They Do: Alumni Find Happiness in Weddings (Lots of Weddings)

Two people make a marriage. To make a wedding, though? Well, that takes two – plus a whole bunch of wedding professionals. As part of the estimated $72 billion U.S. wedding industry, Northwood alumni are saying yes to success by helping couples say their “I dos.” Four Northwood alums are using their business educations to parlay romance into revenue and satisfaction. But they didn’t find their happy career match right out of school.

Something to Behold

Kristy Koryzno

Kristy Koryzno (Krueger) ('04), owner of The White Dress in Brighton, Mich., earned her Certified Professional Accountant license after graduation from Northwood. After working in the field for six years, Koryzno knew she wanted a break from the corporate world. Becoming a business owner was her goal. But the big question: what business?

“As a little girl, I loved weddings and wedding dresses. So when I was brainstorming about a business that I could be passionate about, a bridal boutique seemed like a natural choice. My accounting degree from Northwood has been invaluable as I became a business owner, especially one who does her own financial work.”

Koryzno also uses her Northwood management education as she guides employees amidst the hundreds of beautiful wedding dresses in her boutique. “I have an amazing team who work with me. I love how we work together to help brides find gowns that they absolutely love. I wouldn’t be where I am today without such dedication and hard work from my team.”

The White Dress at www.the-white-dress.com

Trending in Wedding Dresses:
Classic styles without lace. Brides are falling in love with elegant dresses made of satin, silk mikado, dupioni silk, crepe, and chiffon.

Some Photos Too

Mehgan Kindsvater

Mehgan Kindsvater ('09) and ('14 M.B.A.) put her Northwood marketing degree to work for nonprofit organizations in Michigan. Until a 25th birthday gift brought a new career into focus. With her new camera in hand, Kindsvater began practicing photography techniques that she learned from YouTube videos. Her photos found more and more fans as she did shoots for friends. Kindsvater discovered a talent she never knew she had, and then developed a career that fit her interest in people and travel.

“Becoming a professional photographer was a totally new direction for me. But I knew I had the ability to run a business because of my Northwood education. I enjoy using my creative, analytical, and professional skills as I photograph couples on one of the best days of their lives.”

Kindsvater’s business, Meghan Melia, is based in Detroit yet allows her to travel in her new, specially outfitted Sprinter van to photograph weddings around the country. (This summer’s shoot schedule included nuptials in Alaska.) “One of the things I learned at Northwood – and am experiencing every day – is the intrinsic value of   entrepreneurship. The returns from having your own business are far greater than the risks.”

Meghan Melia and Van Life travel blog at www.meghanmelia.com

Developing in Photography: Social media.
Couples are browsing postings full of ideas that they then use when planning their wedding photos.

Something to Give

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Awarded Northwood’s Outstanding Business Leader (OBL) recognition this spring, Cathy LaValley ('75) is a successful businesswoman who turned a painful scam into a bridal jewelry business. After mailing away her life savings in answer to an ad in 1988, LaValley received a supply of discontinued costume jewelry that couldn’t become the wholesale jewelry business she paid for. So she packed her “inventory” and hit the Indiana highways.

“I visited small towns and discovered independent wedding retailers throughout the state. They bought jewelry all year long to sell to brides. And the bridal shops were happy to buy the same styles because they always had new customers, seldom repeat ones. I began to focus my business on selling bridal jewelry, such as sets for bridesmaids’ gifts.”

Today LaValley’s company, Cathy’s Concepts, is a leading supplier of personalized wedding day essentials, attendant sets, and general gifts. Her customer base is made up of both independent and national online retailers. “I never would have thought of starting my own business back then if not for my Northwood education. I’m still using it as I work to incorporate current trends, technology, and consumer behaviors in my product mix.”

Cathy’s Concepts at www.cathysconcepts.com

Shimmering in Wedding Essentials: Rose gold.
From bridesmaids’ necklaces to cake serving sets, rose gold is taking the lead in wedding essentials. 

And Then the Venue

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Katy Nelson (Kochendorfer) ('94) and her husband, Daniel ('98 M.B.A.) bought a 127-year-old farmhouse on a 10-acre hobby farm in Rockford, Mich. They didn’t realize when they started renovating their hay barn that they would be asked out on a wedding venue “blind date.”

“Six years ago, a local caterer approached us as we were working on the barn and asked if we were going to be a wedding venue. That wasn’t our plan. Yet with my hospitality and management degree from Northwood, it seemed like a perfect fit for me. We began selling the dream while the horses and hay were still in the barn. Our venue business took off from there.”

Since then, Hydrangea Blu Vintage Barn has had significant renovations and improvements. (And the horses moved out years ago.) While the setting and building are beautiful, Nelson’s dedication to fulfilling each couple’s personal vision is the real strength of the venue. “I realize that weddings don’t have do-overs. Even though we handle many weddings at the barn, for each couple, it’s their one day. So I try to create the ultimate hospitality that leaves every heart beaming at the end of the night.”

Hydrangea Blu Vintage Barn at www.hydrangeablubarn.com

Beautiful Settings: Scenic and local.
According to a poll by The Knot wedding planning service in 2017, 48 percent of couples said that a wedding venue with a scenic backdrop or local setting was a top priority.