Chicago wedding planner, Rachael Steacy is the definition of a positive, go-getter. She’s passionate, enthusiastic and after a life-changing trip to London, she decided to get her Masters and start her own wedding planning business. Surpassing the two year hurdle in owning her own business, she’s sharing her journey and experience with us today.
What did you study in school, and what was your first job out of school?
I studied psychology, which opens so many doors to other topics and ultimately ended up getting my masters in event management from University of Westminster in London.
My first role out of school was as an event assistant for a senior living community, which in a weird way prepped me for my work in weddings. Both are an emotional time period and a huge investment. Working in the senior community was such a rewarding experience, and I am particularly proud of because it was a public aid facility (aka low income) making it even more of a challenge.
How did you know you wanted to work in the wedding industry?
Honestly, it started with my mom throwing my 5 year old birthday party. It was an amazing tea party with REAL, fancy china and beautiful petite-fours from the bakery. Since then, I’ve been obsessed. I’ve always worked in and around the hospitality industry, and after four years at the senior center, I knew it was time to start my own business.
What was the first step to starting your own business?
I wanted to be a legitimate planner, which meant I had to get certified. I decided to make it an adventure, and I moved to London. I had fallen in love with the city after I’d visited years earlier. I went for my Masters of Arts in Events and Conference Management in their one year, full-time program with a class of 35 people. It was intimate and so perfect! Social media sites like Pinterest and Instagram were starting to have some concrete, long-term influences in our field, and so I chose to write my dissertation on the impacts of Pinterest and social media on the wedding industry. I was super fortunate to graduate with Distinction along with two other people from my class. I moved back to the states in December 2015 and officially started my business in March 2016 called Rachael Steacy Events.
How were the first few months of starting your business?
Super scary to be honest. I felt a lot of pressure to get a “normal” job with a corporation or a hotel, but I really wanted to be a wedding planner. To put it simply, I love love and wanted to be part of the industry.
The thought of being a wedding planner made me giddy. It’s a time when couples really need love and support, and I have the talent for logistics and the creativity plus the ability to connect with people and support them – that made me the perfect fit for weddings.
I started by purchasing my website on Squarespace, and when I clicked the button to pay, I was like, “Oh my God, this is happening!” The next few months were a learning curve, but I hired a graphic designer to create my logo, ordered my business cards and got to business!
What’s been the most challenging part?
Being an entrepreneur can be tough because it can get lonely! When you’re first starting and you don’t have a team or have found a community of peers yet, that’s when it’s the toughest! There’s also a rejection process that you have to get used to – not every potential client is going to be the right fit for you, but as it turns out, that’s okay! For me, I think it’s so important to have a mutual connection with my clients, because that’s how their process becomes fun and simple! I’ve also been fortunate that it didn’t take too long to find such a fantastic community in Chicago where we support one another, and that it always keeps my spirits high. I’ve fallen in love with Rising Tide Society. They’re people who truly understand what I’m going through, and support the idea of community over competition. When I first started, so many people in the industry were so welcoming and constantly reaching out to get together. I’ve made so many new friends!
What advice would you tell someone starting out?
Let your freak flag fly, girlfriend! It’s been the most constructive piece of advice so far, especially anytime I’m feeling unsure or not good enough. It’s so easy to look at others and compare yourselves to them, but you yourself are so special. You need to be who you are, and live out the business mission that is right for you. When you do, you will attract couples who will love you and who you will love, which is super powerful thought!
When I left my job at the senior living community, I received one particularly special note, which I now keep in a frame on the wall of my office. It says, “You were a great treasure that entered my simple life. Everything became much brighter when you came into view. When I think of Rachael, I think of gold. Be happy, be the best.” It makes me cry every time I look at it, and always reminds me to feel confident in being myself.
What do you want couples to know?
I want them to know your wedding that their wedding day will be one of the most special days of their life, and most likely the largest event they’ll ever host. It’s such a massive investment, and of course you want it to go well. More important than any one centerpiece you choose or cocktail you serve is how you and your guests will feel on that day – I like to think that’s why I’m here…to make sure you get to feel happy, and stress-free, and best of all, in love (with maybe one or two of those cocktails thrown in for good measure)! I’d love to connect with any brides that are looking for help.
Wedding Planner, Rachael Steacy is offering $100 day of coordination services and $300 off full service planning until January 31st, so please reach out to me to take advantage of the promotion! Let’s give you an awesome party, and let’s get you married!
All photography compliments of Elizabeth Nord Photography