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Sunday, August 21, 2016

Planning Events with Less Stress: What Does a Wedding Officiant Really Do?

Planning Events with Less Stress: What Does a Wedding Officiant Really Do?: There are many fabulous wedding officiants in the Seattle area.  I have great respect for all of them. In some parts of the country, offici...

What Does a Wedding Officiant Really Do?

There are many fabulous wedding officiants in the Seattle area.  I have great respect for all of them. In some parts of the country, officiants are not even considered to be wedding vendors. Perhaps it's such a foregone conclusion that someone is going to be in that role.  Perhaps it's the seriousness of the role that makes officiants seem different from other vendor choices.  We aren't an optional decision when it comes to weddings.  Someone has to make the marriage legal.

Recently, I was speaking about statistics with someone from a lead site.  They send vendors comparison reports on how much time it takes for the average vendor to respond.  They also will say if your prices are higher and lower than others.  I was concerned and in disagreement with them that I was higher priced than others when I know what industry standards are for Officiants in our area. However, I was very pleased with how our conversation continued.  The vendor service representative then said something that I hope I remember in the future for other business decisions. She said, "Most of the officiants charge less but our best performing officiants are in a higher price range similar to yours".  

We discussed reasons for that.  The first was the introductory response and how well it is written. On this particular lead site, you only have 1,000 characters including spaces to help someone feel comfortable and confident enough to inquire further about hiring you on one of the most important days in their life.  The second contributing factor of success was followup.  Yes, even for wedding officiants followup is as much of an issue as it is for any other type of entrepreneur.

Time is our biggest investment. There's a lot of work that goes into preparing a special ceremony. With the initial consultation (60-90 minutes), the goal is to reach the essence of their relationship. The consultation needs to include topics from how they met, what a typical date is like, their hobbies, interests and how their personalities blend. I want to know who is better at leading and being practical and who is better is a supporting and encouraging role. My favorite clue into what makes them unique is hearing about their marriage proposal.  Many people meet online, and those stories can sometimes seem like a miracle that they even got to know each other.  The goal is to create a ceremony that reflects a couple's personality and hopes for the future.

Then the work begins.  I generally have enough to know what kind of ceremony they would like.  I know if they will be what my husband affectionately termed as "repeaters or non-repeaters".  Non-repeaters are lucky to get the words "I do" out and don't want to remember even the shortest phrases.  Other couples will say, "Why have a wedding ceremony if we aren't going to write our own vows?"  No two weddings are alike just as no two couples are alike.  I can't forget to mention rehearsals! Rehearsals are often very confusing without an officiant. Writing a ceremony is somewhat like writing the first chapter in a book.  The rest of the story is for the couple to compose.

I don't ever want to fall into the class of "cheap officiants".  Putting my heart and soul into getting a glimpse into the heart and soul of my couples is priceless.  It's more than just a legality or a contract to be recognized by a county and state and making sure everyone signs and dates on the right line. Much more!

Yes officiants often are placed in the role of a wedding planner even though it can appear like they are herding rabbits!  Are there really rabbit herders?  Doubt it.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Waiting to Officiate a Wedding This Afternoon

Pre-Wedding Ceremony:

I'm still home but my mind is already at the wedding I'm officiating this afternoon.

Unlike the average couple getting married, I'm not nervous as their officiant.  Instead, I find myself in awe of the privilege I have with just the right words, to create a legal bond between two people that is already built on love.  We had the rehearsal yesterday, and I know that today I might not even recognize them because of the hair and makeup on the ladies and with the gents being all dressed up rather than in tank tops and shorts.

I'll finish this after the ceremony and while I still have my day-long smile, I'll have yet another flower girl or adorable ring bearer story to tell.  Until then, I cannot wait to see who I hand out the tissues to.  They are often given to the ones who don't think they'll need them.

Update to come several hours from now!

Post Wedding Ceremony Update!

I predicted correctly that I'd have another flower girl or ring bearer story to tell! In fact there were some firsts for me!  When kids do or don't do their jobs in these roles, it's still cute!  So what were these firsts?  Let's start with the flower girl.  Twice during the ceremony she walked from where the bridesmaids were over to the bride and said, "Just kiss!!"  Who couldn't laugh at that?  I didn't know if the bride was going to be able to compose herself!  

picture from another wedding
Okay, now for the ring bearer. He had a meltdown outside of the building and was face down on the deck drinking milk.  We were a little concerned that he would not want to hang onto a pillow so they tied the rings onto his favorite stuffed toy, Pluto. Someone had to go out to the deck to get Pluto with the rings.  Here's the other first!  The Best Man got to hold Pluto during the wedding ceremony! 

