As well as sharing wonderful weddings we also want to drop in a few chats about the business of weddings, so for our third episode Dorothy (she/her) is joined by Celebrant Robyn Pattison to talk business.

Robyn is a Celebrant, MC, Wedding Pixie and all-round sparkle-spreader. She’s been in the industry for about 13 years (eek) and still hasn’t lost her bounce and enthusiasm for storytelling.

In this chat we discuss:

  • How it’s too exhausting (and disingenuous) to pretend to be something you’re not
  • The importance of finding your people as a wedding vendor
  • Breaking the rules and doing things your way
  • Bringing joy to ceremonies and weddings
  • How to work out if a couple aligns with a vendor
  • Why learning the languages of the couples & their families is important to her
  • And how connection beats perfection, every time

On her unique celebrant style, Robyn shares, ‘The best thing we can do is sprinkle a little joy, but it needs to be honest, real moments. You can’t just say words and make them real. It’s how you say it, how you connect with people. I make all my couples do homework and I go ‘sucked in’ but I can’t stand there knowing that the only thing I leave behind me are memories and leave a bad one. So I need to feel it and I need to feel it through them for the whole process so that I can  share it around and it does make a difference.’

Find Robyn:

On Instagram: @rpmarryme

On her website: robynpattison.com.au

On Polka Dot Wedding Robyn Pattison Marriage Celebrant & Wedding MC

We hope you enjoyed this episode talking business! We’d love for you to share on your socials and tag @polkadotwedding and help us to share the podcast with more people.

This podcast was produced by Polka Dot Wedding & Sarah Harney.

The Polka Dot Wedding team is honoured to conduct our work on the land of the BoonWurrung, WoiWorung, Eora and Kuring-gai people. We honour the traditional Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders custodians of the land and pay our respects to Elders past, present & emerging.


Episode Transcript

Dorothy Polka:

Welcome to The Feel Good Wedding Podcast by Polka Dot Wedding. While Polka Dot Wedding was born out of my obsession around weddings, it has become so much more while there’s dresses and fashion and pretty things and cakes and flowers and venues and all the things that we love and talk about with weddings.

There is at the core of, at a business and the business that broken every part of me and built me back up over the last 15 years and not without a lot of help, there have been so many coaches and mentors and educators and amazing people that have been a part of that. And there have been amazing wedding pros that I learned from and inspired by each and every day. So we wanted to drop in a few episodes through The Feel Good Weddings Podcast that explored just that we wanted to talk about the difficulties that come with running your own business.

We wanted to talk about how do we can improve our businesses. We wanted to talk about things like diversity and inclusion and aligning a business to your own values. We wanted to have the tricky discussions and we can’t wait to get started.

The Polka Dot Wedding team is honoured to conduct our work on the land of the BoonWurrung, WoiWorung, Eora and Kuring-gai people. We honour the traditional Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander custodians of the land, and we pay our respects to elders past and present.

Hello and welcome. I’m so excited to introduce you to today’s guest Sydney, wedding celebrant and MC Robyn Pattison.

Robyn has been a part of Polka Dot Wedding for so many years. In fact, she was one of the very first people to ever take a chance on us. And what I’ve loved about Robyn over the years is watching how she stays true to herself, regardless of what is trending and what is cool. And that’s something that’s really hard to do in the wedding industry.

So today we are chatting with Robyn about everything business, about how she started, how she’s running her business, especially in a pandemic and most of all, how she’s managed to stay true to herself in a world where in an industry where that’s really not always easy to do. I can’t wait for you to listen to this chat. Hello Robyn. Thank you so much for joining us today.

Robyn Pattison:

You’re very welcome. It’s exciting to be here.

Dorothy Polka:

I have worked with you since 2009, which we’ve just counted is over 13 years ago. How did you get started as a celebrate? What took you into celebrancy?

Robyn Pattison:

Honestly, It was a lucky guess I was in high school, the most terrified public speaker you’ve ever met. I was the, the leg shaker, the one that got all upset and like really freaked out. And then one day I forgot that I was afraid of public speaking and I thought, Hmm, maybe I could do that. Maybe I could be a celebrant. Oh, okay. I’ll give it a crack. And it was literally that stupid. I had no idea if anyone ever would ever book me, I’d forgotten that I was afraid of public speaking. I had no idea. I didn’t do any market research.

