Society Planner Spotlight: Stephanie Starke Inghram

We have a very special Planner Spotlight to share with you today, The Bridal Society’s own International Director, Stephanie Starke Inghram of Saving The Day Events!

Meet Stephanie…

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Stephanie Starke Inghram is the owner and co-founder of Saving the Day Events located in Melbourne, Florida. Her expertise encompasses all event categories with wedding planning being at the forefront. She is a Senior Certified Wedding Planner and is your International Director for The Bridal Society. Stephanie was recognized by TBS as the 2014 & 2015 Wedding Planner of the Year.

When planning an event, Stephanie makes sure the day is about the client and their happiness is above all else. Nobody is more willing to go the extra mile to ensure a smooth and stress-free day for those at hand and the results speak for themselves. She truly does “save the day”.

Get to know Stephanie…

What do you love most about being a wedding planner?
The execution. We spend months with our clients getting to know their love story, their visions and what will make their wedding tick. To be able to bring that together and NAIL exactly what they want leaves me speechless every time!

What social media do you use?  Why?  How?
All of it! Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat. Everyone who really knows me, knows all things weddings make my heart pitter-patter (not just planning). It is easy to incorporate my every day life into my business social media accounts.

Where do you advertise?  Why?
Word of mouth, bridal shows, vendor recommendations and Facebook. I would say more than 90% of our business comes from those avenues. When I started the business three years ago in our area, there was not a huge niche for wedding planners. I hit the the pavement and proved I was not going anywhere!

Do you take interns?
Yes, that is how I got my amazing team…Melanie, Sarah & Toni. They all started out as interns and worked their way up to associate planners.

What continuing education courses have you taken with The Bridal Society?
I have taken majority of them. I have not gotten around to the three new ones: “Building your Brand”, “Middle Eastern Weddings”, and “Understanding Catering Managers”. I am looking forward to taking those now that I have more time!

Describe your favorite wedding.
Can I just say ALL OF THEM?! Every wedding has so many unique elements that I always end up getting attached so it is hard to narrow down just one. Back in March we spotlighted one of my favorite weddings and you can read about it HERE! Since then, another couple has stolen my heart, left a lasting impression and I will forever miss planning their wedding. We call them Gabby & Jeremy. They got married at a beautiful local venue, Up The Creek Farms, back in April of this year. Gabby was the ultimate anti-bride, had the most creative mind and had the most Type B personality I have EVER met. Understanding her visions and keeping her on track was my biggest challenge. On the other hand, Jeremy was our bride. He loved the details and the execution and we could always count on him to bring Gabby back to planet Earth. I jokingly say this but it is the truth and we still tease her about it to this day. Being that our bride was a visual design manager for Macy’s she knew exactly what she wanted, simple-yet elegant and definitely no “foofoo stuff”. Sounds easy enough, right?! During the planning process there was never a dull moment. I can honestly say that every phone call from Gabby was (and still is) the best and most entertaining I have EVER received as a wedding planner that always. They always began with, “You will never believe what I just did!”. I LOVEDDDD planning with them and on wedding day, their vision came together so absolutely amazing I can’t even stand it! They trusted us and hired an amazing group of wedding professionals too, SUPER PLUS!

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Photo Credit: Harmony Lynn Photography

AND their remarkable photographer created a stop action video for them and it turned out AMAZING, you must check it out!  https://vimeo.com/161697640

Advice for New Planners?
Don’t burn yourself out. Pace yourself. It is so easy for you to get caught up in the excitements and challenges that starting out as a wedding planner have to offer. The wedding industry is not going to go anywhere anytime soon. I made the mistake of taking any wedding I could get my hands on when I started out and in six months had 20 weddings on my books. I ignored ALL of the red flags and dealt with a lot of unfavorable and unforeseen incidents. I learned a lot really quick with those weddings but it burnt me out!

Advice for Existing Planners?
Challenge yourself. I am not sure if others have experienced this, but I feel like I’ve hit a plateau in my area. It has terrified me to branch out to other areas, work with new wedding professionals (after you vexed them of course haha), offer new services, etc. Break out of your routine and try something new. I am pretty sure it’s our fabulous Laurie that says, “if it excites you and scares the crap out of you at the same time, you should probably do it.”

