Ask the Wedding Planner!

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It’s Wedding Wednesday, which means our wedding planning concierge team is standing by to answer any questions you might have about planning your wedding experience!

Feeling overwhelmed with the planning?

Trying to plan a wedding in a destination far from your hometown?

Not sure if you should have a hosted bar vs a no-host?

Don’t worry! We have the answers! Regardless of where your wedding is taking place, drop your questions in the comments below!

Happy planning!

Perfectly, Imperfect…Rio 2016

I’ve just returned home to San Diego after 41 days on the road, which took me to 4 countries and the Olympics in Rio. I am cherishing home cooked meals and sleeping in my own bed after a very long stint away but more than what I’ve craved, I’m also in a post-Olympics hangover. Rio 2016 was my 3rd Olympics where I was able to work with the best freelance event professionals on the planet. What you see on TV is the best of the best athletes competing at their highest level, but behind the scenes is a city of professionals that are ensuring the Olympics are produced at their highest level too.  It is the people that I have the pleasure of working all over the world with that keeps me coming back for more.

My role at the Olympics has always been with sponsorship activation, which has allowed me to work with the top Olympic partners and their clients. This time, I worked with the P&G Thank You, Mom program, which offered an entirely different Olympic experience. When you are sitting next to a Mom watching her daughter compete in fencing for a medal, you can almost feel the weight of family and country on her shoulders. Or when the son doesn’t medal when he was expected to you feel the air go out of the room. Every family willed their athlete to swim faster, hit harder or fly with perfection on the parallel bars. I cried with families when they congratulated their athletes and moved away to give space when score board didn’t go their way. Few of us will ever understand the sacrifice families make to get their athletes on to the Olympic stage. Being a member of the Thank You, Mom campaign has brought an entirely different Olympic experience into my life; one I am very grateful to have lived.

And then there is Rio….the imperfectly, perfect city of Rio. Few thought they could pull of the Games at the level they did, nor was there much expectation that crime, pollution and corruption wouldn’t be far from sight. But the reality is Rio did in fact pull it off, and I owe that to the pride and joy of the Carioca people. I’ve spent the last month working alongside some of the happiest, most grateful and hard working people I’ve ever met. They came to work with enthusiasm and pride. Many would travel on buses across the city for 2-3 hours each way just to come to work with the P&G team. We worked them all hours of the day and asked for their unending commitment, which they always did with a smile and gratitude. They are after-all, Carioca; a way of thinking that encourages the underdog to succeed. Keep up the good fight, Rio! I’m rooting for you and your people!

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Webinar (Replay) – 5 Insider Tips For Cultivating Relationships That Yield Humongous Results

(Original date: April 28, 2016)

Relationships make the world go round but few of us were ever taught HOW to maximize our net worth through our network.

In just 60 minutes, I’ll share my 5-tips on how to cultivate relationships that yield humongous results. Brimming with examples from my own personal success, this “serial asker” spills my  insider secrets about how to catapult relationships into dollar in your bank account.

Discover How To…

  1. Test if your relationships are helping or hurting your bank account
  2. Avoid the #1 professional mistake that most women make and they don’t even know!
  3. Cultivate relationships you haven’t even made yet!
  4. Create your own revenue and media generating opportunities!
  5. Master the easy techniques to authentically ask for help!

If you feel like you are on the treadmill of life, not getting ahead or achieving what you want, you’ll want to treat yourself to these 60 minutes of learning, inspiration and action plans. Life begins with the permission you give yourself to succeed!

 

Hosted By: Nicole Matthews

As an in-demand speaker on entrepreneurship and personal development, I have presented across the globe, including Scotland and Mexico. I am also the author of Permission: Stop Competing and Start Creating the Life You Want to Live, and owner of The Henley Co, a global event, travel and lifestyle management firm. In all aspects of my work, I champion the importance of designing an authentic and prosperous life!

Manage the Crazy—5 Tips For Wedding Planners to Keep Their Sanity!

Article originally appeared in Wedding Planner Magazine – March 4, 2016: http://weddingplannermag.com/2016/03/manage-the-crazy-5-tips-for-wedding-planners-to-keep-their-sanity/

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No doubt about it, wedding planning is hectic and harried. How can you keep your cool and carry on? Read on.

