Handling Event Crises

By:  Jennifer Taylor of Taylor’d Events Group

Picture this nightmare scenario: The wedding reception is going smoothly, and you are about to slip out the door for a quick bite to eat. Then you hear them – the words no planner ever wants to hear coming from the other room: “Someone call a doctor!” You immediately make eye contact with the receptionist who places the call. In the meantime, you hear “never mind,” but you know the emergency responders are still coming. It’s the tallest building in the city – they have to show. Thankfully, they arrive, check out your victim, and give you the “OK” as they head off to address more serious issues.

You, on the other hand, are left wondering, “what if it had been a more serious issue?”

What if the grandmother of the groom had broken her wrist on the dance floor? What if a vendor didn’t show up, or the venue lost power? These real life situations have happened during my weddings! A planner has to be prepared for anything. So, what did I do? 

In the first scenario, a family member escorted the groom’s grandmother to the emergency room and I kept the guests calm and the event going. I now check the dance floor after it’s assembled at every event to make sure there are no seams sticking up, and that the floor is event. It is essential that you use your emergency situations as learning opportunities to help future events run more smoothly.

When a vendor doesn’t show up, you need to assess your resources. If a baker no-shows, for example, you could try to call in a favor, or find out if the venue has an in-house pastry chef who might be able to step in. You could also send your assistant to a local store to purchase a cutting cake and sheet cakes. You have to think creatively and understand what is, and what is not possible as a solution.

If any other vendor no-shows, you can again try to call around and see if one of their colleagues is able to step in. If not, what other acceptable substitutions could you try? For example, if the florist does not arrive and none of your florist buddies can help, can you go to the floral department of the nearest grocery store and try to replace what is missing? Could a local restaurant help with food and service if your caterer doesn’t come? Can you solve the problem by thinking out of the box?

Whatever you do, don’t panic. Even in the case of a power failure, you can keep people calm, find candles if you know that there is no gas leak, and keep everyone updated with the latest news.

In case you ever needed a good reason to network, the above scenarios give you all the reason you need. If you get into a wedding day predicament, it will be very helpful to know what your fellow local wedding professionals can do!

Ultimately, weathering crises as an event planner boils down to staying calm, cool and collected, and making sure that you are sharing that vibe with others. You are the planner – the leader – and everyone else will turn to you. If you are calm, they will be calm, and that is really all that matters.

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How to Create a Destination Event at Home

By Kim Sayatovic, Belladeux Event Design

Planning exquisite destination weddings doesn’t have to involve a flight to an island paradise, passports or jet lag. Sometimes the destination is right in your backyard. Many couples crave the energy and guest experience of a destination wedding, but also want to celebrate what they love about their home or hometown. You can apply the same principles to planning a destination wedding at home that you would when planning a more remote event.

View the Town through a Newcomer’s Glasses

Take a day to roam the area as a tourist and see everything from a new perspective. If you’ve always heard about a certain museum or historic site, but never had the time to visit, go there now. Pick up brochures in the lobby of local hotels or nearby rest stops and welcome centers. Ask friends and colleagues where local kids go on field trips. Find out what marketers say and recommend when promoting the region to the outside world. You may find unique venues and inspiration for menus, music and décor are actually all around you.

Get to Know Your Clients

As you interview your couple, find out what it is that they love so much about the area. Have they chosen it merely out of convenience, or does their love story include a mutual affection for the local life? Do they have certain spots that were important in their timeline, like the tree where they were engaged, or the bridge where they first kissed? Were they listening to a favorite local music group when they first fell in love? Get as much detail about why the area is important to them as you can, then try to incorporate that level of detail into their guest experience.  

Introduce the Region

Guests love welcome bags, and hosts love to start an event on the right foot. Collect samples of local treats, like single serve regional coffees or small bags of candy from the corner candy store. Pair them with comfort items and a personalized letter from the couple suggesting the best ways to enjoy the town and the can’t-miss sights. Also include useful information about transportation and important wedding details. Your guests will be grateful for the practical information and delighted with the local treats.

Feature Local Flavor

Does your couple have a favorite food truck or ice cream shop? Is the region world-renowned for its local wineries or breweries? Work with your catering team to use local products when creating menus, and feature regional wines or beers at the bar. Plan an end of night surprise visit from your clients’ favorite local doughnut or ice cream shop, or send everyone home with a take-out container of something deliciously regional and “insider-only.” Use special signage to share how the featured items were selected, or choose a personable live chef to interact with guests while small portions of the couple’s local favorites are prepared and served. 

Record and Share

An often-ignored benefit of planning phenomenal destination events at home is recognition. Make sure that you market photos of your event as real wedding stories or features on blogs and websites you love. Celebrate your design and you’ll soon attract the attention of other couples that may very well make your town the home of their upcoming weddings!

Planning a destination event at home can certainly be a fun and rewarding experience, and your clients will love the opportunity to embrace all that is their hometown!

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Stay Calm and Carry On- Event Day Management Tips and Tricks

By: Cindy Novotny, Master Connection Associates

As an outside consultant looking into your world, I occasionally see a lack of calmness and professionalism as it relates to ‘event day management.’  Whether you are a full time planner, event designer, lighting expert or on the music and entertainment side of the business – the client should NEVER see you sweat.  NEVER!

I have witnessed planners screaming at a caterer, or another vendor setting things up.  If you think no one notices, you are sadly mistaken – they notice.  If you are a planner and hire a ‘same day planner’ to assist you, make sure you have had a good turnover phone call with them to set the expectations and create a seamless day of event.  

