Wednesday, 14 September 2016

The Wedding Sessions

The Forge. Beautiful!
I love to learn new things. I wonder if it's that my Teacher Brain loves to switch off and let my Student Brain take over? I've attended workshops and lectures in everything from an advanced level knitting sock pattern design workshop, to one on the representations of witchcraft in medieval drawings and then another on how to make rainbow-coloured meringues.

I always find that after I've attended a workshop, I'm all fired up and full of ideas. There's something so exciting and inspiring about learning from other people. At uni, the tutorials were always my favourite part, so I think it's an extension of that. I love listening people talk about something they have a passion for, then having conversations all together and asking questions. I know that I fall into the trap of always having the same conversations with my friends, over and over. We moan about work, or we talk about programmes we've watched, or we complain about money, but as important as it is to have those conversations to get things off our chests, when was the last time you had a conversation that left you feeling really inspired and motivated? I think that's the magic of workshops; you talk about things out of your ordinary. You're surrounded by women (and for whatever reason, it's always been women at the workshops I've been to) who all have this shared interest and shared focus, and from that comes a shared energy, and a feeling of, "Yeah! I can do this!"

The slogan of today's workshop could not have been more appropriate then; 'Shine Brighter. Think Bigger. Be Different.' Held by Kirsten of The Little Wedding Helper at The Forge, The Wedding Sessions is designed for people who're in the wedding industry in some form or another, and are looking for guidance on how to grow and develop their business. The day also featured Jo from SlummySingleMummy.com who talked to us about social media, and Helen from theweddingwordsmith.co.uk who talked about writing copy for websites, and gave us tips for submitting to blogs and magazines.

Now, I'm not actually in the wedding industry at the moment, but I got married very recently, and I wanted to find out whether it's something that I can make into a career somehow. Weddings exist in a sort of parallel universe. I didn't so much as start planning a wedding, as fall down a rabbit hole into Wedding Land. And I say this as someone who announced at seven that she wasn't going to get married (fail), and that she was going to get a motorbike (balance problems mean that I can't do this one, so I'm giving myself a pass) and live in Cornwall (this I have done). So weddings and being a bride were just not on my radar. I had no vision of my wedding, or of what it might look like, or what I wanted to wear, anything like that. Having been a guest at many weddings, and worked at lots as a teenage waitress, I did have a fairly strong vision of what I didn't want. And this I suppose is my crux; if there's me falling down the rabbit hole, looking for someone to help me make sense of it all, then there's going to be others like me who I can help. Women for whom a wedding isn't a magnum opus, it isn't the pinnacle of every dream they've ever had, and it isn't their chance to finally be a princess. Is there a market out there for rational, practical, logical wedding planning that isn't about making 'dreams come true' as such, but is more about helping a couple to have a simple, relaxed wedding that reflects the values that are important to them every single day?

I went into the workshop without any real idea of what my wedding niche might be, but I very quickly realised that the parts I enjoy (and the strengths that I have) are in the planning and the research. I'm an ardent researcher. For every holiday, I read books and blogs and scour Instagram for tips. I make lists and timetables and plan routes. (I'm very lucky that my best friend is exactly the same as me, and that my husband is incredibly laid back and happy to follow wherever I lead us. Score!) It was interesting to hear Kirsten talk about how she's very much not a wedding planner because it helped me to focus on the fact that that's actually the part I enjoy the most.

Jo gave us a task to think about who our target client is; not a nebulous, 'female, 25 - 35,' etc etc, but to give them a name, a job, a wedding budget. I really enjoyed doing it! In my mind, it tied in with the advice throughout the day of not being afraid to be different. You wouldn't want to work with every couple, so don't be afraid to hold out for the ones who are right for you. I had not really considered this, but hearing it rang so true. I've just left one job because it wasn't giving me joy. Why would I want to go into another that might do the same?

Helen's input on creating effective copy was really thought provoking. I'm definitely guilty of not really considering what I'm writing. I read it back and check that it (mostly) makes sense, but I don't plan in advance, or think about style or SEO. She's given us some notes and I know I'll go back to them again and again in an effort to improve.

Setting up a business, however gradually and gently you do it, is quite a scary thing to do. Talking to women who are already out there and doing it is motivational on a really profound level. The other attendees today are all doing amazing things in their respective fields and I was really humbled being around such talent! Something Kirsten mentioned, and something I definitely felt at the workshop today, is that the wedding industry is such a positive and supportive one. No one made me feel like I shouldn't be there because I'm just a newbie!

The hashtag for the day is #theweddingsessions. Over on my Instagram, I shared some more pictures from the day, and following that tag you'll find all the other attendees.


So if any of you are in need of a wedding planner, you know where to find me!






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