By Christopher Cornejo for Pittsburgh Latino Magazine
Natalie Lopez Gines is a modern entrepreneur and business owner in the Steel City. Her company, Luna Body Sol Designs, specializes and excels in wedding and events planning service with wedding design. She is also a certified and registered wedding officiant, and of the few in the area who is bilingüe.
“I am a certified bilingual wedding officiant and have performed weddings in English, Spanish or both. I am one of the few in the area and I feel that’s part of what makes me so unique,” Lopez says.
She became ordained this past August, with her first official weddings happening last fall. Her planning experience stretches back years, however. She specializes in everything from floral arrangements to overall wedding design. She emphasizes that she is not just a wedding planner, however.
“I specialize in everything from graduations to quinceañeros to the wedding of people’s dreams,” Lopez says. “I am someone who is willing to work with you budget-wise because my ultimate joy is to make others happy, not just make money.”
There are various types of eventos featured on her social media pages, highlighting some of her work.
“All of my work comes from my own creative mind and the fact that people want to pay me for it is great,” she says. “My family and friends pushed me to charge for the work that I do and to stop doing it for free.”
At first, she did not feel confident enough to pursue su pasión as a career, worried about her lack of a degree or certification in the field. However, her years of experience and the encouragement of those closest to her were a catalyst for her to begin an official business in event design and planning.
“After a lot of thinking over, I finally decided why not try and go for it officially because at the end of the day this is something I enjoy and love to do,” she says. “I might as well try and see where it goes, if people like my work and want to pay me for it then awesome,” Lopez says.
Recently, due to the restrictions stemming from the pandemic, large weddings or events are not as common. However, the business hasn’t necessarily slowed down. People do still opt for smaller-sized ceremonies, however, still wanting to celebrate one of the most important days of their lives.
“There are a lot more micro-weddings happening,” Lopez says. “With these smaller ceremonies, I may not offer all of my services just because the settings are smaller, but people still opt for things such as the floral art, backdrop, and wedding officiating of course.”
Lopez Gines acknowledges the hefty price tag that comes with weddings,
“I do have the advantage of being flexible with some of my rates, and I want to make sure I am not taking advantage of my clients,” she says. “I love doing this, and weddings are extremely expensive, so I try and help my customers as much as possible.”
Natalie is from Massachusetts originally, her mother being Puerto Rican, her father Ecuadorian. She embraces her Latino roots and will always love her birthplace. She moved to Pittsburgh 13 years ago and she is happy to see the Latino population and community steadily growing.
“I moved to Pittsburgh quite a while ago, and I’m lucky enough to see the influx of Latinos throughout the years,” she says. “Seeing more groups and communities spring up in the city is one of the greatest things about being here.”
Lopez Gines is someone who enjoys connecting with others and making people comfortable in the language they choose, especially sus clientes. The connections she makes, especially in the city of Pittsburgh, make her feel even closer to her roots. She helps non-English speakers, who encounter language barriers in the country, obtain marriage licenses, which would not be possible without Natalie.
“A lot of Spanish-only speakers don’t know what to do, especially in a country where English is the dominant language,” she mentions. “Whether it’s with marriage licenses or just walking them through the process of getting married in the United States.”
Natalie is constantly thinking about the next steps to take with her business. Her mother and step-father were business owners of a brick-and-mortar location, and that is her goal, down the line. She currently offers live wedding paintings and looking to offer videography services in the next year. She also hopes to expand the services she offers at her events, possibly incorporating massages, haircuts, or other necessities for anyone’s special day.
“I want people to feel like they’re getting a bang for their buck, and maybe even one day raffle or offer my services as charity,” Lopes states. “Once I am in a position like that one day, and if I can give it 100 percent that’s what I hope to do.”
We’re proud of what you do Natalie. ¡Sigue adelante!
You can contact Natalie Lopez Gines for any and all event inquiries as well as to see some of her work through all socials @Lunabodysol, on platforms including Facebook and Instagram.