The rose pedals have been scattered, the music has been cued, and the groom stands ready to receive his beloved as she slowly walks down the aisle. The guests are watching through the screens of their cell phones and trying to get a selfie with the bride as she comes down the aisle—signs of a modern wedding! You take a breath at the back of the church as you watch your clients profess their undying love to each other in front of their friends and family. While the vows and rings are exchanged, your team has already scattered and your assistant is flying across town to make sure the reception site is flawless for the announcement of the newly minted Mr. & Mrs. If even one leaf is out of place or a crumb has fallen from the cake, your overstuffed event kit will allow your assistant to MacGyver a solution out of the mobile tool box you have on wheels. You are wearing your superhero cape—you are Super Wedding Planner!

Having been in the event industry for 18 years, I applaud myself for keeping my sanity. During my tenure I have produced events as small as an intimate cocktail party to as large as Olympic programs. Sprinkled amongst the pages of my portfolio are a handful of weddings. Why so few, you might ask? The brash answer is that I don’t take on projects that I think will come with a big bag of crazy. I screen hardcore when I meet a couple. If, for a minute, I sniff out any loony in the room, I end the meeting without apology. My schedule suddenly “fills up,” and I’m not able to take on the project. With an apology for my overbooked schedule, I’m happy to let the couple go back out to fish in the planner pool.

For the couples who make it through my screening process, I implement five tips for keeping my sanity and keeping the couple from losing it.

1. Have the couple complete a thorough questionnaire. As part of the introduction and orientation to working with me and my team, I request all couples complete a comprehensive form, which tells me their vision for the wedding, the budget, any red flags, and helps me to get to know their personality. The questionnaire also identifies who will be involved with the planning and, more importantly, who will be writing the checks. Finally, I ask the couple to provide their expectations for their wedding planner. I want to hear, from them, what they believe my role is and how they believes we will interact. Tweet me @henleyco if you would like a copy of my form or click here:

Client Intake Form (Wedding)

2. Bring them back to reality. As we know, Pinterest is both a blessing and a curse. Little does the couple realize, when they are pinning away that the wedding they are creating will really cost $1.2 million. An experienced planner will take the vision from Pinterest and turn it into something the couple can afford. Educating couples about what items, services and products really cost is crucial. We have a very direct conversation early in the planning so we can manage expectations on both sides.

3. Get the details on everyone involved. In an attempt to herd the wedding party and family, I ask all couples to complete a spreadsheet with the names, role, and contact information for all VIPs. This allows me to communicate directly with the wedding party, key family members, and friends, which has eliminated any confusion, and the “I didn’t realize we had a rehearsal” comments. Everyone on this spreadsheet receives a timeline and production schedule, which starts with his or her arrival into town and continues until the wheels are up on their airplane ride home. The couple has enough to think about; we see it as our role to be the portal for communication. This has been a game changer!

4. Set boundaries—it will make all the difference to your business! Just because the client wants to email, text, or call you every five minutes, doesn’t mean you have to respond immediately. We train clients on how we want them to treat us. If we jump every time they wail, we are going to become a pogo stick. I set an appointment time for each of my brides, once per month (by phone or in-person), which then increases as the wedding day nears. I explain to the couple that I am happy to receive their emails when they have a thought or question but that I will respond during their dedicated appointment. It’s amazing how productive this has made the relationship.

5. Don’t leave money on the table. Regardless of whether you charge a flat rate or a combined rate (flat rate and mark-up), it’s important to look for ways to increase your profit. The decision to add concierge services to our business has allowed us to have a more comprehensive relationship with our clients long after their wedding is over. They come back to us for their travel coordination, household management, and in-home entertaining. Weddings should be the opening for you to manage other projects for the client—not just a one and done experience.

Clients look to us for guidance and expertise. We won’t be good at our craft if we let Bridezilla run the show. Setting boundaries is key for your own state of mind—which, in turn, attracts the clients we really want to serve. I now pronounce you a wedding planner with sanity intact. Go wear your Super Planner cape with pride! WPM

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Nicole Matthews, The Henley Company, San Diego, Calif.

Win a Copy!

Email editor@weddingplannermag.com, with your name, business, and complete address, by Thursday, March 31, for your chance to win a copy of Nicole Matthews’ book, Permission – Stop Competing & Start Creating The Life You Want to Live, published by Archway Publishing. Be sure to put “Book Contest” in the subject line. The book champions the power of “leaning on” others to help create the life you want to live. Simon T. Baily, CEO of the Brilliance Institute, says about the book: “WOW…this book is brilliant! Nicole walks next to us as a personal concierge who woos us with her riveting storytelling and painful truth.” The book is also available on Amazon.

Super Week at Super Bowl!

I’ve spent the past 10 days in San Francisco working on a Super Bowl program for CBS Broadcasting. It’s always fun to be in a Super Bowl city, and to feel the energy that builds as the game nears. San Francisco didn’t disappoint! Although the actual game took place about an hour from the city, all of the activities took place in the heart of San Francisco. The weather this past week could not have been more perfect to enjoy the sights and sounds of Super Bowl 50!