In all these years of officiating weddings, I've only been wrong with one wedding. How's that?  I know that the groom is going to shed the tears first.  Once again, I was right.  I never get tired of seeing tender moments like that.

As always,

Monday, August 1, 2016

Preventing "Are You Ready to Leave Yet?" at Your Events.

For Any Event, Prevent This! "Are You Ready to Leave Yet?"

You might know someone or maybe that someone is yourself who is ready to leave an event before it has even started.  I kind of feel that way about surgery, but some people feel that way about events and weddings.  I don't know if it's the opposite of the way kids can be on a road trip and they are saying, "Are we there, yet?" or maybe they grow up to be adults wanting to leave any event early.  You know who they usually are. Typically it's a husband leaning sideways toward his wife's ear to say, "Are you ready to leave yet?"  If it's really bad he might say, "I'll be out in the car".

When you're hosting an event you've obviously put a lot of time, money, thought and energy into something that will not last nearly as long.  A host will often feel disappointed or like a failure if their guests leave early.  Everyone should host an event to see what that might feel like. For a business event, it can feel like a failure to meet your ROI. (Return on Investment) but it's not really a good measure for that. There are a couple of simple things that will make people stay longer.  

For a social event, I found one thing that works to keep even the most reluctant attendees from leaving early!  In my experience, it's been having an ice cream cart or truck.  Trucks are better in hot weather, obviously.  Ben and Jerry's (my favorite) is only one of similar operations. Dessert trucks are great, too.  Everyone becomes a kid again and will find ways to get in line multiple times to try each flavor in a cone. Then, little justification is needed to try another flavor without a cone.   It reminds me of variables and probability.

Remember the cone holds the ice cream, but the ice cream holds the power!

Music is another key to having people linger. Music affects more areas of the brain and will also make people remember your event. When I'm helping a client plan an event, I frequently go into a science lesson as to why this is the case. 

Remember these simple tricks that will make your guests want to stay longer whether they know the reason or not!

As always,


Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Planning a Wedding During Sadness or Tragedy

When Sad Things Happen During Good Times

Most people agree that planning a wedding can be stressful even during the best of circumstances.  We know that the world continues to turn even though you might be in the middle of planning a wedding and sometimes that includes events that happen in life that are very happy events, painfully sad or extremely frightening.

For years as a Wedding Planner I had a chance to see a large mixture of what life can hand down even at any time  when someone is planning a wedding.   These are things that most couples don't have to worry about, but life is a balance and gives us good and bad, happy and sad mixed up like trail mix.  Life is a path.   It's just the way life is and if a person can see the good that is always happening in some form or another, it helps tremendously.  

I admired the individuals so much for their strength who go through two of life's major events at once.  Sometimes I saw people move up a wedding just so a loved one who was in the process of dying could experience their wedding.  I also saw when, even with a rushed plan in place, it wasn't fast enough to make that final wish come true.  I saw bittersweet moments as a couple sped up a wedding before a deployment.  I couldn't help but feel that emotion and would often think of those who were deployed for the next year or so and hoped I would hear good news.  Another family experienced a birth and a death within less than a week before the wedding.  I've even had weddings I worked and found out that they had already had a small wedding so that their loved who had since passed away, could witness the wedding.

"We just don't talk about it....but we probably should".

Seldom does anyone talk about the normal emotions that are experienced during the wedding planning process, let alone when a death or other tragedy strikes during this time.  Even under normal circumstances, I've attributed the odd behavior of otherwise normal people to the fact that people are grieving even when there isn't any death around the time of a wedding.  Grieving is a process that just is an adjustment to major changes. It is often filled up with fear of the unknown.  We never know what a person is going through from a loss even when the loss might appear to be minimal to others.

Things you might feel when an accident, disease or death happens before the wedding to a friend or family member you are close to.

