Our guest is Maria Romano is the founder of trueloveknots.com. She's an ordained minister, dating coach, professional speaker, event planner, and best-selling author. In addition, she has performed over 3,000 weddings, with this she holds years of wedding and event planning experience. She offers different levels of an online dating/coaching program; besides this, she also has a course on how to become a wedding officiant.
Minnie: Welcome, Maria to our show, I am so pleased and honored to talk with you.
Maria: Oh, and thank you so much for the invite, I'm thrilled.
Minnie: You are welcome. Would you tell my audience something about yourself and the birth of trueloveknots.com?
Maria: Yeah. So, it's a very insightful question. And especially depending upon where you're at in life; I was in the rental car industry many many years, and my late husband and I, we sold that company in 2010. And it was at a time in my life where I still wanted to work, I needed to work. And I've always been an owner and entrepreneur, so I'm used to my own schedule, which is great. I went to a wedding ceremony over at the Las Vegas country club, and I saw a woman performing that, I said, "I think that would be a great type of industry to get involved in; having fun, you're making money, and you're impacting couples on one of the happiest days of their life."
So, I reached out, I started out, "Okay, I'm gonna find out how to do this." It took me time because in the state of Nevada you must be licensed, and you have to go through background checks, make sure you have a company, you're affiliated with some sort of religious organization at that time. And I went through the process, and then I got myself together, got my website, and figured, "Okay, great, my website's here, and I should be getting calls." But it didn't work that way, I had to put together a marketing kit. And I went out, and I put together a mock video on a wedding ceremony, and then I went out to all the different hotels and chapels. So, it's been almost now a 12-year journey, and close to 4,000 weddings, and it's like, "It really is not easy."
Minnie: Okay, so now you need to update your website, it says 3,000.
Maria: Right, I know. Really in Vegas because it's a large industry, we perform probably and issue close to 80,000 marriage licenses a year in Clark County alone, that's a lot of weddings when you think about it.
Minnie: Yes, it is. And I think that – is that the most favorite place for all the brides and grooms to go and get married there?
Maria: Well, it's one of – I think we represent about 5% of weddings in the United States, which is pretty large when you look at comparisons to what is offered to you. Mexico also is a great area as far as going down because they have all these resorts that are inclusive, so destination weddings are big, as well as Las Vegas is big too. So, it's all about the experience, that's what people are looking for today.
Minnie: Okay. So, with your credentials can you do a drive-thru wedding? Can you perform a drive-thru?
Maria: Well, actually I can do any type of – I am licensed in the state of Nevada, but my license also is recognized in many other states as well which is great. And probably Nevada is probably one of the most stringent because it is such a large industry, and they wanna make sure that the ministers are complying. That they're not fly-by-night because you have people that perform wedding ceremonies that never submit the paperwork, so you're not legally married. And something could come back, and there could be repercussions down the road, so it's interesting. But, yeah, I'm thrilled, I love, I love this industry.
Minnie: Good, good for you. So, tell me, your business model, how does it work?
Maria: Well, it's interesting because I have – within that business model I have a couple of different components as you all know, I guess you could say I'm in the love industry. But my business model, when you say what the business model is, is first of all I definitely market to brides and grooms that are coming in, or brides and brides, or grooms and grooms. That's the first thing, and being able to provide them with the service, and then from there I also provide other people with the service of how to officiate weddings.
And it's not a course that's just for Las Vegas, it's for anywhere, anywhere in the world and the country as long as – I just communicate by English, that's it.
So, that course you learn all the fundamental skill sets, and the skill sets are also a lot of other soft skills; how to present, how to think quickly on your feet, how to maybe deal with difficult challenging situations sometimes, so there are a lot of skills that you can learn in that side. And then on the other side, also I'm a widow, I've been a widow for almost 10 years, and when I got back in the dating world after being married for 30 – I was with my husband for 33 years married, 35 years with him – and getting back into the dating world, he passed away in 2014, I realized that there was a need. So, that's another business model component, I talk to people and provide them with information on how to get back in the dating world, but also how to be cautious. So, there are different areas that I have on my business model, but it's all love, it's all about love.
Minnie: Okay. So yeah, and as you said you are a dating coach also, tell me how that works?
Maria: Well, what I do is I like to kind of really not so much as a coach, but somebody that you can confide in because getting back in the dating world Minnie, especially when you're in your 50s and 60s and 70s and you've been in a long-term relationship, it is different today. Because years ago, we went out, right? When you're younger, we met maybe through work – which is of course still a way – you meet people while going to different events, or somebody matchmaking.
But now you have so many other online platforms that match people together because being in the wedding industry, I meet people from all over the world that have met online. Probably a good 40 to 50% of the couple's that I've married, and I'm just one minister. They meet online, and that's the difference. But you have to also understand how to put yourself online, so therefore that's what I do; I wanna make it simple, but I also want you to learn how to protect yourself as well because you've heard stories, and you just want to be aware of it. What happens is as when we get older, and all of the sudden somebody love-bombs us, and tells us all these wonderful things, so before you know it, we are sort of like hooked to somebody that might not really be beneficial for you.
Minnie: Okay. So, and I'm sure when you were looking for yourself, you saw a real need for such dating coaching for older adults, right?
Maria: Oh, I made mistakes, that's how I learned – hardcore. Yes, even when I started officiating wedding ceremonies there wasn't anybody to teach you this, I've made lots of mistakes.
Minnie: Okay, so you learned from your mistake, and just moved on. So, I'm sure you had blessings from all these people who had regained love, trust, confidence after finding their perfect partners, so I am sure of that. And one more thing I want to mention here, that I love your tagline, "Go from one to the perfect plus one," it's like so perfect for this business, it's like perfect tagline. Okay, so tell me, so you are coaching all the older adults, so if somebody who is 21 and he reaches you, would you help him or you just reserve it for people over 50?
Maria: No, no, no. I think, first of all, you know what, I think it's great when somebody realizes they need a helping hand because as being a coach, whether it's officiating weddings or helping people with getting back in the dating world, I want my long journey to be their shortcut. And that's what we talked about having those challenges, making those mistakes, but you learn from them and you're able to share that with other people. So, somebody 21, you know what I think? I think that they do need to have somebody that is a dating coach, and not necessarily someone that is their age because they still haven't gone through all of the lifetime experiences. Somebody that sits from my age, we have that experience, we have that knowledge. And as long as you're taking it because you're objectively giving them information, and they're open to it. And I think that's the key thing, you have to be open to wanting to learn.
Minnie: Right. Yeah. Yeah, because you have seen this world, you know this area, so they better take you seriously and value you, right?
Minnie: Yeah. Okay, so after dating comes wedding, which needs a lot of planning, so you again come in the picture because you are a wedding planner too, correct?
Maria: Well, I used to do some wedding planning, and I sort of – I keep it to a very minimal. And that's because there's a lot of moving components to a wedding, and I work with lots of wedding planners. And I'm also on the board of the Las Vegas Wedding Chamber of Commerce, so I get the opportunity – there is so many moving parts when you are into event planning Minnie. Understanding project management is the biggest thing for an event planner, there are lots of moving parts.
Minnie: Okay. But do you have any wedding package that you still offer, or you – ?
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