Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Hiring a Wedding Planner {Part 6}

Now that you've gotten a consultation on the calendar ~ what to expect once you're finally at the meeting? Firstly, aim to be on time OR call / email the wedding planner if you are running late. Keep in mind that while this is a client service industry, everyone has a schedule and would like to stay on track.

Once you've gotten to the meeting, don't judge a book by its cover. I know that our society has taught us to write off people immediately if you don't like how they look / act / talk etc but seriously, don't be so judgemental! You aren't hiring this person because of the way they dress, talk, act, you are hiring them because they are damn good at what they do. So, please, keep an open mind.

During the course of the meeting, be prepared to answer the questions the wedding planner asks you. They are looking to get a sense of not only what your wedding vision is, but who you are a couple as well as trying to assess if they want to work with you {disclaimer: not every planner is the right planner for every couple}. This is a two way interview, so aim to present yourself in a positive light.

When the planner is telling you about their services and how they help in the wedding planning process ~ jump in with questions if you need clarity ~ we want you to fully understand what we offer and how we operate so that there are no surprises throughout this process.

What you don't want to keep doing is wondering what the cost is. Cost comes through understanding the value of the service that this person provides. {Make that your mantra!}

At the end of your meeting ~ ask what the next steps are ~ will the wedding planner send you a proposal? Do they give you a copy of references and a contract and any other items you should read? Basically, get an understanding of what happens next in the process.

Next week: Consultation de-brief

Catch up on Parts I, II, III, IV and V

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Tips on Tipping Your Wedding Vendors

You may have noticed on your vendor contracts that the wedding day gratuity has already been accounted for ~ this is fairly typical for caterers and transportation but not so much for your other wedding vendors. As you lead up to the big day, you need to start thinking about whom else will need to be tipped on the wedding day. To help you figure it all out, here are some tips to tipping:

While tipping is obviously discretionary and not entirely mandatory, most of your vendors are expecting a little something for their hard work and effort to making sure your wedding day is fabulous ~ while you don't need to break the bank on tips, be ready to dole out some $ at the end of the evening.

For the wedding day vendor who owns their own business ~ the 'hairdresser' rule of thumb doesn't apply. You'll want to tip each member of that vendor's staff {amounts not need be equal} - remember that the fee you paid for their service doesn't go directly into their pocket for shoes, dinners and vacations ~ your fee pays for staff, transportation, marketing, and basically everything else needed that runs this vendor's business.

Please be organized and place your tips in a sealed envelope and write the provider's name on the exterior. If you have a wedding day coordinator, you can give these to them in advance and they will hand them out throughout the course of the wedding day.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Friday, June 25, 2010

Fabulous Friday: Nominate NYCWEDPLANNER!

Have you melted yet with all this heat? Now, I love the warmth more than any other weather, but 100% humidity I can do without - but its officially summer and I'll happily take this weather over rain or cold.

Aisledash is hosting their Wedding Blog Awards and I'd L O V E for you to nominate this blog. There are two categories that this blog is applicable to:

Best Blog for Wedding Planning & Best Service Vendor Blog

Click here to go to the nomination page & check out Aisledash in general its chock full o' amazing wedding information.

Thank you so much in advance for your participation!

Stay Cool!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Happy Birthday My Little Lulu

Today is my frenchie, Lulu's 3rd Birthday. I am still in shock that Lulu is 3 today, it literally seems like yesterday when I got to meet her pregnant Mama and rub her big belly full of frenchie babies and three months later, my little girl came home. Yup, I am 100% obsessed with my frenchies. I am amazed at how much personality she has, I love that she is hands down the best cuddler on the planet and above all, she really is a woman's best friend. To my little Lu, I love you so very much, thank you for being the most incredible frenchie ever.

