Today we’d like to introduce you to Natalie Sofer.
Natalie, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
After graduating with a BA from UC Irvine, I began working for a restaurant like every other actress wanting to make it in Hollywood. I realized early on that constant rejection due to my looks, my London accent or any other reason was not going to give me the desire to keep wanting to be an actress and the dream as I had as a child faded. What I loved about my college experience was producing anyway. I loved putting projects together and making something happen through my creative skills.
However, I still worked as head maître d at that restaurant. I traveled with the company opening up other locations and training 100s of others to do what I did. My key to success was remembering every guest’s name, their special occasions, and where they liked to sit. A co-worker had told to me to treat every guest as if they were a big producer that could give me my producing gig. Every guest received 5 star VIP treatment and that has lasted with me to this very day.
In 2000, I started my own theatre company with 4 good friends. I gave myself my first producing job. It was amazing. I had a say in the type of theatre we wanted to produce, we were almost always in the black which was a pretty good accomplishment in the non-profit theatre world and we won awards for our work. It was in that arena, where I produced fundraising galas and events for the theatre community and discovered my passion for producing amazing events. My goal back then was that every guest would leave happier than when they arrived and would continue to be my mission. The love affair for producing events began.
I started working for a wedding planner training myself in every way to open my own company. All this time I was still working at that restaurant where I was so comfortable yet so ready for something more. In 2008, the market crashed, and I was the highest priced maître d in my field. The management found a loophole and fired me after 17 years. I was shocked. The life I knew for so long was over. I could not use them as a reference. This time, I was job hunting and without a safety net. I would go on interview after interview for catering and hospitality all over.
This time I was applying for jobs with others who were younger, blonder, taller and thinner than me. I could not compete once again. But this time was different, this time I had a passion for something much deeper than acting. I loved being an event planner.
Within 2 months of the loss of that job, I planned my 3rd wedding on my own and started my business. There were years that were slow and years that were great. In 2013, when Prop 8 was overturned, my business shifted as I created a niche for myself with LGBT. I have always been a huge supporter and would always give back. I started planning weddings for Gays and Lesbians. It was an honor that I was ready for that year as my business started to grow and was able to give so much more to them vs when I first started as I learned so much in those first years.
It matters to me that every person has the right to marry whom they love and that is clear in all the weddings I produce. It is an honor to be there for that couple on their day and throughout the planning process. What matters is giving each couple the wedding they want.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
I shared with you about the loss of my job. That was devastating and embarrassing. I had no idea what it was like to be without a job especially when security and comfort mattered most. I learned a lot in those first years building my business. I was fortunate to be living with my boyfriend at the time. Together we supported each other. We learned how to make ends meet.
Instead of going out to fancy restaurants and bars, we ate dinner at home with a bottle of Charles Shaw. Hey, it is pretty good for people on a serious budget. I learned a lot during that time. The loss of the job I knew so well was of course hard at first but looking back all my friends who knew me so well would say it was the best thing that happened and they were right. It was!!
So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Natalie Sofer Weddings and Events story. Tell us more about the business.
What sets me apart from others is that I am not a cookie cutter planner. Not one of my weddings are alike. Every couple are different. Their wedding should be different and express who they are as a couple. I care about what they want and what they desire. It is not my wedding. It is theirs. I occasionally have a couple that has no idea what they want and I discover their dreams as we work together.
I said earlier that I created a niche working with gays and lesbians. That has been a huge honor. I have enjoyed giving all my couples the weddings of their dreams. I am so proud of those first few weddings I did in 2014 for the LGBT community. There is something so special to plan a wedding for people who have fought the battle to be with each other. I love to create the drama for them as that is what they wanted. The more dramatic the better became the theme for most of my gay couples.
And of course, I loved that coming from the theatre background. I took on the challenge of creating something unique and memorable that their guests would remember forever. What my couples want and delivering that along managing for a successful wedding has been my key to success.
Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
I consider myself lucky to have met the clients I have met, to have been chosen to plan their weddings. I don’t think of luck like being at the right place at the right time. If a client wants me to plan their wedding, they will choose me because of what I deliver because they feel connected to what I can give them as a couple. I am very fortunate to have met the clients that have now become dear friends and the extreme honor it was to plan their weddings. I feel each wedding I plan is meant to be for a reason. We were meant to know each other. I was the one they meant to choose.
Now not every wedding has gone off without a hitch. Not everything in my life and business has been perfect, and I have learned from every couple and every wedding. It is a never-ending learning process.
I have to acknowledge my incredible vendor partners that give so much to me and all my clients. I have been fortunate to have gotten to know the best vendors in the industry. I constantly refer them time and time again because they always go above and beyond for my clients. I am honored to work alongside the very best. We work as a team to give people the wedding of their dreams. I love what I do and so do my vendors. Thank you to all of them for always going the extra mile.
- Website: www.nataliesoferweddingsandevents.com
- Phone: 310 493 7941
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @nataliesoferweddingsandevents
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/NatalieSoferWeddingsAndEvents
- Twitter: @sofernatalie