1.  Feeling guilty to be planning something that is happy.
2.  Feeling unsettled in being happy and sad at the same time.
3.  Feeling angry.
4.  Feeling totally confused on what to do, how to act, or whether you should postpone the wedding.
5.  Feeling of overwhelm.
6.  Feeling of appreciation for your spouse-to-be who is showing and giving you support.
7.  Feeling that your future spouse just doesn't understand what you are going through.
8.  Getting a new perspective on life that is putting you into serious analysis mode.
9.  A feeling of strength gained from a challenge unlike any you have experienced before.
10.  A feeling of wanting to pay respect to your lost or missing loved one at your wedding.

How can you blend a remembrance with a wedding?

Every individual experiences grief in their own way.  As much as your loved one would have wanted you to be very happy on your wedding day, there are bound to be some bittersweet moments.  It would be assumed that a wedding should not be a second memorial service, but it's perfectly understandable if a tribute is made in a loving manner.  It might be a matter of placing a rose on an empty chair.  Perhaps carrying a flower or flowers that represent your loved one's who are no longer living can feel like they are close to your heart on your wedding day.  I've seen grooms do something similar with their boutonieres.  I've also seen people place pictures of their ancestors in little picture frames on the cake table.  There are many ways to incorporate remembering a loved on your very important day.

Tears and laughter can be almost the same emotion sometimes.  It's your body's way of getting you through the good and the bad stress.  Indeed, there are happy stresses and sad stresses.

Don't hesitate to get your wedding officiant's advice on these matters and see how you can actually turn the negatives into something beautiful and meaningful for you. 

Monday, July 18, 2016

Wedding Etiquette Has Changed

Wedding Etiquette Has Changed

Wedding etiquette does change over time, and some of it needs to come back as a reminder.  

What Shall I Wear?

Every now and then I'll have someone say that they were surprised when they went to a wedding and a lot of the guests and even the bridal party were wearing black! It's very common for black to be one of the major wedding colors.  My first question to them is was there a particular cultural aspect to the wedding.  While black attire is bad for some cultures, white attire is taboo in other cultures regarding weddings. Also, when the economy is bad, bridesmaid dresses are shorter and wedding colors are darker during times of war.  

For most American weddings it is acceptable to wear black and is considered to have a very sophisticated look.  People attending an average American wedding would be more appalled if someone wore white.  My best advice before you attend any wedding when there is a culture represented that you aren't familiar with, is to do your homework.  I'm sure your friend or family member won't mind if you take enough interest to ask them specifically what you should wear.  I could have a year's worth of blog posts just on wedding traditions from different cultures.  When you think that you might have that figured out, you will also find that couples are borrowing aspects from all kinds of cultures.  Just be glad you don't live in an unmentioned Mediterranean country where the groom has to walk around with a fish tied to his leg for an entire day before the wedding. People have actually asked me if the fish has to be dead.  Yes, fish need water and the groom isn't walking around in water.

Registries Have Changed!

Some people are appalled that a couple actually had the nerve to have a honeymoon registry.  There are some very good reasons for having a honeymoon registry.  The average ages for a couple to get married now are 27 and 29.  They are delaying marriage for a number of reasons and many times it is because of financial reasons. Many of them have had college debt, have chosen first to buy a home together or they have had other things they wanted to accomplish before getting married.  In the meantime, they have acquired enough or more of the household items that they need.  However, they probably haven't put their focus on saving for a honeymoon. With honeymoon registries, guests can purchase as a gift to go towards anything from tours, dinners, local highlights or a luxurious spa and even upgrades.  We live in an experience economy which is particularly popular with millennials.

Etiquette for the 21st Century That Needs to Change or Is Changing!

If you haven't heard of unplugged weddings, you will and it can't come soon enough! We live daily with cell phones or tablets and most of them can take pictures.  This is the reason why  photographers love me.  When I officiate weddings, (with a couple's permission) the first announcement I make before a groom even walks down the aisle is an announcement to this effect.  

"On behalf of the ___ and ___  I am asking that you turn off all electronic devices in the form of cameras or cell phones.  ___ and ___ have paid for a professional photographer to take pictures during their ceremony and other cameras in use interfere with their lighting.  It also creates a safety concern if the doesn't know if everyone is seated or not.  Electronic devices also interfere with the sound system. Thank you for your consideration!"

Let's get real here!  A photographer was not hired to photograph someone's backside, flabby arms, tablet or the latest selfie stick!  Some things just can't be edited out! It's a shame for perfect shots to get ruined by someone else's self-absorbed behavior.  


