Ashley Stork is the host of The Wedding Business Bosses community where our mission is to support wedding pros through education, encouragement, and inspiration focused on the systems & processes needed to grow, scale & elevate your business and personal life!
We all make plans. As wedding planners, planning is basically our life! But we also know that even the best laid plans don’t always go off without a hitch. From day-of event issues to contracts falling through, there are so many wedding plans that can change in the blink of an eye.
The same goes for business. I’ve learned this lesson recently myself, when I announced Wedding Business Bosses Live. My original intention was to have the event be in person, about this time of year. Things didn’t quite go as planned–honestly tickets did not sell as expected and then my husband and I had some personal things come up that fell in that same week. I had to make a hard decision and go with what was best for family, and for those attending.
I won’t lie, I was (and still am) upset. I felt like I had worked so hard to only watch the plans fall through and I felt like I was letting people down. I also wanted this to be an amazing event for my fellow wedding pros, a chance for them to just enjoy themselves and learn.
Once I knew that the in-person event wasn’t happening, I had to take a good hard look at what I was planning and decide: do I wait another year, or do I find another way to make this happen? I decided that an online live event would be the best option, since I had already lined up speakers and had a handful of guests interested in the in-person event.
With that new goal in mind, I got to work. I’m pretty happy to say that it’s coming along well! It’s not the in-person event I had dreamed of, but it’s going to be an amazing online event. If you’re interested, you can register for the online Wedding Business Bosses Live event taking place February 17th – February 19th.
But of course, this isn’t just a blog about how my plans changed. It’s about how plans can change for all of us, and what we can do when it happens. Here, I’ll be sharing some helpful tips to help you figure out what to do when plans change in your life and business (to hopefully save you some stress).
I don’t think this step can be understated. When we realize something isn’t going to happen the way we want, we often go into a panic or fly into a rage (I tend to go to a worst case scenario situation). But one thing I’ve learned through all of my experience as a wedding planner and business owner: deep breaths help. When you hear news that doesn’t make you happy, take a minute. Close your eyes. Count to 10 (or 50). Breathe deeply. Then, you can approach the situation with a bit more perspective.
As wedding professionals, you’re already a pro at finding creative solutions to your and your clients’ problems. Small venue? You can make it work. Lower budget? We help identify priorities and make appropriate recommendations. But what happens when those solutions go out the window when something changes? You guessed it: you find another solution. By focusing only on the solution to the problem at hand, and not the drama it’s causing, you’ll resolve the issue faster and with much less stress.
For example, when I realized that WBB Live couldn’t be an in-person event this year, I immediately set out to find the solution. I knew it boiled down to the two options: push it back a year or bring it online. It took me a while to decide which solution was best, but just getting clear on those two options made it much easier for me to not wallow.
Once you’ve got your solution (or a couple of options), the next big issue you’ll probably come across is dealing with your previous expectations. For me, my previous expectation was that WBB Live was going to be this amazing in-person event. After it was no longer an option, everything else felt subpar. I wasn’t as excited about any of the other options. So, I had to take some time and actually work through my expectations.
As a wedding pro, you’ve probably experienced this with a bride who had certain wishes for her big day but, due to budget or seasonal constraints, that wasn’t an option. Nothing made her happy after that, and she had to adjust her expectations before you could all come to a decision. As a wedding professional, as a business owner, and as a person, you’re going to have to adjust your own expectations to deal with change.
Note: this is not always possible, based on the situation. But as you gain more experience in life and business, it’s easier to prepare for last-minute changes.
“Coming prepared” means that I always try to have a backup option before it’s needed. For my wedding clients, I always have a backup list of vendors to call in case one of their bails at the last minute. In my business, I make sure to leave enough time for my team to help me with a big project. And in life, I always pack my car with a first-aid kit, snacks, and a blanket when I head out for a road trip. You never know what’s going to happen, but once “it” happens (whatever “it” is), you’ll know how to prepare yourself in case it happens again.
As we get older, we all sort of know that things don’t go as planned. It doesn’t mean we aren’t upset when plans change, but it’s not like we’re entirely shocked, either. For me, I find that just expecting the unexpected and knowing that I’ll have to roll with the punches makes it easier for me to handle change. When it came to WBB Live, I had a hard time letting change happen because I didn’t expect it to affect my event. But it did. And now that I can say “Life happens,” I feel a lot better about the path WBB Live is on.
There’s a quote somewhere about how “change is the only constant in life,” and it’s true. The more that we embrace the idea that things will change, life happens, and plans aren’t set in stone, the easier it becomes. Of course, this isn’t meant to sound pessimistic. To me, it’s a positive thing. I am not so stressed or upset when I know things can change.
If you’re dealing with changed plans, cancellations, or big life events that have thrown you for a loop — just know that you are not alone! If you’ve been in these positions before and have any tips for how to navigate change, I’d love to hear them.