If I’d looked at how many competitors there were, I guarantee you, I never would’ve done it, but I just didn’t do any of those things. I just went, oh yeah. I’ll give that a crack. I did 50 weddings in my first year and I thought that was busy, I did a hundred in my second year and I thought, oh, that was busy. And then I realized that it was just a rolling stone and I would just, okay, maybe I’m good at this.

Dorothy Polka:

How many have you done this year with the backlog?

Robyn Pattison:

Oh, this year? 70, 60 to 70 already.

Dorothy Polka:

Wow. That’s pretty intense. And it’s only May, so that’s pretty intense. I mean, everyone’s got a backlog, but it’s pretty intense.

Robyn Pattison:

It’s pretty intense this year. I’m seeing, because I’ve been around for a long time. I’ve got a lot of industry friends and we’re all looking at each other going, Hey, how are you doing. Yep. You going – it’s February. You’re tired. Yep. It’s insane. Yep. Like we’re literally holding on by our fingernails. Just trying to bounce around.

Dorothy Polka:

Winter is coming. Winter is coming.

Robyn Pattison:

Yeah. Winter is coming. Winter is coming. But even the winter, isn’t going to provide the relief that it normally does.

Dorothy Polka:

I have found that there is not so much of a shoulder in an off peak season as there once was. And I don’t think that’s just the pandemic. People are more likely at the moment to get married in winter and autumn. I mean, autumn is so beautiful. Anyway, do you find there are more weddings for you  in so-called off season?

Robyn Pattison:

Well, my off season has always been very short anyway. Yeah. In July, if I’m lucky. And when I say off, I don’t mean off. I mean less. Yeah. Photographers have always said get married in May. The weather’s amazing in May and, um, they’re right. Mostly.

Dorothy Polka:

Yeah.

Robyn Pattison:

So that season has pushed out right to the end of May. And then everybody wants the last weekend, the last weekend of August. If you can get that, that’s a cracker because you still get the winter special with the venue, but the spring flowers are out. So you’re winning on. But then they think it’ll be warm because it’s the first weekend of September and it’s not, it’s freezing. So it’s a very, I don’t even think the shoulder, it’s more like a, like a lump now, not a shoulder season. It’s like a, like a gentle lump on the side. Just enough to take a breath, but not enough as not like it is you’re right.

Dorothy Polka:

So having worked with you for 13 years,  in wedding years, which is like 50 wedding years.  And, knowing you were one of our very first members, I remember now, and you had hot pink and green branding, and now you’ve got pastel pink and green branding. And what I’ve always loved about you. Is that your branding and your voice has always stayed so true to you. It’s not been like, oh, the trendy thing is to go black and white. Let’s go black and white. And the trendy thing is to do this. Like, you’ve always stayed really authentic to your own personal brand of running a business. And how have you managed to do that? And why have you felt that’s been so important for you?

Robyn Pattison:

Look, I’m not cool. There is not.

Dorothy Polka:

Yeah, I agree. I’m not either.

Robyn Pattison:

There’s not a cool bone in my body. I can’t pretend to be what I’m not. I’ve tried. I, you know, I am who I am. I like what I, like, I drink too much diet Coke, but I don’t drink alcohol. I like my pets. They’re everywhere. Yes. I like pink. I don’t care. It’s impossible and exhausting to pretend to be something that you are not, to pretend to like something just because it’s trendy to be cool, because ‘cool’ says this week, you are this because ‘cool’ will say you are meant to be like that next week and that’s exhausting. And oh!

Dorothy Polka:

How have you managed to find peace with that? Because I feel like it is very difficult as a business owner. Hold true to that and not be easily swayed by, oh no, I should be doing this because clearly what I’m doing is not working or clearly it’s not the cool thing. So how do you manage to find that peace within yourself about it?

Robyn Pattison:

So here’s the truth. I have work coming out of my ears and I don’t go racing after it. Like, I do have moments where I think I need to post an Instagram every day. And then my son got sick in October last year and I thought, no, I don’t. And so I’ve been quite lazy on it and I thought that that would keep people away, but actually it doesn’t, I’ve found my tribe.

I have a really good tight knit group of, um, photographers and people who know me and I love, and they love me back for who I am. So they send me people I’ve built myself purely accidentally, a niche within the market that doesn’t care how many times I post on Instagram or that I don’t do Tiktok. I can’t be bothered and I don’t have time and it doesn’t matter anyway. So I don’t worry so much about what I’m supposed to be doing because I’ve got stuff to do.