That's all I'm going to say about them.  I've written several blog posts on that hot little topic.  I tell my clients about the service I offer to get people to turn in their Rsvp's with a better rate of return and much more quickly.  That's my trade secret and no one gets hurt in the process, by the way.

Wishing you the greatest of days!

Janis Flagg
Event Planning
Wedding Officiating

Friday, June 3, 2016

Don't Think You Need a Wedding Rehearsal? Think again!

If You Think You Don't Need a Rehearsal, Think again!

First, here are some definitions for you and terms of reference.  Also, Bride and Groom are interchangeable with the word couple.  

The Processional is the part of the wedding when typically the officiant, the groom, all of the attendants including the ring bearer and flowergirl proceed to the ceremony or altar area followed by the bride with whomever is giving her away.

The Recessional is the part just after the couple is introduced to the "audience" when the couple first leaves the stage/ceremony area/altar followed by the bridal party and family.

Here are some benefits and recommendations regarding rehearsals:

Rehearsal Benefits (processional and recessional)

1.  It helps calm everyone's nerves feeling that they have a good idea of what will happen leading up to, during and immediately after the ceremony on your wedding day.

2.  On your wedding day, the fewer questions you have to answer the better.  You don't want everyone bombarding you on your wedding day.

3.  It will give you an idea of timing your processional to the music.  Even though a DJ often cannot attend a rehearsal due to possibly having multiple weddings on a weekend, you need to discuss options for timing of your processional.  Your DJ might want to preview the venue with you months or weeks in advance of the wedding, if they haven't worked at your venue.  Timing can be effected with  the length of the aisle and the number of people (alone or in pairs)   walking up to the ceremony area.  

4.  It's not uncommon for people in your wedding party to be complete strangers to each other.  They get a chance to at least recognize each other's  faces on the wedding day.

5.  Practicing the recessional is important, too.  As a rule of thumb, I recommend that following the ceremony (after being pronounced to their new status and after they are introduced to everyone) that the newly married couple gets to walk the full length of the aisle before the rest of the bridal party.  This allows every opportunity for them to be photographed at the first moments of them walking down the aisle with their first steps or happy dance as a married couple.  Next to go down the aisle would be the Maid of Honor and Bestman who would walk halfway down the aisle before the next pair of the bridal party begins walking.  

6.  If you have any major announcements, the most important people in your wedding are there.  They can be your ambassadors to spread necessary information to others on your actual wedding day.


1.  Make sure you are evenly spaced at the ceremony area.  I sometimes start the rehearsal with everyone at the ceremony area first.

2.  To make the pictures look nice, it should be predetermined that the guys have their hands placed in front of them or behind their backs.

3.  Anyone carrying bouquets should place them (in simple terms) at their belly button!  The exception would be if the bridesmaids were cradling a larger single, long-stemmed flower to the inside of their elbow instead of a bouquet.  (in the crook of their arm but still, they should look uniform during the ceremony).

4.  It looks nicer if everyone stands to form a slight arc and not look like little tin soldiers.  If everyone takes a half step sideways towards the "audience" and slightly angles to be looking at the officiant and couple, it looks good but it also is important to be able to see subtle clues from the officiant during the ceremony.  It sometimes helps to line up on the stage or ceremony area so that attendants can have eye contact with their counterparts.  For example, the Best Man and Maid of Honor would be able to have eye contact and the same with everyone else down the two lines.

5.  If for some reason one of your attendants, is unable to attend the rehearsal, make sure that the person that they will be walking with them is introduced to them on the wedding day.  Preferably they are introduced in advance of pictures that are often taken prior to the ceremony.  Whoever was able to be at the rehearsal should fill that person or persons in on what is going to take place during the processional, how everyone is going to be standing during the ceremony and the same with the recessional.

6.  It's not a bad idea to ask people to not treat the night before your big day like it's a bachelor or bachelorette party.  What they drink that evening directly influences the wedding the next day.  Nothing wastes the rehearsal or mars a wedding more than one or more of the wedding party getting drunk.  It's time for everyone to at least pretend to be mature and respectful but still have fun.  

Order of a processional for a traditional modern American ceremony.  It can vary from one religion to another, be customized or adapted depending on the venue layout.  Nothing is written in stone anymore for most weddings, but it's nice to have some guidelines.  Neither the order of seating nor the recessional is shown in the diagram.

