Putting Out Fires

March 24, 2011  |  Wedding Tips  |  1 Comment

In case you’ve never heard this before, I’ll be there bearer of bad news. Something won’t go according to plan on your wedding day. Now breathe…There is no reason to panic.

The big question is: HOW WILL YOU HANDLE IT?

This fact alone dictates whether your wedding day will be the happiest of days or  a let down. Not what happens.

Here are a few scenarios of problems you could face:

FAMILY DRAMA – everyone has some. It could be with your mother or new-in-laws, your critical uncle or overbearing sister.

If it’s still in the planning process, the best way to handle this is to hear them out calmly BUT in the end make your own decisions. Keep in mind, if it’s a small battle, letting your MIL pick the song the parents come down the aisle to is small potatoes. Know when to hold your ground and when to appease people. In the case of family, you will be seeing these people long after your tantrum about not wanting a blue pin for the sign in table. Pick your battles. And always to do so respectfully.

If it’s the wedding day, do what you can to create a buffer. I’ve told a few of my clients “Let me know if I need to come pull someone out of the room.” I’ll be the bad guy if it means the bride gets to have a wedding not filled with drama. My heart breaks when I hear stories of outrageous family problems on the wedding day. Surround yourself with people you love and people that can keep you calm.

A note to family members: Keep in mind the power you have in making the wedding day a magical one or stressful one. It boggles my mind sometimes what relatives will nickpick on the wedding day TO THE BRIDE. It’s her wedding day! Don’t add any unneccesary stress about something that most of the time, doesn’t even matter to the bride. It’s incredibly selfish and rude to want something badly enough to be willing to ruin the bride’s (and consequentially the groom’s) wedding day.

VENDOR MISHAP – everyone has some of these too!

If it’s still the planning process, make sure both parties involved share the same expectations. Your shade of purple may not be what the florist is picturing. Your idea of heavy weight paper for your stationery may not be their definition. Ironing these things out ahead of time should help. Also, (as mentioned this week) make sure to give your vendor permission to do their best. If the poppies you wanted, don’t come in in the right shade, she can use a similar flower instead to get the same affect instead of throwing off the whole color scheme. Nature is unpredictable, so a rigid approach, may have the opposite affect that you want.

If it’s the wedding day, have someone in charge of making sure everything goes according to plan, and if it doesn’t, they can fix it without you every hearing about it. As I’ve said, some things on your wedding day won’t go according to plan. The venue may be short a table they promised. A bridesmaid may leave her bouquet at the house. The weather may change your ceremony. You need someone there who can act fast to make these little issues unnoticeable. For some  weddings, I put out more fires than others. On these days, I wonder what would have happened if they didn’t hire a wedding planner. *HOPPING ON SOAPBOX* Brides, if you are spending 15, 20, or 40 thousand dollars on your wedding day, make the decision to invest 1 thousand of that to make sure all those details you spent so much on are actually executed on the wedding day. I don’t recommend the full-service planning for every bride but I do recommend the day-of package because, even though you may be able to redo invitations, your hair trial, move your venue location or switch your DJ after you heard him botch another wedding, you can’t redo your wedding day or your memories. *HOPPING OFF SOAPBOX* : )

A note to vendors: If you know before the wedding day, you can’t meet what you guaranteed, tell them before the wedding day. If they know ahead of time, they can adjust to the idea or a backup plan they are comfortable with can be created. Don’t hope they just won’t notice, if it’s big. Obviously, don’t cause panic if you are a photographer and had to switch your second shooter from the person you mentioned to the client. This normally doesn’t worry the bride.

Brides, I hope these tips have been helpful! Tomorrow, I’ll give a few tips on preparing for the wedding day.

Communicating

March 23, 2011  |  Wedding Tips  |  1 Comment

Tips today about how to communicate best with vendors!

1. Ask them the best WAY to communicate with them.

For me, some days, I’m in meetings back to back. I may get a few minutes to return an email but it’s much harder to return a call because I don’t want to cut them short if another client walks in. This means, for me atleast, it generally takes me longer to respond to some phone calls unless it’s an emergency. Also, I can tell you that I loove getting details, changes, special request by email.  I also love sending the same to other vendors for my brides.  In the case where there is a discrepancy on what was agreed upon, we have that to look at and be able to have something solid to stand on.

