Celebrating their fifth year of personalized wedding services, White Prague Wedding Agency believes 2010 will be a prosperous one. Co-owners Eva Keilwerth and Petra Hofman met during a university course in 2004. Keilwerth had internet marketing experience, while Hofman had event management knowledge and had coordinated weddings in the past. They worked out a plan for a wedding coordinating company that was personal with great attention to detail.
“We discovered a great opportunity on the market,” says Hofman. “We wanted to be different, specialize, and remember the names of our clients. The idea stayed and developed.”
Clients at the beginning were mainly expats, Hofman explains, but thanks to word of mouth, their reputation spread and they added destination weddings into the mix. Future plans include targeting more of the local market, meaning both Czech and expat clients. Currently, about half their clients are foreign, while half are mixed with one being Czech, the other foreign.
“It was difficult in the beginning, but it was a great experience and thanks to our families for supporting us,” says Hofman. “We still have a good relationship with some of the clients, it´s so personal, it´s part of the process, clients need to feel comfortable and trust us.”
Part of the growth of the company came from their website.
“The web pages and their presentation helped,” says Keilwerth. “It´s often our first contact which is the most important. Clients can see it, feel it; they are modern and stylish.” Hofman adds that clients who have the same mood and style then choose them.
Challenges abounded in the early years; from building up their name, to setting up good relationships with the people in the government offices. Selecting vendors and developing a portfolio of suppliers was also essential in a full service agency such as theirs. Being full service means all arrangements can be handled from flowers to photography. Keilwerth says they are there from the beginning, helping the clients pick a date; choose a venue as well as an all important theme.
“It´s popular and trendy right now to have a theme, or at least a color,” says Hofman. “Winter kingdom, vintage or eco-friendly on a farm. Purple, light orange, silver and deep red are popular colors.”
Having a clientele that hails from all over the world, plus their guests, make it an interesting job to blend traditional customs brides and grooms may want to include in their ceremony. Keilwerth mentions a recent couple from South Africa they married. There it is traditional to have a big wedding with multi-day celebrations, which was replicated here. Many couples, whether they are expat or have only come to Prague to be married want to include Czech wedding traditions in their day. Hofman recalls a recent Irish wedding in which they broke a plate and swept it up, a traditional Czech custom. The agency has taken this interest and developed a new package; the Czech Wedding Experience. Here, guests can explore more of Prague with activities like an historical tram ride or boat trip. Places outside of Prague can also be visited. Hofman says with so many people traveling to Prague for a wedding, this focuses their experience during the whole stay.
Hofman believes their business model from the beginning was a crucial key to their success.
“We designed a marketing plan from the beginning, it was time consuming but a good start,” she says. “We started as business partners, but then we became friends. I think this is better than the other way around. It´s business, but personal for us; it´s in our hearts.”
Lucky for them, money doesn´t often impede true love, but even they saw glimpses of the ongoing economic crisis.
“Like in any other business we could feel the crisis a bit, but this year was amazing,” says Hofman. “There was a slight drop in international clients, but the Czech market is growing – usually they hear about us as guests at weddings we´ve coordinated.”
Looking towards their next five years, the ladies definitely know what they do and don´t want.
“Our goal is not to become a company of 100 employees, but to keep it small with the same quality and good services,” Hofman says. “We want to keep with the trends, find new venues, and are always looking for new experiences for couples. Plus, we are looking to other markets besides the UK.”
Keilwerth and Hofman often go to the UK to keep up with international wedding styles. Social networking, like Facebook and Twitter are other important marketing tools the company hopes to build on in the coming year. Getting deeper into the Czech market is another goal, with Keilwerth adding that building their name locally will help develop this segment.
With their hands-on personal approach and attention to detail, Hofman and Keilwerth feel they have built a company that fits their passion and offers clients a wedding experience to remember.