While there are many days that I feel like we are not doing enough to grow my business, for all intensive purposes, Magnolia Grove has grown and evolved very quickly. Although I’m of course grateful for the growth, it’s also difficult to retain the same brand experience when you go from 10 weddings a year to 50+ weddings a year in a 30 month span.
When I was first starting out, I was not concerned with client gifts, educational guides, or providing an experience that surpassed the competition. To be quite honest, when I started my business I was mainly concerned with booking brides however I could, so I could make enough money to justify not taking the full time job that I had been offered, because I didn’t want to be 2 hours away from where my boyfriend (now husband) was living.
As the company began to gain momentum (presumably from my sheer stubbornness and determination), I realized that I would need to hire employees, in order to prevent turning away couples who wanting to work with us. Without truly thinking about it, I hired a friend from college who had event experience, and in a two hour span, I “trained” her on how to run a wedding on her own. A few months later, I hired again, and then again. It wasn’t until I had a staff of 4, that I realized that we needed to implement some sort of system that would allow each bride who booked us have the same hands-on experience, regardless of who their day of coordinator would be.
I would be lying if I told you that I knew exactly what I was doing at the time-- in fact, I still feel like I am making it up as I go along, at times. Nevertheless, something changed along the way, and I knew that while growth was important, so was the personal nature of why I had started the business.
A few days ago I was interviewing a new planner to join our team, and I told her that while we are set up as a volume-style company (meaning that we accommodate more than 20 weddings a year), I still wanted that boutique experience for our couples.
It is absolutely not the goal to be the Starbucks of wedding planning, but rather, to be more like the locally owned clothing boutique that did so well in their first year, that they decided to open another location in the neighboring town. While the two shops (sticking with the clothing boutique example), would have a similar look and feel, you would experience different staff and inventory offerings at the separate locations.
So how do we attain this? Truth be told, it’s an ever-evolving process. It’s important for me to have a hand in every wedding that comes through our door, regardless of whether I will be the coordinator on the day of. It means so much to me that brides are choosing us, and I want them to feel fully supported throughout the planning process. It’s also important to me, that we’re matching planners and brides together, not based on scheduling availability, but based on personality types.
For example, if a bride is an outdoorsy hipster, she probably won’t have the same connection with a former debutante, as she would with a cultural activist. At the end of the day, it is so important that brides trust their wedding planner, and we find that matching their personalities has proven to be a great solution to provide just that.
In addition to the personality matching, we strive to create an educational atmosphere for our couples throughout the planning process. Planning a wedding can be stressful, so we like to acknowledge that early on, and provide resources along the way to make things easier and more enjoyable. We also have an exclusive Facebook group for our couples past and present, where they can post their questions and commiserate on any wedding planning struggles they may be facing.
All in all, the thing we collectively try to strive for is a sense of community among our couples, and create a place where they can feel supported and heard throughout the planning process. While the process may not be perfect, it’s one that we’re constantly striving to make personal and catered to each individual couple, regardless of how many bookings we may have on the calendar.