Wedding MBA 2017 Recap

By | Business Builders, Business Consulting, Business Development, Destination Wedding, Wedding Coordinator, Wedding MBA, Wedding MBA 2017, Wedding Planner | No Comments

For the third year in a row, I had the pleasure of speaking at the Wedding MBA conference, this time for two sessions – in addition to discussing destination weddings, I also spoke about appearing on television and managing on-camera opportunities.  The best benefit about attending the conference is seeing my colleagues, meeting new ones, and enjoying the city of Las Vegas.

When I woke up that morning, I had an iPhone news alert about the tragic shooting in Las Vegas the day prior – a stunning development that shocked us all.  The conference was still going to move forward – as it should – and my friend Summer Newman of Summer Newman Events, who traveled with me, wanted to help as best we could.  When we tried to donate blood, the drive that was taking place across the street from our hotel had already closed down because so many people showed up. By a day or two after the event, the local blood supply was sufficient for at least a few days. However, it reminded me how important it is to give blood and I’m now going to donate once a year.  Meantime, I donated to the Go Fund Me page to help support the victims and their families.

Wedding Display Wedding MBA Wedding Balloon Vendors

This balloon display as soon as attendees entered the conference space was a hit.

With the Wedding MBA well underway upon our arrival, I carefully chose the sessions I wanted to attend.  I had a massive head cold by the time we arrived, so I couldn’t hit as many as I wanted, so I specifically chose sessions that relate to my newer role as a freelance marketing and event consultant.  It’s so important to understand how the Internet, Google, Facebook, and SEO and SEM in general can enhance a business’ marketing.  I carefully chose two sessions about these topics, and they were extremely helpful.  The speakers were very generous with their knowledge and one even sent slides to us, Mark Chapman of Everett Andrew Marketing.

I also met some vendors on the convention floor, exploring new ideas in lighting, stationary, photo booths, and others.  Overall, it was a productive trip and it was fantastic to see the conference get bigger every year – it’s a fantastic opportunity for wedding vendors to help each other grow stronger, together.  Hope to see you there next year!

 

Business Builders: Educating the Consumer for Effective Sales

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So, there’s a common concept in sales – find the prospect’s “pain points” and fix them when you pitch your services.  A great event or wedding planner can make a huge difference in a couple’s experience with their wedding.

Here’s the thing, though: They don’t always know what the pain points ARE.  The web is exploding with all sorts of DIY advice and brides and grooms bragging about how they did things themselves (and there are super competent, talented, organized couples that make a good go of it), but you know as a planner that a couple is 100% guaranteed to have a better experience with a professional – similar to how, say, hiring a professional organizer will automatically save time and money and probably provide a lasting organizational system versus if you organize your closet yourself.

Music-themed guest book. Photo by Michael Segal Photography.

Unless the bride’s been a put upon bridesmaid who ended up coordinating her buddy’s wedding or had some other experience where she saw first hand how important it is, you may have to provide case studies that prove your point. Collect a few and role play with a friend so that you can easily discuss them with prospects. Here’s an example:

We had a client that found their venue did not provide some contracted services, to a disturbing degree. We made a note of it and by the end of the night had negotiated a $500 reduction on their bar bill. That’s major – and we were just coordinating, not even planners, and partially paid for ourselves almost literally!

Don’t be shy to tout your value, and be sure to paint a picture of what can slip through the cracks (without coming across as negative) during the sales process.

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So you want to become a wedding planner…

By | Aspiring Event Planners, Aspiring Wedding Planners, Business Builders, Business Consulting, Business Development, Wedding Consultant, Wedding Coordinator, Wedding Planner | No Comments

By Dee Gaubert | Owner, No Worries Event Planning

Growing up, I wasn’t one of those girls who gushed over weddings or dreamed of being a wedding planner.  I definitely wanted to get married one day, and I loved event design and decor, but it wasn’t a passion of mine to become a planner.  Instead, I worked in both marketing and then television production, and worked on events as part and parcel to both of these careers, and realized I could start my own event planning company. With my husband’s hours intensive and us starting a family, I needed to be able to manage my own schedule and be the ‘lead parent’ most of the time; and thus, No Worries Event Planning was born.

As I became more searchable on the web, I started getting inquiries and notes from a variety of people wanting very badly to be planners and learn more about the business. I was surprised because it’s really hard work, a serious hustle the first few years to find your clientele, and for certain temperaments, being a wedding planner is extremely stressful. But, I really loved doing it and I wanted to educate others.

