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…
This past weekend one of our clients caused quite the stir on the internets when she decided to NOT wear a dress that was designated by a designer as a “wedding dress” and instead rock a gown that she felt (and looked) amazing in. The selection of her dress happened so organically and so suited her personality and the wedding celebration itself, I honestly never gave it a second thought when she sent me pics of the dress a few months ago. After all, we’ve had lots of brides in the past opt out of “traditional” wedding gowns in favor of the chance to wear something they found to be simply amazing.
The difference of course is that our other brides, though gorgeous and amazing, didn’t end up in People and so their individual choices end up largely remaining that- individual. When celebrity starts intersecting with even the more obscure “trends” of our industry, it becomes a permission slip to the general public to pick up those trends and run with them…especially when it taps into a permission that people are craving.
I raise this point not because I think because our client wore a non-wedding gown to her wedding that EVERY bride is going to start doing this, but I do think that more brides might say “Hmm, I could buy this $6,000 wedding gown or I could use this as an opportunity to wear Givenchy/McQueen/Balmain.”
This thought process is one that, as an industry, we need to get more prepared to see: where succumbing to established tradition as part of a rite of passage holds less value than the appeal of being yourself. Unless you’ve been under a rock, you’ve probably noticed that over the past 5-6 years weddings have been trending towards the more casual and even less traditional. Well hold on and prepare for more. As weddings become more and more expensive, more regular couples are starting to say “If we’re going to spend the money, let’s do it our way.” Especially as the sphere of celebrity- a term that has extended to include instagram sensations as well as movie stars- starts tapping into this tradition bucking trend and handing out permission slips. Remember when Matthew McConaughey and Camila Alva took everyone Glamping and no one knew what that was? How about Adam Levine at Flora Farms? Pamela Love?? And I’m assuming you are paying attention to pretty much EVERY low key, effortlessly glamorous romp around a wedding that Vogue is posting pretty much every day….
I bring this up because as an industry we have to remain flexible to what weddings are wanting to become and sell ourselves, talents and services accordingly. The surest fire way to date ourselves and render ourselves useless is to seem as though we have an idea of what a wedding should be. We can understand what makes a great party, we can create amazing photography, we can fundamentally have a design aesthetic, but the time has passed that people turn to wedding professionals for prescriptions on HOW their wedding should be handled. No one cares anymore how things are usually done, they care about how they would like them done and if you think that can work.
Every couple strives to have a “personal” wedding- and in many respects, of course it’s personal- it’s the two of your wedding and the people there are your collective friends and family- but most people want to take that further. Yet, often, beyond serving up your favorite cocktails and coming up with a clever monogram, it can be a challenge to rattle your creative cages and come up with something that feels really personal TO you.
A great place to start is a central idea/concept/thought that you want to have anchor the entire celebration… it can be super duper simple: like, love. Or, more complicated and hilarious (one friend said of his wedding “I want it to be like wearing a tuxedo and being offered coke by a butler on a solid silver tray and then jumping in a swimming pool…but without actually having drugs”). But having a centralized concept can help you to edit and infuse everything from the welcome bags to the decor.
A couple of years we were working on Jenna and Jeremy’s wedding at the Seeds of Peace Camp in Maine. Jeremy had been involved with the camp- whose mission is to send Israeli and Palestinian children- as well as other children from regions of religious conflict- to summer camp together. When the time came for us to work on the invitations, Jenna brought to us a poem that had always made her think of Jeremy… but that she also thought was fitting for the camp…. in fact, it turned out, it’s verses inspired some of the concept of the camp itself. We decided to have this inscribed on the back of their wooden invitations, with one phrase penned by a calligrapher that we would work into our design later…. The poem:
The rest of the invite suite foretold some of the experience, but this poem was really meant to set the tone of the mood. The phrase “There is a field, I’ll meet you there” became a bit of a theme for their destination wedding. We had it inscribed on the welcome totes, and as guests explored the camp grounds, they soon realized that they had arrived when they saw this…
At the wedding ceremony itself- held in the camp’s activity hall- we had an aisle runner made by The Original Runner Co. inscribed with the phrase and after the ceremony guests went back out to “the Field” to celebrate with cocktails.
