What it Means To Be An Owner in the Wedding Industry + Small Business Saturday Specials


Get an extra $5 off any order of $30 or more using code CYBER5

Ends Nov 27, 2023 at 11:59 p.m. EST. Min. $30 order (excl. tax & shipping). Only shops that accept Etsy Payments.

As you shop on Black Friday and Cyber Monday this holiday weekend, don't forget about Small Business Saturday.

The wedding industry is unique in that most businesses are small and locally owned (and often women-owned!). Just like that restaurant down the street that depends on you to keep their doors open, so do Tampa Bay wedding pros.

In honor of Small Business Saturday, we interviewed some of the most respected wedding vendors in the area to discover the best thing about being a small business, learn the challenges of ownership, and what inspired them to enter the demanding world of weddings.

Here are their stories:

Kelci Zicconi Headshot

“Being a small business owner in the wedding industry is so rewarding! I absolutely love building these special relationships with my clients. Being able to plan, design, and build a connection with them is so fun! It's really special to know at the end of the day after they inquire and book from the consultation call, that we connected and they trust my vision and process to make their wedding something special!”

-Kelci Zicconi, Kelci Leigh Events

Small Business Saturday Special: $1,200 “Month of” planning package for the following dates: January 6th, 2024.
January 13th, 2024, February 10th, 2024, March 23rd, 2024, and April 6th 2024. Total savings $550

Mention “Marry Me Tampa Bay Small Business Saturday” when inquiring. Valid for new customers only.

“As a small business in the wedding industry, being a wedding planner means creating beautiful, memorable, and meaningful experiences for couples on one of the most important days of their lives. It means paying attention to every detail, from the color scheme to the floral arrangements to ensure that the couple's vision becomes a reality. It means being a trusted and reliable source of support throughout the entire planning process, offering guidance and expertise to alleviate any stress or worries. It also means adapting and innovating in a constantly changing and competitive industry while maintaining the highest standards of professionalism and customer service. Despite the challenges, being a wedding planner brings a tremendous sense of fulfillment, knowing that you have played a crucial role in creating lasting memories for couples and their loved ones. It's a labor of love that requires dedication, passion, and a genuine desire to bring joy to others on their special day.”

-Katy Turich, Coastal Coordinating


Small Business Saturday Special: $100 off any of our wedding planning packages through Dec 1st, 2024.

Mention: “Coastal$100” when inquiring. Valid for new customers only.

ashley johnson b eventful headshot

As a small business owner, we are creating jobs and opportunities for our community. We provide our couples a unique experience by allowing them to work with the owner directly and providing our team members with one-on-one training from the owner. While being a small business owner is challenging work, every moment is worth it to watch the joy on our couples' faces as they walk down the aisle married!”

-Ashley Johnson, B Eventful

Small Business Saturday Special: $200 off any service

Mention “Marry Me Tampa Bay Small Business Saturday” when inquiring. Valid for new customers only.

“Our role extends beyond providing services; it's about building a genuine connection with our clients. It's an incredible journey watching couples blossom as they plan their special day. Being part of something so profoundly special, an experience usually shared only with close friends and family, becomes a cherished chapter in our own story too!”

-Carmen Humphrey, Casani Estates

Woodsy Tampa Bay Central Florida Waterfront Wedding Venue Casani Estates

Small Business Saturday Special: Save $500 on a 2024 standard wedding package, plus receive a complimentary brunch tray for up to 12 people. Offer expires on December 15, 2023

Mention “Marry Me Tampa Bay Small Business Saturday” when inquiring. Valid for new customers only.

Carrie Wildes Headshot

“Being a small business owner for the last 15 years is one of the accomplishments I am most proud of. The best thing is getting to capture the most important moments for amazing clients and their most loved people! Each of our couples has an interesting story that they entrust us to capture through our perspective. Not only do we get to work with amazing clients, but also so many awesome wedding professionals who are not only our team on the day of the wedding but who have also become dear friends over the years. It makes life so fun and rewarding and also gives me the flexibility that I want to have in order to be there for my family. I would not trade it for anything!”

-Carrie Wildes, Carrie Wildes Photography

Small Business Saturday Special: Book your wedding with us for 2024/2025 by 12/31/23 and your gift is a 16×20 metal or canvas art print. $990 value

Mention “Marry Me Tampa Bay Small Business Saturday” when inquiring. Valid for new customers only.

“Embracing the delicate artistry of love as a small business owner in the wedding industry means crafting dreams into reality, orchestrating moments that resonate with the heart, and being the architect of everlasting memories.”

