In honour of International Women’s Day, we thought it was fitting to feature some incredible women-led businesses that are thriving, pivoting and making waves in the wedding industry. Hear what these eloquent, formidable women had to say of their greatest successes, challenges, strengths and goals in 2021:
Zena Lythgo of I Do Drive Thru:
I Do Drive Thru was founded by four Melbourne Celebrants, Melissa Jacob, Kate Morgan, Klara McMurray & Zena Lythgo in April 2020 during Melbourne’s first Covid Lockdown.
During the early stages of the pandemic big weddings were (rightly so, out) but there were many practical and legal reasons couple still needed to be able to get married; like visas & medical advocacy.
“We came up with the idea of I Do Drive Thru Weddings to ensure couples could still get married but in a Covid safe & socially distanced way.”
We believe that all couples, no matter their financial situation, deserve the chance to have a unique and memorable wedding ceremony, even if they only want it to take 2 minutes! And as all wedding industry suppliers will agree, when it comes to creating the memorial and unique, the Registry Office just doesn’t quite cut it! We support couples to have the ceremony they want, in their driveway, at the lookout they had their first pash or on a road trip to a new location, where ever they choose.
“We are four very different women and we are so glad to work as a team! We all bring different skills to the table and can help fill the gaps in each other’s skillsets.
As a fast-growing start-up, having four sets of hands to get it all done was an absolute savour in those early months!”
In terms of the brand, I Do Drive Thru is a fun and very accessible brand, it appeals to a broad range of customers and we have found our clients cross all cultures, demographics and ages which we are so proud of!
We have been overwhelmed with the support for this idea & so many people have helped it to grow! From photographers, family friends who are business & design consultants, our now Australia wide network of celebrants, IP lawyers who have got behind us, probono, cos they liked the uniqueness of the idea & industry businesses like Easy Weddings who offered us PR support in the early stages, we have found that if you are willing to ask, people are incredibly willing to share what they know and help however they can! Having a network to lean on is invaluable!
“Don’t worry about waiting til it is perfect, get your idea out there and be open to receiving feedback to improve it as you go. As women, particularly those that are mothers like two of our founders are, there will never be a right time or enough time, so just start. Jump right in and figure it out along the way!”
We’ve had some great moments, including our first media articles were such a thrill & none of us can believe our little biz ended up in Vogue, then we couldn’t believe we were being asked for radio interviews and to be on the news (!), when enquiries from other states started rolling in we were so chuffed! To watch I Do Drive Thru grow to Australia wide (within two months) blew our mind, and then to be featured on The Today Show in New York was another ‘is this real’ moment. When we saw the opportunity to expand overseas – it was wild! Kate & Mel have done an amazing job launching Las Vegas, New York, New Jersey, Los Angeles & Virginia (& added some killer drag queens to our team)!”
View I DO DRIVE THRU
“Having Dunkin Donuts reach out to collaborate on some Valentine’s Day Drive Thru weddings, one of the most recognisable brands in the world, just shows that little ideas can go a long long way!”
Vanessa from A Simple Wish Events
“I began A Simple Wish Events whilst I was on maternity leave with my little one around July 2019. It really began by wanting to have an excuse to go overboard for my daughter’s first birthday and it has grown from there. I began with hiring out backdrops and event styling services, which then progressed into styling and hiring out pop up picnics (which has been the part of the business that has most taken off). At the end of 2019/start of 2020, our bookings really began to take off and then covid really slowed that down for most of the year. However once restrictions began to ease we were back in full force (and I had also just returned to my day job as a lawyer), so it has been a little bit crazy since then! But I absolutely love it.
“There has been a move towards more intimate events – which our pop up picnics are perfect for.”
I really enjoy going above and beyond where I can – it’s not just about the money the bookings bring, I really love doing what I do! I also don’t provide a ‘cookie cutter’ style set up with our picnics – I like to try and change up my styling each time or I am more than happy to create custom styled picnics based on what the client is after. I’m great with making plans on the spot – so if someone comes to me with the need for my services urgently (i.e. change in wedding plans to a smaller scale event), I do my best to accommodate my potential clients in any way I can.
