Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Things Always Go Wrong.

I can't claim to have just learned this in 2010 but I definitely found out that no matter how long you have to plan and no matter how many planning meetings you manage, something will always go wrong.  Once you accept that, it will make your life easier.  Brides, you'll be able to relax knowing that something that will go wrong, will be covered by your planner.  Planners, you'll stay on your toes, knowing that when something inevitably goes wrong, you'll be ready for it.  

Well, what could go wrong, you ask?  Anything.  There is a never ending list of things that can go wrong.  Different venues represent different complications.  Different vendors mean different personalities to work with, which means LOTS of different things.  Different Brides will always mean new styles of planning, different levels of planning and different needs from your planning process.  While all of that information doesn't help you to KNOW what will go wrong, it at least lets you know that there are SO many areas you have to cover when working on a wedding, so you have to be detailed to be safe.  

For new wedding planners, this is where you lack based only on not having the experience with all of the different people, places and things but it still doesn't mean you can't do a good job, you just have to be even more detailed and more prepared.  

For experienced wedding planners it means that you always have to be prepared and there is no such thing as being totally certain of how to run any wedding.  You'll always have issues, but the more experience you have the easier things are to handle, the more likely you are to expect things and the calmer you'll be, when things do come up.

During this year, things came up that I can say I just found to come from out of left field.  After almost 10 years in the event industry, you'd think that I'd expect anything but that's just not possible.  You'll never be able to expect everything.  You can be prepared for anything but being "ready" for everything is unrealistic.  If you are hiring a planner that is claiming to know it all/done it all and they are insisting your event will be PERFECT, you might want to reconsider this person as they clearly have never worked a wedding.  

However, as a planner my job is to make it "seem" like the event went perfect.  The greatest comment that client's leave (and you'll find this type of comment on any good planners feedback page) is saying that "if anything did go wrong, they didn't know."  You never want them to know, you never want to stop any part of their day to seek them out for help, assistance or questions.  A good planner has to know that and be prepared to handle anything.  That's why you always want to have plenty of planning meetings as well as lots of documentation that review all of your details, timeline, setup and expectations.  

Okay, so you've been waiting for examples and I'll give you a few.

My classic example from one of my earlier weddings was hands down the best example I have when I'm asked about fixing a difficult situation.

A May wedding was being planned and due to the amount of rain, I asked the tent vendors to setup the tent a week early so we were sure that the reception ground had time to dry.  They setup the tent and we had a long week of time that the reception area should have been drying.  Well, when we went to setup the wedding, the staff was setting up tables and hurrying along to get the chairs up, linens on and settings out before the florist arrived.  Halfway through setup, we realized half the tables were "crooked" and I asked the staff to go back and setup again.  Well, come to find out that the week of drying, hadn't really dried anything out.  The ground was soaked, wet and mushy and the tables were sinking into the ground.  There was NO indoor space available so we had to work with the outdoor swamp space.  We ended up having spare wood planks for the  fire-pit that we had at an even the night before.  We broke them up and used them under each leg, of each table to stop the sinking.  The tables stayed up, but halfway through the event, everyone was covered in mud. Thankfully, it was a great group and most of them ended up barefoot and dancing through the night.  The bride had no idea the tables were sinking, that they had sunk into the ground at one point and she just enjoyed her time. 

There was really no way to be ready for that and had the wood not been in the truck, I'm not exactly sure what we would have done but now I know.  If this were to happen again, we'd know what to do.  Hopefully, it doesn't happen again.  Hopefully and now I know that a week isn't long enough to dry out a field.  Lesson learned.  

Other, shorter examples.
Problem- DJ not showing up (this situation proved that you should always take your planners recommendations, NOT use someone that you "found" that is "cheap)
Solution- Call vendors in the are and find a DJ available that evening, offer to pay them LOTS of money and have them show up, on time and ready to play the music that is on the music list that the planner SHOULD have on hand.  

Problem- Bride realizes the garter she had is lost and now she has nothing for the garter removal ceremony.
Solution- This is an easy one as you should always have a backup for everything in your "wedding emergency kit."

Problem- Limo service leaves hotel with all of your wedding guests, except Great Grandma and Grandpa.  

So, those are just a few, but the list is endless.  There is usually something that happens at each wedding that makes you, the planner, realize how lucky the bride was to have you there.  Sometimes, they never know, but that's the point.  

Happy Planning!  

Monday, November 8, 2010

A Bad Vendor is a Bad Vendor

There really is no way around this concept.  If you are a bad vendor, you can't be anything else.  Now I'll clarify as to what I consider a "bad" vendor so that we aren't having too many ideas floating around but the main thing is, you can make excuses but bad is bad.

My biggest issue would be clients that book, then make excuses for these bad vendors.  You (client) need to understand that if there are issues with the quality of service in the beginning, there will be issues the entire time.  If you think it stressed you out while you were planning your wedding, wait til your wedding day when you are already stressed out enough.  I want people to expect more from their vendors.  This is a big day, a big deal and you are typically paying a decent amount of money, so expectations are expected. 

