I completed my undergraduate studies at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY. Go Big Red! It was the best 4 years of my young adult life. But as in life, it was far from perfect. There were highs and lows, but overall, the best choice for me. I have awesome memories and friendships that have transcended time. While matriculating at Cornell, I had the opportunity to take courses at the highly ranked Africana Studies and Research Center. The Center’s founding Director, Dr. James Turner, was well known for his brilliance and no-nonsense approach with students to the education process. He did not play games and expected you to deliver at a high level of excellence. Only those serious about engaging on that level, entered his classroom.
Needless to say, not everyone voluntarily signed up to engage and deliver at Dr. Turner’s level. Whether or not you entered his classroom, Dr. Turner was well known and revered for his expectation that everyone come prepared for every life situation and intelligently articulate their informed position. He was tough indeed, but FAIR.
The wedding and event planning business is tough, but I LOVE IT, even when it is not fair. We encounter many people who don’t understand why industry professionals charge what they do for their products and services. Some think that things should be given for free because of relationships and there are some who don't understand the immense value we bring to a situation.
But if we factor in: (1) the hours spent getting clients and materials together before an event; (2) the time spent creating dope designs that take experiences to the next level; (3) the amount of money it costs for the equipment needed to catch all those angels on the special day; (4) the amount of ink it takes to print “fire” menu cards and thank you notes; (5) how expensive lobster is for that mac n’ cheese; (6) how stressful it is to squeeze those last minute guests into an already completed seating chart without renting an additional table, tablecloth and centerpieces for the over budget reception; (7) how many hours it took to find just the right shade of blue for the matching bouquet & boutonniere; (8) how we finessed our relationships that we’ve nurtured for years to get the hottest vendor team to collaborate on the celebration of the year; and (9) budget in taxes, health & business insurance, staff, childcare, tuition, mortgages, etc. . . we legit can’t run successful businesses on favors as much as we would like to.
These are examples of things we will do and more to provide top notch service to our clients, but it’s hard work and expensive. So, the next time we quote a price for our products and services, please remember that it’s Fair . . . Not Free. We love you.
Hello brides, grooms, birthday men and women, bridal party squads, mothers to be, fiancés, god-mommies and anyone planning a celebratory event . . . You Really Do Need a Planner or a Day of Coordinator at the very least. I know many will disagree and that’s ok. But I know what I know and I say this after having enlisted the help of friends and family members for years as I planned my own wedding and themed birthday extravaganzas for my daughter. What I learned from doing that is that they would have welcomed the opportunity to be a guest and enjoy themselves at these amazing celebrations.
I know that everyone wants to save money where they can, but the truth is that nothing is free and everything you opt to do yourself is going to cost you somehow. It will cost you in time, peace, patience, enjoyment and real money. In planning your event, it’s not just the logistics that you have to contend with. It’s the people. Your 10 vendors, 65 guests, family on both sides, best friends, clergy person, spouse and significant other. Everyone means well, but they will tug at everything you’ve got before it’s all over and you will not be happy.
I’ll share a personal experience.
This year I threw myself a Birthday Brunch and I made it “a thing” as my daughter calls it when I do more than a little something. Customized evites with limited spaces available were sent out. I invited 99 people (literally) with only 34 spaces available. **Close your mouth, that’s how you get people to respond quickly with only 2 weeks notice.** And respond they did. So, 3 days before the Brunch, I sent out an update to the invite. I told my VIP guests that I would be unreachable 24 hours before the event because I would be preparing this wonderful experience for them. So, for the next 2 days, they could ring, text or email me off the hook with any and every question they had. My guests began to make fun of me, as only they could because of this missive. I was here for it all because it just created more buzz around what the heck I was planning and increased their excitement for the celebration. Yaaaaas!
But I issued this edict because I’ve watched many of my clients endure last minute calls, bad news updates and shocking questions leading up to the start of their event and that was not good. This threw off their whole #mood and frustrated them greatly before their wonderfully planned event. I did not want this before my event so I was good with the update I sent them. But true to form, I received 2 calls during that “do not disturb” period – what the heck? What did I do? Asked a friend to call one and I just texted the other one the information she needed. But I reminded them of my request and we all laughed about it over a fabulously planned brunch.
What I learned is what I already knew and try to share with potential clients who are on the fence about investing in themselves . . . Hirer a Planner or Coordinator because it will save you in unimaginable ways. Planners and Coordinators are filled with so many valuable resources that you’ll come to appreciate when we start to work together. We can also save you money because of the relationships we’ve developed with our vendors who pass the savings onto you. Finally, as much as you’ve planned, there are always things you haven’t thought of that Planners and Coordinators pick up on immediately and it can make the difference with the type of experience you and your guests will have at your wedding or event.
So, without a doubt, You Really Do Need a Planner! You'll be all the better for it and your guests will appreciate it too.
As we begin what signifies the end of summer (Labor Day Weekend), I am totally excited because I’ve been invited to 2 BBQs this weekend! Why so much excitement? On the surface because I really do love a good burger and hotdog off of the grill. There is nothing like it and they take me to a happy place in my soul. But thinking about it more closely, I believe in celebrating "just because" and that celebrations cause us to pause from the “must dos,” to experience the “happy to dos” and that increases our quality of life.
This personal belief led me to think about why I do what I do in my business. I believe that celebrating is necessary for a life well lived. Whether you’re planning a 350 person Nigerian wedding, or inviting a college friend over for Chinese food and beer; creating opportunities for people to stop their grind and “to dos,” inserts a pause button to the noise and provides exhale moments for us to enjoy life. The more of these we have the merrier.
We can get so caught up in getting everything in our lives done, completed, finished, accomplished, solidified, crossed off and checked, that we forget to LIVE LIFE. We “do” all night and day, but we have fewer moments where we’ve lived enjoying something or someone. By living I mean taking the time to experience what makes you feel connected to someone or something and that makes you excited about being present to experience what is before you (this does not include things that are illegal, destructive or harmful).
Whether it’s celebrating another year of life, visiting a cousin you haven’t seen in years or even going to the super bowl party because you haven’t had nachos in a while, it takes you to a happy place inside and life feels good.
Whatever the reason, what ever the occasion, LIVE LIFE consciously and engaged in the moments that bring you joy, cause you to remember that you do have “people” and you’re not alone in the world, and that makes you grateful to be alive. Celebrations are necessary for an enhanced quality of life so let's celebrate.