My Current Reads

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I enjoy reading and am usually reading a few books at a time and have them either piled up on my nightstand or on my bookshelf ready to go.  Since this is my first post of the year, I thought it was fitting to share my most recent and upcoming reads of the year.   Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook by Gary Vaynerchuk – I actually won this book through a contest by Vicky Lyashenko and we started a friendship after that and met face to fact late last year.  Funny and ironic as Vaynerchuk’s book is all about connecting with customers the right way through social media. Thrive The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder by Arianna Huffington – autobiographies are one of my favorite genres of literature. I enjoy learning that there’s always another side to the public persona and that story is usually way more interesting than the one we already know or think we know.  I wasn’t sure what to expect with this book, but it’s all about living a more healthy and balanced life for ultimate success. Mind Gym by Sebastian Bailey, Ph.D., and Octavius Black – The book is filled with exercises based around these philosophies: “we can choose how we think, we can choose how to improve, we can choose to be smarter and we can choose our habits.” The Power of No by James Altucher and Claudia Azula Altucher – This book is filled with … Read More

Are You Making These Weeks/Months Work For You?

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Everyone knows this is the busiest engagement time of the year which sometimes can lead to your busiest booking season too.  Are you ready for it? Earlier this year, David Adler of BizBash tweeted from the Engage! 14 Luxury Wedding Business Summit. @davidadler, BizBash 83% connect to wedding brands via social media more than go to vendor website–41% follow before booking #Bizbash #engage14 @davidadler, BizBash Luxury brides plan 8 – 9 months ahead of time and book six months says Brides survey #bizbash #engage14 Now what does this mean for you? First, if your social media needs a makeover, now would be the time to give it some attention. Next, even if the venue may be the first part to get booked, or the planner, the couples are already shopping around–do you have strategies in place to make the most of this booking season?  Are you offering anything new, unique or different?  How will you stand out this year?

Wedding Planners–Your Biggest Competition May Not Be Who You Think it Is

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I feel like every time I turn around there is a new planner getting in the industry.  I think is there truly enough business for everyone?  Do you find yourself just as busy as last year, busier, or less busy?  Do you think it’s because of your competition or something else? What I find odd is that more often that not, I have to sell the idea of wedding planners to people. These couples are no less short of income than the same couples 3 – 4 years ago.   I have found that couples who have not already bought into the planner idea fall into one of these categories: Ones that think that planners who are only for those who want weddings like those that grace the pages of “Martha Stewart” or “Style Me Pretty.” Ones that think planners are for people who do not know how to organize anything on their own or know know nothing about project management.  “Heck, I’ve seen The Apprentice.  If those people can organize a golf tournament, fundraiser, etc. in 24 hours, I can certainly plan my own wedding in six to twelve months, right?” Ones who think that if they hire a planner, they are giving up control over what they’ve worked so hard to plan, and they will not be able to carry out their vision as they’ve intended. Ones that just want to keep things simple and picture a simple affair.  They think that hiring a planner is just one … Read More

When Your Client Breaks Up With You

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In this business of weddings, it’s all about coming together, unity and all of that.  Every once in a while there is the breakup between vendor and client. There are several different scenarios to this.  You may pick up a new client after they’ve left another vendor.  You hit it off and all is good.  You pick up a new client after they’ve left another vendor and they are so difficult you can see why they couldn’t work with the other vendor.  There are some of those clients who simply cannot be pleased.  Then the other scenario is a client may leave you. When a client gives you notice, most times they have made their mind up already and there is no changing it.  They know they will probably lose their deposit (or more money) but feel that it’s more important to find someone else.  At this stage I would recommend doing some damage control and first apologizing and then asking them if there’s anything you could do to change their mind.  I know of a planner that offered to continue with her services free of charge when this happened to her. Keep in mind that old saying “the customer is always right.”  The wedding world is not like Uber where you can rate your couples as they rate you.  Other potential customers will often see things from the perspective of the couple (since that’s their perspective) even if they own businesses like you do.  If this unhappy couple were … Read More

Marriage Equality in Hawaii – Happy 1st Anniversary!

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It’s been a year since same sex weddings have been legal in Hawaii.  Hooray! I’m far from being an expert in this field, but here are my observations and I’m hoping that it can help you with same-sex weddings moving forward. First, couples are as varied as bride-groom couples, but there were some patterns that I noticed: The majority of the gay (groom-groom) couples: had been together for over 10+ years. booked in a very short window, anywhere from one week to two months out (with the exception of destination weddings) wanted a small, (2 – 70) simple wedding with very close, family and friends. had a idea of what they wanted and only two couples hired a wedding planner.  However, they were open to hearing suggestions. The one lesbian wedding I had was very similar to the other weddings I’ve had in that they booked about a year in advance, hired a wedding planner, had 200+ guests and a formal, sit-down dinner. When I spoke with my brides about the grooms getting married in such a short window and asked if they had any insight in that, they really couldn’t say.  We all just kind of guessed that it was just more the personality of men to not want to have a long engagement and if everything could be done in a shorter window, without a lot of details, why drag out the process? Perhaps it was the couples I had too, they were all together for a long time and maybe they thought they … Read More

How Do You Identify Your Style?

