In what feels like a former life to me, I was completely enveloped in the world of weddings. Working at one of the best custom cake bakeries in town, For Goodness Cakes, I had the opportunity to collaborate with a number of talented wedding professionals who exemplified all the things successful business owners should be: motivated, creative, organized, driven, and each with their own unique voice. Sarah Chancey is one such professional and has remained someone I truly admire to this day. As the head of Chancey Charm Event Design, this sweet and saucy southern powerhouse leads a team of planners who ensure that their brides get the fantasy wedding they’ve always dreamed of, and more. In order to craft these custom events for her brides, Sarah goes back to the drawing board. Like literally, the drawing board. And this is what sets her apart from the myriad of other wedding planners; the creativity and love that comes straight from her hand, pen to paper, paper to life.
How did you stumble into the world of weddings? Is this something you always envisioned for yourself?
I often look back and realize that I did somewhat stumble into all of this. Like any great wedding vendor, I started helping with weddings and events for family, friends, and local organizations. I loved it. Then, I got a job doing Marketing and Events for Chick-Fil-A in Denver, CO. I think that is where it clicked for me. I enjoyed the marketing, but loved the event nights. I think that in the end I enjoyed seeing how happy the events made people. It quickly became a side venture that has now grown into what you see today!
What kind of person does it take to be a wedding planner?
To be a really incredible wedding planner, you need to be both organized and creative. This is a combo that rarely exists, but I feel like it’s the key to success with clients who want someone to both keep them on track and inspire them!
In what ways does your academic background influence the practices of your business?
I have a degree in Art, Interior Design. To be honest, I didn’t feel like I was really utilizing it during my first few years, other than a few layouts. Then I was inspired by a local film photographer, Odalys Mendez, to get back to the basics of beautiful design. She challenged me to look back on the fundamentals of my course program and look for ways to use those skills in event design. Today, our full planning clients receive an in-depth design PDF with a collection of color palettes, photos, fabrics, and renderings that bring their vision to life. We use this PDF along with a vision board to clarify exactly what they want and give direction to all of the vendors involved. This process allows us to create designs that have never been done before. I am so thankful for my time in design school for this very reason.
What do you love most about the work you do?
Honestly, it’s a two-fold love. I love using my background in interior design to create intricate and stunning designs which incorporate fabrics, furnishings, paper, and more! But most days, I truly love the relationships I get to form with our clients. Many of them I consider life-long friends.
With so much media out there, inspiration must sometimes be overwhelming! How do you end up deciding which ideas to execute versus which to leave to Pinterest?
As my clients and colleagues know, I am not a DIYer. However, I still gain a lot of inspiration for my clients from Pinterest. The solution? To partner with the best craftsmen and artists I know to execute each event I design. The end result is far better than anything I could whip up at home and opens up the possibility to bring almost any idea on Pinterest to life. However, I am extremely cautious to not rely solely on Pinterest, and to instead, create custom designs for my clients via renderings that bring new ideas to life, without a picture found online. I also carefully craft design boards and PDFs that help us focus on just a few details and personal touches, as to not go Pinterest crazy!
Which wedding professionals do you admire?
Of course, I really admire Odalys Mendez – the mentorship she has given me over the past few years and the stunning images and aesthetic she always produces. Without her gentle guidance, I don’t know where I’d be. She also helped me finally understand that my style was unique and valuable even if it wasn’t the most popular style at the time. I also truly admire luxury wedding planner and event designer Tara Guerard, who is based in Charleston, South Carolina. The attention to detail and use of furnishings and fabrics in her events is always inspiring.
What was the most important step in taking your business to the level it’s at right now?
I am so thankful for the re-branding that I received from Jessica Clark at Ecru Stationary. In just one consultation, she was able to see me better than I saw myself and help recreate my identity in the wedding industry. Her branding allowed me to attract the kind of customers I was longing to work with. I am forever grateful.
Was there ever a time you doubted yourself? If so, how did you work through it?
Ha, I think we have all felt like we were “faking it” at some point. Overcoming internal hindrances are often far hard than overcoming external ones. Having a team of ladies depending on me has really been a huge source of inspiration, along with an incredibly supportive husband who is always willing to believe in me.
How do you envision Chancey Charm growing over the next 5 years?
At this point, I would love to see our team continue to grow, enabling us to reach more brides and territories. I have such a fun opportunity to give other women the fulfilling and flexible job that I have and it’s a gift that I look forward to continuing to share.
I would say, “Sarah, chill out!” In my early twenties, I found myself so worried about what I would do with my career long-term, when in reality God always had a purpose and a plan for every “career detour”. I think I’d also encourage myself to relax and be in the moment. Too often, I thought that answering the latest email was more important that disconnecting for dinner, the weekend, or even vacation. You are never as busy as you think you are. You are also never as important. Life will go on, while you disconnect.
[ photos by Odalys Mendez Photography ]