To that end, here are a few pointers if you want to become a planner, that will help you reach your goal of having your own business or a thriving career in events.

One of the perks of the job? Getting to work in stunning locales.  Photo by Katie Geiberger, venue: Rancho Del Cielo.

One of the perks of the job? Getting to work in stunning locales. Photo by Katie Geiberger, venue: Rancho Del Cielo.  Florals by Peony and Plum.

Get lots of experience before becoming a full time wedding planner.

Working for years in both marketing and TV production, I developed a skill set working both in project management and events that served me well. If you haven’t done a lot of event planning, you will find yourself in unusual situations that you won’t be ready for, unless you start working for other planners right away.  Volunteer for trade organizations (like ABC, WIPA, and EPA) and help them plan and execute events, too – it’s outstanding experience, and you will start to get to know other wedding planners, as well.

Wedding planner destination wedding photography Paris

Another pinch-me moment from running No Worries: Our Paris destination weddings. This gorgeous photo is by Yann Audic of Lifestories Weddings photography.

Consult the B2B pros.

As a wedding planner, I’ve run into a lot of gray areas as far as responsibilities of the various parties involved with each element of the event.  But, I got a great lawyer and accountant from the beginning, and since then have developed a team of contractors who help me when needed for IT,  web maintenance, and other needs.  You don’t want to be held up by a last minute issue with your printer or have a contract that leaves you liable, so interview a team of B2B pros when you start your business.

Network.

Networking is the number one way I built my business, by referral from other trusted peers and colleagues. It also helps you build a support system with other planners and pros; it’s really the most fun part of doing what we do!  I love the friends I’ve made in this industry, and treasure our relationships.

For brass-tack advice and personalized consulting on creating a profitable, joyous wedding and event planning business, check out our Aspiring Planners page for thoughtfully crafted workshops and consulting packages, and please call or email me anytime:  310-562-3306 and dee@noworriesep.com.  Here’s to a happy and prosperous 2017!

How much will my wedding cost?

By | Budget Los Angeles Wedding, Budget Weddings, Wedding Budget, Wedding Cost, Wedding Planner | No Comments

By Dee Gaubert | Owner, No Worries

It’s nearly everyone’s first question when they start planning a wedding: How much is this bad boy going to cost me?  The idea of sinking many thousands of dollars in one evening is soul-sucking, and I totally understand this.   I tried to charge as little as possible when I first started and quickly realized there was a bottom line I had to meet, fee-wise or I essentially couldn’t run a business. Like, as in, keep the lights on, pay my taxes, feed my family.

And that’s what all other vendors and venues find too when they research initial pricing structures.  Their insurance, taxes, labor (that’s a big one), cost of raw materials, etc – it all gets passed to you, the consumer.  Meantime, a good middle class income means low buying power these days, due to all sorts of shifts in our economy, so you can work hard, save your money, and still barely be able to afford a wedding.  But, don’t get too depressed- let’s work through some hard facts about budget, so you can be an informed consumer, and take control over the process.

Statistics: Read between the lines

The average wedding according to many statistics is about $26k – 30k.  But, in major metropolitan areas, you’re looking at $35-45k to start, and towards $70-80k in cities such as New York City.  Guest count, type of food service, venue, and all sorts of other elements affect your total costs.  My advice is, ignore the statistics – the only way you’ll know how much your wedding costs is to start researching.

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In concert with other agencies, the Santa Monica Mountain Conservancy runs the LA River Center, which provides a reasonably priced space for weddings. Photo by David Crane.

Add it up: Tally total wedding cost first

Start researching venues, DJs, florists, etc., and collect pricing and quotes.  Don’t do one at a time, i.e. research and price out venues, book the venue; and THEN price out caterers – you need a holistic, macro view of how all the costs add up before booking any single vendor or venue for the event.  Otherwise you’ll book one element, and realize it takes up more of your budget than you thought, and severely crunches the rest of your budget.  Or perhaps trigger other costs that you didn’t anticipate (like a venue that requires a generator at great additional expense, for example).