Dorothy Polka:

Yes. So you are at peace with it because you know that what you’re doing is staying true to yourself and that works. So, yeah. And why be anything else?

Robyn Pattison:

Well, I can’t,  I would get caught. I would get caught out. Someone would catch me out, like not being who I am or misrepresenting myself. I meet too many people and I see too many people over and over and over again, the wedding I did last night. Obviously I married the bride and groom last night. I then MCed their reception. Their parents look at me and go it’s you again, because I married that one’s daughter. And that one, you know, I’m well known and they know they would know if I suddenly started being all cool and fancy.

Dorothy Polka:

Yeah. How do you think, uh, you be starting out in the industry who has all that noise about you should be doing this and you should be doing that. And this isn’t cool and that’s not cool. And, you know, tradition. Isn’t cool. And you, you gotta go for the couples that are, you know, doing the wild things and all that kind of stuff, rather than staying true to yourself. How do you advise them or what would you say to them? When they’re starting out.

Robyn Pattison:

Okay. So right now I think it’s a really difficult environment to start out when you and I started out.

Dorothy Polka:

There was no social media. There was nothing.

Robyn Pattison:

No social media. We had the opportunity to do what we love, the way we loved it and gain our following. As, as ourselves, it is much more complicated. Now the markets are of everything, not just celebrants. Photographers, florists, stylist, you name it. They’re flooded. And the pandemic has made it more tricky as well.

A lot of people left and then people are coming in, but I would always say be you, do you, your people will find you, listen, learn, pay attention, but do you, because trying to do somebody else. You’re going to fall over. You are going to fall over and, and you will get caught out and people do. They do, even though it’s not necessarily cool. They value authenticity. People do.

Dorothy Polka:

Yes. Agree with you. Yep. They want to, when it all comes down to it.

Robyn Pattison:

Yeah, they do. They want to see that the person they saw online is the same person they’re talking to is the same person that will be there on the day. Yeah, not, I’m very cool and polished on my Instagram, but actually I’m a bit of a slob, but on the day, I’ll pretend to be cool and published. Like that’s complicated.

Dorothy Polka:

Yeah. And also it’s exhausting.

Robyn Pattison:

Exhausting.

Dorothy Polka:

Yeah.

Robyn Pattison:

I don’t have that energy.

Dorothy Polka:

When you run your own business, I feel like joy is such a really core part of your business. Everything you do is joyous. Can you tell me about how you, like, what does joy mean to you and how do you include that in your business and how do you put that as a focus of your business? Because everything you do is happy and light and you know, it just feels like.

Robyn Pattison:

Yeah, that’s true. I do want my ceremonies to be joyful. I say to everybody that the best thing we can do is sprinkle a little joy, but it needs to be honest, it needs to come real moments. You can’t just say words and make them real. It’s how you say it, how you connect with people. I make all my couples do homework, but I can’t stand there knowing that the only thing I leave behind me are memories and leave a bad one. So if I need to feel it and I need to feel it through them for the whole process so that I can sh share it around and it does make a difference. And I am very bouncy and I am much better at light and friendly than I will ever be at sermons. My ceremonies are not love is this love is that love is this love is that we’ve all heard it before. So I concentrate on why we are here and what we’re selling, but I also keep them very real.

I will never turn a couple into cherubs with a halo, and I’m never going to tell anyone that they spout sonnets at each other on the weekend. In fact, I’ll go the opposite way and point out their faults and the reasons that they’re different and make people laugh about them. And that well, laughter is the greatest gift you can give your guests at a wedding.

Dorothy Polka:

Exactly.

Robyn Pattison:

Exactly the joy of it. They can walk into a beautifully styled room with a floral installation and they spent a fortune on styling. But if the warmth isn’t there, if the ceremony, if the guests, if the people are not connected, it’s just fluff. It’s just fluff. So I will go for connection over perfection. Any day. Yeah.

Dorothy Polka:

And one of the things I think you do that we have loved because inclusion is so important to us is that you’ve, I’ve noticed a lot, that you take the time to learn the languages of the couple and the couple’s family. Yeah. So that they can feel connected to the ceremony, understand what’s going on. And I know that’s sort of unusual. I haven’t really seen other people doing that. So what led you to start doing that? And why do you continue to do that? And tell me about that.

