Listen to the Podcast About Cheri Couture Events

Podcast for Cheri Couture Events

Podcast Summary

In a recent engaging interview with Andrew Dethloff, Ann Francis, the creative force behind Cheri Couture Events, an all-inclusive event planning service based in Texas, discusses her journey in the industry. Having moved from Egypt to the USA for education when she was 18, Ann’s passion for event planning inspired her to kickstart Cheri Couture Events in January 2023.

Coupling her skills gained from graphic design and digital marketing studies, she aimed to help clients bring their special day to life, emphasizing a budget-friendly approach. This year, she has emphasized honing the focus of Cheri Couture Events on weddings to make every bride’s special day as stress-free as possible.

Ann’s transition from full-time college student to a burgeoning business owner has an interesting trajectory. Despite maintaining various part-time jobs during her college years, her love for event planning and support from her partner led her to go all-in on her passion and launch her business.

Discussing the trends in the wedding and event industry, Ann notes a move toward simplicity and timeless elegance. She mentions the fading trend of extravagant centerpieces that dominated 2018 and observes an emerging trend in 2024 for simple, mismatched florals supplemented with candles. This shift toward vintage and timeless aesthetics signifies a changing preference in the wedding industry.

This interview offers a compelling look into how Ann Francis and Cheri Couture Events continue to rise in prominence in the event planning industry, positioning them as an affordable, yet stylish solution for wedding planning needs.

Learn more about Cheri Couture Events

This interview was provided by Felix and Fingers Dueling Pianos

Podcast Transcript

Andrew (00:24)
Okay. Hey everybody. We’re here talking with Ann Francis of Cheri Couture Events at Alevic, Texas. How’s it going Ann?

Ann Francis (00:30)
It’s going well, how are you?

Andrew (00:32)
Doing good. We’re glad you’re here. so we’re just trying to work together all about supporting each other, build some good content, get your, your name out there and, you know, for people that are looking for event planning services. so you guys are really kind of a one -stop shop for all things, kind of wedding and event related. so tell me about yourself and about your business.

Ann Francis (00:43)

So my name is Ann. I grew up in Egypt. I came to the US for basically for school. I met my partner and we started sharing couture together. I’ve always had a passion for events and for weddings and having like bringing someone’s big day to life. So I went to school for graphic design and then switched that to digital marketing.

And then I did absolutely nothing with that other than try to apply it for my business. But yeah, I started Cheri Couture in January of 2023. We did a lot of like mixed events last year. And then this year we’ve just been focusing on weddings and kind of like helping every bride stick with their budget. So we’re definitely budget friendly. But yeah, it’s just to help them bring their day to life as stress free as possible.

Andrew (01:48)
Got you. Cool. So what age did you move to the US from Egypt? Did you move straight to Texas or did you live elsewhere?

Ann Francis (01:54)
Yep. Yeah, I went from Egypt to Lubbock, Texas at 18. Actually, I was like two days after I turned 18. Yeah.

Andrew (02:03)
Wow. Okay. So I, I expected a moved here, very young sort of story, but you, you actually grew up in Egypt. That’s awesome. so. I mean, you kind of explained what got you started, but did you, you went to school for graphic design. So did you, you said you didn’t do much with that. So did you leave another job at some point? You started this business recently. So have you always been involved in event planning or did you leave another job or industry to, to kind of step into it full time?

Ann Francis (02:08)

So I was just doing like small jobs throughout college Because I was a full -time college student, so I like babysat or I worked like part -time jobs You know, but it was never like a full -time career that I wanted or that I jumped in before wedding planning I’ve always been interested in Wedding planning and I’ve always had a passion for it. I used to coordinate events from 2018 up until

the end of 2022 where I was like, you know what? No, I actually want to go full in. I want to start this. My partner was super supportive. So he was like, you know what? Let’s just go in and start doing it together. So.

Andrew (03:05)
Cool. Well, it sounds like it worked out. I know that, 2018 to 2023, there was a, a difficult period in the middle of that. Probably that was, you know, for, for events, all of us in the event industry had a tricky go there as, as did many other industries. But, okay, cool. So let’s talk about your experience sort of like in the wedding and event industry. So, are there any like trends that you’re seeing in the wedding event industry in your area? maybe new trends emerging, versus in 2018 or 2020. tell me about that.