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Luna Photo

Earlier this year, my dear friend Catherine Bachelier Smith of CBS Lifestylist was a presenter at WIPA So Cal in San Diego, my old stomping grounds. I decided to fly up and see her and some friends at the same time. Catherine’s uniqueness as a wedding coordinator is that she is also a wardrobe stylist. She styles people and she styles weddings. This was the foundation of her presentation. The program started with a fashion show of different looks that women can wear to work a wedding. She demonstrated both fashionable and comfortable looks. You can look great in an outfit that still allows you to move around as needed. Second, Catherine discussed the following: 1. Everyone Has a Style Even if you don’t think you have one, you do. It may be casual, formal, edgy, bohemian–but it is predictable and comes up throughout your life and wedding. This style continues from the venue selection to the outfits to the flowers you choose, etc. Think for a minute how styles –and their outfits will differ from very formal locations (for instance a church and a hotel) to those styles at a ranch or a vineyard. The budgets may be similar, but the styles will be very different. 2. Good Style is More Than a Wardrobe This is quality over quantity. Someone who grasps fashion will know how to wear fewer pieces more ways and get creative with them. Catherine challenged the audience with this fact, “there is no reason for … Read More

It’s Ok to Check and Check Again

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I’ve had many couples tell me “this is our first time, so we don’t know what we’re doing.” I laugh and tell them that I normally assume it’s everyone’s first time and if it’s not their first time, couples usually purposefully have erased all memories from weddings past, so it practically is the first time for everyone and I treat it as such. Sometimes it may seem like things are redundant or you are checking on things too many times, but it’s ok.  The couples themselves need guidance and that’s why they hired you.  It’s okay to ask these questions and to follow up.  For example in Hawaii, it’s common to wear leis at weddings.  So if the couple orders a lei or flowers that you know may stain, you probably want to bring it to their attention as the expert since they are less likely to know these things. Once, a planner reminded all the groomsmen at the rehearsal to have their shoes and socks ready.  The shirts were being provided and they had to provide their own khakis.  The planner didn’t emphasize the fact that it was long khakis because she though it’s implied if you’re wearing shoes and socks it’s long pants and, figured that the couple already instructed the groomsmen. One groomsman thought because it was Hawaii, he would wear khaki SHORTS, shoes and socks.  Whoops. Good thing Walmart was open 24/7 for this early morning ceremony. At one wedding, the father of the groom was literally already in … Read More

Business Genius, Sisterhood and Sonoma Relaxation (Not Necessarily in that Order)

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My mind and my heart is full from returning from my second LiveFree Retreat lead by Sarah Jenks and Nisha Moodley in Sonoma, CA. What I like about this retreat is that it’s about personal and professional development led by two very successful and beautiful women and I’m surrounded by a group of hugely successful and beautiful women in their own right, and for once it’s not all about the wedding industry.  To be honest, it’s nice to get a different perspective on things– a fresh look if you will. There were so many brilliant takeaways from that event, but there are a couple that I want so share so you can implement. 1. Don’t read your email, but process your email – Nisha Moodley.  Sounds like a simple concept, but not always practiced.  I would look at something, mark it as unread and go back to it, or decide I didn’t want to deal with it at the moment or scan all my emails and then work on the easiest ones first and then go back.  I did everything–until last week.  I did it her way.  One by one I just read them and took action.  So far every day I’ve had a zero in-box. It’s never happened before.  Fingers crossed this is not a fluke. 2. Take out a monthly calendar and set your intentions for the year with 3 – 5 large work projects and 3 – 5 large personal projects/trips/goals and then fill in the rest of … Read More

WIPA Las Vegas by way of LA

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Gorgeous lunch setting matched the delicious lunch Photo: Altf Photography

When I found out that I was going to be in LA for a wedding with Isle Media, I asked Alan if he wanted to fly to Las Vegas for the WIPA (Wedding Industry Professionals Association) Las Vegas launch meeting.  I mean, we would already be in the “mainland” and I thought hey, why not?  I’m a member and how many times do we (in Hawaii) get to hear quality speakers in the fabulous environment that WIPA brings to every meeting?  I have to admit, it took some coordinating as Alan shot a wedding in Texas on that Saturday, another wedding in Beverly Hills on Sunday and then I wanted him to fly with me to Vegas on Monday.  I think we were booking our flights the Tuesday prior and driving to LAX at like 5am. This meeting did not disappoint.  The venue was the Four Seasons Las Vegas and the speaker was Angela L Desveaux, Founder, Editor-In-Chief and Publisher of WedLuxe Magazine.  I especially wanted to go to this as WedLuxe is based in Canada and it’s tough sometimes to get to the Continental U.S., but to hear a top-notch speaker from Canada?  Bring it on! I loved how Angela was very honest about her business about not only her successes, but also how things didn’t work so well and what she did to make them better.  Things that resonated most for me and my business were her suggestions for CRM (customer relationship management) tools Batchbook and Insightly and how it’s critical in the luxury market … Read More

Behind the Lens. . . or Maybe Just the Bags. . .at Greystone Mansion

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Isle Media: Kyle, Alan, Cliff, Lester, Reese

Last month I tagged along with Isle Media on one of their shoots at Greystone Mansion as I’ve always wanted to see the venue.  The setting was beautiful as I imagined and the guests were all in white. The couple themselves were totally gorgeous and the ceremony was so sweet talking about how they first met and how they fell in love. The biggest lesson I learned was how hard photographers and videographers actually work on the day and how much equipment they bring with them!  Since I’m not a photographer or videographer I had to make myself useful by saying I would carry their equipments, lights, etc. thinking, how difficult would that be? Well, the day started out with Isle Media scouting the location (whichI didn’t go to), then I dropped off one of the shooters at the hotel when some of them were already there doing the “getting ready shots.”  The space was too small for me, so I left for about an hour and a half and came back to pick them up to take them to the ceremony site.  We got to Greystone Mansion and it was go time as some guests had already arrived. The crew did their thing shooting and I did my best to help breakdown tripods, move bags, fluff the gown (that I have experience in), bring drinks to the couple and hold lights.  I saw how their earlier scout kept them on time with everything.  I also saw that despite the meal they … Read More