By: Meagan Murtonen, WPICC, DWC of Botanica & Bloom
When I first started in the industry, there were a couple “big” planners I really admired. They were so well established. They worked with incredible clients who had large budgets and charged a lot of money for these clients to work with them. I assumed that if they charged so much money, they must be amazing, incredible planners who were in on some secret way of doing work that made them over-the-top good.
I was lucky enough to meet both of these people in person and even develop a relationship of sorts with each. Getting to know the person behind the brand changed my perspective for the better.
You see, I put these planners on a pedestal. They had to be better than me if they were doing so well in their business’s had so many followers on social media and made so much money per wedding. Right?
Not exactly. What they had was a few years more experience. They had time to grow their following, learn how to market their business and gain the experience needed to charge more money. I repeat, the only thing separating me from these other planners was how long they had been in business and what they had learned so far along the way. I feel like you need to really let that sink in. You know the quote “Do not compare your beginning to someone else’s middle”? That’s exactly what I was doing.
Here’s another secret.
After about 3 years as an established planner with my own network, clients and successful business I was asked to assist Planner 1 on a wedding back in Niagara. She asked me what my rates were and I told her whatever she normally paid her assistants was fine. She had another assistant that day but she couldn’t stay for dinner, so she asked me to come before dinner and stay through that “since the meal for her had already been paid for and someone might as well eat it”. I didn’t really know what to expect, was I assisting her or just staying for dinner? There was no clear indication of what was expected from me.
On the day of the wedding, I ended up running my butt off as if I was the lead planner. She told me what to do and when and she stood around chatting with vendors. It’s not the way I run my wedding days, but hey she was paying me to work so I did what I was asked.
The end of the wedding came and she thanked me for helping. Goodbye and goodnight. She never said anything about paying me and I never asked. What I left with was a realization that not everyone is who they make themselves out to be. This planner was charging almost double what I was and she didn’t value the assistants who actually did all of her wedding day work. I didn’t take her off of the pedestal, she fell and broke.
Flash forward a few years…
This other planner that I had idolized so much was still someone I followed religiously and just felt I connected with so well. I had met her a few times in person at workshops and we interacted via social media.
To me, her business was exactly what I hoped my business would one day turn into. I didn’t want to copy her by any means, but I loved the vulnerability, style and type of content she was creating. I loved how she was able to connect with her followers so well.
One thing I especially loved was the fact that she was so supportive of other women, especially ones in the industry. I jumped at the chance to work with her one-on-one when she offered private workshops in her home. It was a big expense for me, but I just had to go.
The workshop was lovely and I did learn a lot in regards to floral design. The thing is, a few months after the workshop, she unfollowed me on Instagram. I was shocked and upset that someone I just spent one-on-one time with and looked up to so much would unfollow me. I know it’s just social media, but I spent a lot of money to learn from her and I felt like she was only interested in receiving that money and not making a genuine connection. I was heartbroken especially because she promoted how much she supported and loved spending time with the women she taught.
Being me, I sent her an email asking her why. Her reason was that she felt like I was copying everything she did. We were writing the same kind of content and she always writes about finding joy, and I recently posted something to Instagram where I mentioned I found joy in something. She even said “I just posted a blog post about the Cost of a Wedding Planner and now you posted one too.” The thing was, I actually posted that topic a year and a half before, I was just resharing it because it was and is still relevant. I truly wasn’t looking at her content and thinking, “Oh I should write the same thing”. It just happened to be a coincidence that we were writing about similar topics regarding the industry and our personal lives.
Anyways, my point is that just because someone portrays themselves online in one way, doesn’t mean that’s who they are in real life or down to their core. So follow people you admire, but do it with a grain of salt.
Tips for finding a mentor to look up to
- Look for people who seem genuine and authentic. What kind of information are they sharing on their social media? Are they showing doses of reality along with the pretty?
- Take the people you follow online with a grain of salt. Know that social media is used to make people look their very best. They are selling their brand and their service, which isn’t necessarily their true self.
- Be genuine yourself when you reach out to more established planners. Ask to get to know them, and be truly interested in that. Established planners are busy so we don’t always have time to meet with someone who just wants to pick our brains. But a genuine relationship is something I’d make time for.
- Don’t look to copy a brand, instead look at the elements you really love about a brand and implement it into yours.
- It’s worth repeating, “Do not compare your beginning to someone else’s middle”.
- Ask for help. Be kind and respectful.
Your role as an established planner
As an established planner, newbies are going to look up to you whether you want them to or not. Though you may feel like someone who doesn’t have it all figured out, to someone new, you have it all. Here are some tips to being a great mentor.
- Remember that you too once started from the beginning. Did anyone help you? If so, pay it forward. If not, why not think about making it easier for someone else?
- Be authentic when you create content. We all love the pretty, but even clients want to see the real you. Being authentic shows people who are new to the industry that you too struggled when you started or possibly even still do.
- Agree to coffee dates with people who seem genuinely interested in you.
- You don’t have to give away your knowledge for free, give a few tidbits of advice but if they want more, offer a paid coaching call.
- Please be nice. There is nothing more devastating than getting up the courage to reach out to someone you look up to, only to feel like you’re unworthy and incapable.
- Join groups like the WPIC alumni boards or Facebook groups where you can chime in with your opinion on topics and questions asked by your peers. This not only benefits the person asking for answers but it shows you are a leader in your industry who knows what you are talking about.
- Blog content geared towards new planners. If you don’t have time to meet people one-on-one, consider providing your industry knowledge in blog format. Again, not only does this benefit those seeking for answers, it establishes you as someone ho’s been in the industry for a while and knows what you’re doing.
- If you see someone offering services that are listed WAY below a living wage, reach out to them kindly to let them know they are worth more than that. Offer to answer any questions and help them get on track to becoming an actual business.
If you take nothing else away from this post, take this
Established planners are the industry leaders. We are the ones shaping the industry into what it will become. We need to lead by example so that the people new to the industry have something to work towards. Think of it as parenting. We want the next generation to adapt to our standards so we can keep the industry intact. Be the person you want the industry to become.