Ann Francis (03:12)

That’s the truth.

So actually I remember end of 2022, beginning of 2023, I was told that trends for the end of 2023, start of 2024 was gonna like, a lot of them were gonna die out. And one of them was like the simplicity of baby breaths, florals in wedding industry and how they should just be out and stuff like that. But as we approach 2024, I’m seeing that the extravagant and huge centerpieces that used to occur back in 2018 or so,

is like slowly vanishing and the simplicity of florals with like maybe mix -match little, you know, centerpieces have been emerging with maybe candles and it’s been more of like a timeless, vintage, romantic feel than a, let me try to make a wedding that looks $100 ,000 worth. So.

Andrew (04:27)
Right. And it’s, it’s interesting you say that because a lot of, event planners and companies we talked to have, have similar things to say, about sort of the, maybe it’s the age group or the demographic that’s sort of moving into their, their wedding, you know, sort of window or years, but, yeah, simplifying and sort of choosing non -traditional alternatives, seems to becoming sort of the tradition almost. so I, I’ve seen the same thing for sure. That’s similar with us. not everybody has doing pianos at their wedding, but it’s becoming more of a.

A fun sort of third option, you know, wedding bands and DJs are traditional, but, so we play a lot of weddings. I think we’re brides and, and, the planners and everybody involved is looking for something sort of, non -traditional. okay, cool. So this is a fun one. This is a fun question. I like to ask. so what are some things that couples should never ever do cringe worthy things that you hate seeing at your events and you don’t have to name any names or anything like that, of course, but you know, everybody has some, so what would you say?

Ann Francis (05:09)
I agree.


I definitely say when the couple gets excessively drunk on their wedding day because I’m like, you’re supposed to be there and enjoy your big day. So I don’t correlate getting drunk like with enjoying my day that or when the couple allows other couples to propose on their big day. I cannot stand them.

Andrew (05:33)
Mm -hmm.

that’s a new one. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that or heard that one. So basically somebody piggybacking off of somebody else’s wedding and some sort of romantic setting to have other somebody else. I’ve never seen or even heard of that I can. But already I can I feel I agree with you. It’s it is that’s a little cringy for sure. Just the concept alone. And yes, getting super super drunk on your day. I want to say unfortunately, I probably see that more often than I don’t see that.

Ann Francis (06:02)

Andrew (06:14)
To varying degrees right but yeah, that’s that’s a that’s a surefire way to you’ve put so much time and energy and resources into it So it’s it’s difficult to you’re right. I agree with you letting it kind of slip away in that way That’s a common thread too. That’s a common one to hear Okay, so on the flip side of that, what is your favorite part of a wedding day?

Ann Francis (06:22)



My absolute favorite part.

I don’t know. I would definitely say like after the ceremony and into the grand entrance when everybody’s like, okay, it’s the start of the party. They’ve already said I do and the nerves have started to like let loose a little bit. That or if they choose something that’s like a super fun cocktail hour where all the guests are absolutely enjoying themselves.

Andrew (07:02)
So you’re saying kind of that moment where everybody has pulled off the strict scheduling sort of part and the, Rehearse bits and everybody can kind of start to unwind and, you know, undo their top button and hang out and party. Yes. Very much agreed. I’m a sucker for like the father daughter dance. I have two daughters, so it gets me every time, every time. but yeah. okay, cool. So this is a fun one too. And this might, this kind of plays into like, stepping away from some of that non -traditional stuff.

Ann Francis (07:11)


Andrew (07:30)
What’s the most like unique or fun idea you’ve seen at a recent wedding or event? I know you said you’re focusing on weddings, but you know, broad scope event as well.

Ann Francis (07:39)
Right, I’d say I’ve seen a cocktail hour game where after everybody took their photos and photography was kind of completed with their task, they had this spin the wheel game and they just spun this huge wheel and it had certain different tasks and they were like, everybody in the table gets to do something funny or I don’t know, everybody in the table takes a small shot, something like that, it’s very unique.

and it hasn’t been done frequently, so I’ve absolutely loved that one.

