The Power of Collaboration for a Newcomer: “The Rising Tide Lifts All Boats”

Wedding Planning

Kirsty Ussher

October 1, 2023

The 5 Lessons Learned From a Successful Collab

As someone who has recently embarked on the journey of entering the wedding planning industry, every step of this adventure has been a whirlwind of enjoyment, challenge and learning. The wedding industry, with its intricate web of vendors, has a unique way of making you feel both overwhelmed and utterly embraced. However, it’s the power of vendor collaboration that has truly left an indelible mark on my heart.

Photographer: Hannah Hughes Photographer | Planner: As You Wish Weddings + Events | Florist: Alpine Flowers | Signage: Spearmint Signage Studio | Dress: Nemo | HMU: Road to Beauty

The Leap of Faith

Imagine taking the leap into the wedding planning industry, leaving behind a stable career for a world of tablescapes, flowers, dresses, and dreams. The excitement was palpable, but the uncertainty was equally daunting. Like many newcomers to an industry, I was eager to make my mark but unsure of where to start. A sense of Imposter Syndrome was often hovering around the edges.

A Vision Takes Shape: Fun, Fresh, Bold, and Non-Conventional

I had worked hard on developing my brand identity and being clear about who my client would be. It was paramount that I didn’t just rely on stock images for my website. I needed to use my own images, ones that I had curated from start to finish. One day, while scrolling through Pinterest for inspiration (as one does in this industry), a vision for a styled photo shoot blossomed in my mind. I envisioned a colorful, retro-themed shoot that would encapsulate the essence of my brand, As You Wish Weddings + Events – fun, fresh, bold, and unapologetically unconventional. It was a fun concept, and I was determined to showcase it through this visual representation.

Reaching Out

With my head full of ideas, I began reaching out to fellow vendors in the industry. I was fortunate enough to have already built some relationships with other vendors and used those connections to my advantage. To my surprise, the responses I received were not just warm and welcoming; they were downright enthusiastic. But let’s keep it real, not everyone said “yes”. My vision didn’t align with everyone I reached out to, and that was ok. That’s the purpose of a photo shoot, being true to your brand and finding like-minded businesses who want to work with you.

Takeaway #1 – Make sure you have a really clear vision for your shoot. Not just an idea. Be detailed and specific about what the finished product should look like and how you would like each vendor to contribute to that. Ensure people still have creative license, but to create cohesiveness you need to have real clarity around the vision, goal and purpose of the shoot. This helps get everyone moving on the same trajectory and reduces the chance of conflict or misunderstanding along the way.

Bride and groom sitting on the bar with the orange back wall in background. She has white sunglasses on and they are holding Aperol Spritz each
Bride and Groom sitting on the bar. Her head is on his shoulder and they are smiling with joy

Photographer: Hannah Hughes Photographer | Planner: As You Wish Weddings + Events | Venue: The Venue | Dress: Nemo | HMU: Road to Beauty

The Power of Collaboration

Collaboration, I soon discovered, is the heartbeat of the wedding industry. Each vendor brought their unique talents to the table, and together, we crafted a vision that surpassed my wildest dreams. The wedding vendor community is incredibly supportive. Whether it was our talented photographer, Hannah Hughes capturing the perfect shot. Our masterful florist, Jane from Alpine Flowers crafting the most vibrant, retro arrangements. Or our talented model Elle who used her own behind-the-lens knowledge and expertise to create absolute magic in every shot. Everyone came together with a shared goal – to launch my brand, get great new content and create an unforgettable, unconventional visual representation that screamed fun and freshness.

As a newcomer, I had much to learn. From the first meeting, experienced vendors generously shared their insights, guiding me through the intricacies of the industry. It wasn’t just about the shoot; it was about empowering me to succeed in this world and rise with the tide.

Takeaway #2 – Be genuine and work hard to create connection with other vendors on this journey with you. If you are open, honest and warm towards others, it is fairly certain that they will reciprocate. Connection can be the result of something as small as having a friendly smile throughout the shoot or following through and doing what you say you are going to do. Or it can be always ensuring that your hard workers are fed and watered throughout the day!

