Thursday, October 29, 2009

Guest Blogger for "Secrets Behind" series, featuring a Professional BRIDE!

You may have seen our blog featured on http://kadeeswedding.wordpress.com she featured our interview with Cakes by E. & If you missed it, you can catch up on that post HERE.

The story behind her blog, in her very own words, is as follows-
||Idea Behind the Blog||
Having grown up in Yakima, it has always been my {dream} to have my wedding there. However, living in Seattle and planning a wedding 2 ½ hours away, I discovered the options were somewhat harder to find. In May, I contacted Yakima Valley Bride and proposed the idea of creating a blog in conjunction with their magazine. I am heavily dependent on the internet and Yakima just doesn’t have the online communities that I’ve become accustomed to. Due to my habit of diving into projects and an appetite to challenge my c.r.e.a.t.i.v.i.t.y (this is my first blog!) this little idea was born. As a result, I invite area brides, near or far, to join me over the next year in discovering unique, stylish and fresh ideas for their Yakima wedding.

We were so impressed with her blog that we thought the best thing to do was have her featured as a guest "vendor" and get her inside thoughts on planning a wedding. Why not get some feedback from the most important person that we work with! What follows is the fun and very interesting interview with Kadee.
And now (drum roll please) another installment in the Secrets Behind series featuring- THE BRIDE

INTRO from Kadee: I don’t think “professional brides” really exist (after all, most only plan on walking down the aisle once), so some of my answers may not be what is best for other brides in other areas of the world. I’m simply giving my opinions based on the research I’ve done and how far I’ve gotten into my own wedding planning so far.

Q: What is the biggest misconception about planning a wedding/being a bride?
A: Well I guess my answer may seem obvious, but for me, the biggest misconception was how much there actually is to do. You don’t think about having to call your vendors and set up appointments, researching who would be the best for you and why, visiting multiple places (venue) and coming prepared with a list of questions. Plus, with the stress on you, it amplifies the feelings of everything you have to do and get done in order to make the wedding the one of your dreams. It is like “making a dream come true” so to speak, it’s putting ideas onto paper and into action. It’s way easier when it’s just all in your head. The logistics of everything are what makes it the hardest to plan because you want to take you + your groom into account PLUS all of your friends and family there.

Q: What are a few mistakes that brides may make when choosing their vendors?
A: Not asking enough questions; I’m a questioner, I think about details that (apparently) isn’t normal . . . I want to make sure they’re the perfect fit, so don’t just settle with the first vendor that talks a pretty talk. Make them prove they’re worth your money and let them know you’re not an easy sell. The more meticulous you are in your vendor interviews they more they are willing to live up to the hype they’re selling you and make them accountable. If you don’t expect much, they may not give as much. Word of mouth is the strongest PR tool that companies have – good or bad.  Plus, by asking all the questions, you are ensuring you get the best fit for the wedding you want.

Q: What are a few things brides should look at when selecting vendors?
A: See if they have any reviews. Sometimes they’ll include them in their informational packets and a lot of times you can find reviews online simply by Googling the company’s name. See what others had to say about their service and judge whether those opinions are valuable or not to you. Also, when meeting with them, make sure they “click” with your personality. There’s nothing worse than having a DJ who won’t take your guests requests even if you want him too or a photographer who will only take the pictures he wants. Make sure you trust that they’re willing to do what YOU want to do on the big day.
Also, ask your friends, friends of friends, your hairdresser, classmate . . . anyone who’s been around the wedding industry in your area for suggestions in order to generate some good leads. Someone who has no vested interest in the company you’re looking for will most often give you the most candid responses.

Q: With the economy down and many couples struggling, can you see any areas where the bride and groom can save and still have the wedding of their dreams?
A: If you don’t have a lot of guests traveling, a good way to go would be to have a wedding on a Friday or perhaps a Sunday. These are usually cheaper days when booking a venue which can be a huge chunk of your budget.
Another option, which I absolutely love, is going the DIY route. There are so many great tutorials, web sites and blogs that cater to the DIY bride; you just need to do a little research. I know it can be intimidating if you’re not the hands-on type, but try to solicit the help of some crafty friends or family members and chances are you’ll find someone who can lead you through it. A lot of these sites also have free templates for invitations, decorations or guest favors as well as numerous other inspirational ideas.
A few of my favorite DIY Blogs:
http://www.i-do-it-yourself.com/

http://mydiyweddingday.com/

http://www.marthastewartweddings.com

I’ve also done a series of http://kadeeswedding.wordpress.com/tag/budget-resources/ Budget Resource posts on my blog in which I suggest where/how brides can save money during the wedding planning process. To the right of my posts, you will also find a list of budget resources that include other budget savvy blogs, coupon links and websites that allow you to earn money back from your online purchases . . . no matter where you live ;).

