If you do this one thing, people will naturally follow your lead.

     Elena Balkcom for Laurel Avenue

You got 2 hours less sleep than you wanted. The last thing you want to do is give extra. 

You have just about enough energy for work and that's it. Don't ask me to pick up anything at the store. Kroger is more than I can handle today. 

On leading with kindness and encouragement in the wedding industry. 

Loss, stress, grief, chores, rejection and the full laundry baskets make it impossible for us to imagine "going the extra mile" when our own mile for today probably won't even get run because there's too many piles to handle. 

Listen. I'm with you. Keeping up with the details of 25+ weddings at a time is taxing on my mental bandwidth. When a vendor asks me a schedule question, I'll admit to you right now that my initial reaction wants to be,

"Didn't you read that beautiful timeline I worked so hard on and sent a week ago?!"

  • What you're doing is essential.

One hot summer afternoon, during college, I had volunteered to assist at a large event for a company that I wasn't connected with. I was in town with a friend and we offered to be extra pairs of hands. I put on the t-shirt that I was handed and figured we'd haul a few flower buckets and chairs for a few hours and head home.

There was some confusion with parking traffic and a major lack of signage. One of the event leaders suggested that someone needed to stand at the end of the dirt road and instruct every car. I wasn't doing anything else, so I found myself standing at a dirt road intersection in the middle of a South Carolina summer, waving at cars and repeating parking instructions.

I didn't have high expectations for this day, but I admitted to myself that this was even less glamorous than hauling floral buckets.

Y'all know I sweat a lot. 

I saw one of the event leaders jogging towards me down the dirt drive. I thought maybe there had been a change in parking info or something. She put her arm around me and said,

"You are saving the day right now. Thank you for doing this essential job. You have such a sweet, joy bringing spirit. What's your name again?" 
On managing wedding days with kindness and encouragement. 

I could have directed dusty cars for the rest of the month at that point without so much as a glass of water. Break out the pom-poms. 

I don't know how many other important, time sensitive, urgent, and glamorous tasks that director had to put on hold to jog down the road and encourage me, but it changed my life. 

  • Tell them...

It's the way we manage events now. We look for the good in what our vendors are doing and we tell them. We remind our bridal parties that we love them for their sweet attitudes all day long. We bring water to the door holders and thank the clean up staff for their valuable time. 

I'm finding more and more that as an event manager, I have a choice. I can be a tyrant and insist that vendors and families do what I say because, after all, I've managed scores of events that have run without a hitch. Or, I can get on their eye level and say,

"I see what you're doing, I appreciate what you're doing, and I need you to keep doing it, because without you, this day would be a disaster."

  • ...even when you're worn out.

I was reminded by my favorite devotional Instagram account, @pocketfuel today that when Jesus fed the 5,000, he did it at the end of a week where he had been brutally rejected and his friend had been beheaded and he was completely exhausted. Haven't we all been there? Feeling like we've already had the week from you-know-where and then about 5,000 (or even 5) people ask us for our time and...our lunch?

  • Identify urgent vs. important. 

On managing weddings and events with encouragement and affirmation.

Listen, friend. You're probably exhausted this week. You give and you work and you try and it probably still feels like you've let people down. Give yourself some grace for missing some of the "urgent" emails and tasks, especially when you're choosing to address the important hearts of people in your proximity. 

I want to remind you: there are people in your house or in your office or in your recent text messages who would will absolutely blossom today with a word of affirmation from you. And if you choose to give a little extra, even when you're exhausted, you'll change someone's life and they'll want to follow your lead.