Wedding Wisdom

Top Tech Apps to Streamline Your Creative Business

By Kevin Dennis, Fantasy Sound Event Services

If you operate your own creative business, you surely understand and agree with the age-old adage – “time is money.” We’re always looking for that 25th hour in the day, when we should be looking for ways to carve out extra time in our day-to- day processes.

If you haven’t started incorporating tech apps into your daily business, you’re missing out on some great timesaving techniques. Here are my favorites:

1. Dropbox

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If you take only one piece of advice from this, let it be this – use Dropbox! Not only does it allow you to easily share files with team members and clients, but its cloud-based service also provides you with access to everything you have on file while on the go. It comes in handy when you need to send a file that is larger than your email’s pesky file restriction too.

2. Doodle

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How many times have you been caught in the back-and- forth of trying to narrow down an appointment time that works for everyone? A simple app like Doodle can save you from that headache by streamlining the process. Clients are able to look at your availability and pick a time that works for them and voila – your appointment will show up on your calendar! It really doesn’t get any easier than that.

3. Adobe Sign Services

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Getting contracts signed and returned can be a pain, right? Not everyone has a scanner and waiting for a signature can hold up the process. With an e-sign service like Adobe’s, you can easily sign and send contracts from your computer or your smartphone. Encourage your clients to jump on the bandwagon to simplify the process – you’ll be surprised at how efficient the contracting process can be.

4. Schedugram

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Schedugram allows you to preschedule all of your Instagram posts in advance and will notify you when it’s time to go live. Rather than finding time each day to be active on Instagram, all you need to do is set aside a bit of time at the end of each month to map out your social media plan for the month ahead. Then, you can take a step back and let the app handle it for you!

It’s safe to say that everyone could use a little extra time in the day, whether it’s spent on business or personal matters. Take note of these apps and try others as well – everyone has different preferences, so keep testing apps until you find the ones that work for your business model.

Kevin Dennis is the owner of Fantasy Sound Event Services, a full-service event company based in Livermore, California. Dennis is the current chapter president for Silicon Valley NACE, and the immediate past national president for WIPA.

Timeline Geniuses

5 Things To Thank Wedding Planners For

Dear Timeline Geniuses,

It’s that time of year: the time to focus on what is good in our lives, what we are grateful for, and who we have to thank.

We want to thank you, the wedding planners. You are the reason that we exist. Your tireless efforts to bring joy to others drives us to make your work experiences easier, smoother, and better every day.

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Here are 5 things we have to thank wedding planners for:

  1. Doing the Dirty Work
    Anyone outside of the industry sees the job of a wedding planner as nothing but beauty and glamour. While you do get to be up close and personal with the beautiful dresses, flowers, and decorations, wedding planners are also the ones who swoop in to help when the best man gets nauseous before his speech, and stay until all remnants of the party are cleared out. Behind the scenes is not always so pretty, and we thank you wedding planners for taking care of it all!
  2. Making It Look Easy
    Ever notice how when an event runs smoothly, no one notices? The less there is to notice in terms of glitches or lulls, the more you can be sure there’s a great planner behind it. We know that our event coordinators plan everything to a T (we’ve seen the timelines!), so that on the day, the event seems to run itself like a machine. This takes huge amounts of effort and vigilance though – so here’s to the planners who show up with a smile and make it look easy!
  3. Absorbing All the Stress and Emotion
    There’s giddiness, nervousness, love, anxiety, even sometimes jealousy or other tricky dynamics on a wedding day! We see our planners out there, talking to couples, families, and guests alike. By listening to concerns and absorbing all of that emotion, planners allow everyone to have a good time – especially the couple tying the knot!
  4. Creating A Space for Love to Flourish
    Even while taking in the stress of the day, wedding planners put out the most beautiful energy, creating magical spaces where the happy couple and their loved ones can celebrate without a care. Whether involved in the design, overseeing the execution, or both, planners create the spaces that hold everlasting memories.
  5. Holding Together All the Details
    From the arrival times of all the vendors to every detail of the setup, wedding planners are the ones who keep track of it all. By doing this, you allow each vendor to focus on their specific duty, and allow each guest and bridal party member to think only about having a wonderful time.

Happy Thanksgiving wedding planners! We don’t know where we’d be without you 💖

New Feature

New Feature: Download Multiple Timelines at Once

Hello Timeline Geniuses!

In our ceaseless quest to save you more time, we just added a new feature that lets you download multiple timelines at once.