Wishing you the greatest of days!

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Planning Events with Less Stress: Pulling the Plug on Plugged Wedding Ceremonies

Planning Events with Less Stress: Pulling the Plug on Plugged Wedding Ceremonies: Pulling the Plug on Plugged Wedding Ceremonies! Okay, here we have it.   There are two big reasons why people are choosing unplugged w...

Pulling the Plug on Plugged Wedding Ceremonies

Pulling the Plug on Plugged Wedding Ceremonies!

Okay, here we have it.   There are two big reasons why people are choosing unplugged weddings.  In case you don't know what an unplugged wedding is, it is when no electronic devices are allowed other than for those who have been hired or chosen to take pictures or operate the sound system.  
~~Number 1~~

I officiate weddings.  When one wedding photographer asked me before a wedding if the wedding was going to be unplugged, I said, "I always talk about that with my couples and I've had no one refuse my suggestion to have an unplugged wedding!  That's the first announcement I make before anyone walks down the aisle".  That particular photographer looked over to the other photographer and said, "We love her, don't we!"

When guests are taking pictures it interferes with the photographer's lighting.  They want to do the very best job possible and then someone comes out of the woodwork and snaps a picture.  So much for setting up that perfect shot!  At a wedding, there are some moments you just cannot recapture!  Professional photographers will give you a link to pictures that your guests can download.  As you'll see below it's also very dangerous to get in the way of a photographer..for the guest and the photographer.

~~Number 2~~

The second reason is that the cameras, cell phones and what have you, interfere with with the sound system.  I don't pretend to know all of the technical reasons for that, but it's been confirmed by many professional DJ's.  I'm happy to not have the sound messed up when I'm officiating a wedding!

Enjoy the other reasons to have an unplugged wedding!

Wishing you the greatest of days!

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Friday, August 21, 2015

Planning Weddings and Events with Less Stress: RSVP! If Only People Would Pretend to Know What it...

Planning Weddings and Events with Less Stress: RSVP! If Only People Would Pretend to Know What it...: Do You Know What R. S. V. P. Means? I probably wouldn't lose too much money if I bet that one of the most frustrating things that a...

RSVP! If Only People Would Pretend to Know What it Means!

Do You Know What R. S. V. P. Means?

I probably wouldn't lose too much money if I bet that one of the most frustrating things that anyone hosting an event experiences, it would be trying to wrangle in the RSVP's.  

So this one is for you if you:

1.  Have ever had to hassle with this dilemma, 
2.  Don't want to admit that you didn't know what it means.

Maybe this will help.  As for the reasons why sending in an RSVP is so important, here's a short recap.  The number of people dictates the costs of an event.  By not sending in a timely RSVP, you are making the math extremely difficult for the items listed below.  For rentals, it is a nasty budget killer whether it was money spent and gone to waste or having to make last minute adjustments from late RSVP's.  Here goes!

Tables, chairs, food, serving utensilssternos, chafing dishes, linens, decorations, space, favors, dessert, plates, glasses, cups, saucers, bowls,  cutlery, etc.

I can't speak French, so I'll just say it means:  Reasons you Should Verify Your Presence.  That might be only partially correct, but it might get a few more people to send in their RSVP's!

Now, go send in an RSVP for something you're invited to!  Consider it almost like a gift!  It's sad, but true.

"I don't have stamps isn't an excuse"...they still make them.

Wishing you the greatest of days!

Contact us here if you would be interested in attending any upcoming webinars, podcasts or seminars on hosting successful events!

We also officiate weddings, really fun weddings!
We also officiate and plan Celebration of Life events, really funny ones!
We also plan business events, really good ones!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Don't Miss the Opportunity to Have Fun Marketing Your Business!

Learn about the 20+ events available to businesses to zero in on reaching their target market but so much more than that!  Unlike any other marketing method, events become a permanent memory, whereas other forms of marketing often get deleted or end up in the trash.

RSVP soon before it's too late at

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Planning a Wedding is a Time and Money Balancing Act

Balancing Money and Time to Plan Your Wedding

1.  Truth #1.

The reason why weddings seem so expensive is because there are so many moving parts and elements that need to be put together.  They all cost money.

