Simplicity is Significant

I love this article found via Offbeat Bride outlining the beauty of simplicity when it comes to a wedding. Basically took the words right out of my mouth! Is a no-frills wedding right for you? What’s meaningful for you?


Photo by 10baretoes Photography
Original article by Inverted Jenny
September 8, 2014

My future husband and I went to the first of three weddings we will attend before we are wed. It was a delight to sit back and enjoy someone else’s big day, rather than fussing over our own.

Obviously I was paying attention to the choices that were made and how they compared to ours. But rather than breaking that down bit by bit, I’ll mention some of the lessons I took away from the whole thing…

1. You can have a no-frills wedding and people will absolutely still enjoy it

This wedding was held on a campground in the mountains. The couple was married in a small amphitheater and the 40-50 guests sat on logs surrounding them. There was no bridal party. The bride did not carry flowers. Dinner was Mexican food in the lodge, the cakes were pre-made by a beloved local bakery. They served good beer and wine and bottles of hard liquor appeared later on. Dancing took place on a basketball court (complete with nets) and a bonfire was held later with marshmallows and savory snacks for the drinkers. I think the sole decorations were blue and white plastic table covers in the lodge, a single string of colored Christmas lights around the basketball court, and a simple photo booth.

And guess what? No one missed any of the extras. Everyone was happy to catch up with old friends, dance crazily, laugh at drunken antics, bask in the glow of the bonfire, and crash in their tents at the end of the night. All that mattered was that the bride and groom brought their friends and family together in one place and made sure they were relaxed and comfortable. That was more than enough.

2. You can dispense with traditions at your wedding and people will still enjoy it

Once and for all, I’ve decided to never again listen to those who say, “It’a not a wedding if you don’t have [thing that the speaker wants you to have]!” A wedding is a wedding because two people get married and that is all there is to it. This bride and groom had no cake cutting, no first dance, no bouquet or garter tosses, and no toasts, and no one missed any of these things because they weren’t things that fit this bride and groom’s style.

It’s awesome to have these things if you want them, and it’s great to let them go if you don’t. I’ve been married before, and I learned from my first wedding that people know when you’re doing something just because you thought you had to. I’m finally feeling pretty secure about making similar decisions for our wedding.

3. Be gracious and don’t shy away from being of service

The bride and the groom made a small speech thanking everyone for coming, took it upon themselves to make sure their guests knew what was happening next throughout the night (there was no MC; they did all the announcements themselves), and helped clean up the lodge themselves in between dinner and dancing (guests pitched in, too).

I think we’ve been sold this idea that the bride and the groom shouldn’t have to lift a finger and should be completely catered to on their big day, and while that’s fine, it’s not always necessary. I really felt like I was personally welcomed and hosted by this bride and groom, and there was a real sweetness to that that I haven’t experienced at a lot of weddings.

But lest I sound too preachy, I’ll report this exchange between me and my partner while we helped clean up:

Him: See, this is nice. Don’t be surprised if I do a lot of this at our wedding.
Me: No way, dude, that’s why I hired a coordinator!

We chatted later about it and I pointed out that I wanted us to have time to focus on one another and on our guests, not on cleanup, and he said that seemed like a good idea. Still, this wedding got me thinking about how I can take it upon myself to make sure our guests feel welcomed by us.

4. Provide what entertainment you can, and your guests will take care of the rest

People who want to have a good time don’t really require much to do so. They will take what you are able to give and run with it. At this wedding, we didn’t particularly care for the DJ, but then I began to worry a bit: at least this couple was offering dancing, which is something we won’t be able to do at our wedding! (Venue doesn’t have space for it.) My fiancé then pointed out that when the songs were no good, people weren’t dancing, but they were still excitedly talking to one another on the dance floor. “They really just want to catch up with their friends,” he said, and I think he was right.

You don’t have to worry about the DJ being good enough, or the games being the right selections, or the exact number of chairs around the bonfire or whatever. Pick things that will likely work for your people and let them make their own fun after that. I watched a whole group of people enthusiastically sing Raffi songs around a bonfire at this wedding because they overheard the bride singing. You can’t plan for that kind of goodness!

5. The emotional stuff is the real takeaway

My favorite moment of this wedding was when the groom’s father teared up during his reading. I’ll take feels over frills any day.


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Brave Marketing: 10 Musts for Wedding Professionals

The wedding world would call this time of year the Engagement Season. As we, the wedding and hospitality professionals, dig in to marketing, sales, and bridal fair season, it’s important for us to remember that the service we offer is an extension of who we are. How do we offer what we do in the best way that represents us? In everything we do we have the opportunity to do it with exemplified love. Whether it’s when we’re in the trenches of conducting and growing a business, parenting, or even at the gym *insert heavy lifting and grunt here,* when we are focused on the desired outcome with clear intentions, we can use any opportunity to serve up a big platter of excellence, authenticity, and care. I call this your best self. We put our best self forward, we know what our intentions are, and we keep them at the absolute front of our marketing plan.

Being able to provide people with information and resources is a gift. I like giving. Personally I give by showing I care and I want to help. Essentially, this is marketing. We market by helping, serving, and developing relationships with people. Marketing is building relationships. As many of us pros are headed to fairs and expos to boldly share and offer our services and/or products, the most successful will prepare for these events with the following list of these 10 musts:

  1. Be confident. You are an expert and there to serve. Share your experiences and knowledge positively, with enthusiasm, and don’t be afraid to share why you love what you do. Be completely you. Don’t pretend to be something or someone you are not.
  2. Don’t overwhelm. Couples on the average have 160 things to do when planning a wedding and not to mention family and friends with opinions and a desire to help. Keep your message and service simple. Provide a unique, clean and simple (emphasis on simple!) way to show what you do.
  3. Stand Up. Passively sitting can make people feel like you are not interested in meeting them (use chairs for short breaks).
  4. Smile. As in most situations, it is best to smile, smile, smile, and keep smiling in order to be more approachable. Smiling exudes happiness. Be happy; no one wants a grumpy person at their wedding and they certainly won’t want to work with a vendor they view as grumpy.
  5. Make eye contact. When talking with someone, make eye contact to create a sincere connection. Scanning the room or looking at your phone or iPad are sure-fire ways to make the person you are speaking to feel less than important. Side note: also true in your love relationship.
  6. Listen. When meeting someone new, it’s best to really listen to what they’re saying and connect with him or her by acknowledging that you can relate to understand what they’re feeling. Listening and establishing a connection can create trust and trust creates a strong foundation for business development.
  7. Ask questions. Knowledge is power. The more you know, the better you can help. Be sure to ask people questions and learn from what they say. How can you help?
  8. Be a connector. You may not be able to help everyone but make it a practice to connect and introduce people to others who can. Your connections and resources are more valuable than you may realize.
  9. Don’t worry about the competition. My Dad always said, “don’t worry about the competition, let the competition worry about you.” Focus on being your best and don’t waste energy thinking negatively of others. Run your own race and be the best at what you do. Seek coaching, learning, and improvement opportunities if you find yourself obsessing about your competitors.
  10. Give them a reason to see you again. Invite and give clients (and their families) a reason to contact you again. Preferably at a different location within a couple weeks of meeting them. Invite them to your office or shop for a seminar, open house, or event. This will give you an opportunity to show them what you actually do and for them to experience you or your service without distraction.

All that we are and everything we do can be a display, expression, and opportunity to represent our best self. With our best selves, we can bravely love ourselves and others through our work, even when selling and marketing our wares.