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Let’s Get Personal: Capturing Love Panel at the HRC Event Recap

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A couple weeks ago we had the absolute honor of sitting on a panel at the HRC’s Capturing Love press event. I was invited by the super amazing Kathryn Hamm of GayWeddings.com and I could not have been more touched to have sat amongst her and some other amazing people in the LGBT & wedding communities. I also got to meet two amazing photographers in person, that I had only ever known online (eKate and Kat Forder! whatsssss up?!). Thanks to Kat Forder Photography for sharing some amazing images of this event. Truly an evening I will not forget any time soon.

Let’s Get Personal: Capturing Love Panel at the HRC Event Recap

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In addition to Kathryn (and her lovely wife, that had to play Kathryn’s voice that nice, due to Kathryn losing hers) and her co-author, Thea Dodds, I joined Kyle Mihalcoe of WeddingWire and Noel Gordon from the HRC. The panel was moderated by Jay Brown, the Director of Foundation Program Strategies at HRC.

capturing love HRC panel (4) capturing love HRC panel (5)

Though the main focus of the event was the launch of Kathryn & Thea’s new book, The New Art of Capturing Love: The Essential Guide to Lesbian & Gay Weddings,Jay also led the panel into a greater discussion about the limitations of traditional notions of gender roles in wedding rituals and photography; the ways in which understanding the dynamics of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) couples can open new doors for straight couples; and how the mainstream industry is receiving this niche market.

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[Oh hey, I see a Maggie Winters Photography photo above!]

capturing love HRC panel (8) capturing love HRC panel (3)

Click inside for the rest of our recap!

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Let’s Get Personal: New Years Resolution Check-In & Grade

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This year I set a New Years Resolution (who didn’t), but I also had some REAL resolve to actually work on the resolution and work to meet it this year. I knew 2014 was going to be a crazy year – personally and professionally, and so far it hasn’t disappointed. With a full set of weddings, starting a new project at the day job, launching the Classifieds, launching the DIY Wedding Workshops, changing up our vendor guide … and SO MUCH MORE, 2014 has already turned out to be one crazy year. And it’s only just May!

So our resolution this year was to work on “follow-through”. Actually doing the things I said I would do. This meant everything from ACTUALLY making that dinner date with a friend or colleague, after the common place “we should get drinks!” is exchanged, to completely some huge projects that we dreamed up and have started. For today’s personal post, I thought it might be fun to check in on my resolution and grade myself for the year so far. Because believe it or not, come June, 2014 is already half-way over (Mind. Blown).

Let’s Get Personal: New Years Resolution Check-In & Grading

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I’ll start by saying that this post will include 2 grades, one for my personal life and one for my professional. In both areas I think “follow-through” is important for different reasons. Personally, I had grown pretty tired of the ever-growing flakiness of people in my personal life. Plans are made, and so easily broken or never seen through completion. Cell phones make it too easy to flake out on promises of “texting you later”. Now let’s be honest here. I am 100% guilty of doing this too! Last year I often told friends that I would be somewhere and when the time came, the couch seemed like the better option and that half-truth text message got sent.

“Ah sorry! I didn’t see my phone until just now, probably not going to make it ….” This needed to stop. I needed to be better at following-through on the commitments I made, no matter how informal. So I resolved to do that this year – make those dinner/drink plans we always TALKED about making (but never did).

So far, I’ll give myself a C+ personally (thanks in part to the 2 emails, I literally JUST sent to friends I’ve been meaning to grab drinks with for a few months now). I’m still doing the “sorry I just saw this” text a bit too much, but all in all, I think I’ve been better about making concrete plans with people and actually following through on those plans. The funny thing is – once you ACTUALLY follow-through with the plans, you’ll find that you end up having a GREAT time.

Professionally, I’ll give myself a B. I’ve followed-through on some HUGE things this year already, but there have been 2 projects that fell victim to lack of follow-through on my part. One was probably for the best (and probably won’t come to fruition this year – and that’s OK) but the second, I need to just GET DONE. I’m not sure what it is, but I just can’t bring myself to do the things that need to be done on it.