Things I've heard from Brides that absolutely make me want to cringe-

"I've booked a photographer, and they have great photos, they are just SO busy they don't have time to return calls"

"I've booked a cheap limo service, it really is a great deal.  They haven't sent a contract, even though I've asked for one a few times, but I can't pass up a good deal."

"I found this great catering company but they insist that they never have been asked to do a tasting before, so we aren't going to have one before our wedding day."

"I saw this band play at a local bar and their music is awesome but they claim they don't do contracts, they will just show up as requested, I'd feel better with a contract, but they said they never do them."

"You should meet this amazing makeup artist I found.  She's kind of short with me sometimes but she's so busy (because she's so good) that I totally understand she's just stressed."

"We did an engagement shoot with this photographer and she really didn't listen to us, or do the photos we wanted, but I'm hoping she will be better on our wedding day, she's been in the business so long, I know she'll do a great job."

Really people?  I have actually had these things said, out loud by grown adults that would probably never allow this type of bad service from any other type of vendor but for some reason on wedding days, people just get uncomfortable with confrontation.  Maybe it is because you already have SO much going on and you are just happy to have decisions made, but let me tell you, it will be something you'll regret in the long run. 

This is the most basic statement I can make
If service is bad at the start, it WILL NOT get better once you give someone a deposit, it WILL NOT get better as you get more nervous about your wedding day.  Deal with it now, while you can.

Am I saying to have insane expectations of your vendors.  Absolutely not.  There are time when a vendor is going to take a day longer to return your call than you wanted, or they might forget a small detail when they send you your contract.  These things are NOT what I'm referring to.  I'm referring to the quality of service you get, the care that they show, the respect that they give you.  I would rather work with a new, inexperienced, young vendor that is desperate to do a good job, than an expensive, high-end vendor who things that their reputation is what sells them so they don't bother with anything else. 

It isn't always bad but if I can tell you, a few of those brides that didn't take my advice to deal with their issues, had worse problems in the long run, that I then, fixed at the last minute all the while trying not to let them stress out about last minute difficulties.  Of course, that's my job, so if you have a planner, you should be safe but at the same time, if you have a planner and choose not to take their advice you are probably better off just not having a planner.

The limo company, that didn't send a contract....
Never showed up.

The rude makeup artist.......
Did the wrong colors/makeup application for the client.

The experienced photographer......
Missed all of the shots the couple had specifically asked for.

Not all of these incidents were with my clients.  Some were with friends who told me about their wedding issues after their wedding.  (Being a friend does not automatically make you a wedding client but being a wedding client does tend to make you a friend)

Not all of these issues ended poorly.  The catering company who "didn't do tastings" had wonderful food on her wedding day.  Although, the fact that they wouldn't do tastings just made her whole wedding planning process more stressful than it would have been had she just gone with a company that made her feel comfortable.

I'm not suggesting you become a Bridezilla.  That will work backwards in the sense that you will end up not being able to work with GOOD vendors because they won't want to deal with YOU being rude and awful to them.  (Side Note: No, I haven't ever worked with a Bridezilla, and I hate the term)

So, think now....are you making excuses for your bad vendor?  Are they causing you more stress than you would like from someone you are paying?  If so, reconsider.  Sometimes it is even better to lose your deposit with them, then it is to be worried that they won't do a good job.  Don't know how to manage that, email me, call me and I'll be happy to help you handle the situation.  I get emails on a weekly basis from people who aren't sure what to do about their bad vendor.  Sometimes the vendor isn't bad, the communication between the two of them is just mixed up and other times, I hope to think that I helped save them from a mini-crises on their wedding day by stopping a bad vendor before they made a mistake.

Good luck and Happy Planning!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

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!

Monday, October 4, 2010

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,

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Pay Attention When Hiring your Planner...

While I think that every bride needs a planner, I KNOW that not every planner is right for every bride.  Just as much as you wouldn't hire a photographer that you don't like, or a bakery without tasting their work, you shouldn't hire a planner without getting to know them.  I don't many people that hire a planner on their first email, but just in case you are wondering how the process should go, here are a few tips from a wedding planner on hiring your planner.  Good planners know better than to tell you what you want to hear, during the interview process but planners who just see you as "money" will tell you whatever they think you want them to say.  So this will help in paying attention to little things.

How do they communicate?
If you are strictly an email girl and the wedding planner you are talking to, really only communicates on the phone, that's going to be an issue along the way.  If don't enjoy technology and your planner insist on emails, the planning process is going to be difficult.  If they can't even meet you on your terms to schedule a meeting, then you may want to reconsider.

How timely are they?
This is pretty easy, but sometimes overlooked.  If your planner is late in returning calls, emails or meetings then you will need to be prepared for that during the planning process.  If you are more of a laid back bride and a few minutes here and there don't bother you, then go for it, but if you schedule by the minute, this type of planner will not "fit" into your plans.

Where do they want to meet?
This isn't always easy for a planner.  When you are busy, it is sometimes hard to travel an hour to meet with a potential client, given they haven't booked you yet.  However, trying to meet you in the middle or giving you options is a better idea than if they insist on meeting you where they are located.  I'll always meet with a potential client at her wedding site, since that really allows you to see more of their vision, which in turn will give you a really good idea of how your styles will work together. 

