What is the best business advice you’ve ever received that you still follow?

The best advice I got was from my Kentucky ABC state coordinator when I went into business: ‘Don’t quit your day job.’ It takes a few years to get on your feet as a bridal consultant and quitting the day job in the beginning is a mistake.” 

– Jeannie Smith, PWP™, AshBy Wedding & Event Planning, Elizabethtown, Ky.

Be disciplined in order to be a successful event planner—always have a plan in place, and follow it every day.”

– Dalia Atisha, CWP™, The Event Planner, Inc., Royal Oak, Mich.

Get enough rest, eat well, and find ways to relieve the stress and anxiety that come with wedding planning.’ In order to give my clients 100 percent for their wedding, I have to have 100 percent.”

– Sara Leach, A-One Weddings & Events, Cheyenne, Wy.

“‘If you’re in it only for the money, you will never succeed.’ I take time to get to know my clients. . . I have built my business on referrals from couples that knew I was always there for them and not their money!”

– Bindy O’Kelly, Crystal & Lace, Long Beach, Calif.

My mentor and friend, Master Wedding Planner™ Mark Kingsdorf, has a sign in his office that says, ‘It never gets better than the first meeting.’ He gave me that advice early in my career, and he was so right!”

– Lynda Barness, MWP™, I DO Wedding Consulting, Philadelphia

The best advice I ever received came from a conference where I had the pleasure of learning from Alan Berg. The core of the presentation was to always ask for the sale. For example: ‘Would you like to place your deposit to guarantee your wedding date?’ If the client says, ‘Yes’—great! If the client says, ‘No,’ check where the concern is. . . review and answer the client’s concerns…Then ask for the sale again. Many times, we leave sales on the table by assuming that the bride will ask to buy if she’s interested, but sometimes, they need you to help them purchase.”

– Carol Thomas, PWP™, A-One Weddings & Events, Cheyenne, Wy.

Never be afraid to fire a client. Life is too short to work with people you don’t like. In the end, they are usually the ones that aren’t happy with your services no matter how much heart and effort you put into their event.”

– Jennifer Gillihan, Life Coach, Business Consultant, Bridal Show Producer, Casper Wy.

Under promise and over deliver’—famous words by Shelby Tuck-Horton our chapter president of Maryland/D.C. Association of Bridal Consultants.”

– Sonia Hernandez, Clarity and Class, Events and Design, LLC, Upper Marlboro, Md.

Our best business advice was in a book by Jim Collins: ‘Good is the enemy of great…Greatness is not a function of circumstance. Greatness, it turns out, is largely a matter of conscious choice and discipline.’ . . .Good is not good enough. Hard work, integrity, and disciplined action are what have helped us achieve excellence.”

Merryl Brown, MA, CWP™, Merryl Brown Events, Santa Barbara, Calif.

I was told a long, long time ago, never make a business decision with your heart. Always use your head or your gut. Of the two, I will go with my gut every time.”

– Teddy Lenderman, MBC™, Bearable Weddings, Greencastle, Ind.

I learned long ago to always collect money, due in full, prior to the wedding day. There is always the chance that the client will nitpick every little detail and try to come down on the price of work already done. There is no guarantee that you will get any, if not all, of your money due with some clients. Half is due two months prior, and the balance two weeks prior. Better safe than sorry.”

– Jemi Adcock, LMF, Adcock Wedding & Event Florals, Benton, La.

I owe Tonya Shadoan a shout-out for this advice: ‘Find your flavor.’ Write a full description of your ideal client—from the number of siblings the person has to the brand of watch worn—give the person a name, print a picture, and post it above your desk. My ‘flavor’s’ name is ‘Kate,’ and when a bride named Kate called four days after this exercise, and she was my exact ‘flavor,’ I never questioned the universe again!”

– Stephanie Miller, PWP™, Table7 Events, Yorba Linda, Calif.

The best advice I ever got for selling events was that you have to remember that it’s the client’s budget, not your personal or business budget. If you assume that a client can only afford what you can, you will never get the bigger events.” 

– Ginia Lucas, Y-Knot Party & Rentals, Mesa, Ariz.

Enjoy every minute with your clients. Find that connection that allows you to create and innovate their celebration. Enjoy your team and give them a reason to be important. Every person on the team is ‘a nut on the gear.’ Make them understand their responsibility and commitment with the entire event.” (Learned from Mindy Weiss and Lisa Vorce.)

– Arianna Iturralde, Ary Iturralde & Just Moments Events, Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo Mexico, Riviera Maya

The best advice I received came from the book, From Good to Great, by Jim Collins. He talks about the Hedgehog Concept—your vision as a company and how your actions are tied to one simple answer to this question: ‘What is the thing you can be the best in the world at that you are passionate about?’ Then, make your choice to serve that simple concept.”

