Weekly Business Profile
A Celebration of Love Wedding Chapel
Type of business:
106 Wellesley SE & 3500 San Mateo NE
Albuquerque NM 87106
Number of Employees:
What was your first job?
My background is in home health care, and I spent more than 20 years in that field.
How did you get started in this business?
I like making people happy. I went to a wedding once and saw how happy the people were. Later, I saw a female officiating a wedding, and I realized there weren't enough women officiating weddings. I decided to challenge myself and become a minister, so I could officiate weddings as well.
Why did you choose this business?
In home health care, I saw people at their most somber. In weddings, I get to see people at their happiest!
What is your business philosophy?
I'm in the service industry, and my job is to give people as many options as possible … then step out of the way and do it their way.
What is your educational background?
My degree is in Sociology, which is basically what I practice as a wedding minister.
What is your or your company's greatest asset?
Happiness. I know that sounds cliché, but even the parking guy here is in a good mood during our weddings. That's because we deal in love—and you can feel it at our weddings, all the way to the parking lot.
What are your strongest business traits?
Fulfilling the clients' needs and helping make their special day even more special. This business is different from anything else I've done and we strive to make our clients happy with our services.
Why did you choose to do business in Albuquerque?
I love Albuquerque. I believe that had I been born elsewhere, I would've migrated to New Mexico. I love the diversity of cultures, and I serve that diversity. I do inter-denominational, non-denominational weddings, multi-cultural weddings, and I’ve been in the business long enough to have married three generations in some families.
What motivates you to succeed besides the desire to make money?
I truly believe that if you do what you love, the money will come.
How is operating your own business different than you expected?
I would say that record-keeping is the absolute most difficult part about running a business: paying taxes, recording expenses and all of that. We offer a good service at a very reasonable price. $200 for a wedding that includes a chapel is a very good deal. Our service is romantic and beautiful, and we take extra steps to make sure that everyone has a great time.
What significant changes have you implemented recently?
Well, I'm proud to say that we're opening up a second location. My current chapel holds up to 18. My new location will hold up to 50, and our weddings there will only be $250. It's very exciting for all of us.
What successes in the past year are you most proud of accomplishing?
I am very pleased with the growth of the business and the amount of press coverage we've received throughout the city. People know us as the "drive-up" chapel, but very few of our weddings are performed at the drive-up. Most people just want a simple ceremony for an affordable price, and we're happy to provide that service.
What do you offer that the competition doesn't?
Same day weddings and affordable weddings. There are a lot of different places to get married, but many of them have long waits and high prices. We can schedule something for people almost immediately, most of the time, and in a quaint little chapel that you can have for an hour.
How do you maintain your competitive edge?
There is no competition for precisely what we do.
How would you define your position within the marketplace or within your market segment?
I'm exclusive. There are no other wedding-exclusive chapels in the city of Albuquerque, and certainly not at the price point that we offer.
What contributions to the community (charitable or otherwise) are you most proud of?
Well, twice a year we do group weddings for free. Each year in February, we do a festival in Old Town called Amor y Mas. Last year we did walk-up weddings and group weddings for a total of 36. Our next group wedding is going to be during Summerfest in July here in Nob Hill. I also do weddings for no charge at hospitals if someone is ill.
How has the Internet affected your business and how do you think it might affect your business in the future?
It certainly makes me easier to find! If you google drive-up weddings, Vegas pops up—but so does A Celebration of Love Wedding Chapel right here in Albuquerque.
In what area of your business do you invest the most energy?
In the weddings themselves. A wedding day is the most important day of a person's life, other than the birth of their children. I need to make sure I'm on my game. Even if I've done ten weddings that day, I need to be fresh and ready, because every couple deserves that kind of attention.
If you had to choose another career or start another business what would it be?
I've arrived! This is it. When I'm eighty, I can still do this, and I can already imagine my eighty-year-old hands laying blessings on the rings for the people I marry.
What words of wisdom would you offer to someone starting their own business?
"Be realistic." 80% of all businesses fail within the first two years. Know what it's going to cost in every facet before you open your doors.
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