One of the most incredible things about interacting with Shelly Fortune is the feeling you’re left with. It could be quick, just passing her on the street, or running into her at the grocery store. Or interviewing her for the Bullhorn blog. You will talk about her for an hour afterward. She is warm, calm, and she always looks great. Her work as a wedding and event planner makes perfect sense. Her poise, positivity, and eye for detail make her profoundly suited for what she does.
We sat down with her to see how her business has grown since we partnered to create her branding in 2014.
Since we worked with her, her business has not just grown — it has put down roots. She partnered with other talented women in her field to establish and co-working space on North Limestone called Seventh + Lime. The new office is flooded with light and full of space to collaborate.
Connecting means everything in the wedding business, and she’s done a marvelous job so far. Strong vendor relationships are the hallmark of what she does. “When I got here, I had to spend a lot of time knocking on doors. And honestly not everybody answered. But I met amazing people who did.”
Collaboration is key for Shelly and her team. Her best events are the result of the combined ideas from her clients, herself, and her vendors. “The collaboration between vendors is what’s fun. I think if all the ideas are coming from one person, you really lose out on some of the magic that can happen.” She’s interested in cultivating a real community.
She doesn’t use the same vendor team for every event, instead drawing on the talents on a variety of people. “Building a vendor team for a wedding has to be reflective of who the clients are as people.”
Most of Shelly’s clients come from referrals; the rest are from random Googling, Instagram, and Pinterest. And the business development process is as much her trying out her clients as they are auditioning her. That’s an important differentiator.
“I really believe you draw matches to personality and style. People have to mesh. If you’re choosing a branding, company, you have to mesh. They have to somehow agree with the things you see and your philosophy. Personality match matters.”
“There is a new wedding planner popping up every month,” Shelly says. The market in Lexington is growing. To stay different from the rest, Shelly and her team stay true to who they are.
When you meet Shelly, see her website, or experience one of her events, you can see that she has a clear vision, even if she’s working with diverse styles. “The one thing we aim for is a classic design. We want you to look back and your wedding photos are still relevant. They still look great 15, 20 years later.”
As far as the future is concerned, the sky is the limit for Shelly. At the moment, she’s expanding her team. Beth (pictured above) came on as an event planner a couple years ago, and since then she has helped Shelly create many successful events. Reaching out to Shelly was the best cold email she ever sent, she says. Now she’s becoming a partner.
“We are also exploring some other avenues. We’d like to be looking at event space and managing venues.” More on that later, we’re sure. We cannot wait to see what’s next for Shelly and Beth.