We all excel at different things and absolutely can't stand other types of chores, jobs, duties, etc.  The same goes for planning a wedding.  Why spend your valuable time on something you hate.  I know that with the DIY craze, it would be easy to fall into that trap that gets bigger and bigger.  The trap that comes from saying, "I can do that myself!"  Yes, maybe you can, but do you love doing it?  If not you're likely to add unnecessary stress.  

2.  Rephrase your stress points.

If you catch yourself saying, "I need to do this" or "I need to do that", rephrase it to "it would be preferable if I did this or that".  Surprisingly, it lowers the priority a little or even makes you think it's not necessary to do the "this or that" at all.

3.  It's okay to let go!

I've read somewhere that the average (usually a bride) spends the equivalent of 7-1/2 weeks of 40-hour work weeks planning a wedding.  That is a lot of time and energy.  It takes some of us longer than others to realize that it's okay to hire some things out and realize we can't possibly come close to being as talented as the professionals in all of the categories we need.

4.  Time Management and Planning.

The things that couples don't realize when they are planning a wedding is that a lot of the DIY projects take place very close to the wedding.  Especially the flowers, making your own cake, etc!  Regarding the flowers, it doesn't matter whether they are of the "wear and carry" or "decor" categories..they take up time when you least have it.  That's not even including the tasks that people procrastinate on, constant interruptions and all the mini celebrations that are taking place at that time.  

5.  You only get married once.  Ideally!

If it's difficult for you to think about hiring tasks out, think again.  You wouldn't expect to be able to put braces on your teeth by yourself.  We hope we only get married once so you shouldn't have to justify handing out some headaches.

6.  Invest where it counts.  Determine your "dreads!" 

You can hire people to do everything from addressing your invitations, keeping track of RSVP's, cleaning up after the wedding, childcare on site at your wedding, theft protection with coat-check companies who will guard your gifts and your guests' possessions.

My biggest suggestion would be to hire a "Day-of Coordinator".  (there really is no such thing which is to your advantage).  A "Day-of Coordinator" actually does most of what a Wedding Planner does except find vendors for you.  You will want to look for one who will contact all of your vendors, verify your contracts to see if your plan actually matches what is in the contract, will tour your venue, conduct a rehearsal (might cost extra) and do their best to inhibit behavior from anyone that could risk you not getting your deposit back.  They will create a realistic timeline so that they day flows smoothly since they know the wedding industry and what the vendors need to do a good job for you.

Wishing you the greatest of days!

Check out our other programs for couples planning a wedding or needing wedding officiating, individuals planning events and businesses who want to market through hosting events.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Bridezillas and Their Replicas! Beware!

Planning Weddings and Events with Less Stress: Bridezillas and Their Replicas! Beware!: Bridezillas and Their Replicas,  Beware! Yes!  You think weddings are expensive?  Well, Zillas of all types, you have inadvertently or ...

Bridezillas and Their Replicas! Beware!

Bridezillas and Their Replicas,  Beware!

Yes!  You think weddings are expensive?  Well, Zillas of all types, you have inadvertently or not, contributed to this for two primary reasons.  Wedding vendors are seldom wealthy and have a lot of hidden costs, so putting up with bad behavior just makes whatever profit they have made not worth the trouble.  So they either quit or raise prices.  Supply and demand effects any industry.

Unless you've been around the wedding industry a lot, you would not know how many vendors, who can provide their services to other types of clientele say, "I don't do weddings anymore!"  This can range from planners, florists, photographers, caterers and so forth.  They usually say that there's just too much drama, clients who think that they should get everything for nothing, and engaged couples and their families are getting ruder and sometimes violent when they are just trying to do their job.  I've seen it all myself!  Couples will also come up with the craziest excuses to not pay for services. If they heard that message from their own bosses, they certainly wouldn't appreciate it, but it's okay in many couple's minds to do just that.  People outside of the industry are generally surprised to hear what we put up with in the wedding industry.

Bridezillas, if you think about how you like to be treated at work by customers or co-workers, then imagine how people feel when they are doing their best to make a wedding the best possible.  However, if you have not communicated as your vendors have requested, make frequent changes, fail to relay important information or especially make last minute changes, you are asking for something to go wrong.  It's that way with everything in life.  If a bride tries blaming everyone else,  whether it be friends, family or vendors, that sets the tension to a higher level for the whole day.  If a bride rolls with the punches and is half-way gracious, the atmosphere is completely different. Everyone picks up on that energy whether it be positive or negative.  

