Stephanie Scholl’s passion for life is infectious. As the owner of her own wedding and event planning business, she brings that same joie de vivre to her beautifully designed events, which reflect her bright, fun personality. After spending several years working in the non-profit world post-college, Stephanie finally turned her love for weddings into a full-time job with the help and encouragement of her family and friends. Recently, she packed her bags and moved from Washington, D.C. to Raleigh, North Carolina to set up shop and make her event planning dream job a reality. Although she’s only been in Raleigh for six months, she’s already made her mark on the bridal scene.
When Stephanie isn’t planning a couple’s dream wedding, she loves spending time decorating her bright two-bedroom apartment. By layering pops of color over a neutral pallet of whites and greys, Stephanie’s home is a true reflection of her personality and aesthetic, which can also be seen throughout her events. Read on to find out more about Stephanie’s transition from non-profit work to full-time business owner, why she loves being a hostess, and how she discovered her passion for weddings!
Name: Stephanie Scholl
Occupation: Owner + Lead Planner, Stephanie Scholl Events
Education: BA in Psychology and Sociology, UNC Chapel Hill
What was your first job out of college and how did you land it?
My first job out of college was at a large international and domestic education non-profit in Washington, D.C. 2009 was not the ideal year to graduate economy-wise, but I was grateful when I landed this ideal position in D.C.! I applied to many jobs in the D.C. area upon graduation from UNC, as it was my dream to work there—I’m grateful that this particular job worked out so well.
I worked at a really great non-profit and my project was with the U.S. Department of Education and the Office of Special Education Programs. I stayed at this job for three years and I was able to learn so much and really grow professionally—it was the perfect first job.
During my years there, I was also able to volunteer during lunchtime every week reading with a student at an inner-city elementary school. Mentoring and reading with the same little boy every week was the highlight of my six years in D.C., and I am grateful that I was able to mentor him from 1st grade through 6th grade! I ended up working for the non-profit that I originally volunteered with, and I was at that job for my other three years in D.C. managing mentoring programs in several schools around the city.
What are some valuable life lessons you learned while working for non-profits in D.C.?
I feel like my six years in D.C. really helped mold me into the adult and the professional that I am now. I learned how to work really hard, how to be a reliable and innovative employee, and how to be a confident, kind manager and leader. D.C. is a city filled with people climbing the corporate ladder, and I think I was able to be successful and accomplished without sacrificing my ideals, values, and social life.
I learned that you can survive on a non-profit salary in an expensive city and have fun doing it! Budgeting is huge, and learning early on how to live on less than what I made ultimately set me up for the opportunity to take my wedding planning and design business full-time. I learned just how much red tape and bureaucracy there is when you work for the government, especially the federal government!
I learned that asking questions is not a sign of weakness but rather a sign that you are insightful, forward thinking, and a deep thinker.
I learned that asking questions is not a sign of weakness but rather a sign that you are insightful, forward thinking, and a deep thinker. I used to never ask questions and tried to figure everything out on my own, but my first boss in D.C. was wise enough to show that asking questions is actually a good thing! I definitely learned just how true this was once I started managing a team—asking questions, more often than not, is mutually beneficial and leads to clearer, more focused results.
Happy hours are everything in D.C., and it’s amazing just how many connections, friendships, and networking can take place over a drink or two. I feel like I was able to learn so much throughout my six years in D.C., both at work and outside of work, and I’m deeply grateful for the ways in which I grew during my time there!
When did you know you wanted to switch directions and focus of wedding planning and design?
I don’t think I ever pictured that I’d working in weddings until a couple years ago. I went to undergrad at UNC Chapel Hill and graduated with a double major in psychology and sociology, and I had planned on going to graduate school in my late twenties to get my master’s in social work.
I have always read lots of wedding magazines and blogs, but it wasn’t until a few years ago that I really grew to love weddings—and I’ve always just loved love and celebrating life and joy. One particular wedding magazine, Southern Weddings, was where I had long wanted to work, and I figured that starting a blog that focused on weddings (and lifestyle) would be a good way to get even more connected to the wedding industry. The culture, the mission, the brand, and the aesthetic of Southern Weddings really spoke to my heart on so many levels.
