I just had an impromptu consult with a bride over the phone, and she asked me a question I find myself answering a lot these days:
“How did you get into wedding planning?”
I always laugh when people ask me this, because it is literally the last thing I ever saw myself doing. There’s no wedding planning major in college…I studied journalism for your reference lol. I hadn’t even been a guest at many, let alone understood what went into planning one.
To answer that question, I have to go back to my first true love: Dance. When my fiance and I moved to Pittsburgh—him from Syracuse, me from Long Island—I went through a handful of Big Girl Jobs (I just gagged writing that phrase). I was an annoyed waitress, a bored downtown receptionist, a restless public relations associate. Then, I was an events coordinator. For who, you ask? Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre.
I let go of my high school dream job, owning a dance studio, or even dancing professionally myself, years ago. It’s a hard life, and I never fully committed to putting in the work to make that happen. But to have a Big Girl Job (vom) adjacent to dancers—professional ballerinas at that!—had my heart racing. The events I coordinated were fundraisers to help sustain the company and school, making other dancers’ dreams a reality. I was sold.
I worked there for five years, and the sheer volume of knowledge I absorbed on how to run events could fill a book. *Adds book deal to career bucket list* For a while, being in that building was magical to me. I’ll never forget hearing the pianos during company class as I peered down into the studio from my office. I was nostalgic every time we were at The Benedum for performance weekends. The costumes and lights kept me spellbound—I even gave donors backstage tours! It was a Cool Job, but something was wrong. I was really unhappy.
Managing events for a nonprofit is stressful. Not only do you have to execute a smooth event, there’s a fundraising goal attached to each one, and failing to meet it is not an option. I cared a lot about the events I was managing and the mission behind it, but 3 years in, it was burning me out. My lifelong love for dance got tangled with my lukewarm feelings about my job, which was a huge part of my identity.
I am one of those obnoxious and privileged ‘live your dreams!!!’ millennials, and felt that my value as a human was defined by my job title. I wanted everyone to think I was living my passion, even if in reality, it sucked. Even if I cried in the bathroom. Even if I started doing the bare minimum to get through the week. I stayed for 2 more years.
During those two years, something amazing happened: I got hired as the coach of the Duquesne University Dance Team. I was so happy! It was very part time, but it reminded me that dance could fit into my life in many ways.
It’s not news to anyone that when you coach a dance team, you’re not in it to get rich. These jobs are part time, and famously low paying. Until I’m ready to spearhead the campaign to make college dance an NCAA sport, I have to accept that I’ll never support myself on coaching alone.
I did a lot of thinking about where do go from here. My full time job was sucking the joy out of me. I applied to similar jobs around Pittsburgh, and met with friends about where to go next, which in a poetic way, led me exactly where I started: My first job interview at the ballet.
The woman I was hired to replace at the ballet five years ago resigned because her wedding planning business was so successful. That woman is Shayne Souleret of Soiree by Souleret, who is one of the most sought-after full scale planners in the city. Maybe I could plan weddings? Maybe I’d be good at it. Maybe I would even…like it!
After grabbing lunch with Shayne (seriously bless this woman, she is the definition of community over competition) I launched Day of Pittsburgh.
My first season, I coordinated 7 weddings.
My second season, I coordinated 20, and said goodbye to the ballet.
Today, one week into my third season, I have tied my 2019 bookings with last year: 20 weddings!
I have 8 lined up for 2020. WHAT!!!
How did I get into wedding planning? I followed my one passion, which led to the discovery that I have so many more inside of me! I’m writing again, I’m coaching, and I’m coordinating the happiest events in people’s lives!
Is it stressful? LMAO YES! 100%. But I don’t cry in the bathroom anymore.
My future is a vision on the tip of my tongue. For now, I’m just happy to be here in Pittsburgh living all my dreams: Coaching, writing, and planning. Cheers!