FAQS Archive

FAQs: Studying To Become A Wedding Planner

BhldnShoot

One of the questions I’ve been getting a lot over the past year, is from young women in college (and some in high school too!) who are curious as to what they should be focusing on in their studies to become a wedding planner. Or if said person asking the question is out of college, they are interested to know what I myself studied. I love this question because it’s an opportunity for me to give an unexpected answer! I have an undergraduate degree in broadcast and print journalism and a post-graduate diploma in new media journalism. For what then felt like a very long six years, I studied and interned and learned and dreamed of becoming a news reporter. I went back and forth between wanting to tell the news on television and wanting to write, style and photograph entertainment stories for any well known magazine. Funny enough, during my mandatory post graduate summer internship at Canadian Family Magazine, I knew my goals and interests had shifted enough towards the event industry and that Hey Gorgeous Events would sooner than later become a reality. My train rides into Toronto that summer went from commuter nap time to dreamer download time; notes, pricing brainstorms, package inclusions, business ideas, dreams and goals; so many of those hours spent on the Go Train were filled with hope and excitement, and for me were crucial in the beginning stages of HGE.

I still sometimes cringe or feel like I lose a little credibility when someone asks where I learned to ‘be a wedding planner’. It’s usually guests at events or new vendors I’m meeting for the first time, that ask this question. And it’s a reasonable question, really. I admittedly jumped — actually scratch that, I cannonballed — head first into not only business ownership but my craft; the actual planning, coordinating and designing of my client’s events, without much direction. I never even reached out to any other planners in the industry because I figured I would learn it all on my own and discover my way as I went (this part still boggles my mind because I know first hand how many people do the opposite and ask lots of questions first :) Mastering my craft came a little quicker than understanding the back end of my business but either way, I’m blessed to have had the journey I’ve had and wouldn’t change much about it all.

So what’s that mean for aspiring planners, designers and floral designers, either in school or out? Take a business centered degree, or in the very least, a few business classes to get a sense for the back end of your business, where 85% of your work will happen. I wish I would have studied the basics of business in college! A degree in interior design, graphic design or tourism and event management would all be appropriate fields to look into too. I’d also venture as far to say that while journalism didn’t exactly help build a skill-set I use on a day to day basis, it gave me the confidence I now use when it comes to communicating with vendors, expressing things in specific ways to my clients and investigating any given situation to get a sought-after answer (in both of my school programs, we did a fair share of class and field work on investigative journalism which truly heightened my research and critical thinking skills).

Even better, I also have a blog post scheduled for tomorrow that touches a bit on intuition and acting on gut instincts, which I feel so strongly about because it’s one of the things I feel I owe a lot of my success to. But rest assured for the calculated decision maker in all of us, there are a ton of resources, classes and programs out there to prepare you to become a well rounded and skilled wedding planner. You can take design courses and floral classes for the creative side of this craft, you can intern with any of the dozens of preexisting companies in your area (just give them a heads up you’re hoping to one day do your own thing out of respect!) and lastly, you can reach out to those who share similar values as you. And remember everyone’s journey and preferred method of learning is extremely personal and different from yours so try not to compare your current stance to anyone else’s. It truly takes away from the joy of the journey.

I’d love to know, whether you’re a veteran or a newcomer to the industry, where did you first begin learning to perfect your craft and business knowledge? Feel free to share below. I’d love to generate some good conversation here so others can feel encouraged and inspired! Have a happy Monday, friends. I’m off today catching up on things I missed while I was away in Texas with clients! Photo above by the amazing Kelly Braman from this little project here.

FAQs: Expanding Your Business

Happy Monday, all you babes! Let’s dive right into today’s FAQ post shall we?

Expanding a small business can be scary and uncomfortable. On so many levels. Some common fears? There’s the risk of investing too much into your business financially, then there’s the fear of potentially failing as a business owner, which comes hand in hand with second guessing decisions and there’s the potential that an expansion may not be one that’s really best for your business; ever. But that’s part of owning a business right? Eventually you learn to make smart decisions based on gathered facts, good old intuition and a little bit of gutsiness (because hey, starting a business in the first place required the same courage it took to jump off the high dive at the pool when you were little.)

HeyGorgeousFlorals

Yesterday I sat in a short but informative opening session here at the Cultivate Conference. The incredible Michelle Loretta got all of our wheels turning on finanical, operational and personal goals. One thing we were asked to do is come up with our short and long term goals and I was instantly reminded that in a few years my bsuiness has been through so much. While my brand has remained true to its core values and mission statement, the way I operate has changed as have my goals and the services I offer. Here’s a few things I’ve learned along the way as my services changed from coordination to full service planning to inclusive design with the latest, the addition of floral designs.

Write It Out. If a decision seems too risky when it comes to an expansion, write out the pros and cons of why. Seeing facts and thoughts in front of me that come from my heart and head always feels so much more honest and real than thoughts floating around in my head. For example, a few months ago I was on a mission to find a studio space that would accommodate my growing inventory and need for more space. I also wanted an outside studio because it sounded sweet and would look cool. Really. Fixing up a space and making it mine, gave me a project to focus on for the foreseeable future. But I had to get really honest with myself. Can I do my job from my home? Yes. Does this mean we need to give more thought to finishing the basement and upgrading my workspace to make this job work? Yes. But the good news with an in home studio is that our house value will increase immediately. I’ll get to still work from home which has major perks and I won’t break the bank paying somewhere else per month to basically house my buckets and vases. A simple list of pros and cons, right in front of me opened my eyes to how wrong this studio decision could have been for me. It also showed me that I was absolutely ready to expand, just in a different capacity than anticipated.

Test the waters. As rad as it would be to say I woke up one day and started whipping out bouquets for clients, it’s fairly obvious that’s not what happened. I actually spent over a year and a half playing, experimenting, learning, reading and paying (believe me all of those floral days added up so quickly) for florals, greens, supplies and tools, with my earrings and in my free time, to prepare myself to offer this service professionally to clients. I’ve spent thousands of dollars of my own money to purchase practice flowers. But it was important for me to feel no less than very comfortable in the services I would be offering and selling to clients, and it just happened to take this amount of time to do so with this specific expansion. Testing the waters allowed me to assess what this new workload and added inclusion would encompass so that I could scale back if needed before any clients became affected or invested. Thankfully the testing the water phase turned out to be an incredible asset for me and as a result my expansion of floral design was a hit.

Be A Master Of Your Craft. The wedding industry is becoming a one stop shop across the board. Photographers are becoming videographers, florists are becoming planners, coordinators are becoming designers, and the list goes on. Expanding because you have the potential to better your services and better serve your clientele is different than expanding because it sounds impressive to the rest of the world. When these smart expansions happen usually it exists with the removal of something else to make room (i.e. I added floral design as a service but started doing less coordination as a trade off). I can’t say enough about focusing your efforts into one area that’s as specific as possible. When you do this your chances of success skyrocket because you have something that chances are no one else has. You also have more time to dedicate to that one area you’re most passionate about (or best at). Be a master of one thing rather than jack of all trades and immediately people will trust and respect your business expansions.

How have any of you made business expansions either for the better or worse? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below! The photo above is from an HGE wedding with the awesome Bryan and Mae this past June. What an amazing celebration to be a part of (Hi, Elise and Kenny!) Happy Monday, blogettes. Make it a good one xoxo

Pep Talk Tuesday {Finding Your Boom}

This past weekend I spent a good two days creating a killer backdrop for next weekend’s wedding. From Menards to Lowes, lots of sawdust, purple paint, and a run to the wholesaler, I finally put together a backdrop that I’ve been dreaming up for about a year now. When it was all done and put together I stood back and quietly whispered to myself, “boom.” I’ve noticed that whenever I put together something I love and am proud of, or even more so, when something is done that I feel is really the epitome of the HGE brand I often whisper that little four letter word. It sounds crazy and I’m sure you’d giggle a little if you heard it yourself but I think there’s more to it than an excited burst of triumph.

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

See, I get a lot of emails from aspiring planners and I see a solid pattern in the questions I’m asked. Mostly I’m asked the following, “How can I make it as a successful planner?” and it’s such a loaded question really. Because there isn’t just one answer. There’s multiple answers that involve time and effort, legalities and branding, experience and talent, sacrifice and know how. And then there’s that ‘boom.’ The boom that to me is that something special you can offer to your clients and customers, that something unique that will make customers chose YOU instead of anyone else.

If you’ve been in the wedding industry for a few years, you’ll know there’s a certain something incredibly alluring about owning a professional wedding related business. I don’t need to specify what that alluring something is because I’m here and I too decided to join the masses and do my own thing (and everyone has their specific reasoning). But if you’re here and you’ve done your homework, you’ll know there’s dozens and if not hundreds of vendors in your area and market doing what you do, offering the same services you do, saying the same things you are, using similar resources as you and wanting the same things you do. In a sense that means you’re doing something right, after all you’re not totally off the mark. But chances are you could be doing some things differently too. Let me break this down a bit more for you.

There’s a few vendors in the industry that I just adore. Some I know personally, some I respect and admire from a far. But the ones I am about to list to you all have one thing in common. They have that ‘boom,’ that something special that separates them from the rest and gives them that competitive edge to stand out from the hundreds of others offering the supposed same service. My girl Caroline from Paloma’s Nest offers delicately and lovingly handmade ring bowls stamped with sweet phrases for weddings. Or for your bedside table to hold your jewels when you’re not wearing them (because that’s where mine sits). While Caroline is known best for her ring bearer bowls, I can tell you the minute I lay eyes on something if it’s a Paloma’s Nest product; whether it be a Christmas ornament, a zippered make up pouch or a tea towel printed with sweet words of wisdom. Paloma’s Nest has that ‘boom’ and the roster of clientele to prove it.

Sweet Heather Anne is a sweet little boutique bakery here in Michigan that I adore working with. Heather actually studied art in grad school and post graduation decided to merge her passions and talents with sweet treats, resulting in a very successful and one of a kind business. Whether they’re hand painted sugar cookies, wonderfully hued macarons or the most incredibly artistic and detailed cakes, I can tell you the minute I see a confection, if it’s Heather’s handiwork. Not to mention I could tell you in a blind taste test if something is hers. From organically sourced out ingredients and oddly wonderful flavor pairings, she’s got that ‘boom’ and clients across the state get that; they get they can get something special from her. And that alone is one powerful way to guarantee business success.

Here’s another vendor I really admire and love. I’m sure you know Katelyn James, a sweet and wildly talented photographer local to Virginia. You may only know her from reading her blog or following her on facebook but I’m sure you already know that she loves Mountain Dew, her adorable dog Bokeh and anything turquoise. Get to know her even better and you’ll see that aside from having the most wonderfully clean, colorful and romantic photography style she has a personality that is warm, friendly, caring and welcoming. It’s a no brainer that she’s built a successful business because she’s branded herself in a way that’s professional and personally on par. Brides and grooms dig that and I bet when they land on her website they might even say ‘boom,’ themselves. As in ‘boom, we’ve found our photographer!’

Building and maintaining a successful business overlaps so much with authentic branding and that’s a whole other discussion but finding your boom, as I like to call it these days, is crucial to finding your success. If you like wild out of the box floral arrangements (like the fabulous Saipua in New York) and you blow yourself away with your creations, ‘boom!’ The right kind of customer is going to love those arrangements too. If you drawn to travelling the world and shooting destination weddings in tropical locations, you’d be pleased to know there’s an entire market of destination couples needing and wanting your skills (I think of Nate Broshot for this kind of clientele; he’s got that ‘boom’ too). The bottom line is, offer something special, unique and different and there is guaranteed to be clients knocking on your door resulting in success (assuming you do all of those other aforementioned things too; talent is only half the battle).

Do you ever have ‘boom’ moments yourself? How did you find out what your ‘boom’ is? I’d love to know! xoxo

Oh and that gorgeous photo above was taken by Sam and Brad of Bradley James Photography. Go say hello!

FAQs: Work From Home Schedules

Keeping in line with my January post on social media free weekends, I wanted to talk a little bit about my work schedule and what I’ve found works for me as a work from home professional. A lot of you have been asking for more wedding industry business advice and that makes me so happy! Around this time last year, I was struggling to keep balance between my personal life and my business. I was working a part time job to make a bit of extra money leading up to my wedding season and was coming home every night exhausted from my full day of work. Sometimes I’d work until 3:00 am handling my own business responsibilities and more than often, I’d schedule consults and Skype dates with clients as late as 9:00 pm; when I just wanted to be in bed winding down from my day. Andrew took a backseat to it all and I found that life caught up with me; and not in a good way. Rhi needed a schedule intervention really bad.

In May of 2012 I finally decided to leave my part time job and take on Hey Gorgeous full time. For the second time. Best. Decision. Ever. Within just two weeks I booked two more events for my season, which surpassed the amount of money I would have made working my part time job for six months. I was able to work during the day and do things like eat dinner with my husband at night. Or go to a movie and not feel guilty about it. But I also learned really quickly that I’d still need to put in the hard work at home with Hey Gorgeous if I wanted to be successful and get my work done. I write a lot on this blog about what I do to stay motivated and on task. I think any business owner or creative professional can attest to the difficulties of staying on task 24/7 even more so when you wear so many different hats.