I followed a lot of wedding blogs and social media accounts and I realized over time how much I really loved every aspect of weddings. I also attended roughly thirty weddings in a three-year window of time (I am from the South, after all!). I had ten weddings, nine bridal showers, eight bachelorette parties, and six engagement parties in a six month window, which was crazy with tons of traveling, but it was so fun!
I never once was annoyed or overwhelmed with the amount of wedding-related festivities in my life, and I threw so many of those showers and helped in little ways at the weddings. It was around then that friends and family—everyone I knew, essentially—kept telling me how talented and skilled at this I was, and why wasn’t I planning weddings yet? It truly was the constant support and encouragement from my family and friends that got me to even consider planning weddings.
It truly was the constant support and encouragement from my family and friends that got me to even consider planning weddings.
I had a few close friends who were either recently engaged or knew they’d be getting married soon, and they assured me that they really wanted me to plan and design their weddings. I’m forever grateful to those close friends who let me plan and design their weddings with zero actual experience besides being a bridesmaid and a wedding guest dozens of times, having a good design eye, loving weddings, and being incredibly organized! Their trust and confidence in me meant the world and that’s how I got started.
Tell us about the process behind starting your own business. What were some of the challenges you faced?
I launched Stephanie Scholl Events in January 2014 and my friends in D.C. celebrated by throwing me the sweetest and most thoughtful launch party! For the first year, though, it was very much a side business. I thought through the very basic details of starting my own business, whipped up an awesome logo in Microsoft Word (thankfully my current logo is much more official and oh so gorgeous!), and just dove right in.
I never really thought that Stephanie Scholl Events would become my full-time job until about a year into doing it. For the first year, I didn’t marketed myself or advertise, and I was astounded (and thankful!) at the number of brides that hired me to plan their weddings! That first year, my clients were mostly friends and friends of friends, and it was the perfect start for a growing business. Like I said, it wasn’t really my intention to make Stephanie Scholl Events my full-time business, but I’m so grateful that it worked out that way.
I very clearly remembering calling my parents in the middle of the work day around Easter of 2015 and I told them that I was going to take my business full-time! It was a culmination of several factors, and the thought of it just made me joyful and excited! A lot of behind-the-scenes preparation began (including saving half of my paycheck), as I wanted to finish out the school year with my non-profit job and get things in order for my business.
It was also time to move back down to North Carolina, as I had been wanting to move away from D.C. for about a year or so. I absolutely loved living in D.C., and I am so thankful for six amazing years, but it’s such a transient city, and the traffic and cost of living are a bit ridiculous!
I wanted to be a little closer to home (which is Charlotte, North Carolina), have a lower cost of living, and be back down South. Raleigh is also a huge hub of the wedding industry, and I thought business would flourish there. It was definitely challenging figuring out the financial part of it, determining just how to make my budget stretch, and how to prioritize—especially all on my own!
I pinch myself every single day that this is really my job.
It’s been such a fun and amazing journey, especially since taking my business full-time in July and moving in August. I’ve been full-time as a wedding planner and designer for just a few months, and I pinch myself every single day that this is really my job. I’ve been able to connect with so many talented individuals and companies, have had doors open that I never even imagined, work with inspiring and kind people every day, and am continuing to learn the ins and outs of owning and operating my own business.
I have to say, Instagram has been a game-changer for my business and getting connected so quickly. It’s only been a few months, but I feel like I’m exactly where I should be doing what I should be doing.
What has been your favorite event you’ve worked on so far?
Can I say all of the weddings I’ve had the pleasure of planning and executing? I have the world’s best brides and grooms, and it’s always such an honor to bring their vision to life on their wedding day! I really, really love all of my styled shoot days and wedding days—the energy and joy is infectious!
How did your move from D.C. to Raleigh affect your business?
