Posts tagged 2010 weddings
Who Really Needs a Planner- Margaret & Todd
As we approach their one year anniversary, I have their interview to post on the blog.  Margaret & Todd did the full planning package with All Events Planned and we enjoyed every minute of working with them.  Here is the feedback from the bride & groom (husband & wife) and, as you can see from the feedback, they are a wonderful, detailed and thorough couple, which is the greatest kind of couple to work with when you are a planner!

First a few photos courtesy of Julie Hahn of Sugar Bush Design

Here is what Margaret & Todd Boyland had to say- 

Q: What made you decide to hire a wedding planner?
A: We recognized that we were getting married and having our reception at two reputable places that independently would be able to service all of our needs.  Our wedding ceremony location was University Circle’s Cleveland Botanical Gardens, (CBG), and our reception was at Signature of Solon both employ event planning professionals.  While we had confidence in their abilities we were concerned about the “transfer” between the two venues.  
Our number one priority while planning the wedding was to ensure the day of went smoothly and was an enjoyable memory for all.  As soon as the wedding festivities began and guest started arriving in town, we wanted to be able to enjoy their presence and not worry about a single detail, make any more decisions, or handle any unexpected problems.  
Having All Events Planned apart of our team ensured our wedding weekend would be a success.

Q: What types of things attracted you to each planner that you interviewed?
A: Brandi is honest and sincere with every aspect of her actions and words.  It was apparent how genuinely invested she became into all the details of our day.  Brandi might have asked a simple question, but heard the history and background that lead to the complete answer.  
Brandi was easily distinguishable among the other planners we interviewed.
She did not charge the outrageous $10,000 retainer fee that truly exists in the Cleveland market.
It should also be clear, All Event’s Planned does NOT make a percentage of each vendor’s cost.
Her price was set before ever meeting with us and hearing about the ‘level’ of our wedding.  
Have you ever had a big party at your home?  During that time did you spend much quality time with your significant other?  Were you committed to see that the food was served on time and warm.  For that matter were you the one in the kitchen coordinating the timing of dishes – and not apart of the actual party – but rather worked the whole time.  

Q: What was something that made you NOT want to hire a particular planner and on the same note what was something you found that made you WANT to hire a certain planner?
A: Meeting with the wedding coordinators, we didn’t know what to expect.  We were not prepared with a list of questions or concerns.  Our objective was simple: We want to plan our own wedding, we know we would need professional guidance along the way.  After all the planning work was done, our ‘job’ was to enjoy the wedding weekend.
Starting my search for a planner nearly a year out – I found several were book for our July 24th date.
One wedding planner clearly had a full time 9-5 job.  Her availability was immediately questionable and I  did not pursue a formal meeting.
A highly regarded Cleveland wedding planner made clear that his $10,000 retainer needed to be paid after the initial meeting to continue any type of service.  

My experience with All Event Planned was different from our first contact.
Brandi is a Full Time Planner who is available days or evenings.
Brandi responded to immediate timely and were well thought out and well written responses.
Brandi had excellent follow up after our meeting
During our interview, Brandi laid out her abilities and asked about our expectation.  Brandi included every person in the conversation and did not focus too much attention on just one person.
The strongest tie breaker in the decision process was a personal – gut feeling.
Brandi and I possess many of the same character traits.
Brandi understood my expectations so clearly she was able to act as a ‘second me’ the day of the wedding.  

Q: What was the best thing your wedding planner did for you?  
A: Since Brandi was so involved with how decisions came to their resolution, she gave me confidence to stick to those decision when other vendors started to re-create new ideas.  The ideas and possibilities are ENDLESS – a florist will re-inspire and re-create a look that might influence the cake… all the while impacting the linens.  Collaborative efforts are a wonderful, but Brandi’s encouragement to continue to move forward once a big decision was made saved everyone from going back to the idea board.

Q: What was something your planner did that you would never have thought of doing?
A: Brandi allowed me to work a wedding with her as her assist.  This was incredible to see Brandi in action.  Every wedding is bound to have a ‘behind the scenes funny tale.’  This one involves handling unexpected wedding guest behavior.  During the dinner hour, the bar closed.  The bride and groom were paying for the wedding themselves and found this to be a cost saving measure.  One wedding guest was so appalled that she wasn’t able to drink a glass of wine during dinner, she decided to take the entire bottle of wine back to her table.  As expected this was displeasing to the bar tender who had explicated wishes of the bride and groom to follow.  Without a moments hesitation Brandi was able to quietly intervene and defuse the escalating situation.  Moments later Brandi was again challenged at the bar when a guest brought his own bottle of liquor and wanted to do shot- needing the help of the bar tender for shot glasses.  Again, Brandi’s professionalism and ease in these uncomfortable situations was reassuring how vested Brandi was in executing the bride and groom’s wishes. 
You can’t control the actions of others – and you never know what guests might do… Having someone else to professionally handle the unexpected gave me unbelievable confidence in Brandi’s abilities.

