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No Rain on Your Wedding Day When You’re at SEI

By: Stephanie Freihofer


Whether it’s a major client presentation or a family member’s big day, SEIers are always eager to help ensure their colleagues’ most important moments go off without a hitch.

While SEI has a national footprint, we make a concerted effort to maintain a local presence in each of the ten cities in which we live and work. We value our communities and reinvest our time in them by volunteering for and participating in local events. And sometimes, these communities are our own.

Case in point: in my seven-year tenure with SEI, I’ve felt the support of my SEI family during some of the best and most trying times of my life. Late last summer, I was preparing for one of the best moments: the joyous occasion of my daughter’s wedding. Unexpectedly, six weeks before the wedding, my stepson, Nick, passed away after a long battle with PTSD. Despite wrestling with shock, grief, and memories of the past, we were committed to planning and enjoying our daughter Sam’s wedding. We knew Nick would want us to move forward with the wedding, and with heavy hearts, we worked toward the future. We had spent nine months planning an outdoor affair, and even created our own boho-chic décor (which my SEI colleagues helped us finish). We were ready.

Saving the Date

On the eve of the wedding, my daughter’s bridesmaids and I spent the night at a hotel in downtown Cincinnati, celebrating each other’s company and Sam’s upcoming nuptials. We spent the morning of the big day reminiscing and laughing while hair stylists rushed about, gowns lay on beds, dresses hung from curtain rods, and makeup lay strewn across coffee tables and bathroom sinks. It was pure chaos, and it was lovely.

Meanwhile, five of my SEI colleagues were at Washington Park, an outdoor venue located directly across from Cincinnati’s renowned Music Hall. They had happily volunteered to take a few hours out of their Saturday to lay out the décor we so lovingly crafted, arrange flowers, and maneuver lighting to make my daughter’s evening magical. We had a plan: my colleagues were to arrive at 1:00 pm, two hours after the party tent was scheduled to be up and ready for them to “load in.” It was a great plan — until it wasn’t.

When my SEI colleagues arrived at the park, there was no tent to light, no tables to decorate, and no chairs to adorn. Luckily, team SEI jumped into action and treated this setback like any other challenge they might experience when working with a client. They assessed the risk of the situation when they located the tent vendor and learned his truck was broken down on the highway, wedding canopy in tow. The tent was coming, but it would be another 45 minutes. With guests arriving in just two short hours, they adapted to the circumstances and began resequencing their work, setting up chairs for the wedding ceremony itself. When the tent and tables finally arrived, team SEI “crashed the schedule” by tapping my husband to manage the setup crew and enlisting bystanders to help load in the chairs, table décor, and lighting.

When the mother of the bride called to check on the status of the “project,” they managed their stakeholder’s expectations by reporting that risks had surfaced but all was fine. While they worked, some SEIers even revealed hidden talents and achieved “stretch goals” like spectacular floral stylings and rose petal scattering befitting a royal wedding flower girl. Just as the rose petals were dropping, the guests started arriving. Both the ceremony and reception areas were beautifully decorated with a bohemian allure. Project successfully delivered!

The SEI Family

My SEI colleagues are truly one-of-a-kind. They are seasoned professionals who solve the toughest client challenges, but more importantly, they are humble and caring people who are like family to me. As many of our clients are, I am grateful to have them on my side.


Stephanie Freihofer


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