Consider unique alternatives

Food trucks, BBQ take out (nicely served and presented), cupcakes (instead of cakes) – these are all ways to save money on food by going an unconventional route.  Venue-wise, find a venue that’s run by a local civic agency, or one that’s fresh on the market that may be willing to rent to you for an introductory fee. It’s important to make sure the venue has proper rules and regulations and insurance, and to know of any specific additional expenses that come with out-of-the-box venues.

Rancho Del Cielo, rustic wedding, floral decor wedding

Finding a venue with lush grounds saves money on decor – with such beautiufl surroundings, only a few floral flourishes are needed. Venue: Rancho Del Cielo. Photographer: Katie Geiberger

Hire the right pros

A caterer that specializes in small luncheons won’t be ideal for your 200 person wedding.  A novice florist may not be able to construct that custom arch you saw on Instagram.  A planner who lists as her major experience waiting tables in college and planning her sister’s wedding won’t know off the top of her head how much a family style meal will cost.  Whether you invest a small hourly consulting package for a coordinator to assist in a venue search or order a drop off type service from a high end caterer, there are ways to hire top-of-their-class vendors without breaking your bank.

For more tips, check out our other blog posts, and feel free to call or email us;  310-562-3306 and dee@noworriesep.com.  Happy planning!

Hiring the Best Wedding Vendors

By | 5 Biggest Wedding Planning Myths, Budget Los Angeles Wedding, Budget Weddings, Event Planner, Facebook, Los Angeles Wedding Planner, Wedding Planning Checklist, Wedding Vendor Negotiation | No Comments

By Dee Gaubert | Owner, No Worries

Every year as the holidays roll around, the wedding industry clamors about “engagement season”- and yeah, this is the time, from December through January, where we get super busy taking incoming inquiries and generally book up to 60% of our dates for the coming year.  It’s appropos then to share some insight about booking wedding vendors.

Remember, there is no real barrier to entry for most wedding vendors.

A DJ has to have specific technical skills, sure, but has he or she practiced mc’g in front of large crowds?  A florist doesn’t necessarily need to be formally trained to start his or her own business. And wedding planners and coordinators need really NO technical training, nor does there seem to be any formal qualifications and standards set by a leading organization to follow. (Corporate planners can get their certified meeting planner designation, which is respected as definitive by the industry, but in the wedding world there are a variety of certification programs by competing organizations for weddings and none of them are considered “the” one to get.)

So when you interview a prospective vendor, it’s good to see how they are viewed in the industry. Do numerous venues sing their praises?  Is their Yelp page full of 100s of reviews? (Remember, Yelp isn’t the end-all be-all of legitimacy, but it is a good indicator that a business has been around for a bit.)  They don’t need to have graduated from “DJ School,” but they should have a solid level of experience and savvy in what they do.

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Your wedding: Not the time to go cheap on food. Tray passed appetizers here are by Huntington Catering Company, Photo by Jenna Rose (JennaJanelleRose.Com)

Benchmark prices carefully.

I know weddings aren’t cheap these days, and it’s a struggle couples go through. But if you go cheap on a vendor, you’ll pay a price.  I’ve had weddings where, to the person, the vendors that were charging below-market price were the ones with which we had significant issues – including a florist that was sloppy and left damage at a venue that would have cost the client hundreds to thousands in their security deposit. (The florist came back later and managed to fix the damage.)

First, put together a solid, cohesive budget.  Then, carefully compare prices from competitors in a variety of categories.  If there is a vendor that is significantly less expensive, there are a few reasons why:  1.  They may have another job, which isn’t a deal breaker, but it’s important to make sure they will uphold reasonable work ethic and response times, which is easy to check by calling a few references; 2.  They may be just starting out – so it’s important to see what prior experience they have, since anyone can pretty much get a business license for performing work in the wedding industry; and/or 3. They do a very high volume of work for very low prices.  I speak from experience when I say this means you will get a longer response time and less of a personal touch from these vendors, nearly every single time. For a wedding cake, maybe (maybe) this is no problem. For a photographer or DJ, you will want a more intensive flow of communication.

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A church wedding ceremony can be cost effective, support the community, and provide a gorgeous setting for your wedding. Photo by Don Norris (Norrisphoto.com)

 

A good wedding vendor sets boundaries.

My life changed a few years ago, when I added office hours to my contract.  A good vendor has good boundaries, and ultimately they help the client.  It’s important to know when wedding vendors are usually available (this blog post is helpful as to what is typical in the industry), and to understand that if a vendor can compartmentalize when and how they work for you, they can manage your event better because they are focused on pre-set, efficient work hours and deadlines and can be super productive in the times they devote to your project.