As you know, Timeline Genius automatically creates tailored timelines for your vendors, venues, and wedding party, which you can download in PDF or Word format. With our new feature, you don’t have to download these tailored timelines one by one. You can instantly download as many as you want and get them in a zip file.

As part of this new feature, we also improved the filenames for your timeline downloads by making them more descriptive.

To see the new feature in action, just check out the video below.

As with every other feature we’ve developed, this new multi-timeline download feature is designed to save you time and to make it easier for you to keep creating awesome timelines.

We’ve got lots of other powerful new features coming soon, so stay tuned!

Wedding Wisdom

Why (and How!) to Build Referral Business

By Meghan Ely, OFD Consulting

While booking prospects who may have found you online or through advertising is certainly cause for celebration, referrals are a fantastic way to boost your business with leads that are more or less pre-qualified by someone who is familiar with your work.

Typically in this industry, we find that there are two types of referrals: those from industry peers and those from past and current clients. Both are useful for booking clients that are a sure fit with your brand, as those who have worked with you prior will have a good feel for your events and refer you to prospects who have a similar vision.

The question is: How do you build these referrals so you’re booking the clients that you want?

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CLIENT REFERRALS

It’s not a secret that today’s couples are highly influenced by their friends and family who have already gotten married. They are more likely to listen to suggestions from a trusted friend than those from online reviews, so it’s important to make an impression on current clients so it can turn into future bookings.

Client experience is a major consideration – it’s not just about providing couples with their dream wedding, but also making the journey there as simple and enjoyable as possible.

In addition to providing quality service, it’s important to be friendly and personable. One thing that I always encourage event pros to do is to stay in touch with their couples even after the wedding ends. An easy way to do this is to send out anniversary cards, at least for the first year. Not only will it give your clients another opportunity to swoon over their wedding (and your services!), but it’ll also show them that you didn’t forget about them. Social media is another fantastic way to stay in touch, so connect with your clients while you’re working with them and stay up-to- date on their big moments.

VENDOR REFERRALS

In addition to friends and family, couples tend to weigh referrals from other vendors heavily. This is why being on a preferred vendors list can be all the difference in your business – when you come recommended by a vendor that a couple has already placed their trust in, the cards are definitely in your favor. In order to get to that point, you need to get some face time with industry pros in your local market.

Of course, the best way to build positive relationships with other event pros is simply to excel at your work and be an easy person to collaborate with in all of your events. However, it’s important to begin networking if you haven’t already – that way, you can bring a personal feel to your relationships beyond day-of communication. Attend networking events and offer your services to sponsor an event. This way, you can participate in your local market while also showing off your services to those in a place to refer your business.

When it all boils down, it really comes to two things: be professional and be active. By being your very best, your clients and industry peers will be eager to tell newly engaged couples all about your work.

Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding PR and wedding marketing firm OFD Consulting. Ely is a sought-after speaker, adjunct professor in the field of public relations, and a self-professed royal wedding enthusiast.

Wedding Wisdom

Olive & Belle on Styled Shoots

Happy Monday Timeline Geniuses!

Whether referred to as Inspiration Shoots or Styled Shoots, you’ve seen them on every popular wedding blog. The vendors involved are usually not getting paid for this work, but do it to display their creativity and inspire their community. If you’ve never put together a styled shoot but are considering it, here are the gals from Olive & Belle Events, sharing some insight from the set of one of their beautiful shoots.
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TG: Styled shoots look like a lot of work! What are some things that make it all worthwhile?

Styled Shoots are a great opportunity to connect with vendors and showcase your style. By showcasing your style, you better attract the type of brides and clients that resonate with your style and will be overall more satisfied with your work for them. Creative Vendors are appreciative of a professional planner organizing a Styled Shoot and pulling together a cohesive vision because it makes it more successful for all parties involved. Building those symbiotic vendor relationships are the cornerstone to a healthy wedding planning business.  
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TG: What are some of the biggest challenges in putting together a Styled Shoot?

One of the most difficult parts, and the most common pitfall, of a Styled Shoot is thinking through an end-to-end marketing and submission plan. You can have the most beautiful images, but if you don’t have a locked-in publication and thought-out marketing plan, the images will be lost in the wedding industry clutter. Creating a marketing plan is difficult and time consuming, but worth it to get the best return on your time and money (a lot of both are put into a Styled Shoot). Plus, your contributing vendors will be that much more thankful and eager to work with you again.
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TG: How do you start the process of planning something like this?

