This week the mega-summit of luxury wedding professionals, Engage, took place at The Breakers. It’s an inspiring conference, and I was terribly sad that I couldn’t be down there (and so I consoled myself with twitter stalking instead). From having attended in the past, one of the reasons that it’s so inspiring is that it is a forum for celebrating excellence in craft AND business. One reason I started writing Wedding Pro Wednesday was because while Mayra and I may be creative professionals, we are also operating a business, and we wanted to share some of the lessons we’ve learned (sometimes in real time as we were learning them!). But, I think it’s equally important to share the successes of others, because that’s also terribly inspiring. We can learn so much from our colleagues, especially when we get past the notion that there is a success pie and more for one person means less for you.
SO, here are to some of our colleagues in the industry who have had BEYOND banner years; they have taken their craft AND their career to the next level and should be applauded.
Christian Oth. Celebrating 10 years in this business, Christian has elevated the business of wedding photography. He’s transformed what we think of “wedding photography”, but has also elevated the business aspect of this area of the industry, period. Recognizing that his work is one of a kind, he has always been bold enough to charge for it. He has made a policy of sticking to his guns on prices and services and, in turn, has luxury clientele who respect his studio as a place of artistry and business. He was also bold enough to grow: bringing in amazing talent under him and elevate them to success as well. Shawn Connell and Sue Kessler have become sought after and command top fees as well, and in raising the tide of quality, he has lifted all the boats.
Luis Rodriguez has been an open “secret” in New York for many years . We first worked together in 2006 and I fell in love. He is the Sam Fine of wedding makeup. He was a star at Chanel- when ladies from the board would come in from Paris, they all sought Luis to do their makeup- but he truly shone taking care of his brides and clients at events. His talent and professionalism rivals only his calm demeanor and many a client (including me) has a hard time going to anything special with out his hand in our look. This year , in recognizing his own talent, he has branched out on his own (a bold move in and of itself) and cut back his other work to build his own eponymous business specializing in special event makeup. He is launching his own website filled with all his gorgeous brides and ladies at luisrodriguezmakeup.com
Amanda Allen of Newlywish is rethinking what registering can be and capitalizing on the generational shift towards uniquely designed homes and lives into big business. By mixing larger brands like Wedgwood and Waterford with offerings from local boutiques and speciality shops who had lacked registry capability, she is able to offer clients a totally one of a kind, curated registry experience. She launched Newlywish a few years back, but 2012 sees her poised to take her business to the next level: She recently won the Women 2.o NYC Pitch startup competition and the tech world is taking notice!
Leonardo Lorenzo is the perfect example of where your career can go when you focus on the relentless pursuit of excellence in all aspects of what you do. Leo is the newly appointed Director of Catering at the Waldorf Astoria Chicago, Conde Nast Traveller’s #1 hotel according to readers. I focus a lot on small business owners here, but in truth, in this industry our reputations and our commitment to working to elevate clients dreams stands on the laurels of an individual as much as any large name brand. Leo has worked in top properties in Chicago as well as at the Waldorf here in New York before being tapped for this position.
Amy Atlas has taken her stunning dessert tables and evolved into an entertaining and lifestyle brand. This year, in addition to her launching Sweet Designs, her hybrid baking/crafting/entertaining book that was filled with how to and oohs and ahs, she was profiled in O magazine and appears in a series of Ikea ads in a joint O project about Life Improvement. She still finds the time to remain as sweet as her tables! I’m enamoured of how her commitment to celebrating delightful details has inspired so many at home entertainers and her embrace of their work (she often features other people’s sweets tables on her blog) is part of what makes her more than a business, but a brand!
Abby Larson also knows a thing or two about branding. SMP and it’s popularity have caused old dogs like us to learn new tricks. With the size of her audience, the days upon days of pretty, her carefully curated LBB listings (we are honored to be a member) and now the afterlife that a posting on SMP can have on Pinterest, she’s elevated what it means to be featured on a blog… it isn’t just a blog it’s Style Me Pretty… (one blogger wrote “Just as designers dream of having a project featured in their favorite shelter magazine, and actresses hope to land the cover of national women’s publications, brides around the globe have one goal: get on Style Me Pretty.” So we weren’t surprised to hear that some of the “Big Media” have taken notice of SMP- earlier this month she inked a deal with AOL to become an official part of their lifestyle group. Add to that her new book! From a love affair with weddings to a blog to becoming part of the biggest media brand in the world- that is something to be proud of.
Kathy Romero is going global! This year she took the opportunity of a lifetime – she joined the team at Preston Bailey Design as their Director of Wedding Planning and Client Relations. Being offered that position does not come lightly- it not only takes capability it takes likeability and a great reputation. All of which, Kathy had built a wealth of while building a business of her own at Kathy Romero Events. No matter how amazing the opportunity, deciding to make bold change requires courage and flexibility and I admire her fearlessness. Kathy’s commitment to excellence and one of a kind persona is sure to make her a global sensation as part of the PBD Team. I cannot wait to hear all of her adventures!
