So You Wanna Be a Wedding Planner?

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For those of you who follow this blog, then you already know about the pitfalls to hiring an inexperienced wedding planner.  But for this post, I would like to actually address those who are looking at a potential career in the Wedding Planning field.

Lately there appears to be a huge influx in the number of “wedding planners” in Edmonton (could this be because of the recent launch of “Four Weddings Canada“? I’m going to go with that! ;) ). I receive numerous emails a week from would-be planners who are either looking for advice on how to enter this field, or from people who are looking for me to hire them as an assistant.

Since I don’t like to ignore emails, please take this blog post for what it is: My Advice for Those Wanting to Become Wedding Planners.

1) Get a “Weducation”!

Whatever you do, please, please, PUH-LEASE do this! Professional wedding planners do this for a living. It is a business and we take it very seriously. Having been a bridesmaid in your cousin’s wedding and being an avid watcher of the Slice network does not mean that you have what it takes to be a wedding planner. If you are really serious about a career in wedding planning, please take a course and get certified!

2) Pay Your Dues:

lady hard at work

{ source }

I am not referring to your association or membership fees (although you’ll want to make sure that you pay those!). What I mean is: put in your time! Like any newbie starting out in their respective field, be prepared to work your way up. You can’t just expect to book clients as soon as you get your certificate in the mail. You need to pound the pavement and put some hard work into it. Network with others in your industry. Familiarize yourself with local vendors and their products. Research trends, statistics and demographical information for your business area. This is one of the more exhausting parts of getting your business up and running, but it is a very vital part.

3) Humiliate Yourself:

There isn’t enough room on this blog for both you AND your ego, so check that attitude at the door! Humility is a good quality to have – you can still come across as confident and capable without trash-talking those who have been in the industry longer than you. This desperate attempt to build yourself up is exactly that – desperate! In trying to make other people look bad, you just end up ruining your own reputation, that of your company, and you will also lose the respect of your colleagues.

4) Honesty is the Best Policy:

honesty be honest{ source }

I hate to bring up this point, but it clearly needs to be addressed. When starting out your business don’t book meetings with other planners by pretending to be a prospective client! Not only is it dishonest and totally sketchy, but it’s a waste of time and money for the planner. This is time that is being taken away from my paying clients, or family, friends…and my cat! (If you could see Delilah‘s sad kitty face when her Mum’s not home, believe me, you would feel guilty!)  If you want to know information about how to price your services, or have general business questions, just ask! Better to be upfront and honest about it than for us to do a background check on you, only to find out that you created a fake email account a week ago and have a Kijiji ad out promoting your services as a planner!

5) Take the High Road:

Women gossiping

 { source }

Once you start to build your business and begin to get people following your work, it’s a wonderful feeling! However, that success and recognition will also bring out…THE HATERS! These are people who will talk bad about you to vendors, other planners and even clients (and they are people who CLEARLY didn’t follow Step 3!). The sad fact is that this happens to everyone in every line of work once they are acknowledged for something or are recognized for their skills and talent. The wedding industry, largely, is a female-dominated world…and you know how catty some women can get. Therefore, gossip and slander is everywhere. In order to maintain your reputation as a professional, it is very important to resist the temptation to engage in such behaviour. You never know just how small the wedding industry is in your area until some juicy tidbit of information travels down the grapevine. (Just make sure that you didn’t start it, and that you didn’t pass it on!)

 

certified edmonton wedding planner

{ source }

All in all, wedding and event planning is a very rewarding and fulfilling career; but it should not be entered into lightly. Reality shows have really thrust what we do into the spotlight and have sensationalized it to some degree. The actual reality is that most of our time is spent in front of the computer – responding to emails, researching vendors and products, balancing budgets and creating timelines. Part of being a Wedding Planner means that you are dealing with a very stressful and emotional time in people’s lives, and there is no do-over. Expectations and tensions can be high, and you are in the thick of it all.

Wedding planning is a fun, rewarding, stressful and exciting career.  It takes strong organization, confidence, creativity, business sense and a lot of hard work to become successful at it.

