28 May 2020

23 things I wish I knew when I started as a destination wedding planner

Elisabetta White

What is one of your biggest regrets in life?

I thought about this today, and I came up with quite a list – a mix between wishing I made the most of my summers as a single young girl to travel through Europe, and wishing I went for a bigger size when I bought that killer dress I only wore once in my life, because, well… I’ve only worn it once in my life! Now it just stares at me in my wardrobe reminding me of the days when I used to weigh 10kg less and feel slenderer than ever!

So why am I talking to you about regrets, me traveling through Europe and buying a bigger size dress, when all you want to know is what are the mistakes you should avoid when running a business as a wedding planner?

Because hindsight is a beautiful thing, but what’s even more beautiful than hindsight is having a wise adviser warning you before you make the mistake! Had I had my mum with me when I bought that dress, she would have probably told me that it already looked a big tight on the hips, and since it was quite an investment, maybe one size up wouldn’t have hurt…

So how about I share with you the things I wish someone had told me when I started out, so that you can avoid making the mistakes I made and you can grow your business at a faster speed than I did?

Here it goes! When I started my business as a wedding planner, I wish I knew…

  1. that knowing EXACTLY who my ideal client is would be a real game changer
  2. that trying to book any wedding that comes my way is actually going to hurt my business
  3. that Jack of All Trades does mean Master of None – no one is good at everything, so picking the type of weddings I want to do and sticking to that is the only way forward
  4. that the problem with not getting enquiries has a lot to do with not knowing who I am as a wedding professional, which actually should come as number 1!
  5. that low budget enquiries are normal  – it doesn’t necessarily mean I am marketing myself wrongly
  6. that learning to say no to opportunities that aren’t aligned to my marketing goals would save me from wasting a lot of time
  7. that when I do a shoot I need to make sure it’s on brand, otherwise those pictures will never see the light of day
  8. that there is no reason why I should be nervous talking to clients – the right clients make you feel relaxed and at ease; those that don’t are not the right clients
  9. that it’s okay to walk away from a wedding that doesn’t feel aligned to my values or my brand
  10. that it’s okay to tell a couple that I’m not the right planner for them
  11. that you’re actually doing the couple a favour by walking away
  12. that if you trade time for money you might as well go back to an office job
  13. that clients that value you don’t question your prices
  14. that there are too many destination planners with scarcity mindset who undervalue their services and make you believe if you don’t do the same you won’t book clients
  15. that fellow planners are not competitors – they are colleagues
  16. that until I have the courage to be authentic and show more of myself, I will always attract couples that are just shopping around, not looking for the perfect fit
  17. that when I ask a couple what are the 3 words to describe their wedding day and they say: “beautiful, elegant, romantic” it means they are not the right couple for me
  18. that the only thing that matters is a couple’s appreciation, not blog or magazine features
  19. that the key to being found by clients is producing USEFUL content across platform, and posting it across all platforms
  20. that if you just use social media as a portfolio you will just be one in a sea of other portfolio images and never stand out
  21. that when clients refuse to share their budget with you, it’s likely there will be trust issues throughout the planning (and that it’s okay to walk away from them)
  22. that discounting your services tells a client that you are either overpricing knowing you would have to come down, or that you’re weak and they can get you to do anything
  23. that your first interactions with a couple sets the tone for the entire relationship during the planning – if you answer late at night to a couple’s non-urgent message, then be prepared to receive emails at all sorts of hours and days…

I could probably continue with another 20 lessons. Maybe one day I will write a book!

What’s the one thing you wish you knew when you started on this journey?

Remember, you are not alone, and you certainly don’t need to make ANY mistakes – when I started out 8 years ago there wasn’t anyone coaching destination wedding planners. But now you’ve got me.

Mistakes cost me money, time and energy. So if fear of making mistakes is holding you back; if you don’t know how to move forward; if you don’t know IF to move forward… if you’re stuck, it’s time to get unstuck.  

If you’re ready to book an action-taking strategy session with me, head over the apply page here. Otherwise, I’ve opened my diary to 15 minute discovery calls this month, so you can find out about the support I can give you. Click on the button below to book a slot.

Business advice for new destination wedding planners

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