Robyn Pattison:

The honest truth is that 95% of human communication is not language. It is facial expression, body language, tone of voice. It is as much how we say something, what we say, but in that last 5%, because I have made myself quite an niche, particularly in the Asian market. And I love it. I love it there, it’s my home. I feel so comfortable. And so I feel valuable in that market. So if that’s gonna be my thing, then I better let it be my thing.

So I’ve learned, I can tell grandma, she looks pretty in Cantonese and Mandarin. I’m not very good at Vietnamese, but I try, I learn dialects. I learn bits and pieces. Oh goodness. I can’t tell you how many languages I’ve learned little shreds of enough to welcome people and thank them for coming and tell them. It’s nice to meet them and tell mom she looks pretty and just enough to let. Know that I see them, let them know that their being there is important and it usually will turn them into friends in the first minute of the ceremony.

Now, if I’ve made you all into my friends, people who didn’t expect to get anything out of this or understand a word of it, or didn’t really understand because haven’t, you already done a tea ceremony. So therefore you’re married. ‘No mum. We’re not.’ I fill that gap between what they understand and what they want and what they know. Bring them into a space where yes, okay, they don’t understand every word, but they know we see them. They know that we know they’re valuable. That they’re important. They know that. I know that I didn’t get it perfect and my lack of perfection makes them smile.

Dorothy Polka:

Yeah. It breaks the ice a bit.

Robyn Pattison:

It absolutely does. I don’t have perfect intonation in my Cantonese. My Mandarin is not absolutely perfect. I admit my Vietnamese is rubbish, rubbish. They don’t care. They don’t care. I tried. I showed them respect through trying, they show me the respect in return for giving it a crack. We have a laugh together off we go. Yeah. Yeah. We’re in great place now for whatever comes next.

Dorothy Polka:

Yep. So it breaks that ice and it starts you off connecting with the guests, I suppose, as well then.

Robyn Pattison:

Yep. And again, connection versus perfection. I’ll take connection anytime.

Dorothy Polka:

How do you start that connection off with a couple so that you know, you know them well enough? I know you said homework, but how do you kick off your meetings with your couples and kick off your relationship with your couples? So you are building that connection.

Robyn Pattison:

Okay. So I never ever ask them the scariest question of all. ‘Tell me about yourself.’ That is the worst question in the whole world, because you asked me who I am. Where do I start? I don’t think I’m that interesting. So I can’t answer that question.

So I never ever, ever ask people to tell me about themselves. I put them on a comfort level, I’ll say to them, so what have you got planned? Because that’s a safe space for them to say, oh, we, we look this and we booked that and we don’t know what to do. And then I can help them with advice and tips and things quite candid about, yep, that’s a great idea. But we warn you be careful about that or whatever. And then we work into who they are because they are. They’re sharing themselves with me in their choices and their decisions and the things that makes them happy. But I haven’t asked them the scary question.

And then when I give them some homework, I give them some Q and A, and I always tell them they’re not a test, have fun with them. And the way that they write those tells me a lot about the tone of the ceremony that they want. And I work with that and I get to that safe spot. Um, partly through what I read. Partly through how we’ve communicated, the things they’ve chosen, but I’ll never ask them the scary questions. And I never ask them to tell me too much face to face because everyone, including myself will go, oh, um, uh, Um, I don’t really know what to say and that’s a great conversation ender. So I never start with that.

Dorothy Polka:

Have you ever had a couple that you’ve figured they’re not really a fit I’m going to have to part ways with them?

Robyn Pattison:

Yeah, I can do that really easily.

Dorothy Polka:

How, do you know whether they’re going to be a fit be or not? This is one of those big questions with wedding vendors isn’t it? Is working with people that align with you. So how do you figure that out?

Robyn Pattison:

Okay. So I’ve got a really good question. For anyone where I feel like they’re not my people. I can ask them, are they having a wedding or are they getting married? Now, if they’re having a wedding, they are definitely more interested in how everything looks than how it feels. They’re getting married. This is a great big party to celebrate with their friends and their family. And they’re moving forward into theirs. And the slight change of perspective can tell me everything I need to know about a couple, and I rarely, rarely need to ask that for them. And I won’t let them know that that’s what I’m doing though. Now they’ll know.