When do they want to meet?
If you hire a planner that can only meet in the evenings or in the weekends, it usually means she has another job during the day.  While this isn't usually an issue for planners, it does mean that she won't be available 24-7 for you.  If you aren't in the search for a 24-7 planner, than this won't be an issue for you, but if you want someone dedicated solely to the planning of weddings, then you'll have to look elsewhere. 

What did they wear?
Yup, even this will say something about your planner.  While, I'm not implying that planners should be in gowns for all appointments, it isn't a good sign if your planner shows up in sweats or anything dirty/wrinkled.  Beyond the obviously, your planners style will be expressed in how she dresses, so you should get a good idea of whether you'll have the same style in planning.  If you aren't a cardigan and pearls kind of girl, then the planner who shows up in them, might not be the right fit for you. 

What did they bring?
Do they have wedding magazines to give to you?  Examples of their work to review with you?  An example of a contract to show?  A notebook to take notes?  Showing up with nothing, is a bad sign that your planner isn't prepared.  Showing up with poorly done materials or old/out of date items, is another bad sign.

Who do they recommend?
I have a HUGE issue with this one.  If your planner immediately says to you "Oh, I have GREAT vendors that I love working with" when you tell her you need recommendations, then you should head out of that meeting.  No planner should be able to recommend vendors to you until they get to know more about your style, budget, timeline, date and any other detail that would matter when hiring a vendor.  It shouldn't matter who SHE likes to work with, it should matter who YOU would work well with.  Of course you will want recommendations from your planner, and we all have them, but they shouldn't be able to give them to you until they know you and know more about your wedding. 

How do they leave?
Did they tell you they would follow up?  Did they insist you book on the spot?  Did they give you documents to review at home?  How they go is just as important as when they show up.  Pay attention to these small details and you'll make a better choice on hiring a planner.

These details are small, but will give you a really good idea on how your planner is and how you'd like working with her/him.  These details are small enough that they can't be "faked" typically.  Anyone can "say" they've been in business for years and done hundreds of weddings but few can convey that level of experience in their meeting ability. 

When all else fails, you can just email me and I'll let you know what I think about the planner you are about to hire. 

Hope you all have a wonderful summer, post will be limited during wedding season but I thought now was a good time to give some information on hiring since I've seen lots of articles that, I wasn't sure, covered, all the details.  Really, this one doesn't either, I could get more into the meeting and how it is run, but that's for another post!

Planners, if you aren't sure how you run your meetings or how you come across, ask a few friends to "pretend" to be brides and then give you feedback.  You might be surprised at how good/bad people think you are in a wedding meeting.  And, even if you think you are amazing during your potential client meetings, it doesn't hurt to hear that feedback from someone.  I've even asked people to sit in and listen to meetings that I have with potential clients.  There is no thing as too much constructive criticism, at least I don't think so.

Happy Planning and for most of you Happy Weddings for the 2010 Wedding season!!!!

Friday, June 25, 2010

A few days missing in the life of a planner...

Readers, I apologize for such a long span of time passing in between blog post.  It is currently wedding season (yay) and with that means that all my focus belongs to my clients and their weddings.  The blog is here for ideas, advice and tips and it will continue to provide new and exciting information and insight into my world, as soon as I get a few minutes to focus on something other than upcoming weddings.  I'm working on a few ideas for new post, so be on the lookout for those soon!

In the meantime...

Happy Planning!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Client Feedback- Jason & Annie January 2010

I love hearing back from brides and grooms after their wedding.  Annie & Jason were kind enough to fill me in on their feedback and I've even have some great photos from their wedding to share! 

Here is what they had to say about All Events Planned, wedding planning services. 


Q: What made you decide to hire a wedding planner?
A: We felt a wedding planner is able to bring up all of the important details that we would have forgotten if we planned the wedding & reception just by ourselves.

Q: What types of things attracted you to each planner that you interviewed?
A: We stopped after the first interview!

Q: What was something you found that made you WANT to hire a certain planner?
A: She asked questions and brought up points that we did not think to even plan for during the wedding ceremony and/or reception. She respected us wanting to use our own ideas and we really appreciated that.

Q: What was the best thing your wedding planner did for you?   
A: Everything! She took control at all of the most important transition points of the night; she could look ahead to make sure that things flowed very smoothly, and addressed things before they became an "issue". Took all of the stress away.

Q: What was something your planner did that you would never have thought of doing?
One thing? Let's about setting aside an area for gifts, and coming up with a way for the gifts and cards to be transported away from the reception without us having to worry about it. Also, making sure that the transitions were not distracting; she knew exactly what to do, and just said, "Let me take care of this..."

Q: Did you feel that your wedding planner was worth the cost?
Absolutely. We would recommend her to everyone we know that's planning anything at all, for anything, ever.

Q: Was there anything you would have changed about your experience with your wedding planner?
A: Paid her more! (If one more client answers that way, I'm raising my pricing, lol)

Q: What was something you wish you would have known before hiring your planner?
That a planner makes EVERYTHING easier, and really they are there to iron out every detail. We wish we would have started talking to her a lot earlier.

