From Classroom to CEO
Updated: Oct 16
When I'm meeting with new clients or getting to know vendors, the question of how I got started in the wedding planning industry always comes up. To answer other curious minds, today's blog post is all about how I started Elizabeth Events. This is the first time I've shared my whole story. For the first few years of Elizabeth Events, I kept the details on the down low. I struggled with imposter syndrome fearing that if people knew my age they would not hire me. Keep reading to see how everything with Elizabeth Events unfolded.
Hi! I'm Annie Elizabeth the owner of Elizabeth Events. I love Georgia Football, my Golden Retriever Maverick, and Feta cheese. On any given weeknight you can catch me having a cozy night in cooking for my boyfriend Brady and playing with Maverick. Growing up I always thought that I would be a teacher. I loved school and always played school or teacher with my friends. If you asked me what I was going to be when I got older that was my go to answer from Kindergarten to my junior year of high school. Long story short, when I was a junior in high school, I had some friends sign me up to run for Student Government without my knowledge. I won and that's where my love for event planning began. Who knew Student Government had less to do with governing and more to do with event planning?!
While working towards my Business Management degree at Lee University my boyfriend's roommate got engaged. This was a very common occurrence at Lee because all the girls like to have a "ring by spring". They knew I was working towards beginning an event planing business, so they asked for my help with the wedding process. I excitedly said yes and little did I know that would literally "open the door". A few weeks later, my boyfriend's cousin got engaged and asked for my help planning. I said yes again. Josh & Caroline Ward got married at Howe Farms in Georgetown, TN in May of 2018. Nick & LaRae Egli got married at Grace Chapel in Franklin, TN in May of 2018. Check out some pictures of the weddings below.
I walked alongside both of these brides and helped them with every stage of the planning process. It was about this time that I decided that if I was already planning weddings, I might as well go ahead and start Elizabeth Events. In January of 2018, I created an Instagram page and created a website. I had planning experience from shadowing other planners and my student government experience, but I had no pictures to show off what I was capable of. While I was in the planning processes of these two weddings, I began planning a styled shoot. At this point, I had a few vendor connections in Nashville and zero vendor connections in the Chattanooga area where I went to school. I researched florists, photographers, venues, rental companies, and bridal salons asking them to take a chance on me and join this shoot. I'll do a post on this shoot another day, but it was a great starting point in creating my portfolio and making connections with vendors. Check out some pictures below.
The Ramble Creek styled shoot took place in April 2018 and in May 2018 I coordinated Elizabeth Events' first two weddings! After those two weddings, I started trying to connect with more vendors in both the Nashville and Chattanooga ares and getting involved in wedding Facebook pages. It did not take long for inquiries to start coming in. I ended up booking two more weddings for October and November of 2018 in Nashville. By the time 2019 rolled around I had 18 weddings on the books. Yep, you heard that right! I went from 4 weddings to 18! That's more than I could have ever imagined. All but one of those weddings were in Nashville and nine of them fell during my last semester of college.
I would frequently drive 2.5 hours to Nashville for an hour mid-week client meeting and then drive 2.5 hours back to school. The majority of my clients did not know I was a college student. I couldn't help but feel as if clients would think I was too young for such a weighty responsibility (I was only 20 y'all). Every Saturday for the first three weekends of September, October, and November I woke up around 6am, made the drive to Nashville, and worked a 12-16 hour wedding day. The next morning, I would drive back to school. I planned and executed nine weddings in the midst of my hardest semester of school to date. Since then, I have planned numerous styled shoots, graduated from college (early), planned and executed 28 weddings and am currently in the process of planning 17 more.
I hope that after hearing some of my story you are inspired to go after your dreams! If I would have listened to every person that said, "you're too young", "you don't have time to be doing this now", "focus on school", "you don't have enough experience", etc I would not be doing what I love everyday. I walked right out of college into my full-time dream of running my own business! I have built my own company that's financially sound enough for me to not need a 9am-5pm job.
This was no overnight success story - those stories don't exist - it required a lot of sacrifice and hustle. I have good days and bad days and still face setbacks. Being a small business owner, especially in the service industry during a pandemic, is not a walk in the park, but it's so rewarding. I hope I can inspire you to go for your dreams and dismiss those "what ifs" and the feeling like you're not ready or not good enough. I'd love to answer any additional questions you may have about my journey. You can leave a comment below or shoot me an email.
Ramble Creek Styled Shoot: Emvision Photography
Josh & Caroline's Wedding: Rafferty Photo
LaRae & Nick's Wedding: Jami-Lyn Hall