Photographer: Hannah Hughes Photographer | Planner: As You Wish Weddings + Events | Florist: Alpine Flowers | Signage: Spearmint Signage Studio | Cupcakes: White Rabbit Cakes

The Shoot That Stole My Heart

The day of the styled shoot arrived, and as I watched my vision come to life, I was overwhelmed with gratitude. The talented team of vendors didn’t just create beautiful photos; they created an experience that left me in awe. I saw how the power of collaboration could transcend the ordinary and create something extraordinary. From the boundless energy of Deidre (Road to Beauty) who stayed onsite all day for the shoot and took our model seamlessly through 3 different looks. To Tash from Spearmint Signage Studio, who provided little pops of creative brilliance for almost every part of the shoot. The overall cohesiveness of the shoot is a testament to how committed every vendor was to the overall vision and goal of the project.

The true beauty of collaboration lies not just in each team member’s contribution but in the merging of creative minds. An effective team is more than just the sum total of all its parts. It is instead the result of the magic that can happen when those parts are given the opportunity to push each other towards innovative and creative goals. Each vendor added their own flair to the shoot, infusing it with bold and unconventional elements. It reminded me that in this industry, creativity knows no bounds, and the possibilities are endless

Takeaway #3 – Let each contributor have some creative license and flexibility and create an environment where others are encouraged to offer suggestions and drive innovation. When vendors with varied expertise and styles join forces, the result is a fusion of ideas that dazzles. Our styled shoot was a true testament to this and has opened the door to exciting future opportunities.

Takeaway #4 – Be a logistical ninja on the day of the shoot and give very clear instructions before the day arrives so that everyone knows what they are expected to do and what the timing of the day will be. When things go a bit pear-shaped, take control and find solutions. Even true collaboration needs leadership every now and then and as the organiser of the shoot, I knew it was my responsibility to steer the ship. You can’t be a wallflower and hope that everyone can read your mind in the thick of it. You need to be clear, assertive, decisive and help everyone GET IT DONE.

Photographer: Hannah Hughes Photographer | Stylist + Invitations: As You Wish Weddings + Events | Signage: Spearmint Signage Studio | Cupcakes: White Rabbit Cakes

A Newfound Confidence

This collaborative experience not only gave me a stunning portfolio but also a newfound confidence in my abilities to bring unconventional dreams to life. I realized that in this industry, we don’t compete; we lift each other up. We celebrate each other’s successes because we understand that when one of us shines, we all do. The rising tide lifts all boats, and together, we can sail into bold and unconventional waters.

Takeaway #5 – In the whirlwind of planning and executing a styled shoot, it’s crucial to pause and celebrate achievements, both big and small. We toasted to our hard work, applauded each other’s talents, and savored the joy of creating something extraordinary. Celebrations fuel the passion and keep the creative fire burning bright so always have that bottle of bubbles handy for the end of the shoot!

A Future Filled with Promise

As I continue my journey in the wedding planning industry, I carry with me the lessons and the love I’ve received from my fellow vendors. The power of collaboration has shown me that, as a newcomer, I am not alone in this adventure. I have a supportive community that believes in my fun, fresh, bold, and non-traditional ideas and is willing to help me turn them into reality.

So, to all the vendors who welcomed me with open arms during that amazing styled shoot, I say thank you. Thank you for teaching me that in the world of weddings, collaboration is the true key to creating moments of pure joy and launching a new brand that’s unapologetically fun, fresh and bold.

I want to finish this blog with a special mention of gratitude to Sonya from Wanaka Wedding Hire. Her willingness to support, advise and collaborate on this shoot was almost unbelievable and I will be forever grateful to her for helping me get this party started!!

For more images of the shoot, take a look at the “Colourful Retro: A Fun + Fresh Approach to Wanaka Weddings” blog post.

Read another perspective from this shoot over at Road to Beauty

Shout out to Vendors

Planner + Stylist As You Wish Weddings + Events

Photographer Hannah Hughes Photographer

Venue The Venue

Hair + Makeup Road to Beauty

Florals Alpine Flowers

Signage + Ceremony Backdrop Spearmint Signage Studio

Furniture + Lighting Wanaka Wedding Hire

Chairs Wanaka Marquee Party Hire

Cake + Cupcakes White Rabbit Cakes

Linen Whistling Reindeer

Bridal Attire Nemo Bridal

Model Elle (also a freelance photographer + videographer)

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