What is your average week like?
It was complete and utter {planned} chaos. I guess this is the perfect opportunity to share with you all what has been going on with me and SDE and then resume to the actual question (it would make more sense this way, trust me…stay with me and keep reading!). For the past two and a half years I have been filling the role of the owner and sole lead planner of my company. It was just me doing the everyday operations of owning a business and then taking care of 20-25 clients at a time (I know a lot of you reading this can relate). My mom, the absolute complete god-sent angel that she is, would help with the day-of set up and the financial/bookkeeping aspects. In the midst of all that, about a year ago I brought on three interns. They worked their butts off and became certified and after biting my nails off and crying to my boyfriend (now husband), I finally relinquished control of my business-baby and “promoted” them to associate planners. That saying hit me in the head, “In most cases, being a good boss meant hiring talented people and then getting out of their way.” (Tina Fey) I did just that. It scared the crap out of me. All three of them rose up to the challenge and blew me away! So what WAS my average week like? Complete and utter chaos. Although everything was organized and planned out, I was having up to seven meetings a day all over my county or at our office, keeping my team in the loop, answering emails at stop lights, taking calls while walking into grocery stores, creating documents during family time, rehearsals and wedding taking place on the weekend…and oh yeah, I was working another job as a Poker Dealer (yes, you read that right). I was booked out months ahead with only a few “off” days a month.
THEN, out of nowhere…my husband and I found out we were (7 weeks) pregnant. In the wave of excitement of finally being blessed with a baby, my business popped into my head. My clients, my work weeks, my team, wedding days, everything. I was going to find a way to make it work and work hard until the baby came. Then again, out of nowhere. Boom. Miscarriage. We couldn’t believe it. When talking to the doctor about how, why, what happened, it became apparent quickly that my lifestyle needed to change. We found out that we had a miscarriage at 11 weeks and for those who do not know, there is not enough research or tests that can be done that early on to be able to decipher what went wrong.  Prior to us finding out I was running myself thin. Not sleeping enough, not eating or drinking enough, constantly stressed out, not listening to my body. This experience made me take a step back and realize that even though I absolutely LOVE the wedding industry and planning weddings I did not need to be at a constant chaos to get the job done! Since then, I have taken a step back and have acquired the role of just the owner…no longer booking weddings. Now my average week is relatively uneventful with the exception of doing some light “owner” tasks, aka office admin, checking in with my team, and popping in on a rehearsal/wedding. After a long talk with my husband, team and family, this seems to be the best fit for us, as having a family is the most important thing to us right now.
See, I told you that would all make sense! Thanks for sticking it out with me! 🙂

What is the best way you have found to acquire clients?
Hitting the pavement! Get out there and network and establish relationships with venues and other like-minded wedding professionals. After networking, stay in touch with those contacts on a monthly basis. You will stay fresh in their mind and will always remember to recommend you!

Do you have a blog? 
Yes! http://www.savingthedayevents.com/blog/

Do you have any words of encouragement?
Don’t give up. I know it sounds cliche but seriously. I cannot count how many times I have face palmed myself and asked, “What in the hell did I get myself into?”. This industry is non-stop, ever-changing, and incredibly HARD! If you have ever doubted yourself on what you were doing, why you were doing this or just feel completely defeated…YOU ARE NOT ALONE! So many of us struggle with this everyday. Reach out to your trusted friends, family and even other wedding pros and talk to them. DO NOT GIVE UP! You got this!
These are a few of Stephanie’s favorite things…

What is your favorite moment on wedding day?
I love love love love love love love (did I mention LOVE) walking behind the bride with her train in my hand as she makes her way to the aisle. She of course has the most special person beside her to give her away and because of that she is at her truest self. Nothing can hide that true emotion. The conversations that I have heard and have been a part of are those I cherish so close to my heart. That final wedding gown fluff and the tap on her shoulder telling her this is the moment she has been waiting for…OH. MY. GOODNESS! That, that right there, yep, that is my favorite moment! Instant tears, every single time!  7unnamed

What is one item you cannot live without on wedding day?
My team. Melanie is my “get’er done”, Toni is my “positive reassurance”, Sarah is my “wedding ninja” and my mom is my “swiss army knife”. It is very rare that all of us are working one wedding at the same time, but regardless of which combination the team consists of for that day, it is a force to be reckoned with. They rock!

What is your favorite activity when not coordinating a wedding?
Sleep. HAHA just kidding. I recently took a class into modern calligraphy and my passion is quickly spiraling out of control for it!
I still work as a Poker Dealer and have always enjoyed “slinging” cards.
I love watching sunsets, bingeing on Netflix series, convincing my husband to renovate our home, and sitting on our back porch drinking my tea!

TBS gives a special thanks to Stephanie for this special look into her life and business! If you are a TBS Alum who is interested in being a part of our Spotlight Feature, please be sure to visit our private forum for the Society Spotlight Application

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