 
This varies shoot-to-shoot, but usually it starts with an inspiration or a concept. For example, this Styled Shoot was inspired by Eliana Bernard’s Marbled Collection plates. The rest of the shoot came to life around her artistic vision. It is also a good idea to consider Seasonality. If you are shooting a summer Inspiration shoot in August, you may have less likelihood to be featured because most blogs are preparing for the Fall Season. Timing is everything. 
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TG: What was the concept behind this shoot?

 
The concept behind this shoot was Contemporary Italian Romance. The initial idea for this shoot started with the venue. I mean, what is not to be inspired by at The Contemporary at Laguna Gloria?! The whole property is piece of old history romance tucked away in the middle of central Austin, Texas. In my own styling, I like mixing bold colors with neutral space, and southern charm with a dash of modern minimalism. We played with the gold, grey, and navy palette. Like anything “styled”, a vision can easily change with each new piece you find. And that was definitely the case when we stumbled across Eliana Bernard’s beautiful Marbled Plates Collection on Instagram. She is a local artist, and an insanely talented one at that. When we came across her collection, we knew we had to incorporate it into the shoot. It was just too perfect. Her bold navy marbled plates slightly changed the direction of flowers, so we chose a more neutral palette for floral with those pops of giant golden roses. I am convinced the Gypsy Floral team are magicians because the flowers looked painted, they were so perfect. Anyway, when all is said and done, inspiration evolves and couldn’t have come to life without each of the contributing vendors showcasing their amazing talents.
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TG: What are your favorite elements about this shoot?

Impossible to choose. We are obsessed with the whole vendor team in this shoot. The vintage rentals, the stunning venue, the marbled plates, the floral artistry, the film photography…missing any one of these pieces, the shoot would not have been nearly as gorgeous.
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TG: What advice do you have for planners who might be intimidated by taking on a Styled Shoot?

Practice makes perfect. Even this Styled Shoot, we learned things we want to do differently next time. Just jump in and enjoy the opportunity to let your creativity flow. 
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We think the whole team knocked it out of the park with this shoot, and with their answers! We hope you’ve picked up some useful tips for your next styled shoot – in the meantime, here are more images from Olive and Belle’s shoot to feast your eyes on:

 

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Venue:  The Contemporary at Laguna Gloria   @contemporaryatx
Design/Planning: Olive & Belle Events @oliveandbelle
Photography: Jenna McElroy  @jennabmcelroy
Florals: Gypsy Floral  @gypsyfloral
Videography: Sharpshooters Video
MUAH: Lola Beauty @lolabeautyatx
Wedding Dress: Saint Isabel Bridal @saintisabelbridal
Rentals: Bee Lavish @beelavishvintage
Plates: Eliana Bernard @elianabernard
Cake: Sweet Treets Bakery @sweettreetsbakery
Vow Booklets: Reed Written @reedwritten
Invitations: Wondrous Whimsy @wondrous_whimsy
Scans: Photovision  @photovisionprints
Model: Kierstan Lynn @kierstanechhade

Wedding Wisdom

What To Do When You Oops…

Wedding planners are seen as the people who have everything under control. We’re expected to perform like clockwork, keep track of every detail, and take on everyone’s emotional baggage without getting bogged down. We’re expected to be perfect.

But alas, even wedding planners are human and make mistakes!

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We got a question recently from a planner who said:

“I’ve been working with a client who wanted a lot, so I expanded my package for her and signed on to do some tasks I don’t usually do. As a result, I’ve been overwhelmed and have messed up a couple times! They’re small mistakes (typos or emailing her later than she expected), but she always points them out, and I’m pretty sure she’s unhappy with me. How do I move forward with this client relationship?”

The number one Most Important piece of advice that must be said over and over is:

Don’t beat yourself up for your mistakes.

This is counterproductive and leads to burnout. Take note of mistakes, try to avoid them in the future, and apologize for them. But know that we ALL make mistakes, no matter how seasoned. Don’t internalize criticism and feel bad about yourself as a professional or as a person. Now that the pep talk is done, here are steps to handle those oops moments:

  • Do take responsibility: Try to bring up your mistakes before your client can, so they can see that you are indeed paying attention, and do know where your performance has been lacking.
  • Do explain why these things happened: Maybe it’s that you’ve gotten an incredible amount of demand this month, or that there’s a huge wedding coming up. This is not to be used as an excuse, but as an explanation for why a slip like this would happen, and why they can trust you not to make the same mistake again.
  • Do offer a solution: Perhaps you’re bringing on another person to help with their wedding, or creating a better system for communication. Whatever the solution is, make sure it addresses what happened and makes your client feel heard and taken care of.
  • Do act humble: Expressing a desire to want to improve, learn, and make the experience better for your client should dissolve any tension.
  • Don’t let it affect your manners: Sometimes when a relationship sours, it can be tempting to act colder. Don’t let criticism from your client affect the way you treat them. The phrase “kill em with kindness” can apply here. People ultimately want to be happy with who they’ve hired for their wedding, so try to make that as easy as possible for them.

