When Real Life Gets In The Way Of The Fairytale


Let’s face it: life can get messy. A sudden prolonged illness. The death of a spouse. A hurricane that wipes out your home or office. As a business owner, and sometimes the only employee, unanticipated devastation in your life can mean bad news for your company if you aren’t prepared. Just like we prepare for a wedding or event with Plan A, Plan B, and Plan C, we should have backup plans in place for our businesses as well.

Here are some ways that you can prepare:

  • Create written standard operating procedures, and review them regularly. Your SOP should include:

  1. Basic procedures (phone, email, dress code)

  2. Internal documents and how to use them

  3. Software programs and how to access them

  4. Event day preparations

  5. Event day management

  • Have a database of client and vendor emails in a program like MailChimp, Constant Contact, etc. so that if you need to send mass updates you can do so easily.

  • Set your outgoing voicemail message and email autoresponder to explain an extended absence.

  • Keep important files in cloud-based storage options like Google Drive, Dropbox or OneDrive.

  • Have 3-6 months of savings on hand. Remember to not only factor in personal expenses but also business expenses.

  • Purchase disability and life insurance. Consult with your financial adviser for the best options for your situation.

  • Be sure your will, power of attorney, and any other legal documents are in order – have someone that can access bank accounts, etc.

As business owners, we tend to be Type A personalities that want to manage everything on our own. Understand that you may not always be able to do that! Just like we ask our clients to trust us to handle things on their wedding days, sometimes we need to let someone else handle things for us. Here are some resources to lean on:

  • If you don’t already know the ABC members in your area, make it a point to attend a local networking group meeting. Schedule lunch or coffee with other planners in your area and talk about how you can work together in emergency situations.

  • Use the online ABC membership directory to reach out to planners in other areas of your state, and keep in touch with members you meet at conferences.

  • Don’t be afraid or ashamed to reach out to a counselor/clergy member/trusted friend for help if you need it!

  • The SEARCH Foundation (www.searchfoundation.org) provides financial assistance to hospitality professionals facing life-threatening illness or catastrophic occurrences.

Having preparations in place will help to make an already stressful situation more manageable.


Heather Canada, MWP  founded First Coast Weddings and Events in Jacksonville, Florida, in 2002, and currently serves as the company’s president. She has been a member of ABC since 2002, and in 2011 earned the Master Wedding Planner™ designation. Heather’s background includes positions at hotels, country clubs, wedding venues, and theme parks. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Flagler College, where she studied public relations and business administration.

First Coast Weddings and Events (www.firstcoastweddings.com)










Posted on by Association of Bridal Consultants
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