Guest Blog Series: Q + A with Kelsey of Fairytales by Kelsey
Are you needing help planning the wedding of your dreams? Want it to be a fairytale sort of day? Then Fairytales by Kelsey is the wedding planning and coordinating company for you! We had a chance to work with Kelsey on a fun project in December 2018 and look forward to working with her again in 2019, and 2020.
We want to welcome Kelsey to our Guest Blog Series where we ask questions on a variety of topics including running a business, the story behind starting a business, business as usual during wedding season, tips and more! This is a great opportunity to learn more about Fairytales by Kelsey, as a business, but also provides a glimpse into Kelsey's life as an entrepreneur, wife, mom, farmer and more. So let's dive right in with our Q + A with Kelsey, owner of Fairytales by Kelsey.
Q. Kelsey, thank you so much for being our guest on today’s blog! We love meeting and chatting with event planners! Let’s start by telling us what led you to Event Planning and Coordination?
A. I have actually been interested in being an event planner since I was in junior high! In 7th grade we had to do a research paper on a career that we were interested in and mine was all about being an event planner. Fast forward a few years and I found myself planning my own wedding in 2015. That spurred me on to start Fairytales by Kelsey and I haven’t looked back since!
Q. I know deciding on a business name, let alone deciding to start your own business, can be quite a task. Tell us the story behind your business and the idea of starting your own business? Have you always dreamed of starting your own business or have a background in business?
A. I am totally a Disney princess (Cinderella is my favorite) at heart, so “Fairytales” was a natural choice for me. At my wedding we did a Cinderella themed photoshoot complete with glass slippers. When I started the company in 2016, I was just finishing up my bachelors degree in business at Portland State University. Since high school I knew I wanted to have my own company, but the business ideas waffled between a boutique clothing store, bridal shop or event planning, and I guess you can see what I ended up with!
"But, you have to think to the day of the wedding and consider who is going to be setting up tables, centerpieces, welcome table, guest book, ceremony site, who is going to make sure the dj knows it’s time for cake cutting, bouquet toss or dinner, who is going to tell the caterer where to set up, and who is going to clean up all of the decor at the end of the night.
Because it should never be the bride, groom, parents, or even aunts and uncles. If someone is invited to your wedding, you shouldn’t also be assigning them a task to complete. Everyone wants to enjoy your day and relax! So, that’s where we come in and take care of all of that for you." -- Kelsey, owner of Fairytales by Kelsey
Q. Running your own business can be so great but also can be very draining at times. What are your thoughts on work/life balance and making sure you still are there for your family? Do you have a set schedule that helps? What tips can you share.
A. Besides wedding planning, I am a stay at home mom for a, currently, 7 month old baby girl, Ellie. So nap times have become my work times! Ellie comes with me to meetings, walk-throughs, rehearsals and sometimes wedding setups. I joke that she has been to more weddings than most adults already. Luckily for me, most of the year is pretty chill, but once wedding season hits (May-Sept) the work/life balance kinda goes out the window!
During the summer my parents help out a lot with babysitting, my husband works on the farm (more about that later), and I spend the weekends directing weddings. I do have a wedding assistant which helps me out a ton during the busy times so that I can take a breather when necessary. I also am strict on setting aside 1 weekend a month that I don’t accept any weddings for me personally to work.
Q. I know from experience that there are many aspects of running a business that you generally just figure out along the way. What’s one area of your business that you did not expect to enjoy as much as you do?
A. Good question! Being a business major, I was fairly well prepared for all aspects of running a business. Through my various jobs before Fairytales, I gained experience in accounting, graphic design, marketing and sales, so I felt good about launching my own company. I’m kinda nerdy when it comes to spreadsheets, so I really do enjoy doing the finance side of things both for the company and for my clients with wedding budgeting.
Q. In the Wedding Industry we know that the terms ‘Event Planner’ and ‘Coordinator’ get thrown around often, but between clients and vendors – the meanings generally vary. How do you describe each of these terms to your clients? As you offer both services, do you find that you normally get hired for both or do you often do one or the other only?
A. Honestly, I had to look up the difference between the two when I started out! But, it’s pretty simple. The event planner literally helps with the “planning” of the wedding while the coordinator only comes in to “coordinate” the day of the wedding. I offer both options for my clients and am one of the few planner/coordinators out there which is a huge bonus! I find that most couples start out with coordination only, but as the wedding date gets closer, start adding some aspects of planning into our agreement. I enjoy doing both aspects of the wedding, but the coordination part is what gives me the “wedding high” that I love!
Q. If an engaged couple was chatting with you and on the fence about hiring an Event Planner or Coordinator for their wedding or not, what would you tell them? What makes your company unique and what sets you apart as an Event Planner and Coordinator?
A. When I first talk to clients, this is usually where they are at! They aren’t sure if it’s worth the extra cost when I’m not providing a physical “product” for them. But, you have to think to the day of the wedding and consider who is going to be setting up tables, centerpieces, welcome table, guest book, ceremony site, who is going to make sure the dj knows it’s time for cake cutting, bouquet toss or dinner, who is going to tell the caterer where to set up, and who is going to clean up all of the decor at the end of the night. Because it should never be the bride, groom, parents, or even aunts and uncles. If someone is invited to your wedding, you shouldn’t also be assigning them a task to complete. Everyone wants to enjoy your day and relax! So, that’s where we come in and take care of all of that for you. Clients hand me boxes of decor at the beginning of the day, and I hand them back packed boxes of decor at the end of the night. It’s as simple as that.
