I'm quite embarrassed to admit that I've been neglecting both my website and blog due to the infamous wedding season. But I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel (hint: I, can tell we're close to the end because I'm working mostly on place cards instead of invitation designs) and I can't wait to have a little bit more time on my hands. I can't wait to work on my own in-house design projects, writing more blogs, and to finally create my intermediate calligraphy worksheet that I've been promising to so many people! There are so many blog topics I want to discuss but I think it's most appropriate by recapping my second full-blown wedding season based on the different type of sob stories and meltdowns I had. All the deadlines, stresses, events, and compounding human errors resulted in a couple of months fueled with adrenaline rushes and coffees. It wasn't exactly the epitome of peace and tranquility. It's been a few months where the highs made me feel like I'm on top of the world while the lows made me want to just throw in the towel and hide under my blanket.
The Good Cry
Let's start our catching up blog easy with all the good cries I had. It's all of these instances that make everything worthwhile. Anything from the lovely thank you notes I received from my past clients, the opportunity to work and collaborate with vendors I used to only dream about, those who took the leap of faith and trusted me to do something I've never done before, all the students who trusted me to guide them in their calligraphy journey, and all the sweet messages emails/DMs/comments I received from other people who said I inspired them. I wouldn't think any of this was remotely possible a couple years ago. I was, and still am in awe of so many other calligraphers I look up to, so I got starstruck when I notice they followed or commented on my post!
But most importantly, the happiest tears came with the sigh of relief at the beginning of every month knowing I could pay my own share of household payments. I was so scared that there would not be enough interest in what I produced and basically was betting on a huge zero after forfeiting my interior design career. The instability of working for yourself can be nerve-wracking. My monthly deposit to our joint account was a small win that I cherished most. I have a more conflicted feeling regarding my quarterly tax, but then again, I'm more excited to pay taxes than the other way around.
The Bad Cry
Doing multiple projects also means more chances for things to go wrong. Combined with all the extra crunch-time stress and way too much caffeine consumption, things are bound to slip through the cracks. Some mistakes are minor inconveniences that can be easily remedied, while a few are a complete disaster. I thought I made enough mistakes to learn from last year, but I was so, so wrong. From more misspelling errors (so embarrassing, I write for a living), my foil pressed vow books took way longer to reprint, my overnight package didn't arrive on time, my printer did beautiful letterpress on the wrong side of the hand-watercolor paper, pulling all-nighters for a shoot only to be told that I made them in a wrong color, and when my client had to lose their deposit because my chalk work ended up being permanent. Yeah, it wasn't exactly a smooth sailing wedding season.
There are days where I'm in a funk because too many things went wrong that week. So many mishaps happened this season and this is coming from a bride who laughed when she found out that both wedding dresses were a size too large less than a week before her big day! There were client meltdowns and lots of apology emails, a boat load of unforeseen expenses I had to swallow, a whole lot of guilt for disappointing my clients, and an ungodly amount of ice cream. I may or may not have made my poor husband help me proofread a giant stack of addressing (affectionately dubbed the most boring job ever), but we made it. Most importantly, it reminds me that I have the most patient husband and clients. It definitely gives me a good cry every time I remember how understanding everyone is and I'm forever grateful for that.
The Ugly Cry
Because wedding season means my Instagram feed is also full of other wedding vendors and their amazing projects. Remember the famous "comparison is the thief of joy" by Theodore Roosevelt? Let's just say sleep deprivation and deadlines do not always bring the best in me and I honestly hate how easy it is for me to start feeling extremely insecure and even more of a failure because of it. How the hell am I barely done with my place card order in a loft that hasn't been cleaned for a couple of weeks when another calligrapher managed to finish addressing, hand-made styled shoot stationery, and Q&A Instagram stories in a day? I can't help but think that I've been slacking behind and felt so guilty for taking breaks during the day. I felt so discouraged when I saw all the cool projects/products/workshops that other calligraphers were cranking out. I started to think my work wasn't up to par. I hate the pang of jealousy I felt when I saw other calligraphers working with vendors I can only dream of. And don't even get me started about the popularity contest also known as Instagram's likes and followers.
I don't like this version of me that occasionally pops up, caused by all the negative feelings. I wish I can objectively assess what's happening in the wedding industry without feeling like the Queen from Snow White. It's so easy to forget that it's not possible for me to take every project out there, that not every bride is my perfect client and that everyone has their own working speed/skills/look that makes each of us shine the brightest. When I'm in a doom and gloom mood, it's easy to lose sight on what's actually important. At the end of the day, all that matters is having satisfied clients and to be able to pay my bills at the beginning of the month.
First thing first, I need to have better control of my schedules and not overbook myself. Like almost everyone else out there, I tend to underestimate how long each project takes to finish. I may or may not completely forget the additional time needed to proof-read, pack up the order, and send the invoices. Hence, the regular trip to FedEx for their overnight shipping. And when things don't go according to plan, I end up pulling multiple shifts and all-nighters to make sure I can still make the deadline. But no, not every project is worth staying up until 4 am and not every task can be completed just because you have more time to do it.
Second, it's absolutely okay to take reasonable breaks, even for social media time. Due to the multiple projects I'm working on at the same time, there are many instances where I'm just shuffling through my internet tabs with no progress what so ever. Worse, spending my precious time looking for my phone because I absent-mindedly left it somewhere. I'm getting better at noticing these signs of fatigue. Instead of chugging another cup of coffee, I now take a long bath so I can come back refreshed. Rather than checking my phone every 5 minutes, I might as well schedule a specific time to knock out all my social media. And I start my day with a list of what I need to do, so I always have something to remind me whenever I feel "lost" between all the shuffling.
Lastly, double check everything. It's the "whole measure twice, cut once" that my architecture professor drilled on every student to make sure we made impeccable architectural models (hufff... brings back bad memories). So many of the mistakes that made me feel miserable can be easily prevented by double checking everything I send to the printer. I tried my very best to keep tabs of everything and write out all the deadlines on my calendar. On my to-do list is "to make a damn checklist on what I need to double check prior to sending my digital file for printing!"
In the meantime, I'll try to keep chugging along and trying to survive this month's deadlines. I'll get myself some Bottega Louie macarons if I manage to not send overnight orders! And of course, tell me your wedding season stories too because there's nothing better for me than knowing I'm not the only one in this.