April 17, 2023

Benefits of Joining the Association of Bridal Consultants (ABC) for Wedding Professionals

In this episode of WedPro Business Solutions, host Kristina Stubblefield interviews Veronica Foster, Vice President of Association of Bridal Consultants USA, and Shelby Tuck-Horton, ABC Director of Education for the US and Canada, about the importance and benefits of being a member of an industry organization for wedding professionals.

Shelby highlights how education is the foundation of ABC, and how networking with members from different states and countries is a big benefit as they can help with problem-solving and introductions to vendors in new areas. The conversation emphasizes the importance of being a part of an organization that provides educational opportunities and curated information, and the benefit of sharing information and building relationships with other professionals in the industry to eliminate competition and help to build up businesses. The diversity and cultural exchange at the annual conference are also noted as a valuable experience for members.

Veronica shares the variety of educational opportunities that ABC offers for its members, including not just wedding planners but also other professionals in the wedding industry. The conversation continues discussing the benefits of being a member of ABC, including corporate memberships and upcoming educational plans. State managers are available as a resource for understanding how to use benefits, and local meetings are recommended.

The conversation also highlights the hotel division of ABC, which allows members to receive monthly checks that can cover the cost of their membership and more! While education, hotel room blocks, and travel divisions are popular benefits, the greatest benefit is the relationships and friendships made through the organization.

Overall, the episode emphasizes the many benefits and opportunities available through ABC membership, including education, networking, and resources for building successful wedding businesses.

Association of Bridal Consultants

Shelby Tuck-Horton, ABC Director of Education and ABC State Manager for Maryland/DC.

Veronica Foster, VP & Head of ABC USA

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[00:00:00] Kristina Stubblefield: Thank you for tuning in to WedPro Business Solutions. I'm your host, Kristina Stubblefield. I'm so lucky today to have two amazing people join me as guest on the podcast. I have Veronica Foster and I have Shelby Tuck-Horton with me. Both of them are very big parts of the Association of Bridal Consultants. Veronica is Vice President, and Shelby is Director of Education for the US and Canada. Ladies, thank you so much for joining.

[00:00:34] Veronica Foster: Oh, thank you for having us. 

[00:00:37] Shelby Tuck-Horton: We're so excited to be here. 

[00:00:39] Kristina Stubblefield: Shelby, would you like to go first and share a little bit with my audience about you? 

[00:00:44] Shelby Tuck-Horton: I am the Director of Education for the Association of Bridal Consultants, and I've been in that position for five years now, and I love helping to provide educational opportunities for our members.

[00:01:01] I also have another position in ABC and that is the State Manager for Maryland and DC, So I'm very well connected, with the Association of Bridal Consultants and those two positions keep me very busy. 

[00:01:18] Kristina Stubblefield: That's awesome. Thank you so much for sharing, Veronica. That takes us to you. Would you like to share a little bit?

[00:01:24] Veronica Foster: I sure would. So I am Vice President and head of ABC USA, for the Association of Bridal Consultants. Actually, just as of, this past July. Prior to that, I was Director of Outreach for a couple of years. Prior to that, I was six years as North Carolina's State Manager, and I've been a member for, close to 21 years now. It's been a long time. 

[00:01:51] Kristina Stubblefield: That's incredible. That's incredible. And for those listening that, first of all, I know some people listen that were at the last national conference. I know Veronica as well as a team of people she's going to share that had a big part in putting that event together, in their area. It was an amazing time. Shelby, I'm sure you will agree with me, every single part of it, the 80's night still stands out to me, but the whole event was incredible. 

[00:02:22] Shelby Tuck-Horton: I loved the 80's night.

[00:02:25] Kristina Stubblefield: Yes, that could be a little hard to top. I was so excited about having these ladies join me today because my listeners, my followers, they know that I'm big about investing in themselves and in their business, and one part of that to me is connections. I talk a lot about that, and I really feel like there's an importance to being involved.

