The Top 3 Worst Pieces of Advice in the Wedding Industry

Don’t fall prey to these common clichés.

We're lucky to live in a time where good advice is abundant. It is easier than ever to benefit from people's hard-earned wisdom. That said, there is also quite a bit of well-meaning yet flat out bad advice that if heeded can end up costing you literally tens of thousands of dollars. Here are three of the worst pieces of business advice that I see wedding industry pros fall prey to often:

Bad Advice #1: Hire Slow, Fire Fast

Entrepreneurs tend to eat up this particular piece of advice as we generally prize nimble, decisive action. Since most wedding companies don’t have a human resources department, many wedding business owners don’t know better.

Any legitimate HR professional worth their salt will tell you that "hire slow, fire fast" is one of the worst ways to go about terminating an employee. It's also the quickest way to land yourself in a pricey lawsuit.

Hire slow and fire slow. Have conversations with the person about where they need to improve and give them time to do so. Document everything.

Bad Advice #2: You Have To Look Luxury To Sell Luxury

There is absolutely nothing wrong with liking nice things, buying luxury products, or living a luxury lifestyle. However, if that's not you where you are at in life or luxe labels are not your priority, please do not go into debt under the misguided idea that to work with luxury clients you need to wear, drive, or use the same exact brands they do.

In addition, do not make the mistake of thinking luxury has to come with a visible label. Many luxe brands make select products sans logo that are available only to their VIP customers. Those customers are happy to pay more (much more) for the fact that the brand isn't instantly recognizable to everyone.

On top of that, some of the designs aren't available in the public area of the store at all, meaning only those "in the know" will be able to spot the brand behind the particular product. It is a level of true exclusivity that prioritizes discretion.

While you don't need to rack up credit card bills to land luxury clients, you do need to look polished and pulled together. The level of formality will likely depend on your target market and your own personality. A classic suit, a "granola-chic" outfit, an on-trend ensemble – what really matters is that your clothes fit and show that you pay attention to detail.

Bad Advice #3: If it's meant to be, it will happen

Things in life don’t come together out of thin air. They require action, often on the part of several different people. Opportunities and ideas go un-acted on all the time because of fear, apathy, or disorganization. Worse, people then justify their inaction as noble because of a false interpretation of "letting go."

Pick up the phone.

Make the ask.

Send a follow-up email.

Be the first to say hello.

Attend the conference where you know no one.

Do the work even when you think no one is paying attention.

You’ll find a lot more happens when you don’t sit around waiting for something to happen.

Competing With Your Mentors

A great mentor will always cheer for your success.

“Engagement season” refers to the period of time each year when the most wedding proposals happen. In the United States, it runs from Thanksgiving (fourth Thursday of November) until Valentine’s Day. For many other locations, it starts just a few weeks later, going from around Christmas to Valentine’s Day.

The most popular days for engagements are currently Christmas day, Valentine’s day, New Year’s Eve, Christmas Eve, Thanksgiving, and New Year’s day – in that order.

Just like most good publicists will start prepping and pitching their clients’ Christmas campaigns in early Summer, wedding pros’ prep for engagement/proposal season should ideally already be underway. However, if you, like almost every wedding business owner, have been juggling a zillion things, the next best time to start is now.

For the month of October, I’m going to be mostly discussing the things you can do get your business ready so that yours can be the company they most love once the ring is on their finger.

Michael Phelps and Joseph Schooling in 2008 (left) and in 2016 (right)

Michael Phelps and Joseph Schooling in 2008 (left) and in 2016 (right)

Three years ago, you may have seen the story of Joseph Schooling, a swimmer from Singapore who, as a kid, idolized Michael Phelps. Phelps served as an inspiration and unofficial mentor for him — pushing him to be better.

Then in the 2016 Olympics, Schooling swam against his mentor in the 100m butterfly race, taking home the Gold, with Phelps receiving the Silver.

I am a huge advocate of having mentors — I don't know where I would be in my own life if not for the men and women who have inspired me, held me accountable, and shared their hard-earned wisdom with me, both officially and unofficially.

That said, as you grow in wisdom, as your talents and skills improve, as you continue to educate yourself and produce the best work you can, you will come to a point where you will go up against your mentors for jobs, awards, or other opportunities.

There is absolutely nothing wrong or unfair about this.

Successfully competing with people you hold in high esteem has as much do with your mindset as it does with talent. Once you get to the level where you are competing against people who were mentors, you will have to give yourself permission to do so. If you don't, you will self-sabotage and you won't succeed.

Notice that I said give yourself permission, not get permission from your mentors. You don't need permission from them — your goals belong to you.

As you prepare for engagement season, think through what you want to accomplish next year but that you feel is too big a dream. Where are you holding back because you’ve bought into the idea that you always have to stay at least one tier below where a mentor is?

Maybe you aren’t charging what you should because it would be a higher rate than your mentor charges.

Maybe you’ve been hesitant to move into the luxury market because you don’t want to upset a mentor who works in that segment.

Maybe you’ve been turning down speaking invitations because you feel like a mentor owns a particular niche and although you are now an expert as well, you don’t want to “steal the spotlight.”

You can be respectful of and grateful to a mentor for all they’ve taught you and still go after what you want.

True leaders create more leaders and great mentors will always cheer for your success. If they don't, it's time to reevaluate their right to speak into your life.

A version of this post was originally published August 2016.

Why Only Saying 'Yes' If You Mean 'Hell Yeah!' Is Terrible Advice

Community requires showing up.

Event design by    Todd Events   . Photography by    Cameron Clark   .

Event design by Todd Events. Photography by Cameron Clark.

There’s a piece of commonly shared advice that tells us not to say yes to something unless we mean “hell yeah!” .

On the surface, this seems to make sense. It's meant to protect us from making passionless decisions that leave us frazzled and overcommitted. 

The problem with only saying yes if we mean “Hell yeah!” is that we begin to view everything through a narrow, selfish lens. 

Real life is full of compromise.

Real life is give and take.

Real life requires valuing people over an idea.

Sometimes things won’t go 100% our way, or we’ll feel ‘meh’ about the idea, but we’ll need to be there for others regardless.

We need to say yes – not all the time, of course. I'm still very much an advocate of the joy of missing out. If we want to truly enjoy life, though, we need to support others and say yes to things that we may not be 100% on fire for. 

Jeff Bezos and the leadership at Amazon often talk about a practice they have called “disagree and commit.” In his 2016 letter to shareholders, Bezos says that on a certain project he wanted to go one direction while members of his team wanted to go another. He replied, “I disagree but commit,” giving them the green light to go ahead. This wasn’t a “Hell yes,” but it was a yes and it was loyal support of his team

Not every “Yes” needs to be a “Hell yeah!” in order to be worth your time. Not every "Yes" needs to be a "Hell yeah!" in order to show loyalty. More of us would be better off adopting a “disagree and commit” mentality instead – and allowing the colleagues we work with to do the same. 

Originally published April 2017