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Never-Cheesy Wedding DJs, 'Old World' Blacksmithing Classes, and Character Actors for Kids' Parties: 15 of America's Favorite Event Service Companies These local businesses are getting kudos from customers for offering unique, professional event experiences.

By Entrepreneur Staff Edited by Frances Dodds

This story appears in the July 2023 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Courtesy of Liz D. | Yelp
Inside of Lawless Forge in Seattle, WA

Entrepreneur asked Yelp to dig into its data, to reveal which ones America loved the most. Together we created America's Favorite Mom & Pop Shops™, a list of 150 local, independently owned and operated businesses across 10 categories — including, yes, event planning and services.

To see every category, as well as the methodology behind the list, click here. Below are the 15 companies included in the event planning and services category.

Note: Some businesses may have multiple locations. Only one location is listed for each.

1. Flair Boston

Boston, MA

Company website | Yelp page

Brides and bridesmaids in Boston have been served by Flair Boston for the past 20 years. The shop prides itself on originality and affordability, guiding the wedding party through the process of selecting the perfect attire for that big day. You won't find a bridesmaid dress in the store more expensive than $325, and every bridal gown comes in at under $3,000.

Located in a charming building in Boston's Back Bay area, the shop is divided into sections to give patrons a private shopping experience. As one reviewer noted on Yelp, "The experience feels really luxurious and personal, exactly what you want when you're making a big important purchase and trying to see yourself as a bride for the first time in your life."

2. The Pure Imagination Party Company

Orange County, CA

Company website | Yelp page

For the last decade, The Pure Imagination Party Company has been providing mobile character parties to the greater Los Angeles area. But it's not limited geographically; the company will travel to any state in the country when requested.

The company has an extensive list of over 250 characters to choose from, ranging from fairytale characters to superheroes, and everything in between. Patrons often book for corporate parties, birthdays, fundraisers, holiday events and more.

The brand prides itself on quality and reliability. Every performer works as a professional actor or singer outside of company hours, and the company reports that they have never canceled a booked party.

3. Toast & Jam

Chicago, IL

Company website | Yelp page

Toast & Jam has risen to the top of a crowded marketplace to become a popular choice among wedding couples in the Chicago area. Mary Nisi founded the company with a desire to rise above the "cheesy antics and shameless self-promotion of typical wedding disc jockeys."

The company operates with a simple guiding principle — that DJs should not overshadow the bride and groom and their guests on the big day. Rather, DJs should enhance the afternoon and evening through the entertainment provided.

The company employs a variety of DJs who will guide couples through their selections in preparation for their wedding reception. As one Yelper advised, no request is too obscure, noting that "planning for the wedding was so much fun" and that the DJ of choice "understood our eclectic taste, and our obscure requests."

4. Ikaika Photography

Hanalei, HI

Company website | Yelp page

Located in one of the most beautiful places on earth, Kauai's Ikaika Photography specializes in weddings and portrait photography using the great outdoors and excellent natural lighting present on the islands of Aloha.

With nearly 20 years of professional experience, Ikaika has been pleasing customers in Hawaii by spotlighting adventure, laughter, romance and companionship. That's why the company's namesake transitioned exclusively to portrait photography in 2014. In his own words, Ikaika wanted to "capture authentic moments with wonderful individuals in amazing locations."

Patrons have been pleased; Ikaika has a five-star rating on Yelp.

5. Lawless Forge

Seattle, WA

Company website | Yelp page

Seattle's Lawless Forge allows patrons to step back into yesteryear and experience the life of a blacksmith. Located in the city's SoDo industrial district, you'll have the perfect surroundings as you experience this old-world craft in the 21st century.

Lawless Forge prides itself as a team building experience. Their three-hour blacksmithing class has been known to achieve stronger bonds and camaraderie among those who experience it — with individuals walking away shocked at how much they were able to accomplish together while learning a craft from long ago.

As one reviewer noted on Yelp, "I had never done blacksmithing before but they walk you through it and let you be creative. The whole experience was very therapeutic and lots of fun."

Related: The Majority of Small-Business Owners Rely on Word-of-Mouth Referrals. Here Are 3 Ways to Get Them.

6. Dos Chris' Bakery & Charcuteri Co.

Phoenix, AZ

Company website | Yelp page

Located in Phoenix's Uptown neighborhood, Dos Chris' prides itself on creating everything from natural ingredients, flavors and with love. The business is owned by a married couple (both named Chris) who launched this project in 2021 due to a shared love of family-owned business, baking and charcuterie.

Opening on most days at Noon, Dos Chris' likes to advertise itself as an afternoon-to-nighttime bakery with a grab-and-go atmosphere. In the company's short time, it has already garnered a loyal following (and a near unanimous five-star rating on Yelp).

"These Chrises have truly mastered the art of culinary magic. Their bakery items and charcuterie boards are so exceptional," writes Yelp user Michael F.

