Wedding Symposium 2018: Do You Have the Courage??

Kris here… I’ve been a longtime fan of the Wedding Symposium. I’ve attended for years, and it’s been a highlight for me each year. I always leave so inspired and motivated. When Jenni reached out to me in early summer to see if I wanted to speak at this year’s symposium, I literally freaked. I’m a talker, for sure… but I’m NOT a public speaker! And to a room filled with my peers, my mentors, people in this industry I respect and adore. I honestly felt so terrified. And my topic? Courage. Ironic, I know. But if you read the definition of courage, I’ve learned that courage isn’t the opposite of fear. There’s actually an interesting coexistence between the emotions.

If you don’t know what the wedding symposium is, it’s an industry event put on by the lovely ladies from Imoni Events. It’s a one day, intensive (yet super fun) meeting of the minds that is designed to help you elevate the way you do business. It is a place where the local wedding community can go and speak to others in the industry about their business practices, their struggles and how they can grow to be more effective, efficient and energetic.

For those of you who weren’t able to attend this year’s event, I thought it might be fun to share with you more about the event itself and what I spoke on. This year’s topics had a theme- The 5 “C’s”. So again, mine was Courage. Jenni Thye, of Imoni Events, spoke about Conversation. Daniel, of Daniel Kim Photography, spoke about Creativity. Cicely, of Life Design Events, spoke about Confidence. Sarah, of Sarah’s Garden, spoke about Care…self-care to be exact. Every topic was covered perfectly and from the heart. After we each spoke, we all sat up on stage, panel style, and answered questions from the audience. There were many laughs shared in that room and the event was so fun and inspiring. Keep scrolling to see what I had to say about COURAGE

When I hear the word “courage” I still picture the lion from The Wizard of Oz. Anyone else? In the story, the Cowardly Lion believes that his fear makes him inadequate since lions are supposed to be "The Kings of Beasts." He doesn’t understand that courage means acting in the face of fear, which he does frequently. Do you remember in the story when the Wizard gives the lion a drink? Maybe a cocktail perhaps? Sounds good right about now. Either way, after having this drink, the lion feels fearless. He equates the fearlessness to a temporary side effect of the drink, but goes on to continue being brave long after the drink wears off. He still acts fearful, but he’s no longer paralyzed by it. That’s courage. And that’s why I can confidently tell you, that even standing up there and speaking with a shaky voice and a lump in my throat, that that’s what courage looks like sometimes.

Now let’s talk about the ways in which I think we could all learn to flex this muscle more often.

My wish for you all, is that you find the courage to…

  • Be Yourself

  • Be different

  • Command your value

  • Speak up

  • Say “no”

  • Own your mistakes

  • Learn from failures

[Be yourself]

In a world filled with many of us living double lives behind a screen, I’m always so shocked at the amount of people who comment on how “real” I am when they meet me in person, or read my posts, or respond to my comments online. Well, we’re all “real” right? Tyler works in technology and he says robots and artificial intelligence are real, but Im not so sure. We’re all real people. Why would we act like we can’t show that to other real people? Honestly, if I had to pretend to be someone that I’m not, I’m not so sure I could do it. Some people might be really great at this, but I’d bet money that deep down those people are really unhappy. It’s a lot of work to put on a show or be something you’re not and it probably means you think your “real” self isn’t good enough. You were made to be exactly who you are and you shouldn’t be afraid to be that person. This industry is tough. Many people think it’s nothing but vibrant love and stunning flowers and perfectly posed pretty pictures, but we ALL know that’s not true. Don’t believe the hype that perfection is the expectation.

For some of us, this is our full time gig, others do it while also being stay at home parents, and some just do it for fun. No matter the role you play in this industry, it’s important to play the role you know best...and that means being true to who you are. Don’t be afraid to show who you are on your website, on your social media accounts, through your branding. I know this is a hot topic, but in the past, I’ve had a hard time accepting advice that my website and social media presence should separate my kids, my inappropriate jokes, and my business. It’s all who I am, and they’re all a major part of me. Of course, I filter it to some extent, but I don’t want potential clients to look over my website or follow me on Instagram and then feel like they are meeting a stranger when we finally meet face to face. I WANT them to know my story. I want them to know my personality.  I want them to know I’m a momma and to tell me how cute they think my kids are. Have you seen them? They are SO cute. Anyway, if you are always yourself, you will attract like-minded clients. And like-minded clients are the clients you want. Trust me.

Here’s an example of what I’m talking about...

My bio on our website says:
”Kris was born and raised in the suburbs of Dallas, TX. She adopted an early passion for glitter, heels, Hanson & planning everything around her. She's from the south, but this debutant knows more four-letter words than French, and has mastered a healthy mix of bossy & classy. Kris officially founded Konsider It Done, LLC in 2014. (See Instagram for stories/pics of weddings, avocado toast & cute kids)”

See? Cute kids. I’m practically soliciting compliments at this point. I recently challenged Tyler to rewrite our About section of our website. Previously, I didn’t feel like what was there really represented who we were as people- both individually or together. Inspired by Heidi of Idieh Design (the master of owning her brand), we chose authenticity over approval. I have a deep love for Hanson and cuss words- these are things I NEED my clients to know before they sign up for our services.

