A Pretty Pastel Malibu Rocky Oaks Wedding

By | Blush and Pink Wedding, Blush Wedding, Malibu, Malibu Rocky Oaks Wedding, Malibu Wedding, Sally Pinera | No Comments

A Malibu Rocky Oaks wedding is always one for the books. For good reason:  the vistas on display at this property always take my breath away.  This is the reason why the venue has become so legendary here in Los Angeles – and dare I say, the world over.  There is nothing like it!

The bride and groom, Emma and Michel, lived in France for the initial part of planning, then moved to San Francisco.  Wisely, they booked me over a year in advance, and had ample time to carefully curate and construct their dream day. They had many guests flying internationally, and were able to have their wedding on a weekday, which made things even more seamless to plan.

The Wedding Vendors

The florist, Plenty of Petals, nailed the romantic, vineyard-inspired florals, Signature Party Rentals provided the chairs and tables, napkins were by La Tavola, and Bright rentals provided the rose gold silverware.  Other vendors included Vox DJs, Jacob Jurado (officiant), Tim and Co videography, Jamie Cakes, and Silver Service Catering.  The vibe was soft blush, rich organic greens, and French country furniture with rich wood texture.

The Planning Process- a Weekday Wedding!

While Emma and Michel lived abroad and then in San Francisco, we stayed in close touch.  Because many guests were flying in from outside of L.A., this was a destination wedding for many of them, and the couple chose to have the event on a weekday.  Not my first, actually – they’re a lot of fun!  Also, some vendors and venues have cost-effective pricing for weekday events.  They made sure guests knew well ahead of time when the event would take place, so they couljd request vacation days, book flights, and make overall “life” arrangements for the event.

Enjoy photos below, by Sally Pinera!

 

Malibu Rocky Oaks wedding floral backdrop border ceremony greenery blush

Malibu Rocky Oaks wedding floral backdrop border ceremony greenery blush

Rustic rose gold silverware malibu rocky oaks wood table napkin treatment olive branch

Lush bouquet dahlias greenery blush pink burgundy

Bridesmaids Blush bridesmaid gowns greenery rustic bouquets

Floral greenery wedding table runner figs grapes

altar floral border malibu rocky oaks greenery roses blush ivory

French country crossback chairs rustic malibu rocky oaks signature rentals

Destination Weddings | Paris

By | Destination Wedding, Paris, Paris Destination Weddings, Paris Wedding Photography, Paris Wedding Planner, Wedding Design, Wedding MBA, Wedding Planner, Yann Audic | No Comments

I’m heading to the Wedding MBA again this year (4th year in a row!) and hosting a Q&A on destination weddings. My preparation got me to taking a stroll down memory lane, looking at old documents and photos of the weddings, and I just had to share some of my favorites here; this post showcases stunning florals and venues from past Paris weddings.

Oh-so French Florals

Peonies featured big time in many of our weddings, particularly in the spring, when Paris is literally full of them! Florals by Estelle Preston – you cannot do better than hire her for your big day in Paris!

Photo by Yann Audic / www.Lifestorieswedding.com

Photo by Yann Audic / Lifestorieswedding.com

 

Perfect Paris Settings

You don’t have to have your wedding at the Versailles to have a truly stunning backdrop. Many cafes inhabit beautiful ornate buildings; very little decor is needed.

Top Two photos by Yann Audic;bottom photo by Olivier Lalin.

A Wedding Planning Podcast for Planners + Couples

By | Event Professional Podcast, Podcast, Wedding Planning Podcast | No Comments

My regular webinars for event pros have turned into podcasts!  At this link, you’ll find a wedding planner podcast have small but mighty nuggets of wisdom will get you through the toughest issues event pros encounter on a regular basis.

 

Soon (and based on a rather chaotic summer I just had on a personal level, I’m estimating “soon” is Winter 2018), I’ll have podcasts for couples as well, to help manage the wedding planning process as a consumer.

My concept for a wedding planning podcast was to share the struggles I’ve had, and how I overcame them – thus, in these podcasts, I’m offering actionable, concise, and real-world tested solutions and procedures you can easily repeat and use on your own.  From not standing your ground with a difficult client to selling your services at profitable pricing, I have lots to talk about. But, if you’re a wedding planner, you’re probably crazy busy and don’t have time to listen to a long podcast.  These are short podcasts, easy to listen to, and full of content, not empty chatter.

See podcasts here at the Aisle Survive website.
Enjoy, and email any thoughts, comments, or input at dee@noworriesep.com.  Happy planning!

Be A More Assertive Event Planner : Practice Makes Perfect

By | Corporate Event Coordinator, Corporate Event Planner, Event Planner, Event Planning Business Advice, Event Planning Workshops, Wedding Coordinator, Wedding Planner | No Comments

Have you ever worked at venue, and heard from management that you the most calm event planner (or one of) that they’ve worked with? When I’ve asked what they’ve experienced from other planners, I’ve heard stories of drunk planners, planners that have caused major drama, got into fights with vendors, etc.  Now mind you, I have a wide network of planners here in L.A. and know none of my compadres would ever act like this, but, as the years wore on and I bore the brunt of bad behavior from clients, guests and vendors, I could understand why planners get aggressive, reactive, and, well, un-calm.

