Community column: Network helps wedding professionals learn
Thanks to a handful of movies, some reality television programs, and at least a few decades of blushing brides, the wedding planning profession is widely recognized. The vocation can be easily romanticized. For some, it’s difficult to imagine more fun than selecting floral arrangements, linen colors, and centerpieces for a living. For others, these details can be as harrowing as actually choosing a partner for life. And that, I suppose, represents two of the top reasons why wedding planners’ fees account for a significant portion of an $80 billion industry.
Even though I fit the typical customer profile of busy working woman, I never even considered hiring someone to help with my own big event. As a result, lots of strange challenges awaited me on that fateful weekend — like the dozens of boxes filled with fresh flowers arriving the day before and no plan as to who would assemble them into centerpieces and bouquets. And while I remembered to have my nails done, I totally spaced on a hair appointment. Seeking something to cover this disaster, I figured a veil would fit the bill. But where to find a decent one 24 hours before the walk down the aisle? There are Bride-zillas and then there was me: Clueless.
If only I had known about all the resources out there. For example, there’s the Wedding Industry Professionals Association, also known as WIPA. There’s the Association of Wedding Professionals. (Also known as AWP?) The Association of Certified Wedding Professional Consultants (ACPWC) shares the stage for the longest acronym with the American Association of Certified Wedding Planners (AACWP).
The New River Valley has recently launched a local version of the above with a contemporary twist — the New River Valley Wedding and Event Network (VAWE). The regional chapter of the state-based Virginia Wedding and Event Network has convened twice this summer including an elaborate showcase of area talents at the Ingles Castle in late July.
According to Chapter Director April Amodeo, the VAWE is loosely based on the chamber of commerce concept, where professionals meet on a regular basis to network and build relationships, encouraging business development and growth. But wedding and event planners have different schedules from most careers.
“We work weekends and evenings,” Amodeo explains. “And once at the wedding, the florists are there before the caterers. The caterers are busy preparing the meals while the photographer is taking pictures. The musician is on stage the whole time. No one really gets a chance to know one another.”
At VAWE gatherings, wedding and event professionals learn about one another’s talents and personalities, leading to referrals and even partnering. A potential wedding venue as well as select caterers, photographers, and musicians are featured each month.
Amodeo describes herself as an “educator by training, a photographer by profession” and promises a steady flow of helpful workshops for the burgeoning membership. Annual fees and a code of ethics are established by the state association. Information can be found at www.vawenetwork.com. For now, the NRV chapter is doing most of its communicating through Facebook. Their next event is September 12 at Beliveau Estate near Blacksburg and they return to Radford’s Nesselrod on the New for the October meeting.
It’s kind of tempting to attend, maybe masquerading as a professional ice sculptor or tango instructor. After all, this is a party thrown by the professional party throwers. But that’s a movie or reality show yet to be pitched — Wedding and Event Network Crashers. Just doesn’t have the same ring. Besides, these experts could spot me a mile away — the only bride in America with bad hair.
(You can see more photos from a July network event in the slideshow below in or a gallery with captions here.)
By Catherine Van Noy
Special to The Burgs | 639-3330