[00:02:48] And part of organizations in your industry. And I am also a part of the Association of Bridal Consultants and everyone seems to think from my other podcast that I'm a wedding planner and they seem surprised to find out I'm not. But I'm not. I've been very fortunate to work with a number of wedding professionals over the years, too many years to list, but I knew that both of you all could help share not just the importance, but the benefits that people may not realize about being a member of organizations in your industry. 

[00:03:29] Shelby Tuck-Horton: Well, let me go first, Veronica. 

[00:03:32] Veronica Foster: Sure. 

[00:03:33] Kristina Stubblefield: The floor is yours. Take it away. 

[00:03:37] Shelby Tuck-Horton: Well, what I love about the Association of Bridal Consultants, is that the foundation of the organization is education.

[00:03:45] The other part that excites me about the organization is that there is networking opportunities. Now I've been in wedding. Industry for a very long time. And Veronica said that she was a member for 21 years. I think I beat her. We tend be, the people who have been there for at least 20 years or so, tend to be there that long because they love the organization and all that we do in the organization.

[00:04:14] And I build some of the best relationships in my career with other members of the organization. So one of the big pieces that I like a lot is that of networking and building relationships. So I'm located on the east coast, I'm in the Washington DC area, but when I go to conference, I get to see people from all around the country, sometimes outside of the country.

[00:04:42] And if I'm having a little bit of a problem, and I wasn't able to solve it with someone in the DC area. I can always talk to somebody in California, somebody in Michigan, Ohio, Minnesota, Minneapolis, and anywhere, and I can just share what that issue is and they can help me. The other part of that is if I'm moving, going to another area to do a wedding, and I don't know the vendor partners there, that person that is already in that state, in that city, in that town can help me and introduce me. So I feel like that is a real big benefit because otherwise I would have to go and meet these people individually, stock their social media, then call them, and then introduce myself, build a relationship with them.

[00:05:34] But if I'm in ABC, I'm at the conference, I'm able to talk to people up close and personal, so it makes my relationship with them to me a lot more meaningful. So continuing education because all aspects of ABC because that's our foundation, is always going to have an educational component to it. Whether it's Conference, whether it's our state meetings, whether it's our state conferences, we're always going to have an educational component, and continuing education is huge.

[00:06:09] I don't think, and I've been in the wedding industry for 30 years. I don't think that I ever know everything that there is to know. I learned something new every day. So if I wasn't attached with an organization that was keeping me abreast of what was going on, I again would have to go out on my own and find this information.

[00:06:32] So sometimes being in an organization, they can give you information, educational opportunities that have been curated just for you instead of you going out looking for these educational opportunities other places. And you and I know that you can go on Google and you can go somewhere else and you can go somewhere else and just find out information.

[00:06:53] But it doesn't always relate to you. What I like about our states is that being in Maryland and DC we can talk about what goes on in the Maryland DC area, and that is the same for the other states in the US. Problems that we have in the DC area may not be the same that they have in California. So we get to talk about that and we get to share information, and help to build each other up as well as to help build up your business.

[00:07:25] And the other thing I like about it is that when you are just starting out, you don't have a team. But if you build a relationship with someone else, if they understand how you work. Then that person can help you in your business. All you have to do is ask, and somebody's willing to help you out. So there's so many opportunities to being a part of an organization and then investing in yourself to be a part of that organization and the educational opportunities that are offered.

[00:07:54] Veronica Foster: I definitely agree with everything that you said. I think that a lot of times we take advantage of it and don't appreciate that the availability of the other members. I know personally for me, the education has always been key, from day one until today. But the other thing is, and you mentioned relationships.

[00:08:21] With the relationships that you create and the other members that you know, whether they're in Virginia or Texas or wherever they're located. It removes that competitive piece. It removes that option where you're thinking, oh, I'm not gonna say anything about this because they're my competition.

[00:08:41] So we eliminated that so our planners and our professionals can share that information comfortably because when one planner does really good in their business, we all do really good in our businesses. So I think eliminating that entire thought process, it is key to success, and then add on the educational pieces. One of the other largest benefit of ABC is we're the only association that mails out checks every month. With our hotel division and the room blocks there was a period of time that I couldn't plan weddings and all I could do was the room blocks.