{Sweet little sleeper}

{My fav expression she makes}

{Waiting for her parents to finally make it legal!}

{Our flower girl}

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Hiring a Wedding Planner {Part 5}

You've scheduled a consultation - now what? While you don't need to rip every wedding magazine apart to bring all of your ideas to this meeting - you do need to have some basics prepared:

1. Wedding Date - even if its not finalized yet, have your preferred dates ready
{Keep in mind that a wedding planner gets booked out 12+ months and can't hold 8 weekends for you on the off chance it's one of those dates - come prepared with a general date you'd like your wedding to occur on}

2. An approximate number of guests who will attend the wedding
{During your meeting, the wedding planner is getting a feel for what you want your wedding day to be like, including venue - having a guest count helps to figure out what venue's to check out}

3. Budget defined - even if loosely
{This is essential - basically, the wedding planner can't figure out how realistic your wedding vision is without knowing the budget. Its also nearly impossible to be objective without it. Come prepared}

4. Why you want / need a wedding planner
{Bring a list of reasons why, a wedding planner isn't necessarily needed by every couple getting married, so bring a list. We will ask for it}

During the consultation itself you'll flesh out your wedding day vision, hopes and dreams, so you don't need to drag your huge 300 page scrapbook unless you really want to!

Next week: What to expect during the consultation

Catch up on Parts I, II, III and IV

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

What Is Your Version of Luxury?

Almost a year ago, I posted about what your definition of luxury is and how you apply it to your wedding - I wanted to re-introduce this topic since during most wedding planning experiences ... its the little luxuries that get overlooked - and that is just simply inexcusable!

To you, what does luxury mean, especially when it comes to planning your wedding? Is it the luxury of having an amazing photographer there to capture all the details of the wedding day? Is it the luxury of creating an incredible experience for your guests? Is it the luxury of wearing a gown that makes you feel and look gorgeous? What luxury are you including in your wedding day? Is it something as simple as going to a spa the week of your wedding to relax? Is it spending time with out of town guests?

Its so easy during the wedding planning process to lose sight of the little luxuries in life especially when you've got lots of decisions to make and budgets to worry about. For your own mental health, please stop to let the luxury in, it may just be the saving grace for you.

What does your version of luxury look like?

Monday, June 21, 2010

Welcome To Summer Officially!

{photo credit: me}

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Father's Day!

To all the father's out there, Happy Father's Day! I hope that today you are shown how much we appreciate your love, wisdom, warmth and above all, always looking out for us in life.

I am a quintessential daddy's little girl {yes, even being married and at the age that I am} - my father has always been my biggest supporter, a massive wealth of knowledge and has always encouraged me to follow my dreams - for that, Dad, I can never say thank you enough.

{Photo Credit: 5 West Studios}

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Charity: Ma Afrika Tikkun

This is completely off the topic of weddings, but I wanted to share a bit about a non-profit called Ma Afrika Tikkun - which had a fundraising cocktail party last night that I co-organized. As an aside: my parents are the US fundraisers for this organization and they didn't ask me to write this post!

Ma Afrika Tikkun {translated means Mother Africa Transforms} provides care, housing, schooling, meals and sports facilities to 15,000 children in several communities in South Africa. They ensure that children who have been orphaned or left vulnerable by parents who are sick, diseased or passed away get the proper care to just be kids. To take them out of being 'child headed households' and into schools so that they can learn and become something. These kids are incredible and so grateful at the chance to learn, play sports and have proper meals. Its amazing to see that even in the face of familial adversity, these children are so warm, loving and anxious to be successful in life. In short: they are beyond inspirational.

I encourage you to stop by the Ma Afrika Tikkun website and learn more about its mission and perhaps donate - every little bit helps feed and care for these kids. I will also note that Nelson Mandela is their chief patron and has huge respect for the organization - not too shabby from a man who wields a ton of power even as an ex-President!

Ma Afrika Tikkun is a registered 501 (c) 3 charitable organization. All donations are tax deductible.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Hiring a Wedding Planner {Part 4}

You've sent the inquiry and now you get to ... wait. This being a client service related industry - expect to hear back from a wedding planning firm within 24 hours. If you send an inquiry at 11:55pm on a Friday evening, chances are, you'll get a response on Monday morning.

The response email should provide three things: whether they are are available on your wedding date, here are the services they offer, and an offer to meet for a consultation.

If you don't like the tone of their email, the services they provide or decide they just aren't your cup of tea: SEND A RESPONSE ANYWAYS even if its to say no thank you. Deleting and moving on in your life doesn't mean the planner moves on with her life. We will keep emailing you to set up a consultation. Its called persistence and every business owner has it. So, if you don't want to work with them or meet with them, just let them know or be inundated with follow up emails. Besides: its just common courtesy to respond and say no thank you.

