Q & A with The Vow Whisperer

Tanya Pushkine is a woman of many talents, ranging from careers working for some of the biggest brands in the world to her philanthropic role in companies. You may know her best from her most recent endeavor: The Vow Whisperer. Tanya began this business on her own, as a way to help clients wade through the wedding ceremony process. To better understand The Vow Whisperer, I had the chance to sit down and have a conversation with Tanya, and she was able to tell me all about the company’s beginnings and why it is meaningful to her.

As we start off, what are the moments that led you to picking this career?

Almost five years ago, when I got remarried, I was in the corporate world doing Public Relations and Corporate Philanthropy for fashion and beauty brands. My husband and I got married, my daughter officiated, and though we wrote our own vows, we had no idea what we were doing. I didn’t know anything about the wedding world. Our wedding was covered by the New York Times, and the journalist was at the wedding. She came up to me afterward and said, “Tanya, I’ve covered hundreds and hundreds of weddings for the Times. I’ve never seen such a beautiful ceremony.”

She emailed me the following week, to fact-check her article, and while reviewing the material she had written saying, “Look, there’s a calling for you here, I think you would do so well in the wedding industry,” and so it was. I had lunch with one of the wedding guests a few weeks later and I said, “What about if I were to help couples with their vows?” and he screamed, “Oh my God, you’re the vow whisperer!” So, I went home and got the URL, and a few months later, created The Vow Whisperer.

I don’t recommend this to anybody, but I did not have a business plan or a strategy. I only had a crazy idea. Before starting my path in the corporate world, I studied acting at Juilliard and had a great 10-year run. In many ways, doing this work now is coming full circle to my acting career. Now when I officiate, it’s like a performance. When I’m helping couples with the delivery of their vows, I’m coaching them with acting skills. It’s the perfect storm.

That’s an interesting trajectory you’ve had then. So you’ve done the acting aspect of it, and then you’ve shifted, what was the transition like into this field?

It feels like everything is connected in some way, but with a different bend to it. The transition was easy. What was very difficult was actually starting my own business in a foreign world. The transition felt so easy that it was not a difficult one at all. What was different, the most difficult part of it all, was getting a steady paycheck, versus not at all. I’ve transitioned into different careers my whole life, but this was a first.

That makes sense, building a brand can be quite challenging. What have been the most memorable parts of your career now that you’re in it?

It’s not that I set out to do this, but it’s what happens when my clients tell me how much of an impact I’ve made on their lives. That is why I do this. I don’t set out to say, “I’m going to change your life,” or “I’m going to be this huge influence.” There’s something that happens in the work that I do with people that really touches people’s hearts and when they tell me that, it is an extraordinary feeling.

That’s a wonderful feeling I bet. What are some of the things you get to do day-to-day that keep you excited about your career?

I love practicing with couples on their vows. When we do that, or when I’m coaching a family member or a friend to officiate and we practice: That I love doing. I also love officiating because it’s performing. It is 20 or 30 minutes where I’m literally holding the audience, and it’s feeling the energy of these people, just like when I was back up on stage. You feel the energy of the audience, the couple, and you play off of that.

I can only imagine! Speaking of officiating, have you had to learn other languages or traditions for your officiating?

Once in a while, I’ll read a poem or say a reading in another language while I’m officiating because my favorite couples are the ones that have a very cultural ancestry. I love finding little nuggets of traditions or rituals in their past, and I love bringing those into the ceremony. Sometimes, if one of them is a Spanish speaker, maybe I’ll recite a poem by a Spanish poet. I would love to do more of that. I work on ceremonies with a lot of people who come from all over the place, so I will try to bring in traditions, it’s just very cool and fun to do.

You have clearly done so much in your life, but what legacy do you hope to leave behind for The Vow Whisperer?

I think in my previous life of running Corporate Philanthropy, which I did for many years in conjunction with public relations, that was always about giving back and that became part of my own DNA. I sit on an advisory council now of a non-profit. I have always wanted to make a difference and although I did not set out to make a difference here, I am making an impact on people’s lives, even if it’s only for 30 minutes as part of their wedding. The legacy really is that I’ve touched people’s hearts. I’ve done something to change a moment in their lives. So, whether it’s philanthropically or just on a day-to-day basis with a one-on-one relationship with someone, to leave an impact is really so important to me.

After discussing the founding of The Vow Whisperer and its importance to her, it was clear that Tanya has had plenty of moments in her life that led her to this career. In this second part of the conversation, Tanya and I spoke about the other incredible aspects of her life. In this portion of the interview, Tanya gave me some candid insights into her careers, memorable experiences, her future goals, and everything in between!

