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Building a Niche Business in the Wedding Industry

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Kate Shilling is the owner of NOUS/NY, a wedding planning & styling business based in New York, specializing in intimate, food focused weddings. I admire her style and aesthetic because it pushes traditional boundaries while remaining timeless. She is an inspiration to me, and I am thrilled to share her thoughts on building a niche business in the wedding industry.

 

How do you think the wedding industry is evolving?

I think that expectations related to weddings are slowly but surely being tossed out the window. It may be that because my clients (primarily New Yorkers) are getting married later in life they’re making conscious decisions about how they want to celebrate their union independent of their family’s wishes.

Often for them that means a smaller, more laid back event. A city hall ceremony followed by an indulgent dinner for a small group of close friends and family at a favorite restaurant. At this point in their lives no one is really upset about not attending another traditional wedding with 150 people on the dance floor. We all do that at least once a year and it’s never going away...but my clients want to have a different experience for themselves and their guests.

As I talk to other industry professionals about my focus on these intimate weddings I find that they’re excited to be part of something different. Something that’s not a formulaic event at the same wedding factory venue they’ve worked at a million times.



How would you like to see the wedding industry evolve?

I truly struggle with “trends” and anything designed to be thematic. I strive to style events that feel effortlessly elegant and draw inspiration from the interiors of the venues themselves or the feeling the current season should bring into a space. I feel like the industry is holding on fast and hard to the Style Me Pretty aesthetic and I would love to see more styling that steps outside of that expected comfort zone. 



Talk about your niche business and exactly what you offer. Did you recognize a gap or simply create a new genre?

I definitely recognized that there was a gap in the planning and styling landscape in that no one was focusing on intimate weddings and elopements that maintained a really elevated aesthetic. There were Brooklyn planners who were selling “fun” pop-up weddings and achieving that low key vibe a lot of couples are looking for. But no one seemed to be thinking about the place and spaces where we as New Yorkers gather to celebrate every special moment in our lives. My personal passion for food and wine and the New York dining scene felt like the perfect way to bring a focus to an intimate planning business and partner with restaurant venues that can deliver really special experiences to couples who value food and wine within the wedding experience.

My service offerings are pretty simple:

- Full planning (which includes styling services),

- Partial planning (focused on day-of coordination and planning 6 weeks leading up to that)

- Partial planning + styling bundle that works really well for quick turn weddings or when a client has already done a lot of the legwork (booking the venue, photographer, etc)



How do you like working with other wedding vendors - photographers, florists, etc. What do you look for in their work.

Working with other creative partners is probably the most fulfilling part of this job! I love getting to know each individual, their point-of-view and what makes them giddy about their work. Each of us nerds out about certain things and when we come together it feels like a bit of magic is happening behind the scenes of a couple’s most special day.

How do you feel about the use of pinterest. How can a wedding planner/stylist take a pinterest board and elevate or focus the aesthetic.

I still think that Pinterest is a great place to organize inspiration. I definitely encourage clients to collect things they’re inspired by and share them with me at the beginning of the planning or styling process.

A stylist can certainly take guidance from a client (using Pinterest or not) and both elevate and focus the aesthetic. A lot of my clients know what they like but don’t know how to pull elements together in a way that feels cohesive. I think that part of that hurdle for clients is lack of time. It takes an education in styling elements (linens, ribbons, glassware, candles, florals) that is a full time job for stylists such as myself. I think it’s best compared to redecorating. If you’re not confident that you can do it as well as a professional you bring one in...and save a lot of time and brain power for yourself.

Photography featured by Elizabeth LaDuca and Kate Ignatowski. Florals by Bourgeon. Menu by Ink & Press Co. Restaurant Il Buco.

You can view more of Kate's work on her website at www.nousny.com and on instagram at @nous_ny.