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How has it been 4 years already that I’ve been able to speak and attend at the Wedding MBA? Time is flying! As usual, I had an incredible time meeting old friends and new at the conference as we all learned how to continually improve our wedding business. Here are some highlights:
Amazing Exhibits from Wedding Vendors
First, I got to talk to the insurance pros at RV Nuccio about a unique situation at the venue where I now work. They were super helpful (and as always had mints for the taking…thanks guys!)
As far as amazing presentation goes, check out this display from Fifty Flowers. Incredible!
Actionable Content from Industry Leaders and Wedding Business Owners
Fellow wedding business owners and executives shared key insight that you just can’t find anywhere else. Sonny Ganguly, the CMO from Wedding Wire, basically gave a beyond-101-level class on enhancing SEO. He shared critical information from WeddingWire’s huge trove of research. Frankly this would be worth the price of admission alone. Instagram is still the leader in reaching brides, and he gave some eye-opening examples of how to grab their attention on IG, as well as via other portals.
I sat in on several venue presentations, including wedding expert and founder of Carl House, BB Webb, who advised attendees to take cues from first-class venues on how to treat prospective clients. Bending over backwards to make them feel special is the key.
Interactive, Supportive Attendees
At my “Into the Storm” presentation, about setting boundaries, vendors and planners shared stories they had with – interesting – issues they kept running into; the nods of recognition, the words of support, and the laughter of camaraderie illustrated to me what an incredible community of dynamic, caring professionals we’re all a part of. It was so great to see!
If you attended, I hope you had an incredible time! If not, check out next year’s info and be sure to sign up. Hope to see you there in 2019!
(Did you attend my seminars and have questions? Want to pick my brain about the best the conference had to offer? Don’t be shy – email me at email@example.com!)
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.
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.
We’ve worked a lot at Mountain Mermaid, and for good reason – it’s a stunning venue, conveniently located in Los Angeles. It’s also a very streamlined space logistically considering how unique it is! A perfect place for a rustic wedding. We were fortunate to meet up with a wonderful couple that booked their wedding there that had a really cool perspective on their rustic decor. They wanted artful compositions instead of messy clusters, for a rustic look with a modern execution. We were happy to be on board as wedding consultants and coordinators, and provide the design and florals as well.
For example, the bride was from the coast and wanted to bring in seashells and driftwood into the mix, without being over the top, so we painted some of the shells and added fern greenery to a shell display for her escort card table. River rocks, moss, and other natural details were very carefully placed with artistic detail so they looked more like set pieces than randomly placed items.
A soft-hued but no less vibrant palette of peach, lavender, gold, and yellows offset the deep shades of the Mermaid so beautifully. Wood slices from Tire Swing Woodworks added to the look. We also found glass bottles, ceramic goblets, and other unique glassware for the centerpieces and accent pieces.
Our associate Laura Klein has beautiful handwriting and created the custom chalkboard wedding signage, as well, something that also goes well with the rustic wedding aesthetic. We loved how creative the couple were with their signature cocktails, which were perfectly crafted by their caterer, Huntington Catering Company.
Other vendors included Jillian Rose Photography, who took all of the gorgeous photos you see here; Fantasy Frostings; music by Red Shoe LA; video by Luma House; hair and makeup by Kari Cottom; and lighting by Stage Labs.
We love love love working at Malibu Rocky Oaks, and this estate wedding was no different. The romance of the florals by Lotus and Lily, the chic combination of pink, ivory, and fuchsia, and the bride and groom looking so dashing in their dress and tux – it all made for a gorgeous event.
Caterer: Truly Yours
Venue: Malibu Rocky Oaks
DJ: JK Weddings
Videography: Dove Weddings
Photography: Brady Puryear
Calligraphy: Calligraphy Katrina
People are marrying at a later age, historically (27 for women, 29 for men, reflecting a decades-long steady increase from age 23 in 1960). This means most married couples already have a lot of the items they’d normally have registered for in the past – cookware, coffee makers, even dishware. Thus the question comes up now constantly: “We have everything we need already. But we’d love to buy a house or save up for starting a family. How do we ask for cash without seeming tacky?”
According to Miss Manners, you don’t. Miss Manners is insanely strict – wise, but strict – but she is right: You cannot outright ask for cash, or gifts, ever. You are inviting people out of the goodness of your heart, with the intention to have a beautiful wedding surrounded by the ones you love – a selfless host. But, if your guests have manners, they will indeed likely send you a gift. (Although, do forgive a friend or family member under significant financial duress who cannot afford to.) It’s the unspoken etiquette about wedding gift giving.
Here is how you can ask for cash, as tastefully as possible: The modern way around spreading the word about your registry is to list them on your wedding website. From there, you can slip in a cash registry that is dignified enough to not offend your guests. Well, Great-Aunt Edna may still disapprove, but these days, it’s accepted – not spoken of outright, but accepted.
