May 18, 2020
Kelli Cleveland is the event coordinating manager and wedding planner at The Court Above Main. Her organizational skills and attention to detail make her the perfect person to help you plan and execute your dream wedding! We share the same weakness of crying at all the weddings we are a part of!
Arrie Knott has recently joined the Court Above Main team and is passionate about building relationships. She wants each couple that she works with to feel like she is a friend coming alongside them to make all of their wedding dreams come true!
In this episode, you will learn more about the incredible work these two women do in order to go above and beyond for each couple they work with, why the Court Above Main is such a unique venue space, and what Kelli and Arrie are doing to help brides and grooms through the COVID-19 crisis.
Who Are You and What Is The Court Above Main?
Tell us more about yourselves- who you are, what you do, and what defines you!
K: I am the wedding coordination manager and wedding planner at the Court Above Main. We are here to help brides in any way we can. We book our venue space, help with wedding timelines, as well as offer wedding planning services. We are really here to help you in whatever you need.
A: I am an event coordinator here at the Court Above Main and the event coordinator for the La Crosse Wedding Expo. I just started here in April so I am still learning a lot! I became interested in the wedding planning industry when planning my own wedding in 2019. Working with and meeting new people is something that has always brought me joy, so I am excited to start my journey here and see where it takes me!
Can you tell us more how you evolved within your careers? How did you both get to where you are now?
K: I used to work at Howie’s in La Crosse as their manager. In the last year I worked there, we started catering. We catered an event at the Court Above Main and I fell in love with the space, so I sent an email to the gals who used to run it. I said if they ever needed help that I would love to assist if I was available, and that’s where it all started! Six months later I was working here full time learning the basics of planning and running events. Later, they asked if I would like to take it over and run the Court Above Main! I said yes and I love it because each event is different and that makes each event very exciting!
A year ago I started to take wedding planning classes in order to evolve more into the career. I graduated and just started to get into wedding planning.
A: I came here from an office administration position. I needed something that was a bit more fulfilling, since I am really social and love interacting with people. Funny story- I met Kelli at a concert last summer!! I let her know that if she had any openings I would be interested. Something came up and I started here. It was a very easy decision for me! Now I get to see couples on one of the happiest days of their lives committing their love to one another, so I am sure there are a lot of tears in my future- but happy tears!!
(Yes, Cody and I cry at every wedding!! Especially during the ceremony and listening to couples vows! We get so moved and it is such a special day to be a part of!)
What is it about being a wedding event manager that makes it the perfect job for you both?
K: I am a huge perfectionist- so every bride has that going for her! No matter the detail, we set up everything exactly as our couple’s want us to! We actually schedule an event meeting a few months before the wedding day and we talk about every single nitty gritty detail as possible because I have to know everything. Come the week of the wedding, we work off of that list so that on the wedding day the couple gets to walk into the ballroom and see everything exactly as they imagined. To me being a perfectionist isn’t always a good thing, but for our couples it is an amazing thing!
A: For me, being organized is a big thing! I like to keep people on track which is huge in this industry. I am really outgoing, social, and bubbly and a generally happy person so I like making other people happy!
If you had to pick your absolute favorite thing about working at the Court Above Main, what would it be and why?
K: I love being different- there are a lot of venues in the area but we are one of the only historic venues. It truly gives a unique feel to each wedding. I love that every day is different. Every couple’s story, their wedding and their details are never the same and I love seeing how it comes together in the end!
For anyone who hasn’t had the chance to see the Court Above Main in person, can you describe some of its qualities?
A: Our building was built in 1894. It was formerly the YWCA. After it was closed it sat vacant for almost 80 years. We took a lot of the historic pieces from the past and incorporated those into what the Court Above Main is now. It has that historic and elegant feel.
K: You can see some really cool old photos on our website, so be sure to check that out! Today, when you walk into the venue it is a very elegant feel. The ballroom itself has original hardwood floors from when the space was a basketball court for the YWCA- and that’s actually where we got our name the Court Above Main street. A lot of the pieces are original, like the windows and the balcony that overlooks the space, which all makes it unique!
A: The space also has a lot of natural light which couples enjoy!
For brides and grooms looking for a venue, what makes the Court Above Main stand out as compared to other venues in the area? Do you offer special services?