If after all this, you still think that you want to become a wedding planner, then I wish you all the very best! Maybe I’ll see you at an industry mixer someday! ;)

Bridal Show Tips + Tricks

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Edmonton has 3 main bridal shows every year: The Edmonton Bridal Fair, Bridal Fantasy and Bridal Expo. Seeing as there are 2 bridal shows this month, I have been getting a lot of questions about what to expect at a bridal show and (more importantly), how the experts handle them.

Bridal Fair Wedding Show Booths

{ epicevents.ca }

So, I decided to do a little blog post to help you out!

  • Bring Comfortable Shoes

I can’t help but snicker at the girls I see at the bridal shows in their 4 inch, thigh-high boots, walking around with this look of sheer pain on their faces. (Sorry!) A bridal show is not a runway – unless you’re one of the models actually hired for the fashion show. There is a lot of walking and an awful lot of standing! Your best bet is to wear comfortable shoes with little to no heel – something that you know you could stand in for 2 hours and not be too bothered by.

  • Leave Your Entourage At Home

Bridal shows can be crazy and very crowded. There is no need to bring your entire wedding party or all of your bridesmaids with you. The main purpose of a bridal show is to acquaint yourself with vendors and their services, and to get design ideas for your wedding. If you have 6 people in your entourage, that’s a LOT of opinions! Plus it is very easy to lose track of people. I would recommend bringing no more than 2 people along with you.  If your fiancé is not that interested in the planning process, then leave them at home. (Most bridal shows do have a sort of “Man Den”, but really, I equate it to the ball room at Ikea –you know what I’m talking about. Believe me, your man would much rather be at home than waiting 2 hours for you in a fenced off area with other men!)

  • Bring Water and Snacks

As I mentioned before, bridal shows can be very crowded places with thousands of people in the hall at any given time. This means that line ups for the concession stands are long and prices for food and beverage items are high. There is also not a lot of variety. Where possible, bring a bottle of water for each person and bring some granola bars or other snack items to last you through the day.

  • Come Prepared to do Business

Vendors pay to exhibit at bridal shows in order to get new business. And fortunately for you, you are there to HIRE vendors! :) Make sure to bring a notebook and pen with you as well as your calendar so that you can make appointments with vendors that you are interested in. If you are unable to speak to the vendor directly, grab their business card and contact them at a later date.  Try to only take business cards from vendors that you are interested in. (i.e.: If you are looking for a florist, don’t grab the card of every florist at the show). By the time you get home, you will have forgotten which vendor made that bouquet you loved and you will have more business cards to try to rifle through to find the florist you wanted. Also, bring along a bag to keep all your pamphlets and freebies in!

  • Brace Yourself for Contact

Lots of exhibitors will have contests and prizes that you may want to enter. In order to save yourself time and some serious hand-cramping, make some printed labels and bring them along with you. Information you should include on these labels are: your name, phone number, email address, full mailing address and wedding date. You may also want to sign up for a free email account just for this reason and forward emails from this new account to a current email account. The reason for this is that the bridal show will release a list of attendees to each vendor (remember that info you filled out when you bought your ticket…yup! That’s what it’s for!), and these vendors will send you emails from now until a year and a half AFTER your wedding (in some cases). Having a separate email address just helps you control the barrage of emails a bit better.

  • Take Pictures

If you see something that you like, take a photo of it in order to help you remember…but ask the vendor for their permission first! If they allow you to take a photo, try to include the vendors name somewhere in the photo as well, or position their business card in the shot. That way, you will remember which vendor created what and who to book later!  If the vendor doesn’t allow you to take photos, check out their Facebook page (if they have one). They most likely will have photos of their booth uploaded there for you to look at.

  • Expect to be Bothered

As you walk through the event centre, you will be hollered at, called out, etc. by people trying to hand you pamphlets or get you to view their booth. This is especially true of the bride (believe me, vendors LOOK for that ring on your finger!) Just be prepared for this and don’t take it personally – this is the way it’s done. If you have already booked a vendor for that service, politely say, “I already have my DJ. Thank you”. And leave it at that.