Andrew (08:13)
Nice. Is there like a, do you sort of suggest things like that? Or is there a, would that fall into your wheelhouse? Like he would organize that and things like that. Or is that like a, a third party vendor that comes in and has games and activities?

Ann Francis (08:25)
So we can organize it. We also have vendors for certain things that we don’t have. So with the spin the wheel, I know that my husband does, or my partner, he does a lot of, well, he’s my husband, but.

Andrew (08:37)
Both two things can be true.

Ann Francis (08:40)
But he does a lot of the building with the Cheri Couture. So he’s like, if anything needs to be built, like backdrops or anything like that, he’ll do that. So we have a spin the wheel machine. But for example, I can’t think of it off of the top of my head, but there’s this game where it’s like a board on the floor and it’s like a little bean bag and you throw it in the hole from the opposite side. Yes, corn hole.

Andrew (09:04)
Is it? cornhole, cornhole. Yeah. Yeah.

Ann Francis (09:08)
So we have a vendor that provides that and we just had it at our wedding this past weekend and all the guests had such an awesome time outside while the bride and the groom and their bridal party was like aside taking their photos. So.

Andrew (09:22)
Yeah. Cornhole is a big thing in a, in Texas. Any of our, our, other part of the country counterparts may not know what that is, but you can go look it up. If I try to explain it, I’ve tried before it, it sounds so simple. Like you just throw a bean bag in a hole. It’s like, guess what? Kind of what you just described. but it’s super fun and it’s super popular around here. So, okay, cool. So, tell us a little bit about what makes your service unique. I know you kind of explained some of the stuff you shared with me before the session, but, you know, what, what is it about?

Ann Francis (09:37)

Andrew (09:51)
your service that is unique or sort of special.

Ann Francis (09:54)
I definitely say that it helps a lot of brides as far as I’ve heard from like feedback from all of my clients so far. It has helped a lot of brides that our business has a lot of what they need from their big day in one company. And it kind of like, because we have bundle packages and stuff like that, it allows them to save money in a lot of areas. And instead of going to like four different businesses to find, let’s say a backdrop or.

balloon garlands or centerpieces or floral rentals, we have all of that. Then to add to it, we have close connections to certain companies that we collab with. So as an example, we’ve recently collabed with Hilton Hotels. So anytime our couples want to book for a hotel, we get one of the best rates in the DFW area or San Antonio area as an example.

and it allows the bride and groom to get however rooms blocked or if it’s just for them after the wedding that also has a special rate so it helps them a lot and plus our coordinating and our planning business.

Andrew (11:08)
Yeah. Yeah. That’s, that was a, what I saw our gleaned, it was unique for you guys is you’re very much a one -stop shop, which is a very powerful tool for brides and grooms. If they’re trying to, they have no idea what they’re doing. They’re trying to string things together. And the more, as I’m sure, you know, the more hands sort of in the pot, the more things you have to juggle. So that’s a powerful tool for sure. Great. So you said you, so you had your degree in graphic design. You moved here from Egypt at 18.

and you, is your husband full on and into the company and event planning as well as you full time as well.

Ann Francis (11:42)
so yes and no. Yes, in terms of every event that we’ve had, he’s all, he’s like my right hand man. we have two coordinating teams and then we have, like team members that are like, if we need extra hands on board or a photographer and videographer type. but he does it outside of work and he works as a digital marketer. So he also helps with all of the marketing for CC and yeah.

And, but other than that, yeah, I would say he’s definitely fully in because he creates his schedule around Cheri Couture, if that makes sense.

Andrew (12:22)

Yeah, sure. so having, two different coordination teams and different staff members and, and I was sort of a whole, collection of people working as a team. I imagine when you started in 2018, you were not quite at that level just yet.

Ann Francis (12:37)
No. When I started in 2018, it was just me helping and assisting other weddings.

Andrew (12:38)

Right. so if you had any advice to give to somebody at that level that wants to start their own company, maybe they just started, maybe they are doing it on the side and they, and they want to commit full time, kind of like you’re talking to, or you did, or you’re talking about, but they have reservations. what advice would you give either to that person or maybe you, maybe you have 2018 version of you or 2017 version of you. what advice would you give?

