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.

You’re Engaged…Plan Accordingly

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Congrats!

If you are one of the 26% of couples to get engaged over the holidays, two things are happening:

  1. You can’t stop flashing your diamond (“Oh what, this new thing?”) and telling your engagement story to anyone who will listen. And…
  2. You’re now back to work and you aren’t doing anything at your desk this week besides building your wedding board on Pinterest!

I get that you are totally excited, and you want to start your venue tours, cake tastings and dress shopping, stat! I get it; you’ve probably thought about this moment your entire life. Not to burst your bubble, princess…but first thing you should be doing is booking your planner! I know, it doesn’t seem as fun to think about your wedding planner as it is to dream about lace, bridesmaids and honeymoon destinations, but your planner is going to set you up for success so all those dreams come true!

Here’s 5 things you should consider when selecting your planner…

  1. Understand the difference between a “Day-of Coordinator” and a “Full Service Planner.” In the industry, the “day-of coordinator” doesn’t really exist. Any of us true professionals will tell you that we would never show up at a wedding the day-of and just wing it. “Day-of” really is “month-of” coordination because it’s important we reach out to all of your vendors and to create a timeline and production schedule so that the day runs smoothly. Realize of course that “day-of” coordinators are not full service planners, so PLEASE do not think you are paying for day-of and expecting full-service.  In contrast, a full-service planner is going to be your partner in your planning. We work with clients to create a vision, budget, design and coordinate the affair.
  2. Does the planner have insurance, a business license and a legit business? Is your planner a member of a professional event industry association and/or certified? If you can answer no to any of these questions, you need to sprint away from the planner. They are not a professional…move on!
  3. You get what you pay for…see #2. If you find a planner that is offering to charge you an insanely small amount to coordinate, you should be hesitant of their professionalism. The average day-of coordinator should be charging at least $1500 given the amount of time they put in month-of and on the wedding day. The cost will be more if they have an assistant (given the size of your wedding). A professional planner is bringing their experience, resources and vendor team to the table. This comes with a cost.
  4. Be realistic with your budget! Trying to dodge the budget question with your planner is just going to end in tears. Your Pinterest wedding board probably will cost you $10 million. If you don’t have that in your budget, let your planner help you to prioritize your resources. Planners are not in the business of spending every penny you’ve ever made in your life. Tell us what you have in the budget, and we will tell you the best way to spend it to gain value.
  5. The relationship between the planner and the couple is paramount. You have to like each other! Be sure the planner you select feels like a partner, a confidant and your cheerleader. You should not be afraid of your planner!

Need even more tips for working with a wedding planner? Jump over to our previous blog, “A Letter to the Bride, Love Your Wedding Planner.”

 

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.

 

 

La Jolla Real Wedding: Lauren & Keaton | Exquisite Weddings

Henley Co. clients Lauren & Keaton were featured today on Exquisite Weddings Magazine! We adored working with this beautiful, Canadian couple on their destination wedding in La Jolla!

La Jolla Real Wedding: Lauren & Keaton

Lauren & Keaton’s love story began in 2011, while Keaton, a professional hockey player in the NHL, returned home to Kelowna, British Columbia during the off-season. Shortly thereafter, he met a quiet, dark-haired beauty named Lauren; an equestrian show jumper. It wasn’t long before Keaton was “conveniently” showing up at Lauren’s work. Later that Summer, Keaton returned to Florida for his season with the Florida Panthers. Lauren soon followed.

In 2012, Keaton was traded to the Los Angeles Kings, and their love affair with Southern California soon began. Although hockey eventually took Keaton to Winnipeg to play with the Jets, he and Lauren visited California often to reconnect with the landscape and friends they had come to love.

With the help of her wedding planner, Nicole Matthews of The Henley Co., Lauren soon selected The Lodge at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, California as the venue for the wedding weekend. Overlooking the world-famous Torrey Pines Golf Course and the Pacific Ocean, the Lodge at Torrey Pines is the ultimate location for an outdoor wedding that could combine the rustic features of Canada with the breathtaking landscape of San Diego County.

