Caitriona Foley is a woman we can only look up to here at the It’s All Relative house, not only is she a Wedding Planner, a freelance writer and a stationary designer but she is also the owner of True Romance Weddings.
Caitriona’s Wedding blog is award winning and she describes herself as a slightly obsessed Wedding Planner.
She hails from Galway Ireland and her bubbly and friendly demeanor just make her all the more likable. Her success at such a young age tells us all we need to know about her! (She’s pretty awesome)
So we wanted to catch up with her and bombard her with questions about her dream job!
Owner of True Romance Weddings – Wedding planner, stationery designer, freelance writer!
Did you have to go to college?
I initially studied Fine Art but realised after 2 years it wasn’t for me. I was involved with the Students’ Union in college and realised my passion for planning events – so I studied Event Management part time. Certain things that I studied have been useful to me, from a legal and technical point of view, but the best education was on the job.
Was Fine Art a Tough Course?
Fine Art was a very tough course to take; as I was barely 17 when I started I found I was thrown in at the deep end with a lot of mature students who had great life experience. If I could do it all over again, I would have taken a year off after school to really think about my options. So many young people are forced to make a decision on their education at an age when they’re not ready. Now though, I love taking short courses and planning what to study next in my spare time – you should never stop learning.
Best Thing about your job?
I always thought from a young age that I would eventually want to be my own boss. I work well in a team but I tend to take on the role of ‘leader’, so being able to make my own decisions and knowing that the buck stops with me pushes me to do better, and seek out ways to improve and extend my business. I love that my job is a great combination of my two favorite things: being creative and organizing things!
Worst thing about your job?
While working for yourself has its benefits, I left a high-paying, albeit a very stressful, job to do so. You need to be very careful about costs, and working out what profit you can make from different jobs to ensure the bills are paid. You have to take a stand sometimes with people who owe you money to make sure you get paid – especially bigger companies who don’t realize how difficult it is for small businesses.
What kind of personality/attributes would you need for your job?
Organisation, time management, patience and creativity are all key components of my job. When people hear that I plan weddings, their reaction is often “Oh my god, how do you put up with it?”. I have great patience with people, and consider myself a problem solver. Rather than panicking when something goes wrong, my reaction is to acknowledge the problem and say “how can we fix it?”. That is always my mantra; whining about problems and playing the blame game gets you nowhere. I also need to be very creative as my clients often rely on me to help them create their vision or style.
How did you get to where you are now?
Sheer guts. I was working away behind the scenes when I was in full-time employment, doing small jobs during my spare time and blogging. I built up a strong following for the blog and on social media, and when I hit a wall with work, I decided to take the plunge, despite having very little start-up capital. I don’t have a budget for advertising, so use my own skills in digital marketing to market my products and services. You have to be cheeky sometimes and ask for work – I decided to monetise on my successful blog by approaching national magazines, and ended up being published in Irish Wedding Diary. Professional relationships that I had made while working in hotels were also a great start for my supplier list. I am also constantly looking for niche areas that others haven’t tapped into yet. I recently launched ‘Bride with a Bump’, a blog aimed at women who are pregnant and also planning a wedding, something that wasn’t being done anywhere else. I also look at where my skills can be used to help other wedding businesses, such as social media training and ghost blogging.
Do you still see yourself doing this in 5 years’ time?
My business is constantly evolving – the blogging and writing has actually become a bigger part of my business than I ever thought it would be. I think/hope in 5 years that I will be running my own wedding magazine – so keep your eyes peeled for that in the future!
What advice would you give to someone pursuing this career?
Don’t worry about doing years of full-time study if you want to be a wedding planner. There are lots of part-time, short courses in event management that you can do, but I would say that getting experience within the wedding industry is your key. For me, it was working in hotels as a wedding coordinator – I worked with couples over a long period of time, dealt with suppliers on a daily basis, organised a banqueting team and ensured everything went perfectly. See if you can shadow a number of wedding suppliers in different areas, as it will give you a true insight into the industry and you will be able to decide if it’s really for you. Many wedding planners out there have come about because they planned their own wedding, and really enjoyed it – but I believe you need more than that alone to break into the industry, as we all have different styles and tastes.
What were your expectations vs reality?
I suppose I thought I would become more successful, faster, but it takes time to build up a reputation in the wedding industry. You need to be constantly out and about, networking, attending wedding fairs, and not afraid of introducing yourself to people – you never know who will give you an opportunity. When people hear ‘wedding planner’, they immediately think of Franc. I certainly don’t have his experience, nor his price tag(!) but it did make me realise that all the big names in weddings are male – probably because it’s such a female-dominated industry, the men tend to stick out! I’d love to become a household name in weddings, to prove that women can be awesome too.
If you could go back would you do it all over again?
I absolutely would. I think my life experience, ups and downs, has made me who I am today and has given me the character traits that a true entrepreneur needs. When I first thought of being a wedding planner, it was like a light bulb moment – it made so much sense, yet I had never thought of it before. There are tough days, no doubt, but the good always outweighs the bad.
With a go get it attitude like that, experience, talent and creativity it’s only a matter of time before we see that Wedding Magazine becoming a reality! Well after that interview I think we have learned a lot about Wedding Planning, however if you would like to get in contact with Caitriona; here are some of the ways you can!
Thanks Caitriona, we wish you all the best with your future endeavors!
*All Photographs were provided by Caitriona and feature her Stationary Designs.