Category Archives: Vendors

5 Biggest Wedding Planning Myths: Myth #2 – Haggling = Negotiation

By | 5 Biggest Wedding Planning Myths, Event Planner, Five Biggest Wedding Planning Myths, Vendors, Venues, Wedding Budget, Wedding Consultant, Wedding Vendor Negotiation | No Comments

MYTH #2:  Haggling = Negotiation

Over the past few days, we’ve been breaking down the 5 biggest wedding myths. Today we’re tackling Myth #2: “I can haggle my vendors down to nothing!”

A powerful sign that a wedding vendor is worth every penny is when they don’t offer drastic discounts. That means a) they have experience and know-how, and understand exactly how much they need to charge to make sure you have all the resources (time, labor, materials, etc.) you need from them and b) they are so secure in their reputation and referral base that if you don’t choose them, then they’ll find another client who values them for their actual worth. It’s as if they are saying, “Go ahead – find someone new, inexperienced, and low priced, and best of luck to ya. I’ll wait for the next client who comes along and truly values me.”

Tip:  When negotiating, be reasonable. Fridays and Sundays almost always mean price reductions at venues; Fridays in particular have become very popular in the wedding world, and tend to last as late as Saturday night weddings. Also, meet the vendor in the middle – whether it’s shaving off an hour of the time frame for the photographer’s active time or letting the florist pick more cost effective blooms that still stay in your color scheme.

To save on decor budget, we advised the bride to use lanterns and floral pieces, down her wedding aisle, then we repurposed them as cocktail/lounge decor. Photo by Collective Perception.

To save on decor budget, we advised the bride to use lanterns and floral pieces, down her wedding aisle, then we repurposed them as cocktail/lounge decor. Photo by Collective Perception.

Tip:  Also keep in mind the wide swings in pricing from one vendor to another. If Vendor A charges $1800, and Vendor B charges $1500, but Vendor C charges $700, something is way off with Vendor C.   That’s just the economics of supply and demand, simple as that. Vendor C may be a diamond in the rough just starting out and building their clientele – but you better check solid references on them just to be sure. Why? Because they have not established a market value – what the consumer is willing to pay for their services. And they won’t be charging that little for much longer at all, because eventually – no exaggeration – they will make more money slinging lattes.

 

Find a way to make it work, and remember the realities you are working with. Once you understand actual and realistic costs, you can learn to move forward making smart, cost effective decisions!

 

We’re no strangers to negotiation and far, win-win agreements between clients and vendors.  Contact us anytime here or at 310-562-3306.  Happy planning!

 

 

 

By | Agency DJs, Cake Monkey, Cakes, Dessert Table, Heirloom LA, Vendors, Venues | No Comments

There’s a  dirty little secret that events pros are well aware of:  Not all venues are ‘easy.’  I will never divulge the names of such venues, because we can pretty much put up with anything, and enjoy our pleasant relationship with all places we’ve worked.  But.  Maybe the site manager is not cooperative, or there have not been many technical upgrades; perhaps parts of it are rundown (like the piece of wood floor that came undone in the reception hall, that we – yes, we – had to tape down, because the venue manager we notified. Did. Nothing.  TRUE STORY.)

The SmogShoppe is not that type of venue.  Everything is plug n’ play, perfectly appointed- coordinating a wedding there on the day-of is a breeze.

We worked our first Shoppe wedding a couple weeks ago, and it was a pleasure.  The weather was quite nice for March, and except for some chill on the patio, everyone was comfortable and cozy, and the dancing went on past midnight.  The clients had a wonderful time and the ease of working at the venue greatly allowed us to help them enjoy their wedding as much as possible.

It’s such a lovely place, even my amateurish non-SLR photos look halfway decent.  More photos to come – we’re back at the Shoppe again very soon for another beautiful wedding.

The loft is a perfect place for a bird's-eye view of ceremonies.

The ability to play movies adds extra ambience to the urban-chic interior.

Holly Flora's whimsical blooms, vintage jars, and oil-fueled candles set the mood.

Chris Carter from Agency DJs kept the crowd dancing till the very end.

Music: Chris Carter, Agency DJs. Food:  Heirloom LA. (“Our cupcakes are made of lasagna!” Best mission statement ever.)  Cake/Dessert table (and going-home DingDong favors!):  Cake Monkey.  Flowers (including the dramatic chuppah):  Holly Flora. (Their space next door also incorporates SmogShoppe’s new alternative ceremony area.)

