We caught up with the brilliant and insightful Shauna Jackson a few weeks ago and have shared our conversation below.
Hi Shauna, thanks for joining us today. To kick things off, we’d love to hear about things you or your brand do that diverge from the industry standard
When you think of a “wedding planner” you probably think of Father of the Bride’s Franck Eggelhoffer or The Wedding Planner’s Jennifer Lopez. Although what they did in the movies are not completely inaccurate, not all couples can afford a full service wedding planner to make their dreams come true. Then you have the “wedding coordinator” who typically works for the venue or event planning company that comes in the day of to make sure everyone gets down the aisle, carries an emergency kit, and manages the timeline.
Don’t get me wrong we do offer luxury, full service wedding planning and simple wedding coordination services to those clients who want it. However, we do so much more than just that.
When you hire aRay of Events you are not just getting a great wedding planner or coordinator. You are getting a team of wedding professionals who are there to bring your vision to life, serve you anyway you need, and take the stress out of the day. We have a variety of collections and services that accommodate any budget and personality. This makes it possible for all couples to have a wedding planner throughout the planning journey and coordinators on the wedding day.
Shauna, before we move on to more of these sorts of questions, can you take some time to bring our readers up to speed on you and what you do?
Shortly after my husband, Austin and I were married in 2013. I finished up my Bachelors in Elementary and Special Education and started my teaching career. I continued my education and received a Master’s in Administration in 2017.
Once my family and friends started getting engaged, I started managing and planning weddings as a hobby. I stepped away from my career in education in 2019 to run a wedding venue, which gave me the flexibility to go on mission trips and spend more time with my family.
I decided to start my own business in March of 2021 and booked my first wedding in April of 2021. By the end of 2021, we completed 48 events, I became a Wedding MBA Elite Level Certified Wedding Planner, and grew a team of 7 wedding planners/coordinators. By the end of 2022, we will have completed 126 events, have 3 more Wedding MBA Certified Wedding Planners and have a team of 10 wedding planners/coordinators.
aRay of Events is an Event Planning and Wedding Management company. The business name comes from my maiden name, Ray, and a play on words since we offer a variety of event planning services including: planning, managing, coordinating, design, timeline, decorating, and more.
We meet couples wherever they are in their wedding planning journey. When couples come to us right after the engagement, we help plan the entire event from creating a budget and booking a venue to finalizing a timeline and running the event.
We are most popular for our Wedding Management Collection. This is when couples are able to ask questions and get recommendations throughout the booking phase of planning. Then, we help organize and make sure nothing is missing, create a master timeline, and provide them with at least two day of coordinators to ensure everything runs smoothly.
We mainly stay in the St. Louis area, however, we do offer destination services. We have currently planned/traveled for wedding located in Utah, Arkansas, Georgia, Florida, and Illinois.
Any advice for managing a team?
“You don’t do interviews?” is a question I get a lot. Correct, I do not do interviews when hiring a new team member. I have conducted interviews for pervious companies in the past and have been to my fair share of interviews myself. I just don’t like them. In my experience, they never show you how a person is going to interact with others or perform on the job. Furthermore, I have test and confrontation anxiety and do not like putting people in situations that I personally would feel uncomfortable in.
When I receive an application for a job, I first contact their references. If they seem like someone I would be interested in meeting, I invite them to shadow a wedding. This gives the opportunity to interact and work with them to see if they would be a good fit or not.
I am not a micromanager by any means. I have very high expectations, a few specific documents that must be completed and require a specific end result. However, I allow my team to get there on their own. I am available for them anytime and feel that they are comfortable coming to me with anything.
We have a team retreat every year where we come together to learn and grow together.
We’d love to hear a story of resilience from your journey.
Weddings are very unpredictable and require resilience. You can plan and prepare for months or even years, but there will always be something on the day of that doesn’t go exactly according to plan.
Often times in Missouri, it is the weather. We have had outside weddings that have been moved indoors at the last minute and timelines that had to be moved up hours to avoid a tornado.
Every once in a while, we have issues with other wedding vendors not showing up on the day of the wedding. From makeup artists to photo booths to transportation companies.
One time we had a transportation company not show to pick the guests up from the hotel and bring them to the venue. With only 15 minutes until the ceremony start time, one coordinator hopped in a vehicle to go pick up as many as she could while the others drove themselves to the venue. I was able to get ahold of the transportation company and had them send a new driver to pick up the guests who drove themselves back to the hotel that evening and bring them back to their vehicles the next morning.
We have had issues with family members and other guests, cake mishaps, dress stains, sicknesses, and more. No matter what the day throws at us, we just adapt and find a solution quickly.
- Website: https://www.arayofevents.com/
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/aray_ofevents/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/arayofevents
- Other: https://www.theknot.com/marketplace/aray-of-events-llc-villa-ridge-mo-2047404 https://www.weddingwire.com/biz/aray-of-events-llc/c63a3cfce3c5f29c.html https://www.weddingandpartynetwork.com/vendorProfile/aray-of-events-1