But I can work out what’s important to you just out of the answer to that question and the way they frame up their response. If it’s all about the wedding day. Then they’ve lost sight of what it’s for and if they’ve lost sight for what it’s for, then they want, they need somebody much more formal than me, much less connected than me. They just need someone to come and do the job.

Dorothy Polka:

Yes. Okay. And because you are so much more about the values and being value aligned with you as a celebrant for starters, but also conveying that through the ceremony, it wouldn’t make sense if they’ve lost sight of that for you to work with them.

Robyn Pattison:

And there’s some, there are people who are great at that. There are so many people who are great. At, you know, getting the job done, getting in there; you know, they’ve got three scripts you can pick and choose from. That’s the easy way. I’m so happy for them to do that. There will always be people who love that more generic, traditional, formal style. Great, great, wonderful. There’s someone out there who is perfect for you. I’m not offended or upset about that because my people will find me. My people always found me.

Dorothy Polka:

I was going to ask then if you have ever come across an experience or a wedding, even down to the wedding itself where it did start to misalign with your values and how you would’ve dealt with that, like how things sort of started to maybe go off kilter off track and you went, hmm, this doesn’t feel good, but maybe you’re eliminating them before they even have the chance to go that way. Eliminating them as clients, I should say.

Robyn Pattison:

Yeah. So, yeah, that is tricky. There have been some occasions. Couples where I’ve thought, oh, I don’t think you are my people, but they’ve come back really excited. And I’m like, okay. And then they’ve done their homework for me. And I’ve realised they’re absolutely my people, but they were nervous. They were nervous. And now that they are relaxed and they’re not in that decision making mode anymore, terrified of the wrong decision or whatever. Now, now we’re rolling. And some of those couples have turned into my favourite. So, you know.

Dorothy Polka:

So is that a lesson to not necessarily, for other vendors to judge too much on that first meeting about, oh, is this my ideal client or not? Because it could just be other factors like nerves.

Robyn Pattison:

Absolutely. Um, I’ve got a lot of, a lot of friends who are, oh, warning bells, red flags, red flags. And sometimes I say to them, you know what, sometimes you’ve got to suck it back for your mortgage.

Dorothy Polka:

Yep. Yep.

Robyn Pattison:

You know, it’s might not always be easy. Not everything we do is easy. It’s some people think that if you get, you have your own business, you can pick and choose everything. But you and I both know that that is not true. That is not true.

Dorothy Polka:

But also if you are very niche, so say your niche is high-end clients who have a budget over a hundred thousand dollars and they want this, this and this. And this is my dream client. I’m only going to work with that client when you’re working in a market like Australia, there are not that many of those clients around. For the amount of saturation in the market. So you can’t for your business, you can’t do that.

Robyn Pattison:

And also if you are looking for that a hundred thousand dollars client and you get one, you are going to suck back a lot of stuff that you don’t like because their expectations, knowing how much money they are spending is going to be really, really, really high. So that’s going to be unpleasant. Yeah. You can’t have it both ways all the time. I agree.

Dorothy Polka:

You have pivoted recently or not. So recently, I can’t actually remember when you did this, you have expanded into MC services and also funeral services. What led you to expand out of celebrancy?

Robyn Pattison:

Again, becoming an MC was an accident. Yeah, I thought, oh, I’m not going to do that. I’m not going to do that. Please. Robyn, please. Oh, and I’m so bad at saying no. And then I was like, oh, actually, I’m kind of good at this. So again, I market myself very clearly at what I’m good at. I am not formal about it. I will get your parents up and dancing. We will be doing things you didn’t expect. They will have to participate. Does this sound good to you? What I find is that my energy is good for that environment. And again, largely I do Asian and they need a little bit of a boost and a little bit of a push. And sometimes it’s the people with the least amount of English that love me the most because they can. They can see something different and they are, they work off my energy, they work my energy. So that became a thing. And now I’m probably doing too many of them. So I’m doubling my workload. Well done Robin. And as for funerals again, an accident – I’d never done a funeral ever. And a bridesmaid at one of my weddings. Her husband died by suicide years ago and she called her friend and said, your celebrant, has to do the funeral. So the fun friend rang and goes, ‘I don’t know if you do this’, but I said, I don’t do that just, but she says ‘it has to be you’. Oh, okay. Well then tell her I’ve never done one before. Again, it was a beautiful and exhausting and educational experience. And I love working in that space. It’s exhausting and it’s on your marks, get set, go. And it is all encompassing, but it’s that connection thing. It’s that ability. To bring humans together into an experience. And a funeral is simply a step – is a step towards healing. It’s a collective step or just one foot step, but if you can help people make that one foot step in a positive way, in a way that feels like we’re all together. And that’s a really valuable and important thing to do.