I guess I should realize that I do have 6+ months left to get my grades up, but hey, at least I am passing ;)

Your turn! How are you doing on your New Years Resolution?

Let’s Get Personal: The Price of “Doing It All”

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In case you missed it, the AH-MAZING Laicie of 1000 Threads featured us on their “small business diaries” blog feature yesterday. I was insanely humbled by what she wrote and so thrilled to be featured on such an amazing blog. Please go check it out if you haven’t seen it yet, and I know you won’t find it hard to stay awhile on 1000 threads and find some amazing ideas, inspiration, recipes, and more anyway. The reason I brought it up, is because one of her questions to me fit perfectly in today’s personal post.¬† “2 // When and how did you decide to go into business for yourself? Was there a turning point?” – I laughed when I read this because as most of you know, I don’t just run Capitol Romance, I do have a full-time job too. And whenever I tell people that, I always get the same response “how do you do it!?”.

Let’s Get Personal: The Price of Doing It All

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Yes, that is a copy of my day-planner. Putting aside the fact that I realize how “old-school” it is to still write down all my meetings and “to-do’s” by hand, that’s typically what my weeks look like these days as I manage my day job, wedding coordination gigs, blogging, Fuel DC, and now my DIY workshops. That is how I “do it all”. I plan my days to their utmost potential, oftentimes weeks in advance.

Now while the planning nature enables me to get A LOT done (like juggling 3 jobs) it certainly comes at a price. Planning your life this way leads little room for flexibility and almost no room for spontaneous adventures. And that’s tough.

I get invites to awesome openings, or “let’s grab coffee” requests, or even have personal, family things that come up, that I just can’t always make it to. I have to beg my friends to notify me of their weddings MONTHS in advance (to ensure I don’t book one that weekend) and even have to coerce my not always “plan in advance” family, to book things month ahead of time, because I don’t want to miss it. This isn’t always easy, and it’s certainly not always butterflies. I know I need to realize that just because I am a planner, and plan my days/weekends this way, not everyone is and it’s not fair to be upset or frustrated when others don’t plan like I do.

Now this post isn’t to be a downer or anything, it’s just to simply share the insight into how I, personally, “do it all”. This (so far) is what has worked best for me, though it’s by no means perfect. I view it as a way to make the best use of my time, and maximize the time I have, spent doing the things I not only NEED to do, but WANT to do too! Because let’s face it, unless your Hermoine and you have a time turner, no one can truly do it all.

Your turn – how do you get everything you need to do, done? Do you plan like me, or just take it as it comes?

 

Let’s Get Personal: Taking Risks, When You are 100% Risk Averse

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If you read articles about successful businesses like I do, then you’ll notice that “take risks” is a common advice piece that is continually mentioned across many of these articles. They say that in order to differentiate yourself and be successful, you have to do things that other people won’t do. I read this over and over, from the comfort of my non-risk taking bubble and always wonder if there’s an out; if I can be successful without having to take risks. I feel that risk-taking is in complete conflict with my Type-A, planning nature. How can I plan for what’s to come if I am taking a risk and doing something I’ve never done before?

Let’s Get Personal: Taking Risks, When You Are 100% Risk Averse

offbeat dc wedding blog

To say I am risk averse is probably a gross understatement. I like to be in control of my life and situations and although I can be relaxed and “go-with-the-flow” at times, I much prefer having expectations and plans set in advance. I just feel better, more at peace, when there is a plan in place! So how the heck am I supposed to take risks with my business and jump into the unknown, where no plan exists?

Well for starters, I think the whole point of articles telling you that truly successful businesses take risks is to show that it’s not supposed to be easy. If it was easy, everyone would do it and all businesses would be successful. I need to force myself to come to terms with the fact that risks will make me uncomfortable and will be challenging and I might even fail at the risks I take, but the fact is that they need to be taken in order to grow my business.

So I’ve decided to take my first real risk for 2014. The risk was something I had long dreamed and thought about doing, but was always too scared to actually take the leap into. Yes, we’re talking about the newly launched DIY Wedding Workshops.

