Friday, October 29, 2010


Be warned. I'm about ready to write a controversial blog post. And I'm likely to offend some with my thoughts. But, like the Elephant in the Room, it's time to address the arrogance I'm seeing in the wedding industry.

I'll be the first to admit, I love what I do. Starting this business from the ground up and watching it grow over the past four years has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I look forward to stepping foot into my office each morning. And I love watching my staff grow and develop in their roles, too.

But as my mom always says, 'Let's call a spade, a spade.' Planning weddings and events is not rocket science. And I'd hardly compare myself to the amazing men and women who are saving lives every day or fighting for the freedom of this country. Is what I'm doing important? Of course it is. I'm not trying to diminish that at all. But, outside of the wedding industry, no one really knows who I am. I haven't developed a cure for cancer. And I'm hardly a celebrity. Frankly put, I'm hired help. Just as all people in this industry are. Albeit, I try to be great hired help, but nonetheless, I'm hired to do a job and that's what I do.

I'm rather disgusted by so much of the arrogant behavior that I see within this industry by many planners, florists and photographers. Whatever happened to doing a job because you love it versus doing it for fame and notoriety and bragging about it all over the world wide web? I don't see anything wrong with setting yourself apart from the competition, but I do have a problem with people acting like they know it all and turning their noses down at those who they deem less important in this industry. And I especially don't like those who won't give you the time of day because you're not on the 'cutting-edge' of this industry.

Everyone, take a deep breath. We're talking about planning weddings, here. People have been getting married for hundreds of years and somehow they managed to do it long before companies like mine existed or before there were blogs and books and websites. So, let's all stop taking ourselves so seriously. Let's recognize that we have value to others and what we're doing is important. But, it's nothing to be arrogant about.


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Lisa Kae Photography

So excited to share these images with you today! This past summer, I had one of my favorite Michigan photographers, Lisa Kae, take my kids out on a little 'excursion' to capture their loveliness. I had a chance to look through all of the proofs yesterday and I had a terrible time picking out my favorite ones because they all ended up in my 'favorites' folder!

I can't say enough wonderful things about Lisa! And I truly mean that. Because she's a mom, too, she has this wonderful way with my kids that can only be described as 'a mom's touch.' When my kids say things that make me want to turn the color of a beet, she blows it off and says, 'Don't worry, my kids say the same stuff.' I can't tell you how wonderful that is to hear when I'm about ready to crawl under a rock!

Thank you, Lisa, for these cherished images. I look forward to many more summers of photo shoots!

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Elephant in the Room

It's time to address the elephant in the room. But before I get started, I want to preface this by saying that I've watched the elephant 'work the room' for a couple of years now and have always bit my tongue. But, the problem seems to be getting worse instead of better. And for that reason, I've decided to address it.

You see, a couple of months ago I wrote a post about how I was changing the direction of this blog to give a more frank account of the joys and challenges of running a planning firm as well as a letterpress invitation company. So, true to this new direction, I'm going to address the caddy behavior and jealousy that I see amongst wedding industry professionals and especially within my own local community.

I'm sure I'm going to ruffle some feathers with this post. But that isn't my intention. Instead, I hope this gives everyone some food for thought and makes each one of use reflect on how we act and treat other vendors within our local wedding community and within the wedding community as a whole.

I've had a couple of really tough months professionally. I have had some significant internal issues that have needed swift and immediate attention. This, on top of a full event dance-card, have made these some of the most difficult since opening the firm 4 years ago.

But, I can honestly say they have also been good months, too. I have learned many things about myself and what I want for my businesses. And I have decided to start running the businesses instead of letting them run me. Sometimes, you can't come to these realizations until you've experienced some tough times.

So, what's my point in telling you this? The point is, some have seemingly enjoyed watching me struggle with these internal issues. It seems that I'm a target for unfounded rumors and false assumptions. Through various ways, I've seen people 'buddy-up' and support poor behavior. And I'm calling it out.

I have worked very hard to get to where I am. I am passionate. I am a hard-worker. And I am dedicated. By the sheer grace of God, I have been blessed with an amazing business that I love passionately. I have been blessed with a success that I never dreamed I would have. And I will never take that for granted. Never.

But, there are planners out there who are not happy to see success. In fact, they'd really like to see failure. And I find this deplorable. The thing is, I don't just see this problem amongst wedding planners. I also see this among other wedding businesses like florists and photographers. Instead of celebrating everyone's success and the great things that the success does for the industry as a whole, false rumors are generated as a way to 'bring them down.'