I never let myself ‘lose it,’ but one thing I learned to do was be more assertive. I.e., stay calm, but not passive.  A couple times, I even raised my voice, but only when necessary. I do think that it’s great to be calm, but it can’t be at the expense of your well-being and the quality of your client’s event or of your business (when a client needs some boundaries set).  I will say, it gets easier the more you practice. Here’s some tips.

Call a company and negotiate, even if it’s not as an event planner.

Why not? It can be your wifi, your office rent lease renewal, or shoot, just call your credit card company and ask for a better APR. Use measured approach and validate it with a good reason (“I did some research, and an office building next door is charging less than what I’m paying now – so my rent needs to stay the same for the next year.”). These lower-level negotiations will prepare you to be tougher in more tense situations.

Strengthen your contract and stick to it.

If I had a nickel for every time a client innocently started involving me in rehearsal dinner plans (when I’ve been clearly hired just to work the wedding)…  I finally added in italics that these events are clearly additional services, just to reinforce what exactly my contract covered. Then I felt more comfortable telling the client they’d have to pay extra for these services.  The first time, I had butterflies in my stomach; after that, I didn’t blink.  And the clients were grateful for my honesty, and some even hired me to help with their additional events.

Let ‘er rip – when you really need to.

I’ve only raised my voice 3 times in nearly 200 events. Twice, it was towards staff or vendors’ staff that were not listening. I politely and firmly asked for something several times – no response. (Was it because I was a *female* event planner? I wonder.). Finally, I raised my voice a shout.  And it worked! I know we shouldn’t have to do it, but a) if there are no guests around and b) it’s a vital, time sensitive issue, than IMO, it’s okay to raise your voice.  (The third time was to an inebriated, aggressive guest who was harassing me – raising my voice stunned him so much, he scurried away!)

Should you add new services to your business?

By | Business Builders, Business Consulting, Business Development, Consultant, Corporate Event Coordinator, Wedding Consultant, Wedding Coordinator | No Comments
A few years ago, I realized that clients constantly needed basic tabletop offerings – candle votives, lanterns, and the like. Due to the expense of sourcing and storing these items, not all florists had robust quantities of them.  I sourced a few different types of votives and frequently rented them out to clients, making some additional pocket change and saving them time, and over-investing in these items.  What would be hard about adding new services to my boutique event planning business?

I thought, maybe something’s there.  I could start a table top rental business! It fills a need, I had storage in my garage, and I had plenty of contacts in the event world.

Then I started thinking:  How would I deliver these items to everyone, along with my day to day business, which if I wasn’t careful, could be all consuming? Wouldn’t delivery cost as much as the item rental fees, due to labor costs?  Also, what if they came back broken? What inventory tracker should I use?

Lanterns add new services to your business bud vases floral linen wedding long table reception decor event design

Photo by Jillian Rose Photography

I realized, it just wasn’t worth doing – better to stay with what I was doing, continue to refine my event planning business, and coast along with that.

It’s so easy to be distracted, to see another opportunity and try to strike out in a new direction. Before you do, check in with yourself:

Run Scenarios.

Think through a typical transaction of your new business. How much time and money would it cost you?  Would you be able to charge enough to cover your cost?

Evaluate your resources – do you have enough to add a new service?

Do you need additional capital?  How much would it cost to source raw materials (if any)?

Does someone else already do it well?

When photobooths were the new thing, there were just a handful or competitors for each region. Now, there are so many!  Is it worth entering a saturated market?

Take time to review all your options and the ripple effects to your business.  If you think it’s a good idea, go for it! Otherwise, nothing wrong with regrouping and making your current business even stronger.

Event Planners: How to Deal when things get Personal

By | Consultant, Corporate Events, Event Planner, Event Planning Education, Event Planning Workshops, Wedding Consultant, Wedding Coordinator, Wedding Planner, Wedding Planning Checklist | No Comments

As a wedding planner, I learned more about diplomacy than a degree in international politics probably ever could!  What helped me deal with situations with extraordinarily irrational elements was developing empathy and being a consummate professional, and event planners can do so easily with a little forethought. Here’s how.

1.  Try to Figure out What’s Going On.

No need to actually ask the person what their problem is (unless you feel it’s appropriate!) – but perhaps you overheard the bride talking about her deceased father, or the party host talk about being laid off recently.  Something could be going on in their lives that while it doesn’t excuse their behavior, it allows you to give them a pass so you don’t overreact.

fun bridal party photos bus party bus event planners

This is the end result you want to get for your clients – all smiles after a great evening. You can get there the easy way, or the hard way, depending on how well you set boundaries.

