Today we have the absolute pleasure of sitting down with one of our Academy graduates Krysta Van Smith. After graduating, Krysta launched her wedding business For The Love Of Weddings, offering design-led wedding planning for stylish couples looking to create a unique and meaningful celebration with a touch of understated luxe. Krysta has achieved so much since launching her business, including winning National Wedding Planner of the Year at The Wedding Industry Awards in the UK earlier this year. We couldn’t be happier for Krysta, and what a well-deserved accolade! She is a true inspiration to anyone looking to launch their own wedding business. So let’s find out more about her wedding business journey…
You run your own successful wedding business, For The Love Of Weddings. Can you tell us a bit about how you got started in the industry?
The idea of being a wedding planner has always been with me. I’m a hopeless romantic, and when I was younger, this seemed like a career path that would proudly and unashamedly champion this part of my personality. After university, I got a job working in publishing but was never in love with it, so I decided to take the leap and see whether wedding planning could be a viable career option for me. I enrolled with the Academy and studied for a diploma in wedding planning, styling and design.
Gaining traction and experience in the industry sometimes felt like a slow process. I began by helping friends with their weddings, honing my styling skills and applying some of the knowledge I’d learned during my studies. As my confidence grew, I started to reach out to venues. I was thrilled to be able to style the open day at Cotswold gem The MataraCentre and book my first styled shoot at Garthmyl Hall – one of my favourite venues in the world. Things gradually started growing from there, and For The Love of Weddings has become a business I’m truly proud of.
Many of our students come to us wanting to know how long it will take them to launch a career and become successful in the industry. Can you tell us a bit more about your career journey?
There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to how long it will take to become successful in the wedding industry, largely because to my mind ‘success’ is an entirely subjective term. The most important thing to do first is to work out what success means to you. Is it about awards and recognition? Working with prestigious suppliers and high-end couples? Making it on your own? Finding the flexibility to juggle work and a young family? There’s no right answer, but each of these things will require different mindsets and different processes in order to reach them.
I’d also say that the word ‘journey’ is a very fitting one. It does take time, and there are often bumps in the road along the way. Mistakes are a big part of owning a business, and I’d encourage people not to see them as failings, but as learnings. For example, I spent the first year of For The Love Of Weddings exhibiting at wedding fairs that absolutely did not reflect my brand or the sort of weddings I wanted to plan. It would be easy to see this as time wasted, but actually, it taught me more about what wasn’t the right fit for me, which then led to some important decisions about what was.
Do you have any tips for wedding industry newbies just starting out in their careers?
I cannot over emphasise the power of networking. Spend time researching suppliers in your area and reach out to those who you think have similar values or aesthetics to you. Community is such a strong part of what we do, and finding your own tribe of like-minded people who you know you can trust will help you to grow and refine your own business.
We are huge fans of your work, your wedding designs are so unique and absolutely stunning. What inspires your work and how did you hone your eye for great styling?
Thank you so much, that’s lovely to hear! It sounds cliché, but the main things that inspire my work are the couples I get to work with. I really do see my job as a translator of love stories into something visual, so every wedding I design is informed and inspired by the two people at the centre of it. I feel hugely privileged to be able to get to know each of my couples, and have made some lasting friendships during the wedding planning journeys I’ve shared with them.
Flowers also tend to be at the heart of my designs. I’ve learned so much from the incredibly talented florists I’ve worked with over the years, and find that my spirits never fail to be lifted by the colour, texture and emotive impact that flowers bring to a space, so I always start there.
You recently won The Wedding Industry Awards for UK wedding planner of the year 2019. Congratulations, what an amazing achievement! What do you think makes an award-winning planner and what helped you achieve such a great accolade?
Honestly, this question is a really hard one for me to answer because I am still utterly blown away by the win. It has been a humbling, overwhelming experience and I’m still getting used to it! I can’t presume to tell you what makes an award-winning planner, but I’d say that being really emotionally connected to each of my weddings is one of the things I’m proudest of, and I’d like to think that this has helped to set me apart.
How has education and training played a role in your career development?
I think that before educating myself and getting the diploma, the idea of a wedding planner was something that lived in the realm of slightly schmaltzy Hollywood movies. I liked the idea of it but didn’t really know what making a career of it would entail. The training and education I undertook gave a real grounding and a foundation that showed me a realistic vision of how to turn the ideas into a business, without the rose-tinted spectacles – it was hugely helpful.
What inspires and motivates you to keep working on your business to achieve further success?
I have quite a restless brain and am rarely content to sit still or rest on my laurels. I want to be doing the best I possibly can for my couples, keeping abreast of styles across the world to be able to tailor every last detail as exactly and specifically to them and their wedding as I can. I’m currently based in Worcester in the UK, but I never want my location to be a limiting factor. My ultimate goal is to be recognised for my style, and approached by couples wherever they are in the world because they see something in For The Love Of Weddings that inspires them, lifts their hearts and makes them feel safe in entrusting their dreams to me.
Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers, any advice?
Take the time to work out what you want to be known for, and don’t feel pressure to rush into things. Comparing yourself to others is almost unavoidable (God knows I still do it all the time!) but it’s an unhelpful habit while you’re learning who you are as a planner. Once you’ve really put the work into figuring out the sorts of weddings you want to plan, you’ll find making connections with your ideal clients comes so much more naturally.
Krysta, thank you for sharing your experiences and insights with us and our community. We wish you many more successes for the future. Xx
Feature image photographer credit: Gyan Gurung
Pin for later: