Hey Gorgeous, The Blog

Events

Apr 29

The HGE Newsletter!

I’ll make this short and sweet today! After months (maybe even years!) of putting off a monthly newsletter, I finally made it a priority since returning from my maternity leave to get one put together. This Sunday on the first day of May, my first newsletter will be heading out to inboxes everywhere and I’d love for you too, to be on that list. You can sign up below if you want all of the latest on blog content, new project launches, recent features, upcoming workshops, and of course, adventures with our little family.

You can sign up HERE. I’m looking forward to bringing a little joy to inboxes everywhere on Sunday!

HGENewsletterSignUp

Have a beautiful weekend! Xoxo

Photo by Kelly Sweet Photography

Apr 26

Pep Talk Tuesday {Small Is The New Big}

When I first started HGE, I had some pretty big and scary aspirations brewing in my heart. As a young, fresh out of college woman, with her second degree and a zero percent success rate at finding her dream job, I felt beyond vulnerable in starting a business. I felt pretty unequipped actually. And while I knew in the most honest parts of my heart that I was capable of making a business successful, I felt very much like an inexperienced hiker standing at the base of a mountain, staring up into the sky, unsure of where to even start. Because the peak of the mountain was hidden by the glare of the sun. So I did what most people do at the beginning of the hike.

I took that first step. I simply started.

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And you know what those big and scary aspirations included?

Well, I can start off by telling you what they did NOT include.

My dreams never included:

. . .  having a massive team of people to hire, train, manage, and monitor.

. . .  working 50 hours a week and spending all my weekends without family.

. . . racked up Air Miles and travelling alone via business class to far away places.

. . . a bank account overflowing with money so I could be free to do whatever I’d like.

. . . packing my calendar with more coffee dates, meetings, clients, and THINGS than I could manage.

. . . a powerful business that would become bigger than me, my family, or my heart.

Instead, I wanted these things:

• A job that didn’t feel like one. I wanted a business where at the end of the day, after I had given it my all, I still craved the start of the next because I was serving WELL and doing what I was meant to do. I wanted a job that felt like the perfect medley of what I’m good at and what I love to do. If I was going to spend a good chunk of my life devoting time and energy to said job, I wanted it to be time and energy well spent. I wanted a purpose and I wanted to use my gifts to leave the world a little bit better than I would one day leave it.

I HAVE THAT NOW.

• A job that allowed me to create a small but mighty team. I craved finding, connecting with, and trusting other women. Women that would see the purpose behind what I do and feel a pull in their hearts to help be a part of something great with me. I wanted the chance to build a purposeful team with a strong sense of quality over quantity. I wanted to find a select few individuals to not only work with but to do life with. Women who would love my clients like I did, love me like He does, and one day, even love my children as much as I do.

I HAVE THAT NOW.

• A job that allowed me to create a schedule I love. I wanted to be an entrepreneur. A proud one. I wanted to be able to be a mama. And an intentional one at that. I wanted to go on adventures with my babe(s) and feel the freedom of a schedule that would work around the fleeting milestones of being a parent. I wanted to be able to meet my husband for a coffee date in the middle of the day. I didn’t want a job that was easy or one that required little work because this job can be quite hard and time consuming but I wanted flexibility to live my life with purpose outside of the office. I type this with tears in my eyes now as I picture my sweet Lachlan and how much gratefulness I have in my heart for flexibility. And a schedule that lets me feel like I CAN have it all.

I HAVE THAT NOW.

• A job that came with commitments and sacrifices. Because I think the best things in life aren’t possible without them. I wanted a job where I would need to work really hard to get ahead. I wanted a challenge. I wanted a job that came with opportunity but the kind of opportunity that doesn’t just fall into your lap. I wanted a job that required me to live parts of my life like others weren’t willing to do, so that one day I would be able to live in a way that others can’t. I wanted to travel but to places and for reasons that I now see glorify Him. I wanted community with the right people. I wanted to see the world but in a way that didn’t feel like the nightmare that is running through the airport in heels with a briefcase to get to a place you’re dreading to get to.

I HAVE THAT NOW.