Chances are if you're not in my local market and you're reading this, you're thinking, 'Holy cow, everything she's saying is applicable to my area, too.' So here's the thing, let's all put a stop to it! Let's celebrate one another's successes and STOP celebrating struggles and failures. Or worse yet, starting rumors that cause struggles and failures. What's good for one florist is good for another. And what's good for one planner is also good for another, too. If we allow it, successes can work together to elevate every single one of us.

So, let's stop the jealousy and the back-stabbing! Instead, let's use the energy that's being wasted on negativity and apply it toward positive advances. Let's not be afraid to admit to one another where we struggle for fear that it will be used against us. But, let's readily admit areas of weakness and help one another succeed.

Now that I've 'outed' the elephant, it's time for everyone in my local community to start playing nice! And I want people in your local community to start playing nice, too. Celebrate each other's successes and stop tearing successful businesses down. It hurts us all!

Phew, I feel better, now. How about you??!!


PS - If this post rings true for you, please feel free to re-post and help me start a 'play nice' movement within the wedding industry!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Notes From the MRS! (OUR WEDDING, PART 2)

Let's go ahead and jump right into the next round of photos...

Ahhhh...the ballroom. There were tears. Plenty of happy tears. And I probably hugged Jodi at least a hundred times.

The sweet little faces of my Flower Girl and Ring Bearer....

And probably my favorite detail of the night, our "Breakfast at Midnight" late-night snack. Which included a beautifully-designed cereal bar (a nod to Chris and I's favorite food
), savory mini breakfast sandwiches, and adorable french toast shooters. How fun is that?

Many, many, many thanks to the following vendors: In Any Event, Modern Day Floral, Jen Kroll Photography, Coastline Studios, MiraBella Confections, Handbags by Jen, Cascade Country Club, Westminster Presbyterian Church, Julie Strating Makeup Artist, Erin Brown from A Davis Brown Salon, Rumplestiltskin (the band), Peter Spickenagel (classical guitarist), Grand Rapids Trolley Company, and the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel.

Every time I see these photos, I end up looking at them forever in awe. It makes me so happy to finally be married to my favorite person in the whole world after five long years. Thank you to our friends and family for being there to share our day with us. Without you it would have not been complete. And of course, thank you to Jodi. You made this day absolutely beautiful. We love you very much.

~ Jillian

Notes From the MRS! (OUR WEDDING, PART 1)

Hello friends! Wow, I have missed you all for the past couple months! So here we now are, and the big day has finally come and gone. CHRIS AND I ARE OFFICIALLY HITCHED! And at last, I am a "Mrs". Can I just stop and tell you how blissfully happy it makes me to be able to say that? These past 2 months being a newlywed have been a blessing. It's truly been great. And I don't know about you, but these past couple of months have also completely flown by. It's like I blinked and all of a sudden, fall has begun.

After returning from Chris and I's beautiful Hawaiian honeymoon, we hit the ground running over here at In Any Event and Gwyneth Paige. We have some spectacular events in store that are right around the corner. But before we jump into all that, I need to finally share the photos of my wedding! I know, I am a little behind on getting these posted, and for that I apologize. But I am so happy to be revealing our wedding to you all because I am completely speechless over it ...still.

To Jodi and all our vendors, I cannot find a big enough way to express my gratitude to each one of you. I love you dearly. You helped make our big day a dream come true for not only myself, but for my husband, our family, and all of our beloved friends. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

And to our readers, thank you for following me on my wedding planning journey. I loved being able able to share some planning tips, some sneak peeks, and some of my experiences with you. Please enjoy the first round of lovely photos below (taken by Jen Kroll...who captured our day perfectly.)

So many beautiful moments...

And the ceremony begins, with our dear bridal party of 16 {yes, SIXTEEN!} by our side...

Stay tuned for the reception and more special details in the next post!

~ Jillian

Friday, August 27, 2010

496 Unread Blog Posts

Yes, that's what my Google Reader told me this morning. What it should have said was, 'So sorry you've been too busy to visit lately.' For that matter, my sister recently sent a comment, ' Why have I had to read the same post for the last few months!' Okay. Point taken.

I do promise, I will resume to regular blogging later this fall. But in the mean time, it's gonna be 'spotty' while we work to produce the events for ArtPrize as well as two very spectacular weddings for Diana and Tony and Andrea and Michael. Both very different but equally fantastic! The fabulous Jen Kroll will be shooting both weddings as well as the ArtPrize events, and I can't wait to see what magic comes out of her camera!

