I have always loved love stories, and I have ALWAYS been bossy and detail-obsessed.
In high school I thought I would pursue theatre and business as a backup (an order by my dad…which I very much appreciate now.)
After my freshman year of college I knew I wouldn’t be pursuing theatre, I simply didn’t have the passion and drive for it that I thought I did. During my sophomore year of college I was really debating my options. I was still taking theatre classes and auditioning and performing, but I KNEW there was something else. Like everyone else basically ever, I had seen J.Lo in The Wedding Planner, but I don’t think I had ever really realized that was a career option. I looked into it, took an Intro to Hospitality class and I LOVED it. I started to sit down and really research what that career path would look like and I was so ready for it!
This was 2006, but I didn’t actually plan my first wedding until 2011. (In between, I had a series of nanny jobs and worked as a marketing manager at a private preschool). My dearest friend from high school, Erin, got engaged and she and her amazing mother hired me to fully plan her wedding (from soup to nuts as my mother always referred to full planning), so much of this was flying by the seat of my pants and doing SO much research online and in books. I didn’t mess anything up nor do I have any horror stories from that wedding, and Erin was THE chillest bride of all time, but I would love to go back and be able to up my game. My best friend, Lauren, served as my assistant that day (and continued to for the rest of that career) and having those wedding days with her is something I will always cherish!
Photo: Ellman Photography
Lauren and I when she led a wedding while I served double-duty as a bridesmaid.
For anyone jumping into wedding planning without a life vest (like I did), I highly recommend, um, not doing that. Today there are so many amazing resources and learning platforms and, of course, I suggest shadowing other planners and definitely interning. That wasn’t my path, but luckily it worked out for me!
After Erin’s wedding, several of my other friends from high school and college were getting married and I was able to do their weddings (both full planning and event management…can’t believe I used to think day-of coordination kind of existed…) at a deep discount in exchange for the experience and photos for my portfolio.
I was so lucky with word of mouth and great vendor connections that my schedule stayed quite full over the next 5 years. I learned so much during every single wedding, but I am proudest of my systems I created. My questionnaires, my offboarding, my worksheets, my timelines, etc. I held a full-time job during all of this so I HAD to ensure my systems were down pat.
In January of 2016 I was in a Facebook Group and someone requested needing a bit of admin work (I honestly can’t even remember what the initial project was) and I was like, hey, I’ve done office work and I could use the extra money, that’ll be easy, and sent I a DM. I worked for her (and expanded my role into being her VA and podcast manager) for the better part of a year and she was instrumental in referring me to other creatives. One of those referrals was a wedding florist and I found myself exponentially enjoying the work I was doing for her more than anyone. I took on a wedding photographer and wedding band and my love for that work just grew!
In 2017, I started to reevaluate things. I LOVED weddings. I loved love stories and I loved all of my systems, but the actual days and some really rude grooms, mothers of the bride, and maids of honor were getting to me. And I have a thick skin and I am a tough broad but I was WORN OUT. In 2017 and 2018 I took on very limited, select weddings – I had earned the right to be choosy and I was exercising that right.
Photo: The Tarnos
During 2017 and 2018, my role was growing rapidly with some of my clients and I was leading a few teams, which I loved! I was continuing to add more wedding pros as clients and in 2019 I made the decision to refer out all other clients not related to the wedding industry. It’s what I know and love and what I’m best at, so why wouldn’t I focus on that? I was once told, “when you’re serving everyone, you’re serving no one” and I think that is so true and that finding your niche is so important. Also in 2019 I started helping new clients totally revamp their workflows and systems and I absolutely loved it. So I started offering systems audits and setups which I found I really loved and had a knack for, so I added Systems Strategist to my title.
We’re about halfway through 2020 now. I no longer plan weddings (unless you’re my dear friend and I can pass off day-of duties to another coordinator and dance the night away with a glass of champagne in hand) and I’m not only a systems strategist and VA to multiple wedding pros, but I also work as an Integrator. This means that I work with Visionary CEOs as their Digital COO and I make their big dreams an achievable reality.
It’s definitely been a journey and I’m not where I thought I would be when I was 18, 25, or even 30, but I’m so fulfilled.