I started my wedding coordination business, Jessica Dum Wedding Coordination, in 2012 – and after being in business for a decade, I have learned a lot of things. And I have changed a lot of my processes. One of the hardest parts of being a business owner is making mistakes. But the most important part of being a business owner is learning from them! I firmly believe that every single mistake can be learned and improved upon.
And since I started offering coaching to fellow wedding planners several years ago now, I started to learn more and more about how to run a business and how to set yourself up for success from the beginning. I have learned many things that can be implemented in your business right away! So today, I am sharing with you 9 changes I have made since year one of starting my wedding coordination business.
01. I’m More Selective Of My Couples
When I first started my business, I would take any and every wedding that came my way. While most clients were wonderful to work with, saying yes to everything did bring me some not-so-ideal clients. And sometimes made me want to quit my business altogether!
Whether it was ignoring boundaries, not valuing the knowledge and expertise I brought to the table, wanting a discount, or even our personalities not meshing, there were times when the planning process together wasn’t a smooth ride. Planning a wedding can be a high-stress time for many couples. And high-stress means that it can bring out people’s frustrated and short-fused side. So it’s important we trust our gut when there are red flags. And to feel comfortable saying no from the get-go when we know it’s not the best fit.
After a decade of being a wedding coordinator, I’m much more selective about the couples I work with. We all know the planning process can be long – sometimes over a year of working together! So it’s essential to pick clients that you will work well with. While this was one of the biggest changes I’ve made, it has been well worth it!
02. I’ve Focused on Growing A Team
In the last few years, I’ve been dedicated to scaling my business and building a team for Jessica Dum Wedding Coordination. As the workload increased, I knew it was the right decision to grow our team. While I loved being solo at first, I quickly learned that as I booked more weddings, it became harder to create a work/life balance. Not only was I spread thin, but I found myself turning down dates due to already being booked more times than not.
My Lead Coordinators have become like family to me, and I’m thankful every day for their passion and commitment to upholding our brand values.
Growing our team has allowed us to take on more events and be there for more couples, while giving me the freedom to spend more time with my family. I no longer have to personally attend every wedding as our team can handle the majority of our wedding weekends!
Our Lead Coordinators play a significant role; they aren’t just assistants. They take ownership of weddings under the JDWC brand, managing all client details, coordinating with vendors, and focusing on the logistics of the wedding day. With very little involvement on my end.
With more team members, we can now provide personalized attention to each client, which creates a better client experience!
03. I Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff
As we discussed in the last point, the wedding planning process can be a long commitment. You might be working with these clients for months, or even well over a year! And, naturally, planning a wedding is an emotional time for most couples. All of the decisions are made with a lot of thought and emotion. Sometimes, that means they don’t love a suggestion we made or want to change something we started.
And that is why it’s important not to take things personally and not let the small things impact how you work with your clients. While you need to stick with your expertise, it’s also important to go with the flow and be open to make changes when needed.
04. I Am Selective of My Networking Events
While I encourage new planners to network like crazy and make connections, finding a balance is also essential. Your goal with networking is not just to meet people, but to find vendors that align with your values! So when you go to local industry meetups, make sure it’s filled with like-minded business owners.
With more limited time these days, I’m a little more particular about the networking I do. Now, I prefer 1:1 networking where I can grab coffee with a local vendor. This way I can connect with someone I might have not worked with before but have wanted to. When finding what vendors to connect with, I suggest focusing on the ones couples tend to book early. Vendors like the venue, photographer, or florist. These connections can be so valuable when it comes to being a referral.
One more tip: if you decide to do a bridal show, make sure to pick the right ones carefully. Many are often targeted toward couples looking for a discount or on a tight budget. And often attract lower-priced vendors. So it’s important only to do a bridal show if it’s the right audience and fit for your brand.
05. I Set Clear Boundaries + Protect My Time
This is one of the most important changes I’ve made, and one I really want you to think about. Running a business also means protecting your time. There are only so many hours in a day, and it’s essential to not let your business take up all of them – or you will hit burnout!
Having kids has helped me be better about this since I have limited hours I can work on things. When my kids are home, my attention is on them. I don’t schedule meetings on the weekends and rarely in the evenings unless absolutely necessary.
I run my business with clear boundaries, set office hours, and clear communication preferences. My couples know these before booking me, which means it sets that clear boundary right away! I don’t just include it in my contract and expect clients to remember and adhere to it. I make these boundaries clear in all communication. For example, office hours are in my email signature and in our welcome email. I also am the one who shares my availability to clients when scheduling consultations vs. the other way around.
