Wedding Planner Q&A – “How Much Time Will it Take Me to Plan a Wedding?”

 

Wedding Planners - Knowing How Much TIme it Takes To Plan a Wedding Helps Determine How Much to Charge

There are many factors to consider when you are determining what to charge for your wedding planning services, knowing how long it will take you to do your work is an important part of it.

Question

I’m trying to price my services. Can you please share with me the approximate amount of time it takes to plan a wedding and reception? Also, the approximate time it takes to design for a wedding and reception?

Answer

The number of hours it takes to complete these tasks is dependent on so many factors that it’s impossible for me to pin down the exact amount of time they would take for you to do.

You can calculate your time yourself based on the amount of hours these tasks have taken you to complete in the past and by taking these 10 things into consideration:

1) Your level of skill and experience

If you’ve planned many similar events, the work won’t take as much time as it will if you are inexperienced.

2) The number of staff you have and their levels of experience

The more experience your assistants you have, the faster and easier the work will go. Don’t forget to factor in their charges when you determine your rates.

3) The services you are offering

Are you the planner or the planner and designer? Does the bride want you handling every detail for her or do you only need to coordinate her vendors?

4) The size of the wedding

The larger wedding, the more time it could take you to work with your bride to make all of the plans.

5) How complicated the wedding will be

If the bride wants a wedding with over-the-top décor, entertainers, fireworks or anything that is out-of-the ordinary, it will take more time for you to plan and/or design it than a wedding with a simple ceremony and reception.

6) The number of vendors involved

The more vendors involved, the more time it will take you to coordinate their work and manage them onsite.

7) Your relationship with the vendors

If you have worked together in the past, you’ll be familiar with each other’s work style and won’t need to spend as much time meeting with them.

8) The type of venues you are using

If a venue is not all-inclusive, you’ll need to spend time with your bride designing the event and working with a party rental company, caterers, bartenders and additional staff.

9) The number of venues involved

If the ceremony and reception are in different places, you’ll need to spend time planning and coordinating transportation, events and staff at two separate locations.

10) Your bride

If you have a bride who has difficulty making decisions and questions everything you suggest, it will take you more time to plan and design her wedding and reception than it would if you have a bride who is easy-going and trusts your opinions.

Remember that tasks usually take longer than you anticipate so factor in extra time. And don’t offer too many services that you haven’t done in the past. You want all brides to have the weddings of their dreams, so make sure you are offering the best service possible.

And if you have a pressing question about starting or running your wedding planning business, you can send me an email at questions@sharonhill.com. I will answer them on this blog or in my ezine, “Wedding Planner Tips,” which you can subscribe to here.



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Wedding Planners – Stop Feeling Discouraged and Start Being Successful

 

Wedding Planners Can't Let Themselves Get Discouraged

It’s the end of February, have you taken the steps to become a top wedding planner that you decided to do at the beginning of the year? Or, have you already gotten discouraged and decided you can’t do it? Often, what separates those who become top wedding planners from those who don’t is a positive, can-do attitude.

Here are 3 steps to follow to stop being discouraged so you can start becoming a top wedding planner:

1) Stop worrying about making mistakes

Trying to be perfect before you start your business is a common mistake many new wedding planners make. If you’re worried that you may make too many mistakes when first planning weddings, start by offering a small list of services then increase what you offer as you get more experience working with brides.

2) Don’t let the unexpected throw you

Understand that things don’t always happen the way you hope they will. For example, the brides you thought would be your niche may not appear right away. This doesn’t mean you can’t be successful. This just means you need to look at your niche and see what you can do to attract more brides. Or, do some research to determine if there is a better niche for you to pursue.

3) Get rid of any feelings of helplessness

If you’re starting your wedding planning business with very few contacts and supporters in the industry, you may, at times, feel overwhelmed and helpless when you have questions. There is no need to feel this way. Wedding and event planning associations can provide you with contacts in the industry. If there aren’t any of these groups in your area, be resourceful. Check local business groups for opportunities to learn about running your business and to meet and network with other wedding vendors and entrepreneurs.

And, of course, if you have a pressing question about starting or running your wedding planning business, you can send me an email at questions@sharonhill.com. I will answer them on this blog or in my ezine, “Wedding Planner Tips,” which you can subscribe to here.



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Wedding Planner Q&A – “Why Aren’t Brides Hiring Me After a Bridal Show?”