2. Event Planners need to Be Kind but Firm when things get Personal.

For wedding planners especially, it’s important to remember while your clients are in an emotional space, you are not.  You are at work, being a professional. It’s no different than a bank teller or a financial planner – you wouldn’t expose them to the latest fight with your mom or cry on their shoulder, would you?  So your clients should treat you professionalism as well.  It’s as easy as saying, “I understand where you’re coming from, but my job is to create and run a beautiful wedding day.  When you have resolved your personal issues, let me know what your final decision is.  Let’s talk now about the dessert table (change the subject.)

3.  Be Clear in your Legal Agreements about Services.

If a client wants you to research 15 photographers when 5 would suffice, there should be a limitation in your contract where you reserve the right to charge additional when their needs go over and above reasonable limits.  This should be clearly stated BEFORE they hire you, too.

For more information about consultation and education for event planners, click here.  Happy Planning!

Charging Enough? Wedding Planner Pricing

By | Business Builders, Business Consulting, Business Development, Wedding Planner Price, Wedding Planner Pricing | No Comments

I stopped actively planning weddings a few months ago (Bad knees + missing family time on weekends made the decision for me), and I now consult with other industry-related businesses. As a wedding planner pricing was key to the success as of my business;  recently, as part of my work, I happened upon a planner’s website with startlingly low prices.  These were prices I charged about 6-7 years ago.

Charging too little is a high stakes decision that drastically affects your well-being, your ability to provide for you and your family, and your long term earnings.  You will create a referral base that’s lower budget and never break through to a high-earning, high quality book of business.  When I amped up my pricing to truly reflect my workload and expertise, I had a lull in bookings for 2-3 months, but then I recouped any missing revenue and had much better long term earnings. It was a game changer.

Ceremony Under Chuppah Calamigos Ranch

Photo by True Photography; venue, Calamigos Ranch; Florals, McCann Florist

Wedding Planner Pricing Tips

1. Set limits on your services. I capped my ‘day of’ coordination to 40 hours total, and partial planning meetings were capped at 90 minutes long, for example.  Sometimes we give an inch, and our clients (usually without any ill will), take a mile, but it eats up your profit and earnings per hour.

2.  Ask around.  Find your tribe of honest and supportive wedding and event planners in your community and share your pricing models.  Become referral partners. If your pricing is apples to apples to each other (at least approximately), you build a web of high quality, well-priced services that will gain ground with potential clients and set a standard of pricing.

3. Consider hourly pricing. I’ve been a big proponent of this lately, and if I were to continue my business, I’d revert to this model.

Part of my consulting services is to help planners formulate concise, data-supported pricing models for optimal profit.  I offer a 20-minute no-obligation call to anyone interested in my services, which is a great way to have a professional, safe space to vent, discuss pressing issues, and gain insight on thriving in the challenging business of event planning. To learn more, click here, email me at dee@noworriesep.com, or call  310-562-3306. Happy planning!

Setting Boundaries with Wedding Clients

By | Business Builders, Business Consulting, Business Development, Difficult Clients and Vendors, Event Planner, Event Planning Business Advice, Event Planning Education, Event Planning Workshops, Malibu Rocky Oaks Wedding | No Comments

An unexpected thing happened when I started wedding planning:  People lower their guard with wedding planners, and suddenly you’re treated like a therapist – or punching bag.  Some of the sharply worded, irritable, or just plain mean treatment totally blew me away, or highly reactive behavior – like the bride who called me at 11pm on a Saturday night to tell me the photo of the prototype of her bouquet made her cry (after she tried to tell the florist the exact recipe to use, which of course wouldn’t look right because the bride wasn’t a florist!).  Clearly, I needed to set boundaries with some brides, grooms, and family members and friends. Here’s how I did it.

Smogshoppe Wedding Boundaries clients

Photo by Marble Rye Photography

Set Boundaries from the Beginning

The best way to do this is to set expectations and boundaries from the beginning – I mean from before the clients even hire you.  You must set a sense of authority and expertise, and be clear that there are ground rules for communication, including office hours and a general good attitude when talking.  I was a bride and I know how stressful it can be – but we’re not saving lives here: There’s no need to have an anxiety attack over whether or not the quartet can learn the exact arrangement of the pop song you want playing as you walk down the aisle.

Peony Boutonnierre Peony Boutonierre  Boundaries wedding clients Mulberry Row florist Malibu Rocky Oaks wedding peonies

Photo by Iris and Light

Pick the Right Clients.

If potential clients don’t like your no-nonsense (but kind) attitude, they aren’t a good fit. You’re not a non-stop ‘yes man,’ you’re a voice of reason. If they want an enabler, they can go somewhere else.

Make it Legal!

Then, be sure your contract supports your boundaries, and lays in place parameters for how you communicate.

Once you start establishing your authority, your life will change, and your work will be more joyous, and your clients will be grateful for your support.  To learn more about boundaries, email me at dee@noworriesep.com.  Happy planning!

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

By | Uncategorized | No Comments

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.

Save