HOW AND WHY I GOT INTO THE WEDDING INDUSTRY
If I could travel back into time and tell my 18 year old self that I was going to be a wedding planner, my 18 year old self would’ve probably jumped off the side of the high school auditorium. Back then, in my high school years, there were two career choices I had personally laid out for myself: a NFL athlete, or a movie director. Two very realistic options.
Becoming an NFL athlete I knew would prove difficult as I didn’t complete one football season for our high school, as I hated our coaches with a passion. They really didn’t know football which was proven by their decade of win-less seasons. And when I mean win-less, I mean it. Our football team did not have a winning season in a decade.
Becoming a movie director also seemed a rather difficult task, but much more doable. So that’s where I directed my efforts.
Shortly after graduating high school, I enrolled into a graphic design trade school with hopes that it would help me open doors to the movie industry. Unfortunately, I was wrong, and within 2 short months I had dropped out. Still wanting to work in Hollywood as a director, I thought I’d start teaching myself the in’s and out of movie making, rather than relying on an institution. So I hit the bookstore.
For some reason or another, I ended up figuring out that I wanted to learn the art of screenwriting, or storytelling. I bought a barrage of books, and started to write-write-write, for days in-and-out. I eventually ended up moving to California to pursue my dream, and within a very short time, I ended up with one foot in the door, with an agent, and was rubbing elbows with some major celebrity names who could make a difference in my career. But there was one major problem.
People loved my work, they wanted to employ me, but they couldn’tbecause I was a non-union writer. To make things much “easier,” I didn’t want to join the union. I hated what unions stood for, and even though I had qualified to join one, I wouldn’t. My agent begged me to do it, but I didn’t. I just could not stand the stranglehold unions placed on movie studios. They were and are still the main reason why so many movies are made in overseas.
So as fast as I had one foot in the door of my dream job, I took it out, and headed back to Hawaii. Hollywood was not what I thought it would be. It was what I would call an idiocracy, or cesspool of idiots, hypocrites of the worse type, and immoral self-righteous poop-heads. (I can go on, but lets just say they are not who they claim to be).
Back in Hawaii, at the age of 21, I decided to go into business for myself. Like all former Hollywood creative drop-outs, I wanted to create a production company. But I wanted my company to be a little different. I wanted a diversified company that was the home to artist who were skilled in the art of photography, videography, and web design. I thought with those skills, I could produce anything I wanted, market anything I wanted, play basically Zeus to anything I wanted. Combined with my knowledge of storytelling, I reasoned that I would have the advantage over my competitors.
The only problem was that I didn’t know how to do any of those skills well. Then I got lucky, yet again.
Shortly after I envisioned my company, a friend of mine invited me to a hotel party, and literally dragged me there as I wasn’t really a “party-goer.” That night, I met one of the best wedding photographers in Taiwan (and photographers period), Wei-Jen Wang. Wei-Jen was a short Taiwanese fella, shy, and was here in Oahu attending college at the request of his parents. In Hawaii, he was just an international college student, but back in Taiwan, he was regarded was one of the best wedding photographers, and his pictures graced the covers of many Taiwanese Fashion and Wedding Magazines. Wei-Jen decided to join my company, and that’s when the fun started.
With one of the best wedding photographers in the world on my staff, I quickly decided that for the time being, we would focus our efforts on becoming one of the top wedding photography companies in Hawaii. And within a matter of a year or so, we did. At the same time, we taught ourselves web design, and the art of videography (which honestly was fairly easy given my background in movie-making). All the while, Wei-Jen taught me almost every trick he knew about photography. It took us about three years to go from nobody to somebody in Hawaii. We were not only some of the top wedding photographers and videographers here on the islands, but we had:
- created websites for TV stations and public schools
- shot television commercials in both English and Japanese for clients such as Local Motion, Outback Steakhouse, Borders Bookstore, hotels, restaurants, and more
- Held the exclusive contract to produce all in-hotel programming for the many of the Hotels in Waikiki
- promoted concerts with budgets over 500k.
- Produced two TV shows in Japan on Sky Perfect TV that was ongoing for about a year.
- And at one point, we even had our own non-profit organization to motivate kids to not smoke.
It was a rather fun time in our lives because our company could literally do any project we wanted, because we could produce and market it easily through all the channels we had created.
But as the cliché goes, “All good things must come to an end.” Wei-Jen eventually had to move back home to Taiwan. And around the same time, 9-11 happened. Hotels went vacant, tourism came to a standstill, and advertising money completely vanished. In fact, almost all money vanished except for one industry, the wedding industry.
Since I already was rather successful in the wedding industry, and knew the in’s and out’s of it rather well, I decided to open up Dream Weddings Hawaii and to focus completely on destination brides, but this time, I wouldn’t only offer photo and video services, but planning services as well. Fast forward to the present, that’s where I am today.
So to answer the question of “Why I got into the wedding industry?” I would have to say 50% of it is capitalism, 50% of it is survival, and 100% of it is because I always found the wedding industry to be the most fun. Now I realize you just figured 50, 50, and 100 totals 200%. Well, that’s how I approach this job. I give every client double myself, 200%. While all the science nerds will say that’s not possible, I say screw them, I’m sticking to my story….