Setbacks & Scheduling- Why Planning Family Events Makes Planning Client Events A Cake Walk…
For most of my life now I’ve been the travel agent, the secretary, the scheduler and the organizer of chaotic event planning with my family. My husband rolls his eyes while I confirm timelines and deadlines for family events.
My husband also realizes that getting everyone in my family at the same place at the same time is similar to herding cattle. Christmas? Always chaotic. Thanksgiving? Yet another argument with someone in my family having a problem with someone else. Having a flawless family event with my family is impossible.
In fact, while I “go in to family event planning” with a positive attitude while hoping for the best, Cindy faces family events with her usual hilarious observations while humming carnival music and referring to me as the Ringleader.
Being assigned “the role of the ringleader, the task taker the boss, the captain and the go to Gal” in my family is a thankless task and a non paying gig but…someone has to do it and that someone happens to be me.
If you think planning a celebration in my circus of a family is daunting you should try being the travel and booking agent. Someone “won’t like that hotel.” Someone “won’t like that airline.” Someone “won’t like that restaurant.” I could go on and on here but it should be noted that those “someone’s” aren’t writing the checks. I’m the check writer. Because I’m the check writer for family travel, I’m also the rule maker. Teaching our children and grandchildren why the check writer makes the rules is always an “interesting conversation.”
I limit traveling with my family whenever possible. I prefer to travel with my twin sister and prior to becoming teenagers, my twin grandnieces. Since the twins turned 14 last year, traveling with them can be chaotic too with “I’m bored” being their favorite sentence.
I dream of the day that Cindy and I can sneak off for a twin trip without all of the drama that our family bring to travel. But, it’s a dream. The twins will be 15 this September and in three years old enough to plan their own holiday adventures. THEN the Texas Twins can finally get away and travel alone.
My son recently told me “you never take us on vacation why?” Why? Was this a joke? Where was that hidden camera? If I can’t get through 3 hours on location with my family I’m sure as heck not going on a trip that could last several days. Just shoot me. The stress of spending days on location with my family would probably kill me anyway.
Cindy and I never argue with each other. Perhaps because for thirty years we’ve been busting up arguments among our three adult children, Cindy has found some of her best material for family quotes.
Many of you may not have known this but… Cindyism Quotes about family aren’t based on someone else’s family because they are based on our own families. Shocking but true. The best selling Pawning Planners Apparel items actually feature family quotes.
This weeks “escapade in futility” with my family would be yet another reason why I group family events including birthday parties.
Family events are similar to family reunions, weddings, and even funerals. How? Well, friend you are literally throwing a group of folks together who don’t always get along.
Buckle up for yet another bumpy week in the life of an event planner, referee, Officiant and party planner…AKA me and my always present and saucy sidekick sister, Cindy. We hope for the best but, when planning events for our own family, we often encounter the worst. Forcing our adult children to get along is an ongoing effort.
Marriage brings “new partners” into the family mix. My niece Stephaney doesn’t get along with my daughter in law, Stephanie. My son doesn’t get along with my niece Leigh Ann’s husband, Alex. You get the point.
My son wound up getting upset at my niece, Leigh Ann and my sons wife is pregnant with twins. My daughter in law wasn’t jumping at Flight Deck but accidentally fell into a ball pit within minutes of our arrival at Flight Deck. What a mess.
Less than an hour into what was supposed to be a great event at the location my son chose himself, all out chaos ensued. Welcome to my family. The twins, Maryssa and Makenna started off this party anxious to get jumping.
My son was agitated and anxious about his wife endangering herself by trying to get her friend Amanda’s son out of the ball pit and risking her pregnancy by doing so.
My son and his wife have been trying to conceive for years now and had given up on bearing children. This pregnancy was a bit of a surprise. My son overreacted. His wife fell feet first into the ball pit and was unharmed. My son also hurt his ankle which probably didn’t help matters.
My husband had warned me “someone is going to get hurt. You and Cindy are older so don’t go trying to jump around and throw a hip out. Sit on the sidelines. With all of the kids and grandkids in one place at the same time, I can guarantee that you aren’t going to be bored. Someone is going to get into an argument with someone else.” As usual, he was right. There’s a reason our husbands don’t travel with us or attend family functions. What is it? They hate drama and chaos.
For all the employees at Flight Deck, deepest apologies for the chaotic and crazy three hours my family spent with you. While I would have loved to have enjoyed a flawless event at your location, grouping my family anywhere without an incident continues to be an ongoing escapade.
By the way though, my grandnieces had a great time although this event was meant to celebrate my son and my nieces birthdays and I’ve spent thirty years trying to pull off the perfect party.
For those unaware, I haven’t publicly announced my son and his wife’s pregnancy as Stephanie is only two months pregnant and waiting until next month to make their announcement.
