Are you ever walking through life and start thinking about some random philosophy or topic of discussion and then all of sudden everywhere you turn all these weird scenarios start popping up reinforcing your thoughts? I feel like that has been happening a lot this week! Therefore, I am going to share what has been on my mind and how I am approaching wedding planning (and life) differently now than I did five years ago.
Let me rewind a bit. This past May, I had the unique opportunity to plan a client's wedding in France. The photographer for the wedding, which is one of my best friends, grew up across the street from the bride. The couple was having some difficulty finding vendors and organizing things, so my friend referred her to me and that is how that came about...but I digress.
The wedding itself took place at a chateau in the French countryside about four hours outside Paris. I can't really speak about the city life very much, but the French country life is pretty laid back. On our trip we noticed that businesses closed down a couple hours during the middle of the day and sometimes will close one random day of the week as they choose to. The trains are on strike a LOT and the pervasive attitude regarding working is "work to live" and not "live to work."
I found this approach refreshing. It's actually why I started my business in the first place. I wanted to set my own hours and spend more time with my family. If I want to stay up until 3:00 a.m. reading, I can. If I want to stay up until 3:00 a.m. working, I can. This is the lifestyle I chose and one that has had its hurdles as I have built this business from scratch with literally nothing but a dream.
The fifth most stressful job in the world may or may not surprise you. You guessed it...event planner. How does one combat the stress that is affiliated with wedding planning? I am sure we all have different philosophies, but I have really been thinking more about this lately. My conclusion is to take a more French approach. The reason why I love this path and this industry is because it is fun! Working double time and overtime and never feeling satisfied with where you are at is something I have let go of. The only way to find joy in life is to be in the moment and that means more than taking the time to stop and smell the roses.
Our culture in America is OBSESSED with "success" and "growth," especially if you are an entrepreneur. I am challenging that. There are articles, blogs, books, and courses galore dedicated to this idea of business growth. I get sales calls all the time from this or that marketing company wanting me to advertise with them or use their services to "grow" my business. My answer is always the same, "I am very happy with where I am at. My business strategy is not to 'grow,' but rather to become so niche and so good at what I do that I can take on less clients at higher profit margins and this will simply take time." It blows their minds when I say this and my inclination is it's because they never hear that as a comeback. Most business owners, of course, want to grow....right? Well, I say that is all wrong (and stressful) and there is a better way that doesn't require one to work incessantly at the detriment to those around you (including clients!) and having a....oh yeah...a LIFE. I do recognize the fact that we are all different and your dream may be to live in the mansion on the hill, drive fast cars, take vacations ten times a year and if that is what you want...great! Work like a racehorse if that is what makes you happy!
For me, wedding planning is a very creative job and creativity takes some moments of silence. My best ideas have come from just taking a couple days to peruse magazines, read a book, take a walk or visit a museum. I am not saying that it is all creative all the time. No! There are tons of tedious tasks that require a million emails and phone calls, documenting on spreadsheets and floor plan creation that could make one's mind explode with all the details...BUT that's when you take a breather, so you can come back refreshed and ready to take on the world. This is how I get stuff done and get it done right. It's also how I stay available to my clients 24/7 and am always excited to talk to them.
This post probably will resonate more with other wedding industry folk than wedding couples. I do think that wedding couples can use this approach to planning their weddings as well though. Take a day off, enjoy your fiancé, put the wedding planning stuff on hold when you feel stress looming...trust me at the end of the day all that matters is that you found your best friend in life and now you get to enjoy each other forever. I have never heard a couple say after the wedding, "I just wish I had done more wedding planning"
Take it from the French...
"Il n'y a qu'un bonheur dans la vie, c'est d'aimer et d'être aimé" - George Sand
Translation: There is only one happiness in life, to love and be loved.