[Be different]

You know what’s GOOD in this industry? Owning what makes you different. Our Arizona wedding industry is big, and wonderful, and saturated. With so many weddings happening, we are more feast than famine. With such abundance, it should be even easier to carve out a specific slice and intentionally stand out, in order to attract the clients that will be the best fit for you. We’re all talented, so there’s really no wrong choices - it’s just about finding your right match. Marketing to everyone means marketing to no one. So don’t try to blend into the crowd - you should purposefully be different! Our story is a prime example of this:

When I started Konsider It Done as a 1-woman show, Tyler would always ask me what made me different as a planner. Well, he uses fancy marketing terms, so probably asked me what my distinctive competencies and competitive differentiation were. Not only did I struggle to understand his question, but it stumped me for a while. I honestly felt like I was just another blonde haired wedding planner in Scottsdale that begged her husband to help on the weekends so she didn’t have to pay another employee. I ultimately realized that we were hiding Tyler’s involvement in the business because it wasn’t “normal” for men to be wedding planners. It was different to be a husband & wife wedding planning duo. At the time, we knew many husband & wife photography teams, but we weren’t aware of any husband & wife planning teams here in the valley. Making the decision to rebrand and market ourselves as the “husband & wife wedding planning duo” created a unique tag line that no other planners could use at the time. It made us different. It made us stand out.

If you’re being your authentic self, and owning your differentiation, you’re likely to stand out to a degree (and that’s good), but with that you’ll find that people share opinions- about you, about what you are doing, about your brand, about your services- you name it, they’ve got an opinion. Who’s seen an opinion recently on social media? The blessing and the curse of amplifying voices behind a screen name. Hopefully you receive predominantly positive feedback, but the reality is there is a lot of negativity in this world. More now than ever. There are a lot of haters out there and to that I say…

fuck ‘em.

Seriously though. “Someone else’s opinion of you is none of your business” - a favorite Rachel Hollis quote of mine. Rachel is the dose of truth we all need these days. And I’m obsessed. Ladies, go read her book “Girl, Wash Your Face” NOW!

[Command your value]

Alright, this is a big one. Now that you’re ready to fully own who you are- differences and all, now you must recognize your value that comes with that - then act courageously to command it. If that means increasing your prices, great- DO IT! Don’t let your fear erode your perception of value. You have spent unlimited amounts of time, money, energy, everything, creating this company...your brand. Many people on the outside don’t fully understand how you got to where you are. Do you ever hear about people who became overnight success stories? Well, I’d imagine, those people don’t usually like that title because they’ve really spent years building what they now have. We only see their name or their product as being popular all of a sudden, therefore, we assume it happened over night. Yes, that might happen every so often, but the reality is that most people have spent a large portion of their life getting to where they are now.

Unfortunately our industry gets a bad rap for overcharging. I've seen a few news stories claiming that as soon as you mention the word "wedding" the price goes up for services, flowers, catering, you name it... It creates this public perception that we're taking advantage of people going through an expensive phase of life.  When I started my business, I didn’t fully understand my value. I was the planner doing free work. Helping friends, helping family, helping anyone who wanted my help and even those who didn’t want my help. I assumed it was the best way to learn, but over time, I realized I couldn’t keep working for free if I ever wanted to do this full-time. It wasn’t until after my own wedding that I felt fully qualified to charge people for my wedding planning knowledge. When I first started out, I felt like asking my clients to pay $1,000 was SO MUCH MONEY. And that was for full-service!!! Over time, I’ve seen the value in my services go up. Each year, after gaining more experience, I am better at my job. Hell, I think I’m better at my job after every single wedding that I do!! As I get better, it is my responsibility to charge more money. If someone isn’t willing to pay me what I feel my time, experience, and knowledge is worth, then I will happily send them on their way without my services. It has taken me a very long time to understand my worth in this industry. We expect our clients to be happy with our services, considering we are doing what they paid us to do. But hearing other vendors praise our process, our abilities, our talents. THAT is really what has helped shape what we charge today. Our peers are the ones who do this all the time. You work with different teams at every wedding you do. Hearing other vendors express gratitude for a job well done is the best feeling in the world. Remember those moments. Remember how you got here. And charge the right amount for what you provide!

[Speak up]

Listen, I know I’m bossy, loud, and usually talk a lot, so it’s easy for me to preach about speaking up in general, but I think this applies to everyone. When you’re acting from a place of genuine concern about something that truly matters, people will listen. Don’t let a fear of confrontation lead to an inability to stand up for what’s right. There’s a way to advocate for what’s right, while remaining polite and professional. Are your clients belittling you? Are they taking advantage of you? Are other vendors speaking down to you as if you are not considered an equal to them? None of these things are appropriate. It’s your job to have the courage to stand up for yourself in these scenarios. Just because this is a high-stress, service based industry, it’s never ok for that to be happening.  

