Alright – so today we’ve got the honor of introducing you to Crystal Porter. We think you’ll enjoy our conversation, we’ve shared it below.
Crystal, appreciate you joining us today. Risk taking is something we’re really interested in and we’d love to hear the story of a risk you’ve taken.
Starting a brand-new business with no real prior experience in the “World of Weddings” was a big risk! Looking back, naiveté kept me blissfully brave!
The other factors that have kept me afloat are the support of my husband, family, and fellow wedding pros; the fact that I have the personality of “glass half-full” (and it’s probably wine! So… woohoo!!); that officiating a wedding ceremony is such an honor; hearing the joy in couples’ voices as they describe how grateful they are for a ceremony that is warm, sweet, romantic, fun and unforgettable…
The first couple of years were not financially lucrative. We called it my hobby. LOL
Looking back I see that every job and experience I had up to this point put valuable tools in my hands for starting my own business.
A little history…
Chicken feet in my soup, pigs under the table, mule rides and outhouses describe just a few of the exciting childhood adventures I had growing up in Central and South America– Mexico, Chile, and Paraguay—from 1st grade through my “quince.” (15th birthday) I am so grateful for this rather unique childhood — it taught me the warmth of the Latin culture, and it taught me Spanish. Being fluent in Spanish has been such a blessing in the wedding industry.
I finished high school, attended college in Lakeland, Florida, and was married in 1982 to a tall, kind, and patient man. (He is still my favorite groom — two daughters, two sons-in-love, and five grandkids later!)
Every minute of my ten years of being a stay home mom was a joy. (I’m sure I’ve just mentally blocked out the terrible twos and teen angst.)
This season taught me patience.
From there, I worked at a TV studio as a scriptwriter, director, producer, and editor of a variety of children’s shows. From time to time, I was also in front of the camera as the host of a couple of the shows and as a puppeteer! I got mad Muppet skills… if anyone wants to include that in their ceremony… Call me! Lol
Here I learned creativity.
For a few years after the studio, I taught several different classes as a university adjunct professor — Creative Communications to Children and some video production and editing courses.
If you don’t have a sense of humor in a university classroom — they fall asleep! So, that was a needed skill!
All of the above, plus years of public speaking and teaching, prepared me well to transition into officiating.
Usually risks are best taken when you are young. You have more energy, strength and, frankly, time to recover when you fail! LOL
But this risk I took in my late 50’s, so while I may be lacking in the benefits of the young, I make up for it with this crazy laundry list of experiences.
Crystal, love having you share your insights with us. Before we ask you more questions, maybe you can take a moment to introduce yourself to our readers who might have missed our earlier conversations?
“We reached out to you because you look like you really enjoy what you do!” I can’t tell you how often I hear this from couples.
Couples who have seen my photos, reels or read my reviews reach out to me because they are looking for what they found in those –fun, energy, tenderness, creativity, a personal connection — an officiant who is emotionally present at their ceremony. I’m going to cry with them, laugh with them and most certainly celebrate with them because this moment — becoming “one”, is a big deal!
If couples are looking for someone serious and stuffy, well, they are going to bypass me in a hurry!
Ceremony by Crystal was established in 2018. To date, I have tied over 400 knots!
Over 40 tutorial videos is another service I provide my couples to help them be as prepared as possible for an excellent wedding day experience. These fun, short (usually only 1 to 2 minutes in length) videos prepare them emotionally and give practical tips as well: “All you need to know about your Marriage License”, “The proper way to carry a flower bouquet”, “How to escort a lady.”, “How for the groom to avoid getting Aunt Sally’s make-up on his suit jacket”, LOL . . . etc. . . .
Hearing couples say working with me alleviated some of their stress or fear . . . hearing them say that I feel like family — nothing makes my heart happier!
Any stories or insights that might help us understand how you’ve built such a strong reputation?
Your reputation is your brand.
In a small business your brand is YOU.
That sounds obvious to me now, but when I first started I thought I was supposed to blend into the background.
Once I quit listening to the voices telling me to “tone it down” to appeal to a broader base, and I let my true personality shine, things changed dramatically!
I started truly enjoying what I do! Letting couples see “the real me”, plus giving extra mile attention to detail and doing all things with kindness and integrity, built my brand and attracted my perfect couples.
Integrity is how you behave when no one is watching. I try to live by treating everyone with love and respect.
It takes time to define who you are when you start a new business. Little by little you learn — through experience, through observing others, through mistakes, through big wins.
Little by little the brand begins to fit. You think, “This is me! This is who I want to be in this industry! This is how I want to be known.” That energizes you, and the customers who are looking for your brand —your energy, style and services, will be drawn to you. Then it is a joy to work with them to create a wedding ceremony they will forever look back on with warmth.
We’d love to hear the story of how you built up your social media audience?
I would not say my following is huge . . . but, it’s the top in my field in my area. And that was something I was intentional about. I set it as a goal! LOL Not for prideful reasons, but for “influence” reasons.
If you are on top, you have more of a voice. I want to have a voice in this industry because I have a message. I want to help define the culture of the wedding industry in Central Florida — even if that is only among my fellow officiants.
How did I do that? . . . I came right out and asked! Even people I met waiting in line at Dunkin Donuts! LOL
And with my couples, at some point in our relationship I would suggest we follow each other so that I can tag them in photos and reels — also so that we can “be best friends forever!”
- Website: https://www.ceremonybycrystal.com/
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ceremonybycrystal/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ceremonybycrystal
- Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCUrJ0VREPAxPtrs9MMSqLCw
Gonzalez Lugo Photography and Garry & Stacy Photography