A: We really set ourselves apart from other venues simply by the work we do for our couples. Even if they only are renting the space for their day, we still have a meeting with them and we work with them to make sure it is everything that they ever imagined or dreamed of! We set up all the decorations and take them down. A lot of couples don’t truly understand what that means until the day of. At the end of the day you are tired and you don’t want to have to assign family members to take down your decorations. So we do that for them. We are here for the couple!
Also, we discuss all of the details at the venue meeting.
K: At the meeting we will discuss timeline details, vendors that you’ve booked, and how we will stay in communication. We create a setlist for the day of. We create the timeline and communicate that with all your vendors so that you don’t have to worry about that. We give parking instructions, drop off instructions, and what time to come to vendors. By working off this set list we aren’t just there to give you a space for your wedding we are there to help you coordinate your whole day and help it go as smoothly as possible.
I think this is really what sets us apart. With other venues in the area you really just rent the space and that is awesome, but we help you generate your whole day and help it go as smoothly as possible!
A: Really we just like to take the stress off of the couple’s shoulders and put it on our own! We live for that stuff! One other thing that we offer for couples is that we are attached to the Wedding Tree. We have everything from bridal gowns, bridesmaids dresses, mother’s dresses, and tuxes right here in our building. The dresses and tuxes don’t even have to leave the building, we will bring them up to the private bridal suite on the day of the wedding.
How The Court Above Main Is Assisting Couples During Covid-19
Our podcast reaches couples who are in the midst of wedding planning. During this time of worldwide pandemic, couples are having to make difficult decisions about their weddings. How has Covid-19 impacted the Court Above Main?
K: With everything going on we have unfortunately had weddings that have had to postpone. But that doesn’t mean that the wedding day won’t be just as beautiful and just as magical. Yes, a date can be significant to couples and I understand that- but the day is actually about marrying your best friend. A date doesn’t dictate the love and commitment that you are giving to one another. We are going to celebrate in another year and it will be just as beautiful and magical!
Tell us about the special services and support you are offering to couples during this time.
K: We have really been brainstorming with all of our couples. I got this idea from a post on a wedding venue forum- we are offering something called “Brews and Belles”. We are offering our space right now for groups of 10 or less to get married and have a few brews and then have their reception in the space at a later date. We just want to do all we can to help couples, so in this case the ceremony would be complimentary and free of charge because we don’t want COVID to take that celebration away from them.
A: With other couples, we have been reaching out to their vendors and coordinating. This takes a lot of stress off their shoulders as well!
What advice would you give to a couple who originally planned their wedding for this spring/ summer?
K: What I’ve been telling all of our brides is to create a “just in case” list. That means coming up with a few backup plans with a no later than date. For example, have a plan for if you are only going to have 10 people- will you only have a ceremony and then book the reception for a later date? I have been telling them all to create these back up plans so that they are prepared and not waiting until the last minute to make a backup plan.
What advice would you give to a couple who is planning for this fall?
K: I still recommend that they start to create some backup plans. It never hurts to have it ready to go and to have a plan in place if it were to happen. I would also tell them to think about what they want it to look like. If you can only have 100 guests, are you ok with that? Or do you want to postpone until a later date? Get down to what you really want. Is it a huge important factor to you to have all of your friends and family there? Or are you ok with reducing the guest list? Being prepared is never a bad thing so having those plans in place is just going to make things easier for you in the long run.
If you could give one tip to couples to help them move forward during this time, what would you say?
K: Your wedding day is truly about love and nothing can come between that. Not even a world crisis like there is now. Yes, it may turn out differently than you expected, but it doesn’t change the way you feel. The fact is that you want to marry your best friend and that is truly what it is about!
How To Get Connected
How can couples connect with you and hear more about what you are offering?
A: We are more than happy to connect and communicate with couples during this time! In our opinion compassion and communication are what stand out during trying times like these. No one planned for this to happen, so really the simplest thing we can do is be here for our couples. Whether that is running options by them, or helping them move forward with difficult decisions.
They can reach us at (608) 782-3603 or they can send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks For Tuning In
Cody was sitting next to me while we recorded this episode, and we couldn’t help but share glances with wide eyes every so often because of how much Arrie and Kelli are doing to help their couples plan and create their dream weddings! Cody was giving so many silent thumbs up when Kelli spoke about the meaning behind the wedding day, and how important it is to realize that whatever challenges you are facing during wedding planning at the end of the day you’ll be married. This is something we wholeheartedly believe and we are so happy there are other vendors out there who feel the same!
Thank you so much for listening to the More Than Marriage Podcast. If you enjoyed this episode, make sure to click subscribe! Have a great week!