2. Ask them the best TIME to communicate with them.

What’s their work schedule? If they are off every Monday and you happen to call every Monday and keep missing them (and not leave a voicemail), it can be very frustrating as a bride. Knowing their office hours can ensure you call when they are near their desk. Emails are a bit different. You can send them anytime you like as long as you understand they are probably away from their computer on wedding days or Sundays or their particular off day.

And a few general things

1. Show respect to their personal/vacation time.

I’ve heard one wedding industry pro say there are very few actual wedding emergencies, aside from a venue burning or a death in the family. For the most part, there is nothing that has to be done at midnight or while your vendor is on vacation for a few days. This goes along with knowing when the best time to communicate is but goes a bit farther. Even as a bride myself, I remember that feeling creeping up that yea, yea I get it, but this is just one exception and  “We have to take care of this now” or “It’s my wedding day we’re talking about.” Save this for real emergencies and vendors will jump to respond to you. Cry wolf often and real emergencies can get neglected.

2. Allow several days for them to respond to your call/email, etc.

I work with vendors all the time and even the best vendors take a little while to return calls. I give them a few days and sometimes even a week to respond because the wedding industry operates on such a different schedule. If your wedding is a year away and they having to respond to one call in between meetings, it’s most likely going to be the more immediate request. Also, their days off can vary: some photographers are off on Thursday and some cake bakers off on Mondays. That means if you call on Wednesday at 4:55, the earliest you may get a response from that photography is Monday morning. Don’t call them for a second time if they haven’t returned your call in 20 hours (which in some cases is technically only 3 business hours if the call/email was made toward the end of the day). This goes back to working with great vendors. If they are reliable, trust that they know they need to call you and will return your call shortly.

A quick note for vendors:

Respect your brides time. If she has to call more than once even with the above guideline, working with you is taking more energy than it needs to. You’ll book more weddings with brides by referrals and find yourself on a wedding planner’s referral list, by returning calls in a reasonable amount of time. If you do find yourself behind, send a quick email to say you received their request and will get to them by (insert exact date). This will keep them from growing frustrated.

Any other times for communicating with vendors?

Hiring

March 22, 2011  |  Wedding Tips  |  2 Comments

Photo by Elizabeth Messina

Why did you hire/are you hiring your vendors?

The answer to this question could save you tons of stress.

Did you hire them because:

a. You really liked they’re work. You heard great things from people who have worked with them, etc.

OR

b. They fit your budget, you think if you can tell them exactly what you want, they can make it happen for you.

If you’re answer is a., sit back and relax. Don’t even worry about micromanaging. If you loved the photographs you saw on your photographers website TRUST THEM. There is basis for that trust and they’ve earned it. You know what they are capable of. Brides can get disappointed if they don’t get what they saw in their portfolio. You probably will not get what you saw in their photos or cake, flower, design portfolios if you micromanage them.

How can you avoid this?

ASK THEM about their process. Finding out what they do to produce such work will help you understand why things are done and you will know not to shut down certain things, knowing it’s part of their process to get the product you desire.

This not only will give you the product you’re expecting, but it also delegates responsibility so you have one less thing to worry about. I had a bride in my office yesterday, she’s planned out her whole day with tons of cute details. It’s been her baby for months and months. Well, she gave me freedom on the wedding day to use my judgment on how to incorporate things. I know she’s going to enjoy her day because she won’t be worried about those things. She trusts my style and judgment. TRUST = PEACE OF MIND. And I take that trust seriously. I will do everything possible to make sure it’s the best for her.

SHOW THEM YOU TRUST THEM. This takes things a step farther. If a bride tells me she loves my style or what she’s seen on the blog, I feel more confidant explore that style even further and bring new ideas to her.

If you’re answer is b., be prepared. You can rarely change an artist. If they take decent pictures and you think telling them what you want will make them great pictures, it probably won’t. It won’t suddenly increase their talent. You can plan and plan exactly what you want but in the end, it’s the vendor who has to deliver. It’s a stressful position to be in because up until you see the product, you don’t know what to expect.

How can you avoid this?

