Voyage Austin Interviews Our Very Own, Shelly Cole!
Featured in Voyage Austin: Today we’d like to introduce you to Shelly Cole.
Hi Shelly; thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, you could tell our readers some of your backstory.
About 25 years ago, I began my quest for a job where my service made everyone happy, and I felt appreciated and validated. I was coming out of an under-appreciated work environment, and at that time, I thought I would become a massage therapist! I mean, who doesn’t love their massage therapist?! Fast forward 10 years, and I worked at the County Clerk’s office as a deputy clerk, where I issued Marriage Licenses to couples within weeks of getting married – irrefutably one of the best days of their lives! It was addictively exciting even though my role was inky-dinky in the scope of their big day.
My husband and I got our online ordination within the first two months of my employment at the Clerk’s office.
Our friend, a pastor for a local church, trained us regarding the ins and outs of traditional wedding ceremonies. By renting an office space, we could marry people who needed to be married and meet the happy couple wherever they choose. We could help anyone who needed to get married! ‘Short and Sweet Weddings’ was born! It took a little while before we got more calls (to marry couples) that Scott and I could handle.
We recruited similarly hospitality-minded friends who have a passion for the institution of marriage. I wrote a standard operating procedure for our business and trained each officiant on the expectations to conduct a wedding how we thought it should be. For years Scott and I have volunteered our time to assist with wedding industry-related events, committees, and organizations. We meet with our team of officiants several times a year to share stories, learn new trends, and reinforce the camaraderie of our amazing role on a couple’s wedding day.
Being a part of the local wedding industry means we get to know many other wedding vendors, some of whom we work directly with and some involved with weddings. Seven years ago, Scott and I purchased another well-established wedding business called ‘Altared Weddings & Events.’ We knew the two businesses would have great synergy since they both have well-respected reputations in the local market; Short and Sweet Weddings as Officiants and Altared as Lighting and Entertainment Services. We’ve kept the two businesses separate entities, and they’re going strong!
Over the past seven years, I have played an active dual role with both businesses; recruiting & training officiants -and- sales/marketing staff, studying local trends, conducting weddings, and the best part. I can still participate in making a couple’s wedding day; The Best Day!
Can you talk to us about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned? Looking back, has it been easy or smooth in retrospect?
My biggest struggle has been juggling my professional life with my personal life. Owning and operating two businesses is an all-consuming, 7-days-a-week sort of lifestyle. Luckily I love what I do, which makes it worthwhile, but the scale is tipped at times, and I have to step away to remind myself that I’m the only person who can’t do it all. That’s when I lean on a trusted few staff members to fulfill my goals and see the vision for our businesses.
COVID couldn’t stop people from getting married, so Short and Sweet Weddings continued to conduct hybrid weddings and bounced back in 2021 & 2022; we currently have 11 active Officiants! However, COVID forced Altared Weddings & Events to reduce to a skeleton crew, and we let almost the entire staff go. 2021 & 2022 found us needing help finding technicians. Many nights and weekends, Scott and I were personally out setting up or tearing down lighting installations; which sounds terrible, but it helped us appreciate the effort our technicians endure for the company and on behalf of the couples getting married.
Thanks for sharing that. So, you could tell us a bit more about your work.
I am an Officiant Team Leader, Owner of Short and Sweet Weddings and Altared Weddings & Events. I conduct weddings, both non-religious and faith-based. My specialty is custom-writing scripts that include personal elements. I like to perform symbolic or unity-driven activities during the ceremony; for example, I love to incorporate hand-fastings, tree-plantings, unity candles, or unity sand ceremonies.
I have created and conducted many unique one-of-a-kind wedding activities; a couple of the most memorable activities during a wedding are guacamole blending, a protein shake blending, or a painting that includes all the guests participating. I love symbolism and unique activities! I’m well known for my professional-yet-personal attention to detail and how I encourage others, especially those on my teams (both companies). And for those getting married, this is such a stressful time for all of you! I don’t ever want to add to it!
I’m most proud of our companies’ great reputation in the local market. A business coach recently asked me if my goal was to expand and get into new markets. He looked at me funny when my answer was no. I told him I wanted to be the first referral that came to mind in this market because we give the best service. Not because we have the most competitive prices or are the most popular amongst vendors, but because our staff truly cares about making all events amazing.
SIDE NOTE: I’m also proud that a Netflix casting company called Short and Sweet Weddings first while they were filming a reality series in Austin. Yes – I was a surprise guest on the season one finale of ‘Ultimatum’ when one of the couples opted to get married. I am not an actor; the Netflix producer said we had the most positive reviews and ranked high on Google! Yay!
The single-most aspect that sets me apart is my generous nature (which I get from my husband). We believe that everyone deserves a great event, And our employees deserve to be taught how to do a good job; if I know how to do something well, then look out because I will want to show you how to do it too!
Do you have recommendations for books, apps, blogs, etc?
I bought a “For Dummies’-style workbook called “GREAT IDEA, NOW WHAT” about 25 years ago. It’s out of publication, but whenever I think of an idea for a niche business, I grab that book and test its viability. I’ve had some great ideas over the years! I recently started Weight Watchers since I put on the pounds after COVID (the ‘ol COVID-Nineteen, similar to Freshman-Fifteen). Their app is genius and super easy to use; I probably access it 15 times daily! I’m not a must-follow-a-rigid-dietperson, but this app makes it so easy! And within 60 days, I’m proud to say I’ve dropped 14 pounds!
Are there any other podcasts besides Dateline? Joking.
- $375 for Austin area Officiating services
- $450 for Outlying area Officiating services
- $150 for rehearsals
- Additional travel fees start at $75