If you have ever visited my About page, you may know that in 2009 I trained with the UK Alliance of Wedding Planners (aka UKAWP), an association dedicated to promoting professionalism in the wedding planning industry. At the time I was working as an Account Manager for a global media agency, but I knew wedding planning was what the career path for me. As it often goes, however, I couldn’t see the way out of a job that kept me in the office far too many hours to have the time to set up my own business. I was also worried about what my family and others would have thought if I changed career just two years after graduating. And then I had all those nagging thoughts: ‘I have a career, am I crazy giving it up now? Is it wise to go self-employed during recession?’ I watched ladies who trained with me setting up their flourishing wedding planning businesses while I felt my career as a planner was slipping further and further away. Luckily for me, however, my determination is more stubborn than my feelings of despondence.
Fast forward to September 2013, after setting up the blog, working on a few weddings, styling and coordinating my own bridal shoot, and I FINALLY have become a Associate Member of the UKAWP! The support I’ve received from them from 2009 until now, despite not being a member, has been invaluable. I knew eventually I wanted my brand to be associated with the only UK association that upholds the values that matter to me – professionalism, honesty and spirit of cooperation; so I’m incredibly excited that the UKAWP has accepted Linen and Silk as one of their new Associate Members.
What does this mean for you, brides?
All members of the UKAWP have to have demonstrated to be experienced professionals before being accepted. The UKAWP requires all its members to agree to respect a code of business practice aimed at protecting clients. As such all members guarantee to do the following:
- Respond to enquiries within 48 hours
- Respect client confidentiality
- Disclose any suppliers I have a vested interest in
- Pass discounts and/or commission onto clients
- Ensure my Public Liability insurance is up to date
- Never give client details to any third party not involved with the wedding
- Respect copyright from fellow wedding professionals
- Represent each client fairly and honestly
- Use legally sound business contracts with clients
If you think that some of these are common sense or standard practice, then believe me, they are not.
For instance, it is common practice among some suppliers to offer compensation to planners whose clients book their services. While I believe every supplier and planner should be free to work as they please provided that customers are always their number 1 priority, I also feel that accepting commissions could make my couples question whether that specific supplier I proposed was recommended because they’re the perfect fit for your needs, or because they’ve offered me a monetary ‘thank you’ if you book them. Regardless of my good intentions, my integrity could be questioned, and that’s definitely not something I feel comfortable with.
Formal contracts, insurance, respecting client confidentiality are all measures to protect both parties, but ultimately to give you complete peace of mind, knowing that should anything happen, you will be protected by the laws governing the terms of the contract or by the adequate cover of your planner’s insurance.
I like knowing that my clients feel safe in my hands, so from now you can find me listed in the UKAWP directory under London and South East England (Sussex, Surrey, Kent), and under Italy as one of their Destination Members!
Once again, a bit thank you to the UKAWP directors, Sandy and Bernadette, for their support and to many of the other planners who have encouraged me along the way.