Lauren and Keaton wanted a wedding that was rustic yet elegant, with touches of gold, white and light pink as highlights throughout the design elements. Being lovers of the outdoors, they opted to let the beauty of the view on the Arroyo Terrace (location of the ceremony) to be the focus, with beautiful accents provided by Camellia Wedding Flowers. When you host a reception for Canadian guests, the evening would not be complete without serving poutine, a Canadian delicacy that consists of french fries, gravy and cheese curd. The guests enjoyed a late night snack of poutine and sliders, which were welcomed after the dinner and dancing.

Source: La Jolla Real Wedding: Lauren & Keaton | Exquisite Weddings

6 Things Wedding Planners Wish Brides Would Stop Obsessing About

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We were delighted to be included in the Brides Magazine article, “6 Things Wedding Planners Wish Brides Would Stop Obsessing About.” http://www.brides.com/blogs/aisle-say/2015/04/things-wedding-planners-wish-brides-would-stop-worrying-about.html – article written by Elizabeth Mitchell.

 

Brides, did you know that the more control you try to exert over your big day, the less in control you’ll actually feel? That’s because certain aspects, such as the weather, are simply out of your hands and nothing, we repeat, nothing is perfect, despite you and your wedding vendors’ best intentions! Instead of setting yourself up to fail, take the advice of these wedding planners, who’ve witnessed firsthand the unhappiness obsessing over things like flowers and colors causes brides.

The Flowers
“Many brides have a tendency to obsess about the flowers, when in actuality, the colors and types available are dictated at the whim of Mother Nature. For example, who would have thought that temperatures on the West Coast would reach record highs in early March of 90 degrees? Those growers hit by the drought may have some damaged crops, and flowers that are shipped from all over the world may not come in the quantities that were originally planned for your wedding. Thus, changes will be necessary.” — Greg Jenkins, founder of Bravo Productions

The Day-Of Details
“I’ve seen far too many brides obsess about perfection, to the point where they make themselves miserable on the one day that they should be their happiest. Just like no relationship is perfect, so too are weddings and wedding vendors. Keeping in mind that you are marrying the man of your dreams and having your friends and family there to be a part of that is what the day is really all about. If the timing is a little bit off or if something that isn’t of critical importance should go missing, don’t harp on it. Take everything in stride, and you’ll not only feel the love and admiration of those all around you, but you’ll also be that much happier and healthier.” — Aviva Samuels, founder of Kiss the Planner

See More: 5 Most Common Wedding DIY Mishaps

The Color Scheme
“In my experience, a lot of brides get fixated on needing to pick specific wedding colors. The idea of designing a wedding around one or two random colors is odd to me. I think it’s much better to think of the big picture atmosphere you’re trying to create at your wedding. And then you can start thinking about an overall color palette that supports this look and feel.” — Amy Kaneko, owner of Amy Kaneko Special Events

The Wedding World’s Expectations
“I think brides obsess too much about what the wedding ‘should’ be like versus designing a wedding that authentically represents the couple. They so easily get caught up in every wedding blog, magazine or vendor website. This causes paralysis by analysis. I ask my couples to make a list of what is hugely important to both of them. We focus on the priorities and then supplement where needed. There is no cookie cutter recipe for what a wedding should look like. Brides and grooms should embrace that they have the freedom to design the day they both want.” — Nicole R. Matthews, Founder of The Henley Company

The Weather
“As the wedding nears, brides are often very concerned with the weather and start checking the forecast obsessively. As a planner, I’ve worked on weddings where it rained, where there’s been an unexpected heat wave (108 degrees!) and everything in between. When you book your venue, be sure there’s a backup plan in case of rain, then let whatever happens happen. At my own wedding we moved the ceremony indoors at the last minute due to rain and it was every bit as wonderful as it would have been outside, even though I’d initially hoped for an outdoors wedding.” — Samantha Spector, founder of Milk & Honey Special Events

The Timeline
“More specifically, the bridal party and guests being on time! Remember though, even if everyone’s doing their best, you can’t always account for traffic jams or mixed up directions. We always expect that people will show up late. Real event pros take this into consideration and pad the timeline accordingly so a few ceremony stragglers or slightly tardy groomsmen won’t throw the whole schedule off.” — Erica Taylor, co-founder of Tinsel & Twine

Sangri-Yum!