Does that mean I haven’t squealed with delight and texted right back to a client who shot me a photo of her dream dress at 7pm on a Monday night?  Or that I haven’t suggested a Skype at 8pm with an out-of-state client that works 60 hour weeks, or a weekend walkthrough of a venue? Of course, I am flexible and meet clients halfway whenever possible with my time. But be aware, and respectful, of wedding vendors, and ask ahead about when they usually take appointments and correspond with clients.

For more solid, realistic advice, my guide the Five Biggest Wedding Planning Myths will steer you well; and hang around our Facebook page to learn when we’ve posted a new article on the blog.  Happy Planning!

Business Builders: Dealing with Negative Energy

By | Aspiring Event Planners, Aspiring Wedding Planners, Business Builders, Business Consulting, Business Development, Difficult Clients and Vendors | No Comments

Conquering Negative Energy in your Daily Work

Working in weddings, I came to find out I was in receipt of negative energy, constantly. Whether it was a client realizing what they wanted cost far more than they expected, or a family member interfering, or a vendor mistaking what the client wanted and causing an issue.  Sometimes, a vendor may mishandle the client and that causes consternation, or a legal issue comes up. Regardless, the mix of emotions and all these fallible human beings involved means, stuff happens, and as the coordinator or event planner, you are right smack in the middle of it all. Here are three tips for dealing with the negative energy that you may face on a weekly basis.

 Turn it into a positive.

There is a solution for everything.  The flower mockup not what your client expected? Hop on the phone with them, clarify what they want, discuss compromises or ideas and then share with the florist. If the florist misread the situation, ask them to provide an additional mockup at no charge. How you handle the situation helps you prove your worth to the client, foster goodwill between the couple and the vendor, and make sure there is a satisfactory product for the client.

Visualizing an ocean view can also soothe your mind. Photo by Sam Lim Studios, florals by Flower Duet.

Visualizing an ocean view can also soothe your mind. Photo by Sam Lim Studios, florals by Flower Duet.

Make sure you are not pulled into situations where you don’t belong.

Are you serving as coordinator, handling solely logistics for the day of the wedding, but your couple is asking for cost-saving strategies and a budget analysis? Kindly point them back to your contract, and reiterate you are not responsible for budget concerns. Offer to provide these services for a reasonable additional cost – but remind them that you are not responsible for anything outside of the originally agreed-to scope of services.  Sometimes, we get pulled into stressful situations in which we do not belong; stand your ground.

Have a mantra for these kinds of situations.

I had the opportunity to speak at a luncheon for a nonprofit called Penny Lane, and was inspired by all the speakers, people who came a long way to achieve outstanding success.  One of the speakers, Pastor Phil Allen Jr., said something that really stuck to me.  He said when someone presents to him an attitude or energy that is negative, he does not ‘receive’ it.  So when I know I’m heading to a meeting where I may meet up with a negative or difficult personality, first, I’ll try to empathize with them.  Usually there is a good reason for them to be the way they are; not an excuse, mind you, but a reason.  Then, I’ll arm myself with the mantra, “I do not receive that.”  You simply don’t have to take in bad energy; deflect it with the mantra, work on your work, do your job.  It’s as simple as that, though it takes a lot of practice, but working on your ability to deal with difficult situations will make you a top notch professional in not just event planning, but in every career.

3 Top Tips for Corporate Events

By | Corporate Event Coordinator, Corporate Event Planner, Corporate Events, Event Planning Education, Los Angeles Corporate Events | No Comments

When planning corporate events, it’s common for internal personnel to act on incorrect assumptions. Below are three important tips for planning corporate events.

Don’t wait too long to plan corporate events!

4 weeks is not enough!  Try 4 MONTHS – the more time, the better. Have we planned an event in a matter of weeks? Yes, but often this requires a rush fee and you also risk having a significant lack of choice in vendors and venues.

Corporate Events Tea Station Activation

This tea bar by Pixi Beauty reflects the natural ingredients in their cosmetics, and took time to source, plan and execute.  Photo by Brandon Aquino Photography.

 

Be realistic with your budget.