7. Alpacas of Oregon

Sherwood, OR

Company website | Yelp page

Alpacas of Oregon is home to a unique experience located right in the heart of wine country. For over 20 years, the Campbell family has been raising alpacas here, and they arrange for tours of their family farm and the ability to rent alpacas for gatherings. The farm boasts 40 animals year-round, with new babies joining the herd in spring and summer.

The farm features a barn store complete with alpaca products, yarn and fibers. The family also provides consulting and breeding, and customers can even purchase an alpaca of their own.

8. The Garden of Reno

Reno, NV

Company website | Yelp page

The Garden of Reno features a beautiful selection of flowers, as well as a highly rated coffee shop, all in the same place. Patrons can sit down in the shop and enjoy their freshly brewed drink and/or a bite to eat, surrounded by the floral setting, or pick up their items (food, beverages and flowers) via a drive-thru service.

As one Yelp user described it, "This quaint hideaway is everything we needed on a dreary afternoon. Cozy coffee and sweet-smelling flowers among a bounty of gorgeous floral art. Coffee bar, fresh flowers and great company made for a delightful experience."

9. Park Hill Fine Art Portraits

Fort Worth, TX

Company website | Yelp page

Park Hill Portraits was founded by Erin Potter-Seigler, a third-generation photographer. The business has been running strong now for over 12 years, specializing in heirloom quality fine art portraits.

According to the company website, Park Hill strives to "create an experience that inspires those around us to honor and love the people who mean the most."

Park HIll's reputation in the Fort Worth, Texas area is elite, coming in with a five-star average on Yelp with overwhelmingly positive reviews. As one user writes, "The images are crisp and clean and each portrait tells an amazing story of every family/couple in them! You will not be disappointed."

10. Dream Wedding

Flushing, NY

Company website | Yelp page

Dream Wedding is an all-in-one service that prides itself on making wedding planning simpler and more efficient. That's because of the wide variety of wedding packages they offer, including services such as makeup and hair, dresses and tux rental, photography, videography, limousine rental, DJ services and even photo booths.

Perhaps that's why the Flushing, New York business gets such rave reviews. As Yelp user Lynn W. notes, "If you couldn't find it at Dream Wedding, you wouldn't find it elsewhere. I highly recommend Dream Wedding."

Related: How One Family Business Stays Independent

11. River Ventures

Crystal River, FL

Company website | Yelp page

With daily tours throughout the year, River Ventures offers educational and inspirational adventures in Crystal River, Florida.

What adventures await? River Ventures offers airboat tours so customers can all kinds of wildlife up close, including alligators, dolphins, turtles, sting rays, sharks and more. They put a special emphasis on manatees, and make use of Crystal River's National Manatee Refuge. This allows visitors to see, and learn about, this gentle endangered species up close.

12. LaZoom

Asheville, NC

Company website | Yelp page

LaZoom is known for its big purple bus and hilariously funny tours. It's a unique experience, where patrons can see the sights and sounds of Asheville while enjoying laughs, booze and a good time.

The company features a city comedy tour, a haunted comedy tour, a kid's comedy tour and a band and beer bus. It was founded 15 years ago by Jim and Jen Lauzon, who were street performers at the time. LaZoom has since grown to include a legion of employees and tour buses. As one user put it on Yelp, "We laughed so hard our cheeks hurt for hours!"

13. ReWax and UnWine

Jersey City, NJ

Company website | Yelp page

ReWax and UnWine offers candle-making experiences for occasions, and has been serving New Jersey's tri-state area for the past five years — as well as customers around the world through their virtual experience.

Patrons can expect a party-like atmosphere while learning how to make candles. And there's a wide variety to choose from. Candles are created using more than 50 specific fragrances, and scents are blended with coconut wax for a one-of-a-kind candle that customers won't get anywhere else. The company also offers private label collections for businesses.

14. Shellie Ferrer Events

Park City, UT

Company website | Yelp page

If you're looking for an event coordinator in the Park City region, you'll likely hear the name Shellie Ferrer. She's a native Californian who spent time in Italy, now calls the Rocky Mountains' Wasatch Range basin home, and has made a name for herself as the woman behind the region's best events.

Renowned for her ability to draw upon the rich cultural and geographical heritage of the Park City area, Ferrer's event company has grown out of two decades of experience in the industry. And it shows. A quick glance at Yelp will reveal glowing reviews for wedding experiences, birthdays and much more.

15. Lucky Catch Cruises

Portland, ME

Company website | Yelp page

The lobster industry and Maine go hand in hand, and Lucky Catch Cruises exists to show you what that world is all about. The company showcases the daily routine of a Maine lobsterman — taking customers out on excursions on Casco Bay while also educating patrons on the marine life itself.

But customers do more than just enjoy the daily rituals of pulling up traps, catching seafood and learning about conservation. They also enjoy and experience picturesque settings, learn engaging history of the region, and maybe even spot some other marine life along the way. As Lauron T. writes on Yelp, "We absolutely recommend going out on the water with them, you won't regret it! Plus, you get amazing pictures!"

Related: 3 Steps to Becoming an Independent Professional Services Provider

Entrepreneur Staff

Entrepreneur Staff


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