“I’ve found over time I have just connected with likeminded people on Instagram. There are a few businesses who I regularly chat to and have provided immense and invaluable support since beginning my small business.”
The biggest challenge for me has been the admin side of things. I went from being super excited to get one enquiry here and there to a lot of enquiries filling up my inbox and other platforms – and it has been tricky to keep up with. Learning to find a balance and when to switch off from the business side of things, especially being a Mum, has been a tricky part for me. But I think I am slowly getting the hang of it… (some weeks)!”See more about a simple wish events.
Laura Ryan, Registered Marriage Celebrant:
“I’m originally from Scotland but have been in Australia for almost 13 years. I married my Australian husband in Scotland just over 6 years ago and our wedding was amazing! The ceremony was very ‘us’ and probably the first fun, enjoyable and personal wedding that I’d attended; it was an inspiration! I’ve since become an Authorised Marriage Celebrant here in Australia. I think my warm personality and emotional intelligence are every bit as key in the role that I do. I aim to make the marriage process stress-free and enjoyable.
“Their wedding day is one of the biggest and most important days of their relationship and lives and it’s important that it’s memorable to them for all of the right reasons.
When I’m told things like, their ceremony was the highlight of their day, or that their guests are still talking about their ceremony months afterwards…that’s how I measure my success.”
If you plan on starting a business doing something that you love, then do it! You’ll feel like you never work another day in your life when you genuinely love what you do. Get the right advice, talk to the right people, make a plan, be confident and believe in yourself! I started out at a funny time with COVID-19 taking over the world after I’d been in business for just a few short months. But I try to take the time to attend networking events and join online groups and soak up wisdom as I go!
“COVID-19 struck when I’d been operating for just a few short months and before I knew it weddings were being postponed, cancelled, brought forward, scaled-down…it was a terrible time for so many couples and it feels a bit selfish to see that as a challenge, but that was my experience in my first year of business. But it was important to be understanding and flexible in order to get through. I still had a much bigger first year than I expected to.”
In 2021, I want to continue to successfully grow both my business and my family! I’m due to have my second baby in June, which will be here before I know it as I’m going to be very busy marrying couples between now and early May! I’ll take a few months off and then look forward to resuming weddings in October!
“2021 still won’t be a ‘normal’ year in business for me, but I’m confident that I have the right balance and focus on both my family and my business. I’ve been really lucky with the way that things have fallen into place.”
My initial plan was to become a Celebrant as something extra and nice to do at weekends, a pleasant change from my previous role of Domestic Violence Practitioner. As it turns out it’s become my single source of employment. I’m much busier than ever could have foreseen I’d be and I’m fortunate that, with the type of role and business that it is, I have a lot of flexibility! I wouldn’t want to let this go, I just look forward to maintaining focus and watching my business continue to grow, making couples happy as I go!”View Laura Ryan Celebrant
Tallora Dee from Mobile Make-overs:
Our job is to make people feel amazing, by making them look amazing. We are a mobile team of professionally trained hair and makeup stylists. We style up people who need to feel and look amazing for whatever the occasion. We are a cruelty-free team, which means we do not use any brands who test on animals, or who use suppliers who test, or who’s parent company tests on animals for any reason.
“It blows my mind that I have done that against all the odds. I never even had a desire to own a biz, but here I am loving it!”
We are also all professionally trained and experienced. We are not self-trained, or YouTube trained, this also means we can be and are insured and we adhere to strict industry-standard hygiene procedures.
“I’m passionate about what I do, an extremely hard worker and I know this industry inside out.I’ve created and run a profitable business for 13 years.”
Don’t quit. It won’t be a simple journey and there will be struggles, but keep pushing forward and trust yourself. It can be lonely, but ultimately none of us is alone. My goal in 2021 is to grow the business and hire someone to help me run it, so I can travel, see the world and get more me and family time.”
