By Dianna Savelli, WPICC of Amavi Event Planning & Design
As we buckle up and wait to see what 2021 has in store for us, it has given me a welcome chance to reflect on the past few years as I’ve worked to build my business. One of the things I’m most grateful for is the relationships I’ve been able to build and maintain with so many incredible wedding professionals in so many different areas of the industry. It didn’t happen overnight… but because of that, I’m able to call many of these people not only my colleagues but my friends. Sure, some relationships are stronger than others (there will always be those who you just connect with, right?) but each and every one of these relationships has become just as important as the rest, and I wouldn’t change that for the world.
It’s never been more important than it is today to feel connected to this industry we love and the people who make it special. While building relationships with industry pros may seem like a nearly impossible task without many networking events to attend during these socially distant times, there are so many steps that we as wedding planners can take to make and nurture those oh-so-important connections that will drive our businesses and industry forward. Here are some of the most important lessons I’ve learned that have helped me to build meaningful and long-lasting relationships with my fellow wedding pros – even now during this pandemic – from the inquiry process right through to the down-time between wedding-related projects:
1. Don’t ask vendors to change their signature style
Just like you and me, our teammates work hard to develop the brand and signature style that they want to be known for. It’s why we’re sought out and hired by the clients we work with! Our job as wedding planners is to learn everything we can about our teammates’ styles. Then use what we know to pair our clients with their ideal vendor counterparts (and vendors with their ideal clients!) and make our couples’ dreams come alive right before their very eyes. Does this mean that you may not be able to work with all of your industry BFFs on every. single. wedding? Maybe. But not every wedding pro is going to be a perfect fit for every couple, and that’s just the name of the game! Everyone will always be happier when their visions and styles align, and who knows? If we’re lucky, we might even make a new friend or preferred contact in the process. Because who doesn’t appreciate a referral that’s a perfect fit for their signature style?
2. It’s okay if your clients go another way… just don’t forget to let the vendors know!
One of the number one pet peeves I hear from vendors in my network is that planners will often reach out to them to gather information or pricing for a client, and then they never hear from them again! As much as we all hate to be the bearers of bad news, this just isn’t the way to treat our fellow wedding pros. It only takes a minute to send an email to let someone know that your clients decided to go another way, and believe me when I say your colleagues will thank you for the heads up. We all understand that (for the most part) our clients can only choose one vendor per category, and we can’t all be that one perfect choice for every couple. A quick, “thanks for your time, friend!” and, “hey, maybe the next one!” will always be appreciated, and no hard feelings will be sent your way.
3. Send a draft wedding day timeline with lots of lead time and ask for feedback
Never be afraid to ask what you can do to help make your teammates’ jobs easier, and help them do it more effectively. A happy team is a team that goes above and beyond to give the clients their dream day… and that begins with you! Nobody knows a wedding pro’s job better than they themselves. So asking for their feedback on the wedding day timeline you’ve drafted with your clients (instead of just asking them to stick to what you’ve written) will help them feel heard, understood, and most importantly, appreciated. It goes without saying that when you appreciate your team, they’ll appreciate you back…and that means that they’ll do everything in their power to keep the lines of communication open and make sure your clients’ day goes off without a hitch.
4. Meet everyone in person… and play the wing-man for the rest of the team
How many times have you arrived on-site on a wedding day to a team who’s never worked together (or even met) before, aside from exchanging a few emails…and now you’re all expected to do a complicated dance together and make wedding magic happen? Well, I don’t know about you, but I for one think it’s a whole lot easier to make the magic happen with a team who knows each other and are all on the same page about our clients’ expectations for their big day!
My favourite trick for bringing your key players together before my couples’ wedding days? Combining final meetings! Try…
- Inviting the décor and floral designers to join you for a venue walkthrough, so they can view the space, coordinate their designs, and address any challenges together.
- Having your couple’s entourage join you at the end of your final venue walkthrough. This gives them a chance to scope out the space for great photo/video-ops together and run through all of the final timeline details with you and the couple.
- Asking the couple to invite their MC to their ceremony rehearsal, so you can meet before the wedding day and review the reception timeline to make sure they have everything covered. Then, have a quick pow-wow with DJ and the MC during cocktail hour before the reception begins, to make sure everyone’s on the same page!
Modifying your planning process to maintain social distancing? Ask your couple’s venue to record a virtual walkthrough video for you, add in a voiceover explaining the specific details of your clients’ day, and send that out to each member of your team instead of gathering everyone together for an in-person meeting. Then, schedule group video meetings with the teammates who’ll be working closely together for a recap of your walkthrough, and to take some time to go over all of the details for your couple’s big day!