So, since the last post two months ago, my assistant Jillian got married. Her husband, who is in his last year of medical school, has been placed in Grand Rapids for his rotations. {Yes, my lovely assistant is living in a different state then her husband right now! Bless her heart, the girl actually likes working for me and told her husband she wasn't moving to Toledo because of her job here in Grand Rapids! I swear. I didn't bribe her to stay but I would of if that was necessary!}. All of our Gwyneth Paige binders were shipped to their respective stores and within two days of their arrival, we had our first store sale to a major, in-the-news-a-lot celebrity. We added another part-time employee to help manage all the goodness around here. Her name is Betsy and we love her so! We enlisted the help of an interior designer to re-design the office to accommodate our growth and needs. Construction will begin in November and we'll be posting a slew of photos! And I finally came to the realization that I am not an invitation stylist and have hired one to 'style' the photo shoot for the release of Gwyneth Paige: Baby and Child and Gwyneth Paige: Bar and Bat Mitzvah.

Jill wants everyone to know that she's going to be posting all about her wedding next week. You'll get photos and details and all kinds of great information. But, since I haven't let her leave the office before 9:00pm this entire week, you can appreciate why she hasn't posted anything yet.

Finally, since all blog posts really should have a photo {even when they don't have stellar content like this post!} I'm going to leave you with a photo of my kids and our dogs!

Have a great weekend!


Thursday, June 17, 2010

What if this is the last wedding I design?

Have you ever thought, 'What if this is the last wedding I design?' I have. In fact, I think about it a lot. You probably wouldn't have guessed that but it's true. I'm constantly critiquing my art and wondering if I'm good enough. And if I'll be hired again.

Most people think I'm as confident as the day is long. And there is a lot of truth to that. But, I do have a very vulnerable/insecure side. A side that only my family and closest friends know exists.

I said to a dear friend one time, 'Is it normal to think 'What if I don't get hired after this job is complete?' Her response was brilliant. She said, 'It's not only normal but it's healthy. It means you're not resting on your laurels and you're constantly trying to better yourself and your business. It means your business will thrive.'

Do you question yourself, too? Are you wondering if you're good enough? If so, I think it's a good thing. My friend convinced me of that. And now I embrace that insecurity. I don't let it paralyze me. But rather, I let it strengthen me!


Friday, June 11, 2010

Notes From the Future "Mrs." - Sneak preview of my Etsy wedding elements!

I don't want to give away too much before the big day, but I had to share these lovely details with you. So let's jump right into the fun!

A while back Jodi blogged about a shop that she found on Etsy called Milkpod Studio. This artist makes the most incredible fabric bouquets and boutonnieres that you have ever seen. So of course I fell in love with her designs the second Jodi showed me her stuff {anything that has textural elements like that, I am all over it!} This is hand-craftsmanship at it's best. And Milkpod Studio was just featured in this June 2010 issue of Brides magazine! The article is called "The Great Pretenders". Be sure to check it out and see more of her amazing work.

So what is my second great Etsy find, you may be wondering? Well, it is a shop called Brydferth. The designer creates the sweetest fabric rosettes, and makes them into rings, necklaces, shoe clips, hair clips, headbands, and more. She makes them in a wide variety of colors, too. Honestly, I probably could have ordered just about everything in her shop. But ultimately I pulled the reins on myself and I had her custom-make my hair piece for the wedding and matching shoe clips. The hair clip is a rosette trio with ivory, white, and champagne rosettes. Check out the photo below, isn't it fantastic? The rosettes that clip onto my shoes are ivory and match perfectly. It doesn't stop there, either. For my flower girl, we had a headband made with three white rosettes on it. She will look so adorable. And, of course, everything will coordinate beautifully.

~ Jillian

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Is That the Highest Priority?

As a business owner, I need to know what my staff is doing on a daily basis. Now, don't get me wrong. I trust them and know they're working hard. And I truly have no interest in being a micro-manager. But, there are times when certain tasks must take precedence over others. And if I have not properly communicated this to my staff, then we're operating under different assumptions about what is important. And that's how mistakes happen.

That's why approximately 6 months ago, I implemented a new system in the office. Here's how it works. Every morning, I receive an email from each staff member with a list of projects they will be working on that day. The list looks something like this:

  1. Highest priority...first thing to work on
  2. Medium priority
  3. Lowest priority
  4. Only if I finish #1, 2 and 3, will I consider this task!

Once I review the list, I take the opportunity to talk with each person about the day ahead. This two-way communication also gives me the chance to re-prioritize tasks on their lists if need be. {This hasn't happened often, but it has happened.}

This task may seem elementary and even a little silly but there really is a good reason for the exercise. Actually, two good reasons. The first is reassurance each morning that the highest priorities for both businesses are being met. And that there won't be any surprises when I think a task is being worked on {only to discover it's been given low-priority status}. I don't like surprises and this helps eliminate them.