Events generally cost more than people think these days, and you can blame a whole lot of things – cost of food and labor (catering), demand (popular venues), and the overall cost of doing business vendors have to asborb, particularly in major metropolitan areas. One of the first things I do for clients is put together a realistic budget with contingencies to make sure everyone is clear on the cost, and can get the expenditures approved.

Corporate Events Los Angeles Photobooth

For a presentation of their virtual reality movie, Eye for an Eye, our client Filmatics had a roving photographer from Petite Pix Photobooth to take photos of guests with the VR goggles.

Think about branding opportunities.

Branded photobooth printouts, custom lighting gobos that project the corporate logo – these are all things that reiterate the message of your company.  Giveaways, signage, and interactive social media prompts throughout the event will also extend engagement with your guests.  Even with in-house corporate events, these elements reflect team spirit and pride in your company’s mission, and can boost morale.

 

Keeping these three concepts in mind will be key to planning – and affording – a successful corporate event. Happy planning!

Calamigos Malibu Wedding:Bright + Beautiful

By | Calamigos Malibu Weddings, Catering, Event Planner, Rustic Wedding, Vox DJS, Wedding Consultant, Wedding Coordinator, Wedding Planner | No Comments

I had the true pleasure of working with this couple for their wedding last year, and I can’t believe it’s been that long!  they chose Calamigos Malibu for their wedding, and their colors were bright and vibrant, as brought to life by McCann Florist.  They were a fun and playful duo, and they and their families and friends made for a heartfelt evening full of stories and levity.  They also provided classy, rustic wood elements such as signage and escort ‘cards’ (of thin wood slices).

True Photography and First Look Films captured the best moments (and then some) and the team at Calamigos worked with Catering By Brenda, who provided the kosher meal.  Continental Bakery provided the delicious cake and Robert Corral of Vox DJs provided lighting and entertainment.

The space at Calamigos Malibu was the Redwood Room, a space that has been renovated in past years and reminds me of a mountain retreat with stone, wood, and other natural elements.

Rabbi Joe Menashe staged the ceremonial elements beautifully and performed a heartfelt ceremony, and La Folia provided classical music before, during, and after the wedding ceremony.

Calamigos white folding chairs ceremony space

Ceremony Malibu Calamigos Chair Aisle Decor

Ceremony Under Chuppah Calamigos Ranch

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Escort card table wood slices

Sushi Cocktail Appetizer Wedding

Jewish Wedding Ceremony Elements

Purple Orange Flowers White Wedding cake

Round Wood Wedding Signage

Calamigos Oak Room Ballroom Wedding

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Calamigos Ranch Oak Room Ballroom Wedding

Beach Wedding: Sea Breezes at Hotel Portofino

By | Hotel Portofino and Yacht Club, Lavender Decor, Wedding Consultant, Wedding Decor, Wedding Design, Wedding Planner | No Comments

When I first met with Danielle and Jared together, I was struck at how thoughtful and calm they were.  They carefully evaluated each decision about their wedding, but didn’t obsess; they listened to their vendors’ advice and trusted all of us, which was so wonderful.  (And when she showed me her dress from BHLDN, I was smitten!)  I was also excited to work their venue, the Hotel Portofino and Marina, based in Redondo Beach.  It was pretty much a beach wedding – we were just a few feet from the water! In fact, as the couple were getting their photos taken (by the awesome photographer Brady Puryear), a boat passed by in the nearby inlet and the passengers hooted and waved in congratulations.

Danielle had a beautiful aesthetic: clean, pretty lavender colors with touches of greenery and fresh hydrangea.  It worked so well in the space.  We provided design consultation to help flesh out her ideas, and her florist, friend Bea Tran who owns Floral Event Production, came up with beautiful ideas for seamless execution.   The beach wedding feel was set off by the fresh florals and light colors.

Personal touches, such as lavender cones with seeds to toss at the couple during the ceremony, as well as a thoughtful ceremony by a dear friend, made the wedding truly individual and unique.  As the sun set, Danielle and Jared got some great photos by the water, and guests enjoyed cocktails on the patio.  Their DJ, Mike Tinio, spun music all night and got the crowd dancing literally to the very end!

The hotel served outstanding cuisine, wedding cake, and also provided lighting as well. The Portofino became a turnkey solution for many elements of the wedding. It was really one of those smooth, fun experiences that make you want to be come a planner in the first place! Our congrats to the couple and thanks for bringing us along for the journey!

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