[00:09:26] And that really supplemented my income and then started me off on the next phase of my company. Because as we get older, things change and you have to kind of pivot. But one of the things you know, I never wanted to do was leave the wedding industry, and ABC actually gave me the answer to that question of what's next? So I think that's very important. We don't just assist in businesses just starting, but businesses that are in the middle of their lifetime and in the businesses that are toward the end of their lifetime. So I think that's all important in the longevity of a small business.

[00:10:06] Kristina Stubblefield: Wow, you all covered a lot in just a few minutes, and a couple things stand out to me. First of all, at conference, the amazing just array of ages, of diversity. There are so many things, so many people, so many aspects of it, basically under one roof. And I think being able to meet people even from other countries at the conference and just hearing the different cultural things that go on with weddings and events, and I've talked to people that were at conference and it's this renewed energy, this renewed something in you.

[00:10:57] When you're around people in the same industry that you know, sometimes you are the only one, it's a solopreneur. A lot of wedding planners don't necessarily have admin or teams. They may have people that help them the day of, but a lot of them are in the office by themselves and things like that. So being able to come back to the connection, being under the same roof.

[00:11:25] And it was just so amazing to me, the people that had been in the industry for so many years, and then the new people getting started, but none was treated differently. They were all accepted in the circle and having people help them maneuver through the conference to me as something that really stood out.

[00:11:47] You didn't normally see someone sitting by themselves, no matter how hard people tried, they wanted to include you. And that's not something that you always find in different groups or organizations. It always seems to me kind of like a family and very welcoming. And one of the other things is there was nothing more apparent than community over competition.

[00:12:17] At conference, at state events that I've been at, on webinars and things like that, that you all have done. It just seems so much like everyone's coming together because you say if you help people, it helps everyone. It actually helps the industry as a whole. It helps the organization such as Association of Bridal Consultants.

[00:12:40] There's a benefit there for everyone and that's been some of my takeaways from it, and I feel like everyone works so hard in the event industry. I've been fortunate to work with people over multiple industries throughout the years, and then the event industry. I feel like it's one of the harder industries because you are working with so many clients and then trying to work on your business and not necessarily in it. So to be able to have some guides along the way with education, webinars, in person, things like that, any way you could help your business help make things easier, new ways. You said it Shelby, there's constantly different technology things to make people's lives and work easier, but it's the process of learning that and implementing it in your business.

[00:13:40] And Veronica, when we talk about education and things like that, and maybe this is more directed at Shelby, how often is that something that's available through ABC for those listening that might not know? 

[00:13:56] Shelby Tuck-Horton: We do have the conference every year, and it's usually in October or November. It just depends on where we're going and how the date fluctuates.

[00:14:06] But throughout the year, there are educational opportunities in each state that has a state manager. So for me in Maryland, DC there's always four meetings a year. And we do them quarterly where there's ongoing education and then sometimes we go out. I'm always creating different activities for them to do, so that they can learn more, do more, so that we may do some additional activities during the year. So there's always education at least four times a year in the states. And then on a national level, then I'm always trying to do webinars and seminars, and we have online courses, we have a certification program. We're in the midst of upgrading it now and updating it and it's going to be awesome when we get finished with it. It's going to be uploaded so that we no longer have to go through the process of mailing it and downloading it and taking tests manually. But they will be able to do everything online. So there's resources we are having, starting a new program with the masters because that's another. Let me just talk to you about that. 

[00:15:24] We have a professional designation starting with professional wedding planner going up to accredited Wedding Planner going up to master Wedding Planner. So what I'm doing now is implementing a program where our Master Wedding Planners are going to be able to mentor, the new members and ones that have been in business for less than five years, and they will benefit from the guidance and the wisdom of the master wedding planner.

[00:15:55] And the Wedding Planner will have an opportunity to give back, to the industry and to ABC and use their wisdom to guide somebody along. So I have been in a number of organizations, but I have not been in a organization that will do as much as what ABC does for its members. Now we provide the opportunities and it's up to the members to participate. We want everybody that's a member to get out there and do everything that we offer, but they don't. And we're okay with that because we have different, educational opportunities for kind of different, we have mainstream and then we have some that will fit more of the masters.

