Not everyone is lucky enough to know what they’re meant to do early on in their career, but Allison Smith did. Originally from Boulder Creek, she moved to San Diego for college and then worked for a company providing wedding print services. Back then, wedding planning was a luxury service that most people didn’t utilize. She noticed when making day of event deliveries that there was a lack of management and a need for a point person to check in with—someone who knew what was going on. So when she moved back to Santa Cruz, she started her own wedding consulting business in 1994.
“I don’t know what happened. Something just clicked in me and I knew I was supposed to be doing this.”
Wedding planning wasn’t a common career at the time. In fact, Martha Stewart was just coming up and Pinterest certainly wasn’t a thing yet. “People thought I was crazy,” says Allison. Well I guess she gets the last laugh, because she’s still going strong over 20 years later.
Allison grew up working in the Santa Cruz service industry. When she started her business, she was bartending at Palookaville, a nightclub and special event venue that boasted the likes of B.B. King. So she got support and encouragement from people in the area who saw what she was doing. One of those people was our own Monica Karst, whose wedding was planned by Allison. A huge wedding, I might add, at 500 guests—quite the learning experience I’m sure!
Since then, she’s watched Monica found the Socialites and is fully supportive of celebrating the work of other women in her community. She also donates a portion of her profits to charities, including Women for Women International. “I’m a strong supporter of women who are struggling to feed their families.”
When she’s not busy running between weddings, Allison likes to spend time with her kids (four between her and her husband), run and do yoga, “…things that allow me to clear my head from the noise of life.” And she manages to squeeze some traveling in, even if that means leaving at 5 a.m. for Maui after finishing a wedding at 10 p.m. the previous night.
She also teaches wedding planning, a need which she noticed due to the lack of education and support when she was starting out. She joined the Association of Certified Professional Wedding Consultants, of which she was Vice Chair and then Chair for a time, and is a Certified Wedding Consultant. Allison believes strongly in face-to-face education and hands on experience in this industry, so although there are so many online classes these days, she continues to do hers in person.
It might come as a surprise to learn that Allison is planning to write a book. She’s been through her ups and downs and wants to share her life experiences. And she still learns something new at every wedding. She just finished her first two this season and is already booking for next year. So check her out at allisonweddings.com, and while you’re at it, say congratulations to our Woman of the Week!