Black Business Spotlight: Simply Wed

Submitted photo Travis and Jamesha Stringer, customers of Simply Wed

Pop-up and micro weddings cut stress, save cash

Planning your dream wedding doesn’t have to be a nightmare. Simply Wed, a new Twin Cities business, is helping couples create the perfect wedding experience without breaking the bank.

The company plans micro weddings, smaller versions of traditional weddings, which lie somewhere between the mortgage-your-life extravaganza and the backyard shot-gun affair. They are shorter, less costly and with fewer guests while offering the same familiar features such as the venue, cake, deejay and photography.

“It’s a new trend that’s happening,” said Jamie Grays, Simply Wed co-owner. “It’s flourishing all over the country, but it’s still fairly a newer concept.”

We spoke with Grays to learn more about the business that’s billed as the Twin Cities’ number-one spot for pop-up weddings, micro weddings and elopements.

MSR: Tell us about Simply Wed.

Jamie Grays: We just launched officially this year, but we have all been in the wedding business for years. I’m an ordained minister. I officiate the weddings. Symone Clay, she’s the day-of coordinator, and Angie Sheppard, she’s our resident DJ. We also have photographers who we work with. We’ve all been doing weddings separately, but we just decided to conjoin into a package deal business.

MSR: Are those the services you provide then as micro wedding planners?

JG: Our packages include the DJ, officiant, photographer. All our packages come with a photographer even our elope package. Besides those services, we have partnered with certain venues and we actually provide all the decor for the day of.

We have ceremony chairs, backdrops, a wedding arch, uplighting. We usually just stick with a few themes because that also helps cut costs to couples. But, you’re pretty much going to walk into a venue already beautifully decorated, have your ceremony, have your reception — just on a smaller scale with a shorter time frame. It’s not your typical eight-hour wedding, but we do provide everything — even bouquets and boutonnieres.

Submitted photo The team (l-r) Angie Sheppard, Symone Clay, Jamie Grays, and Karen Boidoku

MSR: What inspired you to become a team?

JG: We’ve been working with each other for some time now, unofficially collaborating together doing weddings. With referrals, one person books another person and another person, so we kind of almost were running weddings, but not as a team. So we were like, “How come we don’t just have it be an all-inclusive thing?”

And of course, by doing the multiple weddings we were seeing the patterns: the amount people are spending, the stress that everyone goes through, the time it takes to find the venue, find the vendors and book everything all together. So, that’s how we decided to create it as a package deal.

MSR: You also do pop-up weddings? What are those?

JG: The micro weddings are all-inclusive, almost like your Las Vegas express wedding where you walk in, you have your wedding. The pop-up weddings are set up as an event day that we pick at a particular location — it could be indoor, outdoor.

We normally choose four couples per day. They have their time slot — usually like an hour or two — get married, take the photographs and that’s it. Bring whoever to come witness and then take your little photo session with the photographer, and then that’s it. You can go off and go out to eat or whatever after that. But the pop-up weddings are really affordable for folks.

We’re looking into having pop-up weddings at fun locations: food truck festivals or outdoor venues like Minnehaha Falls, basically places people dream about getting married in and just never really have gone through the planning.

MSR: What’s been the best part of working as a team?

JG: It’s really nice because we get a chance to offer a package and it’s all set in stone, so there’s no finagling. The reliability and consistency of having packages help, and working together feels really good. It feels like we’re building something really stable. It feels nice.

MSR: What’s been the most popular feature from your packages?

JG: With our bigger packages, people really love the photo booth. It’s a fun, interactive thing to do: You take a picture, it comes to your phone, and then you can share it, keep it.

MSR: What’s been the biggest challenge since launching?

Submitted photo Satisfied customers of Simply Wed

JG: Educating people on what a micro wedding is, to be completely honest! You know, the rest of the services come naturally. Setting up is easy; getting people to understand what exactly is a micro wedding and a pop-up wedding and understand what comes with it is kind of a challenge.

MSR: What is the most rewarding part?

JG: I’m so glad I am in this sector. It’s a happy occasion. The most rewarding part is seeing people excited about being able to make their wedding happen and seeing couples happy and satisfied. The less stress you can bring to that couple, the better experience they’re going to have overall.

MSR: How else do you see your business impacting the community?

JG: Our drive is geared towards getting people that don’t have a lot of money to put together a wedding [and] making it affordable. We’ve gotten a lot of feedback from people who are still paying off student loans, people who are just pretty much starting off their lives and still want to have something nice. So it’s making it possible for those folks.

MSR: What’s your vision?

JG: Of course, since we just launched this year, we would like to be booked regularly, daily. Right now we all have daytime jobs, so we do a lot of weekends [together] and book individual services. We also envision owning our own venue, our own space.

MSR: What advice would you give to someone who’s looking to start their own business?

JG: Be different. Be and do something that’s gonna stand out.

For more info, visit mysimplywed.com or call 612-886-5251.