Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could all just pick up the phone and drop a dime on the florist, the lighting guy, the DJ, or a wedding dress specialist without worrying who’s going to “pay the bill” or, “pick up the tab?” Sure it would but, unless you are rich or have wealthy parents- it’s probably a great idea to put that phone back down. Reality and Dreaming are two different things! The “average” wedding costs upwards of 28k? Who are these “average” couples and more importantly- what do they do for a living?!
Between answering emails from production companies seeking “creative and authentic” family businesses to editors and reporters- it would appear that many of these folks may have glimpsed or even googled me but failed to take the time to understand “what exactly we do” for families who come to me with no money and more importantly, no one else to turn to. Who are these people? I’m wondering who the average folks with the cost of a down payment to a house are? Average for who?
Indeed, our clients may not be movie stars and they may look like “normal, ordinary people” for a very good reason- THEY ARE! These normal looking people don’t have a “glam squad” or a credit card to run up for their Dream Event and, they are the 90-95 percentile of hardworking paycheck to paycheck families who aren’t going to be changed by the “wave of a magic wand.”
The reality of being a Wedding Warrior is that my team and I don’t have the luxury of picking up a cell phone and ordering steak and lobster for the “main dish” at our event or having van loads of folks with tables, chairs, linens and “the like” to magically appear and make everything beautiful. For the families that ask for crazy stuff- I quickly give them a “reality check.” We do not and cannot afford to cater your event. Dream Events are an affordable option with loaned “extras” that belong to me and if you are seeking a grand buffet- you may want to start “saving up” in order to pay the tab.
We aren’t called the Pawning Planners for nothing folks- we don’t have a corporate sponsor or fancy restaurant. We do everything on our own around here.
You see, we have no one to rely on aside from ourselves to mend a torn hem, fix a damaged bouquet and overcome any obstacle thrown our way from experience on location, out in the field with folks who came to us and entrusted us to help them when everyone else said no.
A heavy burden? You bet it is and unlike the glamorous and glorified brides you see on television, our brides are remarkably humble and thankful (99.9% of the time) for what we’ve done to change their visit to the Justice of the Peace Office because it was the only “option” they were able to afford. Read that sentence one more time-the ONLY OPTION. Who is excited about a courthouse wedding? My sister wasn’t and our clients aren’t either.
Going back to the 99.9% of the time- when you have worked at this business as many years with as many clients as I have- they can’t all be “wonderful” experiences. Even we have Bridezillas and the occasional Guestzillas which is why the clause exists on my web pages. You see, everything that happens, happens for a reason.
I don’t drive a Mercedes or live in a mansion and neither does anyone else on my multigenerational team of family members. We don’t “run up” our credit cards or live beyond our own means either. Leading the team and starting my businesses, building the websites, buying copyrights and trademarks all took money and sacrifice on my part entirely. So you see, I lead by example. IE: if I can drive a 9 year old car and refurbish my own furniture because helping others is important to me, lavish vacations or spending habits for my family wouldn’t make sense.
After all, my goal is to one day have a storefront (Texas Twins Treasures) and have my family work with me using one side to sell our refurbished items and maybe a few new ones along with my twin sisters designed jewelry, headbands and fascinator headwear with the other side being used as a wedding venue. Preparation and planning along with saving and strategy will one day make my dream a reality and give my family a place to run when hail, sleet or snow threaten to “spoil the fun for everyone!” I do have a Dream and I’m willing to make sacrifices to achieve it as are my family.
While I have officiated at a few over the top, no expense spared $30-50k weddings- it should be noted that I was booked and paid far less than my competitors in the field. Why? Because Texas Twins Events was originally started to offer low cost services and ceremonies but that doesn’t mean we only help folks that are strapped- we also help folks with plenty of money too who wanted to “budget book” my services.
The fancy affairs folks never tipped while the hardworking folks who could afford to pay us always did. Why? I’m not certain but my niece (and translator for Texas Twins Events) Stephaney Mahaney calls these folks “the ten percenters.” She also works 10-12 hours a day as a waitress or, server and has met a few “ten percenters” herself. Ironically, the low to middle class guests are the ones who leave the BEST tips! Ask any server and you will be very surprised to learn that the folks who don’t have a lot of money are often- the most generous!
I was once at a wedding at an exclusive Fort Worth Venue that costs a minimum of $20k during wedding season and, on the weekend when a Groom paid me and quickly added “I don’t have any money left to tip you because I’ve tipped all of the other vendors.” Without a wedding officiant- you are having a VERY expensive party. The Hummer fleet of limousines, the mariachi band and the jazz band were all “apparently” more important than I was and, I was paid $125 to attend a rehearsal at another luxurious venue along with officiating the wedding. That’s right $125.00 total check it out online pricing for a wedding officiant with a rehearsal can easily run up to $600. My son’s officiant charged exactly that amount for the rehearsal and wedding ceremony.
Lets say you hired someone else and they didn’t show up. An “emergency” call for an officiant (whether you’ve already paid the no show or not) includes an additional fee for a very good reason- I’ve never been late and I’ve never not shown up! Hiring the RIGHT person isn’t rocket science but it will save you a lot of grief “down the road.”
Stephaney calls these folks “the 10%” for a very good reason, they want everything, they tie up your table and then they leave you 10% and expect you to be thrilled they didn’t stiff you! Since Cindy and I were waitresses ourselves thirty years ago- we overtip because “we’ve been on the other side of the table.” You see, we are who we are because of the road we have travelled and, we understand our clients needs even when they have desires for “champagne and caviar.”
We don’t have a magic button to push or a curtain to pull and find someone behind dying to help us either. No one delivers “free stuff” to me, I either buy it, barter it, or build it. For the client that “thought we provided catering” you may want to do more research and, prior to picking up your catered food- be prepared to pay for it.
The basic concept is relatively simple, you either have the funds to pay for services or you don’t and if don’t, you submit something of value for trade or consideration. It’s really not complicated and, occasionally if you have no trade or money- I occasionally sponsor your event out of my own pocket! Why? Because no one will and my team supports all of my decisions even why THEY ARE NOT GETTING PAID. Now that’s genuine loyalty my friend and when we commit to sponsor an event- we expect a thank you which isn’t asking for too much.
On four occasions, we have went above and beyond with requests (or demands) that were so far over the top that I should have advised my team to “walk away.” Ironically, ALL of these events were at venues with other vendors who WERE BEING PAID standard pricing or by the hour but they were being paid. So you see, my issues with the “have families” who I had mistakenly assumed would cover “the have not families” never panned out- the have’s were far too busy “counting their coins” and continuing with their preposterous suggestions or demands.
Overcoming the issue of “getting paid” was never easy. It required creativity and elbow grease, and it requires my team. One person could never do everything that needs to be done on location at events. Whether you hire me to officiate or coordinate, I bring a team because most of the time at the 11th hour, you are short handed and frazzled.
To understand me isn’t easy even if you’ve taken the time to visit my social media, read a few of my blogs and “got a feel” for what my team and I do “one family at a time from Fort Worth, Texas.” But, all you need to do is ask and I’m happy to give you the facts, the families and our story that is completely different from a “magical wave of a wand or ringing cell phone.” Reality and real people aren’t “polished” they are honest and hard working and just trying to have a taste of what the “fancy folks” are having. Budget services and bartering give them a chance to have that instead of “peering through the glass.”
We are doing everything possible to give them a sample they will feel very lucky to taste…What have you done for a stranger today?
Wendy M Wortham Meet The Pawning Planners- No Money? No Problem! We Take Trades!