From Small Beginnings to Grand Luxury Weddings
When it comes to planning a wedding, most couples quickly learn that no matter how many guests they plan to have, the process can be quite the challenge. Most soon-to-be-married couples spend six months to two years in the planning stage.
When the pandemic started in 2020, the wedding industry took massive hits – with many couples struggling even more to figure out how to plan in times of uncertainty. In addition to being more challenging, weddings have also become more expensive than ever.
As many started turning to elopements, Terran Ward saw her opportunity. She had just started her business in 2019, and by 2020 Asheville Luxury Weddings had pivoted perfectly into the pandemic age of micro weddings and elopements. After using Mountain BizWork’s Multicultural Catalyst Fund and PPP support, today, she considers the business a success.
From Concept to a Full-Package Service
Asheville Luxury Weddings is an elopement and micro wedding company. But unlike most businesses in the wedding industry, they provide full-service packages, covering everything from planning, scheduling, booking, coordination, photography, makeup, and florals, all with one business. They provide a convenient, affordable, and high-quality one-stop shop for couples looking to host an intimate wedding or looking to escape for an elopement in North Carolina.
Terran first got the inspiration for the business while doing a client’s hair and makeup for a wedding when a snowstorm ended up leading most of the vendors to cancel. In an effort to save the wedding, she called contacts and found a florist, officiant, and photographer, the perfect combination to have an elopement in the wintry weather for two.
It was a success, and the client’s gratitude revealed what couples everywhere would appreciate – having one single business through which to plan and coordinate all vendors for a wedding. Terran put the numbers to paper to see if the concept was something viable, and she realized this was her next big step in life.
Community, Catalysts, and Change
By growing the business, not only does Asheville Luxury Weddings have three full-time employees, but they also have nearly 30 contractors in Asheville that they work with regularly, including photographers, makeup artists, planners, florists, and more. In growing her own business, Terran inevitably helped grow the business of dozens of other small independent contractors in WNC.
One of the biggest factors she credits her success to was the Multicultural Catalyst Fund. The advisement, in particular, played a huge role in helping her work through the financial aspects of the business and the importance of true financial business planning and advisement: “The terms [of the Multicultural Catalyst Fund] are amazing, and you get a certain amount of TA assistance…I realized I am not an accountant, and I cannot do it all myself. Now I have a virtual CFO, am putting money away for savings, and I’m going to be able to pay off debt sooner rather than later.”
A successful business doesn’t just mean that you’re bringing in money. It also means that you use that money appropriately to budget and expand and create a business that is stable. With the resources at Mountain BizWorks, Terran truly feels this is where she’s gotten the company to today.
Because of the business’s security and stability, Terran also has eyes on the future: “I would love to expand. I would love to take these packages regionally instead of just Western North Carolina and include South Carolina and maybe Tennessee, maybe see our packages expand and have my vendors and myself travel more to other regions.”
And her final words of advice to those starting out ring true: “Have a plan that is set in stone. You’re kind of taking a risk, but when you have a plan and know the numbers – it changes from a risk to a calculated risk”.