Weddings are emotional, high-stress situations for just about everyone. From societal pressure to family drama (not to mention all that money talk), it’s easy to get overwhelmed. And if you have been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, are getting stressed or nervous from the pressure, or are worried the whole experience may be a little more than you were expecting, your excitement about getting married may be served with a side of apprehension. The good news is, with some advanced planning and some help from the pros, there are ways to make your wedding day a little more manageable.
Meet Amanda Hudes an event and wedding planner and coach, as well as an author of Amazon’s bestselling book, “Smiling Through the Chaos of Wedding Planning.” Not only is Hudes able to offer guidance and expertise in planning weddings, but she is also able to help them with their mindset and overall wellness.
Amanda has worked with high profile clientele, including professional athletes and writers. With a background in color and design, she creates one-of-a-kind moments for clients, including beach weddings, ballroom extravaganza’s, and intimate backyard affairs.
Amanda’s mission in life is to help women and couples feel empowered, beautiful, and most of all, happy. Besides volunteering her time, for every client booked with Smiling Through Chaos, Amanda uses her passion for giving back to contribute to charities with a focus on creating a future with more to celebrate, including “Futures Without Violence” and the breast cancer foundation, “Evolve Pink,” of which she is on the Board of Advisors.
Amanda Hudes holds a B.S. from the Fashion Institute of Technology in NYC, and wellness certifications that include yoga, reiki, health counseling, behavior change specialist, and sports endurance, spanning over 20 years of experience. She pays attention to what people are saying, through their words and body language, and their silence.
What inspired you to start STC Event & Wedding Planning?
My business is called Smiling Through Chaos event and wedding planning.
I was planning events in the corporate management world, and personal events on the side, when I started to realize that people around me would get super stressed at the THOUGHT of planning events, and I always had a great time planning them! I’ve always been very organized, someone who likes to check tasks off of a To-Do List (an ENFJ in the Myers Briggs test), creative, and self-motivated, so with my husband’s support, I decided to go for it! I come from a family of entrepreneurs, so I’ve always seen that it takes a lot of hard work and dedication to grow a business, and that didn’t scare me, it excited me.
I had actually accidentally started a business years ago while in college, called the A+ Plan, because I had people coming to me requesting customized meal plans for them. I became known for helping women lose weight quickly in a healthy way. I didn’t advertise at all, purely through word of mouth since I had great results with clients. In 2007, I became certified from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and continued to gain additional certifications and expertise in various aspects of Wellness. I incorporated the A+ Plan into Smiling Through Chaos when I created my event planning business almost 5 years ago.
My mission grows stronger each day. I began my business with the desire to help women and couples celebrate life and look and feel their best in the process. For a long time, I have felt that I’m meant to do this in a larger way, and lately, I have been feeling an even stronger pull to reach more and more people, to help people enjoy the big moments, but also the small, everyday joys. Yes, I’m an Event Planner. Yes, I’m a Behavior Change Specialist, Health Counselor, and certified in Reiki, Sports Endurance, Yoga and more. But I am also a human trying to bring as many smiles to people as possible.
What did you want to be when you were younger?
I had a whole list! I wanted to be a Fashion Designer, a Nutritionist, a Lawyer, and a Detective, so I combined my love of all and became an Event Planner and Coach, empowering, guiding, and helping my clients celebrate life.
It’s funny to look back at this because I remember wanting to be each of these and always wondered how one person could have so many different interests, but when you look at all of them in one bucket, you see that there is one common theme, helping people be healthier, happier versions of themselves, protected and able to just celebrate life.
How does one get their mind and body at their best for the big day?
When people think of “health,” they usually think of physical health. But health is so much more; it’s emotional, physical, spiritual, mental, it’s all of them combined and they each affect the others. When you eat healthier foods and exercise, your mood shifts, you become more energetic, toned, and confident, and your sense of being able to control how you feel grows, which is a great thing. “I am the one who determines how I feel” can be so inspiring to yourself and to others, and then guess what happens? Yes, that smile grows bigger! Of course, it isn’t as easy as just saying it; you have to put in the work, grow your knowledge, and really want it, but Smiling Through Chaos can help you, by listening without judgment, empowering you, guiding, and setting you up for success.
What is a skill you think all women should learn and why?
When women can stand up for themselves, they can do anything. When you are confident in who you are and your value, you are much more likely to say “yes” to what matters and what makes sense for you and “no” to ideas and actions that you don’t feel comfortable with. Think about all of the areas in your life that this affects! From negotiations to body image to creating friendships that make you feel great, standing up for yourself, even internally, is definitely a skill I think all women should learn in order to create the lives we all deserve, happy lives.
