Archive for the ‘Consultant’s Query’Category

WOW! Moms at The Special Event 2012

I'm a WOW Mom!

January 2012 – Tampa, Florida

This dynamic session was organized by Michelle Bergstein-Fontanez, Director of Marketing, Exhilarate Events/BeatCreative  along with a panel of notable event industry moms:

WOW! Moms (left to right): Erin, Kelly, Elisa, Stacie, Filomena, Aymee #WOWMoms #TSE2012

How do industry mothers juggle a healthy family life & career all at once? What drives us to continue? What keeps us from throwing in the towel? How do we set the example? What are we teaching? What is the legacy we will leave?

As a panel, we – ten mothers from all facets of the events industry, and from all parts of the country – shared a glimpse into our home life; sharing family photos and personal narratives, and reflecting on our individual struggles and victories.   There was also a very heartwarming introduction video featuring pre-interviews of each panel members’ kids sharing their unique perspectives on their mother’s careers.

Attendees joined the conversation, sharing experiences, laughter, and a few tears.  This is how your fellow event industry mothers are making it happen day to day!

WOW! Moms (front to back): Stacie, Kelly, Christine, Erin, Aymee, Filomena, Annette #WOWMoms #TSE2012

WOW! Moms (front to back): Stacie, Kelly, Christine, Erin, Aymee, Filomena, Annette

Thoughts on being a WOW! Mom

It was quite an honor to share the stage with such a wonderful and accomplished group of women!  I hardly think of myself as a role model.  Like everyone else, I have my struggles, insecurities and regrets about being a working parent – especially in the hospitality and event industry.  I worry and wonder: Am I trying to juggle too much?  Am I spending enough time with my child?  Should I put more time into that proposal or hang the holiday decorations?   Is it worth it?  Is it WORKING?

Obviously I am not alone.  And I belive that was one of the key messages of the session: Let other event industry moms know that they are not alone.

While scripting and developing the session, Michelle asked each of us to focus on a specific point or realm of experience.  My topic was Growing Pains.  As one of the more senior members of the group, with a child who has literally grown up in the business, it was a unique opportunity for me to speak candidly about the phases of my life – both as a wife and mother, and as an event planning professional.  In order to write my notes for the session, I had to stop – literally s.t.o.p. – and reflect on 15+ years of personal and professional growth.  The highs. The lows. The victories and achievement. The tears and challenges.  I realized that the path which was initially unclear became a road to self-discovery and fulfillment.  Mind you it was a twisty-turny and winding road with potholes, but nonetheless a road.

I realize it’s easy to get discouraged when things don’t go according to plan (rather, our plans).   The stress of meeting the daily demands on our time and energy can be overwhelming, exhausting, and even discouraging.   WOW! Moms are the women who support, encourage and motivate others; we all have this ability.  It’s good to be reminded that we can (and must!) choose to focus on looking forward, not behind.  It’s important to listen to your inner voice and make changes – whether it’s eating dinner together more often, or making time to do that ‘thing’ that has been on the back burner too long.   All we can do is our best.  We are bound to make mistakes along the way: could have, would have, should have…  Instead of letting these phrases haunt you, simply pray that you learn from mistakes and don’t repeat them.

WOW Moms at TSE2012

(c) E. Delgardio, 2012

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02 2012

More Reasons to Hire a Wedding Planner or Wedding Coordinator

 

Reason #852 to Hire a Wedding Planner:

Last weekend I provided day-of wedding coordination services to a darling couple who were married at Mission Inn Resort. Bride and Groom were both in the the military and had planned their wedding from Afghanistan with the help of the Mission Inn’s Wedding Catering Manager, Tammy. For all intents and purposes you could classify theirs as a destination wedding since most of the guests were from Georgia and Colorado.

Everything was going super smoothly the morning of the wedding, except that a number of guests seemed to be running late. After a few phone calls, the party was located but we soon realized that they would be in transit for at least :45 minutes longer. The couple was upset that the ceremony was being delayed, but in this case, it just didn’t seem right to start the ceremony before the lost guests arrived – after all, everyone had traveled such a great distance.

Quick! What should you do? What can you do? As the wedding coordinator I was looking straight on at an hour delay, and needed to improvise an alternative plan ASAP! I approached the Groom and suggested that the time waiting would be better spent taking photos with his lovely wife-to-be and my counterpart Tammy agreed. Tammy and I approached the bride to suggest a “private reveal” photo session for the couple. All at once we’re checking with the photographer, notifying the banquet captain, okaying plans with the Minister and so on. In a few minutes time, we had changed the course of events.

I sincerely believe that this couple’s day could have been ruined had I not been present. And I must share credit with the entire team: I was fortunate to be working with seasoned pros – all of whom were focused on making this day the best it could be for the couple. In the end, it worked out like it was planned that way from the beginning.

This is a small example… nothing earth shattering, but when you get right down to it, do you want to be crying anything other than tears of joy on your wedding day? I didn’t want our bride walking down the aisle angry or upset because her guests were not present; nor was it worth hurting family by starting without them. (Remember, this is supposed to be a celebration!)

