Wedding season is in full swing and I’ve been MIA from my blog. Today has been the first time in over a month I’ve actually had enough energy and contentment to sit quietly on our patio and just write.
This season feels so different from last year it’s hard to even comprehend where I was at a year ago today. I had just finished up as campaign assistant to Minister Terry Lake in the provincial election, I was in the process of finishing up a contract planning job at the YMCA, I just finished planning my sister’s June 28th wedding, I had 9 other weddings on top of my own to plan, and we were packing our basement suite for a move to Kelowna. Last year all I kept saying to myself was to put my head down and get through it. When it came to leaving for our honeymoon in late September, I was so exhausted I bawled my eyes out for an entire hour before we left. A tantrum that resembled something of a 2 year old needing a nap crossed with feeling like you were being tortured with the worst hangover of your life.
Something had to give this year. If I wanted to be a full-time wedding planner I was going to have to make a lot of changes. It started with the move to the Okanagan but that was just the beginning. I attended a one-on-one workshop with one of California’s top wedding planners, I hired a business coach, I got creative with behind the scenes branding, I paid close attention to what blogs and magazines were looking for and got featured 11 times, I networked and marketed, and studied business books every spare hour I had time for. And when all of that was done, I raised my rates. Significantly. After 10 months of living in Kelowna, I have increased my average booking rate by 500%. Though it was really never about the money. I just wanted to raise the bar for myself. Really raise it. Enough that my brides saw and felt value in my new pricing and that I felt creative and inspired enough to make this my full-time career.
There’s no doubt I feel exhausted this season but it’s definitely different. For the first time since becoming a wedding planner I feel like every extra hour I put in and every detail I obsess over is being recognized and valued. Every lost hour of sleep and every painful step with sore feet after a wedding day is worth it. My clients are worth it.
I’m so excited to get to wake up and live my dream job every single day. I’ll be attending a styling workshop this October in Whistler with one of the most talented stylists in the US, Joy Thigpen. And I hope to continue to push to be a better entrepreneur and planner every single year.
Here’s to an amazing summer full of the most beautiful weddings.
I think I talk about money so openly sometimes I forget that that isn’t normal for most people. To me, a budget is just a budget. Whether you’re spending $20,000 or $50,000 it makes no difference to me I just need to know what parameters to work within and where your priorities are. I never recommend spending more than you’re comfortable with because at the end of the day you have to live with your bank account. And financial stress takes the cake over wedding planning stress. So. much. worse.
I think there’s a common misconception that a $10,000 wedding may not be as beautiful as a $100,000 wedding and that’s really not the case. Yes, you need a reasonable budget to make core pieces of the wedding come together, but the way in which you do it can be equally as beautiful or equally as hideous regardless of how much you’re spending.
In my world, less is more. Put thought into every aspect of your wedding. Decor needs a soft hand, where money or cheap decor is never thrown at the problem. A DIY wedding can always be gorgeous and tasteful when it’s done right.
Think of your venue as the base of your wedding. This is your core. If your ceremony space is gorgeous to begin with all you need is nice chairs and it can stand on it’s own and be beautiful. If your ceremony space is not so nice, you’ll be spending the difference on bringing in different chairs, decor, and flowers to transform it into something beautiful. Same goes for reception spaces. When the base of your wedding is beautiful the amount you’ll spend to complete the look will be significantly less than if you’re starting from scratch.
Always prioritize your vendors. Don’t take average costs for everything and make a budget out of it because you’ll ended up with average everything. (Unless your budget is enormous and you can afford the best of the best of every vendor…For reality sake let’s not pretend to be celebrities.) Sit down with your fiance and decide what your top 3 priorities are. If food and wine is really important to you, then perhaps your floral budget can afford to be less and you’ll use more greenery and candles instead. If your wedding design and being stress-free is really important, then perhaps you’ll budget higher for a wedding planner and reduce your food and beverage budget. You’re not average people, so don’t create average budgets. Prioritize. Hire vendors that specialize in the area you’re most excited about.
Don’t dread making a budget. Having a budget is what will put you at ease when you don’t know what you can and can’t afford. (And the bragging rights of being on or under budget aren’t so bad either!)
A wedding day is so packed with events that it seems that it just flys by. Regardless of the fact that you probably didn’t sleep much and were wide awake as of 6am, it’s the longest and fastest day ever.