What are some hurdles an aspiring business owner might not be aware of?
There’s a ton of back-office work, so either plan out several hours a week for yourself to work on that, or hire an Office Manager from the start who will create newsletters, social media posts, do the daily bookkeeping, create and send contracts, listen to and view the latest information via webinars and articles, work on new business development, which includes researching and maintaining databases of new contacts to work with, advertising and marketing efforts, media pitches, emailing and talking to potential clients, I can go on and on. Working with clients is a piece of the amount of work you’ll do each day. As an entrepreneur, you’ll also be “on” all of the time. I have business hours, but I put so much time and effort into working with my clients, developing new offerings, and growing my business, that even during hours when I’m not officially working, my mind is always creating. Nothing comes overnight, but if you put in the effort and the time, meet great contacts, are enjoyable to work with, produce quality work, and are constantly creating, you are bound to be rewarded.
Share two pieces of advice for female entrepreneurs.
1) Know your worth and truly value yourself. In event planning, and other industries as well, it’s not always easy for people to understand the number of hours and how much effort goes into creating a one of a kind experience, so they want you to offer your work at a lower price. Remember this, if people could have everything for free, they would! But you are special, and you do not need to reduce your value because someone else doesn’t see it, personally or professionally.
2) Don’t try to be like everyone else. If I picked 10 event planners out of a hat and looked at their social media, at least half will have the same aesthetic, without any differentiation of what makes each unique and special. A few years ago I was told by a few people that I had to choose one; I couldn’t be an Event Planner and a Wellness Coach because it’s too confusing for people, or that I needed to make them two separate businesses. I separated them on social media for a couple of years and recently brought them back together. Why? Because I AM both, and offering the ability to help my clients look and feel their best for their big day is a unique offering that makes Smiling Through Chaos so different. I also post inspirational photos that make you smile, not just photos from events, because again, that’s what makes Smiling Through Chaos so different. Be YOU and be proud.
How do you start your creative process?
Coming from the world of fashion, and as a graduate of The Fashion Institute of Technology, I am ALL about the color story. But it takes time to get there. My work begins with the client consultation so I can get to know you so well that when I ask you about vendors or what you think about ideas I know your answers before you even give them to me. When I feel like I know the clients well enough during our consultation, I begin creating color palette options to choose from. Once that has been decided, I start pulling photos and colors together to create a “story.” I provide a few story options to the client, and we make modifications from there.
How do you stay inspired to come up with new, exciting ideas for events and weddings?
When I say everything inspires me, I mean everything. From people’s personalities to the colors of a bird’s feather, from fashion to a gorgeous sunset, everything around me creates a feeling, and that feeling allows me to come up with ideas. I also love to paint, draw, dance, and be silly with my kids, so expressing myself through movement and laughter creates new energy, which then becomes a story in itself.
I hear my clients, I learn their style, and I create from there. It has to make sense for the client and be amazing TO THEM, that’s the real goal.
You wrote a book ‘’Smiling Through the Chaos of Wedding Planning’’ can you share what we can find in this book?
I wrote, “Smiling Through The Chaos of Wedding Planning, Your Guide to Planning the Perfect Day” because the Wedding Planning books out there seemed to either have only checklists or were so thick I couldn’t imagine being a bride and reading it while handling work and the rest of my life. I wanted to bring some personality and life to the experience! I wanted to give brides and couples a quick read that would answer their questions without requiring them to read for hours on end. The end result is a quick read that will make you smile, answer your questions, and get you excited!
Tell us how can one keep the romance alive and stay excited to get married?
I’ve been known to actually suggest couples take a break from planning at certain points when I feel like it’s getting a bit stressful. Planning a wedding together, as a couple, can be challenging because each one of you has your own thoughts and ideas of what you’d like. Having a great Planner is so helpful because he or she can suggest ideas and options that allow you to meet in the middle without one of you having to be “right” or “get your way.”
Continue to go on dates, have “no planning date nights,” where you just enjoy each other. When you’re planning a wedding and both working, the only time you see each other becomes your time to discuss the wedding, but you don’t want to get married and then realize that you haven’t spoken about anything but the wedding for the past year and don’t know what to say to each other anymore! Make an effort to be romantic, to set candles on the table and cook a nice meal for your love, to write a sweet note. It’s the little things that mean so much.