On the flip side: if the email response was everything you wanted and more: BOOK A CONSULTATION WITH THEM! Let them know your availability {and yes, evenings are fine, weekends can be tricky especially if its 'in-season' for your area}.

Next week: preparing for the consultation & what to expect

Check out Parts I, II and III here

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Finding Inspiration In Unlikely Places

The one thing that I have learned being an entrepeneur is that I love learning and finding inspiration in unlikely sources. I've always been a learner. I was the kid in high school and college who always did the homework. Seriously. I've loved reading since the second I could understand the words on a page and my husband can attest to this: I read everything that comes across my path. I always have something to read with me because you never know when you'll have a moment to spare to take in some knowledge. So what's the point of all this reading? While I love the knowledge part, I care much more about the inspiration for my business that reading and education gives me. Essentially, I read so my clients get better service. I read in the hopes that I will get an awesome idea that will help my clients. It sounds kinda lame when I re-read those sentences, but in all honesty, I read so much {and all genres} to make sure that my business is continually growing, evolving and moving forward. I also read so that I personally may grow, evolve and move forward.

Where do you find your inspiration?

Friday, June 11, 2010

FIFA World Cup South Africa 2010

Today is the start of the world cup in South Africa! While I am not the biggest soccer {football} fan, I am obviously a huge fan of South Africa so I will be watching as much as I can! I am sure that the opening ceremony in Soweto is going to be incredible, so make sure you catch it!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Let It Rain or Rain Rain Go Away?

Weather and Weddings - can either be a great duo or the uninvited guest that no one wants to see. So what's a bride to do? Firstly, we can't control the weather. I'd love to have that power but unfortunately the weather and nature are uncontrollable. Secondly, knowing that we can't control the weather - be willing to accept that Plan B may come into effect especially if any portion of your wedding day is being held outside. I know that no bride wants Plan B to become Plan A, but there is always the possibility and you have to be willing to move forward with an alternate plan - and not get upset about it. Concentrate more on the fact that you are getting married, not that its raining and your vision of an outdoor ceremony is gone.

A little rain is an inconvenience, but its not the end all be all to your wedding day. While you can start obsessively checking the weather 10 days before the wedding day, its only the forecast 2-3 days out that is going to be more accurate, remember that meteorology is the only profession where you can be wrong 50% + of the time and still be employed so your wedding day forecast is bound to change multiple times before your actual wedding day!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Hiring a Wedding Planner {Part 3}

After you've chosen some wedding coordinators based on their websites, its time to submit an inquiry to them. This is probably the simplest task out of hiring a wedding planner but I'd like you to spend a moment writing a thoughtful note instead of just "hi, here's our date, whats your price" ...while obviously you want to hire someone who works with your budget, hiring a wedding planner is much more than the price you pay them. You are hiring someone for their expertise, experience, the value they bring to your wedding and above all, the fit. If you don't have a good rapport with them, you won't enjoy their services even if the price is right. So please, don't price shop through submission forms.

Submit an inquiry looking to see if firstly, they are available on your wedding date and secondly, to get a list of the services / packages that they offer. Before you even meet, you want to make sure that what they offer is what you need. If the stars align and the planner is available on your date and what they offer suits your wedding, set up a consultation.

Next week: how to prepare for your consultation and what to expect. You can check out Parts I and II here.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Importance of Pre-Marital Counseling

I watched a somewhat disturbing show on MTV yesterday while making dinner and it got me thinking about the need for pre-marital discussions that you must have with your soon to be spouse. The show also confirmed that I am far too old to be watching MTV, but that is an entirely different matter!

The premise of the show was following two couples as they lead up to their wedding and then their early newlywed life. Neither of the couples had lived together prior to the wedding day - that aspect of pre-marital-ness is less important to me it was the fact that neither couple discussed children, finances or employment before getting married! WHAT? In this 21st century, people aren't having these important conversations before they become a family? Its like buying a house without doing the inspection - you wouldn't have a clue as to what 'condition' you're getting the house.

