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FLASHBACK ARTICLE FROM DECEMBER 2009
Last month I invited you to imagine what steps Walt Disney if he were a Wedding DJ today, would take to be known as the standard-bearer of excellence in the wedding entertainment industry. I suggested that Walt would dedicate a tremendous amount of time in getting to know everything he could about the couples he served. Then he would create at least one original moment of unexpected magic that would, not only become a cherished, lifelong memory but would exceed his newlywed’s every expectation.
Although Disney always had creative control over his movies and, eventually, the design of Disneyland, he was smart enough to realize that he needed the collaborative input of other talented individuals to help him bring his visions to life. And, he was a stickler for perfection. No detail was too small, no dream too big to achieve.
Without exception, he would pull together his creative team, better known as Disney Imagineers, to storyboard hundreds, if not thousands of ideas, that eventually became the minute intricacies of every motion picture he produced and the rides, attractions, and costumes and structures of his beloved Disneyland. It was only after that the creative process had been exhausted that production would begin. “I am in no sense of the word a great artist, not even a great animator,” Disney once explained. “ I have always had men working for me whose skills were greater than my own. I am an idea man.”
In my imaginative world where Walt Disney is the Wedding DJ for a couple’s once-in-a-lifetime celebration, I see him turning into the often-overlooked talent, creativity, and experience of the other wedding professionals he would be working with as his team of Imagineers. Picture him pulling together the photographer, videographer, venue manager, caterer, and wedding planner, well in advance of a couple’s reception to storyboard a multitude of creative ideas and address every detail of their event.
If you listen very carefully, you can hear each of them sharing very valuable information regarding everything they know about the lead characters, the Bride and Groom. Picture them learning something about their client that they could only find out in this important, creative process. Envision them helping each other to find ways to take what they’ve learned and work cooperatively as a team towards creating unexpected magic and exceeding expectations.
I recently worked with a couple that was both graduating athletes at their college. Through our conversations, I learned that the groom had been a track star while the bride was known for lighting up the court on the girl’s basketball team. Her jersey number was “4” for most of her basketball career that number was very important to her and they found a great way of including it in their wedding day by beginning their wedding ceremony at 6:04 pm and their reception at 7:04 pm
Had it not been for a storyboarding session attended by the “reception team” in advance of this couple’s special day, the photographer would not have known the relevance of detail so small that he could have easily been overlooked. Because she had the information well ahead of their wedding date, the photographer was able to explore a number of Kansas City landmarks and pre-schedule photo ops between the church and the reception venue where the couple happily posed in front of billboards, street signs, building graffiti and even some strange looking modern sculptures that all dominantly displayed or resembled the number “4,” creating an array of fun and imaginative shots. She even took along a basketball for the bride and groom to interact with to add an even greater, personal impact to those photos.
Obviously, the photographer saw no immediate reward for investing a little extra time in scouting locations. There wasn’t much to show for her efforts at the reception, other than the slide show she proudly thumbed through on her camera’s small, LCD screen. But days later, when the couple was able to view those memories the way they were meant to be seen, the photographer knew by their laughter and enjoyment that she had created a moment of unexpected magic that would live on every time the newlyweds opened their photo album and showed it to others.
In and of itself, this story may not seem like a very big deal to you. But it was a huge deal to the bride and groom. What the photographer was able to do with the information I shared was never intended to produce accolades for either of us. The purpose was to exceed the expectations of those that put their trust in our experience and expertise at creating a little unexpected magic, just for them.
In the end, the bonus for our combined efforts to exceed expectations will have something of a snowball effect. I will enthusiastically refer the photographer for her creative eye. The bride and groom will refer her for the unique memories she captured and in turn, the photographer will refer me for, among other things, my willingness to work together and to help those around me succeed in a big way.
As we step into 2010, I invite you to join me in making this decade of imagination and creative innovation in the wedding entertainment industry. I encourage you to take advantage of what can be learned from others in the wedding profession and to make a concerted effort to set aside your own interests in an effort to cooperatively exceed the expectations of each couple you serve. Just like Disney and regardless of what role we play in a couple’s event, we are in the business of creating happiness. Be an innovator by bringing together your team of wedding Imagineers to explore and discover ideas that will present every couple with the opportunity to experience unexpected magic.
Ron Ruth can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.