After losing an executive assistant job more than a year ago, Kim Munsch said she had been subconsciously feeding a passion she had known about her whole life.

“I think it’s always been there in my heart and what I’ve been called to do,” Munsch said.

She had spent her career helping plan and coordinate events, so the local mother of five decided to turn that lifelong work into her own business by launching Kim Louise Designs, a wedding and event planning company.

The Chippewa Valley area wedding and event planner is part of a larger community of local wedding professionals who are connected through the Chippewa Valley Wedding Professionals. Included in the group are official newbies like Munsch and seasoned professionals of a decade or more, like the Rev. Frank Nowak and the Rev. Kaija Johnson of Awesome Wedding Events, each one ranging in specialties from venues to entertainment to planning.

Despite her business’ short tenure, planning weddings and events is not a new concept for Munsch. She has also served as a wedding coordinator for her church in Menomonie, serving as an organization point for brides and grooms.

Munsch planned and ran rehearsals, fielded questions about how to walk and stand during a ceremony, acted as an emergency seamstress for clothing emergencies and even served as a caretaker of sorts when a groomsman’s wife went into labor.

Munsch has yet to officially plan a wedding through her business, but she’s ready, prepared and willing to take on clients and weddings to help ease the stress of planning a wedding, Munsch said.

Rather than her services being categorized into packages that offer specific services, Munsch is offering her skills on a flexible basis.

Brides and grooms can have Munsch plan and assist in every detail, have her serve as a guiding voice throughout the process or having her focus on specific parts of the wedding, such as the guest list or the ceremony. Munsch added she knows her way around a craft table and can offer that expertise as well as wedding planning.

As a planner, Munsch said it’s her goal to utilize all five senses in her designs, asking herself questions, like, “Is the room silent when people walk in,” or “Are they comfortable?”

And the end result — that grand entrance into a wedding’s reception or venue — is one she is ready to share with Chippewa Valley couples to help them enjoy the day they helped plan.

“To me the biggest thing is, brides specifically, grooms, etc., get so consumed with all the planning and details that they don’t get to enjoy they day,” Munsch said. “I want them to be a guest at their own wedding. Guest of honor.”

Offering their own take and planning skills on weddings and events, Nowak and Johnson have owned and operated Awesome Wedding Events since January 2008.

The duo met at a church they previously belonged to and worked at when they were both asked to do wedding ceremonies and have since also started AWE Prayer Ministries. At the church, Nowak was on the board of directors, taught a life enhancement course and became a prayer chaplain trainer, and Johnson served as an administrative assistant, bookkeeper, store manager and a prayer chaplain.

Couples who use Awesome Wedding Events’ services are those interested in deferring away from traditional church weddings. Johnson and Nowak are both certified to perform weddings, and their services include coordination of the rehearsal and directing and officiating over ceremonies.

The ceremonies, Nowak said, still offer the spiritual component of two people becoming one without the pressures, conformity or traditionalism that can happen to couples who marry in a church or religious-based service.

“We kept finding people that were having trouble getting married in a church,” Johnson said, describing the weddings they preside over as spiritual rather than biblical.

The business partners said they have presided over services to couples who come from different religious backgrounds and couples of the same sex, both of whom could either feel uncomfortable marrying in a traditional setting or were barred from doing so due to religious practices.

With Johnson and Nowak’s abilities, the couples can still feel their spiritual and familial needs and bonds are recognized.

Serving as the ceremony director for most of the weddings the duo coordinates, Johnson said their ceremonies often utilize three components: two families uniting, the vows and a new “unit” going forward.

Couples also have the opportunity to participate in unity ceremonies — such as a candle, sand or box ceremony — which, as Nowak explained, is the first action the bride and groom do as a married couple.

And because they offer their services outside of the chapel, they travel to brides and grooms, having officiated over weddings in corn fields, barns, gardens, masonic temples, wineries and even one in a prison. That wedding, Nowak said, included a ceremony of no touching and one posed picture for the happy couple.

Weddings have also included Nowak and Johnson utilizing their more than 10 years of experience in the industry to offer brides and grooms reassurance and support on their big day.

If anything else, they’re a sure-fire officiant whose experiences will come in handy for brides and grooms looking for a personal touch without the possibility of the officiant getting nervous. Johnson encouraged couples to consider not having their family or friends marry them because of the nerves and pressure that can come from speaking in front of a crowd and marrying loved ones.

“We find they think that just anybody can do this. We don’t recommend that,” Johnson said, later adding, “give us a call. It’ll go so smooth.”

And after 10 years of making sure non-traditional weddings go smoothly, the success of one never gets old, Nowak said.

“It’s just a treat. It’s just such a happy occasion,” Nowak said. “And the look on their faces when I introduce them as Mr. and Mrs. Wonderful thing.”

Munsch can be contacted by emailing kim@kimlouisedesigns.com or by calling 715-214-2349. More information can be found at kimlouisedesigns.com. Nowak and Johnson can be contacted by emailing rev.frank@awesomeweddingevents.com or calling. 715-559-2284 More information can be found at awesomeweddingevents.com.

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