I hear often that couples don't want to waste the time to do pre-marital counseling with their officiants - why? You don't want to take the time to invest in your marriage and your future with this person that you devoting your life to? Pre-martial counseling isn't like therapy where you lie on a couch and discuss feelings - its where you converse about the nitty-gritty. Its where you talk about how you view the role of a mother and the role of a father, what your financial affairs look like {who wants to find out their spouse has tons of debt after the wedding?}, how you view each other's career, what you expect from your spouse. These are seriously important topics to discuss that I can bet you won't be talking about over dinner one night.

So please, just like you are investing all this time, energy and effort into making sure you have the best wedding day - please take the time, energy and effort to invest in your marriage. Its importan, remember the wedding day is one day, the marriage is for life.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Friday, June 4, 2010

Fabulous Friday: Good Morsel's of Wedding Information

After a short yet long week, we've made it to the weekend! I wanted to take a moment since its summer, its sunny and hot and remind everyone that you should wear sunscreen always and to get a yearly skin check by the dermatologist. I know, I sound like some weird radio PSA, but having had melanoma and general tragedy related to melanoma in my life, I am a champion for advocating getting your skin checked out. I went yesterday to make sure all the moles were in tip top shape and I really hope you do the same. Its easy, painless and takes about 5 minutes!

{Ok, stepping down from soapbox}

There are some great reads this week that you should check out:

Found a vendor you love and want to work with? Read this to ensure you get a contract signed right away!

As if you needed more reasons to hire a wedding planner!

When pulling together your wedding day timeline - here are some great reasons as to why you should do photo's before the ceremony.

The Illegal Wedding Fair is here this weekend, stop by and check it out!

And lastly, if you've ever seen The Lion King {on Broadway or in the movie} we all can recognize the opening 'african' scream ... Tsidii, the voice, is performing on June 22nd at City Winery - it should be a fabulous evening! 155 Varick St Soho at 7 30pm.

Happy Weekend-ing!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

'Tis the Season ... To Take a Breather

While wedding season is in full force, I too sometimes need to take a step back and catch my breath before I get consumed - as a bride planning your wedding, you need to do the same - especially as you get closer to the wedding date and things begin to feel chaotic. I am a firm believer in getting things accomplished earlier rather than later because being able to concentrate on relaxing just seems so much more fun than running around like a lunatic the week before the wedding - right?

So please, take a break. Stop and smell the roses, catch up with friends and don't talk about the wedding. Hit up the spa, enjoy the great outdoors or indulge in whatever guilty pleasures you have {perhaps its reading tabloids?!} - just keep in mind that stepping back and relaxing is beneficial to your wedding planning and ultimately to your wedding day.

What do you do to relax?

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Hiring a Wedding Planner {Part 2}

You've decided that you can't possibly live without a wedding planner for your wedding {wonderful decision says me!}. If you're like me, once you've decided you want / need something, you go right to the internet to do some research / due diligence. While I applaud your enthusiasm, slow down for one teeny tiny second. Have you attended a friend or family members wedding that you loved? If so, reach out and ask if they used a planner. Trust me, its worth checking them out - they come with a gigantic gold stamp of approval! If you've already hired vendors for your wedding day or have a pre-existing relationship with any vendors, ask for their recommendations as well. A referral you receive from a trusted source will have more weight in your {sub}conscious than what you find in a magazine or on the internet.

If you chose to do your own research to find a planner, be prepared to spend some time checking out things online. Go through several sources to find a planner: wedding wire, my kate parker wedding, brooklyn bride, new york magazine weddings, style me pretty's little black book, etc. Once you've compiled a list of planners that you want to check out: take to their websites. See what resonates with you - is it their graphic design, the words they use, their portfolio images, the advice they post in their blog? If nothing appeals to you: MOVE ON. Don't waste your time or the wedding planners time to meet if you don't like their website or their blog. Chances are, since their website and blog are branding tools for their business and them, you won't like them in real life either. Thats fine! Not everyone is a fit for your wedding planning process.

Once you've narrowed down your choices, look for reviews / testimonials about each firm. Read what their former clients have to say - does this person sound like someone you want to meet and potentially work with? Is there something that resonates with you in these testimonials? If not, MOVE ON. After you've picked the suitable options, sit down with your fiance and get his opinion on each wedding planner's website - his input is invaluable here. Since you'll all be working together, you want to make sure that he's onboard with this person as well.

Up next: submitting an inquiry and making an appointment.

{Check out Part I here}