Category Archives: Stress Relief

Managing Expectations with Wedding Planning Clients

By | Business Builders, Business Consulting, Contract Verbiage for Wedding Planners, Contracts for Wedding Planners, Manage Expectations, Profitable Wedding Planning Business, Stress Relief, Wedding Coordinator, Wedding Planner | No Comments

One of my favorite sayings is, “You can’t please everyone.”  So true. And yet, as event planners, we want to so badly.  Or, we are tired of having these expectations thrust upon us but wearily try to do so anyways; regardless, what needs to be done in these situations is to manage expectations with wedding planning clients. And that means from the very beginning.

Have a rock solid contract to help manage expectations from the start

I know it’s pricey to hire a lawyer to write your contract, but DO IT!  A solid contract will protect you from litigious people who may overreact and point their finger at you if a mishap occurs, even if it’s not your fault.  Not only does it manage expectations, it can save you from negative reviews and even foolhardy attempts at litigation. And compare notes with other planners and wedding vendors, too!  Be sure you know what pitfalls you need to pre-empt, what verbiage is appropriate, and what lingo is required in your state.  (And while I’ll give some contractual advice here in the blog, always run everything past a legal expert first!)

Manage expectations with wedding planning clients memeEnsure your duties are listed clearly and discuss them with wedding planning clients

In your proposal, enumerate EXACTLY what you do.  For example, a moderately priced full wedding planner should not be going to every single wedding dress shopping trip – that could take days!  I noted on my proposal that I attended one FITTING to learn how to bustle the dress.  Be as crisp as possible, and discuss with your prospective clients so you can get off on the right foot from before they even book you.

Often, clients are so overwhelmed with paperwork and contracts from vendors, they don’t read everything.  So be sure to discuss with them first, at the proposal phase; again, at your first meeting; and remind them along the way – in an emotionally intelligent fashion – what you do and don’t do.  At your final meeting, it’s really smart to ask them to send someone to you at the wedding to discuss anything they want fixed or addressed at the wedding.  Tell them that you need to be empowered with knowledge at the event to do your job to its best – you are not a mind reader.  (This allows you to avoid the passive-aggressive list of complaints on the following Tuesday. I got one of those once – with ridiculous ‘issues’ that had nothing to do with me – and vowed, never again!)

How do I keep Pinterest from warping my client’s expectations?

Don’t let Pinterest highjack your work!  In person, discuss with wedding planning clients how fantastical and ornate design vignettes they see on Pinterest can take hours to setup.  In your contract, you’ll have verbiage that states you handle standard set up only – and list them: “escort cards, ceremony programs, and guest book” – finite, crisp, clear.  Do they have a few family photos they want set out? Fine.  What about menus at each table setting?  Maybe – possibly the caterer can do it, one way or another, you can figure that out.  But set up multiple levels, platters, and 5 different desserts? Nope!  In your contract (I’ve done this – but again, check with your lawyer), you can alert the couple that you reserve the right to elect to bring on board another assistant or designer to implement their setup if you decide it’s beyond your contracted duties.

Remember, you’re not all things to all people…You’re providing ONE service and can’t stretch like Elastigirl to do the jobs of many!  Having crisp paperwork to set the tone will easily manage expectations.

Need a sounding board?  Have a difficult situation on your hands? Struggling with cash flow? I can help with all these issues and more and provide a complementary 20-minute intake call.  Contact me anytime at dee@noworriesep.com!

Spring is (almost) here: A visit to two special gardens

By | Callas, Hidden Chateau, Pretty Stuff, Stress Relief, Succulents | No Comments

I still don’t feel completely like myself, but I think it’s a psychological affect of being sick for so long I don’t know HOW to be well.  Folks, I got a mean case of this flu.  Now, it wasn’t the worst I’ve ever had – not by a long shot – it was rather mild; the problem was, it wouldn’t go away. Thursday afternoon, I was running around the backyard with my toddler; two hours later, I was shivering on the couch, noshing on crackers and anti-nausea meds.  Again, I’ve been way sicker, but what’s up with the off-on thing?

In old movies and romantic novels, when characters ‘take ill’, the doctor sends them to the country to recuperate.  So yesterday, feeling on the mend but spending all day on the couch to recover, I decided to straggle out of bed to make the appointment I made at the Hidden Chateau earlier this week.

Talk about recuperation..this place is absolutely heavenly. I met one of the owners, Jill, and her team, including the charming Carolyn, who is often on site for events draping, decorating, and overall holding down the fort.  Jill kept apologizing for the wintry wind-swept foliage, but I don’t know what the heck she was talking about – it was beautiful.

