We interviewed Catherine from popular Wedding Planning Company Will+ Jac about the wedding industry in Australia, and her advice for starting out in the Industry.
About Will & Jac
Tell us a little about Will & Jac
My name is Catherine and I am one half of Wedding Planners, will&jac. will&jac is the pairing of myself (will – Catherine Williams) and fellow Director Clare (jac – Clare Jacobsen) and together we join forces to ensure a seamless and enjoyable planning process for couples at any stage towards their Wedding Day.
When did will&jac get started in weddings?
will&jac is nearing 5 years old and started when Clare and I met job sharing at a venue in Melbourne. We were the onsite coordinators therefore we were responsible for the onsite logistics only, so all details outside this realm where the responsibility of the couple. We would have a Final Drop Off appointment with our couples just days before their celebrations and by this stage in their planning, it had often gotten too much – they were overwhelmed, exhausted, still finalising details with suppliers, anxious and unable to enjoy the final days towards their Wedding. This didn’t sit right with us and that is how will&jac was born – a supportive, detailed, industry savvy duo to ensure that the entire Wedding experience is remembered for all the right reasons.
When Did You Know You Wanted To Be A Wedding Planner/ Work In Weddings?
When did you know you wanted to be a wedding planner/ work in weddings?
People, special occasions and a genuine love of food and wine always had me interested in the events industry but with Weddings you have an opportunity to over deliver and exceed people’s expectations, as well as meet many interesting couples, their families and friends – it drives me everyday, I want people to be blown away at this most special time in their lives.
How many weddings have you worked on in your career?
Too many to count! I have been officiating Weddings since I was 18 years old when first entered the Wedding industry as a Function Manager. I’ve been fortunate to work from the ground up in hospitality – I started in conference set up, then moved to functions as floor crew, being promoted to a Functions Manager, when an opportunity to become a Restaurant Manager arrived, and then onto a Office Administrator, which evolved into an Events Producer, then Wedding Coordinator and finally, Co-Director of will&jac. These numerous roles with their unique skillsets challenged and provided a fantastic basis for my current front and back of house knowledge when planning celebrations.
Does it ever get old? Any challenging moments?
Never old, but always challenging, and that keeps it us on our toes and continually learning.
No Wedding for will&jac is the same, all couples are unique which takes us to many beautiful parts of Victoria as we officiate Private Property celebrations, and then we get to enjoy the luxuries of venues in and around Melbourne – we are truly two lucky ladies! Continuing to strive to better ourselves and offer only the best to our clients means that there are many moments that are overwhelming but we have each other to manage these however, it is important to note that this industry isn’t for the faint of heart, it requires a lot of patience, the ability to take your time to meticulously create the numerous parts of a Wedding Day (this can often start from days before with the load in of suppliers and goes through until a few days after the celebrations are completed), long hours On the Day, the ability to think on your feet, maintain a calming disposition and at the end of the day when you’re standing at your couples Day watching it all unfold, it’s the most rewarding of moments you’ll ever experience.
Best Part Of The Job As A Planner / Stylist?
Best part of the job as a planner / stylist?
As a planner, all of the above and many more! We don’t claim to be stylists, we leave that to the professionals, so in this sense we are even luckier as we work with all industry professionals to bring together our couples dream (florists, stylists, hire teams etc).
Best part of running your own business?
Working with Clare, I couldn’t do this without her! Her wonderful attention to detail, drive, perfectionism and sense of humour is the best part of will&jac and together we have managed to find the perfect blend of our strengths to continue making our services more tailored and experience focused.
What is the largest event (based on budget or number of attendees) you have ever planned or assisted with planning?
Our Private Property Weddings tend to be our largest projects to manage, there are so many suppliers to liaise and manage, we need to maintain a helicopter view of all details while also being present to ensure our On the Day coordination role is actioned – thank goodness there’s two of us!
In your experience, who typically ends up hiring a wedding planner?
