For those who know, SunQuest Cruises is synonymous with their beautiful three-deck yacht, Solaris. But, SunQuest is more than just a pretty boat! DJ Josh got to chat with Kristi Summerlin from SunQuest Cruises and she shares how they can literally take care of your entire wedding weekend turning your destination wedding into a full-blown vacation. In this episode, Kristi lays out what your wedding weekend could look like!
They also talk about their mutual experience at UWF, the amazing food that SunQuest's executive chef puts together (spoiler alert: cheese is involved), and what an authentic Destin/30A experience looks like.
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The intro and outro for this Highlight Weddings & Events Podcast were both edited and produced by DropHouse Voiceover Production Studio and Tony Tee Neto, Voiceover Artist & Audio Producer. For more info on branding elements, editing, and post-production services, visit http://drophouse.com.
The song used for the intro and outro for this episode is Crush by https://audiohub.com License: CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)
DJ Josh Woeckener: [00:00:00] This is season two episode four of Make Your Wedding a Highlight. My name is DJ Josh from Highlight Weddings and Events. My guest today is Kristi Summerlin from SunQuest Cruises.
Well, hello everyone. Thanks again for checking out the podcast. Again, my name is DJ Josh from Highlight Weddings and Events, and I have an awesome guest with me today. Her name is Kristi Summerlin from SunQuest Cruises. How you doing today, Kristi?
Kristi Summerlin: [00:00:42] Good. Thank you so much for having me.
DJ Josh Woeckener: [00:00:43] My pleasure. You know, you have the distinction for being the first guest on Make Your Wedding a Highlight that I actually attended college with.
Kristi Summerlin: [00:00:52] Well, thank you so much. I'm so honored.
DJ Josh Woeckener: [00:00:56] We both attended University of West Florida in Pensacola, and I think they were just getting their football team when we were attending. Is that correct? Or was that after we graduated?
Kristi Summerlin: [00:01:06] No, I think my sophomore year was the first year we actually had football games.
DJ Josh Woeckener: [00:01:11] Oh, that's right! And our football team was so awesome that they like won the championship.
Kristi Summerlin: [00:01:17] Yeah, I think we went to national championship and our second year, and then we won it, I think right after I had graduated.
DJ Josh Woeckener: [00:01:24] Cool, cool, cool. Go Argos.
Kristi Summerlin: [00:01:27] Go argos!
DJ Josh Woeckener: [00:01:28] So other than going to university of West Florida, would you mind introducing yourself to the listeners of the podcast?
Kristi Summerlin: [00:01:35] Yeah, absolutely. As you said, I'm Kristi and I'm part of the wedding team here with SunQuest Cruises and SunQuest Beach Weddings. I actually started with SunQuest on the Solaris yacht as a hostess when I was still in high school. And then after graduating, I went to UWF and was graciously welcomed back every summer to SunQuest Cruises. Each summer I just learned more and more about every corner of the company. And that was really my first exposure to the wedding industry.
Then my last semester I was studying abroad and one day I got this Facebook message from James, our owner, and he offered me the full-time position. So coming back was a no brainer, I tell everyone that I hit the jackpot because not only do I love what I do, but I also love the team I work with here.
The whole team has just had a huge impact on me personally and professionally. And I just feel so lucky that I get to work with them every single day. So for my first job out of college, I've never looked back.
DJ Josh Woeckener: [00:02:30] That's awesome. What I've found in any job that I've been a part of is whether or not it's good really depends on the people that you're working with more so than what you're actually doing, because I worked at Kmart of all places in Niceville and the people that I worked with were really cool, but the management was kind of eh. So the fact that the employees were cool, may the job a little bit more enjoyable. If you don't have a good team around you, it really makes it hard to enjoy and thrive in that position. So that's definitely important.
Kristi Summerlin: [00:03:06] Yeah. And I mean, we're so close knit here. It really does feel more like a family and you can really see it through all of our weddings and events because we want our couples to be a part of our family as well. You know, you love each other and you might fight like family, but at the end of the day, I couldn't ask for a better situation.
DJ Josh Woeckener: [00:03:22] So speaking of weddings, what excites you about being a part of the wedding event team?
Kristi Summerlin: [00:03:28] Yeah, so I'm usually the first person that couples meet when they first start planning their wedding. I'm the one who picks up the phone. I answer the email. I reply to the DM on social media. And I actually love it when a couple of calls and says, I have no idea where to start, because then I get to help them realize the potential of their event and show them that wedding planning doesn't have to be stressful or daunting. It can be, and it should be easy and fun. When you work with a team that can make wedding planning something you're so excited about doing, then you're not going to be stressed out. Here at SunQuest, we're going to take care of you and we're going to make it happen.