For more insight into the benefits of hiring a wedding planner, be sure to read “Do you REALLY Need a Wedding Planner {Wedding Advice from a Caterer}” and “Things to Consider When Hiring a Wedding Planner

I would also like to recommend Leila Khalil’s recent article which appeared on HuffingtonPost.com, “Hire A Wedding Planner…. Or Else“… And I encourage you to read the comments as well.

Extreme Chic on a Shoestring – Are you saving or sacrificing?

“We’re on a tight budget.”

Yes, I know (but I don’t say it out loud). Times are tough, money is tight, and everyone is trying to save a buck. But lately, I’ve been hearing this way too much.
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And you wouldn’t believe the trends I’m starting to see! Flower-less centerpieces, DIY linen installations, sub-par vendors, and more! It sounds funny, but in the end, it’s really not.

Maybe you’d like to poll the guests from a recent wedding that I coordinated (notice I said coordinated, NOT planned). The bride contacted me to help her with the reception design and we put together a great look for her. However, she insisted that she wanted the reception to be ‘cocktail style’ – meaning that she wanted the guests to mingle – therefore she only ordered 100 chairs for 200 people…. Hmmmm…. I think you can see where I’m going with this.

“What’s your budget?” I ask. Rarely do I receive a truthful answer, that is, until I quote a price. It’s not a problem because I know my services are not inexpensive. I charge what I’m worth: I’m an educated, experienced, nationally recognized industry professional. I work with clients and couples who realize that what I bring to the event planning process is more than the ability to create a memorable day – I help them create amazing and memorable moments. I am a specialist; it’s like comparing stitches to brain surgery. Shopping Cart

Anyway, I do appreciate that many people are on a budget. Whenever possible I do the best I can to meet them where they’d like to be. After all, I love what I do, so for me there’s a lot more to it than the paycheck.

In a previous post, I wrote about how Brides and Grooms can protect themselves while shopping for vendors. Check it out – there is a lot of good advice there. This post centers on something different; it’s about being realistic. There seems to be a trend towards style over substance. Let’s go back to my story about the bride with the 200 guests. Do you think those guests cared how good the room looked when they realized they might have to stand for the rest of the evening? Nope – they bailed at their first opportunity. Do you think they felt valued and appreciated? Nope.

It’s my responsibility to tell my clients if something won’t work, or doesn’t work well. I educate them. What I’m seeing lately is so many people (future brides and grooms, potential clients) who are out of touch with what things cost being serviced by vendors who want to say yes (because they need the business) – this is not exactly a recipe for success.

My free advice for today is this: If you truly can’t afford the wedding of your dreams – put it off and save more money. If you want to save an extreme amount of money without cutting corners, scale back your guest list, move up your wedding date and consider a week-day event. Also, if you’re planning a wedding or special event be a good host! – that’s just good manners.

When the Vendor Overrides the Consultant

A few days ago I was confronted with a situation where a Vendor that I referred (not just any vendor, someone I refer a lot, a friend even…) told me that they had provided vendor referrals to my/our client. Upon learning this, I must have said something in my moment of shock because the Vendor said, “well, I figure you refer them too” -which I do, because XYZ service is a great company, but just not one of the two names I gave this particular Client.

I mean, as the bride’s Consultant – and a well qualified consultant to boot – it’s my job to assess her needs and recommend vendors that I believe would be a good fit for her. The Client has made the decision to hire me and follow my recommendations (and there is no kickback or referral fee involved at all!). I strongly believe that vendors should honor this agreement / arrangement / contract, therefore, I was having trouble grasping the fact that a trusted vendor would essentially override my authority by offering vendor recommendations. AND, even though I can imagine a multitude of scenarios where the client might casually ask a vendor their opinion about something, I don’t understand how / why this vendor didn’t respect me enough to refer the client back to me. They simply could have said “Elisa knows so many people, I’m sure she’d be happy to give you more names” or “Elisa only works with the best, after all she sent you to me” or something to reinforce the clients’ faith in me….

Unfortunately, this is not the first time that this has happened to me. I mean, I’d bet is was not any vendor’s intention to be disrespectful; in fact, I’m sure they were trying to be helpful. But, considering that we (Consultants/Planners in general) are paid by our clients for (among other things) referrals to vendors, you’d think that the vendors would show a little more discretion.

If you’re a vendor and you’re reading this, always remember where your Client came from. If the Client came by way of referral from a Planner/Consultant, you need to fight you inner urge to be “Super Vendor” (“the one with all the answers“) and direct the Client and any questions they may have back to their Consultant.

If you’re a Client or potential Client, remember this: As your Consultant I do not offer referrals based on kickbacks (compensation for the referral). As a Consultant, I will listen to your needs and offer advice based on my assessment of what you’re looking for. I will provide a short list of top professionals based on price, personality and style, but can provide many more additional names if needed. However, if you ask the DJ who makes the best wedding cakes, or if you ask the invitation lady which photographer is better, you might be shooting yourself in the foot (so to speak) because you don’t really know what the other vendor’s motivation is… Think about it: Is the invitation lady going to ensure that the photographer will work well with the other vendors on-site and execute his/her job to your satisfaction?

© 2008 E. Delgardio All Rights Reserved

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