• A job that aligned with my specifically set definition of financial success. I didn’t want a six figure income but didn’t want to settle for less than if that was His plan for HGE. I didn’t want to be rich or making enough money that I was tempted to be frivolous with it. I didn’t want an income that would drive my passion instead of my passion driving my income. I wanted a job that would enable me to financially contribute to my family and my household. I wanted a job that I could feel financially proud of. I wanted a job that allowed me to give back. I wanted a job that made me enough money where I could pay myself like any other employer would because for nearly two years I was told no after no by every journalism outlet I applied to. And I wanted to make money because I EARNED it. Not a lot of money. Not a little. Just enough.

I HAVE THAT NOW.

And finally, I wanted a job that helped me live my life on purpose. And simply put, I have that now.

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This does not mean my business or my life is perfect.

That’s so far from the truth actually. Many days, especially now as a mom, I have to work at odd hours to meet deadlines and pull through on my responsibilities, sometimes with a nursing baby balanced on my lap. I use talk to text to draft emails when typing an email one handed doesn’t work. I’ve learned the hard way that you can’t trust everyone you come across in life but that doesn’t mean good people don’t exist. And bad things shouldn’t make you cynical. Actually, the best people are sometimes worth going through the ringer to find. I’ve had to turn down really incredible events, awesome travel opportunities, and fancy speaking engagements because the thought of juggling TOO much or saying yes to everything had me feeling like other more important things (my family or my own sanity) were at a risk of falling apart. I started writing a book. I failed miserably. I’ve had to meet countless times with a financial advisor, my bookkeeper and my CPA because try as a I may, numbers JUST aren’t my thing. I will ALWAYS be a work in progress. Imperfect. Flawed.

But. I know the following to be true:

Bigger isn’t always better. And sometimes bigger isn’t for everyone. It’s not for me at least.

Instead of working harder, why don’t we work smarter? I work hard enough as is. Sometimes that’s enough.

Instead of busier, why don’t we leave more room for whitespace? Take a deep breath. That’s whitespace.

Instead of more followers, why don’t we strive for following our own hearts? Amen.

Instead of bigger, why don’t we embrace small? Because small is the new big.

Xoxo

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All photos by Kelly Sweet Photography.

Apr 21

Sarah & Michael {HGE Wedding with Bradley James}

To say I’m excited to share this wedding with you today would be a major understatement.

It’s been on my calendar for weeks and held near and dear to my heart for months. And Sarah and Michael’s love story? Well, that’s been in the works for a lifetime. I say this so often about my clients but these two individuals are truly two of the kindest, most radiant, and gracious souls I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with (and I use the term ‘working’ lightly because my time spent with them felt like anything but). For 14 months every single email, call, and meeting felt like a meet up with old friends. While Sarah and Michael shared their dreams with me, they also made sure to share their gratitude and excitement in a way I’ll always remember.

And their wedding. Oh their wedding! It’s what I now lovingly refer to as the ‘Labor Day weekend wedding fairytale’ and for good reason. Sarah’s one wish? For her special day to feel like a floral fairytale. And not one to shy away from making wishes come true, the HGE team and I made sure to deliver. Using a color palette of soft purples and pinks, we pulled in hundreds and hundreds of garden roses, Michigan grown dahlias, sweet peas, and snowberry (to name just a few of the delicious ingredients used) and got right to work making sure every part of this celebration was adorned in texture, color, and softness. Case in point: the ceremony backdrop of florals designed along one of ‘branches’ of the beautiful Northern Catalpa tree at Hidden Vineyard. It took us about six hours to complete that day but was well worth the effort as you’ll see from photos below.

Yet, it all comes back to the people. People help make magic happen. And there were people there that day. The kind bridal party that radiated joy and personality. Sarah’s uncle serving as their officiate and overseeing a ceremony with passion and purpose. Sarah’s beyond sweet Mother with whom we honored with the Southern tradition of letting the mother of the bride rise first during the processional to soak up the experience as her husband and daughter make their way down the aisle. The team of professionals behind the scenes who worked tirelessly in 93 degrees all day and night to ensure everything went off without a hitch. Which it did. And of course, Sarah and Michael themselves. After all, that’s where this story first started.