The second reason for this exercise is to keep my staff {and myself!} on-task, motivated and accountable. This usually isn't an issue when we're swamped and trying to survive! But, it does become an issue when we're slow and not driven by an event {or two, or three!}. It helps all of us use our time wisely and efficiently.

I really like what this system has done for us. Not only has communication improved, but I think it's empowered each person to fully embrace their position in the company and understand how vital their role is to our success. And frankly, I think there is no better employee than an empowered one!


Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Delegation = The Answer to Time Management

It's been long. Too long, I know. Since returning home from the National Stationery Show, my life has been nothing short of chaos. We've added two new pups to our home. {And our cat intensely hates them both!} My children finished the school year. I've added a new employee at Gwyneth Paige {welcome, Betsy!}. An intern at In Any Event {welcome, Audrey!}. And we now have 15 stores in seven states carrying the Gwyneth Paige line. All this in one month's time!

One of the things I've been thinking a lot about these past few weeks is how I can better manage my time and all of the demands on it. I've come to the conclusion that there's not much I can do that's not already being done. However, one thing I can do is rely more heavily on the good people that work alongside me.

Delegation has never been my strong suit. It's my perfectionist, type-A personality that causes this problem. My husband says you'll never run a successful business and be a good employer if you can't delegate. And you know, he's right. It truly is the answer to properly managing my time.

So, I'm trying to delegate more. I find that this is allowing me to work at a higher-level during the day. And empowering those around me to make good decisions. It's a great feeling. Things seem to be humming right along. And though I feel the stress that only a business-owner does, it's nice to divide the other stressors amongst friends!

How are you doing in the delegation department?


PS - I've decided to take this blog in a new direction. {Okay, let's face facts. There hasn't been much direction at all!} I'm going to focus on the 'raw truth' of owning a luxury planning firm and a couture letterpress company. In a sense, this blog will become my new 'public' journal. And I'm going to hold nothing back. You'll get to see the confident side of me as well as the vulnerable one. You'll discover what stresses me out on a day-to-day basis and what invigorates me. I think that this direction will really give me a lot to talk about and inspire my posts. I'm really excited for the future of this blog and its sustainability!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Notes From the Future "Mrs." - Wedding Invitation Photos!

Hello friends! Wow, has May really come and gone already? With us having such an eventful month, including a week at the National Stationery Show in New York, my mind has been blissfully preoccupied with all things Gwyneth Paige and In Any Event. So much so that I almost didn't realize I am less than ONE month away from getting married {insert the anxiety attack here}. That's right, a month from now I will officially be "Mrs. Clark" and will be exploring Maui with my hubby.

This next month is the home stretch for getting all my wedding details wrapped up, and it is sure to churn out some good blog post material. But before we move forward on any of that, I have to share my wedding invitations because I have been dying to show you what they look like! They were delivered a few weeks ago, and I would be lying if I said that I didn't nearly injure myself trying to get the box open because of how uncontrollably excited I was. Right away I took some super quick photos to post up here {but please forgive the awful photography work, I only had my iPhone camera on hand}.

The design suite that we chose for our wedding invitations is called Claire. Ahhh...our sweet and shabby Claire! We used fuchsia and champagne ink to customize it to my wedding color scheme. We also used ivory ink for the quilted background, but the ivory is subtle and referred to as a blind deboss because you don't necessarily notice the ink. It's just used to highlight and show off the beautiful, deep impressions in which letterpress is known for. Mmmm, delicious!

{Invite and Envelope with Liner}

{Reply Card}

{Web Card}

Another great detail to notice? The offset printing on the backs of my invitations, reply cards, and web cards. It adds a beautiful "pop" of color in an unexpected way. And our brilliant Andrea recommended that we create small, business card-sized web cards for my guests, telling them to visit our wedding website instead of printing accommodation and direction cards. This was a huge help because it is a great way to save money {and paper} on the invitations. Plus the cards are so darn cute.

{Offset printing on back of Invitation}

{Offset printing again}

Before mailing them out, I secured together each suite {meaning each invitation, reply card, reply envelope, and web card} with a beautiful, deep fuchsia satin ribbon and a hand-made wax seal for the finishing touch. I hope my guests enjoy them as much as I do!