These days, I stick to a loose 9:00 am to 5:30 pm work schedule that’s done wonders for me. I work Monday to Friday, meaning those times and days are when I am accessible to clients (unless of course an appointment is made outside of these parameters and I certainly do work overtime when it’s necessary like the week of an event). I wrote a bit about a typically work day over here. And then I also wrote about a typical wedding day of work here. Just reading that post gives me this weird combination of exhauastion and excitement because my job is pretty demanding but absolutely and 110% worth it. I also usually spend Sunday nights prepping for my work week ahead, and once my weddings start each season I take Mondays off. When you work on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays you need to give yourself a little break.

RhiStarbucks

That’s just the tip of the iceberg on work schedules and office hour boundaries (as learned from the incredibly smart Lara Casey herself) but I’d love to generate a discussion here (over Starbucks lattes of course!) If you’re a business owner who works from home or not, I’d love for you to dish below on what you like and dislike with your current work schedule. Maybe your comment will inspire other business owners to make changes with their current routine! Which also leads me to the exciting news involving my hunt for a perfect office space for the 2013 and 2014 Hey Gorgeous season. More on that soon though, soon. Happiest of Mondays, to you all! Photo by Kelly Braman xoxo

FAQs: Ceremony Planning Tips

In a wedding world that places so much emphasis on all the pretty things and little details (which I obviously and absolutely adore!) some soon to be brides and grooms can forget the most important part of their big day; you know, the part where you officially become married to your significant other. I know from my experiences working with my clients, that finding that balance between ceremonial tradition and a uniqueness that won’t bore your guests to sleep, can be tough. The good news is there are so many endless options for making your ceremony reflective of you and your fiance. Here’s my thoughts on what you can do to make your ceremony be the best part of your wedding day!

Weddingceremony

Engage Your Guests If having your guests fall asleep as you say I Do has you dreading your current ceremony plans, think about involving them into the act. There are so many ways to do this and the best part is your guests will appreciate the honor and be more likely to stay awake and alert. For those non-church weddings, you could have your guests sit in a circular formation around your alter, signifying your audience completing the union between you and your soon to be spouse. Consider passing your wedding rings around the room, inviting guests to ‘bless’ each ring as it is passed along (we did this ourselves and our guests absolutely loved it). Or have your officiant invite three to five guests at random, as they wish, to stand and share advice on marriage in lieu of a traditional reading or verse. Guests will love the change of pace and are sure to stay engaged in your ceremony especially if they know you’re depending on them.

Skip Tradition Maybe you’re a nontraditional kind of couple. Sand ceremonies? Yuck. Unity candles? No thanks. Singing your vows with your musical-lover fiance? Awesome. Someone do this and hire me to plan that celebration please and thank you! So many brides and grooms fear the nontraditional. It’s an unspoken rule that ceremonies have to be done a certain way (which sometimes they do) but truth be told you can do whatever you’d like as you and your spouse make a commitment to on another (pending church/religious rules). Maybe you’d like to walk down the aisle alone. Or walk down the aisle with your soon to be husband! As long as your sign a license and follow your country’s or state’s guidelines on what must be said and done during the ceremony (In Ontario our officiant had to say by law “by the power invested in me” part) feel free to do whatever best represents you and your fiance’s love, relationship and style.

Add A Bit Of Tradition With that being said, if you want to still follow some sort of tradition, there are a few things that are totally fun and traditional to do it would be a bummer not to include them. My personal faves both personally and professionally? Walking down the aisle, kissing your new spouse for the first time, or even giving your husband the best accessory he will ever own :) As much as you want your ceremony to stand out from the others your guests have seen, it is a wedding ceremony and you’ll want some components to reflect that (and believe me so will your parents and if applicable, your sweet grandma). Your guests are there to love and support you, and regardless of how you say I Do it’s a given they’ll cheer you on as you walk back down the aisle as husband and wife, sand ceremony or not.

Married chicks, what did you do during your ceremony that was unique? What about tradition? What ideas can you share with brides to be? The gorgeous photo above is from an amazing HGE summer wedding last year at The Grosse Pointe War Memorial. Amy Carroll shot that beautiful celebration. That dress gets me every time! xoxo