A Perfect Story

"And that's it," said Melanie humbly as she stood up, eager to meet her business partner at the wholesale flower market.

Above is a bouquet Pedersen created for a client's wedding.

Alumna Melanie (Bethscheider) Pedersen '02 was three days away from a clients' destination wedding in Portland, Ore. Although there have been countless preparations for her client’s big day, there's still an anxious excitement to make sure every flower, every linen, every crystal will be placed exactly how the event timeline states.

Pedersen and her business partner, Kim Morrill, own Your Perfect Bridesmaid, a full service bridal consulting business in Portland, Ore. In their office space under the Hawthorne Bridge, they offer wedding day services by the hour, a variety of pre-planning services and access to their "little pink book," a list of preferred vendors.

While most wedding planners offer packages for up to $3,000, Pedersen said, "We give our brides the power." Instead of having wedding packages pre-designed, Your Perfect Bridesmaid gives couples the power to pick and choose which services they want to utilize.

"With the fee we charge for our services, brides will more often than not save more than the fee because of our preferred vendors and extensive pre-planning," said Pedersen.

If only these services were provided when Pedersen celebrated her wedding in 2008. After graduating from Pacific University with a degree in social work, Pedersen spent years of mentoring youth through the YMCA and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Portland. Then she recalled, "I remember a professor saying, the burnout rate is so high in social work."

Pedersen then became a recruiter and scheduling coordinator for a chiropractor college traveling all over from Texas to California and then her Prince Charming asked a simple question.

When she was proposed to she started planning every detail of her October wedding which happened to be the busiest season for work. Pedersen recalled, "We had a pretty tight budget and I remember thinking, well I guess I don't get to have a wedding planner within my budget." 

Her business partner, who was her future brother-in-law's then girlfriend, ended up saving Pedersen’s dream wedding. Morrill provided similar services for Pedersen's wedding they currently do for their clients.

After the wedding, Morrill and Pedersen sat down and decided they would become business partners. "Why not? Was all we could say," said Pedersen. Without taking out a business loan and still working full time, they started asking friends and family to advertise their wedding planning services.

"After that first year, we started collecting vendor referrals and now we get more clients from word of mouth than attending bridal shows," laughed Pedersen.

The one great thing about being in the wedding industry is that it’s recession proof. "People will always get married and will have varying budgets," said Pedersen. Your Perfect Bridesmaid has assisted in up to 60 weddings a year, sometimes three in one day, with budgets ranging from $5,000 to $90,000.

"We cater to every client, even the bride who comes in with her Pinterest account with 250 pins of elaborate cakes and arbors with orchids and peonies but says she only has a $5,000 budget for the whole wedding," joked Pedersen. "I have to help her understand the reality of the wedding industry and her budget."

Recently, the wedding industry has become a reality television focus and with all the added attention, Pedersen said some brides have a better understanding of how it all works.

Even so, brides may not have read the fine print on their photographer contract or know what to do when a catering company closes its doors and doesn’t return a deposit. "That's where we come in. We can review contracts and give you access to the preferred vendors we trust," said Pedersen. 

Trust plays a big role in event planning—especially with something as emotional as a wedding. "Sometimes those 16 hour days are hard but it's worth it when you get to be the last person to tell a bride congratulations before she walks down the aisle," said Pedersen with a glimmer of a tear in her eye.

"Weddings are emotional. I used to cry every time a bride walked down the aisle and now after I had my daughter, I cry during every father daughter dance."

Her 11-month old daughter, Stella, remains a priority since she has the flexibility to arrange meetings and consults around daycare. With her Prince Charming husband, Craig, who also owns his own business, Pedersen is still daydreaming about her perfect tulle ball gown she wore on her perfect wedding day and how Your Perfect Bridesmaid came to fruition.

Posted by Rachael Burbank (rburbank@pacificu.edu) on Feb 14, 2013 at 5:09 PM

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