Q: Is there any situation where you could see why a bride would NOT want a wedding planner?
A: Only if she's insane! (I love that answer)

Q: Any other input you have on your process with your wedding planner (me) any advice, ideas or feedback, it is all welcome. 
A: Her associate was a great help as well; both of you made our day perfect and we still talk about the fact that our day would not have been as special without your help. It was amazing!

Now you can see why I love hearing back from bridal clients.  They have the most wonderful things to say and nothing makes a planner feel better than knowing she made someone's most important day, even better!!  Have you asked your clients to give feedback on your services?  I bet you'll be just as thrilled with what they have to say.  If you are a bride who has hired a planner, why not send her/him over a thank you note right now, it is the best thing a planner can receive. 

All photos were taken by Pulp Foto.  You can visit their site at

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Dress Shop Secrets by Brandi

This weekend I had the most exciting chance to "work" at a local dress shop, A Perfect Bride, in Rocky River, Ohio.  I had previously filmed a news special at the shop and after a glimpse behind the scenes, I wanted to know more.  Thankfully the owner of the shop, Cathy Kuhn, was open to the idea of having me come in, phew, and I had a great time.  Now that I've seen the other side, I've got some tips for you before you go dress shopping and even some behind the scenes "secrets" that I'm going to share!
Here we go-

Tip #1- Get pretty! Wear makeup and do your hair for your dress shopping trip.  You will be so much happier seeing yourself "sparkle" in your dress.  Wedding dresses are overwhelming and without a little extra going out, the dress will drown you out.  The girls that came in, that were styled, had the most fun trying on dresses.

Tip #2- Answer the questions. Things to immediately tell the sales associate when you walk into the store, not because it matters to them one way or another, but because it will make your shopping experience easier and more enjoyable.
-Your budget.  They don't mind if it is low or high (they really don't) just let them know so they can find you the right dresses.  They really do not want to have you try on a dress you can't afford and then be disappointed with the dresses that fit in your budget.

-What style you like.  They can get to the racks and start pulling ideas for you.  Bring in pictures and have a style that you can start with, but don't be afraid to try on different ones as well, but if they have an initial idea it will get the ball rolling.
-When you are getting married.  This will help them move along the process and to know whether to help you finish the sale or to know that you'll be moving along to more dress shops after this trip. (and truthfully, they expect you to go to other shops) Some dresses take longer to get in, some might not be available after a certain date, that way you don't get stuck loving a dress you can't get. 
-If you are planning to buy today or not.  I know, I know, everyone wants to just say they are "just looking" when they walk into a shop but if you KNOW you are not buying, let them know.  If you can't buy without your mom around, then you know you aren't buying today, just tell them.  That way they will avoid trying to close the sale and the experience will be more casual then if you are set on buying a dress that day.  Also, if you aren't planning on buying that day, then try to limit the time you spend with them.  It isn't fair, to take up four hours of an associates time, if you KNOW you are not going to buy. 

Tip #3- Tell them all the dresses you are looking for. Let them know if you are buying bridesmaid dresses and a wedding dress.  They offer discounts if you buy all your dresses at the same time!

Tip #4- Schedule an appointment.  This way you'll have someone ready and waiting for your arrival.  If you walk into the shop without an appointment, you may get stuck waiting a bit for a dressing room or for an associate to help you.  You can always change, delay or cancel the appointment, but if you at least set one up, you'll get in quicker and get more personal attention. 

Tip #5- Tell everyone what to expect.  Wwhen your bridesmaids, family and friends come in, they will be doing a whole lot of sitting, staring and waiting.  Make sure they are prepared and are expecting this.  Nothing is worse than people complaining about being bored, or having somewhere to go.  The typical dress appointment takes anywhere from 2-3 hours.  It isn't easy to get in and out of those dresses, and if you find a few you like, you'll want to try them on more than once.

Tip #6- Tll them how "shy" you are.  If you are not comfortable having an associate in the room, assisting you in and out of dresses, just let them know ahead of time.  They plan and are used to being in the room to assist you, so if you aren't sure, just let them in and know that it is what they do everyday with clients and it shouldn't be too uncomfortable for either of you.

Tip #7- Wear comfortable clothes.  You aren't going to spend much time in what you came into the shop in so be cozy.  Wear things that are easy to get off and on and try to bring some undergarments that will work with the dress style you like and that cover enough of your body that you are comfortable in them.  Try to bring in heels as well so you can see what it will look like and how you will feel. 

Tip #8- Be open to new ideas.  The sales associates will bring in dresses that you like and dresses that meet your style and they might also find a few that they thing might work, be open to those.  You never know what will work on you and sometimes they will pick up on details/styles that you never even thought of. 

Tip #9- Be open to coming back.  Quite a few clients that came in, decided to head over to lunch to think it over.  Every one of them came back for the dress.  Just because you walk out the door, doesn't mean you won't walk back in.  The sales associates know that this is a big decision so they won't be offended if you need time to think. 

Tip #10- RELAX.  Don't be intimidated by the store or the associates.  They are happy to help you, happy to find you a dress and happy to be there for whatever you need.  They do this each and every day and they are doing it because they LOVE it, so have fun with them.  Let them help you in any way you need and don't be afraid to ask questions or to give your opinion.  HAVE FUN!!!!

