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.

Ms. Henley’s Must Have Gifts…Men

Men's Gift Guide

 

Yesterday, we focused on the must-have gifts for the women in your life; today it’s all about the men! Ms. Henley has curated the best of the best for the guy you love!

  1. Give the gift of organization! We love Pine Cone Homes charging station that combines functionality and style.
  2. Converse has taken their classic sneaker to the next level with these Chuck Taylor All Stars. It’s the dressed up sneaker you’ll approve of!
  3. Nothing sexier than a man in a perfectly fitting sweater! We adore this timeless half-zip pullover by Polo Ralph Lauren. Paired with the Chuck Taylor All Stars and your guy becomes a style monster!
  4. Plaid is all the rage these days! An easy way for your man to stay on trend is to incorporate plaid into his accessories. We love this pop of color on the Timex Expedition.
  5. A monogrammed beer holder with bottle opener, by Cathy’s Concepts, makes for the perfect gift for your beer lover or home brewing fan!

Have a gift you think should be included on Ms. Henley’s list? Tweet us at @henleyco or IG @MsHenleyCo and use the hashtag #mshenleymusthaves

Ms. Henley’s 2015 Gift Guide…Women

Women's Gift Guide

 

Tis the season for all things gifting and giving! To help you with your last minute shopping, Ms. Henley, the ambassador for The Henley Co., has put together her favorite must-have’s for the woman in your life.  #mshenleymusthaves

  1. If you’ve been hanging out with anyone under the age of 18, you know there has been a lot of dancing and singing of “Now watch me whip…watch me nay nay” going on! This grown up version, by Skreened, allows women to get the last laugh!
  2. Who wouldn’t want this cheeky desk accessory to bring a little spunk to her work station? We  would love to personalize our space with this unexpected pencil holder by LennyMud.
  3. The layered necklace never goes out of style, and this little gem, from Charming Charlie, is not only ridiculously affordable but also easy to take from day into night.
  4. For the woman who has everything, customize a pair of Nike running shoes. You get to pick the color, the style and the personalized monograms that will make these Nike’s worthy of hitting the streets or just looking adorable at your local coffee house. Be original by customizing.
  5. Let there be peace on earth, and in your closet! Share peace wherever you go, while looking adorable this winter in a cozy sweater by Gap.

Have a gift you think should be included on Ms. Henley’s list? Tweet us at @henleyco or IG @MsHenleyCo and use the hashtag #mshenleymusthaves

A Letter to the Bride, Love Your Wedding Planner!

Engagement Ring

Dear Blushing Bride,

First, congratulations on your engagement! Along with everyone you shared the big news with on social media, I’m equally as excited about your big day. (And your big ring, which you were so quick to share with a finger selfie along with the words, “I said yes!) I assume there is a wonderful man that indeed got down on bended knee to propose but somehow the diamond blocked out his face. I look forward to seeing the Ken to your Barbie in the wedding photos.

Now that you are officially off the market, and you are giddy with wedding excitement, there are a few things we should get straight, so follow me down the aisle as we have an honest chat.