DJ Josh Woeckener: [00:04:04] Awesome. SunQuest is a bit unique because you offer a wide range of services. If a couple comes to you and they're like, "Oh, we don't know where to start." What are some options that they would have with SunQuest?
Kristi Summerlin: [00:04:19] We started with the Solaris yacht, which is the 125 foot yacht that's located at the Baytowne Marina. Which is easily the most unique wedding venue in the area. There's not too many brides that can say they were married on the water, but we also do off-site events.
So we'll do beach ceremonies. We do receptions at beach homes. We are the planner for receptions at other venues and resorts. So wherever our couple wants to get married, we'll make it happen. We'll go there and bring a full service event to them.
DJ Josh Woeckener: [00:04:51] How can SunQuest cruises make a couple's wedding at highlight?
Kristi Summerlin: [00:04:57] At SunQuest, we really pride ourselves on the idea that the couple does not have to worry about anything on their big day. We're going to handle everything from setup to break down and everything in between. And you know, most brides, they hire a dedicated wedding planner. But with Sunquest, you're hiring an entire wedding team. We're you're planner, your event staff, executive chef, florist, and, honestly, we're your personal hype team.
So we're going to be with you every step of the way to create an unforgettable experience. And not only that, but we can also take on your entire wedding weekend. So whether it's a beach bonfire or rehearsal dinner or a day at crab Island the day after we're you're one stop shop for your entire schedule, basically.
DJ Josh Woeckener: [00:05:38] Okay. And I've actually been a part of a few weddings on the Solaris and it is amazing. It's a what, three story yacht?
Kristi Summerlin: [00:05:48] Yeah, it's a 125 foot yacht with three floor or three desks, I should say. The top deck being an open air Skydeck and that's where we do ceremonies. But it's also a great dance floor. I think you've deejayed on the Skydeck before. When the weather is really nice, there's nothing like cruising through the Bay, watching the sunset, watching some dolphins, and just hanging out with your family.
DJ Josh Woeckener: [00:06:10] Right. And the food is really good too.
Kristi Summerlin: [00:06:12] The food is so good. I know everyone says that their executive chef is the best, but ours truly is the best. He does everything from formal plated dinner service to queso bar fountain. And I don't know about you, but like melted cheese in a fountain is my idea of the perfect wedding day.
DJ Josh Woeckener: [00:06:31] Melted cheese on anything is pretty much amazing. If you could construct the dream event that SunQuest Cruises as a part of, how would that look?
Kristi Summerlin: [00:06:43] Yeah, we would definitely want to manage the entire weekend. So maybe we start by welcoming your friends and family with a beach bonfire and get those toes in the sand. Have a bonfire, s'mores bar, maybe a low country boil. We'll throw some cafe life up and everybody can just hang out all night. And then, you know, the next day, do your wedding on the boat. Have your ceremony either on the sky deck or on the beach. Come back to the yacht for your reception. We hang out, we play some good music, eat good food drink, good wine to celebrate. And then the next day get up around 10, 11 o'clock go to Crab Island for the day on one of our smaller boats, the Sunventure, and just kind of like end the weekend with a great time at Crab Island.
And that is really the true Destin/30A experience. Right? You've got the beach, you're cruising on the Bay. You're going to Crab Island and you're just having a blast.
DJ Josh Woeckener: [00:07:32] If you have never been here before, Crab Island is a must-see in Destin. You get a pontoon or go through Sunquest cruises and just kind of hang out on the water all day. It's pretty awesome.
Kristi Summerlin: [00:07:45] Yeah, it's a must do for locals and visitors.
DJ Josh Woeckener: [00:07:48] Absolutely. Was there anything else you wanted to touch on before we move on to the depressing COVID-19 part of the podcast?
Kristi Summerlin: [00:07:57] No, COVID's been hard, man. We had to postpone nearly all of our spring events, then early summer events. But you know, we were really thankful that all of our brides. I was just so impressed by them. They were just the epitome of resilient. And some of them were like, okay, let's postpone. And we'll pick this up again in the fall or maybe next year. And then some of them were like, "No, we're just going to come. And we're going to fit our event to the restrictions. And we're still going to have a good time." and I thought that was really impressive. If 2020 taught us anything, it's that smaller, intimate gathering doesn't equate to smaller celebrations. It just means that we get to focus on what's most important.
