I wanted to start featuring some of our amazing, talented clients on our blog so that you can see real success stories in action… and know that if they can do it, you can too!
Today’s feature is an interview with our successful client, wedding planner Darlene Taylor! Enjoy!
Natalie Bradley: What made you passionate about what you do? What events do you feel brought you to this point in time?
Darlene Taylor: I am passionate about special moments: the moment a woman sees herself as a bride when she has on the perfect dress; the moment the doors swing open and the bride walks down the aisle; the moment groom sees his bride for the first time and wells up with tears because she’s so beautiful; the moment when bride and groom look into each other’s eyes and share their first kiss as husband and wife. Those special moments, those once-in-a-lifetime moments, draw me in…and I’m hooked!
I dreamed of those special moments for my own wedding day. Being a wedding entertainer for 8 years – yes, I was a wedding singer – and a meeting planner for a major hotel chain, I figured I had wedding planning all figured out. What I didn’t realize was that I could not be the star of the show AND the stage manager at the same time. No matter how well I had thought things through, or how many “t’s” I crossed, I couldn’t be in two places at once. Everybody was coming at me on my wedding day, while I was getting ready, asking me questions about this, that, and everything else. Where were those special moments I had dreamed of? Buried under stress. Buried under confusion.
Why? Because everyone needed a leader that day – someone who would take charge of the reins of my plans and pull them in order; someone who could do what I couldn’t do that day; someone who knew how to handle the problems, the people, and the last minute hiccups that happen at weddings.
My personal wedding experience fueled a deep desire women – future brides – have the best, most organized and stress-free wedding experience full of their own special moments to enjoy and celebrate for a lifetime! I combined my years of influence from the wedding industry and my skills from corporate meeting planning and began TaylorMade Weddings.
NB: What do you love the most about your business?
DT: Being present at the beginning of something new. I get to watch the birth of a new relationship the moment it happens. Don’t laugh, but I am reminded of an episode of Star Trek: the Next Generation where Capt. Jean-Luc Picard and his crew had just started off on their mission and encountered a new life form. Long story short, they watched and aided this space entity give birth. Something completely new and they all got to see it first hand and be involved in helping it come alive. THAT’s the best part about what I do.
NB: What is your background? Do you have a college or higher education degree? If so, is your degree related to what you do now?
DT: I do have a college degree in music/voice and I spent my college years traveling and performing with a vocal jazz group, then several years (10 combined) performing in shows at theme parks across the country and ultimately in a local band performing nightly at a local club and for wedding receptions. Though I’m not performing anymore, my performance background and theater background flows into wedding planning in creating an atmosphere for the ceremony and reception. Kind of like setting/designing the stage for a show: there’s costuming, there’s decorating, there’s music, there’s a cast of performers, and so much more.
NB: What are your favorite hobbies and interests?
DT: My favorite hobby is scrapbooking. (This must be why I love Darlene so much!! ) I have several scrapbooks of the kids when they were babies and I made gift books for Christmas presents for grandparents. I’m starting a scrapbook of weddings I’ve done to show prospective clients.
NB: What’s your favorite time of year and why?
DT: Thanksgiving is my favorite time of year. It’s about taking time to count all the blessings in my life and give back to others. I love to be surrounded by my family. I love all the smells of Fall and Thanksgiving: spiced cider, pumpkin pie, roasted turkey….
NB: What’s your favorite social media place to hang out virtually?
DT: My favorite…it’s probably Pinterest. I could spend all day on there and not even realize it!! But I’m on Twitter a lot, too, chatting it up.
NB: What’s something most people wouldn’t know about you?
DT: That I’ve been to Hell and back. HA!! I grew up in Michigan and there is a city called Hell. Really!! It’s a small town. So…growing up…whenever someone told you to go there you could literally say that you had already been there!
NB: If you were a superhero, who would you be and why?
DT: Wonder Woman. She was feminine, classy, polite. She always looked good, even in battle. She could run in high heels. She had those cool girly gadgets to use.
NB: When did you start your business? What made you get started?
DT: I started TaylorMade Weddings over 12 years ago while I was working a full-time job as a corporate meeting planner. 2 years later, I branched out on my own to fully devote my time to my business. There were some bumps and disappointments in those first years flying solo, but I never gave up on my dream of helping brides. I knew I had a business inside of me. In the words of Oprah Winfrey, “I still have my feet on the ground, I just wear better shoes.”
NB: How do you establish a personal connection with your clients?
DT: I like to connect face to face. Going out for coffee or lunch and just chatting about whatever is very relaxing. Shopping for shoes together is always fun, too!
NB: What’s a typical work week look like for you? Day?
DT: I homeschool every day, so it takes a lot of creative energy to make things run smoothly and keep up with wedding details. My days begin at 5am so I can have some personal time before the kids get up. I’ll usually do some blog writing at this time.
After breakfast we start right in with homeschool on video steam and I’m planted right in the middle of all 3 kids at my “mobile desk.” I carry my iPad around with me and can answer emails, network with clients and wedding vendors on social media, and study wedding trends and styles throughout the school day.
After school, I can make/return phone calls, catch up on chores or run errands. My family is involved in Scouts, dance classes, and Art lessons so our late afternoons and evenings are busy. At the end of the day, my husband and I can reconnect before we end our day and start all over again.
NB: How do you “get it all done”? What’s your biggest tip for other entrepreneurs?
DT: Schedule, schedule, schedule. Plan your work and work your plan. You have got to stick to your schedule as best as you can in order to get it all done. Be flexible when life happens and throws you a curve ball. If you have to schedule date night and family time – do it! In fact, it should be a given and not an “if” so you don’t neglect these areas. Your business is not worth your family or marriage falling apart.
NB: What’s your niche and specialty?
DT: My specialty is planning and coordination. I’m a logistics person, a details person, an organizer, a scheduler. The bride tells me what she wants and I find her the right team of vendors to make it happen. I’m in the know. I tell her what works and what doesn’t. I keep the bride in check and on track with her budget, her time and her projects.
NB: Who do you like working with the most (type of person)?
DT: There should be a feeling of comfort between people who are working closely together. We work best with couples who are newly engaged, have just begun the planning process and may have already selected a few vendors. Our couples are stylish and savvy; they know what they want but do not make hasty decisions to get it; they want to make their wedding stand out and be unique. They seek counsel, are open to suggestions, and they appreciate the value of what we have to offer.
NB: What do you wish people knew most about your business and why?
DT: Dear bride: I am not the enemy! I’m an asset to you! I’m on YOUR team. I’m a team player. I work alongside you to plan and execute your vision and I can do that because I’ve been with you from the beginning. I know you. I’ve cried with you…laughed with you…celebrated with you. At the end of the day – when the last bite of cake has been eaten and the final note has been played by the band, you will find that you’ll have more than just another hired vendor…you’ll have a friend!
Thanks to Darlene for sharing with us today!
You can connect with Darlene here -