Moving to a new city can be daunting for anyone, especially if you’re relocating your own small business and establishing yourself in a new city! It’s been a whirlwind couple months, but it’s also been the most fulfilling, affirming, and fun time filled with more opportunities and exciting ventures than I ever dreamed possible. And I am so grateful! Often times, the things that take the most hard work end up having the most rewarding and amazing outcomes, and moving my business to a new city is no exception.
Often times, the things that take the most hard work end up having the most rewarding and amazing outcomes, and moving my business to a new city is no exception.
One of my biggest tips for establishing your business in a new city is to let people and vendors in that city know that you’re moving there! I had known for at least six months before the move that I was definitely moving to the Triangle of North Carolina, though I couldn’t share it publicly (I wanted to finish out the school year with my full-time job!). I went to undergrad in Chapel Hill, so I knew a few people in the Triangle area already (and social media has helped a ton!). In that time, though, I made sure that friends and acquaintances knew that I was moving and would be taking my wedding planning and design business full time. And as soon as I put in my two weeks notice in July, I shared the news on all forms of social media.
When I moved here, I honestly felt like I knew so many people already and have since connected with dozens of others. For the creative and wedding industries, I think that Instagram is a game changer. I’ve talked to dozens of friends and vendors in the last few months about just how much of an impact social media—particularly Instagram—can have, and I can firsthand say that it has changed my business. Organically growing a social media presence and authentically connecting with others can bring in countless opportunities and exciting ventures, and I can sincerely attest to that. I have had several premiere wedding venues reach out to me because they’ve loved my Instagram feed and wedding and design skills I’ve showcased there, and they have asked me to be a preferred vendor or have already started recommending brides to me.
Brides, my clients, have reached out to me and hired me because of my social media presence. It’s humbling and exciting! Being able to beautifully reflect my brand and my style in an Instagram feed has really established me even before moving here, and I’ve continued to try to ensure that what I post is consistent with my brand, especially since I’m a wedding planner and designer. Be sure to get to know people in your industry genuinely, and not just for the sake of networking! I’m a definite extrovert and love meeting new people- authentic relationships are very important to me.
I’ve been able to do several styled shoots since moving here, and almost every single vendor I’ve had the privilege of working with has also become an immediate friend in real life, too. When you genuinely admire each each other’s work and enjoy working together, well, you know you’ve got a good thing going on!
Don’t let your fears or insecurities or the comparison game keep you from meeting new people, asking to collaborate, growing your business, or establishing yourself in a new city! It’s been the most liberating and fun couple months filled with countless “pinch-me” moments, and I have loved diving right into my new city. I’ve never felt more affirmed that I’m where I’m supposed to be, doing what I’m supposed to be doing. Building genuine relationships, looking for ways to authentically collaborate, and sharing your story and your heart for your business are some of the best ways I can wholeheartedly suggest for establishing your business in a new city.
What does a typical day look like for you?
Now that I work for myself and work from home, no day is ever the same! I absolutely love that, and the flexibility is what I had been craving. I’m really organized and am a big fan of goal setting and having a great morning routine to start my day off in the best way. I am constantly writing to-do lists (pen and paper ones!), and when I’m wrapping up my work day, I write out my to-do list, notes, and reminders for the next day so that I can brain dump and start my day off feeling like I know what’s coming.
I always have my calendar open on my desk as I’m constantly scheduling meetings, appointments, coffee dates, prepping for weddings and styled shoots, and everything outside of work! I love being busy, so I really thrive off of a full calendar.
I love being busy, so I really thrive off of a full calendar.
Some days I’m browsing wedding dresses, shopping for props for a styled shoot, working on a calligraphy order, designing florals for my brides, checking out new venues, and going to cake tastings. And some days I’m working fifteen straight hours at a wedding to pull off the most magical day! Other days, I’m on-site at a styled shoot I designed and making sure the photo shoot comes together perfectly.
Of course, it’s not always glamorous, and there are plenty of hours typing away emails at my computer, working on the business side of my business, creating timelines and contracts and seating charts, and so much more. I think that’s the fun thing about working for myself now: No day is ever the same! I also manage the social media for a prominent wedding magazine, so I’m posting to several avenues of social media multiple times a day—that keeps me working from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. every workday!
