Meet the Planners :: Amy Nichols

Friday, January 23, 2009

san francisco wedding planner

Name: Amy Nichols

Location: San Francisco, CA

Company Name: Amy Nichols Special Events

Number of Years in Business: 3


How did you get started in wedding planning? 
I spent years working as a corporate event planner in the financial services industry and was helping friends with weddings on the side -- I didn't really think it was a viable career, but loved doing it and friends turned to me for creative ideas. In my free time, I started interning with celebrity wedding planners when I lived in NYC, and then again when I moved back to California, spending a stint working with two amazing planners in Beverly Hills. I always wanted to go out on my own someday, and as fate would have it, I was laid off for my job working at JPMorgan Chase and decided, now is the time to start my own business. Three years later, here I am!

If you had to start over what one thing would you do differently? 
Not much. I think in general I have a very good business sense - I am SUPER practical and in general pretty conservative when it comes to money. I didn't make too many rookie mistakes like spending money on print advertising (which most planners can't afford), and I still don't have a retail space/office where I meet with brides. I find it is more economical to meet brides elsewhere. In addition, early on I joined the Association of Bridal Consultants which armed me with such good information on how to start my business, and I took as many classes as I could. I also knew that no matter what, I'd need an iron-clad contract and good insurance - both general liability and E and O coverage.

What's your favorite item in your emergency kit? 
I think every wedding I've ever been at, I'm asked for safety pins. They're simple and can fix a myriad of snafus. I also like having bottled water and straws for brides in the event they're parched. All of the tapes (blue tape, duct tape, gorilla tape) can come in handy too. Thankfully I don't have to use them often!

What is the best piece of business advice you've ever received? 
Hmmmm. This is a hard one. I'm going to go back to the best general advice I received from a high school teacher who said, "No matter what, get a degree in English. If you're a good writer, you can do any job". That advice has proven very true to me throughout my career. I am so surprised by how many people who can't write a proper business letter or email. Our image is so important to us as planners, so poorly written correspondence is a big no-no to me.

If I were to give a piece of advice to recent college grads who want to become planners I'd say, whatever you go, get some general job experience in the "real" world before becoming a planner. Work in an office, learn general business propriety, how to write an email, how to behave professionally. You'll meet people that will help you grow as a person and professionally. What newbies don't realize is that often most planners just work on their own or with one other person. Getting some general experience is key to starting your career. I worked in financial services for nine years before starting my own business and would never trade that.

Which two people (past or present) would you have as guests at a dinner party and why?
I'd have to say my dad's father and my mom's mother. Both died before I was born and I would have loved the opportunity to know them.

What are your three favorite blogs besides
Darcy Miller's The Brides Guide, Weddingbee, and Style Me Pretty.  I've also recently discovered Real Weddings, an Australian wedding magazine. Their website allows you to download (for free) all past issues. Some great stylish ideas there!

{photo courtesy Karina Marie Diaz}

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