Ann Francis (13:06)
I would definitely like I’ve heard a lot of small businesses that have been wanting to start within wedding planning and event planning and they’ve always been like putting themselves kind of like on hold like they were too scared because they felt like the commitment of being responsible of another couple’s big day is like a big load so my recommendation would be definitely shadow as many wedding planners as you can.

be the right hand man or right hand woman. Be there, watch, take notes if you wanna sit with them separately, like excluding a big day and kind of like ask as many questions as you need. I would definitely 100 % recommend that. I mean, other than that, I would say just jump in, start small, build inventory if you want to. You’re not obligated to if you don’t want to. I’ve seen a lot of wedding businesses that don’t.

want to do decor or wedding like rentals, that’s totally fine and it’s still a very successful business whether you choose to or not. So I think that would be my number one advice.

Andrew (14:16)
Nice. Yeah, it’s sometimes it’s one of those things that, as with many things, it seems like it’s, it would be impossible or you can’t just commit to something like that or step away. I spoke to somebody last week that was, she quit her job as a full -time nurse to just go in on event planning, which is, you know, we talked about similar things. It’s, it seems like it’s impossible to step into something like that, that there’s gotta be a catch and it’s hard work for sure. but you know, if you go about it, kind of like you’re talking about, it’s, it’s, it’s absolutely possible.

Okay, cool. So let’s get into some of the logistical details of your business for anybody that might be listening. So tell me about your available availability and flexibility. So how’s your current availability? How far in advance do you book? How far in advance are you booked?

Ann Francis (15:00)
So to use this exact period as an example, surprisingly, I’m pretty slow May and June, yeah, May and June, which I was told by multiple wedding planners that they’re very, very booked during this time. So I thought it was super weird, but we’ve already started booking into 2025 because the April, March and April season is very much like very busy with Cheri Couture and weddings.

In terms of flexibility, we’re very flexible. We’ll always try to work with the clients that we have because our goal is to help them out as much as possible. So if we’re not booked, we have, or sorry, if we are booked, we have a second team that can help out and they can go and coordinate. So we are maxed out two weddings per date, if that makes sense. Yeah.

Andrew (15:53)
Gotcha. That totally makes sense. Yeah. The, the tech Texas heat plays a big role in some of those, the wedding times and the peak seasons for sure. So, what you’re talking about. okay. How about pricing and payment? So, how does your, how do your deposits work? How does your cancellation policy work? whether it’s typical of the industry or if you have your own special sort of structure.

Ann Francis (16:03)

So our deposit works as you book your date you put a 25 % deposit that goes towards your total and we offer payment plans so they can make up to four payments just as long as the whatever leftover balance is paid off about two weeks before the big day and as far as cancellation policies our deposits are non -refundable just to book their date and start planning.

whether it’s talking to vendors, whether it’s starting to create a vendor contact form in terms of our day of coordination packages. So we definitely start working right as they book with us. So our deposits are non -refundable. The only time they are refundable is if something were to happen and we weren’t to fulfill our duties, which we pray that we never have to go through that. But yeah.

Andrew (17:07)
Sure. Yeah, absolutely. so in an event, I know you said you have two, two teams, right? So are you always leading one of those teams or do you have two team leaders? Would you be the main point of contact prior to the event or would you assign, you have a team leader assigned, and then you kind of oversee or how does that work?

Ann Francis (17:26)
So I’m always the point of contact. Whoever books with us, they go through our HoneyBook system because our website is under construction right now. So they go on our HoneyBook link and they fill in an inquiry form and then I reach out to them. I communicate with them, I meet with them, and then after our first free consultation, if they decide to book with us, I’m usually the main team lead. If I’m booked,

that day, then our second team lead comes in, he meets with them, and he starts the process with them and he basically takes over. I try to still be involved because I love making connections with all of my clients. I love talking to everybody. So I still want them to feel like they’re safe and that they know for sure that everything’s gonna go as planned.

And if my second team lead needs any help or has any questions, he always has the ability to come and talk to me.

Andrew (18:24)
Nice. Yeah. It’s a, it’s a, also a powerful thing for, for brides and grooms, but you know, brides a lot of the time, to feel like there’s a real person involved and, you know, they have a personal connection and a personal sort of hand and things. so excellent. Okay. this is a good one. I think you mentioned this in sort of your, your, your info that I was able to review before the call. are there preferred vendors that you recommend and do you have any requirements? Do you require, require couples to use any preferred vendors or do you have a preferred vendors list that you share?

