Meet the Planners :: Melissa DiStefanoFriday, March 20, 2009
Name: Melissa Margarita DiStefano
Location: Gainesville, Florida
Company Name: MasterPiece Weddings
Number of Years in Business: 14
Blog: Adventures in Wedding Planning, Be a Planner, Let’s Eat Cake!
How did you get started in wedding planning?
It’s sort of a funny story, I assisted a wedding planner while in High School, and she was the epitome of everything you DO NOT want to be as a wedding planner. She was feared and scary! I vowed to never be a wedding consultant if that is what it meant to be in this industry. When I moved away to go to school at The University of Florida (Go! Gators!) I assisted a fabulous couple that are wedding photographers – loved them! They taught me everything right about the wedding industry! I had a family emergency and moved back home for about a month and when I came back my job was filled. So, I got a job assisting another wedding photographer – complete 180! He was mean, and terrible – I worked 20 hour days and got paid $25 (for the whole day)! I came home from one August wedding, it was 102 degrees outside - I was exhausted, had sweat in places I didn’t know you could sweat in, and my poor husband had waited up for me. I walked into the front door and laid down – started to cry and said “I might as well just become a freakin’ wedding planner!” as he stumbled over me on his way to bed, he said “well, then just do it” – the rest is history.
If you had to start over what one thing would you do differently?
I try not to think too much about changing what I’ve already done. But I certainly would have taken more stock in myself, learned more from my mistakes in the beginning and really heeded the advice given to me early on. I was young when I first started wedding consulting; I thought I knew everything, but I had a lot to learn.
What's your favorite item in your emergency kit?
Pins. Safety Pins - I think we use them for everything: fixing dresses, table linens, tuxedo’s, jewelry repair.
What is the best piece of business advice you've ever received?
When you start to get to busy, double your prices. I thought he was crazy when he said it, but in reality I should have done it much sooner. You’ll have half the clientele, and the same money. In my case, I had to more than triple my prices. But that first hike was hardest!
Which two people (past or present) would you have as guests at a dinner party and why?
I am going to stick with past . . . first, would certainly be my Grandfather, Sidney. He passed away a number of years ago now, and I feel there is so much more I wanted to learn from him. One of my biggest regrets in life is not taking his dancing lessons seriously. I miss him so much! The second would have to be my sister-in-law Autumn. She passed away at 21. There are so many things that I’d like to talk with her about, I would have loved to be there for her more, and give her a bit more guidance. She certainly left us too soon.
What are your three favorite blogs besides thesmartplanner.com?
Gosh, there are so many that I love! Okay, this is definitely the hardest question - Bespoke, Weddex, Southern Weddings (although there are so many more.)