-Arron McNeile, McNeile Photography

arron mcneil headshot

Small Business Saturday Special: As your dedicated wedding photographer, specializing in timeless documentary photography, I am thrilled to offer an exclusive opportunity for couples seeking perfection. Enjoy a breathtaking $1000 off any wedding package when you book before the enchanting year of 2023 comes to a close!

Mention “Marry Me Tampa Bay Small Business Saturday” when inquiring. Valid for new customers only.

rebecca limelight headshot

“Being a small business owner in the wedding industry fills my world with unparalleled joy and endless possibilities. I'm Rebecca Zoumberos the Founder and CEO of Limelight Photography. It's an incredible blessing to lead a successful and honest business that not only supports our team members but also offers the best wedding photographers Tampa Bay has to offer.

It's more than just running a business; it's about creating everlasting memories to share with generations to come. I've built Limelight Photography with a team that shares my passion for excellence. We're not just capturing candid wedding pictures, we're weaving stories that couples will treasure for a lifetime.

In this industry, there's a huge responsibility on my shoulders. Each click of the camera represents trust, love, and joy. It's about ensuring that every couple receives nothing but the best from us.

Providing jobs isn't just about paychecks; it's about creating an environment where every team member feels valued and grows professionally. Limelight Photography isn't confined by locations; it's a testament to our commitment to spreading happiness and capturing love wherever it exists from local Tampa Bay weddings to the breathtaking beauty of St. Lucia.

Being a small business owner in the wedding industry means being entrusted with preserving life's most cherished moments. It's a responsibility I treasure dearly—to deliver not just photographs but memories that will be cherished by future descendants and family members to come.”

-Rebecca Zoumberos, Limelight Photography

Small Business Saturday Special: 20% OFF wedding package purchase, plus the choice of a free Engagement Session or rehearsal dinner coverage. Must book by 12-31-23 for a wedding in 2024. Savings of $750

Mention “Marry Me Tampa Bay Small Business Saturday” when inquiring. Valid for new customers only.

“Wow, where to start? It means hard work and lots of love being poured into everything that I do as a business owner, but the dividends far outweigh any pain points! There is nothing so special as being a part of someone's wedding day. As their photographer, I get a front-row seat to so many beautiful moments, emotions, and traditions that even guests don't always see!

I wouldn't trade this career for the world.”

-Rachel Lee, Rachel Elle Photography

rachel lee rachel elle photography headshot

Small Business Saturday Special: 5% off any 2024 wedding proposal (valid through 12/31/23).
10% discount applied to any boudoir package (valid through 12/31/23). Savings up to $500

Mention “Marry Me Tampa Bay Small Business Saturday” when inquiring. Valid for new customers only.

aboutus Chris

“Being a small business in the wedding industry means being a part of a tight-knit community, supporting other vendors, and continuously striving to make each event the best it can be.

Being a wedding DJ means more than just pressing play on a playlist. It means creating unforgettable memories and setting the perfect atmosphere for one of the biggest days of a couple's life.

As a DJ, I am not just a vendor; I am a storyteller, a mood setter, and a creator of magical moments. Every wedding is unique, and I love the challenge of curating the perfect playlist to reflect the couple's love story.

From the grand entrance to the last dance, I am committed to ensuring that the music enhances the entire experience. ????”

-Chris Grainger, Graingertainment

Small Business Saturday Special: For a limited time only, we're offering all couples a 10% discount on their total DJ package when you book with us before December 1st, 2023.

Mention “GRAINGER10 when inquiring. Valid for new customers only.

“Being a small business owner is a constant challenge. I recently celebrated my 15-year anniversary in business, and someone said, ‘Congratulations on 15 Years of Success!' My immediate response was, ‘They were definitely not 15 full years of success.' I consider it 15 years of hard work and survival. There are so many benefits to owning your own business: making your own schedule, flexibility with your time, and having the freedom to say ‘yes' or ‘no,' but there are also a number of negatives: personal/professional balance is always a challenge, no one to cover for you (especially if you are a ‘one man' team), and all of the pressure for success or failure is solely on you.” We truly appreciate every client who we work with because they are supporting our dreams, our business, and our family.”

-Staci Mandikas, UNIQUE Weddings + Events

Staci Mandikas, UNIQUE Weddings + Events Headshot

Amber McWhorter Photography | Headshot

“To be a small business owner in the wedding industry means that you are constantly working to provide the best services to your couples. As a photographer, I am constantly working to provide my couples with an experience that is memorable. Not only am I capturing moments for them that will last forever, but I am also there to help them along the way with the things they might need to make their wedding day go as smoothly as possible, such as ‘must-haves' or timelines of their photos.

