I just started a mini series about getting started in events/weddings. If you have been following along you will know that my last post was all about getting an education. This post will focus in a bit more on who you are and whether this line of work is suited for you, because it isn’t for everyone!
You must be a people person
The one thing I did not expect in this industry is the amount of time you spend with your clients. What matters most is that your clients are happy. Families get into heated discussions. Couples fight about planning all the time. You can be the most talented designer/planner in the world, but if you are not a people person, you won’t survive. In the same way, designing and planning an event does not happen in a bubble. So many interactions with vendors and clients come into play to make a successful event/wedding.
Are you an introvert? Not able to handle fussy people? I would think twice about this line of work. You must love connecting with others, meeting new people and not be afraid to network.
It is a lot of desk work
Beyond the wedding day and being out for client meetings, I spend a surprising amount of time at my desk answering emails, putting together floorplans and hustling over the phone. It isn’t always glamorous and playing with flowers. Some days I am stuck at home the whole day answering emails! It is quite a mix of work environments and your schedule will pull you in many different directions. You must be able to be disciplined in getting work done without a boss hovering over you.
It is hard work
As an events or wedding planning you will regularly find yourself working outside of normal working hours; that is a non-negotiable. Events and weddings rarely happen in the 9-5 grind. Weddings especially happen on Saturdays, so I often don’t have a weekend in high season. Since it is client-driven work, with events and weddings often booked months ahead of time, your social life is a second priority. Your paying clients come first!
Not only are you working outside normal hours, on the wedding day you are the first one there and the last one to leave. Just to give you an idea, my wedding days are typically 12-14 hour days on my feet, and I take a couple days to recover. It is both emotionally and physically draining for that long day, not to mention all the energy and time it takes to lead up to the day. You have to really enjoy it, if you are going to make a career out of it! In the wedding and event industry, expect long days and hard work.
It is all about sales
Going along with the fact that it is such client-driven work, it took me a while to get used to all the initial meetings where I essentially had to sell my services to strangers. I’m quite used to working with people who know me, my style and what I am capable of. They know I produce quality work and I just have to ‘work my magic’. Trust is already there. But when you are meeting a couple for the first time, you have about an hour to build the trust up and communicate all that you have to offer. After all they are paying you money and entrusting their most special day to you. It takes a lot of practice to do this well! It still is a bit unnerving meeting people for the first time, whom you have no relation to, who likely found you off Google.
When I started out over 8 years ago, I did not land a single wedding client who was a stranger. Referrals were an easy sell, but couples who found me on google just didn’t click. Now I book probably a fairly high percentage of the couples that I meet with (thank you for your trust! I’m thankful for each one of you!). It probably has to do with a good website and many years in the industry, but it took many years to master the art of a good sales meeting.
It is a lot of work to own your own business
In addition to countless initial meetings, I always am networking, giving out my cards and finding new ways to promote what I do. Beyond the ups and downs of event/wedding planning itself, a huge part of it is the business side of things.
Doing your own taxes.
Getting your expenses together.
Updating your website.
Keeping up with social media.
Putting together contracts and keeping up with client payments.
You must be business-savvy to make it on your own. I’d say only 60% of what I do is actual client work and 40% is business and admin.
You must have a thick skin
With any people-oriented, service-driven industry, you will soon enough realize that you will always have to take beef from people. Not every client is easy-going with deep pockets. Many clients are on a tight budget and expecting you to give them the world with it, and then will voice their opinions when they don’t get it.
When a mistake happens, it falls on your shoulders of the event manager or wedding coordinator. As a coordinator, you take the responsibility of the success of the whole event. When problems arise, you are the one people turn to. When budgets don’t balance, you are the one to blame. When guests aren’t happy, guess who everyone sends them to. You get the point.
If you don’t have a thick skin already, you will learn to develop one. Not only do you need a thick skin, you need to still be happy and pleasant when you interact with unhappy guests or clients. When event jobs require the lucrative ‘interpersonal skills’, they actually mean it. This is all apart of a day’s work!
So, if you plan on getting an education and you have the people skills to make it work, you’re off to a good start. But an education and a great attitude won’t do you any good without any contracted work where you make money! My next and last post will focus a bit on the job aspect of it and actually making money.
Also in this series:
Rebecca Chan is a Toronto wedding planner and day of wedding coordinator providing sophisticated planning for the style-savvy couple. Whether you need planning assistance or wedding day coordination, Rebecca can help you create your dream wedding day. Contact her today, she'd love to hear from you.