Dorothy Polka:

Yeah. Yeah. And I think it’s lovely too. Like if you are the family’s celebrate, like you’ve married the couples and then you do the funerals and, you know, would you ever do namings or not? You know, birth kind of ceremonies?

Robyn Pattison:

Oh, look, I’ve done namings. And again, I don’t do namings, but I will absolutely do them. If I married you and you say, oh Robyn, it’s got to be you. Well, of course I will. I’ll break all my rules for you. If you are one of my, one of my own.

Dorothy Polka:

Once you’re in, you’re in forever.

Robyn Pattison:

And I say that to people, you know, if I go to a wedding and there’s half a dozen people there that I’ve married, like, I’m sorry. You’re going to be doing all my jobs for me all night. Yeah. Because you’re my chickens now. So you’ll be getting up onto the dance floor and you’ll be doing this and I need help with the music and you can do it because they know that’s what’s coming. Yeah. But yeah, I like that. I like that. Being them again. I like being connected to them.

Dorothy Polka:

So the elephant in the room or not so the elephant in the room, the slamming force in the room of the pandemic has, as you know, shattered everyone in the wedding industry. How have you coped?

Robyn Pattison:

And that the first three days was time again. And yeah.

Dorothy Polka:

Was that the March period where everything just seemed to overnight stop?

Robyn Pattison:

Oh, yeah. Yep. March 17, 2020. We just went what is happening? Yep. And it was like ping, pinging, ping those three to four days. We all just sat on the floor. Amazing emails. Just go. Yeah. And then we just, we’ve just done a dance. Yeah. We’ve literally, since then just done a dance of moving diaries, musical chairs. And I can do that, but you need to do this and jiggle, jiggle, jiggle.

I’ve got to the point now where I’ve married couples on their fifth date. And I just like, okay, that’s no problem. And then like this year in January, where we had a big, big flare up, you know, two, two weddings in one day, both got cancelled the day before. A lot of that was happening. I’ve been incredibly lucky. I haven’t got it, but I have lived in fear of getting it because of the amount of people I would be letting down. Yeah. There’s no real replacement for me.

Dorothy Polka:

I was going to ask you, do you have teams of certain people that you would work with and refer?

Robyn Pattison:

Well, you’d have to obviously, but you know, I do. I do, but because I have that little niche. Yes. Yeah. They’re not, there’s only one Robyn. Well, there is there’s no one else is going to go and learn how to tell grandma she looks pretty in Hokkien and, or, you know, no one else does all those things that I’m aware of. And so I’m really loathe to give them up. So I would have to be like, obviously I’d stick to the rules, but I just really hoping that it just doesn’t happen. And so far I’ve been incredibly lucky, so many times I’ve come. I got to Monday and like the bride of the groom of the bridal party ball, tested positive. Are you okay? I’m fine.

Dorothy Polka:

Least you’re only with the couples for such a short time that it’s like fingers crossed.

Robyn Pattison:

But if I’ve, these are the ones I’ve done receptions with. Oh my gosh. Okay. And so I’ve been in close contact in tiny for hours in their face, music’s loud. And so I need to get in there with them and show them what to do. And. I’ve just been, it’s been incredibly lucky.

Dorothy Polka:

Has it changed anything about the way you run your business or, or helped you figure out what’s more important to you in running your business? Has it shifted perspectives?

Robyn Pattison:

I think I’ve always been flexible. Yeah. So I’ve just become more flexible. Yeah. Um, I’ve not issued any penalties at all to anyone. No. Regardless of how many changes they’ve made, not once. And, and just, just like you, you were incredibly kind to me when there was no money coming in. Um, and I’ve tried to do my best in return to fix that up in advance,  but we’re only as good as the memories people have of us.

Like that’s so important and people are so easy to go. Oh yeah. You know, next next. But that’s not true. It’s not true because there’s always someone that remembers something. And people only remember the really good and the really bad. So probably they don’t remember you if you are mediocre and you’re just somewhere in between. But if you are really good, they’ll always remember you. If you are really kind, they’ll always remember you, if you are really horrible, they will definitely remember you and they will tell.