[00:16:36] And then we have some that will fit more of the certified and maybe registered. So we have a variety of educational opportunities that are going on all year.

[00:16:46] Kristina Stubblefield: So Veronica, if I can send this over to you. So she just talked about the difference with wedding planners.

[00:16:56] For those that are listening that might not be a wedding planner, you all also allow or welcome in people in the wedding industry that aren't planners. 

[00:17:07] Veronica Foster: We sure do. We want everyone, all of Photographers of Officiants, Florist and we have plenty that are already members. So not only do we do the designation trail with planners, but we also do with other professionals too.

[00:17:26] So we do have the join as a registered member, move on up to certified, professional accredited, and then to master, if I remember correctly, I think we have about five master wedding vendors right now in the world. And that's it, so we want them to come and we want them to take that educational track, because it not only includes education, it includes experience, it includes what you do to give back to your local community and the industry. So it makes you into a very well-rounded business or person. However you think of it, for me, I think of, my company as me, like it is me.

[00:18:12] It's not just, some separate tax ID that the IRS calls me for every year. It is a part of who I am. So being that well-rounded and, giving back to the industry, whether it's teaching a class or writing a book, going out and volunteering at your local church or homeless food shelter, those all are really great opportunities to strengthen your business and your personal self.

[00:18:40] I love the designation track and yeah, Shelby is very tough. She's a very tough Director of Education on getting that Masters. But it is so worth it, as you go through the process, you learn, really about who you are and what you're made of. So, that's always a plus.

[00:19:02] Kristina Stubblefield: And I know for those listening, this can sound a whole lot, like just completely geared towards business. It's not, there's a lot of personal growth and opportunities, although we're talking a lot about the business side of it. There's so much to the personal side as well. 

[00:19:21] Shelby Tuck-Horton: For me, when I first joined ABC, I had no idea what I was doing. I couldn't find any information on being a wedding planner and the ladies in the area that were already wedding planners, they weren't so welcoming. So I had to step out, and my personality is that of an introvert. So I was very careful about where I went and I felt like I was all by myself, but, I learned that, by being a part of an organization and actually participating in the organization, it helps you to grow.

[00:19:57] I was not a speaker when I joined ABC, I was not a teacher when I joined ABC, but as a result of the relationships that I built and worked and I was able to grow, so it was amazing for personal growth as well as business growth. 

[00:20:17] Kristina Stubblefield: Thank you so much for sharing that, Veronica. Is there anything else that you would like to share? I know we've talked about education, connections, the opportunities that are involved with ABC, with the hotel room blocks and other things. 

[00:20:34] Veronica Foster: Oh my goodness. If you had me list all the benefits of ABC we'd be on here for another 30 minutes. I think the education piece, our hotel division and then our travel division are probably the three most visited benefits of ABC that people use and understand, one of the largest benefits I think for me has always been the relationships, the friendships, and eventually the sisters that I've made throughout the years. I'm not going anywhere, I know that there's a lot of other members out there that aren't going anywhere. Some of the other benefits we have are we have corporate members. We're getting ready to do a library for educational purposes and we have a lot of different educational plans in the works that I'm hoping that we can get released really, really soon, because Shelby and I have been working really hard on them.

[00:21:33] I definitely encourage everyone to visit the website. Check out that long list of benefits that are out there, and see what suits you. If you ever have questions, what other great resources are estate managers, like Shelby, to reach out to, to use as that resource to understand, better how to use those benefits.

[00:21:56] And then to attend the local meetings and things that we have them put on every year. 

[00:22:01] Kristina Stubblefield: So as we wrap this up, I know that there's another national conference coming up. It happens every year. Would you like to share some information about that? Both of you? 

[00:22:11] Veronica Foster: Yeah, so we are going to Puerto Rico

[00:22:18] I am so excited about that. The dates are October 29th through November 3rd at the La Concha Resort in Puerto Rico. It's about five minutes from the airport, so it's pretty easy to get to. And from the photos that I've saw, it looks very beautiful. So I am definitely excited to go this October through November.