What seems to have caused the bride/guest zillas problem?  They show inexcusable bad behavior ranging from words to temper tantrums towards family, friends or anyone who is involved with the wedding.  What has made this behavior seem acceptable in many people's eyes?  

The problem is big enough to come up at industry and networking meetings.  The question that's asked is, "What do we do with all of this bridezilla behavior and even their friends and families?"  The general conclusion is that about all they can do to tolerate it is to raise prices.  

I would attribute the bridezilla or other zilla behavior to several factors, and I know that other vendors share my opinion on this.  

1.  It probably starts with what is taught as acceptable behavior when dealing with people in general from the time they were young.    

2.  Many people of the generation that are getting married now, were in general given whatever they wanted.  Perhaps they have been dreaming of their wedding day for years.  That's nothing new, but more recently it's been with a different mindset of entitlement.  I've heard of brides saying, "But it's my wedding!"  So vendors are supposed to just hand out their services like candy on Halloween?

3.  The media with all the "reality" shows paints a dream wedding that few people can afford, but having been used to getting what they want, they can't accept that the same can't be theirs.  The "reality" shows thrive on drama, but that does nothing to help a real wedding go smoothly where everyone can still be friends at the end of the day.

4.  The media, especially the one that is named after "perfect vision" (in the form of numbers) broadcasts sensationalized shows that paint the industry with a broad brush that does not come close to matching what I've seen of hundreds of vendors.  They spend most of those shows comparing apples to oranges.  If their purpose is to educate the public, they are actually doing a disservice to the public by misrepresenting the industry.  Other shows piggyback off of those shows and perpetuate the myth.

Let's not forget the wonderful clients who we would gladly adopt as family.  The ones who appreciate our efforts and treat us as professionals.  I've had more of them than the bridezilla variety.  Those clients have usually not had the easiest lives and are far from anything like a spoiled brat.  They couldn't be more opposite than that.  Like anything else, it's the few bad apples that can ruin the whole batch.  You might have even heard teachers say that they remember the really nice students and the ones who were just the opposite.  The same principle could apply to weddings.

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Saturday, March 14, 2015

If You Are the Second Daughter to Get Married, You're Lucky!

If you are the second daughter to get married in a family, to a certain extent, you will benefit from all the lessons learned from the first wedding.  The rude awakening is that no two weddings are alike.  With sisters, often their weddings are polar opposites.  I understand perfectly why that is.  I have a sister!

I've noticed something about people who hire wedding planners.  What would that be? At some point in the initial consultation with a parent, they will say, "This time.....!" That is usually followed by we are not going to be having a stressful day and do everything ourselves.

I had one mother say all she wanted to do was to shop for a dress that she liked, and the next thing would be to sit down at the wedding!  That's pretty much what happened. The bride and groom were reluctant to hire a wedding planner and then she said, "Then it's going to be your wedding gift!"  They thought that she should save that money for something else for the wedding.  Within a month of being hired, they said it was the best decision they made!  That same couple along with their father mentioned me during the toasts, thanked me and said that they never could have had their wedding without me. Her father recommended that other people with upcoming weddings use my services.  I was so thrilled and taken aback.  I was also very tired!  It was an outdoor wedding on a very hot August day!  

I will never forget that moment, and it has kept me sane through the "not so pleasant" bridezilla types--which I won't even take on or keep as clients anymore.  They are out the door!

Cherish the good memories, right?

Wishing you the greatest of days!

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's Day and Valentine's Day Are...

It's Valentine's Day 2015 and romance is in the air.  More people get engaged from Thanksgiving through Valentine's Day than any other time of the year.  These days are often associated with a gathering of friends and family or as with Valentine's Day a day of special attention paid to the love of someone's life.  Have you ever wondered why so many wedding shows take place from January through March?  Well, that's the reason!

One thing that I would warn people about getting married on Valentine's Day, is that you can expect to pay through your teeth for roses on your Valentine's Day wedding.  I just saw something on the news about tulips replacing roses as a favorite flower for Valentine's Day.  That's a very good decision since they are in-season around Valentine's Day.

Wishing you the Greatest of Days!