One of my favorite professional opportunities is the chance to work major sporting events, such as Super Bowl, Olympics and FIFA programs! There is something very unique about being in a host city; there is such a buzz as the game nears!

Here are a few pictures from my adventures and stroll through Super Bowl City! Where did you watch the big game?

 

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Dinner Party – Deliciousness!

A favorite hobby of mine is curating recipes. I’m a self-taught cook (more Rachel Ray, than Wolfgang Puck). I find solace in ingredients, and joy in family gatherings around the table. When designing a menu for a recent dinner party, I headed directly to my Pinterest recipe boards and started perusing the deliciousness I have parked for such an occasion.

For dinner with friends, I was looking for a chicken recipe that would be unexpected, along with a creative pasta that would accompany the happy bird.

Get ready to lose your face, because this menu was beyond expectation…

Chicken with Tomato and Basil Cream Sauce
Pasta with Brown Butter and Pine Nuts
Sauteed Broccoli with Olive Oil FinishMixed Greens with Blue Cheese, Pear Shavings and Candied Walnuts
Crusty Bread with Garlic Butter

This menu was off the charts delicious when it was served, but the leftovers were even better because the flavors of the chicken really molded together overnight.

If you are looking for an easy dinner party menu for your next extravaganza, I hope these recipes will help you to be the hostess with the mostess!

Drop a comment below to tell me what you think of today’s recipes.

Getting Ahead By Giving Back…

In the spirit of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, I wanted to take the opportunity to highlight two amazing organizations I have the pleasure of serving. Last year, I realized I was missing the “giving back” piece to my business, so I set out to engage in the community with organizations that would allow me to truly get entrenched with their mission, and service to others.  It has been life changing to be involved with both Voices for Children as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) and the San Diego Police Department’s Crisis Intervention Team.

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As a CASA, I have been assigned a sibling group of four dynamic young women who have been in and out of the foster care system. My role as the CASA is to interact with these girls and to advocate on their behalf to the judge and attorneys assigned to their case. So often, when kids enter the foster care system, adults make all of the decisions, but little attention is paid to what is best or the true desire of the child. CASA’s are solely focused on the children. I have had the pleasure of getting to know these four girls and to help them to navigate the foster and court system. Far too many children become lost in the foster care system, due to their parents inability to truly parent. It’s a system that is very broken and often impersonal due to heavy case loads for the social workers and the attorneys. As the “grown ups” spend hours trying to come to a settlement in the case, I have the fortune of engaging with the girls on a very personal level. I visit with them monthly, and check in on them frequently. In our outings we enjoy lunch, shopping or even a visit to the dog park. The outings don’t have to be fancy; they just have to be interactive so I can get to really know the girls. When children are showered with love, they bloom in very dynamic and wonderful ways. To learn more about Voices for Children, please visit http://www.SpeakUpNow.org.

As a Crisis Interventionist with the San Diego Police Department, I have been exposed to a wonderful community of dedicated volunteers who are the silent heroes in our neighborhoods. A Crisis Interventionist is requested by a police officer when he or she arrives on a scene and finds a trauma. Most often this is due to a death, missing child or natural disaster. The officer will ask the family or victims if they could benefit from additional support and resources in the midst of the crisis. An Interventionist is dispatched and we arrive on scene to provide resources and emotional support to the victims. We often encounter the deceased on scene, and help the family to navigate the process of selecting a mortuary, notifying other relatives, and offering resources. The work can be very emotional because you are meeting people in their most vulnerable moments, but it is also incredibly rewarding because you are bringing sanity to a situation that makes no sense. The SDPD pioneered that CI program over 20 years ago, and it is now recognized as a model across the country. Research shows that victims are able to heal quicker when they receive immediate support from an interventionist.

I often get asked “how can you see so many dead bodies and not get bothered?” and the answer is quite simple. The deceased is not our focus; instead we are there to support the family and to help them with the overwhelming logistics that ensue when a loved one dies. I leave every scene grateful for my own family, and for the privilege of being welcomed into the home of strangers in their weakest moments. To learn more about the SDPD Crisis Interventionist program, please visit…http://www.sandiego.gov/police/recruiting/volunteer.shtml#crisis and watch: http://www.nbcsandiego.com/news/local/Volunteers-Sought-for-San-Diego-Police-Department-Crisis-Intervention-Team-SDPD-288609021.html

Where are you volunteering? Drop your comment below!