  1. You hired a wedding planner because you wanted help to design what will arguably be the most important day of your life. But let’s get something very clear; I should be considered a partner in the planning. I’m not your slave, therapist, or Girl Friday that will jump at every wail you have when you think your wedding world is falling down around you. I’m a seasoned professional that is going to guide you, support you and to work feverishly on your behalf. Help me, help you, by treating me like the professional I am, and for appreciating the stripes I have earned through experience.
  2. If you want to sign contracts without running them by me, you will be put on restriction in the time out chair. I realize you are trying to be an independent woman but the reality is that there is a language within the event industry, and unless you are fluent in it (Rosetta Stone can’t help you), you should defer to the pros for translation and guidance. When you get confused between a final guarantee and an estimate, things can get expensive. Unless you want to confess to Daddy that you just cost him an extra $25,000 because you prematurely signed the contract without running it by your wedding planner, you might want to consult with me. Remember, you hired me to be your guide. Contract negotiations do not faze me.
  3. Please realize that the images you have pinned on Pinterest, will realistically cost you $1.8 million. Weddings are expensive. If you think your day won’t be complete without tuxedo-wearing doves and diamond confetti, Daddy is probably going to have to sell the vacation home. An excellent wedding planner will take your Pinterest inspiration and turn it into the event you can afford. Please don’t look at us with those puppy dog eyes, full of disappointment, when we tell you what things really cost. It’s the reality of an open market. Sorry to be the one to tell you no for the first time in your life.
  4. Lighting is like Spanx; it highlights what you want and camouflages what you don’t. When in doubt about what to cut out of the budget, never cut lighting. You are a pretty girl; be lit appropriately.
  5. Please don’t hire me as a “day of coordinator” and assume I’m going to be a full planning coordinator. First of all, there is nothing called a “day-of coordinator” in our industry. No good planner is ever going to just show up on site without coordinating with vendors. At a minimum, I would be a month-of planner but even that window is closing. Experience tells me a client asking for discounted services will always be a discounted client in terms of attitude, appreciation and our relationship. Don’t be that client.
  6. You are allowed one (and only one) complete meltdown during the planning process. Please plan accordingly. When we first met, you were a very mature, capable and right-minded woman. Let’s keep her front and center, shall we? If you want perfection, you shouldn’t be getting married. Don’t sweat the small stuff.
  7. Whatever happens, remember to enjoy the experience. Share your story with your guests. Be authentic. Celebrate the fact that all the people you love are in one room, on one day, showering you with best wishes. Put way more thought into your marriage than your wedding day. I promise it will make all the difference in the world.

I hope I have made myself clear by laying the groundwork that is going to make our working relationship very successful. I realize you might be taken aback with my straight talk, and I could very well be the first person to take this tone with you, but if you are old enough to get married, you are old enough to hear the truth. Don’t forget, I’m here to be your biggest cheerleader, the bad cop to your good cop, your sounding board and your support system. However, that doesn’t mean we are going to allow crazy to creep in to the process. Promise you will keep your head on straight, your perspective in check, and your mind wide open to all possibilities. I, in turn, promise to be the planner worthy of your referral.

Cheers,

Your Wedding Planner

Image by fashion-kid.net

 

Nicole R. Matthews, CSEP, is Founder & Lifestyle Architect of The Henley Company, LLC. a global event, travel and lifestyle concierge firm. With the belief that life should be experienced in a big way, Nicole set out to create a company focused on helping clients to live the life they want and to produce the experiences they want to remember!

The Henley Company offers comprehensive event production, as well as manages the busy lives of executives and their families. Her recent international projects include the 2012 London Olympics, the 2013 Super Bowl & FIFA Confederation Cup in Brazil, and most recently the 2014 Sochi Olympics. Nicole’s first book, Permission – Stop Competing & Start Creating The Life You Want to Live is now available on Amazon. Follow her antics on Twitter at @henleyco.

 

My Walk To Find The Beautiful

I have recently been put on restriction from running because of a case of runner’s knee. Which, I believe, is really my body’s way of saying I’m getting old and the 35 years of playing soccer and being active has finally caught up with me. I was less than inspired this morning to go walk the hills in my neighborhood; my modified workout since it hurts too much to run. A few minutes into the walk I made a choice to turn my frown upside down and try to find the positive in the workout. I’m lucky to have my health and two legs that even in spite of my current pain, still carry me throughout my journey.

In an attempt to bring more joy to my walk, I decided to seek out the beauty in my neighborhood. This conscious choice brought a new perspective to my environment. I focused on texture, color and design not just pounding the pavement as I trudged up the hills. With Spring just around the corner, color is starting to peek out from every corner. It was hard to find a garden that didn’t have a splash of pink or a grouping of rocks that didn’t shimmer with a hints of blue. I hadn’t paid attention to nature’s canvas on other walks because I was too focused on getting my heart rate up.

I encourage you to devote your next workout to finding the beauty around you. I’m convinced the meditative moment I took to look deeply at the beautiful is just as beneficial as getting my muscles moving.

What do you see during your workout that deserves a second glance? Share your beautiful photos with me in the comments below or tweet me @henleyco.

 

Are You A Traveler or a Tourist?

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Traveler not a touristI recently stumbled upon this quote on Pinterest and was immediately stopped in my tracks. This is my mantra and wish for my life. It’s too good not to share!

Let me know what you think by popping a comment in the box below! Or better yet, share this via Twitter with anyone you think might need the reminder! Join me on Twitter at @henleyco. Cheers to all the world travelers!