You live right down the road from where you attended school! Tell us a bit about your neighborhood.
I live in Raleigh, North Carolina, which is part of the Triangle—consisting of Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill. Despite going to undergrad in Chapel Hill, which is just down the road, I feel like I’m in a whole new city with so many people to meet, hidden gems to explore, adventures to go on, and restaurants to try.
I live in a quiet neighborhood and am fortunate enough to be a quick walk from my favorite local coffee shop, an amazing Mexican restaurant (hello, margs!), and some other cute shops and stores. There are great lakes and trails nearby, and I love getting outside for a run or a walk.
I love that this area is so much quieter than where I lived in D.C., but it still has a lot of charm, is so convenient, and provides so many fun things in close proximity. It was the change of pace I was looking for, and I’m grateful to be here! It’s also helpful that many of my closest friends live within five minutes of me, and I love that Chapel Hill, my beloved alma mater, is just a quick drive away.
What were you looking for in a home and how did you decide on this one?
As much as I had idealized owning my home, it’s definitely not the right fit for me right now so renting is the perfect option. I just moved to a new state and took my own business full-time, so it kind of came down to that decision: Buy a home or work for myself. I know I made the right decision for this stage in my life!
I love the convenience and ease of living in an apartment and not having to deal with everything that comes with home owning! I am not good at fixing things around the house, and I would have realistically been in over my head if I owned a house. And, for the first time, I have my very own place.
I have loved transforming my beloved apartment into a home.
I’m so grateful to live where I do, decorate exactly how I want, host and entertain as much as I want (often!), and to have two bedrooms (guestroom and home office). As soon as I saw my apartment in person, I knew it was the perfect one for me: central location, a great price, two bedrooms, vaulted ceilings, a unique and spacious layout, a garden bathtub, and pretty outdoor space. Over the last couple months, I have loved transforming my beloved apartment into a home!
How would you describe your personal decorating style?
I have always loved decorating and design, and it’s fun seeing how my style has both remained the same yet evolved over the years. I am inspired by Southern touches, hospitality, comfort, and classic touches with plenty of pops of color and an abundance of natural light and airy touches. As much as I sometimes would like to decorate in only neutrals, color has my heart! I think anyone who knows me personally would say that my home accurately reflects my personality and my aesthetic.
I love lots of white and gray, heavily accented with navy, coral, pink, green, and teals. Bringing in natural greenery and plants add a layer of depth, though I often kill all the plants I own! I like to layer plenty of natural textures and add interest in the details.
As a wedding planner and stylist, I have a lot of pretty props and decor, and I infuse them throughout my home. I love that I now have the space to showcase all of my pretty glassware, my great grandmother’s white and gold china, special pieces that have been passed down, favorite finds from antique hunting with my mom, and all of my beloved books.
I really love to travel, and I’ve incorporated plenty of oil paintings from my time in Greece and abroad around my home. One of my favorite things to do is to pick out souvenirs when I’m traveling, no matter where I go. And I also love displaying beautiful images of my family and friends, as well as inspiring verses and quotes. I’m definitely a Southern girl, so there are lots of Southern touches all around my home.
Ultimately though, as much as I love living in a beautiful, inspiring home, I want to ensure that anyone who enters my home feels loved, welcome, and cared for! Hospitality and acting as a hostess are a huge part of my heart, and I simply love opening my home to others. I always hope that how I decorate reflects the true heart of my home!
Did you decorate on a budget? Where are some of your favorite places for shop for furniture and home decor?
I definitely decorated on a budget! I owned a decent amount of furniture from my home in D.C., as I lived in a large house there, but I still needed to purchase a few new items. I wanted to take my time making some of these bigger purchases so they were thoughtful and not rushed decisions. I shopped around and planned out the aesthetic of my whole apartment before committing, which helped lessen the impulse purchases.
