Mary CharmoliSaratoga Weddings, Inc.,, Webster, Wis.

Employees: 2 full-time, plus independent contractors

Revenue Breakdown: 30% consulting/coordination, 20% officiating, 50% rentals.

Contact: 715.349.8383,, Facebook, Twitter

Family: I am married to Jim. I have three stepchildren, and we have two grandchildren.

Education: I received my registered nurse diploma through Norfolk General Hospital and took undergraduate classes through Inver Hills Community College in Minnesota and Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Va. I received a Master Gardener certificate through the University of Wisconsin Extension Office.

Photo Mar 24, 7 54 05 PM

Getting started: Mary Olson and I opened Saratoga Weddings in 1993, combining my background in wedding floral design and my business partner’s experience in wedding fashion.

Goals: Eventually, I plan to slow down to “retirement status,” perhaps planning only occasional weddings and officiating more, although I am still contemplating this route. For now, I’ve accepted a position as event coordinator for a newly renovated venue in Siren, Wis., so instead of slowing down, I’m starting a new chapter.

On the ABC: We joined the ABC at the same time that we opened our business. We called the main office to learn more about the industry, spoke to Jerry Monaghan, and the rest is history. It was the best business move that we could have made, as we knew nothing when we joined. When I began the process of becoming a Master Bridal Consultant™, I thought it would be the end of my consulting career, only to discover that it was the beginning of a new chapter. It took a full three years of preparation after receiving my ABC™, tweaking and re-tweaking my paperwork and presentation. I received MBC™ status in 2009. My crowning moment, however, was to receive the Miss Dorothy Heart Award in 2010.

Other memberships: Siren Chamber of Commerce, ISES, and the Burnett Garden Club.

Mentors: Frank Andonoplas, MBC™; Teddy Lenderman, MBC™; Joyce Smith, MBC™; Renee Grannis; and my husband, Jim. They have supported me when I have stumbled, have not been afraid to be candid with me when I needed honesty, and have rejoiced with me when I have done well. I could not have asked for five better role models or mentors.

Inspiration: My clients inspire me with their youth and enthusiasm. I also try to give a new look to the “Northwoods” theme that couples seek when they marry in our area. I read niche media incessantly (gardening, food, fashion, wedding, floral design).

Marketing strategy: High quality service and word-of-mouth referrals. We do very little advertising.

Industry influencers: Technology and the economy are two huge influences. We do, however, roll with them by adjusting our media presence, using technical devices and lingo to our advantage, and keeping up-to-date, no matter what our age. We have faced economic challenges in the past and by holding fast in our pricing and ensuring high quality of service, we can survive.


On staying fresh: We begin our season in the winter with our only local bridal show, which we help orchestrate. We scour the trends and try to predict what couples want. Reinventing our “dated” rentals with a new look is also fun and gets our creative juices flowing.

Ideal client: My ideal client is of no particular age or budget but is one who is flexible and open-minded to creative ideas. Ideally, this client is willing to direct the budget to what is important to her or him, not just the current trend. This client also desires to be a good host to guests.

Reading now: Frances Mayer’s Bella Tuscany and Rick Steves’ Great Britain.

Hobbies: Gardening or planning to garden, reading, and travel.

Words of wisdom: Read, educate yourself, network, attend the Association of Bridal Consultant’s Annual Business of Brides Conference, keep your business practices honest and above reproach, and provide service, service, service! Kiss them ’til your lips hurt!

On giving back: I volunteer time through our local Chamber of Commerce, plan benefits and other events, plan community garden events, and make donations when I don’t have the time to give.

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