If I have to break my boundaries, I then make the executive decision on whether it’s worth it or not. Sometimes you need to make changes and adjust, but that should be only for very rare circumstances. Additionally, I don’t share my phone number with my clients until the week of the wedding. It’s important to me that everything is communicated in writing for documentation purposes. But it also sets that boundary that I am only available during certain hours.
06. I Don’t Make Assumptions
One of the biggest mistakes you can make as a wedding planner is to assume details and elements of the day. Even if your weddings are all 90% the same, 10% will vary with each client. That is why I’ve always been very thorough and particular about the questions I ask my couples when we start working together. I ensure I am clear on the details, logistics, timeline, and overall days’ vision. The last thing I want is to have to bug them come wedding day about how they want something set up. Or make last minute timeline changes to accommodate for an additional first look. Or figure out the Plan B the morning of when it starts raining. I’ve always been extra detailed, which has set us apart from other wedding coordinators in our market.
A great example of this happened my first year in business. I asked a bride whether they would have menus at their wedding. Her response was a little unsure. She kind of wanted them but hadn’t sourced or purchased anything and was leaning towards not doing them. I didn’t ask more questions. I just made a note that she was not going to do menus and assumed she would tell me if she decided otherwise. Well the day of arrived, I opened a box of her décor and what did I find? Menus. I never caught it because I never asked the question again.
Now, whenever a bride is unsure of a decision, I highlight it on my Game Day Playbook! This way, I know to come back to it at our next meeting and keep following up until it’s decided one way or another. I never mind if brides scrap (or add!) ideas, I just need to know about it to I can prepare accordingly! You can make this simple change right now and start implementing it right away with my Game Day Playbook.
07. I Know My Numbers
This is SUCH an important one that I wish I had made my top priority from day one. While I consistently tracked my income and expenses monthly and knew the cost breakdown of every wedding I had booked…I never really had a solid budget I adhered to or a cash flow document. So I never fully understood and could project how much money would come in each month.
One tool I use in my business now that has been a game changer is Honeybook! It’s a CRM that gives you everything you need to manage clients and money. It can also help you track your goals since you can quickly see the money coming in each month.
Another must-need? Quickbooks. Quickbooks lets you track everything in your business and create reports to see how you’re doing each month.
Since making these changes, I feel so much more confident when making big decisions for my business. Having a solid understanding of your numbers is essential for growth!
08. I Confirm ALL Details – From All Vendors
As a coordinator that comes in 2-3 months in advance, I’m often not on the emails when couples book their vendors. And as we know, so many details can slip through the cracks! So I now make sure to confirm and double-check every single detail. From the final song list so that the band knows what to play, to confirming rental companies have everything they need for setup and tear down. By creating a process to collect the information, which I’ll share in the next section, I never miss vendors’ information.
I’ve learned this one the hard way. I’ve had situations when a band or DJ showed up and asked me what songs the couple decided on. The last thing I want to do on a wedding day is ask the couple what things they chose! So it’s up to you as the planner or coordinator to double-check everything – even if it’s a vendor you have worked with 100 times before. Sometimes their process changes as well! So you must ensure you communicate with all vendors for every event.
09. Create A Vendor Template
When I first started, I used to have couples email me a list of their vendors. However, I found that important vendors were missing, or they failed to send emails or phone numbers. I ended up spending hours doing the work of researching contact information online. And after wasting hours getting information, I would be unsure if I had the right contact info. So many vendors have a generic business name or don’t have the right email on their website (or even an email on their website at all). So hours would be spent confirming the vendors – and needless to say, I was wasting valuable time.
Now, we require our couples to complete a vendor template before the first consultation. This vendor template is pre-populated with the vendor types most couples book and prompts them with what I need. Ex. Business name, contact name, phone, email, and website. For locations, like the rehearsal dinner, ceremony, reception, where they’re getting ready, etc., I even have them insert the addresses so there’s no question if I have the right address or not. This lets me ensure we have ALL the vendor’s information the first time.
Making Changes And Starting Your Wedding Planning Business
As you see, many of these changes were simple fixes! While they took time to implement, they actually saved me hours in the long run. By setting those boundaries, being clear on your ideal couples, and knowing your numbers, you are allowing yourself to run your business with a goal-focused mindset.
If you feel like you need some help with these elements, I would love to teach you. I want you to have the exact methods and strategies I use to run my successful wedding coordination business so that you can get back to the heart of why you started your business in the first place.
Affiliate Disclaimer – We are participants in the Honeybook, Flodesk and Quickbooks Referral Programs, affiliate referral programs designed for active users like ourselves to provide a means for us to earn fees by referring genuine leads to their CRM, email marketing and accounting software.