  • The Fashion Show

Either you will be interested in the fashion show, or you won’t be. If you are interested, snag a seat approx. 15 minutes before the show starts. If you aren’t interested, take advantage of this precious time to speak to vendors that you weren’t able to speak to before. The fashion show draws a lot of attention and the exhibitor booths are pretty near empty at this time, which is perfect for the bride who wants to have more one-on-one time with the exhibitors!

Are you a Bride (or Groom!) -zilla?

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If you have ever watched any of those reality wedding shows, chances are you can easily spot a “Bridezilla” when you see one. You know the type – the girl who is ordering her friends around, lipping off sales people in the bridal store, breaking down and crying at the littlest thing…the list goes on.  You sit there, glued to the television and unable to look away, your mouth agape saying, “Omg! That girl is crazy!” And you swear that when the time comes, you would never be like that.

Artistic drawing of bride
{ therottenlittlegirls.com }

And now you are a bride-to-be (or groom-to-be… it works both ways!), and it’s your turn to have the spotlight on you.  But are you starting to think that your friends and family are maybe not being as involved or supportive as you thought they would be? Are your bridesmaids ignoring your phone calls and coming up with excuses for why they can’t go with you to look at invitations? Well, you may want to check yourself…because you could be a Bridezilla!

Here are a few ways to tell if your have been stricken with this terrible wedding-affliction:

1. It’s all got to be perfect…ALL OF IT!

It’s only natural to want everything to be perfect, and no one can blame you for that. However, it is important to understand that life itself, by its very nature, is not perfect. Trust that everyone around you will do their very best to make sure that your day goes according to plan. But while there is nothing wrong with striving for perfection, understand that you also need to be realistic with your expectations of your big day.

2. You are in wedding mode – 24/7

One of the first things people do when they get engaged, is to start trolling the internet for all-things-wedding. While this is a very important step in the planning process, you shouldn’t be eating…talking…sleeping…dreaming about weddings all the time! It is important to take little breaks along the way while you are planning your wedding and that you and your fiance take some time for just the two of you. Having a professional wedding planner can also help you accomplish this! :)

3. You seem to be having more arguments with people than usual

Okay, while this sounds like it may be an obvious warning sign, it usually isn’t as obvious to the bride/groom. To the bride/groom, it may seem as though friends and family are fighting you at every turn and on every decision, or that they appear distant and unavailable when you need them. Try to think back on the previous discussions you have had with your wedding party and family – does it seem like they have been more “difficult” to deal with as the planning has gone on? If the answer is “yes”, then point that finger back at yourself because YOU may be the issue!

4. You forget your manners

Okay, pop quiz – What’s the “Golden Rule”? Answer: “Treat others the way you would like to be treated”. You’ve grown up hearing this rule and others, like always say “please” and “thank you”, from your parents, teachers, etc. A Bridezilla/Groomzilla will often forget about this and will take help for granted. It is very important to thank people along the way, and not just in the speech at the wedding (although that is important too!). Your friends, family, vendors and your fiance, have all devoted much of their time and energy into helping you put together an amazing wedding. No one could have done all of that themselves, so give thanks and show appreciation!

5. You are controlling and unrealistic

If you say “jump”, everyone around you should say, “how high?”, right? WRONG! Everyone has their own lives and commitments that they need to fulfill on a daily basis and it is unrealistic to expect them to be able to drop everything immediately, if you ask them to. This also is the same with vendors. It is important to remember that you are not their only client and that they have set working hours and schedules that they need to adhere to as well. Expecting a vendor to cancel other appointments to come to your aid NOW is unrealistic and it could put a real strain on your relationship with that vendor.

Groomzilla Upset Groom Annoyed Groom

{ namechangeexpress.com }

Whether you are a bride, or a groom, or the Maid of Honour (it happens to YOU too!), it is important to remember that there is no such thing as “perfect”. Being a Bridezilla / Groomzilla ultimately hurts you in the long run because people who you turn to for help, may not be there after your disrespectful treatment of them. This behavior may also hurt your relationships with vendors and they may not want to go over and beyond for you.