The the McAuliffe’s, you are so loved. Your wedding is a sweet memory and will forever remain as such. Thank you for letting us play a part. We wish you both a lifetime of happiness and joy! Below is a collection of incredible photographs from the wedding taken by Brad and Sam of Bradley James Photography. They knocked it out of the park and managed to truly illustrate just how one beautiful this day was.

You can also see more of this beautiful celebration over on Martha Stewart Weddings. Enjoy!

View More: http://bradleyjamesphotography.pass.us/mcauliffewedding

From the custom watercolor invitation suite and calligraphy done by Laura Hooper to Sarah’s feminine accessories (like her lace and tulle gown from The Gown Shop), this wedding had no shortage of beautiful details. And of course I was head over heels for the muted color palette and all of those feminine textures.

HiddenVineyardWedding2 HiddenVineyardWedding3 HiddenVineyardWedding4 HiddenVineyardWedding5 View More: http://bradleyjamesphotography.pass.us/mcauliffewedding View More: http://bradleyjamesphotography.pass.us/mcauliffeweddingView More: http://bradleyjamesphotography.pass.us/mcauliffeweddingHiddenVineyardWedding8

This moment between Sarah and her father is so sweet. Great capture, Brad and Sam!

View More: http://bradleyjamesphotography.pass.us/mcauliffewedding HiddenVineyardWedding10 View More: http://bradleyjamesphotography.pass.us/mcauliffewedding HiddenVineyardWedding12

This is going to be a bold statement for me to make but the image below was taken during a prayer in the middle of the ceremony, and it’s one of my favorites from my over six years of planning weddings. The angle of the photo, the leaves framing the ceremony space, the guests looking on towards the couple, the bridal party bowing their heads with Sarah and Michael, the florals on the tree visible through the leaves, the sunshine!

This photo is so special.

View More: http://bradleyjamesphotography.pass.us/mcauliffewedding
HiddenVineyardWedding14 HiddenVineyardWedding15 View More: http://bradleyjamesphotography.pass.us/mcauliffewedding View More: http://bradleyjamesphotography.pass.us/mcauliffewedding HiddenVineyardWedding20View More: http://bradleyjamesphotography.pass.us/mcauliffeweddingView More: http://bradleyjamesphotography.pass.us/mcauliffeweddingHiddenVineyardWedding19

There were so many gorgeous gorgeous details! I wish I could go back and be a guest at this event.

View More: http://bradleyjamesphotography.pass.us/mcauliffewedding HiddenVineyardWedding22 View More: http://bradleyjamesphotography.pass.us/mcauliffewedding HiddenVineyardWedding24 View More: http://bradleyjamesphotography.pass.us/mcauliffewedding View More: http://bradleyjamesphotography.pass.us/mcauliffewedding View More: http://bradleyjamesphotography.pass.us/mcauliffewedding View More: http://bradleyjamesphotography.pass.us/mcauliffeweddingView More: http://bradleyjamesphotography.pass.us/mcauliffewedding View More: http://bradleyjamesphotography.pass.us/mcauliffeweddingHiddenVineyardWedding30

And of course the night ended with the softest light from a one of a kind, end of summer sunset!

Major love for all of the people that made this event happen. They are included below.

. . . . . . . . .

Photography: Bradley James Photography / Planning, design, florals and execution: Hey Gorgeous Events / Videography: Coastline Studios / Venue: Hidden Vineyard Wedding Barn / Bride’s gown: The Gown Shop Ann Arbor / Bridesmaid’s gowns: Jenny Yoo / Stationery and calligraphy: Laura Hooper Calligraphy / Hair and make up: Hanna Wagner Design / Entertainment: The Sarah Sherrard Band / Linens: La Tavola Linens / Rentals: Tablescapes Chicago / Vintage pews and farmhouse tables: Fancy Fray / Catering: Classic Catering / Beverages: The Liquor Locker / Cake: Sweet Heather Anne Throw pillows: Parris Chic Boutique

Apr 19

3 Reasons Why Your Client Experience Matters

If you’re a wedding planner and you’re not familiar with Aisle Planner, you need to be. It’s an incredible online wedding planning tool with ALL the bells and whistles to keep you, your team, and your clients on track throughout the planning process. I’ve been using my account since last summer and while I love all the features, the check list and budget tracking tools are such a tremendous help in working with my clients!