 

Wedding Planners - Tips for Getting Hired After Exhibiting in a Bridal Show

We’re right in the middle of a fabulous bridal show season (January through March). My tips today can help you get the brides you want after a show whether you’re a first time exhibitor or experienced and just not getting the results you want.

Question

I have experience planning weddings and events and started my business last year. I’ve exhibited at a few of the biggest bridal shows and wedding events in my area. I’ve met and talked to a lot of brides. I figure the more I meet, the better my chances of getting clients. I’ve gotten a lot of interest but I’m having trouble getting hired.

Any suggestions?

Answer

Good for you for getting out and meeting brides! I know it can be discouraging not to get hired after putting in a lot of effort. It’s likely that you may just need to make some small changes in what you are already doing to get brides to see they need to hire you.

Here are 5 questions to answer about the way you exhibit that might help you see what you can do differently to bring in clients:

1) Have you chosen the bridal shows that attract brides in your niche?

Bigger isn’t always better. Before signing up for your next event, find out if the show attracts your ideal bride.

2) Do you have unique services that brides attending the shows need?

Since you’re talking to a lot of brides, you probably have gathered a lot of information about their wedding planning problems. Use that information to create the services that they will want to buy from you.

3) Do you let brides do most of the talking?

Don’t be so eager to get hired that your whole conversation is a sales pitch. Show you are interested and ask questions so you can learn how you can help them.

4) Do you clearly explain the benefits of your services?

Once you understand how you can help a bride, be sure you don’t just rattle off your list of services. Tell her how the services you offer can solve her problems. Give examples of how you have helped brides who have had similar concerns and show photographs of what you have done.

5) Do you follow up after a show?

Most brides will not hire you during a bridal show so you need a follow up plan. Make appointments to meet for short, free consultations and get permission to email them. And don’t forget to give them your contact information with your social media addresses so they can follow you. (Read my blog post with more tips on following up after a bridal show.)

Bridal shows aren’t the only places to meet brides. Join social and business groups that brides in your niche might also join. In an atmosphere in which the bride isn’t worried that people are out to sell wedding services and products to her, she may be more relaxed and open to getting to know more about you and eventually, hiring you.

And if you have a pressing question about starting or running your wedding planning business, you can send me an email at questions@sharonhill.com. I will answer them on this blog or in my ezine, “Wedding Planner Tips,” which you can subscribe to here.



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Wedding Planners – 5 Top Wedding Décor Trends of the Year

 

Chinoiserie is One of the Top Wedding Trends This Year

Even if your wedding planning services do not include creating wedding décor and design, you need to know the current trends so you can speak knowledgeably with your brides and vendors as you plan weddings.

Celebrity wedding and event planner Mindy Weiss recently named the top 5 wedding décor trends for this year. See if you agreed with her selections. I’ve added my comments and examples from the web:

1) Chinoiserie

The fanciful and whimsical European interpretation of Chinese styles has always been popular in home décor. Now you can see it frequently in wedding décor. There are two different Chinoiserie color palettes that are used, blue and white, and jade and peony. The latter is often seen in vintage inspired weddings. (The photos above and below are from Cherry Blossoms and Faerie Wings)

Chinoiserie is one of the top wedding trends of the year

2) Rich colors

This year many couples are choosing bold, bright color combinations and jewel tones over delicate pastels. (Absolutely Loved Wedding Photography – sorry I couldn’t get their link to work)

Rich, Deep Colors are a Wedding Trend

3) Classic

Many brides this year want classic, romantic weddings with lots of lace, not just for their wedding gown, but also for décor. You’re probably already seeing table linens, chair covers  and even wedding cakes with edible lace. (Mindy Weiss)

Classic Romance is a Top Wedding Design Trend for the Year

4) Watercolor Ombre

This trend has been building since last year. See it on the aisle and in cakes, bouquets and fashion. (Style Me Pretty).

Ombre is one of the Top Wedding Trends of the Year

 5) Nature and outdoors

Indoor and tented weddings now feature beautiful garden arrangements, fountains, centerpieces of trees bursting with blooms and chandeliers covered in greenery and flowers.

