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!

Lately…

March 3, 2011  |  Personal  |  7 Comments

I have been reading and learning so much about the world around me. This place is so much bigger than weddings, my business, my happy little apartment life. It’s bigger than Lafayette and even the US.

The book that is changing my life and perspective is Hole in the Gospel by World Vision president Richard Stearns.

It took a bit for me to pick up this book. I knew it would change me and I was perfectly fine not changing. I don’t try hard to get out of my comfort zone. I’m in my own little bubble. I love my life. It’s pretty perfect!

But I read it, because honestly, I wanted/needed a passion for things not just about me.

What I took away was that the reason I’ve been incredibly blessed was so that God can use me to bless others and that I can be a part of his work. But I just haven’t been sure of how.

Well I’ve got a soft spot for wanting to see other entrepreneurs succeed knowing how hard I’ve worked to be where I am. This book hit me right in that soft spot. It discussed programs that help people create their own businesses so that they can generate an ongoing income for their families. As a business owner who LOVES my job, you can see how I’d get excited about having the opportunity to help others achieve this.

Kiva is an incredible organization that connects donators to people in need of business loans. Givers can pick what projects they give loans to and receivers accept funds with the intent of paying it back as their business grows. In the community, those that take loans take great pride in paying back their loan and wouldn’t think of not following through. That attitude alone impressed me. These people are so willing to work hard, they just need a little push forward to do so. Donators can either take their money out, or use it for another loan.

I’ve made several loans so far and have loved receiving follow up emails that say their loan has been fully funded. They are on their way to their dream!

If you are an entrepreneur, I hope this post has touched you and inspired you to bless others with the gift of creating their own path. We have no idea how lucky we are!

If you’re a bride and considering a donation in lieu of favors or even wedding gifts, check out Kiva! Share with your guest the individual stories and businesses they’ve been a part of creating.

How about a little gift for y’all too? We’ve got a few copies left of our 2011 Calendar. First 5 people to comment will receive one free!

Have a great weekend!

A New Inspiration

February 28, 2011  |  Inspiration  |  No Comments

Hello all!!

If you are looking for more inspiration than the weekly inspiration board, I’m on pinterest and LOVING it! Check out what’s inspiring me on a daily basis here! And let me know if you’re pinning too!

Happy Monday Everyone!

City Club Bridal Show

February 16, 2011  |  Southern Fete News  |  1 Comment

I’m off for the next few days but before I go, I wanted to share a bit about the bridal show we did last week! The turnout was absolutely amazing for the first held at City Club.

Much thanks to Cat Guidry for sharing these images with me!

Our booth was a bit of an overload. We’ve added several new offerings so we had so much to share with brides and a short time to do so with each!

Our Stationery strung on a set of old vintage doors, a few items from our Southern Life that we thought were great for the new wife or for bridesmaids gifts, wedding books of our Event Planning, florals and decor featuring our Rentals, Info on our new bridal workshop Fete Connection and corkboard filled with inspiration boards from The Wedding Shoebox.

I could not do my job without Natalie! She is literally my double when I can’t be everywhere at once!

Love these people! Hannah Trahan, the private events coordinator at City Club and host for the bridal show, photographer Cat Guidry, Natalie and photographer Jason Cohen