Weddings usually tend to be alcohol filled events. We all know the joy of 100+ degree weather with a group that has been drinking all day. It’s our job as vendors to be aware and speak up. Are guests acting out of line? Are clearly drunk people planning to drive themselves home? These are all situations we are all too familiar with. It’s our job to be the bigger person, provide damage control, and speak up. Use your moral compass, and if you see something that seems out of place - don’t assume someone else will take care of it. Especially on wedding days, everyone’s busy and being pulled in a lot of different directions. Connect with the wedding day team, formulate a plan, and work together. We all share the same goal, of executing a wedding as close to perfection as possible. Just remember to always be kind along the way.

Churchill sums it up well.  “Courage is what it takes to stand up & speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down & listen.” Finding your voice in this crazy word is so, so important. Have the courage to speak up. Stop listening to those voices in your head telling you to be quiet and making you feel small. The more you listen to them, the less you will succeed.  Having a voice, using that voice for good...these are all things we must do better.

[Say “no”]

Do any of you know what it’s like to burn the candle at both ends? I’m totally guilty of this and have run myself ragged many times. Don’t be the giving tree – that story sucks. The tree gives and gives, and it hardly even makes the kid happy. Ultimately the tree is a worn down stump with nothing left to give, and neither were happy in the end.

If anyone listens to the airplane safety instructions these days- (who am I kidding?...nobody actually listens) they tell you to secure your own oxygen mask before helping anyone else. Why is that? I know as a parent, my natural reaction would be to help my children first. But in reality, if in the process of trying to help them, I passed out - sadly we’d all face consequences. If the parent becomes incapable, everyone suffers.

Do you feel the same way about your business? If you prioritize your business over yourself for too long, you both will suffer. How does your business survive without you? Would it actually be the greatest gift you could give to your business, if you took better care of yourself? If you acted like it was as serious as an oxygen mask situation?

How are you spending your time? It’s a resource we abuse the most. “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life”- Steve Jobs

Are we prioritizing ourselves and our time appropriately? Is a “yes” to something forcing you to say “no” to another? For example, how many of you feel guilty every time you book another wedding KNOWING that will ultimately mean more time away from your spouse or children? I know I feel this all the time. I want to run a successful business. I want to make money. I want to be proud of my work. But I also really want to be the best wife and mom I can be. The word balance gets thrown around like crazy these days. Balance truly is impossible. Remember, for every “yes,” there WILL be a “no.” It’s up to you to set yourself up for success by setting proper expectations. Make a priority list and then make every single decision based on that list. If something isn’t a priority to you, you must say no. Too often we focus on helping or pleasing others, at the expense of our own well-being. In the end, this isn’t good for anyone.

[Own your mistakes]

I used to watch a lot of the show Intervention on TLC. Anyone else watch that show? Anyone else watch with a glass of wine in your hand? No? Just me? Anyway, recovery has steps and the first step is acknowledgement. I just wanted to acknowledge that I used to drink wine and watch a show about addiction. ;)

Point being - you need to break through the acknowledgement of a bad decision so you can work to correct it. We are all flawed and beautifully broken humans. Life gets messy, we’re all busy and doing far too much multitasking to expect perfection these days. The only mistake you can make is hiding or avoiding your learning opportunities. It’s uncomfortable to look your flaws in the face. It’s not easy to call someone and say “hey, I messed up.” We’re all imperfect, fragile human beings – and if we’re courageously being ourselves, being different, saying no, etc… we’ll bump into people, we’ll feel the rub, and we just need to be aware and own when that happen. Friction doesn’t mean failure. Recognize it, address it, apologize, and move on. Flowers usually help too.

[Learn from failures]

Someone once tried to sugarcoat mistakes by saying there’s no such thing as mistakes - just learning opportunities. This is a fast follow on owning mistakes. Once you recognize a failure, your next step should be self reflection on how to avoid it ever happening again. It’s called growing pains because you must go through discomfort to achieve improvement. You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. I know, I know, it’s cliche...but it’s SO true.  

I love this Michael Jordan Quote, “I can accept failure, everyone fails at something. But I can't accept not trying.” Having the courage to try is sometimes the hardest part.  Our fear of failure and mistakes is often paralyzing. It’s our job to fill our lives with learning opportunities and to actually stop and learn from them.  This world we live in is moving 100mph. It’s hard to stop and asses, but if you don’t, you’ll only be hurting yourself.

Remember how we started? The cowardly lion from The Wizard of Oz? He was afraid, had the cocktail from the Wizard, felt courage, and still acted courageous even when the drink wore off… There will be many times in your life where you will feel like you need some liquid courage. But I know that even after it wears off, we can make meaningful strides in living a more courageous life and running a more courageous business.

Shoutout to the amazing vendors who helped make this event happen:

Venue: Hyatt Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Gainey Ranch

Photographer: Tasha Brady Photography

Flowers: The Wildflower AZ

Dessert: aBakeshop

Linens: BBJ Linen

Rentals & Draping: Event Rents

Furniture Rentals: Prim Rentals

Paper: Victoria York Design

Coffee: Gypsy Cup

Audio Visual: PSAV

Jewelry Giveaway: Kendra Scott