The team here at Aisle Planner is pretty over the moon with Chancey Charm! We know first hand what the challenges of scaling up feel like and when Chancey Charm's leader-in-chief, Sarah, reached out to us about bringing all of her cross-country team on board, we were excited to help them on their exciting journey! Everyone on the Chancey Charm team is an absolute joy to work with and we are pretty convinced it's because of Sarah - someone who radiates optimism and has one heck of a drive.
We sat down with Sarah to talk about the challenges of growing a team in different cities, how she balances her professional and personal life, and what she's most excited for in the years to come!
Tell us about your path to becoming a wedding planner.
About five years ago, I was working at a corporate job in marketing and events, exhausted from the 9-5 grind and seriously questioning how family would fit into my “corporate” lifestyle. I knew I wanted to eventually stay home as a mom, but I also knew I needed and wanted something to serve others with and be creative. Wedding planning seemed like the perfect fit for that, and having experience with events, I knew it was something I enjoyed. Honestly, I’d been planning events since college. So, with no “official” experience under my belt, I dove in. I remember begging my first client who was a dear friend to let me plan her wedding, and well, things just grew from there. God has opened so many doors for me, that I didn’t deserve on this journey, and I’m just blown away by what He has done with my tiny vision. If I could go back, I believe an internship with a planner would have been VERY helpful, but I am thankful for my journey and all it has taught me. I am the kind of person who has to touch the burner to know it’s hot for myself, so I’m sure my story was just destiny for me. Ha!
A focus on flexibility and family is a core of your mission. What inspired that?
When I first started Chancey Charm, I was still working a full-time job, so I’d be up until 4am working on my site and business. Past that season, I continued to pour nights and weekends into my business, at the expense of my family and friends. It’s something I wish I could take back, and something I’ve promised myself I would work on every day for myself AND my team of planners. My hope is that our Associate Planner Program allows our planners to focus on serving clients and designing gorgeous events, which is their true passion, while we take care of all the publications, social media and back end programs, like ensuring they have access to the best planning program out there, Aisle Planner! We also encourage family time and boundaries as a team. I think it’s really important to have a group that you’re accountable to when it comes to boundaries as a planner. It’s so easy to sacrifice your personal boundaries in this industry. Just recently, we started a monthly accountability call to cover leads, bookings and goals with each of our planners. My hope is that having goals allows our team to rest and celebrate when they are reached, rather than the continual pursuit of more! I’m still learning how to help my team keep their flexibility and family time, but it’s certainly a cause worth fighting for!
How did you make the decision to scale your business and tell us about the experience of growing into new cities?
Expanding into several cities has actually always been a part of my plan for Chancey Charm, but there was a season where I was planning so much that I lost sight of it. After stepping away from personally planning with clients in July 2015, I was able to finally focus on our new locations through our Associate Planner Program and further expansion. The shift was not easy, but it’s been really rewarding to help planners in new cities start their own wedding planning business under Chancey Charm. I feel like God has given me a passion for helping women grasp the same amazing opportunity I had here in Atlanta as well as the knowledge and drive to help make it happen. It’s a gift I’m honored to share.
What is the process of opening a new location like?
At this point, my team and our processes make opening a new location very easy. Kristen Green at Something New for I Do connects directly with the new Associate Planner to start a PR and marketing plan, and one of our mentors, Marilisa Schachinger or Katie Werkin, dive in with our Best Practices Guide, which includes our vision, values and a collection of tips and tricks. I start working with our search engine optimization team on optimizing the new location’s page, and slowly but surely the snowball starts rolling and building. It typically takes about six months to get the planner in position for new leads, but that time passes quickly and we stay busy. I always get super excited dreaming about all the new, gorgeous venues and vendors we’re going to work with in a new city. It’s a dream!
How did you establish your planning system and what was it like to replicate it across all of your locations?
I feel incredibly blessed, because our planning checklist and budget guide have been curated by over five planners and years of planning experiences. We’ve worked with clients with budgets of 30k and 300k, so there is a myriad of experience and insight that goes into our system for full planning. The ladies at Aisle Planner made uploading and replicating our system a BREEZE for each of our locations! It’s been a dream honestly.
How does Aisle Planner help you maintain your teams’ workflow and planning standards?
Our full planning and month of checklists, which are clearly located in Aisle Planner for each of our planners, ensures that we’re all tracking on the same page as far as what needs to be covered and provided in terms of our services. It feels really great knowing that we are all on the same page in terms of services.
What are the benefits to having each location have their own Aisle Planner accounts?
All of our locations have their own Aisle Planner accounts, which gives them the opportunity to grown their own team and customize documents to include their own contact information.
How do the teams in different cities balance designing for the local aesthetics while maintaining the Chancey Charm signature?
This is such a great question and something we actually addressed as a team at our retreat last February. Our signature style is truly in the details. Designing a wedding that truly reflects the couple through carefully curated details has been key to our success and publishing opportunities. We’re also know for incorporating unique lighting and furnishings in our designs, since I have an interior design degree and special love for fabrics and all things lounge. Lucky for us, these aspects cross all aesthetics, and define our style while allowing us to meet and exceed our client’s unique taste in any location.
When you do spend time wedding planning, what is your favorite detail to work on?
I absolutely love helping our team with flowers - I’m sure you’re shocked by this answer. Ha! It’s especially rewarding and fun when a client with a large floral budget wants a custom sketch of their ceremony decor. Fun, fun, fun! I also adore curating a gorgeous lounge for a cocktail hour or reception space with our planners.
What are you most excited for in the next year? 5 years?
On a daily basis, the most rewarding part of our program for me is watching our planners truly succeed, meet their financial goals and bask in the joy of a perfect wedding execution for a sweet family. Honestly, I’m SO excited about continuing to watch our team find fulfillment in their work and personal life. It’s the best! In the next five years, I’m really excited to see which cities we land in!