Unfortunately, too many times in the wedding and events industry, mentoring can be a challenge to navigate. Some people with vast experience are afraid to share for fear of competition; while newer people may think they're learning everything they need to know online. I think that in my twenty-plus years of wedding planning I've spent equal amounts of time both mentoring and being mentored. And now I'm here to share with you what I've learned.
In The Beginning
As I began to launch my wedding planning company, I was fortunate enough to be connected with my Association of Bridal Consultants state manager, Salvi Regina. Regina owned a planning company not too far from where I lived. We really hit it off and she took me under her wing.I’m not sure if she felt more willing because her business was transitioning away from planning and into invitations and specialty wedding accessories, or if she truly desired to give back. Either way, I owe her a debt of gratitude.
I distinctly remember her asking me to talk her through the wedding day, and I immediately started with lining up the family and wedding party for the processional.Not only did Regina teach me about the fundamentals of planning a wedding, but she also taught me to learn to see everything in the room at the same time. Assisting her with weddings and getting hands-on training, paired with my education, is what shaped me to be the wedding planner I am.
You Don't Know What You Don’t Know
One of the biggest lessons I learned from Regina was that you don’t know what you don’t know until you're in the middle of it. After I'd started my own business, I had two more mentorships that ran side by side. I realized, that while I came from a strong food and beverage background, being a guy, I knew nothing about bridal attire.
I reached out to a local bridal salon and offered to help them with some opportunities to network, build strong vendor relationships, and host a bridal event in exchange for being able to learn about gowns, veils, and bridal accessories.In the process, I met a special events floral designer who also agreed to mentor me. I watched her create masterpieces while I scrubbed buckets, processed flowers, and answered the phones. But, with all of this, I learned about the world of flowers and improved my sales skills.
Don't Be Afraid To Ask
“If you don’t ask, the answer is always no!”It's that simple. I asked and was fortunate enough to find three amazing people who helped me become an exceptionally well-rounded wedding planner.So, step one to finding a great mentor is not being afraid to ask.Step two is bringing something to the relationship, whether it be marketing, social media experience, etc. Showing your capabilities and determination gives your mentor the motivation and willingness to share with you.
Making New Connections
Being part of an association can also afford you some great opportunities to grow. Not being in the same market as your mentor can help open doors to new skillsets and learning opportunities. When finding a mentor within your same market, be aware of how you approach them. You don't want to step on any toes and ‘compete’ for the same clients. Try connecting with a wedding pro in another region. This can be an excellent opportunity to get some hands-on learning during your offseason that might be their busy season.
Expanding Your Knowledge
I found that the more I knew about what each of my professional partners did, the better planner I became and the better partner I became.Learning the editing and post-wedding process of photographer and videographer friends helped me guide clients on what to expect in documenting their wedding day. I also learned to look at the event space differently regarding layout and lighting.Knowing the needs and event flow for my colleagues helped me to write better timelines and manage the flow of the day. They, in return, learned about my processes. This led to great relationships and referrals for both of us.
Return The Favor
We can’t talk about being a mentee without talking about being a mentor.I learned two crucial things in my career. First, I have no competition but myself. No one does what I do just like me. I can give you all my documents, all my knowledge, but you will meld with a different client because of your style and personality. I stopped looking at local planners as competition, and we worked as colleagues. We referred to one another if someone was a good fit and helped each other find excellent resources. Secondly, I learned that when you're gone, if you didn’t share what you've learned, your life was not worth very much.Be a mentor, share what you know, and do not be afraid to reach out!