Ceremonies of St. John owner Stacy Mulcare works hard to prevent wedding day disasters, but when they occur she handles them with aplomb. For example, she recently planned a wedding to be held at Nazareth Lutheran Church. But the church didn’t tell her it was the same day as the Homeless Connect outreach program that occupied all of the churchyard.
“The buffet breakfast was right underneath the church window,” she said, noting that conversations could be heard inside the church.
To add to the din, the church had a stone wall under construction at the far corner of the yard. She said one of the workers repeatedly interrupted the ceremony to demand that she move her car to make way for a delivery truck.
The commotion in the churchyard as well as someone texting right in front of the church door created havoc with the photo opportunities, so Mulcare regrouped and the wedding party went to Trunk Bay for the post-wedding pictures.
Mulcare, 48, has been in the wedding planning business 25 years. After graduating from Mary Washington College in Fredericksburg, Va., with a degree in advertising and public relations, she eventually ended up working as an event planner at a country club. She said she realized she liked planning weddings best, so when she and husband Seamus Mulcare decided to make the move to St. John, she saw the potential. She opened Ceremonies of St. John in 1996. Previously, couples honeymooned on St. John after a stateside wedding, but Mulcare saw that a change was coming.
“I knew St. John would be hugely successful,” Mulcare said.
The expansion of the Internet helped because it allowed small companies like hers to compete with resorts that had traditionally captured the wedding business.
Business was initially slow in the aftermath of 1995’s Hurricane Marilyn, but it eventually picked up. Since then, the wedding business has changed. She said that in the early years, the father of the bride paid the entire tab including flights and accommodations for up to 50 guests. When the economy began to falter in 2008, that changed. Guest now pay their own way, and weddings with six to about 20 guests are the norm.
“They’re still a lot of people coming to get married, but they’re not buying all the bells and whistles,” she said.
Villa owners also wised up that weddings caused enormous wear and tear on their properties, so many won’t rent to large wedding parties.
“The constant flushing was a massive use of water,” she said, with water a precious commodity on the island.
Neighbors also didn’t want noisy weddings next door. While some villa owners still rent to larger wedding parties, she set a limit on the number of guests and how late the wedding can run. Mulcare said there are no limitations when the wedding includes only those people staying at the villa.
Mulcare organizes the entire wedding, and uses the services of the Rev. Robert Nelson of Bovoni Baptist Church on St. Thomas for couples who want an ordained minister to officiate. If they prefer a non-denominational officiant, Phil Chalker does the job.
She also organizes everything from flowers to the wedding cake with lots of other services available.
Along the way, she’s received several awards including being named in 2010 as one of the top 30 international wedding planners by “Destination Weddings and Honeymoons” magazine and the 2006 Destination Wedding Planner by the Travel Channel.
Wedding planning doesn’t leave Mulcare with much free time, but when she has some she likes to swim at Maho Bay Beach, island hop to nearby destinations and enjoy her husband’s cooking. He’s a chef who owns St. John Cakes.
As for the future, she said planning weddings was the realization of a dream but she may eventually be ready for another career.
“Now I need a new dream — and it may not be in the business of love,” she said, laughing.
Visit www.usviwedding.com or call Mulcare at 693-7362.