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New wedding planner finds pent up demand for her services

Samantha O’Donnell had been working as an interior designer for the past decade, but had long toyed with going back to her first love, event planning, and opening her own wedding planning business.

A Pennsylvania woman has found success in a new career thanks to a little good timing and help from SCORE Bucks County.

Samantha O’Donnell had been working as an interior designer for the past decade, but had long toyed with going back to her first love, event planning, and opening her own wedding planning business.

“It’s really scary to start a business, so I would always say ‘eventually I will do it,’” she said.

But when she got laid off from her interior design job in the fall, she decided the time was now and enlisted the help of SCORE, the local network of volunteer, expert business mentors, to help her begin the steps she needed to take to open her own wedding planning business, Lavish Haus, in January.

As it turns out, she couldn’t have picked a better time to get into the wedding planning business. With so many weddings postponed or put off because of the COVID-19 pandemic, there was an immediate demand for her services. Because of that demand, it’s been harder to find vendors for the dates people want for their weddings, making the use of a planner who knows people in the industry a more valuable service.

“It helps to have someone who knows the vendors that fit the needs of their budget and their style,” she said.

O’Donnell said working with SCORE mentors was a big help because they held her accountable for what she needed to be doing and gave her guidance on building her business.

She initially consulted with her mentors about launching a dual wedding planning and interior design business. After talking it through and hearing their suggestions to focus on one specialty, O’Donnell decided to do just that.

The concept worked.

So far Lavish Haus has delivered three weddings and O’Donnell has signed contracts for 10 more.

“I don’t think I realized it would be this great right away,” she said.

Lavish Haus now provides a variety of wedding planning packages and a la carte services to customers in the Lehigh Valley, as well as Bucks County, Philadelphia and Lancaster. O’Donnell’s service area is within two hours travel time from her home base of Center Valley.

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