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WPW: When Wedding Pros…Divorce?

Posted by on Aug 6, 2014 in Industry Advice | 4 Comments

I am just back from the truly fabulous Sage Wedding Pros conference (full recap coming up!) and a conversation that I had there inspired this slightly more personal-subject post.  Someone I met was telling me about a friend/colleague who was getting a divorce and was worried news getting out would hurt her business… I assured her that it would not, but totally empathized with the fear- as it struck me as totally familiar.

When wedding pros get married, it makes a lot of splash in the industry: Photographers’ weddings in Martha Stewart, Planners’ weddings in The Knot, even my Bestie Mayra had her wedding all over Style Me Pretty; but truth be told each year an equal number of fabulous wedding professionals are more quietly suffering/coping/negotiating/celebrating the ends of marriages that are no longer working.  These separations are less likely to be shared on Facebook or Twitter, as frankly, the tools we use to share our acumen at weddings can feel an awkward place to talk at all about divorce.

I am nearly 6 years divorced from my Ex-husband and I’ve spoken to many, many colleagues over the years about the totally weird experience of ending a marriage while selling/ working on the joy of weddings.  I can confidently offer these few bits of advice to any of you out there going through this same thing.

It won’t effect your business.  Truth be told, no one who is engaged thinks that their planner/designer/florist/photog is selling them a future perfect marriage- they are just coming to you to make the wedding day look/feel/taste awesome.  You don’t sell marriages, so it’s irrelevant if you don’t feel “good at that” in this moment.

Being married doesn’t need to be part of your sales strategy.  I very much used to chat about my own wedding in my sales pitch.  Naturally, while you are getting a divorce, you might not want to bring up the D word in your pitch- (but that’s not the end of the world either- see below)- but if someone is getting married where you did, or using your same band or whatever, and normally you’d say “I love them- we used them at my wedding!”, just end the sentence with “I love them”.

If for some reason it does come up….they won’t break (or fire you).  You aren’t wearing a scarlet letter.  I’ll never forget the morning when my client Natalie texted me a pic she found on my makeup artists site of my wedding and was like “you were married??”.  My heart sunk . I felt like my divorce would taint her engagement. Instead she wanted to hear all about it and ask if I was dating, etc.  Millennials are not dummies. Some of their parents have divorced, some of their siblings have divorced… They aren’t living in vacuums.  If it does come up, you can highlight your own optimism of getting it right the next time (if you feel that way)

It’s normal to feel a little bummed out about being AT weddings all the time.  When you are going through a divorce (or even just a breakup) it’s logical that being at a wedding might make you dwell on what once was.  You might feel blue, or cynical or jaded.   If this is you, maybe it’s time to lean a bit on others and explore new channels of work.  I was lucky and had a partner, but maybe now is the time to empower an assistant you’ve been training. Or to take some corporate projects for variety. Or to do some commercial shoots.  Variety in your work can be really helpful in breaking things up – especially at the height of wedding season.  I took some non- profit work and it also exposed me to a whole new group of friends/ colleagues at a time where that was really useful.

You’ll Eventually Feel Relatively Normal at Work again.  I was pretty much useless at work for a couple of months dealing with the messiness that comes with divorce- moving, arguing, erratic emails that throw you off your groove when you are finally back to work.  It’s doubly true when you have children.  It’s Ok.  Again, don’t be afraid to call in some help to pick up your slack if you need it.

You’ll totally meet someone new…eventually.   For the newly single, it can be a little daunting meeting with happy couple after happy couple… especially when you feel like “you’ll never meet anyone again.” When not dating anyone myself, I now find meeting new clients pretty romantically inspiring. I like hearing how they met- it gets me excited for who might turn up in my own life now that I have a better idea of what would work for me. True, I was born an optimist, but it works!

Remember, you aren’t the first, you won’t be the last.  You might not feel like broadcasting about your divorce like a profile piece in NY Weddings, but it’s nothing to be ashamed of either. Remember, it actually takes a ton of guts to start anew…

4 Comments

  1. Heather Canada, MBC
    August 6, 2014

    Thank you for sharing your story! I, too, am almost 6 years divorced, and went through another messy breakup last year. I still catch myself referencing my wedding occasionally, but I never worried being divorced would affect my business. I did, of course, worry about my mental state and lack of focus affecting it. But, like you said, having other projects to invest time and energy really helped me as well. Great post, as always!

    Reply
    • The Blogsmaid
      August 7, 2014

      Heather! Thank you so much!! Really appreciate it! xoxo

      Reply
  2. Michelle Loretta
    August 7, 2014

    WOW! Such a great post Xochitl! This is a hard business… and I think it can be stressful on a relationship. I’ve had a number of wedding pro friends get divorced… the reasons were many… but the pressure of never seeing a spouse on weekends can add to any friction that’s already there.

    I had an employee who had left her wedding planning business after a divorce. I think the hardest part was that she was actually quite bitter about marriage. This was challenging for me as she was hired to interacting with clients. I think it was too much too soon for her (to be involved with wedding couples).

    I think I’d add that if someone is bitter or cynical about marriage or weddings that they may need to take a little time off until they are in a healthier place. (Your advice on take ‘non wedding’ event work is spot on!)

    I’m going to bookmark this for a couple friends who are going through this also.

    Reply
    • The Blogsmaid
      August 7, 2014

      Thanks Michelle!! And thanks for sharing!

      Reply

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