The year is quickly coming to a close. The wrapping paper is being put away, the treats are (slowly) being eaten through, I'm preparing turkey stock on the stove from the leftover birds, and we're already talking about how to make next year even better than this one.
And every year, at years end, I write the annual reflection of how this year went.
Truthfully, this one is hard. Not because it was particularly horrible - I mean, how horrible can life really be when you are surrounded by beauty and are given the opportunity to do what you love? But internally, there were many life lessons that were taught, almost as if God (or whatever deity you follow) was preparing us as a team for something even better ahead.
2019 in the wedding industry has been deemed a stepping-stone year. Envision Weddings, of course, was blessed with amazing clients that reminded us of why we put in the countless hours to make their weddings absolutely exceptional. We were given opportunities to work at some wonderful venues that we've never worked at before - Cambridge Mill, Inn on the Twenty, Hotel X, Eglinton West Gallery, Premiere Ballroom, Polmenna Barn, Villa Caledon Inn, to name a few. We were able to rekindle old relationships with amazing vendors, and build new ones that we are hoping will last a very long time.
We also suffered internal hardships. We saw valuable and incredible staff members come and go. We've had to break long-term partnerships due to unforeseen circumstances. We've had to endure financial stress and health issues (both physical and mental). We heard about tragedy and loss in our events family and had to send love and light to people to help ease the pain. We saw some fellow entrepreneurs shut down their businesses due to whatever reason that only they would understand.
We had to reflect on the true meaning of what we did and why we did it.
Which brings me to what I got out of this year as an entrepreneur, a manager and leader, a wedding planner and a human being.
1. Success is not by numbers. The comparison game will be getting stronger and stronger as social media continues to be on the rise, and this year we were reminded that the quantity of clients doesn't necessarily equal success. Being financially stable in your business, loving what you do, serving happy customers and producing great events - that should be the mark of success. Nothing else. Period.
2. How you do things will not be how others do it. And that is okay. People will judge, sneer, throw shade, challenge you, and report you for (God forbid!) you doing something that they don't agree with. Smile. Thank them for their opinion. Process it in your own way (this is where McDonald's comes in handy). And move on. I will take a line from Captain America's Civil War - "Compromise where you can. And where you can't, don't. Even if everyone is telling you that something wrong is something right, even if the whole world is telling you to move. It is your duty to plant yourself like a tree, look them in the eye and say, no. You move."
3. Treat your clients like human beings like how you want to be treated, and everything will always turn out just the way it should be. Be honest with them, express your concerns, level with them - but also be kind, compassionate and understanding. Hear them out. And if in the end, they make decisions that are not in your favour, be okay with it, because in the end it isn't about us.
4. Taking a minute to compose yourself is always good. This is something I am still working on. In an industry that is full of high-stress situations, where things are sometimes far too fast for any normal person to handle (but, remember, we are event warriors, we are not normal people!), it still helps to take just a minute or two - or sometimes, even a day - to think before you answer anything confrontational. In my early years of planning, I always thought that speed trumped everything. Twelve years in, I have to say that eloquency, thoughtfulness and accuracy far supersedes being fast. Although, learning to do this and also being efficient with time is an art! (in other words, don't work at a snails pace...)
5. Celebrate the small wins. While there was no huge success to report this year, there were plenty of small successes. There were happy tears shed at weddings - at one point, from not only the bride and groom, but also from myself and even the photographer. There were family conflicts with our clients that were smoothed over by the wedding day, even though at times we felt like it would never be resolved. We got through weekends of back to back events with very little sleep. We managed days where we were severely understaffed due to Friday weddings or long weekends. We leaned on each other, but moreover, we fulfilled every request we could have possibly fulfilled within our power for our clients, and they walked away overjoyed. These are the small wins. These are the ones that we're drinking to tonight!
This decade truly gave me some of the best blessings of my own life. Having started this business in 2008, Envision Weddings grew and flourished over the decade to become what it is now. It gave me a full time career when I quit my job in 2013. It gave me my husband, who I met in 2009 and I haven't been able to get rid of since (haha, I love you, honey!). It gave me the opportunity to teach and grow others (with my internship program that started in 2011). It gave me countless new friendships.
This decade gave me so much purpose that I owe it to 2020 to make it even better. And as such, we'll be bringing a lot of exciting things to our clients next year to further solidify our place in this crazy events world.
So here's to the next decade - may it give you life, growth, purpose, prosperity, and opportunity. May you become who you truly are and do what you were truly meant to do.