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Aster Weddings & Events: A Marriage of Small Biz & Family Ownership

By Keyona Kelly


From left to right, Richard Pratten, Shannon Pratten, Jessica Nagy, and Steven Nagy, partners in the business, Aster Weddings & Events. (PHOTO CREDIT: Hannah Frederick (hf) Photography)

Have you ever thought of doing something that feeds your soul, allowing you to live the life you’ve always dreamed of? The owners of Aster Weddings & Events sought to create that kind of ideal lifestyle for themselves when they started to build their small business.

Shannon Pratten dreamed of working with brides and their families during what she recalls as “the happiest time of her life.” Her sister, Jessica Nagy, wanted to give couples the opportunity to create a personalized outdoor experience for a day that they would always cherish. Together, they knew that they had to make their business showcase the beauty that Skaneateles and the surrounding area had to offer.

With the support of Richard Pratten and Steven Nagy, (their husbands, business partners, and carpenters) the sisters started to plan the overall look of their event space. But they soon hit a roadblock. Although Shannon and Jessica had dedication and vision, they needed funding to get their small business off the ground.

In September 2017, they turned to the Onondaga Small Business Development Center (SBDC) for assistance. While working with me, they were able to create a business plan that clearly defined their business’s vision. From there, they created an action plan with specific strategies, market research, statistics, and financial projections. With their plan in place, Shannon and Jessica finally started to see that their daydreams were going to become a profitable reality.

With a creative combination of funding (including personal investment, loans, and credit cards) they were able to develop a breathtaking, one of a kind, outdoor seasonal event center.

Aster Weddings & Events is appropriately named after a wildflower that blooms in late-summer and early-fall, as their first wedding in the space was held in September 2018. And business keeps booming and blooming. It is completely booked for the upcoming season, and now booking into 2021, which represents a 400-percent growth rate.

This venue is situated on 3.7 acres of land, just four miles outside of the village of Skaneateles, at 2595 Benson Road. The business owners take pride in supporting the Skaneateles community as a small, family owned business. While they currently have no employees, many local vendors have profited from collaboration with the unique event location.

The event day setup for one of Aster’s events. (PHOTO CREDIT: MATT X. MILLER)

At Aster Weddings & Events , clients have the freedom to choose their own vendors and create the event that they have always dreamed of hosting. Aster is a blank slate. Whether clients want simple elegance, natural garden, artsy bohemian, or chic rustic, Aster is the space for any event. The business owners and their husbands work just as hard to make their clients’ dreams come true as they did for their own. After all, they are in the business of creating memories that last a lifetime.

Advisor Tip: Financing a startup may mean pulling money from multiple resources, including your own assets and personal credit resources. Be prepared to have 10-20 percent of the money you ask a lender for coming from your personal resources.

Keyona Kelly is a certified business advisor at the SBDC, located at Onondaga Community College. Contact her at

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