You need to trust that your family, friends and even your vendors want you to have an amazing wedding. The sooner you can realize this, the quicker that weight will be lifted off your shoulders and you can enjoy your engagement and your wedding.

Dress Codes Deciphered

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With the Holiday Party Season fast approaching, I thought it would be a good time to discuss Dress Codes.  (As if deciding what to wear wasn’t hard enough!) :)

Dress Codes are largely dependent on the area of the world that you live in, however some basic principles are the same straight across the board – such us “Casual” does NOT mean that you can wear jeans! (More on that later…)

In Canada, we typically have 5 dress codes, although you may only ever encounter 3 of them.  Here’s a list of your standard dress codes and what you should and should not be wearing for each:

White Tie – This is the most formal dress code, and one that most people will never encounter (think State functions and Royal events). Men should wear a long, black coat with tails or a morning jacket, a white waistcoat, and a white tie. Women should wear long gowns, and have professional hair and make-up. Opera-length (to the elbow) gloves are optional. If you happen to own a tiara, this would be the event when you could wear it again, as opulent jewelry is not only accepted, but encouraged.

Audrey Hepburn Princess Regal{ source: flickr }

Liz Hurley Tiara - edmonton event planner

{source: vogue uk }

Black Tie (Formal) – Black Tie has 2 different forms and it is another dress code that you may not encounter very often. However, despite the fact that it is rare, it should be strictly adhered to when it is listed. For the formal version, men should be dressed in a black tuxedo with a classic black bow tie. (A black suit is NOT acceptable). Women should be in long gowns or fancy cocktail dresses with their hair and make-up professionally done.

 Tuxedo Dress Code FormalBlack Tie Dress Code Ladies

Black Tie (Optional) – This form of Black Tie really only concerns the men. This means that the men may wear either a black suit or a black tuxedo, as both are acceptable.

Dress Code Formal Black Suit

Semi-Formal / Cocktail  – This is one of the few dress codes where there is a difference in attire depending on whether the event itself is being held in the daytime or in the evening. For an evening event, men should dress in a dark suit with tie; while women should wear a cocktail dress.

Mens Cocktail Dress Code

Semiformal Dress CodeFor a daytime event, men should be in a suit without a tie, or a tie and waistcoat without a jacket; and women should wear a dress or suit. Traditionally, women should avoid wearing black during a daytime event, as black dresses and suits were more reserved for evening events. However, more and more women have started to wear dark colors to daytime events.

Semiformal Suit Dress CodeLadies Semi-Formal Dress Code

However, it is widely agreed that if the ceremony is taking place in the daytime, and the reception is in the evening (and if time allows), women should be changing outfits for the evening reception.

Business Casual – There is the odd time that you may see this on a wedding invitation, but more than likely you will encounter this for meetings, conferences, etc. Business Casual is typically a bit more formal than what you may wear to the office. For men, this means you could wear khakis or slacks, a button-down shirt, and a sport coat. NO jeans, sneakers or ties. For women, stick to skirts and slacks, blouses and dresses. Shoes can be with or without a heel, however please refrain from “dressy” sandals, flip-flops and jeans.

Mens Business Casual Suit

Womens Business Casual Dress Code Some Additional Notes on Dressing Appropriately for an Event:

  • If the wedding ceremony is being held in a church, ladies please make sure that your attire is appropriate – don’t show too much skin or cleavage. Be careful of strapless/spaghetti straps, see-through fabric, and short hemlines. Think about adding a shawl, cardigan or blazer while you are in the church. It’s a matter of respect for the church and its parishioners.
  • Even if a wedding invitation says “casual“, jeans and running shoes are NEVER acceptable for a wedding! Now, I know that we live in Alberta and I’m probably going to get a lot of flack for this one, but a wedding is a special and important event. Therefore, you should not look like you stopped by the ceremony/reception on your way back from working on your truck! At the very least, wear khakis, loafers and a golf shirt (no corporate logos please!).
  • Things get tricky if you are going to the theatre, symphony, opera or ballet. While traditionally these were places where the acceptable dress codes were Black Tie or Semi-Formal, today you will see everything ranging from evening gowns to jeans. This is due to an economic shift over the last few decades. (Translation: These forms of entertainment, while previously reserved only for the wealthy, are now available to the masses). So as you can imagine, the dress code got watered down a bit. Personally, I think that its best to stick to Business Casual to Semi-Formal for these events, depending on whether it is a matinee or evening performance.
  • Remember: it’s all in the details! If you’re wearing a beautiful evening gown, but are carrying around your everyday, giant handbag…well, that just ruins the look, doesn’t it? Pay attention to the details – your shoes, your purse, your nails, your jewelry, etc. It may seem like nit-picking on the details, but together they help to polish your overall look.

If in doubt, never be afraid to inquire as to the dress code of an event.

As for me, I always prefer being over-dressed to being under-dressed. ;)

{ source for all photos, unless otherwise credited: j.crew }

Wedding Etiquette Q&A part 1

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So no doubt a lot of you have heard about the 72-day marriage of Kim Kardashian.  In case you’ve been living under a rock (in which case, you’re lucky!), here’s the break-down: Super elaborate wedding with celebrity couple, corporate endorsements and multi-million dollar distribution deals goes sour.

Kardashan Humphries Wedding

Amidst all of this, a friend recently asked me, “So, does she have to return the wedding gifts?”

Ah! Very good question! And this leads to my first post of Wedding Etiquette Q&A:

  • If the marriage breaks up shortly after the wedding, is the couple obligated to return the wedding gifts to the giver?

The short answer is: Yes! If the marriage lasts less than 6 months, it is customary to return any unused wedding gifts to the gift-giver. A handwritten note expressing thanks for the gift and informing them that the marriage has been dissolved should also be included. The same goes for monetary gifts or contributions to an online registry.

  • What about the wedding ring, does the bride have to return that to the groom?

Since the wedding rings are meant to be the first gifts a husband and wife give to each other, the bride does not have to return the wedding ring to the groom (or vice versa).

  • Who gets the engagement ring if the engagement is called off?

Give Back Engagement Ring

Believe it or not, this is actually a legal matter and the answer will vary depending on the laws in your Province or State.

In Alberta, an engagement (and the giving/receiving of an engagement ring) is viewed as a contract between the giver of the ring and the recipient . In the event that an engagement is called off, the other person can actually sue the other for Breach of Promise and damages could be awarded only if the other party suffered financial losses in anticipation of the marriage (i.e.: if they lost out on deposits made in preparation of the upcoming wedding).

By tradition, if the engagement is broken off by the recipient of the ring (traditionally the bride), then they should return the ring to the giver. However if the giver of the ring breaks off the engagement, without fault of the recipient , then the recipient can keep the engagement ring.

  •  If a wedding gets called off, can I get my money back from vendors?

The general answer to this question is: No.  However, many factors come into play here; particularly how close you are to the actual wedding date when the wedding is called off, whether or not you have a prime venue or prime wedding date, and the reason for why you are calling off the wedding.

Typically, vendors take a deposit in order to reserve the date and the product/service for you. (Technically speaking, the term “deposit” implies that it can be returned in certain situations as dictated by the vendor. A “deposit” is no to be confused with a “non-refundable deposit” or a “partial” or “initial payment”.)

Depending on when you call the wedding off, the vendor may not be able to find someone else to step in and take your wedding date and therefore, they will be out that money.  In those situations, they are not likely to return your deposit. If your vendor is not very well-known, or your wedding date is not highly sought-after, you may be able to ask them about having a portion of your deposit returned to you. But this is at the discretion of every vendor, and no two are the same.

My rule of thumb: It doesn’t hurt to ask. What’s the worst that could happen? They say “no”…but then again, you knew that was a possibility. You never know until you ask.

 

Have you got a question about Wedding etiquette? Feel free to send them to me at: info@sweetblissweddings.ca or post them on our Facebook wall.