For twelve years I owned and operated a successful event planning business called ‘Celebration Creations’. You name it, I planned it. Weddings, birthday parties, job fairs, bridal expos, conferences, medical presentations, company events, and I even started an annual ‘Idol’ competition, which is still going strong under a new coordinator.
It was hard work, long hours, every weekend in the summer was booked with a wedding, and it was starting to wear on me. I was not as young as I was when I started this venture, and I would be so exhausted after a whirlwind weekend! It’s also challenging working for people who often had unrealistic expectations, and more times than not it was the clients who had what I called ‘diamond dreams and a Jell-O budget’ who gave me the worse headaches.
I have to say that for the most part, I had really wonderful clients who were respectful, supportive and grateful for what my team and I did for them. In fact, in many families I coordinated the weddings for siblings or extended family members, and they were wonderful relationships, many of whom I have stayed in touch over the years.
In 2019 I decided it was time to get out of the event planning business, so I hung up my ‘wedding planner’ apron for good.
It takes a lot of patience to plan and execute an event for someone else, especially something as personal as a wedding. Everyone has their own idea of what will make their event special. Many try to save money and have DIY (do it yourself) elements. No matter how many times I tried to explain that this will cause more stress than if you just hired someone to do it for you, they never listened. Sure enough, by the week of the wedding they are scrambling trying to make the favors, centerpieces, desserts or maybe a friend was going to take pictures and they bailed at the last minute, meaning a last-minute scramble for a photographer.
The ‘Event Planner’ motto is do what needs to be done, no matter what. And when things go awry, just fix it the best way you can, often without the couple or client knowing what you did. On one hand you want to take care of any last-minute crisis, that’s why they hired you. On the other hand, you want them to know (after the fact and in a tactful way) that they should be really happy that they had you there and that their money was well spent. It’s a fine line between being braggy and sincere.
Do I tell them that I had to reset the cake when it ‘fell’? Should I share that I had to write the best man’s his speech because he forgot to write one? How do I tell them that my staff had to make an emergency run for alcohol because the bartender they hired didn’t bring enough? Is it a good idea to tell the groom that I had to have his ex-girlfriend, who was working at the venue and was causing a scene, escorted out? Probably not that one, and yes, it happened.
Do what needs to be done, no matter what.
I understand better than most, how complicated it can be to pull off a big event and I have a special admiration for those who work behind the scenes to make it happen.
This past Thursday, Commerce Chenango held our annual Gala. The Gala is our biggest event of the year, which really equates to a large wedding. There are speakers, awards, invitations, food, a/v needs and my team did an excellent job pulling this together. While I got a lot of praise for a flawless event, the real thanks should go to my team that pulled it off, without a hitch.
The tables have turned and while I spent many years working behind the scenes, it is now me who is at the center, asking my team to coordinate on my behalf. Kind of like the bride of a wedding. Taking my vision and making it a reality. Because of my experience, I make sure that ideas are realistic, and can be executed without causing unnecessary stress from my team. I can think it through, how it can be done, and make sure I never ask them to do something that is impossible to pull off or something I wouldn’t do myself.
In my past I have coordinated events or had bosses who had no clue how things work and often their expectations were unrealistic. It is unbelievable how much extra stress and anxiety came from them setting the bar too high or having expectations that were nearly impossible to meet. And when there was a mistake or something wasn’t smooth, just like you tried to explain, they are really clear about their disappointment. Not a very welcoming environment or good approach to inspiring people. You can strive for excellence without being a tyrant.
The service industry, and the people who work behind the scenes, are so important and should be recognized and thanked. They are the invisible hand that makes every event flow smoothly. They understand what people need, they can execute flawlessly, and are excellent at what they do. Without them, it would be chaos.
From a former event planner to those who work tirelessly behind the scenes, I applaud you and thank you. You are the silent heroes, who make sure nothing is left undone and who’s hard work make it possible for people in my position to shine.
I am extremely grateful to my team at Commerce Chenango, so a shout out and thank you to Katie, Brianna, Jenna, Barb and Audrey for all you did to make this year’s Gala so amazing and memorable that people are still talking about it! Also, a special thank you to the owners of Stoney Creek Castle for not only the magical setting but also the delicious food and excellent service.
We wish you luck with your new venue and if the Gala is just a hint of what you can do, I know you will have a very successful business and bright future.
The views and opinions expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect the views and positions of any entity that this author represents.