Fast forward two summers to now- and part of what inspired this post- we are currently designing a benefit celebration for the Seeds of Peace organization happening this fall. I was going through some photos of the most recent session of camp- truly moving photos seeing all the children playing together given the current state of affairs in Israel and Gaza- when I happen to notice the banner over the kids playing below…. Jenna and Jeremy had their aisle runner worked into a quilted banner surrounded by their Seeds of Peace T-shirts from various years. The banner now hangs in the Activity Hall, just a little to the right of where they got married.
The truth of the matter is, personalization is not for the faint of heart. It’s a lot of work and detail to pull an idea through an entire day or weekend or even just a few hours at a reception…. but, when done well, the payoff is so yummy! It gave me a thrill to see that some small part of the months and weeks that went into planning that celebration was able to live on at camp… but it was able to live on because there was some meaning to it.
Click here if you want to check out more details from Jenna and Jeremy’s Maine Wedding.
I recently was invited to go somewhere, and when I received the invitation I was less than elated. Everything in me said that I should just decline the invite, mainly because my heart wasn’t in it and attending required quite a bit of effort. Yet, I paused because I didn’t want to hurt the hosts feelings and many friends and colleagues would expect that they would see me there and I didn’t have the energy/guts/desire to be honest about why I didn’t want to go, nor did I have the energy/guts desire to make up half-truths either (don’t they just feel awful coming out of your mouth?).
So, I mustered up some gusto, sent my affirmative reply and before you know it there I was. This is where I’m now supposed to tell you “and boy was I glad that I was a trooper and showed up because it turned out to be a wonderful experience!”… except that it didn’t. In fact, my dread upon receiving the invite was sort of unidentified ambiguous malaise, but by the time I left it was honestly irritation, mild frustration and anger- not at my host, but at myself, for not listening to my gut that this was not a good idea for me.
I read a pretty awesome Thought Catalogue piece on 10 ways we make our lives unnecessarily harder and one of them- the one that stuck with me- was not allowing people to rob you of your time. I have historically been most guilty of this- largely because my people pleasing manifests in taking meetings and accepting invitations that my gut instinct tells me aren’t essential. It dawned on me that this most recent invite was just an extreme manifestation of something that’s been playing out for me personally for years.. I suspect I am not alone.
In this age of Push, Push, Push and Round the Clock Living and Living Your Best Life, we have become conditioned to interpreting an aversion to doing something as being lazy, or “not going for it!” or worse, “succumbing to fears” … when in actuality all that we are doing is ignoring our gut. “Bad Feelings” about potential clients doesn’t always equal a fear or being challenged that needs to be overcome…. it can also mean just say no to the job. A sense of hesitation about attending an industry event because it’s going to throw your entire weeks’ production schedule out of whack doesn’t mean that you need to get over your shy-ness or are being too lazy to network… it means your better instinct knows this will create more anxiety for you in the long run.
If you aren’t sure that you know the difference, my intuitive advisor/psychic friend Gemma has a good rule of thumb for knowing the difference: anxiety and fear responses to experiences, invitations, situations are more immediate feeling and out of control while a bad gut feels a bit more like a pit the drops you down an octave or two… like the blah sense of malaise I described feeling above (if only I heeded my own words!).
As business owners, listening to our gut can help us manage our time better in so many ways: avoiding future difficult customer service situations or bad business partnerings. Going with our gut can help us get that precious time back with our kids/husbands/friends/ourselves that we always wish we had more of by helping us to edit our calendars and decline more useless invites/meetings/etc. And it can generally go a long way to keeping you on a focused path towards where you want to be.
Happy Wednesday!!!! xoxox
I’m always super inspired by the Paris Couture shows… Not so much by the clothes (which, of course, are inspiring) but the Couture shows always really bring it in the Set Design department, which can be really helpful sources for inspiration when it comes to event design.
A few years ago I was totally obsessed with this structure at the top of the runway at the Dolce and Gabbana Couture show.
So much so that it inspired this chuppah structure from a wedding that we did this past May.
With that in mind, here are a few of the set “looks” from the fall couture shows that I found particularly inspiring!
How fabulous is this Black and White with the lush and dramatic greenery? From the Valentino collection.
Loved this Baby blue, white and Gilded mirror look at Chanel… especially with the pastel pops and tons of white!
If you love the drama, how tremendous is the Atelier Versace with the deep plum rug and black with just a hint of gold?
What shows are inspiring you these days?