Posts tagged free wedding advice
You Don't Want to Hire Me?!?
This post is strictly for the Brides that read my blog, although it can really be applied to any situation where you have meetings with several vendors before deciding on the right one.

Here is the scenario-
We've met, had our initial consultation (which is free) and we reviewed my experience, my skills, my pricing and most importantly, the details of your wedding.  I enjoyed our time together and as I leave, you agree that you enjoyed our meeting and will get back to me as soon as possible to let me know about your decision.  
Then a few days go by so I email you to check in and see how things are coming along.  Nothing.
Then about a week or so goes by and I email/call you to check in and see how things are coming along.
Then a few weeks, and of course, the sales person in me, won't let me just give up so I email/call again and..well, ya, you know

Of course by this time, I should "take a hint" but at the same time, I'm going to want to follow up, just in case you got busy.  I also don't want my lack of follow up to be interpreted as a sign of laziness or bad follow through.  (I'm super critical of myself in business situations, so I worry about everything) 
What happened? 

Well, truthfully, I know what happened, but I would rather hear it from you.  I know that you met with another planner and that you two just "clicked" right off the bat.  I know that because I've been the planner who meets with someone and gets a contract on the spot, when we "click."  

The biggest favor I have, and I'm really begging all of you, is to let me know that.  Tell me what you liked and didn't like about our appointment and why you decided to go with someone else.  You won't hurt my feelings and nothing is better than some constructive critisism from someone who you DIDN'T "click" with.  
You don't have to do it over the phone if you aren't comfortable, just send me an email.  Just say something, even if you don't want to spend the time detailing it out.  Most of the time, when I walk out of our meeting, I know if you are going to book with me or not, so I won't be too surprised about not getting the deal.  However, I will be happy, after spending an hour or so with you, to get some feedback on our meeting.  If you are willing to sit down and share intimate details about your wedding plans, family and friends shouldn't you at least be willing to share some feedback with me on our meeting?  

That's my favor to all you brides out there and I am certain that any planner you meet with will agree that they would love to know why you chose someone else.  How else will we all get any better if we never know what we are doing wrong?  

Thanks in advance, I'm going to go ahead and email you now to follow up.  This time, email me back!  

Happy Planning!
What does a "Day Of" Do?
I will follow up on this subject matter throughout the course of the blog, but I thought these were some good perspectives from, all of vendors, photographers! 

Ask the Experts: What Does a Day of Coordinator Coordinate?

