Reported By Women: May 18
This week’s Reported By Women brought us into the world of event planning, romance, and weddings as Women of Cincy traveled to Memorial Hall for the launch of Whitney Pelfrey’s new company, Iris & Honey. Iris & Honey is a wedding curator specializing in local romantic vignettes personalized for the most chill of Cincinnati couples.
Iris & Honey’s Grand Budapest Hotel Wedding Installation
When Whitney Pelfrey’s name appeared in my inbox, something jogged my memory, but I couldn’t quite place it. It wasn’t until I went to her website that I realized we’d gone to high school together. Hello, small world of Cincinnati. Who would have thought that, less than 10 years later, we’d both be diving into the thrilling and terrifying journey that is entrepreneurship?
I walked into Memorial Hall a few weeks later for the launch of her new company, Iris & Honey, and I didn’t know where to look first. Every room was packed with gorgeous scenery and innovative vendors like Allison Murphy (The ABC Market), who showed off her incredible book accessories at her first-ever wedding event. Emmalee and I indulged ourselves at the tater tot bar and ate the most delicious cupcakes I’ve ever tasted, and then ventured upstairs to find Pelfrey.
“This literally started from a place of rock bottom,” she told us, and we began to chat:
Tell us about the beginnings of this event.
So this is about two years in the making. It started in 2015 when I realized that there wasn't a middle ground between an elopement – like a courthouse wedding – and something pretty. It was hard to do. It took even more planning to have an affordable wedding that looked gorgeous. I've been a photographer for 7 years, a wedding photographer for 5, and so many of the clients came in, “Oh, we had planned on eloping but you know, it's just easier.” And I'm just like, my heart is breaking inside because I know all of these small businesses that could create something beautiful, so I was ready to show Cincinnati what you can do at an affordable price for chill couples who just want something pretty, and they don't need a performance.
What's their dream wedding look like?
So we do lifestyle weddings, so someone who just wants a marriage and just wants to celebrate. They're not worried about like their aisle; they're not worried about their chicken at their reception. My ideal client is a bride who just wants to have a gorgeous scene where she promises her life to her man and then has a party afterwards. Maybe it's renting out a bar or instead of putting money down on a wedding, putting money down on a house and then throw an awesome house party. The average wedding in Cincinnati is $27,000, and this wedding is $8,000. And it includes photography and coordination, so for $8,000, you literally pick out your dress and you show up.
How many collaborators do you have here tonight?
The ceremony includes five business owners. There's a little over 20 here for the entire event. They're here to support my launch and they're here to show an alternative to the wedding industry, ’cause we're not a bridal show.
So I really wanted this to be run by the underdogs: people who I knew had the potential, they just needed the stage.
Iris & Honey isn't associated with the wedding industry. Wedding industry is great for that style of bride, but my type of bride would never in a million years go to a bridal show, would never pick up a bridal magazine. I also call them feminist weddings.
You've mentioned before that you were hoping this event could help encourage and celebrate diversity in this industry, as well. Can you talk about that?
So, again, being in the wedding industry for 7 years, I never met black business owners. And I don't think it was purposeful, but I eventually started thinking to myself, “Like, man, I know they're there. Where are they?” So I really wanted this to be run by the underdogs: people who I knew had the potential, they just needed the stage. I wanted it to be as diverse as possible. And it's not a handout; they are badass business owners, but we just wanted to give them the equal platform and the equal stage.