5. Make sure everyone has a tailored wedding day package that includes a personalized timeline and a master timeline
If I had a nickel for every time I heard a team member say, “oh, I didn’t even look at the timeline…” amiright?! There’s a reason for that: the documents you’re sending them are just way. too. long! As much as the team appreciates the heck out of you for what you do and the huge amount of detail you’ve put into every single line of that master timeline, if they can’t find what they need by quickly glancing at it while they’re on the run throughout the day, they just aren’t going to use it. My suggestion? Add a simple cover page to each team member’s master timeline that is a simplified and personalized timeline of where they need to be and what time they need to be there. Trust me, your team will thank you…and they’ll even read it, too!
6. Simple gestures go one heck of a long way!
Repeat after me: everyone’s role is equally important in making the wedding day magical for your couple. Just like you, your team is always on the move and bringing their A-games on your clients’ big day. Take the time to genuinely greet every single member of your team and give them the lay of the land when they arrive, and check in with everyone throughout the day just to see if they need anything! These are small things that are so important, but that so often get overlooked when we get caught up in the excitement and hustle of the day.
And I’m not just talking about your routine timeline check-ins! Between the moments where it’s all hands on deck, take the time to truly connect with your team throughout the day and see how they’re faring. Something as simple as giving them a heads-up that now’s a good time to rotate through taking a few minutes each for a quick snack or washroom break, or even just offering to grab them a glass of water can make such a difference in keeping your team happy, productive, and thriving.
7. Don’t forget your team after the wedding day!
The wedding hangover is real, that ain’t no lie! But once you’re back to the grind, one of the first things that needs to be done is sending a personalized thank you email to your team members after your clients’ wedding day. We’re all in the business of sending templated emails, so believe me when I say that taking the time to write a genuine note of thanks for a job well done (and maybe even an anecdote or two from the day) goes a very long way!
Want to earn even more brownie points from the rest of your team? Ask for both the photographer and the couple’s permission on behalf of your entire team to post and use the photos from the wedding day. Then, include their go-ahead and all of the social media tagging information for everyone on the team as an attachment to your thank-you email. Is there really a better way to tie things up with a neat little bow?
8. Stay in touch, even when you don’t have a project on the go!
If there is anything – anything at all that you take away from this today, please, please, please let it be this! Building and maintaining relationships with our fellow wedding pros is about so much more than just working together on wedding-related projects. SO. MUCH. MORE!
Just like it’s no way to maintain a friendship by only reaching out when you need something, there’s no way to describe how important it is to stay in touch with your teammates even when you aren’t working on a project together. A quick message just to say, “Hi, hello, how are ya!” or an Instagram tag, comment, or share goes a really long way in just letting someone know you’re thinking of them. Especially during these “COVID times,” these are the things that will really make you stand out as someone who truly, genuinely cares about your colleagues for reasons outside of what they can do for you and your clients, and will make you a contact that your industry peers will hold near and dear.
And there you have my “eight simple rules” for building meaningful and long-lasting relationships with our fellow industry pros. Networking has always been one of the most important and powerful pillars of our community, but the changes we’ve seen in the last year have shaken our industry and the way we connect with each other to its core. As a community, we’ve stood together, learned together, grown together, and tackled every new pandemic-related challenge together, head-on. If there’s one thing that’s shown us, it’s that we are stronger together, and our relationships with each other are what will keep us going through all of these ups and downs.
Now more than ever, we need to make an extra effort to show our colleagues how much we care. Long-lasting and meaningful relationships take time to become strong, and they need to be nurtured, respected, and maintained… but once you’ve built them, you’ll enjoy them for years and years to come. I hope that by integrating these ideas into your planning and networking processes, you will see your businesses and networks grow, and your connections become stronger than they’ve ever been!
Dianna Savelli has spent nearly twenty years immersed in the wedding and event industry. Having planned her first-ever event at the age of twelve, she followed her passion through university, planning events and achieving a degree in hospitality administration along the way. After gaining years of experience working in nearly every facet of the industry, she launched Amavi Event Planning + Design in 2017 and her work has received awards and acclaim from her community in Hamilton, Ontario, and local industry professionals. Dianna is a fierce advocate for, “community over competition,” and loves connecting with others who share the same mindset. As a planner, her passion is to create unforgettable celebrations by incorporating authentic details into her events that truly bring her clients’ unique love stories to life. After all, Amavi means, “I loved!”