~ Jillian

Monday, May 24, 2010

National Stationery Show Recap

We're home! Back in our office and back into action which {to be honest} feels great after a whirlwind week in New York City. We were busy little bees last week exhibiting our new invitation company at the National Stationery Show; which took place at the Jacob Javits Center. I could not be happier with the response we received there. Truth be told, I'm already looking forward to next year! {Can anyone say: Gwyneth Paige Baby & Child and Gwyneth Paige Bar and Bat Mitzvah?!}

We were so fortunate to meet some very talented people including retailers, bloggers, and fellow exhibitors. I especially loved the fantastic collaboration that is Ladies of Letterpress. And as if spending 4 days with other wonderful wedding vendors wasn't enough, we received a surprise visit from our very good friends, Jen and Alicia. They flew all the way out to New York to support our grand debut. Honestly, aren't they the best?! Truly amazing women who will be lifelong friends.

All in all, the trip was better than I expected and now I am ready to dive, head-first, into the busy months that lie ahead. Working with our 12 new Gwyneth Paige retail stores, preparing for ArtPrize events, and working on several amazing weddings {including one next month!} will keep all of our plates full. It's going to be a very good summer.

~ Jodi

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Gwyneth Paige Featured

Today, Gwyneth Paige is featured on the amazing blog, Oh So Beautiful Paper! We're so excited to be a sponsor on Nole's beautiful blog and we can't WAIT to meet her at NSS in 10 short days!

Can you believe that Gwyneth Paige's national debut is just around the corner? I have pit in my stomach just thinking about it! I've got an array of emotions cursing through my veins: excitement, nervousness, anxiousness and sheer joy. How can one have so many emotions at one time, that's what I want to know!

Needless to say, we're knee-deep in gray and ivory spray paint, frantically searching for proper clip-on lights for our booth, mailing out invitations to stores and media, and proofing the look-book before it goes to press. There truly is no rest for the weary!

Be sure to pop over to Nole's blog and check out our new ad!


Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Making Little Girl's Dreams Come True

I received an email from a dear friend this morning. We had talked in church on Sunday and she had asked how my week had been. Well, last week was a horrible one. The realities of running a growing business and the tough talks and decisions I had to make wore heavily on my heart. It felt like one thing after another and I was extremely burdened.

My girlfriend's lovely email was a note of encouragement for the week that lies ahead. And one of the things she wrote struck me. It said, 'No matter how tough things get remember that you make little girl's dreams come true.'

Attached to the email was a copy of the interview that she conducted with her adorable 6 year old, Jenna, last year. It is so precious that I absolutely had to share it with you. Here goes:

Tell mommy about your wedding {by Jenna, age 5}

"I am going to marry Derek because Derek is the name of the prince in The Twelve Dancing Princesses. No, I am going to marry Ben because he is my boyfriend and boyfriends usually marry their girlfriends! Ben is so handsome. He makes my eyes sparkle like diamonds. I love him.

I am not sure hold old I will be when we get married. We will get married at Fredrick Meijer Gardens, where the butterflies fly. I will wear a shimmering white, light pink, and light blue dress with no sleeves. I will wear a sparkly glitter veil, a necklace and earrings. My bouquet will be made of sparkly pink roses, white daisies, pink lilies, and yellow daffodils. Ben will wear a black and white tuxedo. He will be a marvelous husband.

Rosie and Sophie will be bridesmaids. They will wear yellow dresses with flowers in their hair. Mommy will wear a beautiful golden dress and daddy will wear a pretty tuxedo. Kaitlin and Chloe will be flower girls. Kaitlin will wear a beautiful silver dress. Chloe will wear a light pink dress with a little ribbon and light blue flower buds on it.

Our cake will be made without peanuts. It will have lots of sweet stuff in it like sugar, flour, and baking soda. On the cake there will be butterflies, green grass frosting, a sun and pink flowers for the butterflies to land on. It will also say "Love". Statues of Ben and I will be standing in the grass frosting.

Whoever catches my flowers will get to be married next!!!"

Is that not the most precious thing you have ever read?! What a great reminder what a dream it is to do what I do!


Thursday, April 29, 2010

A New Addition to our Team!

I am so excited to make this wonderful announcement! As many of you know, we launched a letterpress company not too long ago called Gwyneth Paige {Couture Letterpress}. You may also know that this company has an amazing Creative Director by the name of Andrea Reynolds. What you may not know is that Andrea has been holding down a 'day job' while also working for Gwyneth Paige.

I'm so excited to report that we've seen such amazing response to our letterpress company that I've offered Andrea a full-time position! She has resigned from her day job and now devotes 50+ hours per week to Gwyneth Paige. In addition, she will also handle the social media, public relations and marketing strategy for In Any Event. {But that won't start until after NSS!}

Please join me in welcoming Andrea to our little family! She's an amazing individual who's wildly talented and completely wonderful!