Dorothy Polka:

How did you find a strength to get through those really tough times? Because I feel like there wasn’t a wedding vendor and even us, who’s sort of slightly on the side, who just didn’t – everyone in the world was shattered, but it was such a dark time, especially for us in Melbourne, with endless lockdowns that we never seemed to come out of, banned weddings and such. How did you get through those really  times where you had to pull everything out of yourself to keep going with positivity?

Robyn Pattison:

It wasn’t as bad here. We all felt for you. Yeah. I’m in Sydney. So Sydney was like Armageddon, but you were like on a whole different level. So I guess it was always.

Dorothy Polka:

At least, at least we’re not Melbourne.

Robyn Pattison:

Yes. Yes. And in your first lockdown, you weren’t allowed any weddings at all?

Dorothy Polka:

No, not even the five person ones.

Robyn Pattison:

But we were allowed to continue with five people.

Dorothy Polka:

Were you allowed that through your big lockdown at the end of 2021?

Robyn Pattison:

Yeah. Whereas we then got the shut down and we weren’t allowed any at all. Yeah, we got it in the second one. Yeah. So in the first one. I had a lot of tiny, tiny little weddings, which I love. Yeah. I love a mini. I love the intimacy of five or 10 people. We did have a few people dressed in lycra, accidentally walking past in the park.

Dorothy Polka:

But that’s the fun of it.

Robyn Pattison:

I didn’t see you! Dunno what you listen to, you know? Yeah. Whatever. It wasn’t. It wasn’t the same for us. I had some absolutely magical moments in that period of time where we had places and spaces completely empty just for us, that we would never have been able to do otherwise or incredibly intimate moments with just photographer or videographer myself and the couple on the Wattamolla Cliffs, you know, looking out on the edge of the earth, knowing that they would never get this moment.

In any other circumstance, culture wouldn’t allow it. The family wouldn’t allow it, the expectation wouldn’t allow it, but they were given gifts in that respect, they were given opportunities to do things that they’d never have at any other time. There were people who were like, ‘We’re going to go now, now’, because they’d put off getting married for years because the family wanted this and family wanted that and they didn’t want any of it. And all of a sudden the ‘law says I can’t Mum. Don’t you want grandchildren?’

Dorothy Polka:

So it gave them the freedom, which sounds like it reinvigorated you and probably gave you something to keep you going because you had so much joy with these couples who are finally able to break free.

Robyn Pattison:

That’s absolutely right. So in that first lockdown, I had three weeks without a wedding. I had to explore what a weekend is.

Dorothy Polka:

And you have a family too. So how do you deal with weekends? Always being taken?

Robyn Pattison:

Well, they’ve always been taken, they’ve been taken for so long. We know.

Dorothy Polka:

So they’re used to it now.

Robyn Pattison:

They’re used to it. They’re always been used to it. My youngest son has autism. Okay. So for me, if I had a normal job where I went to work five days a week, I wouldn’t have been able to work at all.

Dorothy Polka:

Yeah.

Robyn Pattison:

Because I had to be home. And take him for therapies and things when he was little and like, I can’t just get a babysitter. Like it was all much more complicated. Yeah. So this allowed me to do the things I needed to do for the family. And then I’d go and do my, like, these people reckon you only work on the weekend, which is not true, but like I could work from home and then go out and do the stuff in the real world on the weekends when my husband was home. So he could take over.

Dorothy Polka:

Yeah. Do you find you have to put strict boundaries on yourself to balance work and family.

Robyn Pattison:

Oh, goodness gracious. Who’s got work life balance. Nobody, nobody,

Dorothy Polka:

Nobody. Cause I don’t think work life balance exists. So I always think it sways one way or sways the other, but never balanced.

RRobyn Pattison:

No, don’t ask me that question. You know the answer. No, one’s got it. Everyone’s searching for it, but I believe it’s the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow that no one.

Dorothy Polka:

Or maybe the thing that’s always told to us so that we always feel like we’re failing, because we can never achieve it.

Robyn Pattison:

But there is, there’s no balance. I know I work too hard, but you love it. I do love it. I’ve always loved it. Yeah. Always loved it. Eventually. I would like to have a weekend here and there. That would be nice. Now that I have seen during lockdown that other people do. I mean, it was a bit of a waste having lockdown on weekends, because I couldn’t catch up with my family or my friends or do all things that normal people do on the weekends. But eventually I would like to. I’d like to claw a few back here and there.