Q. What is one of your favorite parts of being an Event Planner and Coordinator? Tell us about a past experience that really solidified this in your mind.
A. The wedding day, of course! Meetings, walk-throughs, emails, spreadsheets and timelines all converge on one day that is supposed to be my clients happiest day ever. And I get to make sure that comes true for them. The idea that I am critical in making an entire day go off without a hitch and making dreams come true is thrilling to me. And I love seeing two people so in love with each other and the family and friends who have come from across the country (or world) to celebrate with them.
Q. During peak wedding season what does your typical weekend look like? Do you have other associates that you can bring on for larger events?
A. A typical weekend for us starts on Thursday with a rehearsal for the Saturday wedding in the evening. Friday is our prep day and Saturday/Sunday is the big day! We only book 2 weddings each weekend and each coordinator only does one wedding. I hire an assistant coordinator to assist me each summer and she takes on some of the day of coordination weddings herself and assists me on the larger planning weddings. I also have a great crew of guys that help with more elaborate setups and also become wait staff for weddings without a traditional caterer.
Q. It seems like no matter how long you have been in the industry, there is always something to be learned. What is an example of a company process or procedure that you currently use that came about after an experience from an actual event? Tell us the story.
A. My best example of learning on the job is my wedding emergency kit. You see the lists on Pinterest for what a bride should have with her on the big day, but my kit goes so far beyond that! This kit started out as a gift from my parents when I started my company and they gifted it to me in a vintage makeup carrier - adorable and very functional (for the first year). It started out with duct tape, some tools, zip ties, makeup remover, miscellaneous toiletries, and a few other things. Through my first summer of weddings, it came in handy more times than I can count, but after every wedding I found that there were 1 or 2 things missing from it that were absolutely necessary!
Example: I did a wedding where the couple were providing all of the alcohol and hired freelance bartenders. Well, the couple didn’t even think to bring a wine opener! Yikes! So, right before the wedding started, I sent my assistant to the store to buy a couple of corkscrews and those found a home in my kit after that.
Other items that have been added over the years are wire cutters (don’t even ask…), cake cutters, cake topper (sometimes the most basic things get forgotten in the last rush of wedding packing), floral tape, and deodorant (for those extra nervous brides and grooms). I’ve added so many things to the kit that I had to buy a new bag to carry all of them this year!
Q. As an Event Planner + Coordinator, you seem to have some contact with almost every vendor at a wedding. Any tips or thoughts you want to share to wedding vendors that would be helpful in creating a successful day for the happy couple?
A. Oh so many things! But here are the basics:
● Caterers - Please verify with the couple who will be taking home the leftover food at the end of the night. Having to run around at the end of the party to find someone who will take the food isn’t fun. And a few times I’ve ended up taking the food home because there wasn’t anyone designated and no one else wanted it! So have that listed on your service sheet and make sure to confirm with that person on day of.
● Florists - If you don’t already use magnets for your boutonnieres, look into it! It saves me from getting stabbed by needles while affixing them to groomsmen.
● Hair and Makeup - Leaving the bride with little containers of lipstick, eye shadow and bobby pins is a wonderful way to make sure your hard work lasts all night long!
● Photographers - Make sure you have a good pro and con list for 1st Looks! So many clients have a hard time making that decision and a good list would do wonders for their decision making ability! Also, please encourage an unplugged wedding and maybe even consider renting out signs for the ceremony site that remind guests to put their phones away.
Q. In between family, farming and gardening – what are your favorite day to day activities when not busy Event Planning or Coordinating?
A. As you mentioned, besides wedding planning and being a mom, my husband and I run Knutson Family Farm from our property in St. Helens, OR. We grow produce, have an orchard, and farm animals (chickens, ducks, goats, and a pig - who is a friend, not food). This makes summers especially busy for me! During the week, you can find me in the garden pulling weeds, planting seeds, and playing with goats.
I also love to read - my goal is to read 20 books in 2019 - and have my Kindle with me wherever I go. We also love to go boating and can be found out on the river in my husband’s 36’ trawler soaking in the sun. I’m a bit of a homebody, so when I’m not busy with weddings or gardening, you can find us curled up on the couch watching Chopped or testing out the latest baked goods recipe that caught my eye.
Q. What’s on the horizon for Fairytales by Kelsey? Any projects or new services for people to check out? And what is the best way for someone interested in your Planning services to reach you?
A. 2019 is the year of growth for Fairytales by Kelsey! We set a goal for a number of weddings completed this year and are working towards that. Nothing is changing with how we run things, because I love where we are at. But, one thing that we offer which most people don’t know about is decor rentals! I have a whole storage closet full of decor pieces that my clients have full access to which includes things like chargers, votives, vases, specialty linens, photobooth backdrops and a ton of other stuff!
For those who are interested in working with me, shoot me an email from my contact form at https://fairytalesbykelsey.com/contact/. All of my packages and pricing are listed right on my website, so read through the options and see if we are a good fit!
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