“There is only one way to avoid criticism: do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing.” -Aristotle
There’s a level of unparalleled anxiety which envelopes my entire human form when I see the email subject “You’ve Received a Review” pop up. My hands begin to sweat. I start shaking my leg nervously. There’s a 50/50 chance as to what the outcome will be and the only way to see if I’ve hit the jackpot or need to file bankruptcy is by clicking “open.”
Honesty hasn’t been my finest attribute in the past but in regards to this particular subject, I do feel it’s the best policy. So here’s full disclosure: I don’t have all 5-star reviews because I haven’t always given 5-star service. I know. Pick your jaw up off the floor and keep reading. Maybe you’re thinking if I would just do my job and do it well then every review would be glowing. I would tell you I’ve tried. It’s not like I plot ways to piss off people. I don’t plan on coordinators quitting and leaving me in a bind. I don’t plan on houses to burn down leaving me stretched thin and in two places at once. I intend to respond to emails as quickly as possible and then you know what has the audacity to interfere? Life.
As a small business owner and one in a highly emotionally charged industry, I have always operated under principle. I’ve listened to complaints and feedback and I’ve tried to modify workflows and systems to do better. I’ve offered and given refunds despite contractual obligations. I’ve been cussed because I started a ceremony three minutes after the time noted on the invitation. I’ve been publicly defamed and slandered based on stories that are completely one-sided and far from factual.
Reviews are a double-edge sword. They can make you and they can break you. And the caveat is the scale isn’t equally weighed. It takes 50 favorable reviews to outweigh one negative Nancy. So how the heck does this have anything to do with Southern Living Magazine naming me as a Top Southern Wedding Planner? It’s proof that it’s okay to be human. You can be perfectly imperfect. You can make mistakes. You can accumulate a few less than stellar performance evaluations or get removed from a venue’s vendor list even though you’ve coordinated more than 40 weddings at their property. You can learn and grow and persevere and eventually your hard work is going to be recognized by someone or something more notable than user “AnonymouslyMarried17” online.
So here’s my acceptance speech for this honor bestowed upon me by Southern Living Magazine. To those clients who took the time to fill the interwebs with positive vibes and words of gratitude for our experience working together – I thank you. I hang onto your words and I use it as motivation for future clients. To those clients who were rightfully disappointed because something or someone distracted me from my role as your planner – I apologize. You deserved better and I’m sorry I didn’t meet your expectations. And lastly, to those pseudo clients who feel it necessary to bash my business or slander me personally with misinformation and inaccurate accounts of interactions – I pray for you. I pray you never really experience disappointment in the form of losing a loved one or suddenly waking up to find yourself a single parent with a disassembled life. I pray you don’t have to be tragically reminded that the world doesn’t revolve around you or dare I say it, your wedding day.
In case you didn’t know, you can’t make everyone happy. And there comes a point, especially when owning a small business and even more so as a wedding planner, when you realize you’ll never be good enough for some people. And maybe that’s your problem but maybe, just maybe, it’s theirs. And do you know who thinks I’m a pretty rad wedding planner despite my faults and shortcomings? Southern freaking Living Magazine.