Side Tip #11- If you aren't comfortable or aren't enjoying experience at the store, leave.  Don't try to make it work, don't make excuses for people that are being rude to you, just get your stuff and go.  One of the most enjoyable experiences during the wedding planning process is dress shopping, don't let ANYONE ruin that for you!

I had an amazing time at the store and it was really exciting to see a different side of the wedding experience.  I think I might be there again, maybe we can combine wedding planning sessions with dress sessions at The Perfect Bride.

Happy Planning,

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Your Site Manager ISN'T Your Wedding Planner.

I enjoy this industry (if you haven't been able to tell) and I enjoy all the wonderful people that I get to meet.  So, I try not to be too disappointed of how some people view Wedding Planners.  We get a pretty bad rap, especially here in the Cleveland area.  I don't mind so much because, as you'll see from any planner's reviews the clients that do work with us, LOVE us.  As well they should, we help make their most stressful/anxiety-filled day calm and magical.  Who wouldn't love that?  Well the answer, sadly, is not everyone.

My current issue is Site Managers.  What that term means, in the sense that I'm using it, is the contact person you have at the facility you rent for your wedding location.  Either the Banquet Manager, Chef, Hall Coordinator, Site Director, etc..different names for people that run the facility. 

Now of course I don't mean ALL Site Managers, I just mean some, and it doesn't happen often but when it does it  is totally damaging to a coordinators ability to work at a facility.  Some Site Managers will go so far as to recommend that the bridal client DOES NOT hire a Wedding Planner.  Why, would anyone ever say this?  Well, the Site Manager will claim that they can handle all of the details that a Wedding Planner would normally handle.  They suggest that the Bridal client can save herself $1000's if she just doen't bother with a Wedding Planner who will "just get in the way of their staff" and "try to manage everyone/boss everyone around." 

There goes that client.  I've had a client tell me that she was reconsidering working with me after talking to her Site Manager because as the Site Manager put it she "really encourages her clients to NOT bring along a planner, as they don't like planners getting in the way" OUCH. 

Two things then. 
One, some of the fault of that impression will go to the "bad" and "inexperienced" planners in the area.  You get one planner who either things too highly of him/herself or another planner who doesn't have a clue what she's doing and I'm certain I'd tell people to stay away from Wedding Planners as well. 

The other thing is that we, as Wedding Planners, don't just come on the day of the wedding (at least I don't).  We have prior meetings, planning sessions, detail, layout and design meetings to get the entire day together.  There is no site coordinator who is going to come when you try on dresses, or come to the florist meetings or your tastings or organize your bridal party or help you pick out programs.  Yes, they manage on your wedding day, and they are familiar with the site, but without the proper planning and involvement, it won't matter what they know, since they don't know the details.  I would say that "Day Of" isn't hardly half of what I do.  You work with clients 6 months, 12 months, 18 months prior to their wedding day and you get to know all you need to know about the event, the bride, her family and her friends.  That is what you need to know, to make everything work. 
With all that being said, I was, at one point, one of those people who worked for a hotel and didn't really understand why a planner would come along, so I do have to admit, I understand. 

However, I would never have suggested to a client that they NOT hire a planner as no matter what they did, they always seemed to make my job easier and do some of the tiny detail work that I never seemed to have time for and in the worst case they would jump in and help with the HUGE work that we were running around trying to get done.  I guess I never ran into a "bad" planner while working as a Site Manager.  Maybe that's why I don't understand.  Maybe it is because, no matter how difficult someone is to work with, I would always respect their position in the industry and know that hindering their ability to work, to be successful and to do their best, isn't going to end up making anyone look bad, except, well me.  And, no one should want to look bad.  Right?

Any Site Managers want to chime in?  Any Planners have any stories of Site Managers that you have dealt with or are dealing with?  Love to hear your feedback

Happy Planning,

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Secrets Behind DJ/Entertainment Company

This is one of the very first interviews that, when requested, I received back in under 24 hours.  If that doesn't say something about their service, follow up and ability, than nothing will.  I have followed them on Facebook and have had the opportunity to learn more about what an amazing company they are through their blog and emails.  I'm so excited to present secrets behind DJ/Entertainment by Something New Entertainment.
Here is a little bit on Something New Entertainment-
"At Something New Entertainment, we know that your event is special. We know that like each couple, each wedding is unique, and we want to help you make your celebration your own while ensuring that your reception runs smoothly. We eliminate the worries so you can sit back, relax, and enjoy the party of your dreams!"

And a special thanks to AJ9 for all of the prompt responses to my request for an interview!  Here is a little bit about her!

AJ9 has worked professionally as a theatrical wardrobe and makeup mistress, shouldering many of the personal needs of theatrical stars from unwrapping cough drops and wiping noses to assisting with quick changes and solving wardrobe malfunctions in a pinch. She compares the high energy environment backstage to that of a wedding reception. "Your bride and your groom are like your leading lady and leading man. It's our job to make sure their evening goes smoothly by helping however we can while selecting music to keep the party going!"

And now for the interview you have all been waiting for!

Q: What is the biggest misconception about your industry?

