What Sets Me Apart

January 25th, 2016
It's the intangibles that make for great event and wedding planning. Photo by Magical Moments Photography.

It’s the intangibles that make for great event and wedding planning. Photo by Magical Moments Photography.

When potential clients interview me, they usually have a lot of questions.  One of my favorites is, “What sets you apart from other wedding planners?”

There are plenty of obvious things you probably know about me already if you’ve looked over my website.  I like working on non-traditional weddings and I’m interested in everything eco-friendly, for example.  But the big differences are experience and temperament.

I’ve been working on events, one way or another, since sometime in the mid-1980s.  That gives me about three decades of experience.  I have also had a huge variety of experiences, everything from cocktail parties to operas to street fairs to (of course) weddings.  I won’t claim to have seen it all, but I have dealt with an extensive variety of challenges in my career, and I have learned how to manage them.

I am also fortunate to have a temperament that is suitable for event planning and management.  I can handle stressful situations without giving in to the stress.  I have excellent, unflappable problem-solving skills.  And I know how to deal with all kinds of people.

So, that answers one question. If you have more questions about why you should hire me, feel free to give me a call and you can ask me in person.

Fixed! And Sorry

January 20th, 2016

If you tried to read my blog or look at photos on my website in the last two days, you got an annoying error message.  I apologize!  My dear husband fixed it today in about 1/100 of the time it would have taken me.  Ain’t marriage grand?

My Green Commitment

January 18th, 2016
Bouquets look so much better when they don't lie flat.

Bouquets look so much better when they don’t lie flat.

What makes a wedding planner eco-friendly?  Among other things, this does:

The night before a wedding I had planned, the florist called.  He was planning his delivery of personal flowers for the next day and wanted my input.  He could lay the bouquets flat in a cardboard box for delivery, but, he said, that tended to make them come out flat on one side.  His preferred method would be to stand them up in vases, which would then be secured into a re-usable crate.  The only catch was that he needed to get the vases and crates back if there was to be no charge to my clients.  For aesthetic reasons, I thought the vase-and-crate delivery method was superior.  Also, it was less waste, which I also prefer.   That’s the first thing a green wedding planner does: reduce waste.  But it gets better.

A few days after the wedding, I went about the business of returning the items to the florist.  I got out my trusty bike and the bungee cords, strapped the crate with four glass vases in it to the back of my bike, and rode–very carefully–the three-and-a-half miles to deliver them.  Because that is also what a green wedding planner does.  No matter what aspect of wedding or party planning I am working on, I am always thinking about how to reduce waste, reduce emissions, and have a greener party.

My Integrity Pledge

January 11th, 2016
Everyone trusts the vendors when they know they can trust the planner.

Everyone trusts the vendors when they know they can trust the planner.

If you have looked at the page on my website that deals with Money Matters, you might have noticed my integrity pledge there.  It says, “I will never take kickbacks from vendors, because I work for you, not for them. When I recommend vendors, you can be certain that I believe they deliver quality services at reasonable prices. I always pass along vendor discounts to my clients.”  In case you’re not familiar with how this scheme works, let me lay it out for you here.

When I first hung out my (virtual) shingle as an event planner, vendors started getting in touch with me.  They wanted me to refer my clients to them, and, for the privilege, they were willing to pay me–in hard, cold cash–a percentage of what my clients paid them for their work.  I understand that this can be quite a good revenue stream for an event planner, but I am not willing to sell out for the cash.  I always insist that the vendor give my client the equivalent discount, instead. It costs the vendor the same amount and it allows me to offer my clients a little bonus.

Taking the “commission” (as they call it) is a problem because I work for the person who is paying me.  If I were to take both a fee from a client and a payment from a vendor, then I would have two bosses with conflicting interests.  I would lose the ability to help my client stay within their budget, since my own personal interest would be for them to spend more.  I also might be tempted to refer clients to the vendor who offers me the largest percentage, rather than the vendor who does the best work or gives the best value for money.

I heard a very telling story from a woman I know who makes and sells eco-friendly event invitations.  She told me that she had been taking her wares around to various event planners.  She was discussing the commission amount with one planner.  The planner pointed to a wall of invitation sample books and told her that those vendors all offered her a much higher commission.  She clearly expected that this woman would offer her more.  That is a situation that can lead to bidding wars, which can not be good for the planner’s clients.

When I first started out as a planner, I was pretty sure I would never take these kickbacks from vendors.  But the thing that really gave me the resolve came from a very unexpected place.  I took a taxi home from the very first wedding I ever planned and coordinated.  The cab driver was an older gentleman, and we chatted on the way home.  Of course he asked me what I do and where I was coming from.  When I told him that I am a wedding planner, the first thing he said was, “You don’t take those payments from the vendors, do you?”  I assured him that I do not take them.  And I have never been tempted to go back on my word.