For the past three years I have been happily officiating weddings on the weekends in the Lake George region of Upstate New York. During that time, I continued to work full time from home for a group of orthopedic surgeons obtaining authorizations from insurance companies. Pretty mundane stuff, but it paid the bills and I loved helping patients navigate their healthcare plans. The more weddings I officiated the greater my passion grew and I realized this is my calling. Clearly, I was doing something right because my business quickly grew organically through word of mouth and a Facebook page. In 2017, my business had grown to the point that it was really getting in the way of my day job. What was a girl to do? With the support of my family and a lot of prayer, I officially retired from the medical practice and launched North Country Nuptials as a bonafide official small business. Whew!!
Having no idea how to actually run a business, it was time to call in the professionals. I first consulted with other wedding pros and asked a ton of questions about the business end of running a wedding-related business. Shout out to Mark Brenneisen from Adirondack-Albany Wedding Association who has been a valuable resource and mentor through this process. I signed up for a 10-week course at Suny Adirondack for people who have or are thinking of starting a business. Each week we learn new tools to help us with the process. My next step was to hire Kate Austin-Avon of Advokate to help me with branding and she created this kick-ass website and my logo. I’ve also attended webinars specifically related to how to run a wedding-related business. This fall I will be attending Wedding MBA in Las Vegas for the largest convention and trade show for wedding professionals in the country. I’ll get to learn from the top leaders in the industry. I’m so excited about that and Danny, my husband, is excited to have three days of unsupervised fun in Vegas. I’ve also been attending wedding shows and telling everyone I meet what I do. I’ve gotten my elevator speech down pretty good.
I’m off to a good start. I performed two weddings in February, a typically slow month. I’m meeting with couples every week and the bookings are coming in.
I want to close out this first blog by thanking my prior clients who have affirmed my calling. Thank you for trusting me with the most important day of your life. I am humbled and honored to have shared that intimate and sacred space. I love you all and pray you continue to enjoy the blessings of marriage.
Valerie Epstein is an ordained Wedding Officiant residing in the Adirondack Region of Upstate New York. Prior to becoming a Wedding Officiant, Valerie served as a national trainer for Kairos Prison Ministry as well as a parenting teacher for incarcerated women and program director for a foster parent training program in Northern California. Valerie is married and she and her husband have four awesome grandchildren.