A: That we play music, or, rather that we "just" play music. That's not to say we don't play music (of course we do!), but rather that there are so many more elements to a great disc jockey and master of ceremonies than pressing "play" or "making a few announcements." A great DJ/MC knows how to bring life to the party without becoming the center of attention, knows how to "read" the crowd to keep playing songs they'll love to keep your dance floor packed all night, has a professional, carefully-crafted microphone presence, and will take the time to make planning meetings to get to know you, your fiance, and your musical tastes in order to do all this with the music you love.

Q: What are a few mistakes brides make when choosing a DJ?

A: Oooh -- for me, this is the Apples to Apples question. Like many aspects of their wedding, most brides and grooms have never hired a DJ before, and they may never again. The service that we provide to them is just that -- a service and only a service. We don't give them a cake like their cakery, flowers like their florist, or images like their photographer (though we do hope to contribute to really, really great photos!). What we deliver is this amorphous thing that they can't see or touch, so sometimes it's difficult for brides and grooms to figure out how to compare us, so they turn to price-shopping. Unfortunately, we're not all the same -- it's not like buying a toaster. There are BIG, BIG differences from company to company, as well as from individual DJ to DJ, and it's just as important to consider the same elements used in hiring a cakery, florist, or photographer when hiring a DJ, considerations like experience, quality, knowledge, and style. Price should be the last thing on your mind, especially since many companies have packages at several different price points. Though of course it's important whether the price is right, in the end, it's much more important whether the DJ is right, and a professional company will definitely not be your lowest bidder.
Q: What things should a bride look for when hiring a DJ?

A: A bride and groom should look for someone who is able to help them crystallize and execute a vision based on them -- not whatever the "standard" is or whatever they "usually" play. It's your day, and it should be about you, but we know it's hard to come up with the right questions to ask yourself to get there! That's where we come in. Last year, I heard some wedding guests whisper to each other as they were leaving "that was so much fun, and it was so Jim and Kate!" Best compliment I have ever received!
Q: What is one of the worst things that can happen when booking a DJ?

A: We have fairly-frequent requests for brides and grooms to have a "swing-by" where they stop in to another event to see their DJ in action. Just remember -- if you get a swing-by to someone's event where the DJ's time and attention is divided between you and the wedding he or she is working -- it's likely that someone or maybe more than one someones will be stopping by your reception for the same. We host periodic public performances (and of course you're always welcome to visit us on the Goodtime III) so that couples can have the opportunity to see us in action.
Q: What is the worst story you have heard about a mistake someone in your industry has made, anyone, ever?
A: Of course straight-up not showing up, not bringing any equipment, wearing a tuxedo T-shirt or something equally inappropriate, doing something tacky to call unnecessary attention to him or herself, playing songs off the "do-not-play" list I'm sure are all on the "biggest fears" list for most brides and grooms, but all of these problems stem from a greater problem: preparation. The biggest mistake any company can make is in not adequately training their staff to learn to avoid these situations to begin with and to troubleshoot if they do occur. Something New has an Apprentice training program to seek out an nurture new talent. Successful Apprentices advance to Assistant DJs, and successful Assistant DJs advance to full DJ/MCs. I come from a teaching background, so we actually use a written curriculum that I produced which emphasizes vocal tone, diction, timing, musical styles and history, sound theory, mood, crowd-reading, electrical/equipment design and setup, etc. sound theory hands on shadowing
Q: If a client had endless funds what unique idea/service or products would you offer them?

A: Lighting, and specifically uplighting, hands down. Oh my gosh, I love uplighting! It is just the ultimate eye-candy, as far as I'm concerned! We do have smaller packages starting out with just a few fixtures to add accents around the head table or in another key location, but a full-coverage design can transform a space in ways that are really and truly amazing. Justin has worked professionally as a lighting designer and technician for some pretty big-time stuff, too -- at venues like Blossom, Tower City (or whatever it's called this year, ha ha), and the late Carousel Dinner Theatre, and he's quite an artist with the lights. All of our lighting is cutting-edge, technology-wise, and uses light emitting diodes (commonly known as LEDs). They look fantastic, and they're "green;" they use dramatically less energy themselves, plus, they don't get hot, so additional energy is saved on the venue's air conditioning system, too. This also eliminates the very real risk of dangerous burns and fire that the cheaper, older lights that are available to DIYers, which are very, very hot. Another advantage of our uplighting serviceis that we have the capability to create amazing intelligent lighting designs for you using advanced computerized DMX technology -- meaning that the specific colors and intensity of the lights can change over the course of the evening. For example: one of my favorite effects is to simulate the sunset within the room. Over the course of Cocktail Hour and Dinner, as the sun sets, the lighting changes smoothly and gradually from orange or yellow to blush, to maroon, to mulberry, and to finally to purple, just like the sky! A very subtle effect, but powerful.
Q: What is the one thing bridal clients should Review in contracts with their DJ?

A: The basic stuff, of course -- when, where, and how much -- but, also, if you've requested a specific person, any additional services you've requested, and any additional costs. A contract is a promise made to protect you, so know your recourse if the terms of the contract are not met, and make sure to get a copy with the signature of the company representative (preferably the owner) for your own records.
Q: What is the one thing you wish all of your clients knew when working with you?

