Wedding creatives – Why are you so baffled by us?

Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them.” – Steve Jobs

That is genuinely the best question I can come up with relating to the lack of support our amazing industry is facing at the moment, and it is affecting wedding creatives massively. I recently found myself writing this open letter to local MP’s, fingers flying on my keyboard, face cast in a frown, brain thinking of all the incredible wedding creatives I hold in my heart, who are struggling and lost. Wedding creatives are distraught, emotional, desperate, and lost.

“We” as a country are enduring, experiencing and living through a crisis of gargantuan proportions. I appreciate it, I understand it, and I feel it every day. My brother is a front line doctor in Liverpool, my parents are both in high risk categories, and my teenage children have not been at school with their friends for what feels like an eternity (I know I am not the only one with similar experiences).

I understand and appreciate what you are seeing, experiencing and feeling. I understand the weight of the confusion, stress and sadness you carry. I hear the doubt in your voices, unsure of the future of your business. I understand the stress as you talk through decisions and experiences. I pick up on your emotional experiences as I read your social media and blog posts. Every day I am witnessing such bold strength I am more in love with this industry now more than ever before.

We are ALL in uncharted waters, yet I know hope prevails.

Beautiful bride wearing Nostalgia by Amber He, at Hannah Elizabeth Bridal. A lace gown created by the talented Chic Nostalgia available at Hannah Elizabeth Bridal, a member of the County Wedding Clubs. A community for wedding creatives.
Anya Rand, Atlas Shrugged

“Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark in the hopeless swamps of the not-quite, the not-yet, and the not-at-all. Do not let the hero in your soul perish in lonely frustration for the life you deserved and have never been able to reach. The world you desire can be won. It exists.. it is real.. it is possible.. it’s yours.”

Sadly, I am also witnessing the other side, the side where marriage is broken, where “We do’s” are sad, lonely, restricted and isolating. Where doubt and cutting numbers of guests is causing distress. Where postponement is on the lips of every hopeful in love person in the land. Do we, don’t we, what can we, what can’t we, how can we, how can’t we and worse – what can we cut?

I have worked for nearly 30 years in the UK, proud of the prestigious career path I have etched for myself, after leaving school with only 4 GCSEs, and a BTEC in Business and Finance. I have 16 years as an EA and 13 years in the wedding industry under my belt. Now however, my efforts are focused on tenaciously holding together a community of wedding creatives, and acting as a mentor to creative businesses in the wedding industry. I don’t always get it right, and I can never quite predict the behaviour I see from creatives so incredible yet so self deprecating. Until now the Worldcom fraud was my biggest work crisis, with September 11 following very closely and emotionally behind (I worked at Morgan Stanley on the dealing floor in the early 90’s) so that day is permanently etched on my soul. Never did I think something else would impact my work career in such a significant and profound way as these experiences.

Across our industry we are finally seeing leaders willing to take a step forward, and demonstrate that they have a voice which needs to be paid attention to and respected. Leaders who are embracing a more provocative and influential approach to the support our industry deserves and needs. In my 13 years in the wedding industry, believe me I have looked for them, hoped for them and sought them out (always being partly inspired, but never feeling connected or welcomed).

 

Hannah and Kelly of Hannah Elizabeth Bridal, Hampshire bridal boutique, Botley. Creators of a sublime bridal experience for exceptional fashion lead brides. Members of the County Wedding Clubs, a community for wedding creatives.
Brene Brown

“There is nothing more vulnerable than creativity. It is not about winning, it is not about losing. It is about showing up and being seen”. 

For whatever reason there are few willing to stretch themselves and adopt a targeted voice, take a brave stance or expand their mindset (myself being one of them). For whatever reason, what I have been saying for years has been ignored. For whatever reason, there is a deep seated concern over community, a fear of openness and a complete avoidance of showing any form of vulnerability. All these things I do not understand, they make no sense to me at all.

There seem to be few creative wedding entrepreneurs capable at the moment of taking the stand our industry deserves, few fulfilling a non-submissive role, few aware of what it takes to breathe life into a dying, stressed and challenged industry. Yet, exceptional, soulful and talented wedding creatives deserve more, much much much more.