There is no set rule when it comes to our clientele – we assist those juggling long work hours, study and life, couples who just don’t know where to start, those that are wishing to celebrate at home and are unsure of the logistical processes, clients wanting to work within a specific budget and need inspiration as to how to make their goals attainable, the newly engaged who want more ‘out of the box’ venue options – in short, anyone who wants to enjoy the Wedding journey and have us as their ‘wing ladies’ to get their needs done – the list goes on!
What do you feel are the most important elements to designing/ organising a party or wedding?
The where, when and where – those initial discussions – are paramount to the start of your planning journey. You must ensure you’re on the same page as a couple, especially when it comes to budget, this needs to be clear from the outset so that you have a mutual direction to plan towards.
To Do Lists! They will be your most accountable friend throughout the entire planning process.
When You Get A Client- Where Do You Start? Is There A Rough Order Of Business Or Process?
When you get a client- where do you start? Is there a rough order of business or process?
From the ground up – venue is always first as this depicts so much for the other On the Day elements : invites, dress, theming (florals, lighting, furniture), Cake, band etc – you need to build it all up seamlessly to form the clearest big picture.
What type of wedding packages you have available to couples?
We can do as little or as much to assist a couples dream Day – venue scouting to find their ideal location, take over the reigns of their planning 6 weeks prior to their date to become their On the Day coordinators, full planning where we coordinate and officiate all details towards their Day (venue scout, invites, hair and makeup, cars, flowers, Cake, photographer, band… everything!), Private Property project management and also our SOS package which allows couples to come to us when it’s all gotten too much and we sit-down together and put them back on the straight and narrow.
What’s the most interesting wedding moment you’ve witnessed?
We officiated our first same-sex Wedding towards the end of 2018 and this was breathtakingly momentous – a truly heartfelt celebration rejoicing two gents whose family and friends couldn’t have been happier that their relationship was finally being recognised. Their guests even surprised the couple with a ‘flashmob’ dance Post Ceremony, it was to their favourite artist and the Grooms’ reactions were priceless, we will never forget this loved up occasion!
Do you see any trends in the industry at present or with your current clients?
We’ve seen a return to venues, whereas the previous season had us inundated with Private Property Weddings. We’ve also seen the return of more romantic and classic theming, as the more rustic and earthy stylings have taken less of a focus.
What does your work week usually look like?
Lots of computer time, the collection and return of hire items for upcoming Weddings, Ceremony Rehearsals with forthcoming couples, new enquiry and current couple appointments and keeping in touch with our other industry professionals. It’s 7 days a week, especially when it’s your own business, but we wouldn’t have it any other way.
YOUR BUSINESS ADVICE
What’s the best way to get started in the industry? What’s your advice to others starting out in the industry?
Start from the ground up, even if it’s volunteer work, this is the best way to ensure it’s the right fit, that you’re committed to knowing all the many in’s and out’s of the industry and allow you exposure to see how other industry experts work – you’ve got to be in and amongst it!
In your opinion, what has been the key to your success?
Hard work, commitment, an overwhelming wish to change the perception of Wedding Planners and the ability to laugh and learn.
What business actions have you taken that have really moved you forward?
Tailoring our services to what we were hearing from our clients as being most of need – we listen and learn from them.
Knowing what you do now, how would you develop relationships with vendors/ suppliers in a new city?
Reach out and introduce yourself, we all started out in the same boat, therefore you need to put yourself out there as you never know where that potential email/phone call might lead!
How did you transform your wedding planning business to the next level?
We have been fortunate that the services we offer are quite unique and being that we both came from a strong events industry background, we were able to utilise these resources when forming will&jac.
How did you decide on the right pricing structure for your services?
You need to start at a price-point that you’re comfortable with initially and then over time you need to continue to calculate the time spent on each task and redevelop your fee structure from there. There is so much background work with Wedding Planning that you need to ensure you cater for this time as well.
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learnt?
Nothing is impossible – back yourself!
View Will + Jac website here: www.willandjac.com