known the bride briefly in college but we weren't close friends or anything. But I actually went up to Denver couple of weeks later and they'd just moved up there so we went and grabbed drinks after their honeymoon and got to catch up more and talk about what newly wed life was like. And the same thing with a bridal client I had in February. They are now part of our bible study and just part of day to day. And so having those relationships that are built not just on the wedding day but of the marriage itself is really awesome.
WHAT'S THE BIGGEST LESSON THAT YOU'VE LEARNED?
So many. I think the biggest lesson is learning when to say no. There are certain times that I've had a conversation with a potential client and just realizing that I might not be the best fit for them or they wouldn't be the best fit for our company and sometimes that has to do with their budget, sometimes it just has to do with the packages that we provide and so having to say no to business has been really hard because when start off, you want to take on as much as you can just to build up your portfolio and you're like I don't know when I can pay myself next, I'll take anything.
But really understanding the value of our brand and the value of the services that we provide, it is better for not only our company, but our clients, if we say no to certain things. And it's really hard because I'm a yes girl. I'll say yes to almost anything and so I'd say the most valuable lesson is learning to say no and understanding the flags that might come up before then to better figure out if this is a yes opportunity or a no opportunity.
WHAT DO YOU WISH YOU KNEW BEFORE STARTING YOUR BUSINESS?
The freaking accounting and administrative stuff. I hate that part of the business and I think if I had to do it all over again, I would have brought somebody on earlier who could take charge of our finances, our accounting, our budget for each quarter, our taxes because those things are not my giftings at all. And I'm really struggling to figure it all out. And also understanding the insurance policies as a small business and also as the wedding planner. When you have employees, how do you take care of them. So I wish I would have either taken a course that would have taught me all of that really quickly or just brought someone on who's giftings are really high in that area because I'm the people, creative sales person, not the administrative, finance accounting lady. I wish I could but I can't.
DO YOU SEE YOURSELF BECOMING A TEAM?
Yeah that's the dream. I currently have assistants who come to the weddings with us and we consider it more of an apprenticeship. So they'll come log hours with me, see how we're running weddings and then with the hope that when we do start getting business that are double booked on weekends, I have a trusted companion that can go and be a lead at a wedding. And currently I have one girl in particular who is on that track basically. And we have a wedding for her in February that is like hey this is the end goal, I already have it booked, it's your's. And she's been awesome.
And so it's been a cool opportunity for me, how do I train and manage somebody in the wedding planner-sphere when I myself didn't have that. And I was learning on my feet but now being able to take all of my nuggets of wisdom and give them to her...so yes in the future I'd love to have multiple people because I love what I do right now but I also see in the future when I have a family and my weekends are precious. I don't want to have 30 weddings that I'm in charge of every single year when I have kids at home. And so my long term goal is to be able to have a team that could also help manage those weddings and lead those weddings whereas I am more of a CEO/founder type persona. And allowing my team to take lead on the weddings that we do book. It'd be so cool.
SO WHERE DO YOU FIND INSPIRATION?
Coffee. Dogs. I really like to do lists because they make me feel productive. So I try to do something that feels like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders everyday whether that be working out...because that in itself, if I don't do that makes me feel bad. When I don't exercise or have that stimulation...My quiet time's really important to me. That helps me stay grounded and really focus my energy on my tasks at hand. I finally set up a little workstation. I wake up, I shower or get ready, and I go to work instead of sitting in my bed or my couch with Netflix on, which is not productive at all. Yeah I have my little desk, my to-do list on one side, my laptop, my chalkboard or cork board of inspo. And everyday, crossing off things on my to-do list that I made the night before. So that helps. Pinterest is a great inspiration.
Also seeing what my competitors are doing because I have a drive to be the best in what I do and so I need to see what other people are doing and try to take what they are doing and recreate it in a way that really represents my brand and who I am as a planner.
WHERE DO YOU SEE YOURSELF IN 10 YEARS?
CEO, a lot of team members. I'd love to have a workspace in Austin somewhere, an actual office. I'd love to have a team of women and maybe men if they want to come...that's cool. Yeah women who are really passionate about creating marriages more beautiful than your wedding day...so women who not only love planning the weddings and love the creative side and all of that when it comes to planning a wedding, but also really care about our clients and care about their marriage and want to see them succeed and not just on the wedding day but the day after and the year after and the year after that. An opportunity to employ more people and create more jobs for women who might not necessarily feel like they belong in the corporate world because I don't.
WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE EVENT THAT YOU'VE WORKED ON?
That's hard. I think my favorite event was probably my first one. I was so excited and so nervous. But also really willing to be the best that I could be even though I had no idea half the time what a "normal wedding planner" would do in a situation. My bridal couple for that wedding was awesome. The bride's mom was amazing and had a gorgeous eye for table decor. And I put all of these things together that I look back at those pictures and it still takes my breath away. That was probably my favorite. I remember driving back to Jacob's (my husband) parent's house after and being like "yep, I found it. I found what I want to do. I love doing this. I love the vendors and the people and I love wedding planning and the vendors are awesome that I work with.
We always give high fives to our vendors which I've been told doesn't happen normally. But I think they should also be encouraged. I remember the vendor at this event in particular was just very encouraging. I told him it was my first wedding professionally and he was like "you're doing a great job! Keep it up! You bring a lot of joy to people when you're here." My favorite event.
IS THERE A DREAM WEDDING YOU'D WANT TO PLAN?
I want to do a wedding for a bachelor/bachelorette winner. I think it'd be so cool. When I was in Nashville I ran into the runner up Blake from the Bachelorette and we did an Instagram post. And I semi-jokingly but really not whenever any of those men or women want to get married, I'd be there in a heart beat and it might be bougie but I'm so down. Because I love that TV show so much. So yes that's my dream wedding to plan. Or Taylor Swift's. That might be too much pressure. Or a royal wedding.
ARE MOST OF YOUR WEDDINGS LOCAL?
Right now most of our weddings are local because traveling does take more time out of our weekends and I'd like to spend that time with my husband. But we will go to Dallas, Houston, San Antonio. When I do go out for weddings, I can take a day and go see friends. But I'd to focus more on Austin and the surrounding towns just because it's more local. But if somebody wants to get married in Hawaii, I'm down! Let's go! I'd be so willing to do that for a couple, especially if we vibe really well.