Q: What is one area where you think a bride and groom should splurge?
A: I’m all about finding the best deal, but there is one area I don’t think you can skimp on and that’s the food. Really, that’s probably going to be the highlight of your guests’ night and it’s your gift to them, a way of thanking them for being there. While you may not eat a whole lot that evening, they sure will and it’s one thing they always seem to remember. If the food is bad, they’ll remember it so you’ll want to make sure and leave them happy not hungry.

Q: What is the worst wedding story you’ve heard from a bride or a groom?
A: I haven’t heard anything too bad or too over-the-top. I know one bride who had an outdoor wedding and it ended up raining before she walked down the aisle . . . turns out she was still glowing during the ceremony and it made for the quite the “memory maker” moment. I’ve seen some pretty bad wedding moments on TV where limos didn’t show up, a bride fainted during the ceremony, or a guest caught on fire . . . however, these are all small incidents compared to the fact that you get to the spend the rest of your life with the person at the other end of the aisle. Things can “go wrong” i.e. not the way you planned exactly, but as long as you get to marry your honey, everything will turn out fine in the long run. Your guests will understand that things happen you can’t account for, you have to remember, it’s JUST a wedding ;).

Q: What is something you wish all your vendors knew, or a certain thing you wish all of your vendors would do to make working them easier?
A: Not putting prices on your websites – even estimates – I found this thoroughly irritating when researching my vendors. I know prices can vary but if I’m in unfamiliar territory and trying to research who would be best for my wedding, I want to narrow down my choices (and a lot of times, money dictates your choices for you). Having to call the vendor and ask questions just to get an idea of pricing is a waste of my time and theirs.  It’s especially bad when they want you to sit down with them BEFORE they even give you an idea. Big turn off.  At that point, I feel like it’s more about them than the customer.
Have your information listed for online contact. For the web-obsessed and the email-addicted out there {like me}, it’s really helpful to find my information online and have an email address available for quicker correspondence for those of us too busy to sit down and have a conversation over the phone or in person. I know, sometimes you just assume everyone has a website nowadays, but they don’t . . . it just makes it that much easier on prospective clients.
Lead the conversation. While I encourage brides to be prepared with questions they don’t always know what to ask and don’t always have specifics in mind. Knowing your capabilities and what you’re best at helps them narrow down what they may want. (i.e. most people don’t know what fruits are in season) I’ve sat down with a few companies, where I was looking for them to tell me what they think or what they suggest and not a whole lot came out . . . I’m looking for you to be the expert so lead me in the direction you think is best and we’ll go from there. Lay it out on the table for the brides and grooms and then customize . . . they don’t know your industry inside and out but they’re hoping you do.

Q: Any other suggestions for brides and grooms out there?
A: I tend to over analyze and over-worry which leads to over-stressing. Not a good combination. One thing I forgot {and still tend to} while in the early stages of my planning was that you hire the professionals because they are professionals. You don’t need to worry about the entire play list at the reception, that’s what the DJ is for (he can assess the crowd while you’re having fun mingling), you don’t need to figure out how to keep the hot food hot, you’re caterer will take care of it, etc. etc. Let their instinct and experience do the work for you and know where they come into play during the wedding . . . keeping this in mind will free up your focus for the things you really do need to worry about.

Most important point to make, we may never hear another bride say “It’s JUST a wedding” but she DID say that!
I think that was a great viewpoint to get in this series. She even has a few tips that I had not thought of before. While I'm not the go-to planner for DIY (I enjoy more wedding management, as opposed to wedding cutting and pasting) I think it is a great concept for the creative bride!
Kadee even touched on something that I am constantly unsure of, posting your pricing. You hate to scare off a bride with our pricing but I do think giving them an idea upfront is better than giving them nothing. As a planner you always want to be able to tell the bride the difference between a $300 planner and a $900 planner (and even a $8,000 planner) before they make their decision.

Looking forward to feedback on this new installment! Remember if you'd like to be featured, just send me an email and let me know.

