Wade Nelson, a former high school band instructor, was a client of Complete Weddings & Events before he ever became a franchise owner. Prior to buying into the wedding and special-events planning business in 1990, he hired the company to plan his own wedding. "I'm a performer at heart, and this seemed like a fun business," he said. Nelson even worked in the brand's corporate office for nine months before setting out with his own franchise, in Kansas City.
Today his business employs three full-time workers and about 35 part-time DJs, videographers and photographers, and he plans wedding receptions for roughly 550 couples annually. Although Nelson's company also handles anniversary and corporate parties, he said about 95 percent of his business comes from weddings. Beyond the usual wedding magazine advertising and bridal shows, he helps build his business by networking with other vendors — especially wedding-event venues — to gather leads.