About the "Heart to Heart Series":
Being a small business owner and in the wedding industry grants a unique perspective on professionalism. Since I was old enough to get a job, I've been working - in a variety of organizations and business and doing a number of different things. I've been a babysitter, cashier, sales associate, waitress, researcher, manager, technician, assistant... all of which have been a huge influence on me. Partially because of the skill sets I've gained, but mostly because of the different types of people I've worked with and worked for. I've learned a lot about how different companies operate and how similar they all really are.
So when I started Chickadee Events, I knew what I wanted to be because I knew what I didn't want to be. The real world is full of people who think they're professional, and I'm often surprised that there are so many people that get away with things that I could have gotten fired for at any one of my past jobs! I share this with you because I think it's easy to get jaded, and not realize how important every job you take is. This is the beginning of my new "Heart to Heart Series" as I talk about some of the more important but less talked about aspects of the wedding industry. Today's post is for vendors, but I'll have some for brides, too!
Every Wedding is a Job Interview
As an entrepreneur requiring new clients, new projects, and new agreements on a consistent basis, being on top of my game is critical. Every meeting, every email, every phone call is a job interview. And the wedding itself is what will either gain you a great new fan base or result in "bad press."
So, how exactly is a wedding like a job interview? I found this great post on Quintessential that describes the do's and don't's of job interviewing, and am highlighting a few and how they apply to weddings!
1. Get there early. I'm sure you've heard it before, but it's especially true in the wedding industry - "early is on time, and on time is late." As a planner I look for this. I'm usually one of the first people at the venue, so I am keeping an eye on time and making sure everyone is where they need to be when. By arriving early, you show that you care about the day as much as the bride and groom does - on time means that it's just another day for you. Even if it is just another day at work for you, it's not for the bride and groom, and they will surely remember who was there, and if you arrived early you're setting such a positive tone for the day!
2. Be prepared. If there is anything last-minute that has to be done - do it before you arrive at the venue. That's not the time to be getting your documents in order, figuring out what to do first, or making sure you packed everything - do that before you leave. When my team and I arrive at the venue, it truly is "go time." We have our timeline and list of what needs to get done, prioritized, and the only thing we're doing when we arrive is checking our walkie talkies to make sure they are operating the way they should before we split up and begin our tasks. When you're prepared, your client will relax and trust you to get the job done!
3. Introduce yourself. Whether you're meeting the vendors, the groom's cousin's girlfriend, or seeing the parents and bridal party again - say hi, shake their hand or give them a hug, and make them feel comfortable around you. Simply put, be personable. Wedding days usually feel awkward for the bridal party and family - they don't usually know what they're supposed to do when they're not in pictures, if they're supposed to say hi, or if you're supposed to say hi... just avoid the awkwardness and meet everyone!
4. Dress professionally. This is a big deal. Your first impression to everyone you meet on the wedding day is based on how you look - and what you're wearing. Guys - suits are a must (with a jacket until after the reception begins). Girls - business attire is a must. The one exception I'll make for this is if you're doing physical labor - in which case, if you're going to be there for the ceremony, make sure you're changed and ready to go with plenty of time to spare! Depending on what you're doing, this would be before the bridal party gets dressed or by the time the guests arrive.
Be enthusiastic and excited to be there. It's no secret that wedding days are usually far from the perfect dream that brides expect. But your attitude can truly make or break the day for everyone. As the experienced professional, everyone will be looking to you for what to do next and how to react to things. No matter what, smile, be gracious about the opportunity to witness their beautiful day, and encourage everyone else to get excited. When you're focusing on why the day is so important, everyone else will, too!
Avoid controversial subjects and poor language. This should be common sense, but in this industry it's easy to blur the lines between professional and personal. Be cautious and know that even having a great relationship with a client doesn't mean they won't share your opinions and words with their friends and family.
Stress your achievements and avoid any negative remarks about your work. It's not the time to be humble or act like you don't deserve positive feedback! While being humble is an admirable trait, saying thank you and receiving praise shows that this isn't the first time you were successful at your job. And if something didn't turn out exactly like what you wanted, don't focus on that. Chances are high that you're the only one who knows or will notice. (I don't mean that you should hide anything from your client, but you don't need to draw attention to it either. Usually they're so enamored with everything that they won't notice that their bridal portrait isn't exactly where they wanted it.)
Don't bring up or discuss anything personal. With your team, with other vendors, with your client, with their friends/family - even if you're friends with them outside of the wedding. It will circulate and someone will listen or overhear. That's the quickest way to dissolve the line between personal and professional relationships with clients, and even if it feels like you're building a rapport with someone, you're actually giving them a reason to respect you less. Just as you would a romantic relationship - keep some mystery. It keeps people intrigued!
Display confidence. This ties into number 5 and 7, but is so important I want to reiterate it! When you show confidence in your ability and how things are going, you're setting the tone for the event. Emotions are high on a wedding day, and things happen that aren't a part of the plan. Show that you're flexible, can solve any problem that arises, and do it all with a smile and you will get referrals all day long.
Have business cards! This is probably more like, "resumes" when you're actually at a job interview. While word of mouth is a great referral, be prepared to share your business cards with those who ask! It is completely appropriate to share them with other vendors, family members, friends or other guests who ask about your business and services. It is NOT appropriate to place these on tables, hand them out to everyone who walks into the reception, or leave them in a central area for people to take. The wedding is not a bridal show!
These are important tips for job interviews and all professionals that are in the event (and especially wedding) industry. While you may not be interviewing with your current client (duh, you already got that gig), you are looking to get referrals from the vendors you meet and all of the family/friends/guests who attend the wedding. I have gotten more inquiries from one wedding that I did (my first one) because it went so well than I have by running any ads, posting on social media, or networking outside of weddings. While all of those are important, do you job well and it'll speak for itself.
And... if you read nothing else but skipped to the bottom to see how long this post was, I hope you get this as the takeaway -