Kaitie Gill, Owner and Lead Wedding Planner of Kaitie Gill Weddings (formerly Sailboat Weddings), has always loved throwing a good party so the fact that she stumbled into wedding planning is no surprise. Before wedding and event planning, she worked for a company that hosted wedding trade shows and published a statewide wedding magazine. Being completely immersed in the wedding scene, Kaitie quickly discovered that working closely with couples to help execute their wedding vision is something she always wanted to be a part of. So, with full support from her family, she launched Sailboat Weddings in 2017.
Sailboat Weddings is a unique wedding planning business name, but Kaitie named the business after her late grandpa. Her grandpa never met a stranger, loved making things easier on his family and friends, and loved sailboats. When planning your wedding, you’ll become like family and the goal is to make this season one that is as stress-free as possible. So, naming her business Sailboat Weddings is a daily reminder of why Kaitie is in the world of event planning – to make things easier on her couples who become lifelong friends. She still can’t fathom that planning events is her “job.”
When she isn’t planning weddings and other events, you can find her at Hobby Lobby practicing her self-control to not buy everything in the store. Her most favorite of days are those spent around a bonfire or playing games at the kitchen table with family and friends. Kaitie resides in Benton where she lives with her husband and little boys (Ryan and Lincoln), two dogs (Alice and Levi), and cat (Jethro).
How important are your relationships with vendors and what are some ways that you successfully cultivate and ensure good rapport?
Extremely important! I work with other wedding professionals on a daily basis. To me, it is one of the most important things to nurture each relationship I have. Word-of-mouth is a big marketing tool for me and most of my referrals come from other event professionals.
One of my favorite ways to cultivate relationships with other vendors is just a quick check-in. Whether that be a text, Facebook/Instagram message, or phone call – a check-in to see how someone is doing goes a long way. And, I’m ALL for a handwritten letter!
What’s the most exciting thing on the horizon for you personally or professionally?
I’m actually in the start-up phase of another business! Wedding planning will always be my number one; however, during this pandemic, I’ve had a lot of time to brainstorm on another outlet that I love which is brand and business consulting. Keep an eye out for the website launch soon (kaitiegill.com)!
What inspired you to launch your own company in the event industry? How long did it take from initially having the idea to setting up and starting to attract a client base?
I could talk for days on this subject. I already mentioned how I stumbled into the wedding world, but I haven’t shared the process of launching my own business. When I began toiling with the idea of my own company, I reached out to a work friend who also had her own planning biz. (You’ve interviewed her – Meredith Corning!) I wanted to see if she’d be willing to share how she balanced her own business along with working for another company. Because let’s be honest, I knew I wasn’t going to be able to quit my full-time job right off the bat.
To my surprise, Meredith was more than happy to share her knowledge and even allowed me to shadow her on some of her weddings. Before I knew it, I was building my business while working weddings on my own under Meredith.
In 2019 my business really took sail and I began working part-time at the other company. And, by 2020 I let go of my safety net job and now work solely for myself.
What’s the first event you can ever remember planning and how did it go?
So, this isn’t about my first event, but about booking my very first full-planning package. The couple who hired me booked me in December of 2018. I was pumped!! I had done a lot of “day-of” coordinating (I hate that term, btw!) so booking my first full-planning wedding just made me so giddy.
Their wedding date was May 30th of 2020. And, wouldn’t you know, a pandemic would cause it to be postponed. However, even though they postponed their grand wedding celebration, they still got married in the bride’s grandmother’s backyard.
And, I was still there to help coordinate the day. It was such a low-key, beautiful day. Simply perfect in every way. Yes, it was a little disheartening to me that I didn’t get to see the full day executed as we had spent a full year planning, BUT the day was still nothing less than perfect.
What are some things you wished you knew before starting your businesses?
So many things… But, hiring a CPA would be my number one advice. Keep up with your business spendings and earnings monthly! It’ll save you so much time come tax season.
What’s the most surprising or unusual request you have ever received from a client and were you able to fulfill it?
So, this may not really answer your question, but it’s a funny story. I had a couple who had the groom’s cake designed to look like their dog. It looked just like their dog – down to the collar and everything! I felt so bad because, in order to cut the cake, I had to cut their dogs head off. I sat there and apologized to the cake and guests kept coming up to me making remarks about how I was hurting this dog. I’m just thankful the cake wasn’t red velvet!
Anything else you’d like to comment on while we have you?
Thank you for asking me to fill this out! If you need anything from me, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.