Succulents are here to stay

By | Flowers, Pretty Stuff, Succulents, Vendors | No Comments

You can’t open a wedding mag or click on a bridal blog, without seeing quirky, cute, fresh and modern succulents.  They come in all shapes and sizes – to the point of being mind boggling:  There are even Flickr groups, forums, and websites devoted to succulent identification.

Succulents from my father in law's garden...set in water, they just keep growing!

Whatever the type or species, they are here to stay – adding texture and style to bouquets, boutonnieres, and centerpieces.  They need to be worked with differently than flowers- wired for bouquets and many centerpieces, and some are fragile and shed ‘fingers’ if you’re not careful.

A client is researching succulents for her Palm Springs wedding; I combined Lisianthus and succulents together for an asymmetrical centerpiece.

On the other hand, they’re super hardy and you can plant them when you bring your bouquet home! They are naturals in our Mediterranean-esque climate and are so drought-tolerant, even little ol’ me can grow them.

Sweet little succulent - with bridal-white blooms - at the London West Hollywood rooftop.

Some vendors who work well with succulents:  Flower Duet, Gilly Flowers, and Tend.

And drool-worthy photos and spectacular inspiration here, here, and here!

No Worries Vendor Roundtable 1.0

By | Vendors | No Comments

A while back, I realized all the coffees and brunches and cocktails I keep promising back and forth with other fellow vendors would never come to pass with each and every one, because we all are so dang busy – but we really need to get together frequently, to exchange ideas, tips, marketing strategies, information about our businesses, and celebrate (and commiserate,  perhaps?) all at the same time.

And selfishly, I am undyingly curious about all the latest and greatest in wedding and event planning, and the best way to educate myself on such – and educate my clients, then, as well – is to sit down and gently interrogate my sisters/brothers in arms about what they do.

With that, the first No Worries Vendor Roundtable was up and running. Last Thursday, I had Shani Barel of Don’t Smile Now Photography, Molly Dain Suber Thorpe of Plurabelle Contemporary Calligraphy, Andrea Boudewijn of Superfine Bakery, Shannon Kim of Shannon Kim Hair, and Dani Barkat, No Worries’ own assistant coordinator extraordinaire who is also a designer and makeup artist, over at my slightly chaotic but welcoming ‘chateau’ in the oh-so-glamorous West Valley.

Molly, Shani, Andrea, Shannon, and Dani

After some nibbles and Prosecco, it was time to get down to business.  I lightly moderated a discussion that yes, went ’round the table, and the conversation was fascinating, informative, and as bubbly as the sparkling vino.

Andrea and I met Molly at last year’s Hitched event, an assembly of some of the hippest event pros in L.A.  Molly’s contemporary calligraphy is stunning, and business is strong. I learned that if clients can’t quite afford each and every envelope addressed, they could order hand designed stamps in her lettering for a variety of their wedding stationary needs.  I myself am ordering a stamp for my handmade thank you notes.

Shani and I worked a beautiful backyard event last May and got along swimmingly, both being West Valley-based moms/entrepreneurs.  She’s a citizen of the world, truly, and has a wide and gorgeous portfolio, from celebrity shots to sweet kids’ portraits – she does it all, and does it well. She spoke about the new world of photography, how digital has affected the industry, and explained some post production techniques that many photographers use.

Shannon Kim and I met through a mutual friend and immediately hit it off.  (She and I even braved a bridal expo together.) She is super smart, very talented (Allure named her a top colorist), and has a keen business sense. She runs a beauty concierge service for brides and grooms that takes the pressure off planning beauty treatments for the big day, and discussed how she finds and serves her clientele.

Dani is my right hand peeps who is invaluable in the field, and has an outstanding eye and knack for artistry in every domain (pen to paper, events, costuming, makeup – you name it).  She is also completely obsessed with weddings. Recently engaged, she shared from a future bride’s point of view the difference between planning one’s own wedding, and working on another’s.

Lest you think it was all food, drink, and fun, there was lots of business going down - comparing notes and sharing tips.

We saved dessert for last, and just before cutting the two gorgeous cakes Andrea brought, she told us how Superfine was borne out of years of treading water in a lucrative career that just didn’t satisfy her.  Her career switch – from website production to culinary school to running Superfine – was a success: She books up to two years in advance and has been featured in a variety of major blogs and magazines.  And damn, are her cakes good!

Andrea's gorgeous "ruffle" cake, with citrus flavors that knock your socks off.

The evening was a wonderful opportunity to learn more about the various facets of our shared industry, to bond, and most of all, to enjoy each others’ work and ideas.  I’m looking forward to the next one, and thank the ladies for taking the time to come over to my neck of the woods to talk shop!

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!