I get a lot of design inspiration and pick up plenty of decor at stores like Anthropologie, World Market, West Elm, antique stores, Target (killing it this season!), local boutiques and shops, and places like Homegoods. Some of my furniture is from Ikea, which has great basic furniture. I like that my home subtlety incorporates affordable Ikea furniture without looking like an Ikea catalog. My bar cart area is my very favorite Ikea piece, and I have two—one horizontal for my bar cart and one vertical for my home office. And I get the most compliments on these two areas of my home!
What is your favorite part about your home?
Is it cheesy to say that my favorite part of my home is the people who fill it? It may sound cliché, but it’s so true! I love having a beautiful and functional office of my own, I love the natural light and big windows, and I love my styled bar cart area, but I really just love opening my doors and filling my home with friends and family. To me, that’s what makes it a home: sharing life, meals, and conversations together. A welcoming, hospitable, restful place for family and friends to enjoy together.
I absolutely love being a hostess, and as much as I love using beautiful decor and entertaining pieces, it’s really about the heart behind my home. Ultimately, I care much more about how people feel in my home than how it looks (though I love for it to look beautiful and pulled together!).
What piece of advice would you give your 23-year-old self?
I’d tell her that it’s OK to follow her passions (like weddings), even if it doesn’t seem like a traditional or safe career path. To find joy and beauty in the everyday. To not take life quite so seriously and to step outside of her comfort zone more. To begin right now and to stay curious. To be grateful for everything.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
As much as I am a planner and have my days, weeks, and months planned out far in advance, I’ve never been a huge fan of this question! I have big dreams and big goals, but I also love the fact that we have no idea what will actually happen in the future, near or far.
I love trusting that there is a better plan for my life than the one I have for myself, though I definitely take action and have goals to get me in the direction I think I want to go! I’d love to be married and head over heels in love, living in an adorable cottage in the South, traveling often, and owning a thriving, intentional wedding planning, design, and styling business. Ultimately, I hope that five years from now, I’ll have inspired others in some way and brought more beauty, joy, and love into the world.
Stephanie Scholl is The Everygirl…
Wine, cheese tray, desserts, and The Bachelor with my friends.
Santorini, Greece—where I studied abroad!
If you could have lunch with one woman, who would it be and what would you order?
This question is so hard! Either Kate Middleton (we’d go to a winery and enjoy wine & cheese), Elizabeth Gilbert (we’d lunch in Italy and gorge on pizza & gelato), or my sister (who’s my very best friend and lives in NYC—we’d dine on Mexican food and margaritas!).
Tufted ottoman, Target
Mercury glass lamp, Homegoods
Gold tray, Target
Gold mirrored table, World Market
Gallery wall, Lara Casey Shop, Southern Weddings Shop, Seeking Joy Etsy
Books, Rifle Paper Co., local book sales, family heirlooms
TV stand, Target
Woven mirror, TJ Maxx
Tufted side chair, Homegoods
Brass candlesticks, Gibson Mill Antiques
Plant, Home Depot
Bar cart display, Ikea
Gold mirror, SuzAnna’s Antiques
Glass decanters, Crate and Barrel
Glass candlesticks, Gibson Mill Antiques
China and silverware, family heirlooms
Pink glassware, Gibson Mill Antiques
Gold glasses, C. Wonder
Oh Happy Day print, Southern Weddings Shop
Table, handmade by grandfather
Glass window, Gibson Mill Antiques
Gold sconces, World Market
Plant, Home Depot
Pineapple napkin rings, C. Wonder
Pink glassware, Gibson Mill Antiques
Silverware, family heirloom
Brass candlesticks, Gibson Mill Antiques
Marble and copper side table, Target
Glass shelving unit, Ikea
Globe, from childhood
Pineapple accessories, family heirlooms and Gibson Mill Antiques
Office + Guest Room
Desk, World Market
Shelving unit, Ikea
Desk chair, Target
Bulletin board, handmade
Desk accessories, Target, Homegoods, PaperSource, Anthropologie Bedspread, Ikea
Pillows, H&M Home and Target
Map of DC, PaperSource
White mirror, Target
Furniture, family heirlooms
Accessories, Anthropologie, Homegoods, Target, antique stores, family heirlooms