The wedding planner: interview with alumna Marie Farjon
We’ve all seen funny movies about weddings and the many things that can (and often do) go wrong on the big day. Obviously, those weddings were not organized by Marie Farjon, a Glion Alumna who obtained her BBA in Hospitality Management in 2006. Since opening her company Wedding’s Riviera in 2014, Marie has used her sense of rigor and organization skills to serve and delight future brides and grooms.
Hi Marie, so, tell us, what are you up to these days?
The past year has been very busy and successful. I have organized 5 weddings in 2015, and I have two confirmed dates in 2016 at this point. In addition to my event work, I’ve been at trade shows and fairs in Annecy and Switzerland, promoting the business. And I just finished working with the website www.semarier.ch for a feature piece that they are publishing about my company.
How did you get from Glion to owning your own wedding planning business?
I finished my studies in 2006, and then I worked in hospitality for a few years. I started out at Hyatt, working in reception, I worked in in Belgrade in Serbia as a communication manager for a French restaurant, trying to develop an understanding of French culture for those clients. I worked again for Hyatt in several positions and then for Rent a Car. Later, I worked at Hotels & Preference, a hospitality chain specializing in high-end properties, as the head of individual reservations. In the end, I wasn’t really pleased with my career progression and I decided to start my own business.
Why did you choose to start a wedding planning business?
I have always enjoyed making people happy and I love to organize events, especially private events. So it came naturally to me to organize events such as weddings, because it’s so personal, such a big, important day for the clients. I enjoy creating as special atmosphere, and it’s important to have weddings that fit to one’s personality.
What was it like starting your business?
At the time, wedding organizers were not very well known in Switzerland and France, and still they remain less popular than they are in other countries such as the United States or Japan. Here, people think it’s going to be too expensive and they don’t see the benefit of having a wedding planner. But little by little, people are realizing that they should enjoy their special day because it passes so quickly.
Brides who organized their own wedding often don’t have a minute to enjoy it during the event. Events do not run on their own; there has to be someone managing the details from the planning stage, to making sure it goes well during the day, and the follow-up administration after the event. That’s where I come in and I think now customers are starting to realize that amount of stress and work that comes attached to the wedding day.
How was it going from being a hospitality employee to an entrepreneur?
It’s easier to manage my time as an entrepreneur. I also wasn’t satisfied with the evolution of my career; that is why I decided to create my own company. To compliment my studies, I did a course on wedding planning in Paris. It’s not easier to be an entrepreneur, because you have to be more organized and define your time, and if you are working at home you have to self-motivate. And since I work at home, I am working on my computer and afterwards, I head out to see suppliers, to visit venues, etc. So I’m on the road a bit, and I hold meetings, sometimes at the client’s place. In terms of my time between the office and travel it’s about 50/50, and it’s really important to be organized to do the planning.
Tell us more about your business, how you work, how you promote your company…
I’m working with several partners; I work with a range of professional suppliers including caterers, photographers, entertainers, musicians and DJs, and the people who do the decorations and flowers, etc. There are so many suppliers and people that are needed to coordinate a wedding, and since people are getting married older these days, they already have a job and sometimes a family. My services help them save the time and stress of sorting out the details.
Did your experience at Glion prepare you for this work?
Of course, Glion is a very well-known school, and it gives you a passport to open the doors to many places and positions. I think that hospitality management schools, and especially Glion, give you the possibility to learn the management skills to run operations and you learn how to organize your own business. Hospitality, teaches you excellence and it provides you with the skills for luxury clients and to meet the demands for organizing special events. It’s so important to achieve this level of excellence; they also teach you how to act and how to be around people.
Any last words for students who aspire to be wedding planners one day?
Yes, I think the important thing to be a wedding planner is to be well organized, to enjoy making people happy and to put a smile on their faces. And hospitality schools are the right place to develop these skills, you learn the details about wine, about events, about financial management, about how to act and how to work. In order to create a unique experience, you have to enjoy dealing with the details and the essential items and taking the time and care of them and the guests. Glion taught me all of these skills and qualities.