My guest this week is Katie Stoltz, owner and creator of Venues & Vows, a platform that connects engaged couples with property owners who are interested in renting out their ranch, farm, or home for a wedding or event.
This may seems like a simple idea but there are elements of what katie is doing that are pretty revolutionary for the wedding industry:
1.) A large number of venues specializing in weddings put a long list of restrictions on what clients may bring in. It can be very difficult to find a venue that will allow you to bring in an independent catering or alcohol service, or even your own beer and wine because they offer those services themselves... and on top of prohibiting that personalization they also are in a position to jack up the prices. At one point Katie described to me a wedding she attended where the venue charged the couple $5 for a can of bud light. Essentially they have a corner of the market and with little threat of competition, many wedding venues are in a position to charge however they please.
2.) For a landowner interested in renting out their property on a case by case basis there really wasn't any platform available for them to connect with couples planning a wedding. I've heard from many people about how they are interested in renting their property out for weddings, but they don't care to create a website, or commit to being a full time wedding venue (understandably).
3.) While many large wedding blogs and websites may offer an index of wedding venues, it is impossible to get the necessary information up front when planning a wedding. Venues (and vendors in general - this is a pet peeve of mine) are forced to pay for a spa on that list, and have the option of paying more money to appear at the top. In other words, you can buy your way to the front of the class even if you are the most expensive and difficult to work with. Yikes.
Katie and I spoke about the benefits of a wedding weekend vs. a wedding day (I will go to my grave preaching this), and her own experience as a bridesmaid and wedding guest: navigating the invasive inquiries of well meaning friends and family.
Katie gave me a glimpse into the textured, colorful weddings of Africa and the lavish weddings of the United Arab Emirates, where apparently couples marrying within their nationality may have their wedding subsidized by the government!
And we spent a good amount of time discussing the wedding traditions we would like to see abolished, weddings tropes to be aware of, and why spending more money doesn't necessarily mean for fun at your wedding.
I really enjoyed speaking with Katie.
I love meeting people who are actively forcing the industry to self evaluate and evolve. It's really not an easy task, and as I'm discovering it can be difficult, even impossible, to get exposure in the wedding industry when the people holding the keys to the castle are the ones profiting off of a system we are trying to change.
In the end, this is always the way of evolution. It is uncomfortable, and there is money to be lost just as there is money to be gained. Silicon Valley has upended so many stagnant business models by coming at modern issues with fresh eyes and a rebellious spirit.