3.25.2014

The Realities of Being a Wedding Planner

Without fail, the response I get most often once people realize that I'm a wedding planner is along the lines of that's my dream job! I don't know why I get so irked about this, but I have to admit that I do. Now, let me give a few disclaimers before I get started on this post. 

1 // Wedding planning was my dream job at one point in my life, and still is, to an extent

2 // I love my job. I am thankful each and every day that I get to work for myself making pretty things and creating events that my clients love. 

3 // I am NOT planning on giving up on wedding planning. Not any time soon, at least.

4 // That being said, I never intended for wedding planning to be my life career. I do have a business plan laying around here somewhere, and it includes a lot of lofty ambitions and goals for both myself and my business that go beyond wedding planning. 
I love every one of my weddings, truly I do. This wedding party, photo by Jess Roy Photography, was SO much fun. Every time I look at this picture, I'm reminded of why I do what I do.

I've told my story a few times in the past, but I'll give you an abbreviated version, for the sake of context. 

In 2010, I was a newlywed and completely miserable at my traditional nine-to-five. I was a technical writer for a software development company and needed a creative outlet. That's when I started my blog, Where We Love is Home. All of the sudden, I was exposed to this community of bloggers. Too often, the conversation is focused on people who want to be professional bloggers, but I see something beyond that. I've always seen blogging as a method to figure out what it is exactly that you want to do. For me, blogging has never been, and never will be, an end all.

My blog was a form of therapy for me, and in the process I discovered a world of young women who realized their creative potential because of their blogs. I'm talking about graphic designers, interior designers, and photographers who started their own businesses, and other women who have found their perfect jobs, because of their blogs. 

My story is kind of like every other wedding planner's story - I've always loved weddings and I just thought it would be a fun industry to get into. I had event planning experience in college, and I did work for others in the industry before starting my business. But if you want the truth - I had no idea what the hell I was doing at the time. 

I think maybe that's why it rubs me the wrong way when I see people attempting to start their own wedding planning business when they have absolutely no idea what they're getting themselves into, or why I cringe a little when people gush over my job when I tell them.

I have no doubt now that I'm good at what I do. I feel odd saying it, but I can be really good at what I do. But I never, ever, thought that I would get to where I am. And at one point, I was actually pretty terrible.

I once asked a planner and designer that I've always really admired what her advice would be to an aspiring planner. Her response? Blood, sweat, and tears. 

I get it now. 

If you want to know the truth...planning and design is not all sunshine and rainbows. I may love parts of my job, but believe me when I say that it's not nearly as glamorous as it sounds.

As the planner and coordinator, it's always our fault. I hate saying it because I have a feeling I'll get slack on that point, but it's true. It doesn't matter what vendor screwed up - if your photographer didn't get an important shot or the rental company didn't bring enough chairs or the fire alarm goes off because the band brought a smoke machine you didn't know about. It's always going to be the planner's fault. Actually, let me rephrase that - a good planner will more than likely take responsibility for it.

We're the ones who have to know every single detail about your wedding day. Your vendors will know bits and pieces, but we have to know everything. If something falls through the cracks, it's because we didn't realize it. It doesn't really matter if it was a last minute change or something that we didn't know was going to happen in the first place - we should have known. And unfortunately, for us, the client usually thinks that too. 

We are the catch all. I've cleaned toilets (true story - my assistant once had to pull a dead rat out of a toilet). I've had to singlehandedly set up a hundred chairs in fifteen minutes. I've cleaned up after guests, gotten on my hands and knees so I could fix dance floors, and gotten in some seriously sketchy (if not dangerous) situations, all for my brides and grooms. I'm usually on my feet for twelve to fourteen hours on a wedding day, and I'm lucky if I get a break at all. 

I don't mind it. Really. But here's the thing...in an effort to give our clients their perfect day, they rarely know those sordid details. A good planner doesn't brag to their clients about the things they did to make their day amazing. All that matters is that they did. But if something goes wrong and they notice? Well, that's when it's our fault - because they noticed. Because we couldn't fix it before it became a problem. 

We're dealing with people on what's probably the most emotional day of their lives. It's an honor to be able to celebrate with them, truly, but it doesn't mean that people are always the kindest when it comes to their wedding. They want their perfect day, and I get it! I do, which is why I've learned to just let things go. If you want to get far in this business, you have to learn how to let things go. You can't take everything personally - it's just the nature of people in general.
Recognize that beautiful blogger there? That would be the amazing Lauren of Pink on the Cheek, photo by Anna Delores Photography. It's that look, right there, that makes it all worth it for me.

I think the number one indicator of a successful small business would be the work that you're willing to put it. This is true for any small business, especially a creative small business, and it's very, very true in the world of wedding planning and design.

The thing that we don't tell you, however, is how creatively exhausted we are. Think about it this way -in a world where there are blogs constantly bombarding you with ideas and trends, we have to be one step ahead. The status quo is never going to be good enough for us. The second we see a trend on a blog or on social media, its over for us. We don't get to use that idea again. We're constantly trying to think of the next best thing, and half the time we don't even know if its even going to look good! We have to trust ourselves that what we're designing is going to be amazing, but it isn't always. 

I think that's why I kind of hole myself up sometimes, why there will be days that I'm completely MIA from social media. Partially so that I can find my energy again, and partially so that I can find my inspiration within myself. I love designing, more than I like planning, but it's infinitely more tiring than planning too. It makes you second guess yourself constantly. And you never know if you're even going to be relevant next week. 

I have a thousand more thoughts on what it's like to be a wedding planner, but I think I'll leave it at that. For now. I love my job, more than I ever thought I would love my job, but it's still a job. 

9 comments:

Joelle Duff said...

Though our jobs are completely different, I get the exact same feeling when I hear people say, I've always wanted to be an interior designer. There are parts to jobs that people don't know about at all. We just have the "fun" sounding jobs. (And believe me, like you, I do love my job and know it's right where I should be).

Joelle Duff said...

thank you for posting this! i have done a few events for work (a law firm of 120+ attorneys) and i planned our wedding. After that I realized how hard it can be to have everything perfect (nearly impossible!!) I give you a LOT of credit for working in the wedding industry and I can imagine how hard it is -- but I am glad you are still having fun with it (despite all of the negative aspects). I am sure all of your clients appreciate everything you do and this post will be eye-opening to everyone who hires a wedding planner or dreams of becoming one. xo jillian

Joelle Duff said...

LOVE LOVE LOVE this!!!!!!! Yes yes yes! :)

Joelle Duff said...

a wedding planner is a lovely job, well done!

Joelle Duff said...

It's nice to get some real perspective, cause I feel like it's easy to romanticize certain jobs!

Joelle Duff said...

Good thing there are some of us who LOVE the craziness-non-glamorous that is wedding planning. Great post and well-described! I could tell stories, but, honestly, they're my favorite memories to see just what I can pull off! :) Keep it up, Joelle. You're truly an inspiration.

Joelle Duff said...

Love your take on this! I think even if you love what you do, at the end of the day, if you are pouring yourself into your work it will be exhausting. I don't think getting burnt out makes you any less passionate or "right for the job".

Joelle Duff said...

Being Wedding Planner is the only job where happy ending is must. Wedding planner takes all the stress of ceremony and make it something never forgettable. Our wedding planner team were so kind and talented as they gave us some unforgettable memories. Thanks to Ezyevents.

Joelle Duff said...

Great post! I am thinking about becoming a planner myself and it was nice to read some real and honest insight about the business and it only inspired me more. Thank you!