Innovators, leaders, influencers, entrepreneurs, kingpins, in other industries take this defining role day in day out. There could never be this gap in leaders in bigger, bolder tech, service and invention niches, could there? So why are we missing people like this in our industry? Why is our industry shying away from an opportunity to have a vocal guide? Why are we missing or worse ignoring their guidance, charisma and grit? Why is the bridal industry so one sided, and so unable to take the couple/ creative divide on. Why are we unable to embrace the empowered approach with veuve, persuasion and conflict solution management? We are a modern industry, a business driven industry, and an industry deserving to be seen as entrepreneurial and motivational.

All I can think of is few are prepared to do battle with the pervasive and acidic imposter syndrome creatives are conditioned to feel, or the self limiting behaviours that affects creative mindset or tenacious business ambition so much. Or perhaps it is because we as an industry are not identifiable as a speciality, with no specific tax coding, no analysable ONS statistics, or identifiable markers allowing proper government consideration. We are in essence invisible, unremarkable, unreportable, and unconsidered by the “powers” that be. So seriously what will it take to unify an industry of creatives like us? Creatives who SHOULD be working together, who SHOULD be considerate of one another and who MUST learn from the mistakes of pre-COVID life.

 

Stunning colourful wedding created and design by Beth A Weddings at The Barn at Avington. Photographed by the incredible Hampshire wedding photographer and Winchester wedding photographer - Angela Ward Brown. Members of the County Wedding Clubs, a community for wedding creatives.
Stunning colourful wedding created and design by Beth A Weddings at The Barn at Avington. Photographed by the incredible Hampshire wedding photographer and Winchester wedding photographer - Angela Ward Brown. Members of the County Wedding Clubs, a community for wedding creatives. Photograph in the the borage field near the venue

Image by Angela Ward-Brown Photography

Simon Sinek

“We last longer if we compete against ourselves for the good of others instead of competing against others for the good of ourselves”.

Annabel Beeforth, Founder of Love My Dress has said “Weddings are currently adrift. We are adrift with no rescue in sight. We need to wear our hearts on our sleeves with you a little, and be frank; We’re scared for the future of this industry. Very scared.”

I feel a little like Jerry Maguire writing his fateful mission statement called “The Things We Think And Do Not Say” a 25 page document of conscious honesty. Remember that?

What is so baffling about an industry supporting love and marriage, what makes us so complicated to understand?

I shared this in an Instagram post recently… I think it applies to many parts of the wedding industry – to couples and creatives alike…

Don’t Just⁠ – Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart⁠

Don’t just learn, experience.⁠
Don’t just read, absorb.⁠
Don’t just change, transform.⁠
Don’t just relate, advocate.⁠
Don’t just promise, prove.⁠
Don’t just criticise, encourage.⁠
Don’t just think, ponder.⁠
Don’t just take, give.⁠
Don’t just see, feel.⁠
Don’t just dream, do. ⁠
Don’t just hear, listen.⁠
Don’t just talk, act.⁠
Don’t just tell, show.⁠
Don’t just exist, live.

So with that said I would like to clear some things up…

 

Beautiful black and white photograph by Cooper photography, of a bride featured on our blog on her way to her Stockbridge wedding. Members of the County Wedding Clubs, a community for wedding creatives.
Beautiful black and white photograph by Cooper photography, of a bride and groom celebrating their marriage at their Stockbridge wedding. Members of the County Wedding Clubs, a community for wedding creatives.
Shawn Achor

“Waiting to be happy limits our brain’s potential for success, whereas cultivating positive brains makes us more motivated, efficient, resilient, creative and productive, which drives performance upward”.

What is a business?

A business is an organisation or enterprising entity engaged in commercial, industrial, or professional activities. The term “business” refers to the organised efforts and activities of individuals. Individuals who produce and sell goods and services for profit. Businesses range in scale from a sole proprietorship to an international corporation. Knowledge and theory is very much part of business administration and owners must look at business behaviour, theory, strategic management, marketing and of course sales. Owning a business is very appealing to people for many reasons. As an owner you are supposedly your own boss, you should be able to identify and work with amazing ideal people. You should be able to create your own work schedule and turn a passion into a career. I would like to pause for a second though – it really is much harder than this short set of sentences makes out. But, we will carry on…

Here are a few factors contributing to business success.

