On Just Saying No

We’ve been doing what we do for nearly a decade now and we’re constantly balancing, walking a tight rope between the core of what we do: event planning and design, and elements that support our business. Enter: blogging {we pen a wedding blog, too}, social media: Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, and so on. Not to mention, balancing our personal lives: family, fun and social events. We truly love what we do immensely, so it’s sometimes hard to really set standards for what’s ON or OFF time and just saying no. While we have fun playing around and sharing sneak peeks of our work and connecting with awesome peers, shutting off or saying no can feel so darned good.

For quite some time we were the entertaining columnists for San Diego Magazine, and we have/currently contribute to OneWed, Celebrations at Home, Nook and Sea, numerous print magazines and our own blogs. We frequently get asked to contribute our expertise in articles or photo shoots, or sometimes host in-store events for brands or other such events. We have selected these great outlets to share our work with as we believe in them and enjoy writing or working with their editors. We find great joy in sharing on these platforms. And when guest posting or expert spots come around, we review with the same scope – do we enjoy this outlet? This writer? Will our tips or piece be well-received? Will this opportunity fit within the brand we’ve worked so hard to build?

 It’s okay to just say no. Life will go on. Twitter won’t come to a screeching halt. Your readership won’t plummet. Your phone won’t suddenly stop ringing with potential clients. But your own life will flourish if you learn to prioritize what’s truly important. We strive to put out quality and if something doesn’t pass our “scratch” test we’ll pass. 

We do know – it’s so easy to get caught up in what others are doing and to go with the current or grain. To want to jump onto projects or collaborations just because. We’ve been guilty of that. On any given day you can hop onto Twitter and see a flurry of posts about what I am doing. Who I am collaborating with. What brand I am partnering with. But at what cost? Often times these collaborations are a big time eater and you don’t hear about the behind-the-scenes stress of financial strain. Under the core of our business comes huge responsibility: taxes, interns, health care, and, huge on the list, our client work and daily tasks. We hear quite often others who are quite intrigued with what we do, where we’ve been seen, and current projects we work on and have shared that they’re overly impressed. We’re so grateful to have built our reputation to a level we’re proud of, but we’re also quite honest to discuss and share struggles or challenges. Sure, we were seen in BRIDES Magazine in print or we’ve got this project coming up, but this week was tough….  your own way

Don’t just think about whether a project or collaboration will pay off financially {some of our best collaborations or contributions did not, but the result was more gratifying and rewarding with recognition, featured work or a huge press spot}, but what relationships will come from it. Consider if your name will get out there, if it will put you and your brand in a solid, positive light, or if you will enjoy the project. We certainly understand that you’ve got to start somewhere, and often times collaborations and partnerships are the way to start and to get your name out there. But be wary of what’s too much. Only you can gauge that.

 Map out a weekly plan of action for your CORE business – what brings in your bread and butter. And allot how many hours you could feasibly designate for collaborations, “free” work or time-consuming tasks. Whenever something comes across your desk see if it gels with your plan of action. If not, don’t be afraid to say no.

We’re the first to admit that for a while a few years ago we’d take most opportunities that came across our plates. But after getting slightly burnt out on photo shoots or collaborations that took away from the CORE of our business and life in general, without maximum reward, we carefully inspect each opportunity with a magnifying glass. They have to pass our test and sound like a whole lot of fun, in addition to being beneficial.

 The moral of the story is that it’s entirely okay to just.say.no. Do what you love, what you believe in, and what will inspire you and others. The rest will follow.

So friends, care to share if you have a tried and true “scratch” test? We’d love to hear how you balance!


  1. Natalie Clamp says

    Such a great post and i often feel many dont feel comfortable talkong about. In 2010 and 2011 we did some great shoots BUT we also collaborated on some shoots that left me not so happy and feeling a bit burned. Last year, I took a step back and held off on major collaborations only after I did my research and felt like it was a great fit! It can be difficult to say “No, thanks” but ultimately you have to do what is best for you.

    • says

      Thank you for sharing, Natalie! We agree- sometimes others aren’t keen on discussing this but it’s needed. Research is key as well as your own priorities and sanity.

  2. Chris @ Celebrations At Home says

    Such a great post with many of the same thoughts I have swirling around on a daily basis. One of the toughest, but most important things to learn when building your brand, is when to say ‘no’ and when to say ‘yes.’
    I’m struggling with an opportunity now that I’d like to say yes to, but really don’t think I have the time…. : (

    • says

      Glad we’re on the same page, Chris, and not alone! We think about whether the quality of a project or contract could suffer, despite us saying yes, as our best work might not shine through if we don’t have time.

  3. Jen Carver (Banner Events) says

    Last Spring, I had the privilege of attending the Martha Stewart Dreamers into Doers Event in NYC. I learned a tremendous amount about branding, social media marketing, keeping my business ‘green’, and so forth. But, the most important lesson I walked away with was actually in the form of a question: “Each time you say ‘yes’, what are you having to say ‘no’ to?” This question had a profound impact on not only my business mentality, but hit deep at the core of who I am as a wife, mother, friend & daughter. My scratch test is simply this: If I say ‘yes’ to this, will I have to say ‘no’ to those people and things that matter even more?

    • says

      Jen, thank you for sharing this. What a great way to put things into perspective – we’ll be sure to use your scratch test. While ‘yes’ could be wonderful at what cost to other things?

  4. Steph Sagle says

    Thank you for this post! Sometimes the universe has you reading exactly what you need to hear. I’m so glad it came from two super, wonderfully, mindful people. Mahalo nui loa.

    • says

      Thanks for stopping by and for the kind words. Glad it resonated – we feel the same. We felt like it needed to be said as we’ve been thinking and debating this for some time.

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