Lessons learned in wedding planning.
I recently read somewhere that the engagement process is sort of a right of passage. The process of planning a wedding puts couples through issues they will undoubtly face in their marriage: budgeting finances, communicating concerns, balancing home and work (because let me tell you, wedding planning is full-time job) and making compromises ( "A sectional? But I hate sectionals" is the wedding day equivalant of "Does your Best Man really need to recap your frat years?"). Dealing with these issues together is a true cornerstone in building a successful relationship, and what I have also learned; a successful business in the wedding industry.
Planning my own wedding has completely shifted my business outlook. As a vendor it's easy to say "Ughhhh, this client is emailing me to death!" but as a bride I can now see why clients are blowing up your inbox. After spending a "wedding weekend" trying to plan things with my mother (aka J.Lo in the Wedding Planner), I found it easy to get overwhelmed. There were certain instances that we were asking vendors specific questions, drawing out floor plans (yep, floorplans. I'm a DESIGNER! I have to PLAN!) and noting potential hazards like "how much weight can the ceiling hold?". After getting varied responses and, to be quite honest, some rather hesitant remarks, I quickly became discouraged. After hours of standing in our reception space, trying to envision exactly where each table would be, my vendor informed me "that is something I will get with the caterer on and take care of". Oh, really? That was news to me. I was under the impression that this particular coordinator's job was to simply be a representative of the venue and, per the contract, was "NOT your wedding coordinator". Fighting back tears of an incredibly stressful day, I attempted to banish the negativity from our gloriousssss plans and press on.
Hours later, it hit me.
I was, apparently, completely uninformed of what exactly my vendors were offering, the specifics, their job descriptions, and as a Bride what I should be taking care of and inquiring about. Hence my (again, Jasmine Star! There goes that word again!) business revelation came into play:
With my clients I need to educate, educate, educate.
My clients won't always know what services I provide unless I inform them. My clients won't necessarily understand that it is imperative to be on time to their 3:30 p.m. session, not because I am a diva, but because the sun will set soon and that means less shooting time! My Bride's may not really think about the potential for an amazing pre-wedding experience while doing a "First Look" if I don't share experiences with them. How can I expect them to know these things if I don't tell them? Often times it's a Bride's first go at wedding planning, and to them nothing is more daunting or overwhelming. It is my job, as a professional, but more-so as someone who genuinely cares, to inform them to the best of my abilities about everything they should expect out of my service. My bride should never be left wondering how to figure it out on her own. They chose me for (hopefully!) my personality and skill, but pay me for my professionalism and knowledge. How am I supposed to know I need to send a JPEG of our wedding announcement if you don't tell me?
As it may have been a stressful day, and I am sure there are more to come before our August 13th wedding, I am taking in all in stride. Not only because it's our wedding day and will be fabulous regardless (oh you know it!), but I have grown so much from my personal experience and in turn related it to how I work my business. We are the professionals and it is our responsibility to inform our clients of the ins and outs. Making a living from our craft is an incredible blessing, but speaking from a current Bride's perspective, nothing is more important than spending the day with a vendor that you trust, appreciate and love. To me, that is the true honor in being a hired photographer. I may have wanted to pull my hair out just three weeks ago, but instead I have parlayed the wisdom into a new business structure, and that right there makes all of the frustrations worthwhile. I am thankful for the bumps in the road that have made me reflect on what I could be doing better as a professional, even more thankful that I have not encountered any confusion with my clients, but this realization insures that for the future. Girls, don't fret. I feel ya. You want it to be perfect. I can relate. (And I love those shoes!)
& if not anything, this mentality will at least keep your inbox clear of emails from frantic Brides...apparently like myself. ;)
& all our vendors out there...I love you all. Promise.