How might these be a risk you ask? Well for starters, workshops aren’t exactly easy or cheap to start up. Though I’ve been planning them for months (of course I have), finding vendor hosts, finding sponsors, finding a space to have them, the biggest risk is – will they be a success? Will they pay off? Will I make back what I’ve spent on them so far? Not only have I spent money on rental space, items for the workshops, and a ton of promotional goodies, but ideally, I’d like to make some money from them as well so that all that time spent planning and organizing wasn’t for naught!

This was the fear I had before I jumped in (and let’s face it, still have every single day) – that while the workshops seem like a good idea, nobody would show up. Ticket sales wouldn’t happen and I’d be left with a crumbling idea, a big waste of not only my time, but the vendors/sponsors’ time, and a big ole hole in my bank account, where the money I’ve spent so far, used to be.

But this is a risk and risks are meant to be scary. Risks can’t be controlled (no matter how hard I try and no matter how much planning for the workshops I’ve done) and risks aren’t meant to be easy. These are the things I have to keep telling myself. I have to believe that taking this risk will be good for my business. I truly believe in these DIY wedding workshops and I do believe there is a market for this sort of event in Washington, DC, but I’d be lying if I said I was 100% at ease with the decision I made to start them.

But I guess we’ll all just have to wait and see if the risk actually pays off.

Let’s Get Personal: Complacency is a Killer

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This morning I woke to a few disheartening tweets. I won’t go TOO much into the DC political scene here (this is a wedding blog afterall) but if you follow me on Twitter, than you already know who I voted for and my thoughts on the candidates any way. It wasn’t the winner of the DC Primary that got me though. It was this:

“Good morning. You live in a city where many avoid registering to vote, & less than 25% of the registered bother to vote in an election.” – @FrozenTropics

The 2nd disheartening tweet was that DeSean Jackson signed a 3-year deal with the Skins. I was SO hoping the NFC East had seen the last of him. But football aside, I was PISSED, angry, frustrated, annoyed, and so many other feels that all basically mean the same thing. All of these adjectives, to me, can be summed up into one root cause: complacency.

Let’s Get Personal: A Reflection on the Killer that is Complacency

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Why are people so complacent these days? I GRILLED my coworker (a DC resident of many years) why he wasn’t voting. He gave the usual response, “It doesn’t matter anyway. Plus I hate politics”. Does anyone actually like politics? But seriously, in an election where candidates won by a mere hundreds of votes, I don’t understand how you can say, “it doesn’t matter anyway”.

As I continued to drive into work, my anger grew outside of the complacency in local politics and into the wedding scene (naturally). People seem to be increasingly complacent here too. On the vendor side, I can barely ever get people to commit to our At Your Service volunteer events. On the blogging side, blog comments are at an all time low, and so are any sort of interactions I used to have with my readers. And on the couples side, my workshop ticket sales are no where near what I thought they would be at, at this point. What am I blaming all these things on?

Complacency.

I think people have just grown overly complacent with the status quo. People don’t want to DO things, GO anywhere, PUT forth any effort. Whether it’s voting or volunteering or taking an extra second to let someone know you like what they put out.

Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t think I am exempt from this. I know I am guilty of being complacent too. I should go to more neighborhood meetings, I should volunteer more, I should see more of my friends in a timely manner. But I don’t. I use the busy excuse and I carry on.

But complacency is a killer, isn’t it? When you really look back at all the things you DIDN’T do because of complacency, you realize you haven’t really done much. Are you OK with this? I’m not. I want to do more – I need to do more. And I honestly think the world would be a better place, if more people not only felt this way, but started to act on it.

Let’s Get Personal: Knowing Your Self Worth

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¬†Last week I shared one of my most personal posts to date. I talked about that dreaded thing called comparison and wondered if you could be too nice to run a business. The response I got was more than I could have imagined. Comments, emails, Facebook messages, and Twitter messages – my heart was so full! I didn’t write the post for that sort of self-indulging response, but it’s always nice to hear things like “you are doing the right thing” and other forms of assurance. I also got another response that wasn’t like the others, but was probably even more important than the rest. One that was brutally honest, (in a good way!!) with one key message: “You are worth every bit of what you deserve. We all are.”

