Today’s wedding vendor interview is with Laurie of It’s Personal…Wedding Staging and Design, a company that specializes in vintage and rustic rental decor. Enjoy!
Tell us a bit about yourself and your company.
My name is Laurie Funderburk, Owner and founder of It’s Personal…Wedding Staging and Design. I am a fairly “new comer” to the business world but have been working “behind the scenes” helping friends for many years. I have just celebrated my 33 year wedding anniversary with my husband, Rick. We share our home in the Country with Dixie Lou, Black Labrador, Tebow, Golden Retriever and one very domesticated cat named, Poptart.
Read the full interview after the cut!
How did you get into the business?
I have loved weddings since I was a little girl and have always dreamed of Cinderella weddings and big beautiful parties. I spent hours playing “dress up” and having “tea parties” as a child. Now that I am all “grown up”, and I say that jokingly… I still have that same passion. I have been happily married for over 30 years and still believe in romance and true love.
I have entertained in my home for over 30 years with countess parties, dinners and showers. While my styles may have changed over the years, my belief in true love and my passion to entertain has remained unchanged. For more than 30 years I have helped plan dinner parties, graduations, showers, weddings and other events for family and friends. Each event that I have helped with holds a very special place in my heart.
The real turning point for me was when my parents decided to put their house on the market to sell. It was during the housing slump and houses were not selling and sitting on the market for long periods of time. I knew my parents wanted to sell their home quickly since they already had a second home. I decided their home needed to “stand out” from the competition. I had heard about Home Staging and decided to try my hand at it to see if it would make a difference. My parents agreed to let me try and within a month, I had “staged” their home with select pieces of furniture and added personal touches throughout the house to create a warm, inviting and beautiful home. The response from Realtors and potential buyers was overwhelming snf wonderful. Shortly thereafter, my parents had a contract on the house. It was a rewarding and fulfilling time helping my parents but Home Staging was not really my passion.
Late in 2012 I met a young bride who wanted help with her wedding. I quickly became engrossed in all the wedding details and decided I would follow my dreams and passion. In April 2013 my dream became a reality when I opened the doors to its Personal…Wedding Staging and Design
What’s your favorite part of the job?
My favorite would have to be seeing the look on the Bride’s face when she sees her wedding dreams become a reality but that hold true for any professional in our industry. I love the friendships and respect that have grown from a single telephone call or email. Each of my brides that I work with, know they can call me any time of the day or night if they have any concerns regarding their wedding. Real friendships have been made and many brides still keep in touch with me on a regular basis. It is rewarding to watch the newlyweds embrace life and to grow in love. I wish the very best for my couples! I received the most rewarding compliment and it has stuck with me over these past years. It was from a Groom. The morning after the wedding, I was at their family home and tearing down and cleaning up, the groom came up to me and to me and said his only regret for the day was not coming to the venue earlier in the day, before the guests had arrived, to fully “take in” the moment with all the decorations in place. He told me it was more beautiful than he could ever have imagined. Having a groom take notice of my hard work has meant so much to me and I will never forget it.
If you could pick one unique product or service offering, which would be your favorite, and why?
My inventory! I have so many favorite pieces in my inventory. What makes my business unique is so many of my pieces have been “repurposed or handmade” One of my favorite and most special finds were old ugly curtains being thrown out at a company where I worked. The company was remodeling and gutting offices. The “ugly” curtains were burnt color in color and tweed fabric. They were absolutely the most hideous curtains I had seen and they certainly had seen better days. After examining the curtains further, I couldn’t help but notice the beautiful aged cotton material used to line the back of the curtains. This remarkable vintage fabric inspired me to think outside of the box and remember the old saying “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure”. That is so true. I asked permission to have the curtains and the rest is history. I took home these ugly curtains and carefully removed the backing and soaked and laundered the fabric. I fell in love with the color and the feel of this vintage fabric. I have used this vintage fabric in many hand-made designs such as my Vintage Fabric Table runner, flower balls, decorations and ripped fabric table skirt.
Some items in my inventory have “A Past” and a story to go along with it. For instance, I have several vintage windows in my inventory. These windows were the original windows from my husband’s childhood home in Warrington. These Vintage windows are from the 1940’s and I have very special meaning to me. Some of these windows actually adorn the walls in my own home. I love to decorate using these windows for it keeps the memories alive!
Other very special décor that I use regularly in my designs belonged to my Mother. I use her linens, stemware, China, gold frames mirrors and a very special chandelier that she loved. I grew up with these items and it is a rarity to be able to incorporate these wonderful items into my designs. In May 2015 I lost my dear Mother and I smile each time I get to use one of her pieces in my design. I think she would be proud of me and how much my business has grown!