The ceremony space that later turns over to dining.

The space has a flowing layout and a sense of being in the  middle of nowhere – even though you’re in the West Valley of Los Angeles.  Being in the fresh post-rainfall air, walking around a lush garden and the charming store next door, was as good a cure as chicken soup.

The bride makes her entrance through this little passageway near the old stone building.

I had a little more outdoors therapy today, as well.   My father in law can grow ANYTHING – I’m not kidding. Today in his garden, we saw callas making an appearance for the first time this spring – and his succulents – he has thousands, he even sells them to my clients doing their own flowers! – are thriving.

Callas have such a noble, clean beauty, and as weddings have taken a modern approach, callas have become enormously popular.  They don’t just come in the large white variety – purple/white, deep pink, burnished orange – sky’s the limit. And they’re available nearly year ’round.

I can’t even keep track of the succulents my FIL has. I have three clippings of his that have been sitting in plastic cups for weeks, and I just keep refreshing the water and they keep growing…!  Once I put them in the ground, though, I’m not sure if they’ll flourish like Sergio’s.

After a weekend frolicking in the tulips, I finally feel decent again.  The doctors of yore had it right:  A day in the ‘country’ can cure just about anything.

Organization: The key to sanity

By | Planning, Stress Relief, Time Management | No Comments

As a work-from-home mom, I have to be extremely organized.  It’s ongoing; as my business has grown, I need to keep up with it from a filing and storage standpoint, in a 1500-square foot house that must act as home for a toddler and a husband, as well as separate office space for said husband.  All I can say is, Ikea Expedit bookshelves are the best thing ever – they’re furniture that also has a very specific function:  Storage.  Ikea sells all sorts of baskets and bins that fit in the bookshelves to attractively hide your stuff.

My Expedit bookshelf, hard at work

Organization for the bride can be a huge time saver, and is no doubt a big-time stress reliever.  Sometimes, it seems daunting to create an organization system – and keep it up – but when you do, you feel secure in the planning process.

My clients have found success by doing the following:

  • Don’t procrastinate.  Planning is stressful; planning at the last minute is SUPER stressful.  Which do you prefer?  Don’t wait to get stuff done!
  • Excel is your best friend. Organize simple spreadsheets with fields for bridal party info, vendor info (including payments due, arrival times, contact info, etc.), and a basic timeline.  (A coordinator will complement your spreadsheet with his/her own, and take over the timeline after you hand over your basic schedule.)
  • Office Supplies.  I must admit, I’m obsessed with office supplies. Some clients prefer a binder; others like the ease of an accordion file folder. Receipts, records, contracts, all can be sorted clearly in either.

I luurrrvvee Staples' "M" line of stylish office supplies. Their file folders are my favorites.

An organized bride is a happy bride…make that your mantra!

Your Wedding is Practice for the Holidays

By | Holidays, Planning, Stress Relief, Vendors | No Comments

The father/daughter dance turned into father/daughter/mom, then father/daughter/mom/brother. Spur of the moment affection.

The holidays can be unbearable for some.  But you can learn how to handle them forevermore by practicing dealing with your loved ones during the wedding planning process. It’s no secret that weddings tend to bring family issues to a head.  Sensitivities, past arguments, long-standing feuds – watch out!  It’s actually a good thing, though.  It forces brides and grooms to accept what they cannot change (i.e., half their relatives).

Most weddings go on without too much conflict,  and the process mellows as time continues – plans are set in stone, and the inevitability of it all calms down the control freaks. I for one got super stressed about the planning itself, but became even closer to my family as their help and fun-loving attitudes really made it a blast.  Not to say there wasn’t negotiation and compromise, but really not a lot (add this person to the guest list, maybe have chicken instead of steak, etc.)  The real problem was the venue (but more on that in ANOTHER post!).

Now that I’m a little older (and after having a kid, wayyy more laid back now), I’ve looked back and sorted out how to deal with family and friends in high-emotion situations.  I’m no therapist, people, but ‘being there’ is the ultimate teaching situation. (And no doubt many already-marrieds have a tip or two as well).

My thoughts:

  • Let it go. Like, everything. Auntie Maude wants a champagne fountain? (“I’ll pay for it myself!” – as if that gives them license to have whatever they want.)  If she’s getting crazy about it, let her have it.  Enjoy the kitsch and make everyone take a picture by it for a fun champagne fountain digital photo album set to polka music. When you say, “Sure, you can have it – and enjoy!” the fun of the fight goes out of your opponent – and twenty years from now, who cares that you had a fountain?
  • Let THEM go. Your grandpa who is cranky about EVERYTHING, never smiles, and complains about everything? If you try to make him happy and ultimately fail, quit trying, and just remain neutral.