Q: Did you feel that your wedding planner was worth the cost?
The wedding industry as a whole capitalizes on “once in a lifetime memories” that often tip the pricing scale just a bit.  Brandi’s price is beyond ‘Fair’ when I consider all of her time.
Brandi was agreeable to meet at various locations for appointments with vendors.
She was the first to arrive to every appointment – and the last to leave.
Emails and phone calls were immediately responded – and were very thorough.
All Events Planned is a full service professional company with the values that only an owner/operator can possess.
It never crossed my mind that Brandi had other clients or personal obligations.  She was available and ready … Brandi often said “You are my client and I will arrange my schedule to meet your needs.”  She meant this with fullest sincerity.

Q: Was there anything you would have changed about your experience with your wedding planner?
A: I’ve only appreciated the services we received more and more with each wedding we attend as a “guest.”  Once you been through the planning, your eye will magnify all the tiny details.  When you see your friends and family struggle to make their day a success, it is sad.  The bride and groom should love every moment of their day.  When they have people to pay, problems to handle – anything but perfection and bliss is unfortunate.  This is reassuring that we selected a true professional wedding planner in Brandi Hamerstone to handle all concerns on our behalf.

Q: What was something you wish you would have known before hiring your planner OR what was something you wish you would have hired your wedding planner to do?
A: I might consider those with large families or bridal parties to include Brandi on the bridal shower or other pre-wedding festivities.  While Brandi could handle planning this event as a supplemental service, it allows Brandi to see the family dynamics and get to know important family members.  The inter-personal relationships among any family are important facts a good wedding planner will ask – and plan accordingly.

Q: Is there any situation where you could see why a bride would NOT want a wedding planner?
A: My parents were the ones who strongly encouraged having the help of a wedding planner.  At first I took this as a personal insult that I would fall short of pull off a great party.  Stepping back, I could see that I had one shot at making it great.  I needed to tap into all resources – just like any good business person.   Surround yourself with the best professionals and knowledge and you will succeed.  

Wonderful clients, with wonderful feedback.  Thank you both!
Here are some more spectacular photos from their incredible wedding! 

What I Learned in 2010
Well my wedding season is coming to a close.  I'm sad to say that while I had a busy "regular" wedding season, my off season didn't fill up like it did last year.  So, I end 2010 on October 22nd with a wonderful vintage carnival themed wedding with two amazing people.  I'm excited to start on new adventures during the "off season" and of course, to start the blogging back up.

I always wonder how much information is too much information to share with, well, everyone so I skip sharing info on my clients and try to share information to help you become a better planner or to help the bride, better understand her need for a planner.  This series will do both.

No matter how long you've been in the industry, there will always be things you can learn.  No wedding is the same, no client has the same expectations as another, so you never really "get the hang of it" while working.  You get the basics, but there are never ending changes. 

This year, I'll review what I learned from the new facilities I've worked with, the new clients I've had the wonderful honor of getting to know and any of the mistakes that might have occurred in the planning process.  Yes, I said mistakes, nothing to worry about but definitely found a few things I would have done differently for my benefit, not for the clients. 

First topic will be- "A Bad Vendor is a Bad Vendor"
Look for it soon...

Happy Planning!
The Slow Season
Well, where do I even start.  The season is slowing down and my time is freeing up.  What is happening at this point though, is that people who want to get married next year, want to meet now to plan.  So to consider this "slow season" is a bit of a misrepresentation of what is going on. 

Wedding Shows start at the beginning of October and run through February.  If you choose to market your company that way, the timing is fantastic.  I'm not a fan of wedding shows for Wedding Planners.  If you want a Wedding Planner you find one, but you don't just see the service and decide to invest $1000 in someone you never considered having work with you prior to a wedding show.  That's just my call, they may work for others but I'm not sold.  Of  course, anything to get your name out is a good idea, so if you have it in the budget for your marketing, then go for it.

Clients start coming in during wedding season and keep coming through March.  It seems a rush of people get engaged around Christmas/New Year's Eve so you can always expect that rush of emails/calls around your holiday time.  You don't get a break when you are a Wedding Planner, usually the most important dates to other people are just as important to you.  It is your call whether you'll take calls on Christmas Day to book clients though. (I'm joking, sort of)

Another fun thing during slow season is catching up on your books.  That means finally logging all the miles from each appointment, event, rehearsal, networking event and lunch.  It also means finally entering all of the receipts from this year.  If you don't have a professional accountant, get one, this is NOT the time to figure things out on your own as there are too many "myths" about owning your own business and what you are and are not actually able to write off. 

Then there is blogging.  I'll finally be able to catch up on all things wedding.  I've learned so many things this wedding season that I can't wait to share.  I've even changed my ideas on somethings that I thought I knew everything about!  That's saying a ton since I thought I knew everything about everything!

I can't wait to get started, hope you are excited to start following along again.

