So, yesterday evening I hopped on a train to Bristol to attend, shock horror, a non-wedding industry event. The bash in question was the Sawday's 20th Anniversary Awards and I was lucky enough to be invited along by the really rather wonderful Lizzie from Wedding Yurts. Lizzie had been asked to bring one of her fab yurts along to the event and oh my goodness, it looked brilliant. Later on in the evening, there was literally a queue of award-winners outside waiting to have their photos taken in the glam, flower-festooned peacock chair.
Anyway, it was such a treat for me because, as you might know, I'm a massive Sawday's fan and admit my love for their Canopy & Stars brand on a frequent basis. So being in a room with all of these amazing venue owners was just great.
But it was the ethos and atmosphere of the event and the Sawday's people that really stood out. I know that I bang on about the great men and women that make up the wedding industry on a regular basis and the same creative, free-spririted joie de vivre was everywhere last night.
The venue owners I was lucky enough to speak to were all vocal ambassadors for their ventures. So many had given up successful corporate careers to pursue their dreams, others had reinvigorated dying family estates and quite a few had been told that trying to do something that was a little bit madcap was bonkers. But they did what they knew to be right. And it worked, fuelled by belief and powered by passion, and they were all there last night to celebrate.
Alastair Sawday had given them all a voice, he'd championed the different and the off-beat. This was not a bland event full of identikit companies, this was a joyous occasion where people who'd taken a chance had come to be recognised. From the owners of handmade shepherd's huts to those who'd renovated old fire lorries, Sawday's has celebrated their commitment and I loved it.
It was towards the end of the evening when the Sawday's staff stood up on stage to sing 'Goodnight Sweetheart' to the assembled guests that I really made the connection between this event and the plethora of wedding get togethers I've attended recently.
They're all about sharing. Sharing your passion and your work with other people who just get you. Sharing your celebrations and plans for the future. Sharing the fact that you've taken a chance and it's paid off or sharing the notion that trying to be better and trying to do better is good and it should be embraced wholeheartedly.
Alistair Sawday shared his passion, he's done things differently and he's been true to himself. By being authentic and genuine, those that have gathered around him share his values and everyone works together, appreciative of the input of others.
Whilst it might have a few faults, I truly believe that the wedding industry is like this and can be more like this. It's populated by downright amazing individuals who are, like the people I spent my evening with yesterday, good and passionate and unafraid. I know that I am very lucky to work for and with likeminded people.
But this doesn't happen by luck or accident. It happens, as it did with Alistair Sawday, by being clear who you are and what you stand for. There's no real right and there's no real wrong, there's just clarity and belief.
Be clear about what you believe in and you'll light up your work. You'll light up so bright that you're not waiting for a lightbulb moment or a flash of inspiration. You'll just be alight. Always.