[00:22:41] Shelby Tuck-Horton: So there's always the work part of Conference . And for me, the minute I hit the ground, I'm always running because it's always something for me to do as Director of Education, there's meetings, there's working with Carmen Messa who works with the speakers. So it's always something for me to do, but there is always a fun element to Conference.

[00:23:04] We don't want to work you to death. So there's the 80's party last year, this year there'll be a different fun activity to do. So with going to Puerto Rico, a lot of our members are either adding time on the front or adding time on the back. So you'll have the opportunity to do that if that's what you want to do.

[00:23:25] But I love Conference, I love Conference because when you open your mind to learn, whether you've been in the business for a year or you've been in the business for 30 years, there's always something to learn. There's always a different perspective. There's always a new speaker. There's always a speaker that's been in the business for a long time, but there's somebody bright and new that we try to put on the stage that will give you a different perspective.

[00:23:52] So, I love conference. I love, I get to see everybody. I get to hug everybody. I just love Conference. I love conference. 

[00:24:00] Veronica Foster: It's perfect time to reset and recharge.

[00:24:04] Kristina Stubblefield: Absolutely. And you said it, although there's a lot of education, there's also dinner, there's always some fun.

[00:24:12] Just to build that camaraderie between people, many opportunities to do that. Even at last year's conference, I was fortunate to be a speaker, had a wonderful time, met amazing people at breakfast. You had to allot time because you were speaking to so many people at breakfast. So it's really there for you to utilize as little or as much as you want at Conference.

[00:24:39] And I think that's the nice thing is it's up to you how much you want to take part in it. Of all of the activities, which is why you get an itinerary and you know what's going on. So for those that might not be members of ABC, can they join in time to go to Conference? Do they have to be a member to go to Conference?

[00:25:00] Just to provide a little clarification for those listening that might not be a member of ABC. 

[00:25:06] Veronica Foster: So yes, we definitely encourage that you become a member. So we do offer a ticket for non-members that includes, one year of ABC membership because we want you to continue that. We don't want you just to, those three days enjoy everything, learn it up. We want to continue educating you and assisting your business throughout the year. So we do offer a discounted ticket include that includes membership. 

[00:25:34] Kristina Stubblefield: So I'll leave this to you all. Any final comments that you want to share? 

[00:25:39] Shelby Tuck-Horton: I know what Veronica's going to talk about. Again, talk about the hotel division cause it is a huge benefit to being a member.

[00:25:48] You can get a check mailed to you that will pay for your membership. You could pay to go to Puerto Rico. You could pay for the hotel with the checks that you get from the travel division. It's work on your part, but still it's not, in some of those situations, people are getting huge checks. Huge checks, which is great, there's no other organization that pays you a benefit, that it sends you a check as a member. There's no reason that you should not be part participating in the travel part if that interests you. 

[00:26:26] Veronica Foster: I agree. I definitely agree. I think it's a huge benefit, it's used by some, but not by the majority.

[00:26:37] So our plan is, next month we'll be doing a webinar on just the hotel division and, for steps that it takes for you to get a monthly check. 

[00:26:47] Kristina Stubblefield: Well, I really appreciate you all taking time to come on here. I love being a part of ABC I think it's very beneficial for anyone in the wedding industry.

[00:26:58] But before we go, I would like for both of you all to share a little bit about your businesses so listeners can connect with you all. 

[00:27:08] Shelby Tuck-Horton: Thank you for giving me the opportunity to talk about my actual business. I had been a wedding planner for 30 years actually, and was going to step back from wedding planning because my heart was being pulled in the direction of working with women. So a part of, during the time that I was a wedding planner, I was also becoming a Certified Life Coach, and I became a Certified Business Coach.

[00:27:30] So I combined those two things together and I actually worked with women to help them understand their value, to start charging with their worth and their lives, how to set boundaries in their businesses and in their personal lives. I loved that and I felt so directed to do that. So I was going to step back from Wedding Planning, give myself a minute, and then go and do this whole time in the meantime, some kind of way, I was directed also to do Wedding Officiating and I am so in love with Wedding Officiating. So my two companies, one is, Ceremonies by Shelby Tuck-Horton, and my other business is just Shelby Tuck-Horton Coaching. 