– Sarah Cogan, Set Ready Garment Bags, Brooklyn, N.Y.

In Simon Sinek’s TED Talk, he said, ‘People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.’ This talk and his book, Start With Why, have dramatically impacted my business.”

– Aubri Nowowiejski, Student Event Planners Association, Houston, Texas

When I was an intern with Events by Melody Walker, Melody told me it can take four years on average to get your business up and running…Keeping this advice in the back of my head helped me push on and persevere until my business was a full-time career!”

– Katherine Hoggard, Events by Katherine, Irvine, Calif.

While you may have worked hundreds of weddings, remember that for most of your couples this is the first time they are planning such an important event. Give them the same excitement, patience, and attention-to-detail—as if this is your only wedding.”

 – Michael Testagrossa CPCE, CHE, Caesars Palace, Las Vegas

“‘Figure out what type of clients you are happiest serving and what type of events you want to do. Then, gear the language and appearance of your marketing efforts (including the way you present yourself) to attract them instead of trying to attract every type of client and event out there.”

– Christine Terezakis, MWP™, Dreamday Weddings & Events, Palm City, Fla.

“‘Your network is your net-worth.’ It’s from my favorite business book, Never Eat Alone. In short, your value lies within your ‘tribe,’ and it’s imperative that you nurture these relationships on a regular basis—your business will thank you for it!”

– Meghan Ely, OFD Consulting, Richmond, Va.

“‘Live your life’—do the things that matter, and be happy. Living my life means working in my passion…Forget the negative things and always strive to find the positives.” 

– Stephanie White, MBA/HRM, Amorous Weddings and Events by Stephanie LLC, Mesa, Ariz.

Listen more than talk.”

Bárbara Diez, MWP™, Barbara Diez Event Planners, Argentina

My best business advice was given to me by Mr. Omar Boyd II, a Los Angeles businessman, in 1988. He said, if you want to be successful, ‘Always be prepared for the unexpected.’”

– Elizabeth Petersen, MWV™, Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico 

You cannot over-communicate. Brides tend to worry about everything. Anything they are not sure of stresses them. Whenever we have a planning meeting with a bride, we email her with timeline updates and notes. When she responds, we have it in writing that she saw the plan we talked about. We also cc anyone paying the bill, such as mom or dad. That way, we are all on the same page.”

– Arline Beets, Drakewood Farm, Nashville, Tenn.

“‘Rome wasn’t built in a day.’ This [mantra] has helped build my business in a number of ways. 1) Designing and planning a unique wedding won’t happen overnight…2) The quote has helped me steadily pace my business’ growth and ensure that every idea is fully planned prior to execution. This has created a solid foundation for my business, its values, and exceeding our clients’ expectations.”

– Lindsay Jani, CWP™, Simply Sunshine® Events, Randolph and Hoboken, N.J.

When I attended my first annual conference in 1995 in San Antonio, Miss Dorothy gave a session on this subject. The thing I have always remembered from it? Always change your shoes a few times throughout the evening. Have the pair you wear and an extra. Then, alternate. It’s always nice to put those other shoes on. They are cool, and the fit is always just enough different that it refreshes your feet. Switching back and forth every hour or so is golden!”

– Denna Fyock, CWP™, Affairs to Remember, Valparaiso, Ind.

Write a business plan, and update it periodically. It doesn’t have to be formal or long, but having it on paper. . .will help with many future decisions about your business, including where to focus both your time and money.”

– Bethel Nathan, Ceremonies by Bethel and Elevate by Bethel, San Diego

“‘It’s better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it!’ This advice applies to having adequate back-up equipment available. If a mechanical failure occurs, you need to be able to quickly swap out your equipment so the show can go on. This also applies to liability insurance to protect yourself, your clients, and their guests in case of an accident.”

– J.D. Firestone, JD Productions, Roseville, Calif.

“‘Never discount your fees.’ Every wedding planner wants to attract clients who value and appreciate the work they do. Don’t devalue your worth. Instead, offer exceptional service to clients who are willing to pay your rate.”

– Carolyn O’Brien, Creative Celebrations, Lake Oswego, Ore.

“‘Never give up!’ We follow the three Ps in business: persistence, perseverance, patience. This is what keeps us going during the rough and slow times—knowing that if we don’t give up, we will achieve what we set out to accomplish!”

– Davii Mandel & Chany Kleinberger, Mi Chicas Kosher Catering & Events, Spring Valley, N.Y.