by Marta
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Ask the Experts is your chance to get wedding advice from a panel of wedding professionals. If you have a question for our panel write
Dear Ask the Experts,
I see a lot of articles suggesting that I get a Day of Coordinator. But, I’m a little confused about what exactly a Day of Coordinator does. What does she coordinate? I’d love to hear from some caterers/florists/photographers/musicians if they prefer it if a bride has a day of coordinator.
Possibly Uncoordianted
Mark at VideoMagic Productions says:
Strangely enough, one of the first questions I ask my prospects when meeting with them (even before they reserve our services) is who they hired as their coordinator. Too often the response is "nobody", and I highly encourage them to consider hiring a "Day of Coordinator". The reason for this is simple. You are planning the biggest event of your entire lives and (probably) not only with no experience, but without the ability to ensure things run smoothly. When you host a party at your house, I don't imagine you mingle around like a guest. Typically a host will make sure drinks are filled, food trays don't go empty, things are organized and much more. Thus, although your wedding is different than a house party, it is MUCH bigger in scale. You want the comfort and knowledge that someone is with you throughout the entire day to ensure things run smoothly, particularly if things deviate from the original plan…and believe me, most weddings encounter issues that need to be handled. Good luck in your planning!
Rebecca Enslein of the Studio B Photography:
First off, I think the name “Day of Coordinator” is a misnomer of sorts. For anyone to have an idea of what is going on the day of your wedding, they need to be involved in the plans before that day so everything can run smoothly. They typically spend about 10-20 hours before the wedding day getting all the necessary information together like getting in touch with the other vendors, visiting the venue, and speaking with you about your vision for the day. The day of coordinator is basically there to make sure that you don’t have to worry about a thing when your wedding day rolls around. There are so many behind the scene things that have to happen to prepare for a wedding like accepting delivery of the cake, setting up all the chairs for the ceremony, setting the tables for the reception, helping the florist with decorations, etc. that if you had to do them on your own, you’d never have the time to get ready!
As a photographer, I LOVE to work with brides who have coordinators. We both like to keep things running on schedule, and when the bride isn’t stressed about all the tiny details, she’s able to be much more relaxed and that makes for better pictures. If you are getting married somewhere that has a person that acts like a coordinator (for example, country clubs usually have very helpful and able staff in this department) you might not have to hire an outside person to handle things. However, if you are getting married in a park or another location that doesn’t traditionally do weddings, you’re better off hiring a coordinator to make sure everything goes according to plan.
About the Experts:
Mark Salloum is the owner of VideoMagic Productions based in Canton, MIchigan. He has traveled the country producing weddings for nearly 2 decades while earning countless awards for the quality and creativity of his cutting-edge wedding movies.
Rebecca is the owner of The Studio B Photography in the Atlanta, Georgia area. As a recent bride herself, Rebecca is able to better understand what her clients need and enjoys providing them with images that capture the joy of their wedding day.
Just Turn on the Lights!
I can say, in all honesty, nothing is worse (not even a screaming bride) than staff on-site that do not enjoy working with a wedding coordinator.  Since I came from a background of event planning and do know more aspects than that of just a coordinator (banquets, service staff, management, bartender) I understand their thought process from time to time, but when they make my job difficult, that's when I no longer understand where they are coming from.  
My experience has been that if you go in and help with things, as opposed to demand things, you will always have a better experience for yourself and for the bride.  I have the utmost respect for every single person that works at an event site because even without just one of them, things would go off as well as they should.  Now, with all that being said here is my conversation with an "angry bartender" last evening, that actually gave me a chuckle.
BACKGROUND- Site is beautiful and is decorated (of course) in a Christmas theme with red, golds, ivory and even a little silver.  There are twinkle lights in very strategic places so that the room is evenly and perfectly lit.  However, the bar lights don't seem to be working, so I approach the bartender.
ME- "Is there anyway we can get the lights on before guests start arriving?  I want everything to be ready to go so I can show the bride the room."
BAR- "What lights?" "Oh, these lights around the bar, ya, they don't work" (he walks away)
ME- (when he returns) "Hi, okay, well if those lights don't work, I have LOTS of extra lights I brought just in case, so I'd be happy to set those up in the garland around the bar, I'll even just leave them here so you can have working lights."
BAR- "Okay, no, I just said they don't work." (walks away again)
ME- (now following him) "Well, I have lights that DO work, so I can put them up, you don't have to help or anything, I'll just get them situated myself, just show me the plug."
BAR- (now back at the bar) "Listen, the lights don't work, there is no plug back here for the lights."
ME- (pointing to the lights attached to the extension cord) "Well, here is the extension cord, that should help, right?  If it isn't long enough, I've brought extra extension cords."
BAR- (visibly annoyed) "Okay, I already told you, they don't work, there isn't anywhere for me to plug them in back here."
ME- (smiling, BIG smile) "Well, why is there an extension cord connected to them, if they can't be plugged in, in the first place." 
BAR- (putting closed sign on bar and leaving the bar) "I don't know but I told you they don't work."
WOW, all that time, that whole conversation and he could have just plugged them in for me, but no, it goes on.  Of course, at this point, I'm certainly not allowing this attitude to be acceptable, I hadn't done anything to this man and my job is to make everything perfect for the bride, I can't have anyone get in the way of that.
I approach Banquet Manager to discuss.
ME- "Hi, I know we've talked and everything is great, I just need the bar lit up, everything is light strategically and without those lit, the room doesn't look right."
BANQUET- (rolling her eyes) "Oh yes, I can see it doesn't look right, just let the bartender know."
ME- (totally understanding her eye roll) "I know, I know, I'm being a pain but my job is to make everything exactly as the bride request, so I have to get these lit."
BANQUET- (feeling badly for eye roll) "No, you are fine, you certainly aren't as bad as most of the planners we get in here."  "I'll talk to the bartender for you."
ME- (thankful but still annoyed ALL this had to happen to get lights on a bar turned on) "Thank you SO much, you know I wouldn't be worth what they pay me, if I couldn't manage to get the bar twinkle lights turned on."
At this point the Banquet Manager and Bartender discuss the lighting situation and then the Banquet Manager leaves and comes back with the Utility Manager who goes behind the bar and, yes, plugs in the lights.
I am not posting this to focus on people sometimes having a poor attitude.  My job isn't to worry about anything like that, it is only to make things go well for the bride.  My point is to show, those of you who don't believe in coordinators, how some of the most mundane, ridiculous and absolutely simple task can turn into 20 minutes of work, for no reason other than people like to be difficult.  Which in turn, is why it is sometimes good to have a planner so that you don't have to deal with them, because once you add this in to the hundred other things I do, it is a long and exhausting day. 
How to be a Planner by Successful Wedding Planners
This post is for all of you up and coming Wedding Professionals.  I know that I get at least one email a day, asking me how to become a Wedding Planner and I'd like to have a post to direct everyone to, so here it is.  I sent out an email to some of the top Wedding Planners in the Northeast Ohio and while I was disappointed at the lack of response I received, I can say that the quality of the responses was quite good.  Quality over quantity, right?  See for yourselves. 