DJ Josh Woeckener: [00:08:38] Yeah, I've actually found, and this is before COVID-19 that I'm in a DJ's group on Facebook based out of Atlanta. So that's kind of a bigger market. And I've seen a few comments about how, "Oh, well, if it's only a 30 to 50 person wedding and it's not that big." And I've done numerous weddings that were 50 and below. And the amount of people there doesn't take away from the celebration, it actually often will make it that much more special because those are the people that wanted to be there, anyway. That would have been there. They're going to be a part of your celebration. So I found that smaller more intimate weddings doesn't really take away to the degree that I think a lot of people might assume that it would be.
Kristi Summerlin: [00:09:23] Right. Absolutely. Yeah. With these smaller events, you get to focus on the small details, but also just focusing on family and the importance that how great it is for everyone to be together.
DJ Josh Woeckener: [00:09:34] Totally. So since you shared a little bit about SunQuest Cruises and yourself as a wedding professional, would you mind sharing a little bit about yourself personally?
Kristi Summerlin: [00:09:44] Yeah. I moved back to Destin after studying abroad. And when I'm not with SunQuest doing events, I'm out kayaking or hanging out at crab Island. Or if I can spare a day watching TV and Netflix in bed watching football, it's been a really big football season or just, you know, hanging out on 30A going bike riding we're really lucky to live in a place that's so beautiful and had so much to do.
DJ Josh Woeckener: [00:10:08] Where did you study abroad at?
Kristi Summerlin: [00:10:11] I studied abroad in Angers, France, which is three hours outside of Paris. It was really important to me to go to a place that didn't speak English. And I did not speak French. So I don't know if that was smart, but I got through it.
I took French while I was there. And I mean, I knew enough to get around the city. And by the end, I was like ordering at the bar in French, which was impressive. But, yeah it was a really great experience. It taught me a lot about people. And I think it was the best way to kind of close out my college experience before jumping into the professional world.
DJ Josh Woeckener: [00:10:47] Yeah, going to a location, if you want to learn a language, that's probably the best way to do it because you don't have the guard rails of having a big community where you can just kind of go back into speaking English all the time. So that's a good way to learn the language. It's definitely. My wife and I were living in Hungary for a year. And it's very humiliating being in a place where you don't speak the primary language because it's like, you're a child all over again.
Kristi Summerlin: [00:11:14] Yeah. Angers was cool. Cause it was a small city and it's very like a small-town vibe. So they knew that a group of students from all around the world come every year and they almost look forward to it because there's not a ton of things to do there. Because it's so far outside of Paris. But they really welcomed us with open arms.
And I remember there was this guy who owned a bagel shop, kind of like an Einstein Bagels. And we went and we asked him, "Do you speak English?" And he said, "No." And then he kicked us out of his shop because we didn't speak French. And he came out and told us, "You learn how to order in French. And then you come back." We were like, "Okay."
So like two weeks later we had practiced our order like a million different times. And came back and ordered in almost perfect French. And he was so happy he almost cried.
DJ Josh Woeckener: [00:12:03] Nice. So it was like "Challenge accepted."
Kristi Summerlin: [00:12:06] He was just so proud of us.
DJ Josh Woeckener: [00:12:07] That's cool. Okay. Since we both went to University of West Florida, what was your least favorite class?
Kristi Summerlin: [00:12:14] Oh, God. I don't want to put anyone on blast.
DJ Josh Woeckener: [00:12:17] Well, no. You don't have to name the professor, just the class that you did not enjoy the most.
Kristi Summerlin: [00:12:22] Probably any of the math classes, just any of them. And I had some wonderful math professors, like business statistics and things, and still just not my forte.
DJ Josh Woeckener: [00:12:30] Yeah, my least favorite was managerial accounting by far.
Kristi Summerlin: [00:12:34] Oh. That was a rough one.
DJ Josh Woeckener: [00:12:36] Yes, it was.
Kristi Summerlin: [00:12:37] I will admit, I took that class twice.
DJ Josh Woeckener: [00:12:39] I took it three times. Part of it was the first time I didn't study enough for it. And then the second time, it was offered at the satellite campus in Fort Walton Beach. But I missed the second exam and I could not go to Pensacola to take the exam at the main campus, but I had a wedding that day.
So I was like, 'Hey, I'm sorry, I missed the exam. Is there any way I can make it up?' And she's like, 'Nope.' So basically I just had to drop the class mid-semester. Cause it was like, "well..."
Kristi Summerlin: [00:13:09] Well, there's only three exams that course missing an entire exam is rough.