Dorothy Polka:

Yeah. Do you think as COVID settles down and the backlog settles down, you will just book some into your calendar and just say, look, I’m just not going to book that weekend.

Robyn Pattison:

I won’t do that because anyone in the industry knows that if you earmark certain weekends in advance to not work just for the sake of having a weekend off, unless there’s a reason for it, I guarantee you that’s the only weekend everybody wants and then you just have (lost) about thousands of dollars worth of work. And then the weekend before it there’s only one wedding. Yeah. Always, but I will book more holidays. Yeah. I will book more holidays.

Dorothy Polka:

That’s really a good idea.

Robyn Pattison:

So that I have to not be here because otherwise I’ll just go, oh yeah.

Dorothy Polka:

It’ll just be half a morning. Whatever.

Robyn Pattison:

Yeah. That’s exactly what I will do. So I will. More holidays. So I can say I’m really sorry. I’m going to be in Bali. I’m not sorry at all.

Dorothy Polka:

But it’s a forced break though. Isn’t it? I understand that it’s like weekends, you just find yourself creeping into the office. Whereas if you’re in Bali and you’ve left your laptop at home. Oh no, I can’t work.

Robyn Pattison:

I will never be able to leave my laptop at home.

Dorothy Polka:

Yeah. who am I kidding? I take it everywhere with me. Let’s be real. Let you know, but at least you can’t, you can’t perform a wedding.

Robyn Pattison:

No, I can’t perform a wedding. And, and when I do, when I’m on a holiday, which is such a rare thing, I take it, I check it in the morning. I answer my emails and tell them I’m on holiday and I’ll get back to them, but I never don’t respond, to anything. The absolutely most urgent things, but I could never leave it and just go ‘Bye! See you later! Gotta go.’ I really admire those people who can, I think that’s a really good talent to be able to set that boundary for yourself. I haven’t been able to do that, but I think you get awesome.

Dorothy Polka:

I have kept you for way too long, but I do want to ask you before we round it up, what is your favourite piece of advice for running a business authentically and with joy at its core. The hardest question till last?

Robyn Pattison:

Thank you.

Dorothy Polka:

Sorry.

Robyn Pattison:

As a sole trader, which I am, find your tribe, find your people and they will come to you. And I don’t just mean clients, but I mean, the people that, you know when I show up to reception and my favourite DJ’s there and he knows what I like. So he hands me my diet Coke, and he makes me happy and he plays my favourite music or, my photographer friends are there. And so they know what I need, and I know that they’re what they need and they’re going to make, they’re going to do whatever I need and I’m going to make sure they get fed and I’m gong to make sure they get out on time and all of those things. And when you are working as a team, it’s so much nicer because we don’t have weekends.

So you need those people that know your little jokes and what you like, and you know them, and you can sit down over that dinner or you can bump shoulders and go, ‘Hey, how are you doing?’ That’s going to help that photographer and your mate’s going to take you a few extra photos you can whack on your socials because they know that’s really important to you.

The DJ knows what you need. It’s just, I think it’s finding your people, be friendly. I’m not a networker. I’ve never been a networker. I don’t believe in networking. But I absolutely believe in relationships and they will change your whole experience.

Dorothy Polka:

Thank you. I think that’s a really nice piece of wisdom to end our chat on Robyn. Thank you so much for joining us. You are so welcome. It has been so actually lovely to talk to you after 13 years of working with you, it feels like the biggest treat.

Robyn Pattison:

Stop saying 13.

Dorothy Polka:

I know. Okay. Sorry. Next year it’ll be 14. So like the long time working with you where we’ve worked, you know, for so long together, and you’ve even married one of us.

Robyn Pattison:

I have, and I didn’t even know until later that’s what I was doing.

Dorothy Polka:

I know. I know. And the worst part was, oh, the best part was I even watched you. I was there.

Robyn Pattison:

Have a gorgeous day.

Dorothy Polka:

You too. I’ll talk to you soon.

Robyn Pattison:

Bye.

Dorothy Polka:

Thanks so much for listening. Enjoy today’s episode, you can find much more from it over on our website, polkadotwedding.com/podcast. And if you loved it that much, we’d love you to leave us a review. You can email us at any time at [email protected] We’re always up for a chat.