The best way to avoid this kind of tension in the first place is to avoid taking on too much, and set expectations. Set yourself up for success, but don’t despair if you slip here and there.

Want advice from the planners at Timeline Genius? Send them our way!
Email tria@timelinegenius.com

Wedding Wisdom

The Big Day: Not Just About the Newlyweds

By Jennifer Taylor, Taylor’d Events Group

Historically, the Big Day has always been about the pair saying ‘I do’ at the end of the aisle. While that still rings true, couples are devoting more of their planning efforts to providing guests with an unforgettable experience that they’ll remember as more than just a wedding night.

There are plenty of ways to ensure that guests have the best time ever, so let’s look at a few popular options.

COMMUNICATION IS KEY

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One of the most stressful things about attending a wedding isn’t about what to wear or what gift to get – it’s making sure you’re available for the event date, booking accommodations and hiring childcare if necessary. Couples can make it easier on their friends and family by finalizing the event’s details well in advance so they can send out all of the important information. Creating a wedding website can be a great solution as couples can send out a link that leads to all of the relevant details that a guest may need.

BE ACCOMMODATING

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Literally! Couples can ease the burden on guests by procuring a room block for them to reserve their own room. When picking accommodations, they should keep in mind the proximity to the wedding venue as well as how well the hotel meets the guests’ needs. Is there a shuttle that can take them to the venue? Are there handicap rooms, if necessary? Is there a restaurant onsite for other meals?

A WARM WELCOME

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Chances are the couple will be too busy to greet each guest individually, at least until the reception rolls around. That’s not to say they can’t welcome them with a thoughtful touch that thanks them for being there. Destination weddings have put custom welcome bags in the spotlight, but these fun assortments of goodies can be used for at-home weddings when placed in hotel rooms for out-of- town guests. Couples can also greet guests at the ceremony with flavored water, small bites or other treats to keep them refreshed until the moment they’ve all been waiting for.

CREATE A WEDDING EXPERIENCE

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Who’s to say a wedding is strictly limited to a six- to eight-hour period of fun and festivities? Extend the celebration by planning local experiences for guests, like walking tours or a scavenger hunt. Out-of- town guests will love the opportunity to explore the area, while local guests will also enjoy joining in on the fun! It can be as formal as scheduling a tour guide or an excursion for the group or as simple as providing maps marked with suggested visitor spots for a self-guided experience. The sky is the limit!

BE THOUGHTFUL WITH FAVORS

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Most people have gone to at least a few weddings where they left with the standard personalized swag to remember the celebration. But do they really need a mug with the couple’s faces on it or a coaster with their names on it? Personalization is a sweet touch, but customizing favors with the guests’ names on it can be an extra special touch. Not only will they get much more use out of it, but couples can also double up by using them as escort cards too! An alternative for a winning favor is anything edible – it may not last as a forever reminder, but that’s the point! Guests will be happy to enjoy a late night snack as they head out for the evening.

Oftentimes, couples can get caught up in the little details of planning their wedding but that is no reason to forget about the reason they’re having the wedding – to enjoy the celebration with their friends and families!

Jennifer Taylor is the owner of Taylor’d Events Group, a planning firm that specializes in celebrations of all kinds in the Pacific Northwest and Maui. She is also the creator of The Taylor’d Plan, a self-administered class for wedding planners who are new to the industry and looking to grow and develop their skills.

Wedding Wisdom

Take Note: Making the Most Out of Educational Events

Today’s post is brought to us by Meghan Ely of OFD Consulting, and comes at a perfect time for us as we head to Wedding MBA next week! We hope to see you there too, and will let Meghan tell you how to prepare in the meantime:

Whether you’ve been to your fair share of conferences or this is your first time taking in a local workshop, educational events can be a great way to meet new people and expand your industry knowledge. With that said, attending events can be quite the investment in both time and money, so it’s essential that you are making the most of the ones that you do choose to attend.