Saipua I got to spend a lot of amazing time with Sarah at Saipua this year. This year she probably produced some of the most stunning work in flowers that I’ve ever seen and it dawned on me that to call her a florist is a misnomer. She is the most pure artist that I maybe have ever met… her medium is flowers. So I was not at all surprised to learn that late last year (and all this year) Sarah and her partner Eric have been plotting, sewing and growing their own flowers up at World’s End, their flower farm. Frustrated with the lack of interesting blooms available in the local market, Sarah and Eric decided to take matters into their own hands and grow with love and care and passion all the things they know they would love to work with. If that isn’t bold business, I don’t know what is. Their first harvest should be coming soon and I can’t wait to see!
Shark Pig This year was the first year ever that I was sent a video of a wedding virally that didn’t involve a dance down the aisle or an embarrassing toast. It was simply so very pretty, and different and modern that it took my breath away. It was made by Shark Pig and while I certainly have my FAVORITE videographers (and I definitely do) I called them on the spot to see about doing something for a client we were working with who was a film maker. Non linear, dreamy and short and to the point, The video in question was of a low key wedding in a field (aren’t they all?… kidding) BUT I think that their work (they have advertising backgrounds) really taps into the mood, aesthetic and vibe that contemporary couples WANT their memories to have….
Liene Stevens Back in April Liene and her business The Splendid Collective Launched a new arm: Form + Function which is a series of affordable human resources tools to help small business owners designed with the wedding and hospitality business in mind. If that weren’t impressive enough, 2012 saw her offer up what I can only call ground breaking research in who our new client is here, where you are as you read this, and everywhere: The Millenial. She is putting out such easy to digest, imperative information you need to go over to her site right now and READ EVERYTHING. Her research is so important to people like us, who sell emotions in many ways, that she is truly doing us a service by even explaining it to us. I sited some of her facts at a conference recently and one person came up to me afterwards and said “I just thought I had a slew of Bridezillas, it turns out that they are just Millenials.”
Other pretty awesome accomplishments by our peers: Marcy Blum released a Revised version of her classic “Wedding Planning for Dummies” as someone tweeted, every Smarty needs a copy; Matthew Robbins authored his Inspired Designs this year; Keija Minor was named the Editor in Chief of Bride’s Magazine, making her not only the first African American to head a Conde Nast publication, but, I’m going to bet the most accomplished career switch in history (from Corporate Law to EIC!)- the December issue is her first EIC mast head; Bernadette of 14 Stories launched a line of women’s tuxedos called Fourteen; and, as previously noted, Julie Sabatino launched The Stylish Dresser. Most lovingly, Lindsay Landman took up the inaugural presidency of New York’s first Wish Upon a Wedding with great success.
And, if you are wondering about the video that I just fell in love with… here it is.
It’s that time of the year again. A magical time filled with lights, over-eating, holiday decor…and Elf in heavy rotation. I can not tell you how much I love this movie. I won’t go into it because I don’t think that I would be able to stop, so let’s just say I am a fan. This also means that you are probably searching for the perfect gift for your nearest and dearest for Hanukkah or Christmas. If you are planning your wedding now, then you also probably feeling very thankful for all of those around you helping you with your preparations.
For your Maid (Matron) of Honor/ Bestie-
Now as much as we all love the half of the BFF heart, sometimes we wish there was something a little more sophisticated to take it’s place. Your gift answers have been answered! Check out this amazing Large Semi-Medallion Necklace from Brooklyn & Lyn. Same sentiment, but for the Bestie that wants something more original.
If your bestie tends to be a little high-strung (not that I am saying that mine does:) you might want to give her a fabulous Yoga Mat to help her unwind. Besides, with all of the listening about your wedding plans she has had to do, then doesn’t she deserve this? Croc Embossed Rubber Yoga Mat with Leather Strap by Alexander Wang (212-977-9683), $150.
For your Mom/Future Mother in Law: After the planning was over, I wanted to give my mom everything in the world. The poor woman had to endure all of my freak out. Not known to be a patient person in general, the planning did not make things better. I think that this would make her feel better! Who doesn’t love to sleep in something amazing!
Women’s Silk Pajama Set by La Perla, $298
For your bridesmaids: I find that the best gifts are those that we love but would never buy for ourselves. One of my favorite things are Diptyque candles and I never want to splurge on them. However, I would love to buy them for women I love!
For your bridesmaids with a little bit of a wilder side: This needs so explanation. WOW! Salted Shot glasses! This holiday season Xochitl and I will be making our way to Tequila, Mexico. We should bring these with us!
Himalayan Salt Shot Glasses made by The Spice Lab (www.UncommonGoods.com), $30 Set of 4
For your Groomsmen: I can’t even talk about how cool I think this is…for anyone! Fabulous local food delivered to your home. Your groomsmen will love you every month (for at least 3 months:)!
Indie Food: Pickle Every Month Subscription (www.newyorkmouth.com), from $120 for 3 months
For Your Father/ Father in-Law with a bent on supporting local businesses: Replace his Kindle with a Kobo, where he can now purchase Kobos and titles from their LOCAL book store (they partnered with the American Booksellers Association earlier this year to launch the program.) The retailers share in revenues of the books if the Kobo is purchased through them. We’ll get ours at The Greenlight Bookstore, but here is where you can get yours close to you!