DJ Josh Woeckener: [00:13:16] Yeah. and it was just managerial is not my forte at all. It's very nuanced and unique to itself. So not fun.
Kristi Summerlin: [00:13:25] Oh yeah. I don't think I retained anything from that class. That was definitely a "get it out during the exams and then forget it all."
DJ Josh Woeckener: [00:13:33] Yep. Pretty much a brain dump. I don't remember anything from that class other than I did not enjoy it. So we are in the same boat.
Kristi Summerlin: [00:13:41] I mean, even now with all the kids doing like zoom school, like all the kids in our office, I'm like, I could not do high school math or like my high school accounting, if you asked me,
DJ Josh Woeckener: [00:13:50] Oh man. So. What did you want to be when you grew up?
Kristi Summerlin: [00:13:54] Oh, gosh. I wanted to do so many different things. I wanted to be a veterinarian. And then my mom told me that I would have to see the inside of animals and I quickly changed my mind. And then I really found a love for marketing in high school. And I thought that was like the coolest job you could ever have. And originally I wanted to do sports marketing. I thought that was really exciting.
I actually at UWF took that sports markets class, which was a lot of fun. And I remember actually, James, the owner at Sunquest every summer I came back, he would be like, "So you still want to be in the sports industry or like you thinking weddings might be a good home for you?" Then I was always like, "I don't know. We'll see." and then, I did do an internship with UWF's sports department and I loved it, but finding a home in weddings, I found that that was where I really excelled.
DJ Josh Woeckener: [00:14:44] That's awesome. Sports marketing, I can see how what you learned there fits what you're doing currently, anyway, so it's not a surprise transition going from that to weddings.
Kristi Summerlin: [00:14:56] Yeah, definitely just a high energy workplace in both scenarios.
DJ Josh Woeckener: [00:15:02] Definitely. What is your favorite dish made by your executive chef?
Kristi Summerlin: [00:15:07] Oof. That's such a tough question. It depends on the day.
DJ Josh Woeckener: [00:15:10] Oh, really?
Kristi Summerlin: [00:15:11] I mean, just because it's also great because I cruise maybe three, four times a year, just as a public dinner cruise guest, because we do public dinner cruises year round. Some of our seasonal menus for like Mother's Day, New Year's Eve, Thanksgiving, those change all the time. But any of our public cruises, gotta go with the shrimp and grits. SOmething actually new on the menu this year, that was on the mother's day menu last year, it was the blue crab Mac and cheese. And I mean I'm a big Mac and cheese. We talked about that queso fountain, but like throw some choctawhatchee blue crab in there. So good.
DJ Josh Woeckener: [00:15:46] What if you did like the shrimp and grits and the crab Mac and cheese all together?
Kristi Summerlin: [00:15:52] You might fall asleep from all the richness but I think it'd be worth.
DJ Josh Woeckener: [00:15:55] It, it sounds so amazing. And then put some bacon in it while you're at it.
Kristi Summerlin: [00:16:01] Oh yeah, there is some bacon in the Mac and cheese.
DJ Josh Woeckener: [00:16:03] So good.
Kristi Summerlin: [00:16:04] It's very good.
DJ Josh Woeckener: [00:16:06] Well, as we wrap up the podcast, is there anything else you would like to leave with the listeners?
Kristi Summerlin: [00:16:11] Yeah. We hope that you guys check us out. We are running some January promotions right now for both SunQuest Cruises and SunQuest Beach Weddings. So those promotions will be valid through the end of January. So I make sure that you give us a call.
DJ Josh Woeckener: [00:16:24] And what is the best way for prospective couples who get in contact with you?
Kristi Summerlin: [00:16:31] Yeah, you can find us online at sunquestcruises.com or send us an email firstname.lastname@example.org. But we're also on social media, Instagram and Facebook, both @sunquestcruises and @mydestinbeachwedding.
DJ Josh Woeckener: [00:16:45] Alright. Kristi. Well, thanks for stopping by and getting on the podcast. How was it?
Kristi Summerlin: [00:16:49] It was great! It was fun!
DJ Josh Woeckener: [00:16:51] Well, my pleasure. I'm glad you enjoyed it.
Kristi Summerlin: [00:16:54] Thank you so much for having me.
DJ Josh Woeckener: [00:16:55] No problem. Anytime.
Kristi Summerlin: [00:16:57] Yeah, we'll have to next time UWF playing a football game, we'll have to go to Pensacola.
DJ Josh Woeckener: [00:17:01] Totally down. All right. Well here's to the couples planning their weddings and here's to making those weddings a highlight.