    The groom surprised the bride with a seranade. No, it wasn't on the schedule, but got things off to a fabulous start.

    Hard to do, I know, but you are not responsible for his attitude – he is.  When he no longer has a reaction, an outside party to project to, he has no choice but to turn inward.  This is a great lesson that helps with holidays, too.

  • Be receptive to EVERYTHING. Stepmom thinks you should have an Elvis Impersonator serenade the bride and groom. The minute you protest with disgust, her adrenaline surges, fight-or-flight commences, and she’s ready to go.  There’s a perverse excitement with conflict that, sadly, keeps family arguments going.  So don’t fuel it.  “That is so fun!! You know, the best man LOVES Elvis. I’ll have to check, though. My wedding planner [YES! We can play bad cop! part of our job!] warned us against overscheduling the reception, so we’ll see.”  Let it go. And then, when she revisits it, say you thought about it but there’s not enough room in the schedule, but you’ve put together a mini Elvis playlist for her during a dance set.
  • If they just can’t let go in a fight (“But Elvis would be SO FUN!”), respond with the same words each time: “It just wouldn’t fit in our schedule.”  Every time they try to argue and wheedle, say, “I wish we could, but it just wouldn’t fit in our schedule.”  Soon they will realize they’re facing a brick wall and stop.  There may be sore feelings, but you’ve remained calm (YES! Remain calm! Kick the tires later!), and emerged unscathed. Later the person might even reflect on how looney their request was, anyways. You’d be surprised.
  • The details will disappear. Your friend Drunken Anthony might request the Macarena, infuriating your hipster self (or…is the Macarena ironic now?), but twenty years from now, seriously, you aren’t gonna care.  You’re going to be worried about the gas bill, packing the kids for college, and enjoying shopping with friends.  It’ll all fade away, trust me.  There’s something about the ‘real life’ that begins after the fairy-tale wedding that hones down your true concerns and cares to the bare minimum – which is a good thing.
  • Compromise. Like the Elvis Medley for stepmom, or carrying your mother’s hanky after you’ve decided not to wear her dress – offer these things right off the bat.  Again, don’t just shoot down the idea – think about it.  Really think about it.  “It’s not going to work for me since I wanted to wear a strapless dress, but i had a great idea – why don’t I wear your gorgeous veil, Mom?”
  • And laugh it off. Champagne fountain, Elvis medley, Macarena – however campy, kitsch , or out of left field anything is, it’ll be memorable. The crashing together of peoples’ whim and whimsy makes a wedding memorable.  If all the details are just-so perfect, things get a little…precious.

Not too long ago I had a dinner party for some old friends to welcome by bestie buddy (we go back – I don’t even want to say it – twenty two years or so).  I thought I had enough chairs, but the gang had to find more with hubby’s help – then, the risotto was NOT cooperating (first time in how many times I’ve cooked the stuff?), so Jen (No Worries Coordinator extraordinaire) performed triage; there were no seating assignment cards, no cutesy sign in book, we had a coupla mismatched plates – really, nothing that even at all lent itself to me being a pro event planner. I save my perfection and polish for my clients; but at home, it was casual, chaotic, full of laughter.  It was the best.

The cake arrived with sugar callas, which was not what the bride ordered - but she took it in stride. After all, it's a beautiful mistake!

I think after pulling off a lovely wedding in my perfectionist way, I was fatigued.  Then I had a child, and while I work hard to keep the house clean (like, semi-germ-free clean), it’s a bit cluttered.  Sometimes I step on a squeak toy. The dogs stink if I go one day past their every-month bath window; and there’s two bins of clean laundry that I just can’t seem to get to. But it’s okay.  So when a client frets about a teeny detail, I reassure her that I will help her implement it perfectly, but that with 150 average humans in the mix (both guests and vendors), it won’t be as perfect as her dreams. in fact, it’ll be better – a surprise toast by a dear friend, an unexpected conversation with an old buddy who managed to make the trip at the last minute, a flower girl who interrupts the first dance with a big hug on the bride and groom.  These are things that make life as beautiful as it is, and will make your wedding all the more special.

It’s a small world, after all: Vendor to Vendor…to Client!

