For those that have not yet worked with a wedding or event planner, it may seem as though the job is made up solely of glitz and glam—of dreaming up elaborate centerpieces and rocking matching bedazzled headsets and clipboards. While this is not entirely untrue, there are many behind the scenes aspects of this profession that make it one of the most challenging yet most rewarding occupations of them all.
Pressure: At first, our fellow vendors may feel like our competitors. We look at their successes and we ask ourselves, “Am I producing results like they are?” “Are my ideas as strong as theirs?” “Is he/she better at this than I am?”
Reward: With time these fears dissipate, and in their place a sense of companionship forms. Our fellow vendors are the best friends that we could possibly have—no one understands the pressures and rewards of the job as well as those who are right there in it, right alongside us. We can learn from one another, confide in one another, and form an idea-sharing network that at the end of the day, betters the wedding industry as a whole. Our fellow vendors are truly something to be treasured. As one of my absolute favorite DJs once told me, “We’re all along for this crazy ride together.”
The Numbers Game
Pressure: How many weddings do you have booked this year? How many available dates on your calendar are still waiting to be filled? How many bridal expos have you attended to promote yourself/your company? How many packages have you e-mailed out to potential clients? How many of those potential clients received a follow up e-mail?
Reward: Surely, you can see how quickly the numbers game can become overwhelming. But in the heart of this pressure lies a phenomenal reward—the ability to recognize and reflect upon our strengths and weaknesses. Realistically no one can do it all, so maybe you’ll dedicate some time this year to reworking your brand, or keeping up with your blog. Instead of focusing on the dates that are not yet filled, we can take a few free moments—as they are few and far in between—to examine how far we have come and determine where we would like to go from here. Because in the end it really isn’t about the numbers at all, but about our dedication to making our current clients’ events a success, and to the unique ways in which we choose to better ourselves and our planning processes for future clients.
The First of Many Firsts
Pressure: The event planning business is a vast and diverse industry. Bar Mitzvahs require an entirely different set of planning tools than weddings, fundraisers, bereavement luncheons or corporate parties do. When we encounter one of these events for the first time and do not know exactly how to tackle it, it may leave us feeling inadequate.
Reward: Every single individual that you know, planner or not, has and will continue to face many firsts throughout their lifetime. It is part of the human experience. Rather than allowing these firsts to scare us, treat them as projects to be conquered. With just one “first” under your belt, you can confidently approach all future events with the necessary know-how. When I planned my first large event, I thought I had everything under control. When I look back now, I can’t believe all of the small missteps that I made, missteps that I can’t imagine making now. Life is one big learning experience, and the event planning business is no exception to that rule.
Sea of Requests
Pressure: With each new client comes a new set of ideas and requests. These lists may seem daunting at first, for you have just come off of a long stretch of relatively demanding events. Can you do it? Can you live up to their expectations? Can you successfully create the wedding of their dreams?
Reward: Yes, you can. Each new client is a new opportunity to prove to yourself that yes, you are more than capable of exceeding their expectations and yes, you really do love what you do. New requests are exciting challenges that allow you to reaffirm your confidence in your abilities as a planner. You chose this job because you are passionate about planning, designing, working with others, and unleashing your innermost creativity, and these new requests allow all of those aspects to come together beautifully. Perhaps trusting ourselves and our capabilities is the true challenge here.
Keeping Up with Wedding Trends
Pressure: Wedding trends fluctuate frequently, and as a planner you are expected to know what they are at all times. If you don’t know what this year’s color palate is, or that Styrofoam cakes are on the rise, “what kind of planner are you?” Wedding coordination is much more than working with décor, but also knowing which décor is the right décor depending on the year, season, couple and trend.
Reward (sort of): I hold a slightly different stance on this topic than many other industry professionals do. While I completely recognize the importance of following wedding trends (every professional should make an effort to understand the trends of their industry if they would like to survive in this ever-changing technological world), I also strive to avoid planning only in-trend. If a bride really wants something that is “so last year”, I encourage her to pursue it. If someone inquires about a trend, I am more than happy to offer answers, samples and suggestions, but I also do not want any trend, no matter how amazing it may be, to interfere with the desires of my brides. There is a fine line here between understanding the business and understanding the needs of your client, and finding a balance between the two is certainly a reward in itself.
A Personal Struggle: My Baby Face
Pressure: Although I am a thriving, young professional, I was unfortunately not-so-blessed with a baby face. During a meeting with a client last month, my semi-recent graduation was thought to be from high school, rather than from college. While the frequency of comments like these has taught me to brush them aside, I’d be lying if I said that they are not a major blow to my confidence. Because I appear to be so young, clients often fail to take me seriously.
Reward: At the core of every client-planner relationship is trust. While some bonds form immediately, others have to be worked toward. I know what I am capable of, but the challenge is convincing those who have not worked with me before. While it may feel like something that has to be forced, it is actually a rather organic and natural process. Do what you love, and do it well—before you know it, your baby face will be smiling at a job well done. What I have found to be true is that the clients that you have to work the hardest for are the ones that cause you to produce the highest quality work. When the stakes are high, the reward is even greater.
These are just a few of pressures and rewards that I currently face in my daily-planning life. Over time these will surely shift, opening the door to new pressures, new rewards, and new obstacles. Thankfully, this business has also instilled in me a sense of resiliency—one that will allow me to see the reward in any new pressure that may arise (and boy, will they arise).