career in wedding planning Lori Osborne TLC Events and Weddings - Photography by Dororthy Beam Photography

Graduate Feature: Lori J. Osborne

Tell us a little bit about yourself!

After 30 years as an executive level administrative assistant, I found myself able to quit working and finally launch my business as an event and wedding planner in 2016. I fell in love with everything about planning in 2001 when I planned my own wedding, and I had been planning events for employers for several years.

Why did you decide to go into event and wedding planning? What about it appeals to you?

Wedding by Lori Osborne of TLC Events and Weddings
Photography by Breathless Moments Photography

I’ve always loved bringing people together – friends and family – for cookouts or celebrations. After my own wedding, I went on to plan weddings for a few friends. And through an employer, I helped to plan a community gala fundraiser complete with a full orchestra, dancing, buffet dinner, and a silent auction.

What I love most about event planning is seeing smiles on the faces of my clients and their guests. I believe life should be a celebration, and there is nothing better than spending happy times with friends and family!

Having been an administrative assistant, I also enjoy the organizational side of planning an event – the schedules and the details. But I also have a creative side and enjoy designing the look and feel of every event.

What’s one thing that you wish someone had told you when you were just starting out in the business?

I wish I had known up-front how much some of the marketing and advertising would cost each year, including listings on wedding websites like Wedding Wire and The Knot. I never really budgeted for those costs and currently do not have paid listings. But I’m always hopeful that I will be able to up my advertising/marketing game with a few more weddings under my belt.

Photography by SureFocus Media and Wedding Planning by Lori Osborne QC Event School graduate
Photography by SureFocus Media

You LOVE the classics—from antique furniture to movies like Casablanca! Would you say this was your niche? Do you often have clients who flock to you because of your personal interests?

Having just started a wedding planning business 2 years ago, I am still developing my niche market. My dream is to plan events and weddings that will encompass vintage themes and classic, timeless styles. My area of the country is still enamored with rustic, barn weddings and simple decor.

One thing I want to emphasize is that I’m not really marketing myself to just one type of wedding. I believe that every couple has their own unique story to tell, so I believe in helping them find the style that fits them and then bringing that to life for their wedding.

You have an assistant, Rachel, who aids you in your events. When did you realize that you had room in your business to start hiring?

qc event school event and wedding planner Lori Osborne - Photography by Dororthy Beam Photography
Photography by Dororthy Beam Photography

Rachel is actually my daughter! She has such a creative eye and outstanding crafting skills. She’s even taught herself how to sew with a machine and how to crochet.

I can tell her something simple like, “Hey, let’s do a book theme for my wedding show booth” and hand her one simple decor item as inspiration— and she turns that idea into something amazing! She has a great eye for detail, too. She made everything for my booth—the paper flowers, the folded pages books that say “Love” and “I Do”, the chocolate “feather pen” candies, the Jolly Ranchers stamped to look like wax seals, and alphabet caramels. She also assembled glass vases and bowls into a lovely centerpieces (even gold-leafing them).

I offer Rachel’s design and DIY event decor services as an “add-on” package to my services. Her earnings are paid by the clients who hire her.

What is your biggest career highlight so far?

I haven’t planned very many weddings yet, but one thing I am very proud of is that I had a “full planning” client this year who presented me with some real challenges! The clients didn’t seek me out or sign a contract with me until late July 2018, and their wedding was on October 6! The only aspects they had completed at that time were finding the church and reserving a hunting lodge where the reception would be held.

qc event school event and wedding planner Lori Osborne - Photography by Dororthy Beam Photography
Photography by Dororthy Beam Photography

My services for this wedding entailed locating a tent, renting tables and chairs, and finding all the other vendors (caterer, bartender, photographer, videographer, florist, DJ, etc.). Full planning of a wedding typically takes around 12 months or more – I successfully completed this wedding in just 12 weeks!

One of the biggest challenges about this wedding, besides the short time frame and it being in one of the busiest months for weddings in Ohio, was that it was two hours away from me and one hour away from Cincinnati, Ohio! Finding vendors who were first of all available and then who were willing to travel so far required some creative planning, tons of research, and many phone calls.

But it all came together beautifully, and the bride and groom were very happy!

Congratulations on becoming a QC Event School graduate! What do you think the future holds for you and your business?

Photography by SureFocus Media
Photography by SureFocus Media

My goals are to plan under 6 weddings a year, and I hope to fully retire in 6 to 8 years. Honestly, I will be 59 years old in May 2019. I started my career in wedding planning somewhat late in life (compared to many of my colleagues and friends who are in their 20s or 30s!). So I realistically know that I only have a few years that I will be able to live this dream.

I want to keep the number of events I plan to a minimum so that I can give my full and undivided attention to each client. For me, it’s not really about making tons of money (although that always helps!). It’s more about being able to do something I’m passionate about. Even more so, it’s about giving every couple the wedding they’ve dreamed of and helping them have fun and relax on their day with no worries or stress.

Top wedding websites that host business listings are a great place to market your wedding planning business digitally. Check out these 5 other ways you can ramp up your business’ online presence!

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