8/23/2013 1:48:00 PM Life after Graduation: Sari Lindeman
by Connie Bickman
Note: This column features "hometown folks," specifically Cannon Falls and Randolph High School graduates - of any year - and their unique or interesting careers and lives since high school. If you know of anyone you feel would make an interesting feature, email email@example.com - their email address must be included.
Sari Lindeman, Cannon Falls High School class of 2004, never expected a career could be made in the wedding and event industry.
"I didn't grow up dreaming of being a wedding planner," she said. "I guess there may have been moments, but it was never a realistic goal I set for myself. In fact, there never was a specific field I wanted to go into, or a job I had my sights set on," she admitted. "But, looking back, I can see several components that led me to finding my current career."
Commitment, dedication, responsibility and accountability are some of the values Sari feels she grew up with that have helped achieve her goals as an adult.
The daughter of Dean and Stephanie Lindeman, Cannon Falls, Sari stated, "My family always encouraged me to try something new and see where it would take me. Everything from my involvement in HS track and running track at Gustavus, to studying in Japan, and interviewing with a wedding planning company as a potential career path, has always been backed by their support and encouragement."
Sari currently lives in Minneapolis. Her brother Tim, 29, graduated from CFHS in 2003 and lives in Fresno, CA. He completed the PGA Golf Professionals program at ASU and is the head golf pro at a course in Fresno. Her brother Topher, 31, CFHS class of 2001, graduated from Syracuse University's School of Architecture and is a graphic designer for a home developer in Portland, OR, where he lives.
Sari said that the most memorable moments from growing up in Cannon Falls stem from the friendships she made in elementary school and the experiences shared with these friends throughout her school years. These friendships still continue 20 years later. She also fondly recalled track practices and track meets, as well as traveling with the humanities class to Europe.
"My path since high school has been so much more than I ever expected. The choices I've made (from deciding to run track in college to living with a Japanese-speaking host family) have all contributed to where I am now and I couldn't be happier with how I got here."
She continued, "Throughout high school and college, I found myself enjoying classes about interpersonal communications and language. After two years of studying Japanese at Gustavus, I spent a semester in Japan living with a host family. I still maintain regular communication and have a close relationship with my host family. They were instrumental in the growth I experienced during that time."
Sari graduated from Gustavus Adolphus College in 2008 with a B.A. in Communication Studies and a Minor in Japanese Studies. She admitted she wanted a set plan and a specific path to follow, but realized that wouldn't have given her the flexibility to try something new and find new passions.
"I've learned that if something seems off the beaten path or outside of my comfort zone, it could turn into a valuable experience. I left college feeling more independent and more confident, and those experiences were applicable to the job search looming ahead upon my return from Japan. I was prepared to go out on my own."
Sari currently works for Bellagala, a full-service wedding boutique, in Lowertown, St. Paul. She was hired immediately after college as a sales and events intern, and transitioned to sales coordinator and then sales manager.
When asked what she like best about her career, Sari replied, "In my job at Bellagala, the most enjoyable aspect has been seeing the impact my conversations with newly engaged couples have on their overall wedding planning experience. I'm able to help people, not only to learn what the next steps are in their wedding plans, but also knowing that they are enjoying the whole process is satisfying to me."
While Sari assists a planner at weddings a few times a season (May-October is considered wedding season), that's not part of her full-time job as a sales manager. However, she says it has benefited her position in many ways. "My role assisting definitely has helped lead to my understanding in my sales position and how all of the pre-planning efforts and decisions come into play. Perhaps more importantly, it's knowing how to prep a couple for those unexpected events."
Recalling some of the events Sari has assisted, she says that little unexpected snafus can happen - for instance: the wrong dimensions for a large scale frame to be displayed in the dining room; torches lining the driveway continually blowing out; altar floral arrangements tipping over in the wind; figuring out a rain plan last minute, only to change the entire ceremony set-up back to the original plan minutes before guests arrived, etc. She noted, "Those mishaps don't make or break a wedding. We try to keep that in perspective for the bride and groom to help make their planning experience all the more enjoyable."
Sari admits that the best days are when couples call in to say how amazing their wedding was and to thank the artists involved. "That makes the previous 6-18 months of back and forth conversation, coordination and planning all worth while."
She concludes, "The things I've learned in this job about the inner workings of sales, marketing, customer service and the back-end operations of running a small business (more so than the actual wedding itself), have been so much more than I ever expected when taking the event internship five years ago. While I might have learned these skills along the way on a different path, I'm thankful to have been involved in a creative field while doing so."