Graduate Feature: Chelsea Steffek

Graduate Feature: Chelsea Steffek

Chelsea Steffek

Photographer: Al Gawlik Photography

Name: Chelsea Steffek

Location: Texas & NYC

Program: Certified International Event & Wedding Planning Professional (IEWP)


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Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I am a wife to a wonderful husband of 3 years and a new mother to an amazing 3-month-old little boy. My husband and I are having so much fun watching him grow!

When I am not working, I love spending time with my family, walking our 2 Labrador retrievers (Max & Bella), catching up on some favorite TV Shows (Dancing with the Stars, The Voice, Blindspot, and Fixer Upper, to name a few), working out, sports, and traveling!

My husband and I love to experience new places and cultures. Traveling and planning trips is one of our favorite things to do! We can’t wait to start taking our little boy along with us as he gets older. We both own our own businesses, so I get to have my husband help me with most of my events. He is the muscle behind the scenes! We are a great team! He knows exactly how I work and need things done so I love having him there. Plus, it allows us to spend some time together even when I am working.

What made you decide to start a career as a professional in the wedding and event industry?

I love marketing and advertising and, like most college students do after they graduate, I began job searching. I have also always had a love for weddings and events, but I never thought about it as a career. As I was job searching one day, I ran across a wedding planning job and thought that would be really fun!

Chelsea Steffek wedding

Photographer: Sarah Goss Photography

I applied and actually got offered the job but when looking over everything, I realized that I would basically be starting my own business in my “territory” with the use of this established business name. This is fine for most, but my big plan was to start my own business one day. If I took this position, the non-compete clause would’ve kept me from doing that since I would’ve had to be out of the industry for two years if I ever left.

After looking at the big picture, I did a lot of thinking, praying, and advice-seeking. With the help of my parents at the time, I decided to step out of my “comfort zone” and start my own business at the age of 23. They both told me… “Chelsea, if your goal is to eventually start your own business then why don’t you just do it now instead of waiting?” My dad had started his own business and was very successful, so I had the guidance I needed to get started on the right foot. I also had a degree in Business and an entrepreneurial spirit, so I was able to start putting that to work in a different way than I had ever expected!

Wedding table decor by Chelsea Steffek

Photographer: Leo Evidente Photographers

I wasn’t sure where to begin, so I did some research and decided to get certified as a wedding & event planner through the QC School of Event & Wedding Planning. I had not planned my own wedding (or even met my husband yet!) so I knew I needed some education on the process, and the rest is history! After getting certified, my wedding planning business began in December of 2010 and we implemented floral design as an additional service in 2013.

Your business’s name, iLove, is so creative! How did you come up with it?

I actually started out as “Weddings & Events by Chelsea” and did all of my own marketing, business cards, and website, but as I started to grow, my business name and brand needed to grow. I couldn’t see “Weddings & Events by Chelsea” on the big scale and in advertising, so I decided to re-brand my business. It was a BIG decision and I wanted to do it the right way with a name that I was proud of and that represented “me” and what my business stood for… And that is where iLove was created!

Chelsea Steffek wedding

Photographer: Leo Evident Photographers

I truly LOVE what I do… I love my family, friends, clients, and my business. The name was available, so I took it and ran with it. It was finally a name that I could see on the “Big Scale” and I was very happy with it. I had a vision of the brand and I found a great company that helped me bring that to life in the logo we have now!

We notice you’re a floral designer as well as a wedding planner. What are the perks of offering this additional service to your clients? Are there any challenges?

Adding floral was a BIG step for me. This was something that was way out of my “comfort zone” at first. My sister-in-law was the expert in this area and taught me what I needed to know and from there, the floral designing began. It has been a great addition to our business! I love the creativity involved in designing a wedding or event with floral. It brings so much life and color and can truly transform a space! This part of my business really challenges and pushes me to grow and learn with each new wedding.

It is also great to be able to offer planning AND floral OR just planning or just floral to a client. It gives them options, which they love and we do too!!

Floral design by Chelsea Steffek

Photographer: Ness K Photography

Floral design by Chelsea Steffek

Photographer: Al Gawlick Photography

You’re based in Texas, but you’ve also got a branch of your business in New York! How did that happen?

When I was in college, I participated in the Washington Semester Program in Washington, D.C.. It was an amazing experience! My roommates and I became great friends and one of them moved to NYC upon graduating from college. She contacted me last year and expressed interest in the planning industry and wanted to get certified. We spoke quite a bit about everything and decided to open up a branch in NYC.

She received her IEWP certification through the QC School of Event & Wedding Planning and upon getting certified, she came down to Texas to work some weddings and get some “real” wedding experience. We have really enjoyed this addition in the North East and Melissa has hit the ground running in her area!

Place setting by Chelsea Steffek

Photographer: Leo Evidente Photographers

What are some highlights of your career so far?

There are so many! But if I had to pick a few it would be:

  • My very first wedding! It was such a great experience and really showed me I was doing something I loved.
  • A destination wedding we did on Catalina Island off the coast of California. This was such a fun wedding and we love traveling, so it was the best of both worlds!
  • Adding floral design in 2013!
  • Expanding to NYC in 2015!

How did your coursework prepare you for working in the field?

I loved taking the course! It challenged me and pushed me to work my way through planning a full wedding from start to finish. It also prepared me for things that may come up in the planning or on the Day Of that I may not have thought of before. Each wedding/event is different with its own unique set of challenges, so it is best to be prepared for any tasks that may arise!

Wedding reception setup by Chelsea Steffek

Photographer: Monica Roberts Photography

What advice would you give to someone just starting out with their training or career?

“If you can dream it, you can achieve it!” I read this saying while I was starting my business and it stuck. It is so true! There are so many times when we underestimate ourselves or think we can’t do something because we are too young or are too inexperienced. The fact is, we can do anything we set our minds to. I never thought I would’ve started a business at the age of 23, but thankfully I had someone tell me that I could do it. Once I truly believed I could, great things started to happen! Dream Big 🙂 You CAN do it!

Tabletop by Chelsea Steffek

Photographer: Leo Evidente Photographers

What do you think the future holds for you and your business?

We are growing more and more every year! I think it is so important to let iLove grow at its own pace—not too fast, not too slow. I see great things in our future and we are very excited to see what is in store for us! Possibly expanding into new locations 🙂

Inspired by Chelsea’s story? All of QC’s wedding and event planning courses will give you the industry knowledge and business know-how you need to start your own event planning career!

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