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MAKE THE RIGHT CHOICE

Start out by setting your goals – what do you hope to get out of this event? Are you looking to make new connections and build your network or are you going for the education side of things? Your goals will help you decide on the event that is best suited for your needs. For example, if you want to get more involved in your area market, a local workshop may be just the fit for you, whereas a national conference would be better for someone who wants to build their brand recognition in different regions.

photo from bizbash.com
photo from bizbash.com

DO YOUR RESEARCH

Once you know where you’re headed, research is what will help you take full advantage of everything the event has to offer. Get a good idea of the educational topics that are being covered and how you can best schedule your time there. Take a look at those who are speaking on the topics – is there anyone that you’d love to hear? Make them a priority! Remember: topics are certainly important, but the quality of the information derives from the expertise of the speaker.

In addition to the event’s components itself, put out your feelers and get an idea of who else will be there. Take a look at recaps from past events to see if you can figure out the make-up of attendees and determine if it’s the right group of people for you. Chances are you’ll walk away from the event with some extra connections, so do what you can to ensure that they’re valuable!

 

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COME PREPARED

When headed to an event, I follow my own rule of threes: show up early, bring water and wear good shoes. If you truly want to take in as much as possible, you want to ensure that you’re comfortable and engaged. That’s not so easy when your feet are protesting your cute heels or you have to sneak into the back of a session because you’re late.

On the same note, be sure to bring a pad of paper and a pen for taking notes, as well as your business cards. I’d be lying if I said I’ve never forgotten my business cards at a major national conference, but they really are quite important when confronted with new faces around every corner.

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photo from notonthehighstreet

MAKE IT ACTIONABLE

This is the biggie – you need to make your takeaways actionable. If you take in a workshop and don’t put those skills or new connections to use afterwards, the experience will have been a waste of time and money. While at the event, keep any new business cards in one spot so you can batch the follow up. Once you’re home, set aside time to reach out to all of the people you met and review all of your notes from your time there. Reflect on the experience and what you’ve learned so that you can implement it into your work.

If a certain educational event has caught your eye, do your research to see if it’s a fit. If you like what you see, find a way to make it out. In addition to being a great investment for business development, they can also be quite fun – so pack your bags and get educated!

Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding PR and wedding marketing firm OFD Consulting. Ely is a sought-after speaker, adjunct professor in the field of public relations, and a self-professed royal wedding enthusiast.

Wedding Wisdom

Managing Client Expectations and Setting Boundaries

By Jennifer Taylor, Taylor’d Events Group

As a business owner, it can be difficult to manage the needs of all of your clients as well as those of yourself. However, finding a satisfying balance is the key to a successful work-life balance and ensures that all of your clients are treated fairly. Easier said than done, right?

If you find yourself stressed out by the demands of your clients, it’s time to set boundaries to ensure that nobody holds you to unrealistic expectations and you don’t find yourself burnt out down the line.

The best way to set boundaries for your clients is to present them upfront after the contract has been signed. While it’s perfectly normal for them to hold certain expectations and visions of their event, it’s essential that everyone is on the same page so that each party involved is well aware of their responsibilities.

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While it may seem that covering boundaries from the get-go may be aggressive, it can actually foster a positive relationship as nobody will be left feeling alienated. Your client wants (and deserves) the best you have to offer and you should also have limitations to keep your sanity intact – that means no panicked calls at two in the morning or emergency weekend meetings!

Discuss your business hours, the best ways to reach you, your response time, and the levels of involvement expected from everyone – this prevents any disagreements later in the planning process because the policies have been set from the beginning. It also gives you way out if a client continues to cross the line; in fact, it may make sense to include clauses in your contract that outline your boundaries and the repercussions of breaking them repeatedly.

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Keep in mind that this doesn’t just mean working out expectations with the couple – it could very well involve family members and friends that are also involved in the event. Try to identify the key decision-maker early on, as this will save you from going through hoops and hurdles. Once you know who is calling the shots, they can be your primary contact which simplifies the process for everyone.

With that said, do your best to stay impartial during family meetings – things can often get heated with many opinionated individuals, so it’s best to stay out of the drama and keep everyone focused on what matters. Avoid promising things in the heat of the moment. Take the time to think things through before telling your client that you can do something; otherwise, you may find yourself over-promising something you can’t necessarily meet.

If a client continues to push you, don’t be afraid to let them win even it means walking away from the agreement. Sometimes, the argument just isn’t worth it – ending a difficult contract can even save your peace of mind and your company from the unrealistic pressure of difficult clients.

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by Laura Marchbanks Photography

Jennifer Taylor is the owner of Taylor’d Events Group, a planning firm that specializes in celebrations of all kinds in the Pacific Northwest and Maui. She is also the creator of The Taylor’d Plan, a self-administered class for wedding planners who are new to the industry and looking to grow and develop their skills.