Let’s Get Personal: Knowing Your Self Worth

offbeat dc wedding blog

The emailer was zeroing in on the point I made about not needing to make financially based decisions because of the crutch of having a full-time salary through my day job. She said:

I walked that line a few years ago of having income that meant I didn’t need to “rely” on that money and I made poor business choices financially (like charging $750 for day-of services and thinking that was enough). Ultimately, I wasn’t respecting myself or my business enough to charge what I was worth and I would hate for you to be doing the same. But you deserve more than “SOME” compensation for your time. You deserve full compensation for your time, your expertise, your personality, your brand and overall what you bring to the table.

I’ll be the first to admit that I have a very hard time knowing what I am worth. As a blogger, you are behind a computer screen, so cut off from your readers (that only show up as hit counts & views in an analytics tracker). Sure I get emails from readers that express their gratitude for the resources & information I am sharing, but it’s difficult to truly calculate or know what my “services” are worth! I do know a few things though: I know that I spend A LOT of time on this blog. It takes HOURS, every day, to answer emails, gather content, lay it out properly in WordPress, insert all the necessary hyperlinks, tags & categories, and eventually hit publish. It then takes even more time (probably double the publishing time) to market my posts. Facebook albums, twitter, Google+, Pinning every image, and uploading to a few other websites. This takes up a significant amount of my time, and my time is worth being compensated, and not at only a partial rate.

To put it another way (thanks to our email responder):

If you went to a restaurant and was constantly only being charged for “some” of the meal, initially you might be excited but after a few visits, you might start to wonder what’s wrong with it. Was it being dropped on the floor and they weren’t telling you? Maybe it was old moldy vegetables? You’d start to think something was up, right?

This is such a true statement, and I really love the way it was laid out. But what does that mean for me and for Capitol Romance (moreso the blog in this instance than my coordination business)? Well, it means that I need to do some serious soul searching and find out how to better compensate myself for the time, effort, and resources I am providing. Which means, yes, there are going to be some changes to Capitol Romance soon (hopefully for the better) and hopefully my readers will understand. And if they don’t? Well, that’s just something I am willing to sacrifice to realize my true self worth :)

Let’s Get Personal: Happy 3 Year Blogaversary to Me

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graffiti art capitol romance

So officially my 3-year blogaversary was on January 21st. For some reason I had always thought that I officially launched in February 2011, but the date stamp on my very first blog post tells me otherwise. I cannot believe it’s been 3 whole years since I started Capitol Romance. I don’t think I ever imagined it would last this long, or grow into what it has become. I can tell you though, it’s the people I have met since that very first post, that have made my journey worth it. Who knew that starting a blog, something so singular and sometimes siloed from personal interactions, could create such a plethora of connections. I’ve met SO MANY people through this thing – wedding vendors, small business owners, big business owners, DC Techies, artists, neighbors, creators, engaged couples, and more, all because I decided to start a blog. I’ve made friends, a few enemies, and met some truly amazing & inspiring couples. It’s slightly hard to even comprehend sometimes, but again, I am so very thankful for each and everyone one I’ve met. Even the crazies (yes, even them).

So for my 3-yeary blogaversary, in addition to reminding you & inviting you all (seriously ANY ONE!) to my meetup tonight (yes I know there’s a possibility of snow … but there’s also going to be wine … and cupcakes soo…..) I thought it might be fun to take a little jog down memory lane. Here we go:

  • My first WordPress template was this ugly thing called Elegant Grunge. I was so punk rock back then. Also, it was free.
  • My first logo was something I made myself. In Powerpoint. Using a free font & one of my wedding pictures.

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  • I had 2 comments on my first blog post. One was from my sister, and one was a trackback.
  • I attended my first wedding show in April of 2011. It was called the Nonconforming Bridal Affair & one of the attendees told me “she read my blog” and I nearly died.