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned, and would pass along to others just getting started in your field?
The biggest lesson I have learned is to be organized and to “listen” to the bride. She has a vision and in order to implement her plan – you have to be willing to listen to HER and not assume you know what she wants.
What are your hobbies or non-work-related activities?
During the “less” busy times from the Wedding season, I spend as much time outdoors as I can. I have lived in Florida my entire life and most people think of beaches when they think of Florida. However, I live in the Country with lots of wildlife and foliage all around. My favorite pastime or hobby is Bird Watching. I also like to spend time hiking in the Mountains as business allows.
Any great stories from working with a client?
I have so many great stories..but my very favorite story was working with a Destination bride from Indiana. She was a single mother of three boys and was planning her dream beach wedding. She contacted me via email and we worked on her wedding details for nine months! She had a very limited budget but we found ways to cut and save. We prioritized her “must haves” and listed her “want to haves”. We poured over every detail…via email and chats since she lived in Indiana and I in Florida. We exchanged ideas and tweaked the design until we had exactly what she envisioned. When we finally met “face to face” we embraced each other like two old friends. I helped her create her beautiful beach wedding in Destin in the fall of 2014. Shortly after her wedding, she lost her job. With a lot of encouragement and prodding, I am happy to announce that she has opened her very own Wedding Staging Company in Indiana. I am very proud of her taking her “leap of faith” to open her business to help others like I had helped her. She is very talented and we still bounce ideas off one another. A true friendship was forged and it makes me proud to know I played a part in securing her financial future!
What makes you different from others in your field?
I would have to say what makes me different from other vendors is that I truly believe in my brides and their dreams. They become the daughters I never had. My brides trust me to be there for them. I form a special bond with them that other’s can’t understand. I don’t care how much or how little money they have, if they dream it….I want them to have it …and to experience their once in a lifetime dream. You are only a bride once and if it means that I have to become a counselor when my bride has a bridezilla moment or major melt down. They know they can count on me to be there for them. I have become a seamstress when their dress doesn’t fit and it is a week before her wedding. I have wiped away their tears and held the hands of mothers as they have watched their little girl transform into a beautiful bride. I love to watch my bride walk down the aisle and take the hand of the man she loves. As they exchange their vows my job is done. I wish and pray for every bride that she has a lifetime of happy memories and for the love to withstand the hard times.
Are there any trends that you absolutely love or would love to see brides leave behind?
I am still very much passionate about today’s Vintage inspired décor and the romance of mixing beautiful vintage linens, silver and china. I also like to blend rustic and shabby chic into my designs. I don’t dislike any trends, each bride is unique and individual. I will never discourage a bride to steer from her taste or comfort zone. I have a very niche market and if I find a bride that doesn’t have the same vision as I do or if it is out of my “comfort zone”, I gladly recommend them to someone else in my network that could better serve their dreams. I have a lot of friends in this business and we network together to insure brides have a beautiful and successful day!
One of my favorite and most special finds were old ugly curtains being thrown out at a company where I worked. The company was remodeling and gutting offices. The “ugly” curtains were burnt color in color and tweed fabric. They were absolutely the most hideous curtains I had seen and they certainly had seen better days. After examining the curtains further, I couldn’t help but notice the beautiful aged cotton material used to line the back of the curtains. This remarkable vintage fabric inspired me to think outside of the box and remember the old saying “one mans trash is another mans treasure”. That is so true. I asked permission to have the curtains and the rest is history. I took home these ugly curtains and carefully removed the backing and soaked and laundered the fabric. I fell in love with the color and the feel of this vintage fabric. I have used this vintage fabric in many hand-made designs such as my Vintage Fabric Table runner, flower balls, decorations and ripped fabric dessert table skirt.
Some items in my inventory have “A Past” and a story to go along with it. For instance, I have several vintage windows in my inventory. These windows were the original windows from my husband’s childhood home in Warrington. These Vintage windows are from the 1940’s and I have very special meaning to me. Some of these windows actually adorn the walls in my own home. I love to decorate using these windows for it keeps the memories alive! Other special décor that I use regularly in my designs are linens, China and gold frames mirrors from my Mother. I grew up with these items and it is a rarity to be able to incorporate this wonderful items into my designs.
What tips or advice can you give to couples who are in the midst of planning their big day?
The best advice I can give to my brides is just… “Stay true to yourself and to your style” Do not try to be something you are not.
Thanks Laurie! For more information about It’s Personal…Wedding Staging and Design, please visit their WeddingLovely Vendor Guide profile or head straight to their website.
Do you have any questions or comments for Laurie? Add them to the comments below!