Since my son and his wife generally book as an Officiant and photography team, Robbie will be working alone as your officiant and handling photography himself throughout Stephanie’s high risk pregnancy.
Last Monday, a client who had contacted me four years ago to marry her in Arkansas because at the time LBGT marriage wasn’t legal in Texas, called me to confirm her rehearsal and wedding in Dallas, Texas. I’m really excited about this particular event. The couple have waited all these years while deployed for me to marry them. I love happy endings.
The number of people who have contacted me years ago to either book their event or plan their event ALWAYS CONTACT ME AGAIN.
It’s not uncommon for me to tell someone new who found Texas Twins Events online trying to book with me specifically that I’m already booked.
In numerous situations due to my schedule, clients will CHANGE THEIR DATE to accommodate me. It happens all the time. Why? Because you won’t find anyone as dedicated as I am to your event that’s why. Word of mouth and referrals are why I have never needed to advertise. I overdeliver because exceeding expectations is our specialty. Other vendors wonder how in the world I manage to have this type of customer retention? Well, I establish relationships that’s how. While others treat clients as numbers, I treat them as family members. I follow them on social media and I make their Dream Event a reality.
Prior to the legalization of same sex marriage, I was more than willing to travel to Arkansas and actually did on many occasions.
We have numerous clients in other states who book traditional destination events as well as inmate or prison weddings.
For years prior to the Supreme Court ruling legalizing same sex Unions, I either drove my team or flew to other states to officiate LBGT Unions. Those road trips with three SUVs full of my arguing family members aka my Team were memorable. Traveling with two sets of twins and our adult children is hilarious if you you aren’t traveling WITH US. If you are, you know so and so doesn’t like that radio station. So and so has a better route. So and so thinks we should stop anywhere other than what I think for gas. Ugh.
Throughout my career in the events industry I had never had one set of clients complain or compare to another set of clients until last year. What happened? Well friend, one of my booked clients contacted me “after realizing that I officiated same sex weddings.” This client stated that she was “uncomfortable with my affiliation and role officiating LBGT unions.”
Was I shocked? Absolutely. I was also saddened for the hundreds of clients I’ve had over the years who were treated differently or overcharged by other event vendors “solely because they were different.”
I had never had anything like this happen before. But, I was effectively sucker punched into realizing that bigotry is real. Also, having to listen to the reasons why this person was uncomfortable was unbearable. After months of holding her hand & taking her calls walking her through the prison wedding planning process? Yes. I spend a lot of time answering emails, texts and phone calls. Hours and hours. Generally while I’m driving to a Unit. I don’t mind because the process is confusing but, if I’ve spent months talking to you, I’ve invested time with you that I will never get back. Hence my shake up on all websites. If I could have had my web designer put a giant stop sign that read “Attention: we marry LBGT Couples, Biracial Couples, People in Prison AND Pregnant Brides so if you have an issue with our clients, please don’t waste our time” I would have. However, my web designer has been with me many years. In fact as far back as Defending Debt Lawsuits LLC and is the voice of reason. Instead, we updated all sites in such a way that if you cannot recognize the diversity of our clients off the bat, you are either blind or illiterate.
Each and every client IS DIFFERENT. ALL WENDY WORTHAM WEBSITES now blatantly point out that we not only welcome LBGT clients but also officiate LBGT as well as Biracial Inmate marriages in numerous states. I see people. I don’t see anything that makes one client different from another. I see love. I see commitment. I don’t see anything alarming with my client bases. I see a large group of people who accept each other. If you aren’t part of the group believing that love is love, you don’t fit into my client base. I prefer for you to look elsewhere. Do us both a favor. My staff and I are committed. We spend a lot of time with clients. From emails to phone calls and more so if you are “uncomfortable with any of my clients,” you are effectively wasting my time. Valuable time that other clients warrant and more importantly, deserve.
I don’t care about losing clients over my transparency. In fact, I encourage it. Move on. Have a great life. The truth is that my LBGT and Prison Clients combined BY FAR OUTWEIGH traditional bookings.
If anyone AND I MEAN ANYBODY was or is offended about LBGT Unions, Prison Weddings, Pregnant Brides or Biracial Couples, I will always put my diverse client bases above your opinions or your beliefs. Quite frankly, you are not that important. Perhaps you’d like to think that you are but you aren’t. In fact, if anyone else on my books has “a problem with my other clients,” I will run to the post office to send you that refund and wish you well. Get off my timeline, get off my books and get out of my life.
I don’t HAVE to work. Shocking isn’t it? I work because I enjoy the work, the clients, the variety, the relationships and friendships that working have brought to my life. If I never worked another day in my life, I would live well. Now you have a far better idea of why I’m selective because I am. Losing one client who has a problem with my other clients was a gift really. If you are that narrow minded, I don’t want on my books or my schedule. Move on. You are a fly in my soup. You are a distraction that I don’t have the time of the energy to address.