A: Did you know St. Louis Bride and Groom Magazine conducted a poll and that more than 80% of wedding guests surveyed said that what they remembered most about a wedding was the entertainment? That's how important your DJ is, and we're ready and eager to live up to that demanding role. I think it's easy to underestimate the amount of time your DJ puts in to your event. It's not just the five hours your reception lasts, it's also an hour setting up, and hour tearing down, probably an hour or more travelling to and fro, an hour making special preparations with regard to grooming and dress including drycleaning, ironing, etc. Multiply all of those by two to count for the Assistant DJ, as well., plus the DJ/MC also holds at least two planning meetings and conducts several hours of music research to prepare a library of selections that fit into the bride and groom's stated musical preferences.
Well, that interview says it all!  They are incredible and obviously very passionate about what they do.  If that's what you look for in your DJ, then go on over and book Something New Entertainment for your wedding.

In the meantime,
Happy Planning,

Friday, March 26, 2010

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!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Feedback from Posting

One of my favorite post and to date, one of the most popular post that I've done "You don't want to hire me?" has generated some of the best feedback I've had.  One of the latest comments was from a bride who is planning her wedding and it really captures the very reason I wrote the post and I thought it would be fun to share that.

Lynn has left a new comment on your post "You Don't Want to Hire Me?!?":
"As a bride-to-be who googled "How do I tell a wedding planner I don't want them" this post was very helpful.
You'll be glad to know that I emailed all the people I contacted (even the ones with whom I only exchanged one email) and let them know that I "clicked" with someone else. They were all very professional and responded with a "Thanks for letting me know".
As a bride, this post was very helpful because those emails were hard! It was a little bit like breaking up with someone. It's nice to know that they are appreciated on the other end."

I was so happy that a bride really "got it" and understood where I was coming from.  It isn't about making anyone uncomfortable but it was more the let client's know that your business/feedback do matter to the vendor, whether you book them or not.

Thank you Lynn for being an AWESOME bride!!!

Happy Planning,

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Secrets Behind Photography- Spencer Photography

This isn't the first submission by a photographer and it won't be the last.  The idea has been to show a range of photographers and their opinions.  This will give everyone the chance to see that all photographers from all areas and skill level are really interested in giving you the best work they have to offer.  There are enough skilled photographers in this industry that you don't have to settle nor do you have to turn to a "friend" to do the work.

Spencer Photography has won the following awards/honors--Approved as a Certified Professional Photographer (CPP) by the Professional Photographers of America (PPA)-Approved as a Certified Professional Photographer (CPP) by the Professional Photographers of Ohio (PPO)
-2009 Professional Photographers of Ohio Fall Conference - 1st and 2nd place in the "Wedding" category. 1st Place in the "Creative Open" category
-2009 - Winner of the Akron/Canton Fox 8 Hotlist for "Best Photographer"
-Chosen by The Knot Magazine "Best Of Weddings 2008-2009"
-2009 - Wedding image chosen for the cover of the Akron/Canton "Today's Bride Magazine"
-2008 - "Sunrise on Bryce Canyon" chosen by the Professional Photographers of America for their prestigious International Loan Collection
-2007 - Chosen by Akron Life & Leisure Magazine "Best Wedding Photographer"

-2005 - Awarded the prestigious Fuji Masterpiece Award by the Fuji Corporation

f the list of awards isn't enough to give you an idea of the quality of his work, his answers to the interview questions will.  Spencer Photography offers high quality products & service.  See for yourself Larry's feelings on all things wedding photography.

And now Secrets Behind Wedding Photography by Spencer Photography

Q: What is the biggest misconception about your industry?
With the advent of digital photography anyone who owns a camera believes they are a “photographer”. It is a misconception to believe that the camera makes the photographer. The camera is a tool just as a wrench or screwdriver is to the mechanic. It takes years of practice and study for someone to attain a level that makes them a true professional. Organizations such as the Professional Photographers of America enable the true professional to advance their knowledge and skills thru seminars, conventions and educational opportunities. They offer a certification program that once completed, helps the professional separate themselves by reinforcing their technical expertise thru testing and review by their peers.
Q: What are a few mistakes brides sometimes make when choosing their photographer?
When it comes to wedding photography the old adage absolutely holds true: you get what you pay for. It would be a mistake to eliminate the possibility of hiring a particular photographer based solely on price. What would one think if they saw a brand new Mercedes Benz priced at $5,000? I know that I would think “What is wrong with that car?” In the same vain, what would one think if they saw a 10 year old clunker for $100,000. We all would probably have the same reaction: “Are you kidding me?!!” The same thing needs to be considered when looking for a wedding photographer. There is a reason some photographers are more expensive than others. They give the best customer service; help your wedding day run as smoothly as it possibly can; and they provide the absolute best quality images and products.
Q: What things should a bride look for, look at, when selecting a vendor/site?
Originality and creativity. This is the number one thing that separates photographers. Also, how well does the photographer handle color and lighting. If you really make an effort to notice these things you will see a profound difference in many photographers and it will help you select only the best.
Q: What is the one thing a bride should splurge on when booking with you?
A larger album. The album will tell the story of your day, not only to you, but to your future generations. A good album should flow and not be overstuffed with images.
Q: What is the worst story you have heard about a mistake someone in your industry has made?
A professional, no matter what industry, should never EVER drink alcohol while working. A professional should act like one.
Q: If you had a client who had endless funds what unique ideas and products/services would you offer them?
I try to provide every one of my clients with the absolute best service and give them the most awesome wedding images regardless of their budget.