15 Ways Couples Can Help Wedding Vendors Provide Their Best Service

15 Ways Couples Can Help Wedding Vendors Provide Their Best Service

Every vendor really wants to do the best job possible for your wedding. What can a bride/groom do to insure that they are able to do exactly that? Here are some general suggestions that go across most if not all vendor lines. 

This might be the only place you will hear this!

1.  Communicate with your vendor in a timely manner during the planning process.   If they reach out to you, they probably need information from you to proceed. 

2.  If your vendors don't reach you as quickly as you might like, they are probably in a meeting or working an event. Remember that they will show you the same courtesy when you are having a consultation with them or they are at your wedding.

3.  Ask if they have a questionnaire to complete before the consultation.  If so, have it done before your appointment.  If you can email it to them even earlier, all the better.

4.  Don't be afraid to ask a lot of questions at a consultation.  

5.  Keep your vendors informed of any major problems/questions that have come up as soon as you can.

6.  Notify the appropriate vendors of any changes after you have considered the change carefully.  Limiting the number of changes, especially closer to the wedding will make things flow more smoothly. Changing your mind often will increase everyone's chance of confusion and possibly result in things not being as you wanted for your wedding.  Emailing is the best way because it creates a record that can be referred to or transferred to notes in a file created for you.  It never hurts to double-check.

7.  Try to keep your questions relevant to what a vendor actually does for a wedding.  They want to help you, but their time is better spent in their area of expertise.  When they suggest that you need a coordinator, they are trying to save you valuable time and money as well as for themselves.

8.  Try to keep all of your appointments and give at least 24 hours notice if possible.  You should text, email or call or a combination of any of these.  Depending on where your vendor is and what they are doing, their access to any of these might vary.

9.  Have some idea of what you want your wedding to be like.  When asked what you envision for your wedding, as much as possible avoid responses such as:

A.  "We don't really care".
B.  "My Mom (or whomever) is taking care of all of that".  Come prepared with details of what is being done.
C.  "We don't think that anyone will cause problems at our wedding".  (You really have no way of knowing how people are going to react on such an emotionally-charged day added to alcohol).
D.  "We haven't really thought of a budget".  A vendor will be wondering if you are even able to pay them and won't have as good of an idea of what you want for your wedding. 
E.   "We're just shopping for prices."  This is okay on some level because sometimes that is the only starting point or ice breaker you have!   If you're speaking with a professional vendor, be honest with yourself.  If a particular type of vendor is really important to you and you know that they are integral to your wedding day and future memories, you want a quality product.  The lowest prices are often the costliest decisions.  Set what you feel are priorities for your wedding. You might not know it, but some professionals take offense at this "price shopping" response, because they feel that you have not taken the time to check out their quality of work which they generally take a lot of pride in versus a non-professional who probably doesn't have a portfolio, testimonials or nearly the experience.  They could wonder how serious you really are about that particular aspect of your wedding.  
10.  Assumptions you should never make:

 A.  Your friends will help you set up and clean up.
 B.  Your bridal party and guests will show up on time.  Do what you can to encourage people to be on time.  (The opposite can be a problem, too)  If people show up too early, they might want to help and that can actually hinder vendors trying to do their job.
11.   Remember that your vendors working at your wedding are people!  They will probably be working many hours and to do their best they will need a chance to eat.  No fainting vendors!  You can arrange to provide a plate, or a trip through the buffet line after your guests have been served or have gone though a buffet line.  Offer them a little bit of privacy as they won't want to be seen eating in front of the guests if possible and they may only have a few short minutes to eat.

12.  Ask if a vendor needs a tablecloth and order them tablecloths that go all the way down to the floor.  They will need to hide a number of things that are unsightly or just don't want everything in plain sight.

13.  Tell a few key people who will be at your wedding what some of the venue rules are.  This is especially true for those things that might prevent you from getting your deposit back.

14.  Don't expect a vendor to wait for payments.  Sometimes brides have an attitude of  "..but it's my wedding day!"  To this type of bride, I would say, think of it this way.  You expect a paycheck for your work and wouldn't appreciate it if your boss said, "I'm not paying you today because it is my birthday!"  (A little tongue in cheek there)

15.  Last but not least, don't procrastinate to hire a vendor.  Remember that most wedding vendors do the majority of their work in a 3-4 month period of time.  This also can set limitations on the number of vendors available for whatever service you need.