Lower your expectations. That’s right, I said it. I don’t mean this in a depressing way. I simply mean BE REALISTIC. I’ve gotten many inquiries from brides that say they want an elegant wedding that looks really expensive. To me, that’s a red flag because I know it may not be possible and I’m not in the business of letting down my clients! I want to to go over their expectations. For the most part, you get what you pay for. I do have several tricks and tips to advance the value of your wedding but creating a wedding for $10,000 that looks like $100,000 is not possible. If you have $10,000 for your entire wedding, but want a David Tutera wedding look, you will be disappointed. Look at what you do have instead of what you can’t have. This positive attitude will make any size budget manageable.
On the flip side, vendors when you are meeting with potential clients ask them why they are interested in you.

I’ve started to ask more of what they are looking for a wedding planner’s role to be. Since I do have a limited number of bookings, I look to work with those brides who need my design and style help and can benefit the most from my services instead of just needing a pair of hands to carrying out their vision. If I am simply the work engine, I’m not living up to my full potential and my motivation and work suffers. Also, at that point, I’ve handed the reigns over to the bride and am following her lead. Remember what I said about showing trust and how it can produce even better results? Taking over does the opposite. It let’s me know, you’ve got it under control, and are looking for someone to execute the agenda, not someone who gives ideas, tips, etc.

THE KEY to seeing everything come together is hire good vendors. Talk to friends who’ve gotten married recently, meet with a wedding planner for vendor referrals, and ask vendors you meet with for references.

Photo by Elizabeth Messina

Timing

March 21, 2011  |  Wedding Tips  |  1 Comment

Photo by Alex Beadon

Hello all! I’ve been a bit MIA lately with weeks filled with weddings, shoots and lots of invitations. This week, I’ll be featuring tons of wedding advice for brides. The info I’ll share is based on my own experience but I also asked input from many other vendors to share some things they’d love for brides to know. As a wedding planner, my job is make sure things go well for clients throughout the wedding process. Your wedding day is a team effort among dozens of people and vendors. So working well with them is a big part of that. Brides, these posts won’t be all posies and sunshine. There’s some tough love too. You may not need to hear it but some may to have a smooth wedding planning process. Let’s get to it!

Today’s tips are simply all about timing.

1. The wedding planning process can be a long one. You may gather quotes, do tastings, etc and wait months before making decisions. Brides, avoid this at all cost.  You may want a little time to digest things or talk them over with others involved, I understand taking time to digest things but the longer you wait,  the more muddled what you discussed with a vendor can get. If YOU forget part of the conversation, imagine how a florist can get talking with four different brides a week about an anemone wedding! I love to say I remember each and every verbal detail we go over, but I’m working on over 10 sets of stationery any given week and 15 weddings. I need what we talk about in writing so I can’t ever forget your details. I can spend a crazy amount of time searching for that email from the summer where a bride told me the font she liked. It’s remarkable how many meetings and conversations I can remember over a week or two but if we chatted about an invitation concept 4 months ago, I need details. It’s the best way to ensure you get exactly what you are picturing.

How can you avoid this? Book vendors when they’re fresh. It will save you and the vendor time reconfiguring what you discussed months earlier. Also, vendors may not keep quotes for very long if they get that many inquiries. You’re proposal may have been deleted if they thought enough time had passed for a decision to be made. And in some cases, prices may change in the span of a few months so the quote may not be valid.

2. ASAP is a four-letter word. Telling a vendor you need something ASAP is never a good idea for a few reasons. First of all, if you tell them ASAP, you are leaving room for interpretation on when something should be done. As soon as the vendor can get to something may be two weeks from now but to you, may mean tomorrow. You just made their time frame ok when you said ASAP. Also, I’ve seen circumstances where vendors can unfairly assume most of the blame. A bride may be behind on her timeline and expect her vendor to make up the time and if they don’t produce something early, get upset. It sounds unfair but it happens ALL the time. I’ve actually heard some vendors say, when they feel rushed, they actually react slower citing the fact that they don’t think the client could have been happy with any time frame, so they don’t bother placing it before other work where they know the client can be satisfied.

How can you avoid this? Tell them an actual date and they can gage whether it works with their current workload. If not, you’ll receive an honest answer and can continue the search for someone who can satisfy your needs better.

3. If you need a job rushed, don’t be surprised if there is an additional (sometimes hefty) fee for this. For invitations, if a bride contacts me and says she needs them in two weeks when are normal turn-around time is 3-6 weeks, for me to rush them means putting their job before others WITHOUT affecting those other orders. Let me explain. It simply means I work extra so that any rush order does not affect my other orders. I can’t bump other orders back because it’s not fair to those bride’s who have contacted me expecting my normal turnaround. It’s the same as people making overtime. And if three brides in one week are looking for a rushed turnaround, it may not be possible at all.

