Family has always been important to Sarah Hagen. Born and raised in Charlevoix, Sarah was in her junior year of high school when she was hired to work at the Castle. It was April of 2006, and Sarah’s responsibilities included “a little bit of everything,” she says. “I was hired as ‘event staff’. I set up chairs, did housekeeping, worked festivals, and greeted people. I was just a kid, and it was lots of fun. Being part of the Castle team was like being part of one big happy family.” Sarah’s abilities were obvious, and though she hadn’t yet graduated from high school, she quickly ‘graduated’ to helping out around the wedding office, too. Once accepted at Grand Valley State University, Sarah focused on a degree in Hospitality and Tourism Management. After a summer internship at the Castle, Sarah graduated, and was immediately offered a position as Event Coordinator at Castle Farms.
In 2015, after two years spent working as Event Coordinator, and another two years as Lead Event Coordinator, Sarah assumed a leadership role of Events Director at Castle Farms. In addition to coordinating weddings, Sarah’s new responsibilities involved scheduling coordinators and wedding rehearsals, training assistant coordinators, as well as taking an active role in the overall decision-making process within the wedding department. “We’ve really stepped up our game,” she says. “Back when I first started working at the Castle, we had plastic deck chairs for wedding guests, and a tent out back. Now we provide quality equipment and beautiful, elegant event rooms. A Castle wedding is very nice.”
“Calm, kind, and focused” are words often used to describe Sarah by those who know her. “I like to keep things simple,” she says, “and the Castle is the perfect place for me. I’m still growing, and I appreciate the opportunities I’ve been given to handle more responsibility, and to learn different aspects of the wedding business. I like the fact that we’re all important, and that all of us have a say in the way things are going. Linda and Richard Mueller (the current owners) are very supportive. They’ve kept the Castle a small, privately owned place… just like a family. And like when a family pulls together, we’re all involved in making it a success.”
Sarah’s seen a lot during her years at Castle Farms. She’s planned more than 80 corporate events, and helped more than 240 bridal couples on their special day. She loves working with bridal couples, reassuring them that their ideas will work, and stepping in when needed to offer her professional opinion. Sarah’s assisted at antique festivals, Renaissance shows, and more. Her favorite ‘Castle moment’ came during the Grand Bridal Expo of 2010. Two of her good friends (“they’re just like family!”), recently engaged, planned to get married on a $3,000 budget. They attended the Grand Bridal Expo, and much to their surprise (and Sarah’s), heard their names drawn as lucky winners of the Grand Bridal Giveaway, a wedding ceremony and reception package worth $10,000. The Fashion Show was held in the Knight’s Castle that year, but the crowd was so large, there wasn’t room for everyone. Sarah’s friends were outside sitting on the grass when they heard their names announced. “Of all the people they could have picked, my friends won the grand prize,” Sarah remembers. “They were so happy, and I was so happy for them. I got to coordinate their wedding, plus I was invited as a wedding guest. It was great!”
What does the future hold for Sarah? For now, she’s enjoying life at the Castle, and living in her hometown of Charlevoix the Beautiful. “I love being able to spend time with my family,” she says. “We still get together for dinner every Sunday night.” A special young man usually goes along with Sarah to those Sunday night dinners. “We’ve been together since 2011,” she says with a smile. “For now, things are good the way they are. I don’t worry about the future.” Just as Sarah likes to remind the bridal couples she works with: “Things have a way of working out. Don’t fret about the details. Life is good. Enjoy the ride!”