written by Sheila G. Miller | photography by Road 40
Pop of Joy believes that weddings are supposed to be about one thing—two people declaring their love and commitment to one another. But over the years, they’ve also morphed into focusing on other things, like twenty bridesmaids and photo booths and donut walls and sparkler sendoffs and coordinated dances and multiple dress changes. Now, Sharayah Dancer has a plan to bring the meaning back into focus with her new company, Pop of Joy. “We want to make sure to make it so easy for brides,” Dancer said. “Weddings get crazy and so stressful, and there are so many parts to weddings that people don’t understand until they start planning.” Dancer, with a business partner, used to run Blush Events, a wedding planning company in Salem. But after her business partner moved to Bend, the pair began to phase out the business and she chose to focus on Pop of Joy. Having worked in the wedding industry for about eight years, at a venue, in catering and rentals, she was well-versed in the challenges of throwing a wedding on a budget. She had personal experience, too—her budget when she got married was $3,000.
The pair found that while Blush Events was fun, it wasn’t as busy as they’d hoped—partly because Salem is simply not as affluent an area as, say, Portland or Bend. There weren’t a lot of clients interested in big-budget weddings. “I wanted to continue working in the wedding industry, and I wanted to find a way to make affordable weddings for brides, especially in this area,” Dancer said. “Most of my brides, when I worked at Blush, their budget was about $25,000. It’s just so hard to find affordable vendors, and I really wanted to be able to give them something that was beautiful but still affordable.” So she used her connections. Dancer, who owns the company with her husband, relied on mentors in the industry, and reached out to inexpensive vendors she’d cultivated over the years. For example, she works with For the Love of Pete, a Salem company that provides reasonably priced rentals for weddings and other celebrations.
“We contacted some vendors and people were really excited to get on board,” she said. “ They feel the same way that I do, they all want to be able to provide affordable weddings to brides.” The average couple coming to Pop of Joy has a budget between $2,500 and $3,000. “ They’re looking for something that’s a bit more simple than a traditional wedding,” she said. “ They’re more casual.” Dancer calls it “semi-all inclusive,” as in, you provide the venue, we’ll provide the rest. There are three package options, all designed for twenty-four people to attend—more people means more money. The first package, $600, for a two-hour ceremony and reception, includes an officiant, twenty-four chairs, an arch to get married under, a table for cake and drinks, and the setup and takedown of the event. More time can also be arranged for a higher cost. The second package, $1,700, adds in florals including a bouquet and boutonniere, a cake with plates and utensils, napkins, champagne flutes, sparkling cider, bottled water and trash and recycling. The most robust package, $2,500, includes a photographer. Couples pick flowers and cake flavors. “We wanted to make sure we were going to be affordable for all budgets,” Dancer said.
We want to make sure to make it so easy for brides. Weddings get crazy and so stressful, and there are so many parts to weddings that people don’t understand until they start planning.
— Sharayah Dancer, of Pop of Joy
“We realized that some brides have family members to help out, who want to bake a cake, or brides want to go to the Saturday Market and pick up their own flowers. So we want to provide the important basics. “Everyone wants to do something different, so it’s fully customizable.” The company is currently planning a wedding on the beach in Gearhart. “A lot of brides want to get married on the beach but they don’t quite know how to do it, how to get that setup,” Dancer said. “Plus, there are very few vendors there.” For now, the couple picks the venue—often a friend or family member’s backyard or a park—and she brings the wedding to them. Eventually, she hopes to have her own small venue in the Salem area. “Something really beautiful, small and simple and with lots of natural light,” Dancer said. “ That’s extremely difficult to find in this area. We want to provide not just weddings but also do other types of events, parties and bridal showers.” In the end, Dancer said, couples will have saved money and had a beautiful day. “People can use the money for a house down payment instead of on one day.”