Our next interview will be Secrets behind- Wedding Dresses

12 comments:

  1. This was a nice read. It gives some great perspective about what brides go through when planning.

    The pricing on the website thing is not something vendors decide on lightly. It is just that most brides think they are comparing apples to apples and the only way they are going to learn what is really out there is if they meet with someone. I've met with clients before and had them say to me at the end. WOW, we thought you just played music.

    The pricing on the website also brings to mind the question of how brides determine a budget for each vendor. Do you just decide in your head that $2000 is my max for a photographer? Wouldn't it make more sense to meet with a few photographers to determine the level of service they provide compared to their price so that you might then want to decide what you want to spend in that category.

    The one thing I got a chuckle out of was her comment about not skimping on the food. I hear that a lot. The funny thing is I've been to many weddings as a guest and I don't think I could tell you what any of them had for dinner. All I can remember is if I had fun or not.

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  2. As a successful wedding planner here in NJ I disagree with Kadee's negative response to those wedding professionals who don't list prices on their website. My website does not list any set packages or pricing because I feel that each event is unique and deserving of its own service proposal and fees. My clients don't pay for services they don't want or need.

    As a potential client I want to meet you in person so we can get to know each other and discuss the value and services that I can bring to your event. I've had clients for various reasons not be able to meet in person so we've done a phone consultation. I don't know how anyone can make a decision based solely on price or think that a professional is being selfish by not posting prices or requesting a consultation. IMHO - usually you'll get what you pay for.

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  3. Kathi - I apologize if I seemed to have offended you by my response. I note that what is best for me is not necessarily true for all brides so I was talking about my frustrations as a bride planning a wedding in a city she is not living in. It is very hard for me to meet with vendors because I usually have to shove everything into one weekend b/c of travel time which can get very difficult when half the meetings are just to get an idea of prices. I understand phone consultations are a way to get information as well but working two jobs puts my evenings later than most and really I prefer meeting in person. I do not make any of my decisions for this wedding based solely on price, I meet with them and make a decision based on who is a best fit. All I meant is that I am working on a budget and need to narrow down my choices starting somewhere. I don't know the industry like other professionals do and am looking at this from a customer's standpoint who is not only on budget constraints but time constraints as well.

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  4. I also wanted to touch up on what djuwant said:

    Again, I'm on a budget, I don't say in my head this is the max I'm spending then stick to it but you have to have a guideline going into it or you'll go over budget and that is not something I can do, I can't take debt from the wedding into this marriage. The photogs I met with have said photography was the most important, the caterer I met with said the food was the most important, the DJ I met with said the music was the most important . . . a lot of people are new to wedding planning when going into their wedding and only have the experience as a guest. It's a flood of information. I am not an expert in the industry I am someone trying to figure it out. I simply won't choose a DJ who is $500 over one that is $800 just b/c they're cheaper but I know when I see when priced at $1500 I can't go there, even though they might be very good at what they do it is simply just not in my personal budget and I would then choose to meet with the $500 and $800 dollar one.

    The reason I say I have to remember it's JUST A WEDDING in my post is b/c although the day is very important it's only one day, its the marriage, being happy and not going in with debt on your shoulders is what's important.

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  5. Nice post - outdoor wedding pictures ..Keep Posting


    Ron
    outdoor wedding pictures

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  6. Pricing is a big issue with a lot of brides and I agree that in a perfect world it would be simple to put pricing on line. I am in the event planning and floral design business and depending on if you combine packages we can provide better pricing. All of the pricing options can't be protrayed accurately without some conversation with the bride to determine what her needs are. I usually ask a bride how much money she had budgeted for each aspect of her wedding, and try to stay in those parameters and If I can't, i will tell her so. if she needs help with a budget, there are websites that can help or I can send info on how to determine and allocate your dollars for your wedding. As for the area not to skimp, my suggestion to the bride is that if you don't get flowers or have to have snacks instead of a full meal, get a great photographer. In my experience, people won't remember what the food tasted like, what the flowers smelled or looked like or if the wedding came of without a hitch, but all of this can be captured on film or video, then you have memories for life.

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  7. Brandi,

    Thank you for sharing this interview.

    Kadee,

    Thank you for sharing your personal experience and perspective. Although I have been a Wedding Entertainer (MC/DJ) in the industry for over 12 years, I don't get to hear about or read a whole lot of stories or insight like this often enough. So again, thanks for taking the time to share your views.

