February is always a busy time for me, personally. There’s Valentine’s Day, Chinese New Year, both my in-law’s birthdays and this.
This, being the anniversary of my business. This business that was a fleeting thought while in college and turned into a lifetime career. This business that was once a pretty fun hobby and the only thing that stuck throughout the years of random part-time jobs.
Those part-time jobs included: serving coffee, managing an arts program for those labeled disabled, teaching ESL, editing wedding videos, cleaning cobwebs in a multi-million dollar home, and scheduling kids in for music class. I’ve volunteered for breast cancer runs, greeted Gerard Butler’s manager and put Keanu Reeves in a limo at the airport, and sang in a rock choir.
And yes, every so often I planned some weddings.
Eleven years ago I posted a quick and simple message on Craigslist, begging someone to take a chance on me to try my hand at something I only knew about through my innate business skills, rock solid work ethic, and pure common sense. After all my effort I ended up with 10 very eager brides with no budget for a planner who agreed to let me test this out.
Half of those weddings were a success. Half of them failed miserably - like, really hard. In the end of all of it a bug was caught.
Flash back to my very first wedding in 2008- Jennifer and Michael. Photography: Boston Avenue photo
Eleven years later, this is what I learned.
Whatever you do, do it with as much heart as you can. Your heart and your passion will take you much, much further than any other skill you possess.
Give yourself a time limit - either a time limit of when to try something new and call it quits if it doesn’t work, or a time limit of when you should stop learning and start doing. Admit when things aren’t working out. You can love doing something, but that doesn’t mean you are necessarily good at it.
Declare it, then do it. There is no other way to achieve any goal. Period.
Be brave. It won’t always work out, and it won’t always look pretty. You may also work your ass off (for months - for YEARS!) and see no reward. Suck it up. Be brave enough to get back up and say, “There’s another way.”
Be kind. In this business, relationships are your ticket to wealth. Your generosity of spirit will take you further than any sales pitch, I promise you.
Understand when people are taking advantage of you. But instead of reacting, just pass and move on. Rising above takes more courage than stooping low.
Take your pride out of the equation. You can be proud of your work, but understand that people respond to humility and manners. Apologize when you are wrong, don’t gloat when you’re right.
Anything can be taken away from you as quickly as it was given to you. So work hard. Work smart. Don’t take opportunities for granted. Be honest with people. Build your tribe. And enjoy the ride.
Forward to our most recent wedding Marisa and Gary 2018.
I would be remiss if I didn’t take the chance to thank some very important people.
My family and friends - for always believing that this was “it” for me, for being my biggest “referral marketers”, and for encouraging my team and I to “add oil” (Chinese term for “keep going!”) when I felt like nothing was going right.
My husband - he deserves his own category. The guy that stays up late sewing fabric, proofreading text, giving the honest advice, and assisting on weddings as our delivery and setup guy. The best cheerleader, the first assistant, the occasional manager, the Mike of all trades that was always (and is always) ready to fill in. The success of this business is just as much his as it is mine. If you’re reading this, I love you with everything, for so many reasons I can’t put into words.
My team, past and present - thank you for your partnership and for trusting me in this journey. Thank you for devoting your own passion and talent into everything you do and particularly in all of our events. My clients thank you, and I thank you.
The friendors I met along the way - your hard work is infectious. Entrepreneurship can be such a lonely journey but thankfully, you’re all there to share the journey with.
And finally - to my clients, past and present. Thank you for giving us the privilege to plan and coordinate such incredible moments of your lives. We don’t take anything for granted and I know there are so many planners and floral designers that you could have chosen, but you chose us. And with that, we’re incredibly grateful and humbled. Thanks for bringing us to 11 years.