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  • I did my first styled shoot with Abby Grace Photography, based on our mutual love of Harry Potter & it was amazingly featured on Green Wedding Shoes – I STILL get hits from that post. Harry Potter lovers are everywhere.
  • I could have never done ANY of this blog without my friend Steve, who I met my Sophomore year of college at Penn State. 3 years later, and he still answers all my IT help pleas, questions, and is somehow still my friend.
  • Since starting the blog, I’ve had to learn how to form an LLC, register as a business in DC, and pay taxes (awesome!)
  • I’ve learned how to use WordPress, Twitter, Google+, StatCounter, Google Analytics, Domain transfers, basic HTML & CSS, Blogstomp, and so many other IT applications.
  • I’ve forced my husband to model in more than 1 photoshoot and been fortunate enough to have my picture taken by Gabe Aceves, Val & Sarah, Tim Riddick Photography, Live It Out Photography, Stephen Gosling Photography, & more.

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  • I’ve been asked to contribute to articles and was even interviewed/filmed for a project about DC relationships!
  • I’ve emailed with tons of couples in the DC area about their weddings, challenges, thoughts, hopes, and feedback on this site.
  • I’ve grown, but stayed true to my initial mission from 3 years ago: to create a resource for the Washington, DC area that focuses on alternative, creative, and nontraditional & budget-friendly weddings. To find REAL couples from all different backgrounds to show a true representation of the DC wedding scene.

I cannot thank all of you (my readers!) enough for being here with me. A blog could be a pretty lonely thing without readers, so for you, I am eternally grateful. Here’s to another 3 years? (eep! that thought is terrifying!)

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xo, Bree

 

Let’s Get Personal: Taking on Assistants & Learning As I Go

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First let me apologize for letting it go until 2pm before I even started blogging today! The Day Job had me pretending I was a graphic designer and it always takes WAY longer than I think to create fliers/graphics for them. But let’s get into today’s personal post.

Let’s Get Personal: Taking on Assistants & Learning As I Go

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[Image: Val & Sarah]

Over the past few weeks, I started receiving emails from people that wanted my help/advice on breaking into the wedding planning business. I must admit that I was pretty shocked to not only get one, but 4 of these emails so far. I am so new to this business myself, it sort of caught me off guard that people wanted to learn from me. I mean, I only just finished my first year as a “wedding coordinator” and I, myself, feel like I have so much still to learn! Though my first year went smoothly and really so much more so than I had thought, surely I cannot be in a place to be teaching others what to do in this business. I mean – I haven’t even taken any classes, or have no educational background in event planning what so ever. I planned my own wedding and loved it, started a blog, and fell into coordinating and welp, now here I am.

I have to admit, I don’t know the first thing about taking on assistants. I am fortunate enough to have the world’s BEST (and most affordable ;) assistant through my husband, but there have been a few weddings this year where I certainly could have used an extra set of hands to help with setup! I am still learning how to navigate this territory though – when to know whether I will need an assistant or not, what to charge my clients if additional hands are needed for setup, and then what to give an assistant. And then there is the contract/liability side of taking someone on in my business too. Protecting myself, protecting my clients AND protecting the assistant – well these are all things I will need to take some time to read up on and learn about in the off-season.

But here is the other thing I have learned so far through these email exchanges (and even a few coffee dates): everyone has something to share. Even though I haven’t been at this game long, and I am far from considering myself a professional, I have learned A LOT and I am more than happy to share what I’ve learned with others that want to get in on this business. As we’ve already talked about in our “competitors are the new colleagues” post, I don’t view these new planners as a threat. Maybe I am naive, or maybe I just haven’t had a bad experience yet, but I have only gotten to where I am now by others being generous and open with me (here’s looking at you Danielle Pasternak) so why shouldn’t I return that favor?

So while I am still learning as I go, I am excited (OK and nervous) at the prospect of taking on assistants into the crazy world of Capitol Romance Wedding Coordination. But hey, if it means that I can get some awesome help from up and comers, and help them in return, AND learn in the process, well then I am completely game. I’ll let you know how it goes ;)

So what do you think? Have you been approached by wedding business newbies for help? Are you as open/into helping them as I am, or have you been burned in the past?

Let’s Get Personal: The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly of Running Your Own Twitter

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Let me start of by admitting that I am not 100% sure where I want to go with this blog post. I have some thoughts (and obviously opinions) around wedding vendors running their own social media, particularly Twitter – but I am not sure whether this post will take on more of an op-ed formula or a rant. Hopefully I haven’t scared you off already.