In the whirlwind of getting ready to getting to the ceremony to photos with your photographer, I think it’s really important to consider which moments deserve the time to take a breath and let it all sink in. Think about which moments you want to be private and which are to be shared with others.
I had 5 bridesmaids, my mom, 3 nieces, my soon to be sister-in-law, two photographers, and a videographer all in the room as I finished getting into my dress. My dad was about to see me for the first time and I took a breath and turned to everyone and asked if I could just share this moment with my immediate family and my photographers. It was a moment that would have been completely different had everyone else been in the room and I’m so thankful I did that. It was one of my favourite memories from our wedding day.
On my sister’s wedding night, everyone had left her hotel room, my other sister had gone to bed, and I stayed up with her for 2 hours just talking (and rehearsing her vows since she chose to memorize them). And on the night before my wedding, she did the same for me. We stayed up just relaxing and talking– knowing we should be sleeping but chose to embrace the moment anyhow.
Another wedding I was working, the mom came into the room just as I was talking to the bride alone in her wedding dress and her mom gave her a pin that was her late grandmothers. As they both started to cry, I stepped out of the room and closed the door and let them have that moment. No photographers, just them.
Whether you choose to have the photographer and videographer present for that moment is entirely up to you, but don’t be in such a rush that you forget about them. The quiet moments might be some of your favourites from the entire day.
I think it’s so easy to get caught up in wedding plans. It happens to everyone. And if it hasn’t happened to you, you’re what I like to call, an alien. Really though. How can you not get caught up in it all? There’s a million and one things to think about from the day you get engaged to the day you walk down the aisle. And to be fair, you’ve probably never done this before. That’s a whole lotta pressure, research, and learning to do on top of potential financial stress with making it all work when you realize what weddings really cost. But you do it anyway. It’s still kind of fun, right?!
So, let’s fast forward a few months. You’ve managed to pull most of it all together. Maybe a few
glasses bottles of wine later, but the majority of your to-dos get planned. Centerpieces picked, dress bought, bridesmaids dresses ordered, invitations out, the works. Everything you were told to plan by Pinterest, countless wedding magazines, and every blog and timeline known to bride kind is now complete.
But is that what your wedding is really about? A checklist of items you are “required” to book and plan? In my world, your wedding isn’t about pleasing others. It isn’t about incorporating a theme. It’s isn’t about what anyone else wants. Your wedding day is the start of your marriage. Just you and your fiance. It’s the moment you wake up realizing you’re marrying the love of your life today. It’s saying your vows with your whole heart and believing them. It’s walking into your reception and feeling completely at home because it’s the truest reflection of who you two are. It’s not a production of should’s and shouldn’ts. You don’t have limitations on who you are as a couple, so why should your wedding day be limited to what other people think a wedding should be?
Let’s bring it back. Bring it back to what your wedding day is really about. Bring it back to you.
I believe that your wedding should be just you, in your most beautiful translation. Dearly, Created Lovely.
I’m a realistic. I’d love to say I was an optimistic. But truly, I’m a realist down to my core. I live my life seeing things exactly how they are– though I’ve been told by many I have rose tinted glasses on. Which is probably true too.
I don’t believe in people pleasing. I’m far too stubborn for that. I don’t believe that you can buy happiness. I love my job even if it means some months it’s a stretch to pay all of our bills. And I don’t believe in waiting for what you want. Even if it means our wedding happens in peak wedding season and babies come before we can afford a house.
I think sometimes we become so consumed with how we appear to others that we lose our sense of self and what we truly want. In my business coaching I’ve been challenged to ask myself “why” a lot. Why does my website look a certain way? Why do I offer the planning services I do? Why am I priced the way I am? And to be honest, my answers are horrendous. 9/10 of them are because that’s what I thought I should be doing. Since when is making my business model the same as everyone else’s what I should be doing? I was so afraid of being different that I became generic. I don’t want to go through the motions with my business and I definitely don’t want to go through the motions in life. I want to be real and I want to be honest. Not just to others, but also to myself.
I want to see more of who people truly are through their real life, blogs, and social media. I don’t want to see another good photo. Another good cake. Another nice table setting. Another pretty bride in a pretty dress. I want to know the person behind it so I can feel truly inspired by their work and their life. I want to see reality.
Let’s start being real.