I recently had the pleasure of contributing an article to the Aisle Planner blog about why as a wedding planner, your client experience matters. It was rewarding to write about a subject I both care so deeply about and strive to excel at within my business. I also hope it was encouraging and inspiring for other planners (and even other business owners) working hard on bettering the way they too work with their clients and vendors.

Below is a bit from my post!

HGEClientExperience

How You Treat Others Leaves a Lasting Impression

 . . . And a good lasting impression is always great for business!

Someone wise once said that it’s easy to forget what people say but impossible to forget how they made you feel. I would say this holds true for my own experience as a bride when to my horror my beautiful Enzoani Spanish lace wedding gown came in three inches too short. And just a mere two weeks before my wedding day to boot As a 5 foot 1 gal with a 6 foot 4 husband-to-be this just wasn’t going to work out very well.

While I don’t recall all the exact details surrounding this particular fiasco, I do remember feeling like an annoyance to the bridal salon when I finally found the courage to politely ask for a new dress; a reasonable request given my gown’s $2,700 price tag. Yet I was quickly and rudely brushed off before being told, ‘But flats would look so lovely with this gown!’ I wasn’t even offered an apology. Talk about a poor client experience!

Even though I ended up getting a new gown just in time for our wedding, over five years later I still feel like I could have been given a better client experience. Because while the gown was just one part of the equation of our wedding planning process, the emotions associated with dreaming of it, selecting it, trying it on, making the purchase and then wearing it on the big day, all amounted to a specific and lasting experience than far outweighed the actual product. And this bridal store really missed the mark.

Your client experience approach should be so fined tuned that any mistake can be carefully fixed as graciously as possible. This includes knowing how to apologize and knowing how to make things right in the event when they go wrong (because they will!). It also includes knowing how to delicately tip toe around sensitivities involving your clients (e.g. a recent loss of a parent, a bride who didn’t lose those last 15 pounds to feel her best, or hey, a dress that is over-altered by mistake!), because long after a wedding comes and goes your clients are going to remember how you made them feel. Your client experience lives on forever.

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Weddings ARE An Experience In and Of Themselves

 . . . And to do your job well, your client experience should be a priority!

Most couples hire a planner or a coordinator to assist with their wedding day for a multitude of reasons: their schedule is very busy so there’s little room to manage the process on their own, their ideal wedding is a bit more complex than the average and they need help, or the number one reason couples hire us at HGE: they want not only their wedding celebration but the process leading up to it, to be an experience.

From my discussions with past HGE clients I’ve found that couples (and more specifically, brides) want to celebrate the small things as much as the big. Milestones like going gown shopping for the first time, signing on the dotted line with the venue or starting a registry with their partner, are all things that carry weight. Clients want someone else involved in the planning process to be just as invested in the work leading up to the big day. They also want their guests to feel as special and celebrated as they do on the big day. There’s many reasons weddings are a big deal and the amount of work that goes into them is certainly a testament to that.

Remembering how monumental the planning process is for your clients and how special not only their wedding but also their marriage is to them puts the client experience into perspective. Perhaps this means not going to more meetings with your clients but making fewer meetings more meaningful. Or maybe this looks like memorizing your client’s bridal party names ahead of time so on the day everyone feels valued. A wedding is an experience so naturally the way you do your job should revolve in some form around a solid client experience.

WhyYourClientExperienceMatters

And you can catch my third reason over here in the original post via Aisle Planner!

I’d love to hear all about what makes your client experience stand out. Leave a comment below!

All photos by Kelly Sweet from this beautiful 2015 summer soiree we had together. Xoxo

 

Apr 11

Why I Only Use iPhone Photos on Instagram

Happy Monday, blogettes!

Many people have asked me before why there aren’t any professional photos used in my instagram feed. While I must add there ARE a few professional images in the over 1300 I’ve shared as of today, I’ve always felt strongly about mostly using iPhone photos that I took myself. Below are three reasons I personally use my Instagram account to share iPhone photos exclusively and why I’ve done this since first creating my account in mid-2011.

