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Making Connections

Former ETSU student develops The Bride Link

By Alaina Akens
On February 8, 2012

  • Former ETSU student Haley Dotson developed The Bride Link, a successful website that helps brides find local Knoxville wedding vendors. Photo courtesy of Courtney DeLaura, Peachtree Studios

Planning a wedding can be a fun and exciting experience that many women have looked forward to since they were little girls. It can also be a stressful experience, often hectic and time-consuming.

For former ETSU student Haley Dotson, it was definitely the latter. Dotson found her wedding planning to be difficult. Attempting to find vendors in a short amount of time that would also be available by her wedding date proved to be a challenge.

Dotson, 21, was a student at ETSU in spring 2010 when she got engaged to her husband, Michael.

"I had a four-month engagement, but I was in school full-time," Dotson said. "I used many sources, but there wasn't really a resource made it easy to find local vendors. The most frustrating part was having to repeat my wedding details again to vendors, just to see they weren't available for my budget or date."

After her honeymoon, Dotson returned to her hometown of Knoxville, Tenn., where she then developed The Bride Link, a website that allows brides to create a profile with all their wedding details, which helps keep them organized. They are then able to view local vendors, see how much they cost and then contact the vendors through the site.

"On the Bride Link, you might have 50 options to choose from," said Dotson. "You have more options, and you know about the little venues that are downtown that you would have never known, but you also know about the expensive ones that are all over the Internet."

The Bride Link is currently only useful for Knoxville residents, with just a couple of vendors in the Tri-Cities area as well as a few in Nashville.

"[The site] has only been around for six months, so I haven't been able to grow it that big yet, but I hope to," said Dotson.

Those six months alone have proven to be a success for Dotson, who runs The Bride Link as her full-time job, handling the sales, marketing and advertising for the website.

There have been 400 brides so far who have created a profile on The Bride Link, which currently features 318 vendors in 25 different categories.

Those categories include anything from photographers to premarital counseling. Because of the success of her website, Dotson was featured on the February cover of Everything Knoxville and has also been featured in the Knoxville News Sentinel.

Despite the success she's had from her website, saving brides and vendors time is the most rewarding parts of the job, said Dotson.

"I love having vendors and brides tell me how it's helping them. Vendors tell me it helps them grow their business, and brides tell me it's helping them save time. It serves its purpose."

The long-term goal for The Bride Link is to go national, but a short-term goal is to spread across Tennessee.

"It's interesting because people find it from all over the world. I've had people from Australia, Michigan and even China call."

Dotson was an art major when she attended ETSU, but after running The Bride Link, she decided to change her major to communications and is continuing her studies at King College. To view the website, go to www.thebridelink.com.  


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