If I get married, I want to be very married. – Audrey Hepburn

July 14, 2011 § 1 Comment

As part of this blogging process, I wanted to interview several professionals in the wedding business. I have a long list of people I would love to interview, but I thought I could start with the one’s I am closest to, my parents.

Norris and Luanna Cole are the owners of The Plantation House, a wedding and reception venue in Pflugerville, Tx. They have successfully run their business for 14 years with close to 700 weddings under their belt. What makes their business even more unique is the fact that they both work together. In regards to my title, I consider my parents “very married”.

What made you decide to start a wedding business?

We’ve always been entrepreneurs. When we purchased the house 17 years ago it had a unique look. Our vision was to raise our family and have our children’s weddings here. The timing was just right, God opened a door, and we took a chance. Norris and I really balance each other out, with my people skills and his business sense.

How do you separate your home and your business?

We keep all personal areas, bedrooms, and living areas all private from weddings and guests. It’s very hard to do when you work and live in the same place. Our motto: Try to run the business and don’t let the business run you. Always make time for family. You have to make an effort to make the time. Brides expect a lot of time from you when you are planning their wedding.

What is your secret to longevity in an industry with a high turnover rate?

Staying fresh, current, and having a brand. You have to target the clients that want your brand. Worry about your own business and not what any of your competitors are doing. We always aim to educate the brides rather than “making the sale”. We are always improving the property and we study and follow the trends. Wedding trends change rapidly.

Describe working side by side with your spouse.

We have a very unique relationship. We genuinely love spending time together. We communicate very well. We just enjoy each other and we have a deep respect for each others’  talents and weaknesses. When I am stressed, he is my calm. We definitely laugh a lot!

What inspires you?

Happy people. I love clients who feel like family at the end of an event. We are part of such a special event in their lives. I love people in love. Our business is God-led and he brings us the perfect couples.

Norris, describe Luanna in three words.

My best friend

Luanna, describe Norris in three words

Hilarious Handsome Strong

What advice would you give a young, aspiring wedding planner?

Always put everything into question form when talking with a bride. You want the bride to feel they’ve made their own decisions. It’s always good to have a hard shell too. Remember, it’s not your wedding day. You are a service, but don’t get walked on. Your service deserves respect. Make sure you set time limits and boundaries on your service and availability.

Describe some of your biggest mistakes.

Thinking I know everything about a wedding, it’s my way or the highway, not being flexible at times, doing two weddings in a day, not being realistic on headcount. Everything I know and do now is based on a mistake I made in the past.

Name the hardest thing about what you do.

Having enough endurance to get through an event as I’ve gotten older and no sleep. I tend to wear all the stress of an event and I am an extreme perfectionist. I also always stress about the weather.

If you weren’t in the wedding business, what would be your dream jobs?

Norris: I would be a heart surgeon or a donut shop owner so I could close at 10am and play the rest of the day.

Luanna: This is actually my dream job! But if I had to choose a different one I’d do anything in the fashion industry. I would have loved to be a model, but I’m not high maintenance enough.

Name your top three most memorable wedding moments (good, bad, or funny).

1.  One time we got 7 inches of rain in 2 hours during an event. We have a creek that flows under a bridge across our road. Everything was completely flooded and no one was able to leave the property until about 4am. We were wading around in water about mid-calf.

2.  We had a cake delivered by a non-professional cake maker. As soon as she left, the cake started splitting in half. It took about four of us to hold it together so it wouldn’t fall.

3.  We had a bride and groom cancel a wedding 30 minutes before their ceremony. All the vendors were already set and we had to turn guests away. Around 11:00, the bride and groom decided to come back to the house and really get married. They showed up in flip-flops and shorts. Norris performed the ceremony and I was the photographer.

Describe a typical Saturday.

We actually start the preparation process on Thursday. Saturday morning we wake up early. We do all the final cleaning, set ceremony (if it wasn’t done Fri), and we usually show about 2-3 appointments. This all happens before noon. Then we go to Whataburger (pre-game meal). We come back home and continue cleaning and prep, spray our perimeter with spectricide for bugs, put our feet up for 30 min., then get dressed for the event. We usually receive vendors all throughout the day. We are always completely ready and confident the moment the bridal party and family arrive. Then the party is on from there. It’s very important for us to show grace and kindness throughout the entire event. Hospitality and professionalism is most important.

Norris, name three fashion pieces that describe Luanna’s style.

Diamonds, pearls, and platinum.

Luanna, name three fashion pieces that describe Norris’ style

Athletic shorts, cowboy boots, and starched jeans.

What are your secrets to being happily married for 29 years?

Forgiveness, saying “I love you” all the time, respect, and a good, listening ear. Lots of laughter-at each other and at yourself.

Describe your wedding.

August 14, 1982. It took place at my hometown church in Tulia, Texas. We had about 200 guests.

Colors: lavender, yellow, and white

Bridesmaid’s dresses: Lavender long, taffeta, ruffled, and satin with a sash. They carried white and yellow button daisies.

Groomsmen: Silver/grey western tuxedos and ostrich boots.

I loved everything except that derby hat (fashion fail)

We had a classic church reception. We had a receiving line, fruit, mixed nuts,beautiful china, and punch. My cake was a four-tiered cake that was made as our wedding gift. The groom’s cake was boot shaped and the baker forgot to add the sugar, so it was terrible.We changed into our trousseau and I even wore a corsage. I also wore it the next day on our plane ride to Vegas hahaWhat is your favorite season for weddings?

Spring and fall. There’s beauty in all seasons though.

Of everything in your landscape, name your favorite flower.

Double knock out roses in red.

Your favorite tree?

Magnolias and live oak

If you didn’t have a wedding on a Saturday, describe your perfect day.

Wake up with no stress, eat at my favorite restaurants, go shopping around Austin, and curl up on the couch and have mindless thoughts.

What are the three most important items in your business?

My calendar, computer, and my house.

The Plantation House

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