The other day (because God loves me?) I was working at a cafe, when a group of wedding planners got in a screaming fight in front of me. The whole thing was one of the most entertaining things that’s ever happened to me while working in public, since they were screaming about antiques and chandeliers, and then kept mentioning their business’ name (which of course I immediately looked up… obviously). But the most fascinating part was when the screaming match turned into a yell-y discussion of how to best make your clients book all the people you want them to, even if it costs them literally boat loads of money that they don’t want to spend. Awesome.
They said (yelled) that the best way to sell their preferred caterer was to explain to clients that this caterer cooked on site, and most caterers cooked off site (true, by the way, since you’re paying for the caterer’s kitchen), which meant that if you hired someone else, when the food arrived, it wasn’t going to be precisely the proper temperature. Leaving aside the fact that this isn’t even true (most caterers worth their salt will reheat as needed), it so profoundly missed the point of a wedding that I felt sort of… gleeful? I immediately had an image of all the guests pulling out their insta-read thermometers at once (the perfect favor?), and checking the temperature of their steak, only to tsk-tsk when they found it a few degrees low.
This, of course, just highlighted for me the difference between an awesome wedding planner and a shitty one. I mean first, I think we can all agree that you don’t need a wedding planner (though you do need someone in charge on the day of that’s not you, friend or hired). But if you’re going to get a wedding planner, you want an awesome one, who considers it part of their job to tell you: 1) You’re Doing Wedding Planning Right. 2) You Don’t Have To Spend A Crap Ton Of Money. 3) Your Wedding Is Going To Be Excellent Because It’s Yours. And 4) We Can Problem Solve Together.
Which brought me to thinking about, well, ourselves. Because the wedding planners I described are nothing more than the good and bad angels of the wedding industry, as I see it. One is about shaming and guilting you to think that you’re not enough (so you spend All The Money), and one is about helping you see that you ARE enough (and, who cares if you spend more money?). And while nothing is ever that simple, exactly, I do think we’ve all absorbed both of these perspectives into ourselves (the former a little too much).
One of the things I’ve learned writing a wedding site is when it comes to planning weddings, it’s hard to really fill people with confidence, no matter how hard you try. We spend a lot of time as APW Staff thinking about diversity… and I don’t just mean diversity of race or size or sexual orientation, I mean diversity of weddings as well. We are always asking: have we had enough church wedding recently, have we talked about religious and non-religious weddings, have we had DIY Photography (hint: we never have enough of this, so if you did it, send it our way). Because we know that it’s always easier, when planning a wedding, if you can see an example of something that looks like you, or looks like what you’re doing.
But what I’ve learned is that we can give everyone what they need on any given day. We have a DIY Photography section of the site, but periodically someone will explode with shame in the comments, saying they are not hiring a wedding photographer, and they are gripped with guilt that even APW thinks they are ruining their wedding! Or someone will say they are having a big wedding, and Oh God, we haven’t had a big wedding on APW in months, and does that mean they are selling out?
And all this makes sense because wedding planning is a stressful time, and it has a way of rooting out our deepest insecurities and laying them bare. (Hint: That’s so we can deal with them, not buy things to shut them up.)
And after watching that wedding planner screaming match (did I mention it was amazing?) I realized that it’s all of our jobs to be our own good angel. We need to learn to tell ourselves, “You’re doing wedding planning RIGHT!” and “This wedding is going to be awesome because it’s yours!” and “Who gives a f*ck about the exact temperature of the steak?” Because the more we depend on outside for validation (even, say, from APW) the more we can feel scared and let down when we don’t get it.
Because trust me, here at APW we think you’re doing it right. But we REALLY want you to think you’re doing it right. Because that’s what matters.