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I had the honor of being asked by Weddings Beautiful Worldwide my experiences as a certified wedding specialist and my experiences after investing and excelling in their program. Here’s what I had to say:
Diving Head First into Business and Getting a Wake Up Call
I got my CWS and I was ready to roll.
Actually, I was ready to roll when I ENrolled in the program, but I was seriously ready to get going with my business once I was officially certified.
I took all that I’d learned, my energizer-bunny gumption, and dove in head first.
But then, I got a HUGE reality check.
Planning and designing the perfect wedding came easily. I was good at that.
But, planning a wedding is one thing; growing your own business is another.
Booking brides every month and bringing in a consistent stream of income was h.a.r.d.
It was easy to connect with brides once they were “in the door,” but how did I get them in the door?
Why I’ve Never Stopped Learning (or Investing in Education)
I relied heavily on referrals, spent time brainstorming creative ways to get my name out there, and attended every conference in order to extend my network of event professionals and learn from different professionals outside of my arena. I also attended every bridal show you can imagine.
Starting my business was a huge leap of faith, but, sometimes, the only way to get to where you need to be is to leap.
I booked events, I loved what I was doing, but despite all of my efforts, I wasn’t reaching my goals and I didn’t feel like I was creating the sustainable business I’d always dreamed of.
So, I invested in a business coach who also ran her own successful wedding planning company.
I knew that if I was going to truly succeed at running a business that could give me the kind of lifestyle I wanted, I had to continue to invest in myself and invest in learning.
I went from hustling to taking a step back and building the foundation of my business right.
I set up systems, I set up processes, I learned how to use social media to market effectively, and I learned the value of viewing other wedding planners not as my competition, but as my community of professionals and friends.
I self-published my first book: “A Girlfriend’s Guide to a Crystal Clear Guide: No-nonsense Wedding Tips from a Seasoned Wedding Planner” and continued to find ways to add value to my brides.
The more I stepped out, the more I began to believe in myself eveeeeen more and the value I had to offer. As I got the foundation right, what I was building became more solid and sustainable.
As wedding planners, it’s easy to forget about the business and marketing side, because we want to focus on creating and organizing, BUT, we’re really only free to create the experience we hope to for our clients, when we have the right things in place.
As Wedding Planners, Sometimes We Forget to Plan for Ourselves
As wedding planners, sometimes we forget to plan for ourselves and for our businesses. We plan for our couple’s weddings, but we don’t always have a step-by-step plan for how we’ll attract brides, interact with them once they contact us, and nurture them through the process of choosing us.
We create an amazing “end” experience with their wedding, but we forget about the experience from the moment they fill out a contact form or give us a call.
If I could offer any advice to those just starting out, it would be to spend the time to really plan for yourself and your business and to lay the foundation correctly.
Create a proper marketing plan, be completely prepared for clients with canned email responses, welcome guides, frequently asked questions, and valuable content they’ll benefit from. Give them an experience that wows from the beginning not just from the moment they sign the contract.
I absolutely love being a wedding planner and running my own business. Now that I’m running in the “right gear” and have trained for what I’m going to encounter, I’m even more excited about what the future holds.
Plan for you and your business, then you can truly plan for brides and give them the type of experience that’s going to keep them sending others your way.
If you are interested in obtaining your CWS please visit http://www.weddingsbeautiful.com/
Before you call for the sandman to sweep me off the computer screen or stand up and yell “BOOOOOOO”, just hear me out. Now I know one of the most (if not the most) important thing to a bride is her wedding dress. Some brides have traveled near and far to find “thee dress”. Some gather an entourage of their closest family and friends to assist with picking out “the one”. Some even let their fiance pick “thee dress”, but let me share my experience with you.
The day I found my wedding dress, I was in sweats, alone and at the Salvation Army. Grand total…WAIT FOR IT!!!…$55. I have to say that the customer service was by far amazing (so much better than David’s Bridal..yeah I said it!). One of the sales associates on the floor saw me looking at dresses and asked if I needed assistance. She hung the dress for me…fluffed it out….took pictures…and loved the vision that I was describing to her about my wedding and why this dress would be perfect. I honestly felt as if I was in a high-in boutique. Now everyone who really knows me knows that I didn’t want to go EXPENSIVE on a wedding dress…WHY???…because I’m BROKE” LOL!!! If I had money to blow..I am pretty sure I would have went to a private boutique where they serve mimosas to their guests while you try on dresses, but I just couldn’t see myself paying a lot of money for a dress that I couldn’t afford and would only wear once (not even all day). If you know my fiance, he’s not real big on details like I am (what guy is?!?!). I knew that if I walked down the aisle in a paper bag designed by me..he would love it. I figured he would be more impressed with the fact that I purchased my wedding dress for little of nothing and was able to design it the way I wanted for a few extra dollars. So I took this as a creative challenge for myself. I found a seamstress (who specialized in wedding dresses) and asked her if she wouldn’t mind reconstructing the dress to fit my personality, creativity and wedding theme. I told her what my vision was and she loved it! Her comment, “This is so out the box..and I am going to love making this dress!” I ended up purchasing my dress a few days later because I didn’t have the money then (I told you I was broke!!). I also wanted to bring my mom with me because she wanted to be apart of the “dress experience”. So she accompanied me when I went to pick up the dress. I showed her and she was in love as well. So if you haven’t taken anything from this blog remember these three things:
Why go borrowed?
(1) Cost effective
(2) Nobody else will have your dress
(3) An opportunity to tap into your creative side and design your own
I came across an article in Metro Detroit Bride about Recycled Wedding Gowns that I wanted to share.
“Recycling has made its way to weddings. But the attraction of the Brides Project in Ann Arbor goes beyond getting a gown at a discounted price. The recently opened boutique is sponsored by the Cancer Support Community of Greater Ann Arbor-a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing free programs for those with cancer. The shop offers brides-to-be a selection of new or gently used wedding dresses, including names like Vera Wang, Justina McCaffrey, and Badgley Mischaka. The dresses have been donated to the CSC either by brides after their weddings or from boutiques who contribute older inventory/floor samples, and are offered from less than half of their original price. All proceeds from the dress sales go to fund CSC programs.”The Brides Project, 208 W. Liberty, Ann Arbor, firstname.lastname@example.org, or 734.418.3332.
I have used this method with a lot of my brides. When you and your fiance have agreed on a set number of guests, utilize this tip.