Click to View Latest IssueClick to View Latest Issue

Stephanie Hopkins and Pretty + Planned: A Personalized, Collaborative Resource for Happy Brides

By  0 Comments

Stephanie Hopkins graduated in 2009 with a business degree from Park College in Kansas City, Missouri, and later landed a job with a notable local corporation. During that time, she honed her professional skill set by developing solid business practices and processes. Her successes were many, but the Blue Springs, Missouri, native felt she was missing something.

“I worked a full-time corporate job in personal banking, and the last thing I did was accounting in commodities training. I was using my degree but I wanted something more. I was also at the crossroads of being a new mother, and I didn’t want a corporate career,” Stephanie stated. “I was ready to use the creative side of my brain and work for myself, and motherhood sent me into the entrepreneurial world. It gave me flexibility and the ability to transition into the small business world. Now, I can make my Monday through Friday as flexible as I want it to be.

The Next Step
Nearly three years ago, the now-31-year-old, married mother of two transitioned a part-time job into a full-time business with her company, Pretty + Planned, a wedding and party planning boutique. She specializes in full service, partial or month/day wedding planning.

“I’ve been in the wedding planning business for ten years; seven of those years were part time while I had my corporate job,” she noted. “That helped me make the great leap. I had built up a great portfolio over the years, which gave me the ability and confidence to make that jump.”

Planning sessions at Pretty + Planned can be person to person or with a group as the strategy is set for helping brides-to-be achieve the wedding they’ve imagined since childhood. Her own dreams as a youngster enticed Stephanie into the fabulous world of planning weddings.

“Even as a young child, I loved weddings. When I was six years old, I was a flower girl for my cousin, who was married in Texas. It was then that I fell in love with weddings. I love to be around happy people at weddings,” she recalled. “My husband, Jack, is a firefighter, and we’ve made the comparison that I get to work with people on the happiest days of their lives while he works with them on the saddest days of their lives.”

More than Local
Pretty + Planned can address weddings in the Kansas City metro or anywhere in the nation. The Pretty + Planned storefront in Parkville, Missouri, is open to the public, but by appointment only. She carries specialty gifts for the wedding party, bridesmaids, mother of the bride and more that can’t be found in a typical department store. Her fun stationery is perfect to jot notes of appreciation to the people in your bridal party who are making your day the most special it can be.

Every weekend, Stephanie finds herself in a different place for a different wedding. Over the last ten years during which she’s been involved with wedding planning on a part-time or full-time basis, Stephanie estimates she’s completed more than 150 weddings and smaller affairs.

“Professionalism and reliability are the hallmarks of our approach to wedding and event coordination. We hold true to our word and work hard to deliver results. We focus on wedding planning and will do small events, but typically they’re geared around the actual wedding, such as rehearsals and showers,” shared Stephanie. “Some past clients have asked us to plan their holiday dinner parties or small business events or luncheons. But 90 percent of our time is spent on wedding planning; the other ten percent focuses on the events that come from our wedding clients.”

Stephanie’s personal connection makes Pretty + Planned memorable compared with other wedding planning services. Clients, their families and vendors all point to her enjoyable personality and drive for planning and coordinating weddings and events. Her corporate acumen calls for a business that’s totally built on solid client relationships. Stodgy emails with no personality are not the way Pretty + Planned interacts with clients. All are given Stephanie’s personal cell number and encouraged to text or call to offer ideas, double-check details and calm nerves.

Technology at Her Fingertips
“We believe every wedding deserves our undivided attention. From the gown to the arrangement of place cards, no detail is overlooked. Our very personal approach to wedding planning is what sets us apart from the competition,” she noted. “Our clients praise us for having an actual location. We have a table that seats eight, and we use a computer program to allow them to see ideas come together in real time. They see us planning their wedding on a TV monitor, right in front of their eyes. Many wedding planners work out of their homes, but having the planning storefront really helps the client visualize their special day. In the digital world that we live in, our system makes
this happen.”

Not only can wedding planning be pictured in front of their eyes, all clients at Pretty + Planned have access to a cloud-based collaborative planning platform, referred to as the Client Lounge, which is unique to a client’s individual package and planning needs. “The Client Lounge contains all of our checklists and a shared calendar housing the weekend agenda for each client. It contains a detailed itinerary for the rehearsal dinner and wedding day, all the way down to planning the ceremony,” remarked Stephanie. “It’s a cloud-based program, and the clients can access their plan at any time and anywhere internet access is available. At Pretty + Planned, we have many couples–30 to 40 percent of them–who come back to the Kansas City metro to get married but don’t live here. They can use the Client Lounge to follow along with the checklist that we’ve created with them.”

Think Ahead
Stephanie is coming to the end of the heavy wedding planning cycle, which normally runs from December to February. She offers this piece of advice for brides contemplating their special day and how to ensure success. “Brides need to get clear very early in the planning process what their wedding budget will be. Without that price point, it’s hard to shop for vendors, an event space and even the time of year you can hold your wedding if you don’t have a budget. You need to understand what the bride’s parents are contributing, what the groom’s parents are contributing and what the couple is contributing. You must have a grasp of that figure because I’ve seen couples spend 50 percent of their budget on a venue and then not have enough money left over for other things.”

Stephanie also offers advice for women considering taking the plunge and operating their own company. “Be very clear about who you want to serve and how you want to service them. Think about who your dream client is. That made a big difference in my branding and how I wanted to design my business and develop my customer base,” she remarked. “Also, get the right people in your circle. Find a business coach or a mentor; then surround yourself with people in the business. I’ve curated and cultivated a great set of vendors and that allows me to help them and them to help me. This kind of partnership will grow your business. In addition, find the people who are smarter than you in various areas such as insurance or accounting and get them on your team.”

This impressive network of partners and vendors, ensuring solid working relationships, has helped Stephanie build a business that enables her clients to have the best advice and outcomes at the right price. To realize her dream job, she understood the importance of building her own skill set and then having the courage to start her own company.

“I wanted corporate experience to help me establish my own business. I had an internship right after college in wedding planning for a whole year. I advise others to do that before they make a decision on their career,” she commented. “I see so many times that people think they want to be a wedding planner and then they realize that it’s not what they wanted at all. As a wedding planner, you’re the manager of the day. I’m putting together and managing everyone’s schedule, the DJ, the caterer and everything else. There are a lot of details to follow, but I absolutely love what I do.”