April showers bring May flowers, but they also bring the onset of wedding season. How else might you expect to find and craft the perfect bridal bouquet?
Five years ago exacting your dream posy required: a wedding planner’s expertise, clipping images and dog-earring pages, and petal to the metal trips to the florist, comparing and contrasting perennial peonies with billy buttons. (Lest you’ve forgotten, those flowers end up in every photo.)
Today, with Lover.ly, the modern bride-to-be’s must-use wedding search engine site and cloud scrapbook, developed by CEO & Founder Kellee Khalil, you can choose (aka “bundle”) your dream flowers with the click of a button.
Kellee launched the start-up in 2012 when she realized there was no well-organized or curated online space to store ideas, vendors, and retailers. So she went spelunking (or rather, spelinking) in the historically male-dominated tech space, to cull the overwhelming and disorganized data. It wasn’t too far left field. Kellee has been writing code since high school (while most of us were trying to decode what the Junior QB’s text meant).
Considering yesterday (April 9, 2013) celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Equal Pay Act of 1963, we laud Kellee for her ability to translate the feminine delicacy of The Big Day into a strong, successful, and viable business. The lipstick and the laptop might be pink, but the gusto and the hustle is color-blind. Anyone still convinced that tech means male, must have their 0 and 1 codes twisted.
We like to think of her as Cleverly, and secretly hope she’ll be our maid of honor—one day. Or at least plan the bachelorette party.
Is Lover.ly the Wedding Planner for the modern woman? Do you think the Wedding Planner will be obsolete any time soon?
Absolutely! While Lover.ly was initially built as a desktop platform, there’s no denying that life is going not just from offline to online, but from online to mobile, and we’re being very aggressive keeping up with that trend. We’re building a platform for women to plan their weddings online from start to finish – from finding inspiration, to purchasing everything they need, to finding vendors to hire. That being said, we believe there will always be a place for an actual Wedding Planner. Some brides prefer to get the guidance of an expert to plan all the details and get down the aisle! Lover.ly is a great resource not just for brides but for wedding vendors to stay informed with trends and also stay organized! We hope to transform the old school physical wedding binder to a more streamlined digital version.
While our content is beautiful and bridal focused, our back end is hardcore.
You recently re-launched the site, what brought about the change?
One of Lover.ly’s core missions is innovation. The bridal industry is ripe for disruption and we are working hard to make wedding planning easier and more fun! Whether it be design, functionality, or user experience, we are constantly striving to make Lover.ly the best platform to plan your wedding. Working with a small team is exciting because we can adapt quickly. Our product roadmap is always evolving based on our user feedback! We listen intently to our partners and users to stay on the cutting edge. Since our launch February 14th 2012, we have introduced 3 different site designs as we will continue to evolve and innovate as we grow.
What is the most unexpected aspect of working in tech? As a self-professed “data nerd” did you know anything about the back-end before your launch?
People are always surprised to hear that I coded in high school! While our computer programming curriculum was limited at my all girls high school, I won the computer software award! I’ve always been interested in how things work, what drives growth, and how design impacts user engagement. I always have my nose in our database and analytics. By focusing on data I’m able to learn from not only what our users are saying, but also what they are doing on the site! I’m involved in thinking through product, design, and even our search algorithm. It’s all part of the start-up grind.
Do you still find it to be a male-dominated space?
I do feel at times that there is a stigma of being a female CEO running a technology company. Building a product for women by women is often dismissed in the technology community as “cute and girly,” but not taken seriously! I think women have amazing insight into the needs of our peers and it’s actually a tremendous advantage. So, I’d like to clear the record. At Lover.ly we are building serious technology. Search and aggregation is a huge undertaking, and while our content is beautiful and bridal focused, our back end is hardcore.
If 2012 was the year of “rustic” themed weddings, what’s 2013 looking like? Any projections for 2014?
Lover.ly is able to track what’s trending in bridal in real time! So we have a very clear indication of what’s hot for 2013. We are seeing a return to the classic and elegant weddings – a bit more modest, a lot more lace, and much more muted colors and tones than the couple years past. Old Hollywood Glamour is currently my favorite look – it’s a bit of a cooler weather trend though so we should expect it in the fall. Right now, mint green and floral prints are also some emerging trends for spring.
As for 2014…who knows! Hopefully nothing involving vintage couches in fields. 🙂
Wedding etiquette… any big no-no’s?
With social media becoming such an integral part of our lives, people have a tendency to “over share.” If you are a guest at a wedding, think twice about posting a photo of the couple walking down the aisle in real time. Some couples are private and don’t always feel comfortable with their guests posting wedding photos and intimate moments to Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter! So before you go crazy posting photos, run it by the bride or her planner. 🙂
Tips for totally overwhelmed brides to be:
Spend a couple nights a week in the no-wedding-zone. It’s easy to get completely consumed with wedding planning. Take a couple nights where you and your fiance/ee spend time together talking about everything else in life non-wedding related. Wine helps, too. Maybe a couples bubble bath. Go nuts.
The wedding industry is a 99 billion dollar a year industry and the average wedding costs about 25k. What are some ways brides-to-be with more modest budgets can use Lover.ly?
Your wedding is your day to celebrate your LOVE and relationship. That is the first and foremost, so make sure you stay focused on the REASON for the celebration. If you are strapped for budget focus on getting a good photographer, as they can make the simplest things look beautiful. There are a number of ways to incorporate fantastic details that are affordable. Pulling in DIY elements, heirloom pieces, or even stuff you find at flea markets!
Also, a good rule of thumb is if you can’t afford a lot, focus on the surroundings. Having a wedding in a lush garden means that you don’t have to spend a lot on flowers. Hosting a wedding at a restaurant means you’re unlikely have to pay for extras like silverware, china, and linens.
The fun thing about Lover.ly is that we have a wide range of publishing partners that focus on all different kinds of weddings with different budgets…but they’re all beautiful.
What can we expect from Lover.ly this year?
We’ve got a lot in the pipeline. The Lover.ly app just launched in the App Store, so download it here!!, and plan on the go! We’re continuing to refine the sections that are live in relaunch – Explore and Shop…and we’re also focusing on building out several key sections of the site making finding video tutorials (DIY/hair and makeup) and videographers easier, and an “Ask” portal where brides can quickly find the best answers to their burning questions about wedding planning.
How do you keep up the hustle?
In a start up tech business, you have to keep setting new short term goals for yourself and your team to achieve on a daily and weekly basis, while as the founder of the company, I also have to always stay focused on the big picture vision I have for Lover.ly. That alone keeps me motivated every day. I’m also obsessed with looking at our traffic stats – yes, even at home on a Friday night. It constantly drives me, whether I’m celebrating new milestones or using what I find to outline new ways to better our user experience. It’s a constantly moving business, and that is perfect for my personality!
Favorite song to dance to when stressed?
I’m really into Justin Timberlake’s Suit and Tie track!! I love JT! 🙂
If it’s never too early for a girl to start planning, have you already plotted and curated your future wedding?
Yes, of COURSE! But I keep those bundles locked. 🙂