    To give you insight to the reason I personally don't list my prices on my site simply is because I am in the $1500+ range, and for a bride/groom to see that, and think "$1500 for music?", that's simply not fair to me, or THEM!

    Once they meet with me, their once "we need music" plan, is now flipped. They soon understand they need/want a professional Master of Ceremonies to plan their reception with them, orchestrate and facilitate the day when it finally comes.

    They also understand that they can have so much more than the cookie-cutter styled wedding that their friends have all had in the past, when I share with them many fun and unique ways to create guest involvement throughout the evening, starting with the grand entrance, and keeping it engaging all night long, to the last dance.....and without being cheesy! This is important, because when the guests are involved, they will have fun, and will stay longer. But if it's the same ol' same ol' routine, there's a bigger chance they'll eat dinner, eat cake, and leave early.

    Also, once meeting with a few DJs, they will realize that we are not all the same. Not only with the ideas we have, but also their own personal appearance, and demeanor. You can learn a lot from a face-to-face conversation with a DJ (heck, with ANYBODY). Remember that your DJ will serve in the MC role and will be the one up there speaking on your behalf with a "loaded" microphone.

    Who do you want representing both sides of the family - "DJ ThinksHesFunny" who turns your wedding into a circus making the day about himself, or "DJ Consummate Professional" who is poised on the microphone, well spoken and has a charisma about himself that pulls the guests in, gets them involved in some way, ENHANCING your celebration?

    This is exactly why going on price alone is a bad choice. If you call 3 or 4 DJs and most of them are in the $400 range, and then the 5th DJ you call says $1500 (or whatever, much higher number), wouldn't you be curious to know what makes him able to command such a contrasting higher fee? I mean, if you think about it, if he is charging that, and doing it full time and busy all throughout wedding season, then he is in demand. There's a reason some DJs charge very little, and some charge a professional fee.

    Bottom line....months or even years later, your guests will not remember the food, your dress, the decor, etc....but they WILL remember if they had a great time or not. If they were bored to tears because the entertainment was sub par, they will remember that! And that's not the type of memory you want your guests remembering.

    For the record, I'm not arguing this subject. I just wanted to throw a different spin to this discussion. And yes, I know I'm very biased, being in the Entertainment/DJ field, but it's an honest bias from a very sincere and passionate guy. Thanks for reading.

    Speaking of reading, check out my friend/author PETER MERRY and his book "The Best Wedding Reception...Ever!" available on Amazon.com! A MUST HAVE for a FUN celebration!

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  8. I don't understand why wedding professionals refuse to listen when brides speak.

    Putting some idea of your pricing online is critical. As you can read in this post, brides find it rude and a waste of time when you don't.
    All they want is:
    A)some idea of what they should budget for your category of goods or services.
    B)a ballpark figure of your charges to see if they can afford you

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  9. I enjoyed reading comments from both sides. I believe there are a few very important vendors that brides need to keep their focus on; DJs, Caterers, Photographers. We are the make or break of your wedding day. I know you want to buy all kinds of additional- favors, cake knives, centerpieces, on and on. I've seen it where a favor costed the bride an additional $3 per person....please - half the guest didn't even take them home. Spend your budget where it's going to count! As these vendors, I believe it's up to us to educate the bride and family on what percent of the whole package is to be spent on each of us. Best of the Holiday Season to you all. Doris from Quintessence Catering,Tampa, Fl

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  10. Very informative, thank you. I was just involved in a discussion about "price shopping" with some other vendors on LinkedIn and pointed them to this blog as it proved my point: vendors need to be flexible and work at the brides pace.

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  11. I found this article informative and dead-on about the "personalized" touch that most couples are looking for. As to the question of pricing, this is always a delicate and a professional/personal decision. As a Justice of the Peace and wedding coordinator, I have straddled the middle of the road by listing a simple choice of 3 Ceremony packages, which range from 150.00 - 350.00. At the bottom of the brochure is a "Please Note" and I go on to state that additional packages and services are available to meet the couple’s specific and unique needs. As I am preparing the final touches on my website, I will continue to follow this same logic... enough baseline pricing information so there are no big surprises. Though, I will say that my couples have stated that it was the rapport that we established over the phone and in person that influenced their final decision to select me as their officiant.

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  12. Great insight into the mind of a bride. Thanks for sharing!
    Florida Beach Wedding Photography

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