This week’s “Friendor Friday” is all about Christi Winsor from Winsor Event Studio! (and yes, we are doing it on Thursday because we have a beautiful Tampa wedding to showcase tomorrow…so make sure to come back!) Christi is a fabulous Tampa wedding planner, catering to brides all over the Tampa Bay area!
Tell us a bit about yourself and your company:
One thing most people don’t expect about me is that I have a Masters degree in counseling. This actually comes in quite handy when helping people plan their weddings! While I attended college, the Event Planning program was dismembered due to a lack of job placements (there aren’t exactly a ton of event planning firms out there hiring graduates by the hundreds). Instead, I pursued a counseling degree in hopes of finding a career in a high school or college, because I really enjoyed helping people and enjoyed planning for their future academia and careers. My counseling approach and organizational skills naturally translated into assets I would use while working with clients to plan their events. Meanwhile, all of my part-time jobs during college were in the wedding industry – from working at a bridal salon, to being a personal assistant for a wedding accessory designer, to administrative work in the catering field – I quickly learned the inner workings behind-the-scenes in the wedding world. Ultimately these two passions melded into my current career when I moved to Tampa and amidst a hiring freeze in Hillsborough County schools, and after planning weddings in my spare time for a few close friends, I took it as a sign that I was meant to start my own business.
Fast forward many years, and many lovely weddings and happy clients later, and the mission statement for Winsor Event Studio remains the same. Ultimately my goal is that each event and client experience be uniquely personal. I am not a wedding factory. I don’t just use the same pieces over and over to complete the picture that is someone’s wedding day. I am personally invested in each couple, and in their vision, and want to make their wedding not only a beautiful and fun experience, but also speak to them and their personalities and relationship.
What is your favorite part about your job?
I don’t have one favorite part, because I really do love it all. I love all the little details that make an event personal and unique. I love the relationships I build with my clients during the months we work together to plan their event, and the fact that we often remain close long after their weddings. But I guess one of my favorite moments for a wedding day that I get to be a part of is when I’m coordinating the ceremony, and all of the wedding party members are heading down the aisle, and it’s time for the bride to make her entrance. She’s full of emotion from the suspense that has built up that morning and finally the day is here and she’s about to get married. I get to remind her to stop and take a deep breath – everyone she loves is here – take in this moment. It’s such a meaningful exchange I get to have with her, and I know it just helps her switch off all those nerves and thoughts running through her mind, and she can finally just enjoy the experience.
What is the biggest lesson you have learned?
It happens more often then I’d like, but a lesson that I often learn over and over again vicariously through my brides is that you get what you pay for. Now there are certainly exceptions to this, with several vendors who are very affordable and incredible at their craft, and conversely several vendors who are quite expensive and their talent is not up to snuff. But for the most part, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is! I always recommend high-quality, professional wedding vendors, but sometimes my couples hire someone else – maybe it’s a family friend or they found a deal online – whatever the case may be, it usually doesn’t end well. And ultimately the lesson is this: no matter how little you paid for that service, you paid TOO MUCH! Because you didn’t get to product or service you thought you were going to receive, and now that ‘deal’ you thought you got was just a big waste of money. Couples should think of their vendors as investments, not costs. No one ever regrets paying for a service and being totally satisfied with what they receive, but everyone regrets wasting money on a disappointing service. Don’t let this happen to you! A wedding planner is looking out for your best interests and wants you to be happy! We would never recommend a sub-par vendor because ultimately it reflects on us as much as it reflects on them. Our recommendations and referrals are priceless!
Any great stories from working with a client?
No great stories in particular, but I always love when my clients give me a direction for their wedding vision and then say “run with it; we trust you”. I’m always able to give them so much more than they ever imagined, because I’m not limited to their preconceived thoughts and plans, and they’re not questioning every aspect of the process. Now that’s not to say that clients are not supposed to have some specific requests for their wedding or have questions during the process. But for example a client allowing us to recommend a venue that would be perfect for their vision, instead of having already booked a venue that might not be the right fit for the style or budget. This is where we can help the clients get so much more bang for their buck!
Favorite trend? Or one you wish brides would leave behind?
I prefer classic style details versus anything trendy, but with the overload of information brides and grooms receive nowadays it’s very hard to have an original thought anymore! One trend I wish brides would leave behind is letting Pinterest dictate what type of wedding they’re going to have! If you go on Pinterest and search wedding, you’re going to see the same ideas that everyone else sees. They’re not original or unique. They don’t’ necessarily speak to you as individuals or as a couple. However, Pinterest is a great tool when used in the right capacity, such as finding specific inspiration once your wedding style direction has been determined based solely on your personal styles and interests.
Favorite color combination?
I LOVE ALL COLOR! I’m not afraid of color. There’s no such thing as too much color. I love a wedding that is saturated in color, with accents of the color scheme injected into every element. It just takes everything to the next level. Bring on the color!!
Tips for couples who have just started the wedding process?
Hire a wedding planner FIRST!! BEFORE you select your venue, BEFORE you book your photographer, BEFORE you buy your dress. We should be the FIRST thing you select, because we will make everything else in the process run smoothly, and your selected vendors will be a perfect fit for your wedding vision and budget! Otherwise, we end up just running interference and trying to compensate for the ‘unfit’ decisions that have come before us. Not to say they’re bad decisions, but sometime we get into a situation like “OK you spent 1/3 your budget on a venue, and another 1/3 on your band, and now I have to give all your guests food and drink, flowers and décor, photography, stationery, cake, and lighting with your remaining 1/3 budget and you want it to look like the beautifully stylized fake wedding shoot you saw on Pinterest? Hmmm, that’s going to be pretty much impossible!”
What are your hobbies or non-work related activities?
I would have a house full of dogs if I could – so many that it could be considered a hoarding situation! So instead, I volunteer at the Humane Society often, and spending time with the animals there is my way of ‘recharging my batteries’ and making me feel renewed. I’m a huge softie for dogs, and can’t resist petting them when I’m out in public, or talking to them in a high-pitched baby-talk voice. It’s impossible. I’m very crafty, and end up making a lot of wedding elements for my clients’ weddings. I love to cook, almost as much as a love to EAT! I’m a huge foodie, so if you ever need a recommendation for a restaurant, I’m your girl! My husband and I also love craft cocktails and breweries – we’ll visit new bars to try their craziest concoctions, and peruse local breweries for their beer selections. We’re sort of beer connoisseurs, and have tried nearly 1000 different beers between the two of us; this is yet another area I can provide great recommendations if you’re looking for an enjoyable brew. 😉 We also love to travel, and every trip we take always includes a dose of local culture and some unique adventure. But I don’t like the visit the same place twice; the world is just too big and there’s too much to explore! You only live once and you need to make the most of each day, which is why so much of my life is spent enjoying new places, new tastes, and new things!