By | Personal Attire, Planning, Stress Relief, Tuxes, Vendors | No Comments

So I just worked with Sky Events and Productions on the beautiful 11/20 Four Seasons-Bev Hills wedding – Dimas and Derek, Lilit and the rest were amazing to work with. You may have seen a photo or two of their amazing centerpieces on my FB page, but here’s another look:

Candelabra and centerpieces with garden roses and peonies

I decide to hit an event planners’ open house at the new Rik Ducar space right next to Jenny Yoo on Beverly Blvd. in L.A. yesterday, and who was providing the beautiful bouts on the tuxes, but Sky Events!  I recognized their signature black ribbon around the stems – blends so well into the tux jackets.

And as I walked in, I met Katrina Razavi, founder of Marriage.com, a sleek new website for the SoCal marriage-minded.  I had heard about Katrina and the website from my supercool friend Rhonda, who’s hooked into the fashion industry (she and her lovely business partner Kristin run the invaluable style directory The Lookbook.com).

This kind of serendipity happens all the time when you stay connected to the various members of your industry – particularly the events industry. After all, we’re party planners, so we’re always throwing events – and attending them! These meetups allow us to share ideas, current trends, and learn about the best vendors to work with.  It all adds up to client satisfaction in the long (or short!) run.

Now on to the tuxes:  Rik took the time to sit down with me and show me his product line, for both purchase and rental. It’s surprisingly do-able to purchase a tux, and I recommend to many of my clients to go for it.  You’d be surprised how it comes in handy.  My husband bought one for a friend’s wedding and since then has worn it several times – including at our own wedding, of course.

Rik also offers a cool destination weddings line (linens, seersuckers, khaki) and a ton of gray choices – gray is the hot new color, and for a reason – just looks so dashing, cool, and modern.

Gray suits and silver dresses were perfect for this September's seaside wedding

He and his staff are open, friendly, fun, and offer a wide variety of choices; and, they manage your groomsmen with details and followup so the fellas don’t have to worry too much about timelines – a HUGE help.

In the end, it was a great day of small-world run-ins, the kind that allows we vendors to pick up excellent information that saves our clients time and money.  My job isn’t just the day of the wedding, it’s 24/7:  Outreach, research, and networking.

Speaking of, I’m off to this shindig tonight – like I said, hitting up events is part of the job!

Holiday Time-Saving Tips from a Bride Who’s Been There

By | Holidays, Planning, Stress Relief, Time Management | No Comments

I was in the midst of wedding planning during the holidays, as I had a spring wedding.  March sure seems close when the Christmas tree goes up.  I needed to make sure I had enough time to myself, apart from my full time job (and part time job on top of THAT) and wedding planning; here’s how I retained sanity.

  • Plan ahead! Shop well before Christmas.  I went evenings after work – few people are xmas shopping Monday or Tuesday evenings. I did some research during lunch hours, reading ads and collecting coupons and retail club member rewards.  My favorites: Cost Plus (they send pretty substantial coupons fairly often if you sign up); Best Buy Reward Zone, and J Crew is starting to slip in 20% off coupons in their catalogs.
  • Follow sites like DealCatcher.com or follow my favorite, Broke Chick, on Twitter.
  • And while you’re surfing the web, shop there – aren’t Amazon wish lists the best?
  • Don’t do DIY gifts.  This is the year to pass on them.  Like you have time to be making 20 jars of homemade cookie mix this year? Have a glass of wine and watch Pride and Prejudice instead!
  • Another great idea: Email all your buds and say that in lieu of gifts, you are making a donation to Kiva.org, Brides Against Breast Cancer, or another meaningful charity.  You’ll be surprised how relieved your friends and family will be to be taken out of the gift-giving rat race (financially and timewise, gift giving has become a huge burden), and whether you give $1 or $100, no one will know but your grateful recipients.  Charities have seen a downturn in donations since the recession hit, and every penny matters.
  • Shoot for early prep.  By Dec 15th, have your wrapping and mailing done or ready to shoot in the mail.  Schedule it out on your calendar.
  • Reward yourself.  Give yourself a pedi, an afternoon out with the girls, or…maybe some more wine and Pride and Prejudice? (I love the scene where Elizabeth sees Mr. Darcy walking across the heath…sigh…)
  • Hold a wedding-prep party.  Treat your pals to take out (please don’t cook yourself!) and cocktails, and assemble favors, address invitations, or make those paper flower centerpieces you love.  Check some things off your list and have some holiday fun all at once.
  • Most importantly, have fun.  Try not to let the stress of planning AND the holidays get to you.  No one is following you around to see how great a holiday hostess you are – they’re too stressed and busy themselves!  Opt out of the rat race and make sure to have some time to yourself.