"I always share the following advice-
"If you want to be successful at owing an event planning business, I recommend starting out working for an event facility - Hotel, Country Clubs, Catering Companies, Party Centers can teach such valuable lessons on Food and Beverage, Event coordination, contracts, great vendors, and so much more.  Starting out at a facility allows one to build up a relationship with vendors and to learn from the bottom up many valuable tools!"

Valarie Kirkbride-Falvey from Kirkbrides 
"I got started by being an intern/training for free with a wedding planner in LA.  After I trained for about 6-8 months she started giving me weddings of my own.  I've learned that creativity comes naturally and helps immensely with the job (through not only design ideas but creative problem solving as well).  I also recommend to people still in college to take advantage of any business courses they can.  My marketing, economics, accounting and management classes help me the most with my job now.  I also think that my past sales experience helps me run my own business as well.  As a planner you always have to be selling yourself and networking, maintaining relationships with vendors and location managers."

"Kirkbrides will be offering an internship program soon.  We are ironing out the details now and I already have people waiting for me to send to them.  If people are interested they can check my site or e-mail for more information."

Amy Nixon from Amy Nixon Events

"My advice to aspiring planners/coordinators would be to participate in an internship where you are actually able to assist in the process. It’s how I got started myself, and I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to break into the wedding planning business. Over the past few years I have had the pleasure of working with several interns at my weddings and other events. They have been a range of ages (from 18 to 44), some pursuing event planning in college, others looking to make a major mid-life career change. They have been quite a diverse group of ladies, and yet at the end of their internships they all had the exact same thing to say…..the hands-on experience was absolutely invaluable. Some decided they loved wedding planning and have continued on the path, and some others decided it’s not what they really had in mind. While formal education and classes are always a great thing, all the classroom hours in the world can’t prepare you for coordinating a 400 guest wedding, wrangling an excited bridal party of 22 people, directing 12 vendors going in all different directions, and preparing for a 45 minute room-flip between ceremony and reception all at the same time. It’s always fast-paced and sometimes high-stress, and the best way to ease yourself into that atmosphere without being overwhelmed is by observing and assisting a seasoned wedding professional"

Here is what I tell my assistants/interns.  I also did an article on "Why you need a Planner" for a local paper/column.  (That article can be viewed here.)

  1. Take the time to be trained via an Association/Certification Program. Shadow a seasoned planner with an actual events.
  2. Learn the business inside and out ( how to charge your customer, how to handle vendors, programs, your money, advertising...etc). Read the books, magazines and research, research research.  
  3. Do not assume anything. ALWAYS get signed contract for your services and the vendors that the client chooses. 
  4. Obtain legal advice as well as a tax person.
  5. Spend time shadowing or observing  vendors (i.e. florist, bakers, photographer). See the perspective of an event from through their eyes. Understanding your vendors need/goals and over all expectations for a successful event. This is SO valuable to the success of a planner/event.  
  6. Always have an assistant. You can never be in 2 places at the same time. Make sure the assistant is capable and knowledgeable. This is a great opp for a up & coming planner. You are more professional when you are prepared and pro active. Visit the sites for the ceremony/reception why a head of time.
  7. Always be proActive not reActive.
  8. Control what you can. By keeping ahead of the tact( i.e. people will be late so plan for it).  
  9. Remember to always keep it classy and professional (i.e. your attire, attitude). Have fun but continue to do your job. Be accountable, reliable, dependable and integritity.
  10. Most important...remember this a relationship building profession. Keep in mind that this relationship can lead to other working relationships/events.
  11. Work as if the world is watching because one never knows.

    So, that was definitely quality in responses.  I will do a post to follow up on my tips & secrets on how to become a successful wedding planner next.  Although,
    I think these ladies just about covered it!

    If you have any other advice or would like more information, feel free to email me or give me a call,
    I'm always happy to help!  I
    wish all of you the best of luck in becoming an
    amazing & successful Wedding Planner.