Category Archives: Event Planning Education

Give Yourself A Break: Slow Down your Schedule

By | Event Planner, Event Planning Education, Goal Setting, Mental Health Tips for Business Owners, Self Care, Time Management | No Comments

I used to be a full time business owner, and there was always something to do:  A timeline to build, a blog post to write, a mixer to attend.  Even when I had organized the business to guarantee a neatly contained workday nearly every day, I’d find myself at 9pm at night, say, going online and doing some marketing research, or updating my bookkeeping. I was very efficient with my main work at hand (event planning), so when I had leftover time, I felt like I should be doing something more.  And certainly, there was always something useful I could be doing, even if it wasn’t totally necessary.  But what I should have been doing was telling myself to slow down. Take some time for myself, my friends, my family.

I wound down my business 3 years ago to work in the hospitality industry, but even then, I was consulting on the side on a freelance basis, and working on a project (virtual Wedding Planner Support Groups – to come in late Summer 2019), and this, that and the other.  Then, a few weeks ago, something changed.

I’d leave my job, come home, tidy the house, make dinner, check in on some family, work out…and just have a nice evening of normal around-the-house activities.  I had finished up a couple consultation projects; the Wedding Planner Support Groups were steadily coming together; and I just decided to have one job for a few weeks. And it was awesome.  I realized, I didn’t have to take over the world every night after work – I didn’t have to do MORE to be a BETTER consultant or hospitality professional. I could slow down a little; I could have a nice normal life with ONE job and the occasional, well timed and somewhat automated side project.   The pressure to be all things, to have my fingers in every pie, fell away.  As my business consultant once told me when I went on a downward spiral about all I was trying to accomplish:  Give yourself a f*&king break.

And I’ve never been happier.

A few things that happened because of my return to normal-hood:

  1.  I’m sleeping better.  Fewer things are swimming in my head when my head hits the pillow every night.
  2. I’m highly focused.  Multitasking isn’t always the ideal – you can’t multi-task every single moment of the day. You risk doing a half-assed job on everything versus giving 110% to every task.
  3. I’m healthier.  I started working out almost every single night (Beachbody on Demand to the rescue!). I’ve regained muscle I haven’t seen in years, it’s also added to my sleep, and my stress levels have plummeted since I have increased my cardio activity.
  4. I’m closer to friends and family. I have more time to reach out, send that checking-in text, grab coffee on the weekends.  Socializing has legitimate long-term, crucial health benefits, along with the short-term bump you feel in overall mood.

Life is precious, and every second counts.  No one is going to give you a medal if you add one more thing to your to-do list to prove your productivity.  Give yourself a break; slow down the pace of the voices in your head demanding you do more, more, more; give yourself boundaries, and take time to refill your well of energy, every single day.

Former Client Referrals : The Foundation of a Wedding Planner’s Business

By | Client Referrals Wedding Planning, Event Planning Business Advice, Event Planning Education, Event Planning Workshops, Generating Wedding Referrals, Referrals, Wedding Planner, Wedding Planner Pricing | No Comments

When I was a wedding planner, one of my top sources of referrals were, of course, past clients.  The market has evolved quite a bit already in the past two years since I’ve wound down my business, now that more and more ‘gig’ coordinators and planners are showcasing their services for well below market rate.  Securing client referrals is important for any event planner.  Here’s some tips for how to encourage and increase these referrals. First:

Why do I need client referrals?

Number one reason: They are qualified referrals!  The couple referring you can already vouch that you are what you’re worth (i.e. your price is right), and that you are invaluable to the wedding planning process.  They have already convinced the couple that they need you – that they SHOULDN’T DIY their wedding, or rely on their second cousin to run the big day.  Half the battle is already fought in convincing them of your worth, because former clients have referred you.  This is why client referrals are often the foundation of any quality wedding planning business.

Wedding Planner Client Referrals with Favors

Don’t forget, your couples may need you for baby showers in a few years, too! Photo by Mibelle.

How do I encourage referrals?

Upon closing the event, after you’ve sent your thank you and made a tasteful request for an online review, you can finish your message letting the couple know that you have special incentives and rewards for any referral they send to you that results in closed business. Maybe it’s a $20 Starbucks card, or gift card at a store they featured on their registry.

Should you be friends with your clients?

Another way to connect with clients is to connect with them on social media (I highly recommend AFTER the event, when you truly know you will be comfortable being friends with them on all your social channels).  Then, you can post on social media from time to time a call to action (“the holidays are coming up!  I’m happy to chat with your newly engaged friends or relatives about their wedding plans!” etc.).  I have actually booked closed business this way, and you will too – by gradually adding past clients to your social media network, you stay connected and have that crucial opportunity to advertise to an audience that already knows and trusts you.


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!

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  Happy planning!

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!