Tahnee Skowron of Miller Rose Botanic:
“I was home on maternity leave with my 5-month-old daughter. I was extremely blessed with a great sleeping baby so when we had to self isolate due to COVID-19 I found I was getting extremely bored staying home all day, I needed something to keep me busy!
I made a few arrangements and to my surprise, they all sold!
“My hobby quickly turned into a small business and I have started doing what I truly love – replantable bouquets and headpieces. I use succulents in bouquets and headpieces which can all be replanted after your wedding and will continue growing! It’s the perfect eco-friendly option!”
I also use succulent favours to decorate your wedding tables, everyone takes them home at the end of the night so there is no waste and no doubling up on costs.
My advice to other women wanting to do launch their own business is to just start! Make an Instagram, take some beautiful photos, advertise what you are wanting to do and see how it goes! What’s the harm in giving it a go?
My biggest challenge so far has been trying to manage my time. I’m home with my now 16-month-old daughter so trying to find the balance between spending time with her and working has been difficult and I’m still trying to find that balance. In saying that, I started making bouquets in the second half of 2020 and now having booked 15 weddings for this year!
My goal is to have a wedding booked for every week next year.”
Melanie Grant from Socially Styled Events:
“After working in the events industry for 20 years and studying to earn my event management degree the opportunity to buy Socially Styled events in 2020 was everything I had ever dreamed of becoming a reality. I am blessed to work alongside two other incredible women.
We all have a heart for everlasting marriages. While it is our job to coordinate and plan the wedding day it is our heart for the stories of our couples that sets us apart. We feel it is an honour to work so closely with couples for such a special occasion. We really do become their ‘Behind The Scenes Besties’ (BTSB).
“Starting during Covid lockdown was complex to start with. However, it gave me a good period of time to set up all the runnings of the business and making sure plans were in place for the future. It was the fear of the unknown that has made it challenging.”
Our goal for 2021 was to have one wedding a month to plan or style and I am so thrilled that we have exceeded our expectations. Keeping our client numbers relatively small gives us a chance to really focus with clarity on each individual wedding. It also gives us the chance to build a strong capable team.
For 2021 I can honestly say I am overjoyed. However, there are big things coming for Socially Styled Events in the future. In 2022 we will start rebranding to better suit our earth-friendly goals. We will also look toward expanding our team. From there I feel like the sky is the limit.”
View Socially Styled Events
“Personally my goal is to always keep learning and growing both as a mum and a business owner.”
Kathryn Adams from Event Law:
“There is absolutely no way Event Law would have ever “gotten off the ground” in 2020 without key individuals who put their faith in me and shared my name amongst the industry. I spent the early part of 2020 with these mentors and peers to understand the intricacies of why it was that the wedding and event industry was being hit so hard. This inevitably led me to connect the dots and formulate a consistent plan for many in the industry when dealing with disputes arising from cancellations, postponements and sudden shifts in government rules, regulations and directions.”
‘I have not only been a commercial lawyer for seventeen years, but I have previously owned a wedding and event company. That knowledge has allowed me to go on to advise many suppliers who found themselves in distressed situations as COVID-19 hit the industry in 2020.’
Event Law is a newly developed web platform, which provides wedding and event suppliers with the legal and business tools they need in order to succeed in this new “COVID-era”. Event Law is the only dedicated “wedding and event law” platform in Australia, and one of the very few around the world to be recognised as solely focused on this niche. There are currently no Australian online platforms that provide legal templates, legal education and business information for the various suppliers in the event industry in one place.
“My biggest success so far is happening right now and that is to move from being a lawyer to a legal entrepreneur.”
Event Law is experiencing such extreme levels of growth that I now have the opportunity to harness the opportunities available to me now to go on to succeed at a whole new level, using legal automation and online capabilities.
My career goal for 2021 is to build a solid team behind me to run the platform so that I can spend more time with my three-year-old son.”
Find out more about Event Law
“My advice to other women wanting to launch their business would be to find your niche. Determine your point of difference. Nurture your relationships with other women who have come before you in business. Know your worth. Never undersell your services. Allow your work to speak for itself. “