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Hospitality management student turns passion for weddings into hopeful career path

caitlyn fluke
Hospitality management major Caitlyn Fluke is set to complete two internships with wedding planners in South Dakota.

Most people would say planning a wedding is a stressful time. For Caitlyn Fluke, it is a delight. A junior hospitality management major, Fluke has always been fond of wedding planning.

“I love everything about weddings. I love all of the décor and the rush of the day. I like making something so beautiful for someone else that they will remember forever,” she said.

Fluke interned with Mood Signature Events last summer in Aberdeen, where she began to further develop her wedding-planning skills.

“I really enjoyed getting to know the brides and learning what is truly important to them. Such as, what are the things they really want to make pop?”

Fluke uses that knowledge not only to help other people with wedding planning, but also for herself. She recently got engaged to her high school sweetheart, Alec.

“It’s exciting to plan for someone else, but when it’s your own wedding, you get really excited. It’s different when you are in that position. You have all these ideas and know what to do a little bit more,” she said.

Despite her love for weddings, coming to South Dakota State University to pursue hospitality management wasn’t always in the Groton High School graduate’s plans.

“I went to Presentation College in Aberdeen, 2 miles away from my [mom’s] house and went into radiologic technology. The first semester was fine; it was mostly generals. When spring semester came around, I didn’t like it. I was too close to home. It just felt so much like high school; it wasn’t any different,” she said. “I went to my first class in my rad tech program and I said ‘nope, I don’t like this.’ I went straight to my advisor after that class, switched all of my classes to generals and started the process of transferring to SDSU.”

She said that the decision to transfer to SDSU as a sophomore was one of the greatest challenges she has faced so far, but that it was a good move.

“It’s been the best decision of my life to come here and study hospitality,” she said. “I just wanted to do something for me.”

Fluke said that there are several focuses within the hospitality management major. In addition to her major, she has added two minors: events and facilities administration, and management. Through her coursework, Fluke gained experience in not just wedding planning, but event planning. She worked with University Events Coordinator Jamison Lamp to plan the Celebration of Faculty of Excellence event.

“Jamison advised me to always treat every event as though it is a wedding,” she said.

To add to her resume, Fluke is set to intern with Simply Devine Weddings and Events, a wedding planning business based in Huron, this summer. She enlisted their services to help with her wedding, too.

Fluke is set to graduate in May 2018 and to get married that fall. She said the ultimate goal is to start her own wedding-planning business, but she is keeping an open mind.

“Out of college, I am going to try and get as much experience as I can, with any business that I can.”

Fluke said if she didn’t make the decision to transfer to State, she wouldn’t have the knowledge she does and may not be pursuing her dream as a wedding planner. Her advice to students in the same situation is to take the leap.

“Open your horizons. Don’t commit to something because it’s what somebody wants you to do. Look at your strengths and weaknesses and go with what you love to do.”