Business Builders: Effective, Efficient Meetings

By | Aspiring Event Planners, Aspiring Wedding Planners, Business Builders, Business Development, Event Planning Education | No Comments

As planners, the  most effective experiences we have are meetings with clients – either via phone, Facetime, Skype, or in person.  These tend to be outstanding opportunities to regroup on loose ends, conduct discussions about complex or emotional elements of the wedding, and to offer in-depth guidance.

Move LA Conference 2013 - photo by Amy Williams Photography

Move LA Conference 2013 – photo by Amy Williams Photography

On the flip side, meetings can become overlong, full of extraneous information that do not concern your duties, or a waste of time if not everyone is prepared. Here’s how to make sure your meetings are hyper productive and effective:

  1. Send an agenda at least two days prior. A short bullet point list with talking points is essential to making sure your clients are prepared.  It also triggers elements the clients want to discuss as well, and I allow them to add items to the agenda before we meet.  Then, I can prepare to discuss that topic and not be caught off guard.
  2. Set a time frame.  I’ve had brides who lived out of state, who would chat with me on the phone for almost two hours, but we got an amazing amount of work done in that time. By contrast, you could speak with another client for 30 minutes and constantly circle the same subject over and over with nothing resolved.  Kindly ask the client to get back to you with their evolving thoughts on the matter and nicely guide them to the next subject. Starting out each call or meeting with “We have 1 hour and 15 minutes to go over everything” or even better, adding this info in the email with the agenda, will set the tone and protect you from having to outsource additional staff – work beyond normal business hours – to get all your other to-do’s done.
  3. Calendar phone calls.  Always try to set aside a formal time for phone calls.  Our job is not solely a sit-down desk job; off site meetings, driving to rehearsals, and conducting the actual events mean we need to be sure we have time to focus and get settled before heading into a phone call. This should be spelled out in your initial orientation doc or contract to the client.
  4. Write down a few key details after the meeting. If you’re like me, you’re writing or typing in notes during the meeting. But, there are so many elements to each wedding and event, that the core takeaways can get lost. I now take this famous advice to heart and write three key details unique to the event after the client has left. it helps me focus on what makes their event unique, on key logistical concerns that need special attention, and any urgent needs they may have.

By prepping both yourself and the client for each meeting and shaping the flow of discussion, you can make meetings highly productive for all involved.  Further articles on successful meetings can be found here and here.

Business Building: Sharp resumes and eye catching cover letters

By | Business Builders, Business Consulting, Event Planning Education, Event Planning Workshops, Uncategorized | No Comments

I’ve found that event planning is a competitive business. In our Event Essentials and Systems and Strategies workshops, I discuss why the event planning industry is growing substantially the next few years, but still, there are a lot of people competing for every job that arises. You have got to put your best foot forward out there.  Because clients depend upon us for a professional presentation, articulate personality, and detailed approach, event planners need to hire associates that reflect this as well.

We receive resumes almost every week, and we can’t possibly interview every single inquiry. I try to respond to every single one (though it may take some time) because I know what it’s like to put yourself out there – and there is so much talent that I always keep resumes on file, just in case.

That said, I am sometimes taken aback by the low quality of cover letters and resumes. Multiple typos, lackluster resumes, and an insincere approach.
Things to watch out for:

  1. Typos! Read it yourself, then send to two people (hopefully you have a teacher or two in your life who is a stickler for grammar).
  2. Gushing compliments. When I read cover letters about how astoundingly impressed and in love someone is with my work, I think, are they REALLY? They must say that to EVERYONE, right? I’d rather someone observe my position as a professional in the industry and mention something specific but not necessarily hyperbolic – for example, mention the variety of venues we work (hotels, backyards, estates) as an appealing element that the job seeker may enjoy experiencing by working with us.
  3. Be sure to touch on specific aspects of your work history in your cover letter, as well.  Personality is nice too, but remain pleasantly professional versus eccentrically enthusiastic.
    Associate Heather at work setting up at Crowne Plaza Redondo Beach

    Associate Heather at work setting up at Crowne Plaza Redondo Beach

  4. I admit, in my day resumes were pretty simple. And they can stay that way. We love seeing cool, graphic resumes, but a polished, neat, clean resume is great too. Do not send a poorly spell checked, unevenly spaced resume in Times New Roman or Arial fonts. It displays a lack of care for how you present yourself. For a great example of a resume, click on this Sample Resume.
  5. Build an online portfolio.  Use or another DIY website builder and create a simple one page collection of photos from events you’ve worked, albums of photos of your design work, and so forth.  Add a link to a downloadable PDF of your resume. That way, potential employers can bookmark your info online, instead of hunting down your resume on their computer.  This is a huge way to stand out from your competitors: Seeing is believing.

Our first Business Builder newsletter is rolling out in a few days, with excellent advice for aspiring and established planners, and everyone in between; and we’ll have the latest dates of our workshops, as well.  To sign up, email us at or contact us here!