I’m sought after in this industry for far more than one reason. What is it? What’s my secret? It isn’t advertising. I have never and will never pay to advertise. My “secret” is that I give clients the Dream Event that my twin sister and I have never had. I created an inventory of bouquets, furs, tiaras, and anything that would make a wedding complete including ring pillows and flower baskets.
People wonder why we go to such extreme measures for a stranger so I will elaborate. I couldn’t afford flowers at my own wedding so I have now warehouses of flowers to loan my clients. That’s right. I’ve spent thousands of dollars to create an inventory solely to loan my clients. No one in this industry does what I do. NO ONE.
No one in this industry cares as much as Cindy and I do. Free photography for Pawning Planners and Prison Clients? ABSOLUTELY. My “secret” is putting myself in my clients shoes. What do they need? What will make their day special? What will surprise and delight them? How can we make their day fabulous, joyous and memorable? If you are an event vendor and you aren’t thinking of these things, there is a reason you are confused at our success. The reason is you.
Years and years ago, I thought I was dying with thyroid cancer and a lump in my breast. Anyone googling me (as most people do) will find that I voluntarily dissolved Defending Debt Lawsuits LLC. I had created a successful formula for fighting debt lawsuits. I also became sick from the fight to save unaware litigants of third party lawsuits. Lawsuits they were never served with. Lawsuits that impeded their ability to rent an apartment or find a job. Lawsuits filed on zombie debts that had been re aged. I fought for years to educate and save strangers. The fight for others against third party lawsuits greatly affected my health. I retired. I had to. The flood continues. There were just too many people and only one of me. I had no choice. One day I pray third party lawsuits and unserved litigants finally end but, I cannot save everyone. Go to the clerks office ya all. File an answer. Hire an attorney but please do something. It’s your life. Fight back.
Minutes prior to my surgery a that would literally cut my head off, I turned to my twin sister and advised her “if I’m alive after all of this, I want to start a people over profit based business to help folks like us who don’t have parents or a family to help them with their wedding.” My sister who was terrified of my health taking my life looked at me and said “okay sister. Whatever you want. We will figure out a way to make it work.” We did.
Even when people came to us with NOTHING but a Dream, we rebranded by merging Texas Twins Events and Texas Twins Treasures to create The Pawning Planners.
Other vendors laughed. “Taking trades? Those twins are crazy. How on earth can they make bartering work?” Who is laughing now? That’s right. The Texas Twins have never limited our clients, their income or their desire for a Dream Event. Every Dream Event is different. Because of this, we never limited our list of services. Quite the contrary, we expanded the list to include creative requests.
Nearly two and a half years ago, a creative request for a wedding at a prison came in while I was working with a bridezilla who had continued to add on services that she hadn’t paid for. This particular client had me literally rethinking about taking on just “any client.” After all, I was financially set and didn’t need to work. A fact my husband reminds me of on a daily basis. But who wants to go shopping, watch tv and live the life of Riley? How boring!
Cindy was in my home office discussing the issues of working with demanding divas that were literally taking the fun out of our business. This email about a prison wedding intrigued me. I stopped worrying and wondering about how on earth I was going to trudge on for months with a difficult diva for a client and instead focused on this creative request. A new adventure and something that really piqued my interest. Prison weddings.
A prison? I’d never been in one. I emailed Misty back and committed myself to AGAIN rebranding and expanding Texas Twins Events to include prison weddings. AGAIN, other vendors laughed.
AGAIN, other vendors wouldn’t be laughing long. While the competition was trying to gauge each and every client for every dollar they could get, Wendy and Cindy were open minded. We didn’t turn anyone away for any reason. In fact, we WELCOMED DIVERSITY!
For my trolls, stalkers and readers who never comment but always follow our adventures, it should be noted that the reason for our success is based entirely on “being different” in an industry that has become the same. Making events unaffordable is why you are struggling to gain clients. Think about it. Being different is a gift.
Last Tuesday, I had yet another day filled with obstacles. For my readers of Texas Twins Events, The Pawning Planners, Texas Twins Treasures, and Texas Twins TV blogs, you may be unaware of my latest site and blog updates at TDCJ Officiant.
For those unaware of my latest site, I am adding the link– Prison Weddings With Wendy Wortham. Did I ever imagine that performing my first prison wedding would expand my services? No. I was helping someone who needed help.
Did I ever imagine that prison wedding bookings would expand to 14 states? No. But, over a two year plus window, our services were SO IN DEMAND that requests in other states rolled in.
I prefer prison weddings. Why? There aren’t any divas or demanding people “asking me for an apple and expecting me to bake a pie” that’s why.
For years, affluent clients were the biggest pain in the world to deal with. They were also hot check writers, finger snappers and idiots who assumed that “because I had a full staff” that by hiring me to officiate or coordinate their event that “your team can help serve food, take photos and set up.”
