Boss Lady Beginnings: First Wedding Season Lessons

Happy Monday Boss Ladies!

I can't believe my first wedding season is over! It's been a busy first season and I am so grateful for each and every one of my brides and styled shoots.  I've learned a lot in the past few months and I can't wait to share it with other planners-both new and old! Here are my top 5 tips I've learned this season!

1. Don't Try To Do It Alone!

My first wedding, I only had 2 hours to go in a decorate for a 185 person reception.  Luckily, I had my mom, grandma, and husband with me to assist in styling everything.  We folded napkins into bows, set centerpieces, styled the head table, put out the place cards and favors, and added all the decor for the room.  I learned quickly that if I wouldn't have had them with me, I wouldn't have been able to get everything done.  Since then, my husband has been my AMAZING assistant at each event.  I also had some students from University of Iowa come to assist me at my biggest wedding this year.  I quickly learned that these assistants are irreplaceable and I now require an additional paid assistant at any wedding over 180 people or two with any wedding over 250 people.  


2. Decide What You Want To Offer and What You Can't Do:

I learned very quickly that not all venues set up chairs and tables or deal with trash clean up or clearing of dishes. I also learned that without a big team of people behind me, I can't set up heavy chairs and tables AND decorate and style the room AND make sure that the bridal party has everything they need.  Make sure you accept you can't do it all before promising a bride you can.  Under promise and over deliver--you want to go above and beyond with your brides and if you promise them too much, you're more likely to miss a detail and have bride upset.  Instead, you want them to be impressed because you're doing more than you were contracted for--that's what's going to get you GREAT reviews and referrals! 


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3. Make Sure You Have a Contract!

I made sure from Day One that I had a contract.  I got mine through Rachel Brenke, you can get it here. I've definitely found that I need to have EVERYTHING in writing. And even though it's in writing, review it with your client!  It's hard to tell your client "no", but it's so important! I have it in bold in my contract that I don't include the set up tables and chairs, because I just don't have time or the man power on the event day.  Unfortunately I've run into things on event days that are clearly stated in my contract that I don't include in my services. The first few events I took on a lot of additional tasks and was able to still take care of all of my assigned tasks, but it's so easy to miss something when you go off schedule! Going forward I am going to be very careful to review my contract and I'm starting to include a "Day Of Surprises" Checklist to review with the bride. I am planning a full blog post on what I'm including on that!


4. Decide What makes your business special

Comparison is the thief of joy.  Don't compare yourself to others, especially if they've been in business longer than you!  My Instagram feed? It's thought out and styled-my life doesn't actually look like that and most other creatives on Instagram are probably the same way!  Nobody wants to follow you if your pictures are filled with the piles of neglected laundry that you need to fold or the dishes in the sink that you just don't have the energy to wash today.  Remember that everyone is working to show off the best part of their business.  Show off what works for you and focus on your strengths! Pick your style and use images from each of your events that reflect that to your prospective customers. I learned quickly that I love wedding design and now I offer design aspects in each of my packages.    


5. Be Prepared to Say No If the Client Isn't the Right Fit

You guys--this is the hardest lesson I learned.  When you're new, all you want is new clients, more experience, and stunning work for your portfolio.  If you haven't already branded your business and determined your ideal client, stop right now and do that!  If you have determined your ideal client, I am not saying that you should ONLY book those clients, experience is important as well! But, make sure you're not taking on clients that are absolutely wrong for your style.  Listen to your intuition, if you're sensing some big red flags at your initial consultation, you're probably not the right fit for that client.  And I promise you won't do your best work if the client isn't the right fit for your business. I added a new section to you website "About the C&C Bride" after making the mistake of taking on a wedding that didn't match my style.  As hard as it is to say no to potential income, it's so important to remember that as you're building your portfolio, you want to show off events that match your ideal customer. 


It was so hard to cut this list off at 5!  I might do a part two in a few weeks.  If you're a new planner just through your first year, I'd love to hear some of your favorite tips!  Or if you're just launching your business, I'd love to hear what you found most helpful!