What are a few things that bridal clients should review in contracts with their photographer?
A: Make sure to pay attention to deadlines. Be sure that the pricing that is offered at booking is locked in regardless of the wedding date. Also, make sure that you have recourse if the vendor does not fulfill their end of the contracted agreement. That should be in the contract.

What is something you wish all of your clients knew, or a certain thing you wish all of your clients would do to make working with them easier?
Just allow enough time to get the images that you want without interrupting the flow of the day.

I have to say that most of Larry's answers are answers that I would have given myself on the interview.  If you agree, great, if not, tell me why or submit the interview with your own answers!  Would love to hear from any vendor in the wedding industry, even other wedding planners!  You can check out Larry's work at

Happy Planning,

PS- Don't forget to check out my news segment on Channel 5- WEWS, THIS Friday between 5pm-6pm. 

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Check me out on TV!

You did read that right, I was interviewed by Lee Jordan of WEWS- Channel 5 for a special wedding segment to air this coming Friday, March 5th between 5pm-6pm. 
Lee Jordan chose to interview me after reviewing all of the area planners because she saw my advice and wedding information being used by all types of companies all over the web!  I am honored to say the least! 

I have these amazing vendors to thank for their last minute assistance in making in a great segment. 


White Flower

The Perfect Bride

Lowe's Greenhouse

C Studios

The Lounging Gourmet

Duet Catering
Thanks to all of your for providing ideas and props for the segment! 

Can't wait!  And I'll be signing autographs (kidding about the autographs but they will be having a give away for a bridal gown designed by celebrity David Tutera) this Sunday at Signature of Solon for the Bridal & Beyond Wedding Show from 11am-3pm, see you there!

Happy Planning

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Featured on Jerry Bruno Blog- 2010 Trends

There really isn't anything more exciting than being asked your opinion on all things weddings.  However, there are a few things and having your opinion featured on a site, that tops the list!  Having it on a site as widely seen/read as the Jerry Bruno site, is TOP, TOP of the list. 
So, do me a favor and check it out!  My ideas for some 2010 Trends for the Cleveland market!

 Jerry Bruno Productions is a widely known entertainment company that offers everything from the top DJ's to some of the most amazing bands and even jazz and ceremony musicians.  You can check out their site here-

Happy Planning,

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Rehearsal Ceremony Tips

Of course, I have tips for all areas of your wedding, but I'll start with the Rehearsal Ceremony.  Not one the most difficult aspects to wedding planning but certainly one that can cause some headaches.
1. Make sure everyone knows what time it starts.  If it starts at 6pm, then it needs to be clear it STARTS at 6pm, not that people should just start arriving at 6pm.

2. Figure out who is in charge.  Does your pastor/rabbi/officiant want to run the ceremony or will your wedding planner be in charge of organizing the ceremony?  Or, do you have a ceremony coordinator on site?  If so, try to meet with him/her before the rehearsal so you will get a feeling for their style. 

3. Have directions to the rehearsal ceremony and then to the dinner after.  This way there is no confusion for the people that have come in from out of town. 

4. This may seem silly, but make sure everyone stays sober.  Depending on your religions and traditions there may be a lot for your bridal party to remember AND to listen to, the last thing you need is someone being tipsy then and missing our on their part the next day.

5. Try to explain what roles each person will have and whether you want them to practice at the rehearsal ceremony.  If your uncle is doing a reading, tell him if he should do the actual reading or if you just want him to stand up to acknowledge he is doing it.

6.  Have all the props that you need, there that evening.  You are going to be nervous and stressed and the last thing you want to do is just "wing it" without something there.  Make a list of items, have someone make sure they are all there, that way they will be there when you arrive the next day as well.

7. Make it clear to everyone that this rehearsal is a BIG deal and that they need to pay attention.  Be sure to explain to your family and friends WHO is running the ceremony so they know who to listen to and follow for direction.  Rehearsals have last two or three hours long because of "rowdy" bridal parties and too many people trying to give direction.

8.  Have opinions on what you want to see.  You will be at the end of your ability to make decisions at this point, but force yourself through one last night of details.  If you don't "care" or it doesn't matter anymore, someone else will be making the decision for you, and you may not be happy with the results.

9. Stay on schedule.  You will more than likely have some type of event scheduled after the rehearsal so keep track of time.  Your guests may have just come from work, or from driving a long way, and they too will want to head out for dinner sooner rather than later.  You'll have plenty of time to catch up with everyone at the rehearsal dinner, so keep on track with doing only what you came for, rehearsing. 

10. Relax.  This is the one part of your wedding day you get to "practice" and it doesn't get much better than that.  You actually get to run through this process one, maybe even two times so trust me, you will be ready by your wedding day.  You'll be too nervous/excited/anxious the next day to remember much anyhow, so just enjoy the night before your wedding day. 

Hope those tips help!  Keep on the lookout for more to come!

Happy Planning!