There’s a reason I HATE dealing with divas. The reason is that they are often also dipshits. That’s right don’t be offended. When you have worked nearly 2500 Events, you’ve met em all and I have. You also become selective. I have. In fact, I’m so picky about who I will book with that a number of people I’ve declined come back begging me to do their event.
If I’ve fired you and refunded you, I’m not going to change my mind. Your behavior was so outrageous that no amount of money would make working with you worthwhile. I’m serious.
On the flip side of the same coin, working an event for my OWN FAMILY is a volunteer effort. No one is paying me for these determined efforts and yet, each and every time I plan an event for my family, I often have the ridiculous thought that “this time it will be flawless.” While Cindy laughs and rolls her eyes, I carefully plan to seat so and so away from so and so and not to invite so and so because so and so is mad at them. Heaven help me but my family is compromised of at least someone (at any given time) being mad at someone else around here! I have a family of divas which is probably why I certainly don’t have any desire to book additional divas whether they are offering to pay more or not. I don’t work based on income. I work based on interest. There’s a difference.
Last Friday, I met Ashley at the Tarrant County Clerks office to buy her marriage license. Ashley was nervous about encountering a problem and it’s not uncommon for my prison wedding clients to be nervous since a few clerks are opinionated about knowing the person buying the license is marrying an inmate. How do they know? The Absentee Affidavit has this information in order to explain why the applicant is absent. Ashley waited for me to drive to the clerks office and meet her. I walked in to find my devastated client crying because the clerk “told me she couldn’t issue my marriage license.”
I looked over the paperwork and immediately knew why the clerk had said no. The inmate had made several corrections which is strictly forbidden on any legal document. Also, the notary at Roach Unit hadn’t placed a notary seal on the Affidavit. This was a problem. I called Roach Unit to speak to Christie and advise her of the issue. I also sent a new Affidavit along with the corrected Affidavit to Christies attention at the Unit. My package is arriving today. Obviously, Ashley cannot marry this Wednesday and I rescheduled her for August instead.
Correcting problems is my job but, Ashley had wanted to pay more due to the additional involvement it’s taken to get her married. Others who have encountered problems or issues that I’ve corrected have suggested and offered to pay me more too BUT my role as your officiant and planner literally covers every base. Whether we need to send a corrective Affidavit or reschedule or I need to get involved by contacting the Courts or mailing a new Affidavit to the Unit, my role is a “blanket that insulates you from the stress that marrying an inmate entails.” It’s a very lengthy process.
I’m looking forward to Ashley finally getting married next month and I’m also driving her to the clerks office and back home when the Unit mails the Affidavit back to alleviate her stress. I’m not the “ordinary Officiant.” I’m the EXTRAORDINARY OFFICIANT.
I’m in it for the long run. I make your event happen. People always ask me “how did you become so successful?” The answer lies in dedication, perseverance, loyalty, righteousness and always putting my clients needs first.
When you juggle as many clients as I do on a daily, weekly, monthly and even yearly basis, your job never really ends. Your clients become your friends. Your clients rebook you for their Vow Renewal upon release of the inmate. Your clients consider you to be family just as much as you consider them your own family. I became successful because I do Events differently. I put my clients on a pedestal.
My twin sister is my partner in the event planning process. We work as a team. We are almost always together unless we are forced to split up and address different clients in different locations.
We have also trained our adult children in the events industry. My son, my daughter in law and my niece now handle new or “last minute booking” clients who I don’t have time to address with my burdened schedule.
I limit bookings solely as to not spread myself too thin for existing clients as a courtesy. Everyone wants to hire ME but…there is only one of me and I cannot be everywhere at once. Since I’m always asked about this, I have 15-20 inmate weddings per month. Traditional events and Vow Renewals compromise 20% of my bookings. That number includes Vow Renewals for previous prison wedding clients.
What I’m saying is that traditional bookings from new clients IS STRICTLY LIMITED if you are wanting to book me. If you are a new client and wishing to book on short notice, you are referred to my staff unless you are booking me at a venue I’m on staff at. Why? Because five days a week I’m at Prisons. Weekends I’m at traditional events. I work seven days a week. My calendar for traditional events is booked 2-3 years out. I don’t have time or availability on my books to take on short notice or new traditional bookings. In fact, I have previous prison wedding clients booking Vow Renewals up to 20 years out. As I cannot guarantee that I will still be alive in 20 years, if I’m not, my son, my niece, and even my grandnieces will handle your Vow Renewal in my absence.
Other event vendors or even other possible clients who are offended about my diverse client bases being compromised of LBGT couples or clients marrying inmates can effectively bug off. Your opinions are your luggage. Speaking for my clients, my staff and myself, your opinions aren’t our luggage and they aren’t our trip either…