Student Success: Jean Charles Vaneck
After working as a freelance pianist for several years, Jean Charles Vaneck went back to school with NYIAD at the age of 30. Working diligently with our mentors, Jean Charles further developed his organizational skills and taste for sophisticated elegance. He is now one of the first male wedding planners based in Paris, successfully coordinating luxury destination weddings for countless happy couples. We were so happy to get back in touch with Jean Charles, and to ask him a little bit more about his time at NYIAD, and the success he’s achieved ever since.
When did you realize that wedding planning was the career you wanted to pursue?
I always knew that I would be very successful applying my organizational skills into a job. At first, I studied cinema and music in Paris, and worked as a freelance pianist around the world for several years, enveloping myself into art, culture & luxury. I had been looking for a new challenge in my life. The revelation occurred on April 2013 when France legalized gay weddings! Creating the most premium event & wedding agency that was specializing in same sex had always been a dream of mine. Any kind of tolerance makes human beautiful. With time, I understood that planning weddings for those in love was already a real privilege!
Did you always want to work on destination weddings?
I am a French citizen but my heart feels very much international. Focusing on destination weddings was an obvious choice. I discovered the beauty and diversity of the world through my travels, and got acquainted with so many different cultures and tradition. I always got welcomed with a lot of respect everywhere I visited. Once, I decided to return to my home country, I thought it was my turn to promote the best thing my country had to offer. Paris is one of the most visited countries in the world. There’s a magical feeling about Paris, and I am definitely under its spell! I feel so happy sharing the French art de vivre and I always welcome couples from abroad who choose the city of Paris for their destination wedding.
Why did you enroll in NYIAD?
Although I gained lots of knowledge through my experience in hospitality and events, I knew that having a degree would give me the extra confidence I needed. I was in New York visiting relatives, and took time to compare all the schools available. I was looking for the best online program that would give me the opportunity to work at my own pace. NYIAD Wedding Planning Course seemed like the perfect fit. The online advisors were extremely clear in the information they provided, and soon after I enrolled, I received my first book. I was ready to start learning as much as I could.
What was your coursework like?
Going back to school at the age of 30 was definitely one of the most challenging parts. It takes some motivation to sit down at home, and do your homework at the end of the day. I was really excited about learning new things and the courses were really complete & interesting. I gave myself a schedule, allowing some break time through the day. I must say the more I learned about the wedding industry, the more I wanted to discover. The manuals were really up to date, and the CD and DVD that accompanied each lesson gave an interactive aspect of the learning. I was calculating my score, and realizing my progress every week. Best part of the course was the online internship where I could really apply what I had learned and design the styling of an event. I remember dealing with some funny family situation where I had to try to please everyone. I also sourced pictures from the internet to try to explain how I would apply my artistic vision in a specific situation.
Was your mentor helpful during the process?
My mentor was absolutely adorable. She always replied to my emails within a few days, she suggested ideas, and was giving me real life examples. She was also showing support. The fact that she was also a wedding planner was a fantastic asset. I could really identify myself in the description she was giving.
What was the most important thing you learned while studying at NYIAD?
I learned that success doesn’t come easily, and that hard work always pays off. It is very important to surround yourself with positive energy, like-minded people, to think outside the box and to always focus on what you want in your life! It is never too late to realize your dreams! Life starts outside the comfort zone, so it is excellent to challenge yourself. I have never been any happier since I started this new adventure in my life.
After graduation, what was your next move?
Once I graduated, I was looking for hands on experience before delving into the wedding planning industry. I wanted to work with a renowned destination wedding planner, and so I sent a couple of resumes across the world. I received a few positive answers, so I could make a choice. I choose to work in Thailand at Luxury Event Phuket. At this time I didn’t know that this experience would become one of my most beautiful experiences human-wise. Not only was I totally thrown head first into the start of the agency’s busiest 3 months of the year, but I had to cope with arriving in a new country and culture. I had the chance to plan Chinese, Indian, Jewish, Muslim and same sex ceremony. I couldn’t have dreamed it any better! All the couples knew my project was to create my own agency and they were all very encouraging.
What did you learn throughout that post-grad professional process that you wish you could’ve learned at NYIAD?
I learned that planning a wedding in the real world was a different experience. No matter how well you have written down your time line, things never go as planned. The wedding planner takes the stress away from the couple and their family, and that can’t be learned from a booklet. The job really goes beyond choosing bouquet and tying ribbons on the chairs. The wedding planner really manages a team of artists. Team building is the aspect I prefer. The wedding day is a long day full of emotions. It is hard work, but we are receiving so much in return from the couple and the vendors. It is a very happy and humane job; it takes a strong and confident personality to assume it.
Tell us all about Sumptuous Events!Sumptuous Events is a luxury destination wedding planning firm based in Paris. It is unique in the way that I am one of the first male wedding planners in France. The vendors I worked with share the same vision of excellence! Our expertise in creating the right atmosphere is rooted in understanding many cultures and proper etiquette. Sumptuous Events celebrates love and happiness with fresh ideas and expertise. Delivering perfect results is part of our philosophy. We value practicality as much as aesthetics, with an intuitive approach to directing wedding & events. We are happy to say that your event was “Made in France,” and this will be reflected with timeless beauty, charm & French elegance!
What was the most memorable wedding/event you’ve ever planned- if you absolutely had to pick one!Although this is very hard to answer because I enjoyed every single wedding event I planned, the first gay wedding I witnessed will remain engraved in my memory. Tolerance is the ability to live and let others live and the ability to exercise an objective attitude towards those whose opinions, religion, nationality and so on differ from one's own. It is very important to me that the people I recommend or work with share the same vision of tolerance as I do. I am a very optimistic person, and I think the world mentality will change in the right way.
Describe a day in your life as a planner.I am definitely a morning person. My dad always said that the future belongs to those who wake up early. I usually answer my email first. If I don’t do it, it piles up and I don’t like to report things for tomorrow. If I’m planning several events at the same time, it is compulsory to be very well organized. I classify mails in folders, and follow up with everyone involved. It is also very important to be active on social networking platforms. My assistant and I publish something new every day, this way we also try to stay updated with the newest trends, even if I am always trying to suggest new ideas to my clients. I love to make business lunch with partners, or vendors. If one of the couple is in town for the week, I’m always very much available for them. We do the tasting, sample menus and even go shopping together! During the wedding seasons, the days are really busy, especially on coordination days. Winter is the time when I book our biggest events.
What’s the most rewarding part of your career?When I see the couple having the time of their life at a wedding I planned, I know I have done a good job! Every time I hear ‘Thank you, this is the most beautiful day of my life’, it fills my heart with joy. The most rewarding part of my career was to realize my dream and open my destination wedding planning agency. There are more and bigger companies who give me their trust every day; this makes me feel I am on the right path.
If you could give one piece of advice to our current students and all aspiring planners, what would it be?Everything happens for a reason, it is always good to watch what the universe is doing for us, and be aware of the signs. I would mostly say to the current students to believe in yourself, believe in your dream and follow your gut instincts. Never let anyone tell you that you can’t do something. Take your time, things that you desire the most always come if it comes from your heart! The world is beautiful and full of opportunities. Enjoy it & Have fun!