How can you avoid this? Look at your timeline. Know etiquette and plan accordingly. I recently sent invitations to a bride getting married in October. She’s got THREE WHOLE MONTHS to address and mail out. Or don’t be surprised by rush fees. Rush fees can often cut out unneeded stress wondering if something is going to get to you in time.

All these tips will help the communication between you and your vendors. And if I’ve seen it once, I’ve seen it a hundred times, vendors who love their brides and have a great working relationship with them, will go above and beyond for them! Giving you just another reason to feel stress free!

I’ll share more on that later this week.  Feel free to comment with your best tips for timing!

As Poised as Audrey

October 28, 2010  |  Wedding Tips  |  1 Comment

I’ve been going on several bridal shoots lately and one thing I’m learning is how difficult it can be. Why? Because brides are in a big poofy dress, tromping around a bayou or garden in the hot Southern heat. And smiling a REAL smile, and following your photogs lead doesn’t always come naturally.

I’ve learned a secret to achieving that grace and ease we’d all like to show in our bridals: Watch an Audrey Hepburn movie marathon. I did this a few years back and I began to subconciously emulate her graceful mannerisms. Audrey may have been my role model in this area but you may love a bubbly Meg Ryan in “When Harry Met Sally” or strong Angelina Jolie in every-movie-she-makes. If you want to hold a certain air, you have to know what it looks like.

And here are a few more helpful tips for taking your bridals:

– bring a sheet to sit on or put under your dress to keep it from getting dirty

– bring bottle of water and fan to keep cool (I’ve noticed that the reflectors that photographers use is also a great fanning tool).

– bring a fun prop to pose with – for many South La. girls, it’s become a tradition to take a picture with something related to the husband’s groom’s cake, which is usually a favorite hobby and include on the groom’s cake table.

– bring oil blotters to keep sweat away and makeup on!

– hairspray, bobby pins and lipgloss – the natural elements can be ruthless on your hair. Bring backup supplies so you can fix!

Any other tips y’all would recommend for girl’s getting ready to shoot bridals??

Guest Post: Day-After Sessions

August 9, 2010  |  Wedding Tips  |  No Comments

We have a special guest post today by the lovely Ashleigh Jayne, a Baton Rouge photographer. When Ashleigh asked if she could share about day-after sessions, I was thrilled. We  wedding planners may know about a lot of different aspects of the wedding, but I love getting other vendors perspective on their own industry. So if you’ve ever wondered about or considered ( I know I am) a day-after session, here’s Ashleigh to share more about it!

::

Just imagine the relief you feel after the “happiest day of your life” is finally over. You and your new husband have just made it to the hotel, and plopped down on the bed for that much-need sigh of relief. You’re finally alone together, but all you want to do is snooze. The ceremony and reception are a blur. But at least the pictures will jog your memory, right?

And they do. You flip through shots of the ceremony, the bridal party, the family, the cake, and even the crazy uncle spilling his punch all over the dance floor. You don’t even remember inviting him. But finding the perfect pose of the two of you is hard, and you already have the perfect frame.

This one would be perfect, except the flower girl is standing right in front of your dress! Maybe she can be Photoshopped out. But there’s nothing you can do about it now. After all, you can’t go back in time.

Or can you? Maybe you need a “Day After” session, an increasingly-popular way to add the exclamation mark to your matrimony!

Since most weddings are on a strict time schedule, it’s challenging to capture artistic photos of you and your hubby-to-be on the big day (unless you choose to break from tradition and see each other before the ceremony). This reason alone is enough to invest in a “Day After” session.

Did your engagement session get permanently reschedle because of dark storm clouds? What about your bridal portrait? Did you pass on that perfect spot because you didn’t want to drag your dress in the mud? Then a “Day After” is what you need! Think of it as a bridal and engagement session wrapped into one.

And a “Day After” session doesn’t even have to take place the day AFTER. Maybe you have an early flight, and need to schedule a time after your honeymoon. It’s also a great way to celebrate your anniversary!

‘Day After” sessions allow you to take control of your moments. Create memories on your terms.  No stress.

Just you, your hubby, and an opportunity to make something that you will remember.

Not just in a few months, but forever.