Ann Francis (18:54)
So I share, I have a preferred vendors list and I share them with my couples but I never require them to go through those vendors. I have, we, the vendors that I’ve chosen have started from like the most affordable startups to kind of like a very luxurious price per se. So I try my best to work with every couple and their budget and if.

the let’s say three vendors for let’s say DJ doesn’t work out and they want someone with a different style, then I start reaching out to different vendors and then if they worked out well with us for that event, I add them to the list. But they’re never obligated to just pick our list and our list alone.

Andrew (19:36)
Gotcha. Excellent. Okay, cool. Do you have any any fun, fun, funny wedding stories that you can think to share kind of your, your go to hilarious or once once in a lifetime one in a million sort of stories or things that happened in an event?

Ann Francis (19:53)
So this past weekend I had a wedding and the groom had asked me to go pick up this bag that had stuff that he wanted to like use and it was right before they were about to do the bouquet toss and garter toss and I asked him I was like are you planning something and he goes no no no everything’s gonna be okay so he goes he goes into the the groom’s suite with two of his groomsmen he comes out

Andrew (20:14)
Ha ha.

Ann Francis (20:22)
and the music is starting to play and he’s about to get on the dance floor for the garter toss. And he’s wearing this donkey costume that looks very similar to the one in Toy Story. And his two men had a blonde wig on and a shirt that said he’s mine. And so every time he would run to his bride to start with the garter toss, they would like pull him back and he was like, he’s mine. And the bride was like,

Andrew (20:27)
Mm -hmm.

Ha ha.

Ann Francis (20:51)
laughing and it made it a lot less awkward to the audience because usually garter classes are very awkward so absolutely loved that one.

Andrew (20:55)

Wow. And you had no idea they didn’t share that information with you at all. They just said, go grab this mystery bag and it’ll all be fine. I wonder if that was intentional. I wonder if they chose not to share that with you. So they didn’t have any one of those asked for forgiveness instead of permission situations.

Ann Francis (21:06)


And usually I’m like if you’re gonna throw a prank please let me know because a lot of the time the pranks don’t end up like Going the right way like there was a prank where the groom just smudged the whole cake in the bride’s face and She had put so much time on her makeup So I was like let’s not do that So I always prefer to know what the prank is just to know like to have an outside perspective that if it’s gonna mess anything up we can You know take care of it

Andrew (21:32)

Right. Yeah.

Ann Francis (21:44)
But that was definitely a forgiving one.

Andrew (21:47)
Yeah, that’s not so bad. I had one recently where we were told to stop playing because something was happening. We didn’t know what. And then the entire like groom and bride party had gone into the back and changed into like Yoshi costumes, you know, like Yoshi from Mario. Like, so we’re just sitting there playing and just doing our normal thing. Everyone’s having fun. And we were told to stop. We thought something was wrong. And then like 12 Yoshis just come out and they start playing. I think it was Gangnam style or something equally.

Ann Francis (22:03)

my god.

Andrew (22:17)
You know, aggressive and they’re just like for like 10 minutes and we’re just looking at each other like, okay, this is what’s happening here. All right. But okay, cool. Well, it’s been awesome talking to you. You can find all Ann’s information or social media event for Cheri Couture. It’s in her Instagram at CC events designs. Facebook is Cheri Couture Events. Tik Tok is at Cheri Couture, but we’ll share all that and all the links and all the business information will be listed with the episode. anything else you want to add in before we kind of sign off here?

Ann Francis (22:47)
Actually, I watched one of your videos of you playing the piano and you reminded me so much of my dad. Not age wise, but the way you play and your enthusiasm with the piano. Because my dad and my mom, they’re both music teachers. So I thought it was really cool when I watched that, yeah.

Andrew (23:00)
wow. Yeah, well thank you. I teach a little bit as well, but you know, mostly doing events and performing and stuff like that, but that’s cool. I love that personal touch. Thank you. I’m glad we had that little moment.

Ann Francis (23:12)

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