Anyway, since I am mostly ingrained in the wedding vendor world on Twitter and because my account is part personal and part wedding-vendor related, I will specifically focus this post on those two aspects. So let’s get this going then, shall we?

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly of Running Your Own Twitter Handle

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[Image: Val & Sarah]

When I first joined Twitter I made a decision that I wouldn’t have both a personal “bree” account AND a “capitol romance” account. I wanted my twitter handle to be a mix of business and pleasure (hey-o) and I wanted people to follow me for more reasons other than that I was a wedding blogger. Also, I was downright lazy and the thought of running TWO Twitter accounts just didn’t sound appealing to me. I initially connected only with other wedding vendors, but soon I started to connect with local businesses in my neighborhood and even some of my own neighbors! I learned the ins and outs of twitter and loved spending half the time posting personal items and the other half sharing links from the blog and eventually insight into my wedding coordination business.

The Good: So far, for me personally, this has worked fantastically. I made a business decision to have my ‘brand’ include ME and I don’t regret that at all. In fact, I like it so much that I tend to find I only enjoy following other wedding vendors that do the same. Since I am no longer planning my wedding, I really have no desire to read tweets from a vendor that are solely about their services. And nothing irritates me more when a handle tweets literally the same thing over and over, every few hours (probably via hoot-suite). Am I alone on this? Am I off-base because those vendors aren’t targeting me any way, they are targeting couples that are in the wedding-planning zone? Those accounts just feel so in-authentic to me. So flavorless.

Personally, I feel like if you aren’t connecting with others on Twitter at a more personal level, then you aren’t really making a lasting impact. You are just a 140-character line item that someone whizzes past on their touch screen, never looking to actually interact with you – which to me is the KEY to Twitter. The interactions. Thanks to twitter interactions, I’ve met countless vendors, found answers to questions I have had, got invited to sweet restaurant openings in my neighborhood, and even won an AWESOME dinner for 2 giveaway! All because I decided to connect with my followers and those I follow on a more personal level.

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[Image: Val & Sarah]

The Bad: Now, though I prefer handles that are a bit on the personal side, I can also understand why some wedding vendors chose to keep their business handles free of personal tweets, and then have a personal handle for … well, more personal things. Your tweets are a reflection of you – and when you are tweeting your thoughts and opinions, you are creating an opportunity to alienate people, or worse, offend people! I know I am guilty of this – and every time I retweet politically or socially charged tweets and articles, I am rolling the dice, possibly alienating a potential client or blog reader. It’s a fine line to walk, choosing just HOW personal I want to get on my Twitter account. I want to be authentic and myself, but I don’t want to be mean or hurt people’s feelings. And what’s worse is that what I thought was once a “good” thing (letting people see the more personal side and connecting that with my business) could end up hurting my brand instead.

The Ugly: Do I really need to define this? The Ugly side of running your own Twitter is two-fold. First, it’s what happens when “The Bad” comes true – people start to dislike your brand, because of the things you put on Social Media/Twitter. I have unfollowed other wedding vendors and local business accounts that I once followed because their social and political views did not match mine. I try hard to keep an open mind – but sometimes (I feel) their balance is off, and their account is becoming a bit TOO personal/opinionated and that personal side is not something I care to be a part of (or read about).

The second is the time-suck involved in keeping up a robust Twitter account; remaining active, interacting, and authentic! <- this is easier said than done. I’ve gotten so ingrained in my account that I am probably classifiable as “addicted” to Twitter. It’s the first thing I check when I wake up in the morning, it’s pretty much open on my computer all day (hello distractions) and I have some insane anxiety over not catching everything that came up on my newsfeed. I am literally scared I might have missed some sort of information or tweet that was interesting or useful.

So at this point, I think I will wrap this up and ask the crowd your thoughts: Do you like following wedding vendors that use their Twitter for BOTH personal and professional tweets? And if you are a business owner, and you choose to be “Strictly Business” on your handle, I’d love to know why! Sound off below.

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