Though it was nearly two months ago, I still can’t stop talking about the all sorts of awesome that was Heather Waraksa’s wedding. One of my favorite parts about it was the “dance” portion, that was in a clearing in the woods, where guests could dance under the stars, around a giant, 12 foot tall bonfire, or kick it in the TeePee she and Jonathan had put up. It was as awesome as it sounds… (A couple of images below from Angelica Glass).
So, I should not be at all surprised that Heather is (as usual) ahead of the curve with bringing the Tipi to the wedding. As a matter of fact, or wedding loving neighbors across the pond (and apparently halfway around the world in Australia) are already living up the best days of their lives IN tee pees. I present to you PapaKata, the Wedding Tipi company! Based in the UK (there is another company that also has Kata style tents in Australia). Glam brides will always have clear span tents, Preppy gals love a Sperry and FINALLY something for the couple with an inner flower child yearning to dance inside a tipi. (Images via PapaKata and James and Lianne Photography)
Mayra and I are currently the clients in a creative endeavor (I’m going to stay vague here- because it could be redecorating the office or redesigning a logo- the principle is the same). Try though we might be inclined, we simply cannot do this project ourselves. Lack of skill to execute properly and a lack of time made us realize we needed to hire someone- a professional. And because it’s a creative project, we knew we needed to trust them with our “vision”. This project is of extreme importance to us and, we have distinct opinions of how we want the final outcome to be, but we acknowledge that we don’t have the technical skills to execute without expert help. Its an expensive project.
In short, we have placed ourselves in exactly the shoes that our (and your) clients are in when they hire you (or us) to create their vision for their wedding.
It’s been an enlightening experience. Particularly because I realized that, in some moments, we have become “bad clients” (annoying, naggy, seemingly impatient) and, since I’ve always argued there are no bad clients, just unmet anxieties, We have had a birds eye view to two common mistakes we’ve made in the past that have led to “bad” client behavior. I’ll share them with you here as a little food for thought!
1. Only mushrooms like the dark.
There basically can never be enough information shared about what to expect along the road to creative process… This is something that we KNEW and have worked to implement, but only in this current process of being a client did we realize that when we wouldn’t know what would come next we would start to feel panic. The thoughts “did they hear us?” “was this the right team for us?” and the instinctive urge to keep sending emails making sure that “we are on the right track” become harder to fight when you aren’t certain where along in the process you stand.
2. Pro-Actions always inspire more confidence than reactions. As a wedding pro doing this for such a long time, I of course, have gotten the email of “should we have done invitations by now?” and, have always grimaced, because it’s the moment when it’s suddenly unclear of WHO is in charge. The implied lack of confidence that the question posits is valid. Reacting, instead of being proactive, is the surest way put yourself on the defensive that you are, in fact, the “authority” and were hired for a reason.
For us, being a client has come at the perfect time- just as we acknowledge our own need to refine processes. I’ve appreciated how very common it is for creative types with expertise to want to feel that clients should “just trust them” and get out of their hair, but I’ve come to see that sometimes that very desire for creative independence with work has creates more client struggle than freedoms.
Are you illuminating your clients path? Are you providing yourself with built in opportunities to be proactive AND guide them through a process?
Adios from poolside in Cancun!
As I mentioned, I have been in Mexico all weekend/ week speaking at the Love Mexico conference…
Getting out the door was nothing short of disastrous. As I ran around my house at 3:30 in the morning half dressed, saving things on flash drives while I tried to find the “right sister” to my left neutral open toe pump (no such luck!) I thought to myself “If you were your Aunt Linda, your bag would have been packed last night and you’d be wearing a very jaunty scarf right now.”. I don’t know why it always goes this way….
The irony is that when it comes to weddings, I am always so ON IT… But maybe that’s why when it comes to things like dry cleaning pick up and shoe resole-ing, I’m so tragically out of luck! Packing/ trip prep fell behind because I, as I’m wont to do, was perfecting the images for my talk on Mexico as Inspiration.
I found so many new and delicious images, I had to share a couple of them with you. I love how this wedding used Mexican pottery for their reception! Via Snippet and Ink, more here
This couple had their wedding in a more remote, lush green area of Mexico and how fabulously rich are these runners of watercolor! And the turquoise napkin detail is to die for!
How gorgeous ! More of this wedding via pinterest
This color combo and talavera inspired detail on the program was perfection! Photo by Elizabeth Medina and more images here
But, my absolute FAVORITE is this amazing wedding canopy! From the color (perfect Mexican blue!) to the lace (like an amazing linen you’d see in a hacienda) to the papel picado trim and the piece de resistance: the sacred heart details!!! It couldn’t be anything BUT a wedding in Mexico. Sigh and swoon! Photo by el photo and more here
Tata for now, friends! I’ll be donning my turban and bikini briefs for some pool time later this afternoon, catching up on my Thomas Jefferson book… Assuming I remembered to pack my swimsuit…