Happy Planning,
Everyone's a Wedding Planner....
So, you planned your own wedding, it was a success and now, well, of course, NOW you want to be a Wedding Planner.  Since you did plan your own wedding, you have plenty of experience in working in the wedding industry, so great, let's go! 

NO, no sorry to tell you, that isn't how it works.  I know that everyone who ever watched The Wedding Planner with Jennifer Lopez, has decided that just watching the movie, made them experienced enough to become a Wedding Planner, but I'm here to tell you it just isn't true.  I'll even go so far as to say that the people who spent that $500 to become "certified" as a planner, that doesn't always cut it either.

Before everyone gets worked up about the discussion (these days "New Planners" is a hot topic) let me review my thoughts.

So, you planned your own wedding...
The biggest issue here is that you were the BRIDE and you weren't involved in any part of the process that allowed you to see the major issues that a planner handles.  When working directly with the vendor it is a one time deal.  You do your meetings and find the person who you decided would work best for you.  That's not going to help everytime.  The vendor that worked best for you and with you, won't be the BEST vendor for  all of your clients.  The vendors you might not have liked, they might be the vendors that would work best with some of your clients.  So that part of your exeprience is thrown out the door.

Now onto the ceremony.  This might seem like a small part, but to a good planner, this is a BIG deal.  Handling the family, friends and bridal party through the ceremony is a scary process.  You want everyone to be on their best behavior, do the right thing but still have fun.  All the while you have this very limited timeline to get everything, exactly right.  All eyes are on the ceremony, if the music is off, the bridal party too slow or too fast or if the bride doesn't come out at just the right time, that's all on YOU.  When you were the bride, you were in that moment, YOU were the one walking down the aisle, ready to get married.  That left you out of a huge chunk of that stress/mess.  So there goes your ceremony experience.

Reception issues/drama/problems, those you were either not paying attention to, drinking during or so personally involved in, that you didn't get to process them the way someone who is "working" an event does.  How a Wedding Planner handles your drunk brother is going to be different than how you, as the Bride, handle your drunk brother.  Learning to focus on weddings from a business standpoint and to take yourself out of the equation is the biggest part of being successful in the industry.  Your job, as a planner, is NOT to have an opinion or any emotional attachement to the situation, it is to make sure the wedding goes off as smoothly as possibly and that the Bride knows NOTHING of ANY issue.  As a Bride, you knew about all of it and didn't have to work through it because, well, you were the Bride.

The key is, you weren't working with a Bride, you WERE the Bride.    That's the point, that's what is the difference.

NOW, with that being said, everyone starts somewhere.  Every Wedding Planner that is giving you a hard time because you are a "new" wedding planner, started out as a "NEW" Wedding Planner.  No one starts out with 10 years of experience, that's just the black and white of it.  The issue isn't the experience, it is coming in without "knowing" enough, not having not done enough.What should you know- (write this down)
-Know that the people that plan weddings, take this very seriously.  This is a real career and they have invested money, time and their life into doing and being the absolute best.  If that isn't your interest, then maybe rethink becoming a Wedding Planner.
-Know that the people that plan weddings, dedicate their social time, personal time and "work" time, to wedding planning.  This isn't something they do in their "free" time, this is typically ALL they do with their time.  Ready for that aspect of planning?
-Know that pricing for planners is based on experience and experience is what matters.  It isn't to say that you can't be a good "new" planner but you should understand that trying to undercut other planners on pricing, isn't doing anyone any favors.  You are basically keeping the price expectations for a Wedding Planner down so low, that when you are ready to raise your pricing, you have setup a market to expect "cheap" pricing and now your stuck doing Day of for $300. 
-Know that (most) other wedding planners WILL help you along the way.  I'm more than happy to give advice, have meetings and give feedback on your process through becoming a planner.  You just have to be honest.  I would absolutely appreciate an email that said "I want to become a planner, can you help?" More than I would anything else.
-Know that "fibbing" to make yourself look better or more experienced is not okay, ever.  You are who you are right now and accept your level of experience and work with it.  Don't try to compare yourself to more experienced planners because you can't. 
-Know that being "sneaky" or getting a bad reputation with other wedding planners won't work out for you in the long run.  No one Wedding Planner has control of the market in any region but if enough people dislike you or don't trust you, you aren't going to get any assistance along the way and eventually that will hurt your ability to grow.
-Know that you will eventually be contacted by another "new" planner that wants to start Wedding Planning.  Think about what you would like them to say/do/be when talking with you.  How would you like your "new" competition to handle themselves?  Set the bar HIGH, so that it stays HIGH for all of us.

There is my feedback on "new" planners.  I think the more good planner the better the industry becomes.  I must seriously emphasize the word GOOD in reference to planners. 

What do you think?  "New" planners, how tired are you of hearing the gripes from experienced planners?  What do you wish everyone that is learning about your "new" interest in planning would know? 

Happy Planning!