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Anne Tegerdine: 10 Years of Experience, Empathy and Affirmation

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You’re engaged! Congratulations!

You’ve made the most important commitment of your life, and now it’s time to start making decisions about the most memorable day of your life.

The journey to that day will be simultaneously exciting and stressful. Anne Tegerdine understands every step of the way, having grown up in the home of a natural hostess, plunging into event planning 14 years ago and launching Annabelle Events ten years ago.

“In business they say start small, it will grow into something big,” recounted Anne, owner and lead event and wedding planner of Annabelle Events. “I’m the opposite, jumping into the industry working logistics for crowds of 60,000+ at Soldier Field, home of the Chicago Bears and an amazing venue for rock concerts, think the Rolling Stones and Bon Jovi. This is where I found my passion for events and the energy behind the production became my career. I consider Chicago my second home; I was born there and moved back for college. My mom was one of ten and Irish, while I was growing up in Missouri someone back in Chicago was always being baptized, married or having a baby, so monthly visits were common. It was a natural move for me in college, and I’m forever thankful because of the professional experience I gained in the city. It’s a huge asset now when I regularly plan events for crowds of 50 to 300.”  

The Organizer
Imposing order on sheer chaos is part of Anne’s love of her career. “Call me crazy; the emotion, the puzzle pieces of timing and vendors that I put together, along with the creativity and design work—I love being the one to organize it, to line out timing and details to perfection while also making it jaw-droppingly beautiful. I’m well aware the level of stress and emotion required for my career is not the norm and something many people would never subject themselves to. I thrive on it and feel I am truly meant to be doing this.

“I believe a great planner embodies the empathy for life’s biggest emotional breakdowns, has a backbone to stand up to the tallest man in the room or unruliest drunk, while also having the craftiness to make both mother and daughter feel heard while creating an evening that fulfills both their visions,” she continued. “Being able to do all that while smiling is why I love this career.”

The expertise of an event planner can’t be underestimated. “My biggest obstacle, or competition, you could say, is making people understand how much work goes into planning and executing an event,” Anne noted. “Plus, I have learned through my career that my clients need me, they depend on me and turn to me as their expert. It took me years to realize that and with good reason I needed to earn being the expert. Event planning comes second nature to me while it’s foreign to others and that’s something that always surprises me. To feel needed in your career is very fulfilling.”

The Difference
As Annabelle Events marks a milestone tenth anniversary, Anne cites experience and resources as two important factors that set her apart. “Ten years is more than a lifetime in this industry,” she stated. “I can count on one hand those of us who were in business ten years ago and are still rockin’ it today. Along with experience is my background; I went to school for marketing and sports management, then continued my education through conferences to gain event and wedding knowledge. That education can’t be duplicated because I created the path myself. A few years ago, I became certified as a same-sex wedding planner; I’m the only one in Mid-Missouri with this certification and having it is crucial to genuinely serve all couples tying the knot.

“Double those ten years in networking throughout Columbia, and I can make one call for anything from a seamstress for day-of mishaps to a backup caterer or even a tent when everyone is sold out. Being good to your vendors is a huge key to successful events. I love how often relationships come full circle between vendors; because we are dealing with high emotions from their clients it brings us closer as a team.” 

Anne affirms that the secret to planning a wedding is to remember to breathe. “It’s really that simple. Taking a moment to breathe makes what is either an emotional or indecisive situation deescalate. Also, every couple should know a few things the week before their wedding. First, you can’t put too much time into self-care so take time off work and do your favorite relaxing things. Second, as many people who bail last minute on their RSVP, you’ll have call saying plans changed and they can make it, so don’t sweat,” she noted. “Finally, something will go wrong the day of your wedding, I promise you that. It will rain nonstop, maybe even a tornado if you’re lucky. Your maid of honor will be hung over, your mom will hate her hair, and one of the groomsmen will say something horribly stupid at the wrong time. The key is to have someone there who turns that something wrong into nothing. That’s what we do. Our couples typically don’t know when these things happen; we just laugh together afterward when we clue them in.”

The last ten years have moved so fast that it’s hard for Anne to wrap her head around the anniversary. She’s played it safe and moved conservatively, but she has some dreams she’d like to make reality in the future. “I’d like to grow our team, maybe own a venue or invest in our local partners. Top of the list is to bring new, original events to Mid-Missouri; I’m excited to take some risks knowing the first ten years were a success.” 

The Family First
Juggling a family and a thriving career is a daily adventure. Anne’s family includes her husband, Gary, son Connor, eight, and new baby Claire, three months. How does she manage? “The honest answer is, I’ll let you know in 18 years how I did it, because then we’ll have all lived it. Right now, we’re in the thick of this season of lots of kids’ time and lots of work. I find myself living by a few rules each day that make it work. One, remembering it’s very important for Gary and me that we’re home with our kids as much as possible. For Claire, this makes baby wearing a daily activity. For Connor, school pickup and dinner are requirements on my calendar. Next is truly being present for whatever I am doing at that very moment. When Claire wakes up from a nap the laptop closes, or on that drive home from pickup my phone stays down. It doesn’t work if I mix it all together; I end up feeling I’m not doing anything well. I’d be balancing QuickBooks with errors and have a baby popping off her latch and fussy, or end an entire ride home from school and realize I have no clue how Connor’s day was. Last are affirmations at the end of the day; giving myself a ‘You did it, Mama,’ when I get to bed every night is the best way to fall asleep.”

During this season of life, Anne’s family comes first and work molds around it. That doesn’t mean she’s stepping away; she fits work in at other times. “Thank goodness for my husband, Gary; he’s a huge part of making it all happen. After kids’ bedtimes, our nights are spent across the kitchen table from each other in front of our laptops finishing up the work that didn’t get done that day. Plus, our parenting style is doing things as a family. From Connor’s baseball practice to doctor appointments for Claire, you’ll usually find all four of us together. Even at my late nights and weekend hours I love having them pop in for a piece of cake and even fireworks if the occasion is right.” 

The Affirmation
Anne finds she has to adjust how she takes care of herself. “Showers while everyone sleeps are glorious, patting myself on the back when I am present and my kids see it, doing family yoga instead of hot yoga,” she affirmed. “That’s how I fill my cup back up. Plus reminding myself this too will be short lived; one day they won’t need or want me as much and my clients still will.

“I want to tell other mothers, do it your way, because it’s the best way. Read all the blogs in the world and follow all the influencers you want, because we all do. At the end of the day, though, believe in what you want and that you know what’s best of your family. Trust yourself in doing it.”

Anne has definite advice for other entrepreneurs. “Be ready to work; nobody will tell you exactly what you need to do or how to do it. Nobody will encourage you enough or tell you to wake up every morning to do the hard stuff again. You have to be ready to do it and not let yourself stand in your own way,” she said clearly. “Make sure you have a deep passion for what you will be doing for work. It doesn’t mean you have to love every minute of it or it has to be life-changing. Heck, I throw parties for a living, but you must have a passion for doing whatever your work is. Otherwise it’s just another job and that won’t fuel the fire an entrepreneur needs to live.”