Carolyn Wilson, CWC ~ Carolyn Wilson Weddings & Events ~ Owner, Designer, Coordinator, Consultant, Planner….Lover of all things pretty, puggles, babies and anything wedding related!
My background stems not only from my many years of working in the wedding and special events industry as a Regional Sales Director for a large wedding banquet facility company, but also from my earlier career as a Professional Ballerina and all of my past performing experiences. I feel my ballet training and on stage live performances parallels that of planning a wedding. I have an in depth understanding that no two ‘performances’ are alike; that there are many moving parts to produce a live event, and that there is a lot of ‘rehearsing’ that goes into the final production. This is the same from a planning perspective – where there are many vendors involved and we have to work together as a team, not an individual, in order to successfully execute someone’s wedding vision!
What made me want to begin my own company and focus on weddings & special events is my love for all things pretty, my organizational skills and checklists being put to good use and my love for designing a new wedding theme or concept on a consistent basis! I also wanted to make sure I took the right steps to becoming a certified professional in the industry, so I took my education further and successfully completed my certification as a Certified Wedding Planner through Cal State, Hayward. I had always dreamed of starting my own wedding planning business, but wanted to make sure I had enough experience under my belt before branching out on my own, which is why I worked in the industry for 7 years to get a better understanding of what goes into other vendor processes in order to execute their services successfully. I continue to educate myself through educational meetings put on by nationally recognized wedding associations as well as continuing my networking efforts to meet and work with the ‘best of the best’ in the industry.
What keeps me inspired are my clients, their different wedding visions and seeing new relationships grow through their planning process; new vendors that I look forward to working with in the future; and pushing myself to continue to grow as a designer, business owner and professional amongst my peers.
My favorite part of being an entrepreneur is that I get to work for myself, create my own schedule, have flexibility to work wherever and whenever I can, and to be able to also have personal and family time when I need.
It’s somewhat difficult to try to detail only one day in the life of a wedding planner. Each day brings something new, exciting, different and sometimes adventurous. Regardless of what it brings, I love every minute of it – good, crazy or indifferent!
I’m actually going to give you a look into TWO different kinds of days that I generally experience:
After waking to the cutest face in the world (my 7 month old daughter’s face in the video monitor, waking up in her crib after a full nights sleep – finally!), I head downstairs to get her settled in and playing in her excer-saucer. I start right in with making my coffee to gear up for the long day I have planned ahead.
Once I’ve finished getting myself ready, checklists in hand, I say goodbye to my beautiful baby and loving husband (oh and of course I can’t forget my dog, the cutest Puggle ever!) I jump in the car to meet up with a Photographer friend of mine, and head out from the far end of the East Bay to the Napa Valley for a full day of venue visits!
First we head to the Carneros Inn in Napa, to meet up with an old friend of mine that I’ve known for the past ten years! We were actually both Founding Members, Founding Sponsors and both held a position on the Founding Board of Directors for WIPA (Wedding Industry Professionals Association). After we tour the property, take in the amazing views, and chat more about the coming season, we jump back in the car and head over to the Villagio in Yountville. It’s a beautiful venue with amazing indoor and outdoor event spaces that are to die for! We chat with their Wedding Director about their weddings and all that goes into producing one there, and then head out to our next tour. With a few more stops in between, we end our day at Meadowood in St. Helena, taking in the gorgeous golf course views where all their weddings take place!
Thanking each Wedding Director for their time, we head back out on the road and chat about the amazing views, hospitable industry peers and start brainstorming about weddings, styled shoots, and future clients that we look forward to bringing to each of their properties! We start a checklist of things we want and need to do with each property, and make our way back home to our own little Wine Country called Livermore!
Exhausted to say the least, we return to our homes to enjoy some family time, before we hit the hay and start all over again, with a new checklist in hand.
The following day was a ‘stay at home’ kind of day – with the same morning routine and coffee in hand, I start my engine! But instead of jumping behind the wheel of my car, I jumped behind my laptop and into the driver seat of my desk!
I opened my inbox to find numerous emails including new inquiries for future weddings, responses to my RFP’s for upcoming events and more email threads from current clients with questions and answers for their upcoming wedding!
I also continue to work on new design ideas and concepts to present to clients and also to collaborate with other event professionals for some upcoming styled shoots!
I have a conference call scheduled at 9:30 am with a photographer to discuss a styled shoot we are working on, and then at 1:00pm I will be on the phone with a potential client to discuss their wedding day vision and how my services will best fit their needs.
Most people think of a job as 9-5, whereas the job of a planner is 24/7! There really is no down time. You are constantly thinking about new ideas for each client, finding new vendors to work with, or working on different stages of each event that you are planning! It is non-stop!
My advice for someone just starting out in the special events industry is to educate yourself first by working in a few different positions throughout the special events industry. This helps with a better understanding from the venue/vendor side of things so you know what their needs are to execute someone’s special day. Continue to network with other professionals in the industry and to learn from them and their expertise. And lastly – if there are certifications in the discipline you want to enter into – invest the time and money it takes to do so.