[00:28:14] Kristina Stubblefield: Thank you so much for sharing. You just can't get out of the wedding industry. 

[00:28:19] Shelby Tuck-Horton: I've tried Kristina,I tried so hard, but it didn't, it, it didn't work. But I love working with the couples at this level and then I get to marry them. I signed the paperwork and then I leave. It's amazing I get to work with them and doing premarital coaching because I'm a Life and Relationship Coach and a Business Coach, so I get to work with them before they get married and it's a totally different way I work with them than when I did when I was a Planner. So I love that I was directed there because I think the two things that I'm doing kind of work hand in hand. 

[00:28:58] Kristina Stubblefield: Well, I'll definitely have to have you come back as a guest and let's dive into more on boundaries. 

[00:29:05] Shelby Tuck-Horton: Woo. 

[00:29:05] Kristina Stubblefield: Woo. We can talk about that topic every week. It's so important. Definitely so important. All right, Veronica. 

[00:29:14] Veronica Foster: So I have also two companies right now, that I love. Behind the Scenes Inc. has been my life's breath for many years, but I did have to stop doing local weddings. It was physically and mentally I was just tired.

[00:29:33] And so I thought, well, what else can I do? And I landed on destination weddings and that was really because of ABC. And I learned, what an IATA number is and how much money you can really make. So behind the scenes transitioned, in 2018 to just destination weddings.

[00:29:53] So I don't have to haul dirty linens anymore, or charger plates or anything. I can just sit here at my desk and tell people where to go and when to go. And that really helps quite a bit. And then I do get to travel, which I love more than anything. So that helps too. And then to supplement that I thought, well, I do still like, my local folks and I kind of more or less fell into an opportunity of having my own venue.

[00:30:24] So I thought, oh, that's a great way to go out of the industry is just to sit back in that room and while somebody else does all the work in a venue. Turns out it's a lot more work than you think it is. But I love it. I love the space, it's like my home. They're, they're coming into my home, they're getting married or having meetings and I love every minute of it. 

[00:30:48] Kristina Stubblefield: What is it about multiple businesses? I do have that as well. I didn't know I was in such amazing company. I mean, I knew I was in good company, but what is it about us women? We just have to have multiple things going on, don't we? 

[00:31:05] Shelby Tuck-Horton: Yes. 

[00:31:06] Veronica Foster: I think we're glutton for punishment. 

[00:31:08] Kristina Stubblefield: We're definitely not necessarily encouraging listeners to have multiple businesses. Shelby and I will be hearing from quite a few people because, they are going to need the Life and the Business coaching for sure. 

[00:31:22] Veronica Foster: That's right 

[00:31:22] Kristina Stubblefield: Ladies, thank you so much. I've really enjoyed this and I cannot wait to connect listeners. I always like bringing it back to everyone works so hard and just you invest so much time in your business, it's also worth investing in yourself. Personally and professionally, and I think there's so many connections and growth opportunities with organizations, and I've loved being part of ABC and enjoy sharing it with people when the opportunity presents itself.

[00:31:56] And I'm proud to say that I'm a member of ABC, so I appreciate you both coming on to talk about this with me. And for all my listeners out there, please take an opportunity to connect. All of their information will be in the show notes that you can connect with them on social media, or if you're watching this on YouTube, you know it will be in the description and you'll be able to get to their links. And to all the listeners out there, thank you for tuning in. Until next time, keep working on your businesses and take care. 

Shelby Tuck-HortonProfile Photo

Shelby Tuck-Horton

Master Wedding Planner, Shelby Tuck-Horton, is the ABC Director of Education and the ABC State Manager for Maryland/DC. She owns Ceremonies by Shelby Tuck-Horton and is an ordained wedding officiant who performs ceremonies in the District of Columbia and Maryland. Shelby is also a life and business coach.

Veronica FosterProfile Photo

Veronica Foster

VP & Head of ABC USA

Veronica Foster is the VP & Head of ABC USA. She also owns Behind The Scenes Inc and Elm & Bain.