As a small business, it is important to stay up-to-date and current with the times so that you never become ‘outdated,' which is why continual education within one's small business in the wedding industry is also crucial.”

-Amber McWhorter, Amber McWhorter Photography

“To be a small business owner means a lot of things. It means that you have the flexibility to run your business according to the model you feel is best for you, but it also means having a new level of responsibility not only for yourself but for those who are employed for you as well. That's the beauty of being a small business owner: you can decide what your limits are and push yourself at your own pace.

Being a small business owner also means having a closer relationship with the community you serve. The best advertisement for a small business is word of mouth; it's free and often means repeat customers who grow to become a part of your vendor story. Your neighbors are your best patrons, and if you get to know them and the community around you, you'll be rewarded with more than just future business; you'll be rewarded with support for your upcoming endeavors.”

-Melanie Eubanks, Lemon Drops Weddings and Events

Lemon drop 40

Mary Anna Photography

“Being a small business owner enables me to control the direction of my life. I get to spend my days with my kids, and on the nights and (most) weekends, I get to create beautiful images. But more than that, I get to do work that is so very fulfilling. My photographs create something beautiful that will be cherished for generations. There are very few jobs that leave a lasting legacy of the most wonderful memories. My husband likes to tease me that no one ever cries tears of happiness over his financial spreadsheets!

Every word on my website, post on social media, and photo is curated to create the tone and brand of my business. It reflects my passion for weddings and for my brides. I love that I have a sole creative vision for my business, and I get to use that to communicate my passion for what I do! When you hire a big business, you’re hiring based on a marketing team, not a person who is going to have a personal connection with you at your wedding.

Every photographer starts a business thinking, ‘I love taking photos,' but very soon we realize that we STARTED A BUSINESS!?! That beautiful passion now becomes a lot of other things too! Not only do I need to take amazing photos, but I’m also now in charge of inquiries, websites, taxes, business strategy, insurance policies, and legal contracts. A bunch of other things that I’m not quite as passionate about!

Overall, I love my business because of the freedom it gives my family. What they say about small businesses is absolutely true. When you support my small business, you’re giving my little girl ballet lessons and not buying a CEO another sports car.”

-Mary Neiman, Mary Anna Photography

“There are so many amazing pros to being a small business owner, but of course, there are some struggles as well! I love having the flexibility of creating my own schedule, whether it is a full admin day with lots of behind-the-scenes planning or a work day completely on the road doing site visits, meetings, and networking. By being the boss, I get to create and attain my own goals and achieve them when I see fit instead of following someone else's guidelines. This is similar to booking new couples and making sure that they are someone I want to work with just as much as they want to work with me! Many small business owners have a tough time with this, but creating boundaries, especially with late-night working from home, is key to a happy work-life balance!

You have to constantly remember to be your own motivation as the owner and lead because you are the backbone and the main face of the company. If you don't do the job to your fullest potential, then you are doing yourself and your baby (the company) a disservice! I make sure not to put too much pressure on myself when already working in a stressful yet amazing industry because we can't always say yes to every single thing. I love styled shoots, but I also have to tell myself I can't do a million a year and to be rational with time management. Most of all, I am extremely excited to have my own team, but with so much work that you have put into your own company, it can be difficult to find trustworthy, loyal, and dedicated employees. Nevertheless, I am so passionate about what I do, and I am so thankful I get to what I love every single day!”

-Lauren Gertz, MDP Events

Sarasota Wedding Planner MDP Events | Headshot

Zoe Gallina | Headshot Botanica

“It's an incredibly rewarding experience to be a small business owner in this industry. Every client we work with presents new challenges and opportunities to achieve the desired effect.

However, the relationships we foster with our wedding clients mean the most to us. With a smaller staff footprint, everyone on our team has a role to play on one of the most significant days in an individual's life. From the first consultation discussion to the final reveal with the family on the day of, every step of the process is intimate and impactful both on our staff and for the client.

Our advice to couples working with small business partners is to embrace the relationship. Also, keep an open mind to their advice since they have worked so hard with previous clients to achieve success.”

-Zoe Prosser Gallina, Botanica Design Studio

“Being a small business in this industry is a lot of work but so rewarding. I love having a tiny imprint on someone's special process, from the bachelorette to the bridal boudoir; it is such an intimate time, and there is nothing better than being a part of that.

By supporting local and small businesses, you allow us to live our dreams and create a special touch and more personalized experience for yourself.”

-Gabi Mondejar, The Gadabouts Captures

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Quotes have been lightly edited for clarity and brevity.