Registries that process cash gifts:
My Registry.com – My Registry was one of the first registries to allow couples to register for all sorts of items from a variety of stores. Typically you don’t want to register at more than three stores – no more than three registries for your guests to review – but MyRegistry consolidates all your desired gifts into ONE registry. You can also add cash gifts as well to the registry. You will pay a standard PayPal fee for the transactions.
Tendr. The cleverly named, super straightforward cash-only registry charges 5% for cash gifts. It may be a little…too straightforward for Aunt Edna, so please round things out with 1 or 2 more traditional registries for household items you still need instead of forcing all guests to give cash gifts. This can be hard for guests on a limited budget who don’t want to seem cheap by sending only $15 or $20, but can instead send you something nice from your registry for the same amount – and thus their total spend is not as obviously known.
NewlyWish is a more modern-looking version of My Registry, in a way, with a 2.65% fee for cash gifts, and nifty amenities like group gifting options.
Happy planning…happy shopping!
We’ve overseen a variety of corporate events, from product and book launches to conferences, and have three top tips to share.
- Hire professionals, including, yes, event planners, as early as possible. I have received inquiries barely a month to two prior to the date of the event, for extremely complex corporate events here in Los Angeles. We’re talking 1200-person conferences, large festivals, or even a conference that hadn’t even been planned yet – and the potential client was contacting us less than two months prior. Do not procrastinate – planners charge rush fees for planning large events with just a few weeks’ time to do it. Also, your decision making becomes rushed, and you may find you have less time to do your normal day to day job, which hurts your company in other ways, too.
- Interaction is key. Whether it’s an internal awards dinner for your sales team or an introduction of your product to your clients, ensure you have representatives of the company work the room. They should spread far and wide to contact everyone attending and make sure they feel comfortable and learn as much as they can about your services and products. For internal events, having interactive games, such as a scavenger hunt that promotes mingling, boost employee interactions and morale, and unify the team across departments.
- Stay on brand. From customized backdrops to logo’d cocktail napkins, there are tons of ways you can remind guests why they are there – to celebrate your company, your mission, and your product.
An expert planner can help your company save time, preserve productivity, and ensure you stay at, or below, budget for your event. Our door is always open to show you how, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Happy planning!
So, here’s the deal about wedding budgets: The majority of the time, couples lowball their budget – sometimes significantly.
The reason why is because wedding planning costs are not transparent. Of the millions of articles on the internet about weddings, there is not one single wedding ‘calculator’ that can add up exactly what your wedding will cost. Every single wedding is different, so it’s impossible to get a baseline number. Frankly, it’s easier to prepare financially for buying a house than it is a wedding, thanks to information like zillow.com and online mortgage calculators.
A few more fun facts:
- The approximate estimate I’ve researched for the average wedding cost in L.A. is $37,000 or so. That said, most weddings I see typically start at $50k – and range into the six figures.
- Venue and Food make up the majority of your costs, but it’s wise to have a professional weigh in on your entire budget first before committing to a venue – once you sign on the dotted line with a venue, it greatly affects what you have left to spend on the rest of your event.
- Passed appetizers/buffet sometimes save money on food, but not always. A served meal is easier for caterers to buy for – it’s a set amount of food (plus a bit extra) that they can more precisely plan for. Each caterer works differently; it’s best to ask each one their system for pricing out different menus.
A couple times, I’ve created a budget for a client, and then they respond saying, “I absolutely cannot spend more than xx,xxx amount.” I then have to tell them I’m not making up numbers – I cannot make the caterer slash the cost in half without slashing the food in half. I cannot make a $1,000 photographer a good quality photographer. The Veuve Champagne you like is expensive, so meet us halfway and buy a different type. I prepare couples from the moment they meet that I have to present realistic numbers that represent high quality. From there we can set a strategy – whether it’s crowdsourcing the video as guests share their phone videos on a private social media app, or having a food truck instead of a formal three- course dinner.
Before you sign on the dotted line with a single vendor or venue, research all elements of your wedding or give a wedding consultant a call about a budget analysis. It’s saved heartache and yes, dollars, for couples when they prepare accordingly. Happy Planning!
All photos by the talented and wonderful Hannah Arista! www.hannaharista.com
We work with a wide variety of cultures, and appreciate the nuances and joy inherent in all the traditions observed. Many of our weddings are Jewish; the chuppah structure symbolizes many things and has throughout the years, but nowadays it adds a sense of protection, a sense of starting a home together, for the bride and groom standing beneath it. Often the chuppah is freestanding, but friends and family have also carried it in and held in place as well.
On the table underneath the chuppah, are several symbolic elements: The kiddush cup, a prayer shawl (tallit), and an item many of all cultures will recognize, a glass to stomp at the end of the wedding. Many interpretations exist, but one that I particularly like is that life is fragile and imperfect, and to never take for granted your life with your loved one. (More explanations can be found here.)
A significant amount of the weddings we plan and coordinate are Persian, and one of the most stunning elements to a Persian wedding is the Sofreh. This table or display of various ceremonial elements can be simple, modern, or luxurious and ornate.
Each couple’s interpretation of their culture is what makes each ceremony unique. It’s a fascinating part of what we do and another reason why wedding planning is such a meaningful job!