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Hidden Gems: Meet Emily Thomas of Emily Katherine Events

Today we’d like to introduce you to Emily Thomas.

Hi Emily, thanks for joining us today. We’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
I got started in the wedding industry right of college. I had a film degree but I wanted to plan events, so when I saw an opening for an assistant wedding videographer, I applied immediately! I worked on wedding videos for four years before launching my planning business. In that time, I had witnessed nearly 100 weddings as a lead videographer and editor and had seen weddings with great planners, not so great planners, and no planners. I had also begun planning weddings for friends and family, and in 2015 I felt ready to launch Emily Katherine Events! It didn’t take off overnight. I continued editing wedding videos but scaled back my weekend filming, and my first year in business I only had four weddings. By 2017 I realized that in order to transform my planning business into a full-time career, I would need the time to devote my full attention to it, so I took the plunge and quit my video job. That was scary on two levels. First, I really did love my video job, and I had the best bosses I could have asked for! I was dreading telling them I was leaving, but they were so supportive as I transitioned to full-time planning. The second scary thing about quitting my video job was that I only had four upcoming weddings on the calendar at the time. But I trusted that with the extra time I’d have after quitting, I’d be able to devote more time to building my business and working with new clients. And it paid off! I ended that year with 19 weddings and haven’t looked back!

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Not long after I started my business, I was working at a wedding and a moment of despair as I looked around at all the trash we’d generated. In my personal life, I try to live fairly low waste and make eco-friendly choices (it’s a constant work in progress!). But those values didn’t seem to exist in the wedding world. I struggled to reconcile the fact that my personal values did not line up with my career, a career that I truly loved! So after my moment of despair, I started to research. I looked for ways I could change the reduce wedding waste and started taking flowers home with me after events to donate to Meals on Wheels and retirement communities. I started asking couples if they would be interested in hiring a compost company for their wedding. And I started finding and recommending vendors who were offering eco-friendly alternatives, like consignment gowns and seed paper invitations. But still, I was hesitant to market myself as a “green wedding planner”. I was afraid that couples would be deterred, that they would feel judged, or that they’d assume they couldn’t have the wedding they wanted in a sustainable way. So for about a year, I just did what I could on my end, trying to reduce what waste I could.

And then, I wrote a (super short) blog post about some of the green alternatives I had found helpful in planning a wedding. And I was blown away by the response! Now couples were mentioning this blog post when they inquired, telling me that they wanted to learn more about how they could plan a sustainable wedding. It was heaven! I felt so validated, knowing that this was important not just to me but to couples as well. That feedback gave me the courage to start talking more openly about green weddings, both with couples and other wedding vendors. Then the best thing happened. In an online TowardZeroWaste group, I met another wedding planner in the area who was focusing on sustainable weddings. We were so excited to find a kindred spirit, we made plans to meet for tea. And out of that meeting came the start of the Green Wedding Guild. We co-founded the group the following year, with the goal to help support other vendors in the movement toward more sustainable weddings. In the first year, we planned a monthly educational event, virtual happy hours, and even started a green reads book club for our members. The Green Wedding Guild is still new (just celebrated one year!), but we have been thrilled with the growth and the passion we’ve seen from other wedding vendors all over the country! If we can support each other to shift to more sustainable business practices, we can better help couples to plan weddings with minimal impact on our environment. The conflict between my personal values and the industry I love can be healed, and the movement has started.

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know?
Emily Katherine Events offers full-service planning and wedding month coordination. Our specialties are Sustainable wedding and Geek-Chic style, but I love helping plan weddings in all styles with all couples! My main focus is in creating a day that reflects a couples’ unique interests, passions, and love story. Sometimes this means we design video game lounges and board game buffets instead of a dance floor. Sometimes it means hiding little bunnies throughout the decor as a nod to their pets. But always, it means planning for the couple, rather than planning details for detail’s sake. My passion for sustainability also flows through to my approach t wedding planning. I try to give couples alternative ideas to help them reduce the waste generated by their big day, so they can have the wedding they want and feel good about their environmental impact!

What matters most to you? Why?
At the end of the day, I want my couples to feel like they had the perfect day. I also want them to feel like they did this without neglecting their social and environmental responsibilities. When we plan events with intention, we have more opportunity to make an impact. That’s what I want for myself with my business, and that’s what I want for my clients.

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Autumn Harrison Photography Rose Trail Images Kivus & Camera Jaclyn Auletta Photography Fancy This Photography

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