I need little convincing to enjoy a glass of Sangria – or as I like to say – sangri-yum!  For the holiday parties we produced in 2014, we loved this recipe for Winter Sangria. It is the perfect mix of fruit and spice. Our clients raved about this festive cocktail. Check out the recipe below from Food Network, although it takes a little prep time, it’s worth the work!

Ingredients

2 cups no-pulp orange juice
3 to 6 ounces orange liqueur
2 tablespoons honey
1 cinnamon stick
2 blood oranges or clementines, supremed
1 Anjou (red) pear, peeled, cored and chopped into 1/4-inch cubes
2 liters sweet sparkling red wine, chilled (recommended: Rosa Regale)
1 liter lemon lime soda, chilled

Directions

1 Granny Smith apple (or other tart apple), cored and chopped into 1/4-inch cubes

In a large pitcher or punch bowl, whisk together orange juice, orange liqueur and honey. Add cinnamon stick, blood oranges, apple and pears, stir to combine. Set aside at room temperature to macerate, at least 1 hour, until ready to serve. Add wine and soda, stir gently to combine, and serve immediately over ice.

Recipe courtesy Sunny Anderson, 2009
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Sangria

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Read more at: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/sunny-anderson/winter-sangria-recipe.print.html?oc=linkback

Marsala – Pantone Color of the Year

Designers, event planners and creatives alike wait patiently at the end of each year for the announcement of Pantone’s Color of the Year. For 2015, the folks at Pantone have chosen Marsala. With it’s rich, hearty and natural earthiness, Marsala will translate through all areas of design, fashion and event production.

The Versatility of Marsala

  • Equally appealing to men and women, Marsala is a stirring and flavorful shade for apparel and accessories, one that encourages color creativity and experimentation
  • Flattering against many skin tones, sultry and subtle Marsala is a great go-to color for beauty, providing enormous highlight for the cheek, and a captivating pop of color for nails, shadows lips and hair.
  • Dramatic and at the same time grounding, the rich and full-bodied red-brown Marsala brings color warmth into home interiors
  • An earthy shade with a bit of sophistication, texture is the story in print and packaging. A matte finish highlights Marsala’s organic nature while adding a sheen conveys a completely different message of glamour and luxury.

Pantone_Introducing_Color_of_the_Year_Marsala_bannerThe event world will start to incorporate Marsala in design elements, flowers, menus and wine pairings. Be on the look out! This beautiful color will reign in 2015!

The NEW Henley Co!

Happy 7th Anniversary to us!

On July 13, 2007, The Henley Company hung out our shingle and opened the first event management AND concierge firm based in San Diego. It has been an amazing journey, and we are more excited than ever about the future. Over time, our brand and website seemed to get the seven-year itch so we decided to make a change! Without hesitation, we called up the super-talented, design-genius, Ceci Johnson of Ceci New York and asked for her creative brilliance as we started to re-brand!

You might have known us as:

 

New Year

 

 

But effective July 1, 2014, it’s out with the old and in with the new! We are delighted to introduce you to the NEW Henley Co!

 

TheHenleyCompany

 

Operating now as an event, travel and lifestyle concierge firm, Henley Co. has a new look and a beautiful new website: www.TheHenleyCompany.com We are still delivering the same level of first-rate experiences for our clients; we are just doing it now in a cuter outfit!

 

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Check out our new site and let us know what you think! Oh, and do us a favor, invite your friends to check out our new website by posting the following on your social media accounts:

“Ready to live the life you want? Check out @HenleyCo ‘s new website http://www.TheHenleyCompany.com!”

 

Cheers!