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It’s a truer representation of my brand. My brand is a medley of many different things. My passion for my clients and loving others well, my love for florals and design, my heart and soul in being a wife and now, being a mama to Lachlan. HGE isn’t just a wedding planning company and I’ve worked hard to have it stand for much more than that. When I started my business in 2009, my goal was to exude love, care, and warmth to my clients. And while those goals still hold true now, an equally important part of my brand is sharing parts of me that are well, just that! More personal. I feel confident that sharing parts of ME and my personal life has helped attract my ideal client, find my authentic self, and do my best work. It also shows that I’m human! I have a home I take a lot of pride in, holiday traditions I love to share, mistakes I make and talk about, bad days where I try to find the silver lining, adventures I go on and love posting about, projects I tackle that are too good not to share, and now, a sweet little boy that fuels a lot of the decisions I make and has me on a mamahood adventure I so cherish.

Because I don’t have a professional photographer by my side 24/7 but I do have quick access to my phone at any time, I’m usually capturing LIFE as it happens. Not always to share online but to have memories to look back on. These things are a big part of me, and therefore are a part of my brand so they often get shared online too.

It eliminates the risk of too much overlap with my other social media accounts and online presence. This is one that I personally feel really strongly about because as of late as I feel like we’ve lost the ‘social’ part of social media and Instagram has started to become a duplicate of vendor’s website portfolios. While this works really well for many and I get that, I feel like this strategy just doesn’t fit with my brand values. Here’s more on why:

In addition to my instagram account, I also have a twitter account, facebook account (for both personal and business), pinterest page, a blog I use often, website, and numerous places I advertise my business and have other avenues of sharing photos of my work and life. Sharing professional photos of my work (which are obviously the loveliest way to show what I do!) across ALL of these channels, feels like overkill and always makes me think I’m oversharing too much of the same thing with those that love following along with updates.

So I have a system I try to stick with for sharing what where, and it’s as follows:

INSTAGRAM: this is where I share iPhone shots of just about everything from moments at home with Lachlan to behind the scenes at events. My goal is to have a feed that is consistent and beautiful but more so, to have individual images that adhere to a social media mission statement I recently created. To inspire, encourage, and share in an authentic (because I believe in authenticity) and beautiful (because I love beauty) way. I also try to use Instagram as a place to encourage conversation and interaction with others.

FACEBOOK: this is where I share professional images of my work and life, with links back to blog posts, features, and other business pages. I like to think that my facebook page is better suited for link backs to posts and sharing information not so much to encourage conversation but to quickly get the facts and news out.

TWITTER: this is another avenue for me to share links to posts or to quick share little bit of encouragement, news, highlights, etc. I admittedly don’t use Twitter very often because it’s the least visual forms of social media and doesn’t resonate well with my brand but I do try my best to use it when I can. I think it’s important to show you can use various forms of media as this helps lead to opportunities down the road in your career!

PINTEREST: this is where I can pin inspiration, recipes, home ideas, things for Lachlan, etc. I also try to pin images from my blog posts so that other users can easily find corresponding posts at a later date. While I try not to get too lost in the vortex of Pinterest, I have found it helpful to use my account for gathering mass amounts of visuals in an easy to access point. Pinterest can also be a ‘break’ for me from other forms of social media.

WEBSITE: this is my handshake. It’s professional. It’s where the HGE nitty gritty is.

BLOG: this is my hug. I want to show my heart here and in a way that builds off of what my website shows.

It gives me an opportunity to grow as a stylist and creative. And finally, it really comes down to this: coming up with an image to share on Instagram that I may have had to source out, style in some capacity, find the right angle and get the best light for, represents me and my brand, and then edit to look consistent with the rest of my feed is a LOT of work. Some would argue this is a waste of time but I must admit it’s challenged me as a stylist and made me better at my craft. I’ve had to think differently about how I see the things I create (and the world around me at any time!) and also be more thoughtful about what I share. Over the past almost five years, doing this nearly everyday has inevitably helped me grow as a designer and for that I am grateful.

I’d love to hear more on your thoughts regarding how you use your social media account!

Have a wonderful day, everyone!