  • An innovative business idea
  • The right talent
  • A brilliant network
  • Hard work
  • Sales

As we look at wedding businesses, I think we can all agree most fit into this category. Yes?

So, what is a creative?

A creative is an artist. Creatives are not just painters, musicians, actors or writers. A creative is an iconic individual. He/ she is unique, many have a strong style, a profound wisdom and a deep seated passion for what they do. Many creatives are considered to be emotionally radical; others see them as cantankerous rebels. Both descriptions are interesting, don’t you think? Personally I adore the term thought leader, or influencer of people (which in our case is our dear couples). Our aim is to share not necessarily just our personality but our innate gifts and talents with clients. Now what, exactly, does a creative do?

Creatives love their industry. Creatives break rules, embrace trends, many have the potential to create something industry defining through their efforts and commitment. As a result, they are likely in their career to set a new standard. Why do I consider the wedding industry to be made up of creatives? All of the above and more. Mainly it is because we need wedding creatives owning positions of influence, firmly and collaboratively. Inspiring couples to do things differently, evolving and updating our space with beauty, individuality and life. Creatives drive development in an industry. They bring artistic beauty to areas where stale comfort zone styling exists. Creatives help couples see potential in colour, texture, nature and experiences. We need more of these kinds of leaders in our industry, leaders who will drive couples to tell their love story in their wedding planning.

Don’t you agree?

 

Gorgeous photograph of a bride and groom at Leicester University Gardens by Katie Mortimore, Hampshire wedding creative, Hampshire wedding photographer and member of the County Wedding Clubs, a community for wedding creatives.
Gorgeous photograph of a bride in her Grace Loves Lace gown, photographed by Katie Mortimore as part of a cherish the dress shoot, Hampshire wedding creative, Hampshire wedding photographer and member of the County Wedding Clubs, a community for wedding creatives.

Image by Katie Mortimore Photography

Natalie Franke, Rising Tide Society

“Let go of who you think you’re supposed to be, and embrace who you are”.

What are suppliers?

A supplier is a person, organisation, or entity providing something another person, organisation, or entity needs. During transactions, there are therefore suppliers and buyers. A supplier provides or supplies products or services, while buyers receive them. Business Dictionaries have the following definition of the term: “A party that supplies goods or services. A supplier may be distinguished from a contractor or subcontractor, who commonly adds specialised input to deliverables.” I am sorry but is it me, does that sound sterile and boring?

Why these things are different?

Being a wedding creative is not the same thing as being a supplier, and vice versa.

In fact, the two styles of wedding industry “worker” share more differences than they do similarities. A 2010 survey ranked creativity as being one of the most crucial pillars, approaches and aims present and delivered by successful companies. 60% of those surveyed stated that creative thinking ranked higher than standard business acumen. However, the definition of “creativity” seems to be subjective and hard to actually pin down. So, what are the differences between creativity and art? Are they the same? How are they different?

Wedding creatives have moments of complete and unrestrained artistry, yet they can also be talented problem-solvers. I think you will agree that both of these things are hugely important in a wedding creatives repertoire. “Art is an original creation with the intention of sparking an emotion or response in the client”. Creativity and creative ability is defined as “a skill curating different elements to find the perfect solution for a client”. Couples working to capture part of their love story or an emotion in their styling relevant to them and communicate it purposefully. Absorbing all of the above, I therefore believe couples deserve and need a creative NOT a supplier. Can you consider calling yourself a wedding creative now, rather than a wedding supplier, do you think that sounds more entrepreneurial?

I believe by changing the tone of conversations, and taking this more empowered and directorial mindset and approach will better impact the understanding people have of us, what we do, how hard we work, what we deserve. I believe it will also significantly highlight just what needs to change across the board.

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