Originally guest-posted on Planner's Lounge.
My wedding and event planning business has been my baby for four years now, but from the very beginning, I had the goal of starting a family in mind. Every wedding season, so much of my year was planned and committed in advance, figuring out where pregnancy and motherhood would fit in seemed next to impossible. It certainly wasn’t realistic to time things around wedding season every year. That pipe-dream lasted only one season. Trust me, it’s just not something you can plan with the predictability of a typical wedding itinerary.
It threw me for quite a loop when I realized how little control I had over getting pregnant. For a professional planner, making babies is one unpredictable and unsettling roller-coaster ride with plenty of ups and downs. Add to that the crazy schedule and inevitable stress of this career path and you’re in for one heck of an “adventure”. You might find yourself pregnant by surprise, have luck trying early on, or unfortunately, in my case, struggling with fertility or loss. Whatever the case may be, the world keeps turning and you’ve got a business to run, so here are a few tips for those of you with babies on the brain.
Find Your People
Whether you have employees or work independently, it’s important to build a staff, or stable of contractors, who you trust to represent your biz and your brand not just when they’re working alongside you, but also to hold down the fort when you can’t show up. Once you’re due any day now – or baby arrives – you’ll be unable to work the events you’ve committed to. Your clients will feel much better in the hands of your replacement if they can sense that you wholeheartedly support and stand behind your body double to do an equally amazing job.
Plant The Seed Early
Your wedding planner contract should already account for a scenario when you can’t be at a wedding; nevertheless your couples grow attached to you and picture you hustling on their big day. Once we were trying to get pregnant, I began to mention the scenario to potential clients at their consultations, that if there was ever a case I couldn’t be at the wedding, I had a plan. I had backup coordinators that I trusted 110% to handle things in my place and staffed specifically with each wedding in mind. By letting them know about a solid backup plan from the get go, it would soften the blow later on if and when I was pregnant and had to let clients know that I wouldn’t be able to coordinate myself.
Manage Your Schedule With Baby In Mind
Once baby-making is on your agenda, you’ve got to plan accordingly in your work life. Learn to say “no” and mean it. This means not over-committing to too many weddings and projects, because any month the test could be positive and all of a sudden there’s a due date smack in the middle of your calendar among all those responsibilities.
By focusing on your ideal clients, standing behind your pricing and keeping an eye out not to overbook, your simpler schedule will hopefully be much more manageable. If things aren’t working out as quickly as you had hoped in the fertility department, you can always add more bookings or take on work elsewhere to fill in the gaps.
Saving up for baby expenses well in advance is ideal, but so is lessening your business expenses, so that you can build a bit of savings in your business banking account. With so many of us being self-employed, the luxury of a paid maternity leave is non-starter. Perhaps you consider one less workshop this year, or decreasing your advertising budget. You know you don’t really need those pretty gold polka dot file folders right this second. Stick to the necessities. If you’re able to build up some savings then you’ll be able to pay yourself a bit while profits are lower with a quieter schedule.
While it’s much easier said than done, just be patient and hope for the best. There’s only so much you can do to make your baby dreams happen – it’s a huge lesson in lack of control – but knowing that you’re doing as much as you can professionally will help ease a lot of the stress.
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