I know we have touched on some of your career paths so far, but what are some important parts of the different careers that you have picked in your life? Which have been the most enjoyable?

Well, there were a couple things that I experienced when I was at Clarins, a French cosmetic brand. The brand owns lots of different other brands and one of them was a fashion brand with a fragrance division, and the most famous of their fragrance was created 40 years ago, and it is still number three on the global fragrance list.

For that particular brand, I was able to work with different spokespeople for that fragrance, and I worked with Beyoncé for about a year and a half very, very closely on her Sasha Fierce tour in conjunction with the Costume Institute at the Met Museum…that was just one of the most extraordinary experiences.

Following that project, I worked with Lady Gaga, trying to develop her own fragrance and worked with her and various perfumers and marketing people. We were testing so many different formulas and I was working very closely with her, just the two of us. That was really amazing. And my time with Naomi Watts and Eva Mendez was very cool.

So I’ve had incredible experiences and I have to credit bosses who allowed me to do some really crazy ideas and who put the trust in me. They allowed me to develop some of these projects, that on the onset looked like things that were not feasible or manageable or scalable, and yet I was able to do them, and they worked not only beautifully, but also with huge success. I’ve really had different moments and different careers that have been really, really special.

It’s so cool hearing that about Beyonce and Lady Gaga, did working with them create a further interest in their music?

Oh, yes, absolutely. Yes, yes, yes. And with Beyonce, I went on tour with her, you know, everywhere. I learned every lyric to every song, I mean, and I had no clue before.

Same with Gaga, I had absolutely no clue. And you know, everybody was like, so starstruck like, “Oh my God, Tanya,” and I got to know them, and I didn’t know anything about them before, so it was really a great learning experience.

There is something else that has had enormous impact on my life and will forever…I was head of Corporate Philanthropy at Clarins which enabled me to forge some of the most powerful corporate giving programs.  Working with FEED and the UN World Food Programme, I was able to experience poverty unlike anything I had ever seen (and trust me, I have been to many third world countries). I witnessed starvation, lack of any school clothing, cardboard shacks and very corrupt systems.

Those are such eye-opening experiences! Is there anything that stands out as experiences you’ve had with any of those people or groups?

There are a lot of moments I can think of. With Beyonce, it was the moment I was able to broker a deal with her with this fragrance and the Sasha Fierce tour.

All this intertwining of things, and I broke a deal with her at three o’clock in the morning in her massive Escalade car parked outside a studio. In very dark Brooklyn, where she was filming this music video, I had waited for her for nine hours. And finally, she was able to see me at three o’clock in the morning, and we brokered this deal in the back of her car (with her mom, of course)….all verbally.

What an amazing experience to look back on. Aside from celebrities, has there been any interesting place that you have gotten to travel to?

As an officiant, I officiated a Hindu wedding on top of a mountain in Telluride and that was epic. That was surreal. The mountains were behind me. The views and then this very ceremonial fire the Indians have, and they’re walking around it as I was speaking some Sanskrit and it was an extraordinary experience.

I think that has been my favorite in terms of business trips. I do have a very soft spot in my heart for a little tiny, tiny village in the south of France. That’s what I, if anyone ever said to me, “let’s get up and go somewhere right now,” this is the place I would go to and it’s what I call home more than any other place. So, I tend to gravitate going back there more often than exploring new places, and despite having a huge bucket list.

Those both sound like beautiful experiences. We’ve talked a bit about your different chapters in life, how have your experiences helped you with where you are now?

Having your own brand is really challenging. I don’t think I would have done this 20 years ago. I think now in my life, okay, I have this little business. It’s not a very profitable one. I do okay, but I’m not sure I like being my own boss. I did really love being a boss in my prior career. Being able to make an impact on these people’s lives in a way of whether it was how I supported them, how I gutted them, how I mentored them, all of that and feeling as if I was always just as a supportive boss and having had bosses myself who were not always nice people. I learned a lot from that. I learned how to be a nice, but firm boss.

I fell into this, and I think nowadays I think that being an employee in a company is a very volatile scenario, because there isn’t that loyalty really to an employee. I think everyone needs to somehow be their own boss in their careers because you can’t rely on any employer being loyal or kind to you. It’s a consistent learning process!

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Crafting Heartfelt Words Into Unforgettable Memories
Serving in Destinations Around the World

Crafting Heartfelt Words
Into Unforgettable Memories
Serving in Destinations Around the World