So here are my top ten tips:

  1. Always have a pre event call with all vendors the day before the event for a last minute overview of the day so there is nothing left out that will cause issues
  2. Only hire assistant planners day of that you have ‘vetted’ and are completely comfortable representing you and your brand
  3. Create ‘rules of engagement’ with your entire team and with your vendors (partners) on how we conduct ourselves the day of the event – attire, attitude, cell phone rules, where staff parks, debrief rooms to discuss issues away from the client, arrival times, when it is acceptable to leave, etc.
  4. Client call the day before the event or wedding to check in on last minute requests and changes – do not leave this until the day of
  5. Proper portfolio to hold all necessary paperwork instead of pulling it out of a purse or pocket
  6. Business cards for all that are representing you as there are always guests that ask about using your services for future events
  7. Post event report that must be completed at the end of the event for the planner or sales person who handled the event to review before talking to the client after the event for feedback and rebooking if it is corporate events – we want NO surprises
  8. A process in place for additional billing items that are asked about on the day of – how does the vendors (partners) get approval if the client is asking for more lighting, different alcohol, etc. and how do we handle getting a signature about these items
  9. Check your ego at the door
  10. Breathe!

 

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Trend Alert: Creating Scenes within an Event

By: Fabrice Orlando, Cocoon Events Management

Event inspiration can come from a number of sources, and sometimes, different angles can be difficult to merge seamlessly. Clients may present us with true challenges – combining his love of baseball with her affinity for ballet may seem impossible, but it’s not if you take the smart approach. Instead of trying to fit a square peg into a round hole, make a scene! Or, create several to reflect the bits and pieces that ultimately make up an entire love story, while offering guests an exciting, interactive experience. 

The key to effectively creating and using scenes in an event is the big reveal. Don’t show all of your cards when guests first walk in the door. Use drapery to section off a space, allowing guests to enjoy different tableaux as the night progresses. Make each “room” different than the last. By sharing different themes with them this way, they will feel as if they’ve attended multiple events in one evening!

Assign a different theme to each room for indoor events, or create scenes that progress along a pathway for outdoor celebrations. We once produced an event with a Roman space filled with Italian cars, another area with Baroque chandeliers hanging from trees, a rainforest, and an all-white lounge sparkling with diamonds. We designed a path to guide guests from scene to scene enjoying the details of each unique event-within-an-event. Guests were absolutely wowed at every turn and we successfully brought together our clients’ diverse interests in one cohesive event.

Creating a scene goes beyond just décor. Music, food and drinks can all be themed and layered to add depth and interest to an event. Pair tapas and sangria on Spanish-style plates in a scene devoted to Spain, then take guests on a journey across the world in a matter of steps to a Hawaiian scene complete with Kahlua pig and pina coladas and a flower lei for every guest. Don’t neglect any of the senses – hire specialty musicians to help set the mood with the right tunes and truly transport your couple’s guests to another world.

Get to know your clients to gain some direction that will help you envision the perfect combination of scenes. Find out all of the little things that make them smile – their mutual loves, diverse interests, and shared experiences. Concentrate less on the common thread running through their passions, and more on how you can bring them each to life and effectively guide their guests through a tour of your clients’ unique love story. Blend traditions and flavors and create an unforgettable event. 

Once you begin viewing events from the perspective of creating scenes, you may never turn back! It takes observation, inspiration and a fair amount of work, but the awe you will certainly inspire will be worth every bit of it.

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Tech Apps for Your Wedding Business

By: Kevin Dennis, Fantasy Sound Event Services

In the wedding industry, it can sometimes seem like there just aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything finished. While I can’t tell you how to get 25 hours out of a day or eight days in a week (if only!), I’m here to share some of my tried-and-true tech apps that will help save time on a daily basis. Even if it is just a few minutes at a time, remember that time certainly is money. 

With this in mind, consider incorporating one, two, or all of the apps below into your everyday process – you’ll be happy to start gaining back some valuable time in your day!

Grammarly

If you’re like me and are always questioning your spelling and grammar, this is the browser plugin for you! Once you’ve installed the plugin, Grammarly will review any text that you put into the browser and suggest revisions to improve your writing. Save yourself the time of consulting a dictionary and the embarrassment of mixing up ‘your’ and ‘you’re’ once again with this intuitive browser plugin!

Doodle

I’m sure I don’t have to tell you how much of a headache it can be to schedule an appointment. When somebody wants to meet with you, there’s usually a bit of back-and-forth required before the two of you can agree on a time that works for both of you. Rather than subject yourself to this process, opt for Doodle, an easy-to-use scheduling app that allows people to choose a time that works with your schedule. All you have to do is sync your calendar and it will do the rest for you!

When I Work

This is great for small businesses with employees, as it is the easiest way to create your team’s schedules. In addition to blocking out shifts for every staff member, there’s also a corresponding mobile app that allows employees to clock in and out at any time and location – perfect for keeping track of offsite hours!

Canva

So, you’re looking to have some beautiful graphics for your next newsletter but you don’t have the funds to contract someone and you’re not the sharpest Photoshop user. Enter Canva, an online platform that allows you to create graphics for anything you can imagine. You get access to hundreds of fonts, an endless supply of stock photos and illustrations, and icons and shapes to create your own designs. 

Hootsuite

Hootsuite is for you if you’re tired of juggling your separate social media profiles and want to simplify the posting process. This app can be used both on your desktop and on mobile, giving you the freedom to manage all of your social media usage from wherever you are.

Of course, there are an endless number of apps out there to help your business, so these are only suggestions. Be open to trying out new programs until you find the very best fit for your company!

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