Clear tents are often used for these nature-inspired indoor weddings. They’re a great way to avoid dealing with unpredictable weather while still having the beauty of the sky and the surrounding landscape be part of a wedding. (Weddings Unveiled Magazine)

Bringing the Outdoors in is a Top Wedding Planning Tip

Attract and keep the interest of the brides in your niche with a Pinterest board filled with Wedding Trends.

And if you want more help to become a top wedding planner, sign in to get my ezine “Wedding Planner Tips.”

 



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Wedding Planner Q & A “What Do I Do When I Don’t Hear From a Bride After I Send a Proposal?”

 

Wedding Planner Q & A "What Do I Do When I Never Hear From a Bride After I Send a Proposal?"

Are you a new wedding planner who sends proposals then doesn’t hear back from brides? Top wedding planners don’t write one for every bride who asks. Here’s what you want to do when a new bride contacts you for detailed information on wedding planning rates.

Question

I’m new and I’ve only planned a few weddings. I received a call from a bride who said she had heard great things about me and was very flattering. She was anxious for me to start planning her wedding but didn’t have time to meet for a couple of weeks. She asked me to put together a proposal and email it to her so she could start making decisions at our first meeting.

I spent days working on her proposal. I found caterers who could provide the food she wanted, researched party rental prices and visited her venue. I emailed the proposal to her and called a few times to follow up but was unable to get in touch with her. She finally emailed me and told me she didn’t have the budget for the plan I proposed. I was never able to get in touch with her again.

What did I do wrong?

Answer

Unfortunately, this has happened to other wedding planners too. You’re new and may think that a detailed proposal will help a bride see how great you are and hire you. While most brides are honest, some brides go to multiple planners for proposals, take ideas from each, then plan the wedding themselves. Or, they hire one planner and ask that person to incorporate their ideas with the ones from other planners.

Here are DOs and DON’Ts for handling requests for proposals that can help you avoid being taken advantage of again:

DO qualify a bride before offering to do a proposal

Spend time talking to her, learn what she really wants and find out what her budget is. If she doesn’t have time to talk, doesn’t ask many questions about how you work and just wants a proposal, chances are good she’s not serious about hiring you.

DON’T feel you have time to do detailed proposals just because you don’t have many clients right now.

Your time and expertise are valuable, you shouldn’t be giving them away easily. If you aren’t busy with clients, spend your time marketing your services online and getting out in your community to meet vendors whom you can add to your network.

DO charge for research

Finding caterers, researching prices and visiting venues are all consultation services that you can, and should, get paid for. When a bride asks that your proposal include these things, tell her about your consultation services. If she doesn’t want to pay you for your work, she isn’t the right bride for you.

DON’T assume every bride who says she will hire you will actually do it

You don’t have a client until you have a signed contract and a deposit. Get a bride to make a commitment before doing any work.

You’re probably thinking that not doing detailed proposals for free will drive away potential paying clients. However, what it really does is prevent you from devoting time, energy and emotion to brides who will never hire you.

And if you have a pressing question about starting or running your wedding planning business, you can send me an email at questions@sharonhill.com. I will answer them on this blog or in my ezine, “Wedding Planner Tips,” which you can subscribe to here.



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Wedding Planners – 4 Ways to Get More Clicks, Repins and Brides on Pinterest

 

4 Ways Wedding Planners Can Get More Clicks, Repins and Brides on Pinterest

No doubt, since you’re a wedding planner, you love Pinterest and you’re using it to market your wedding planning business to brides. I just read a few articles with great tips on how to get more clicks, pins and followers so I’m sharing 4 of them to help you get more brides to notice you. After all, the more visibility you get, the more brides you’ll attract who will become your clients.

4 Pinterest tips that can help you attract more brides:

1) Create searchable board names

The names for all of your Pinterest boards should be clear, descriptive and searchable. Don’t get too cute or clever. You want brides to be able to find your boards and easily understand what their content is so they’ll follow them.

2) Write targeted descriptions for your boards

Write descriptions that contain a few keywords that will attract the brides in your niche and search engines and, again, don’t try to be too cute or clever.

3) Remember that your board covers are billboards

Chose the pins with the best images for your board covers and change them occasionally to get more people to notice them.

4) Pin often

You’ve got to pin frequently in order for your pins to be found on this busy site.

Make sure your Pinterest account is a business account and that you have completed you profile and linked your website and social media accounts so brides can easily learn more about you.

By the way, my most popular board is “Wedding Design Inspiration,” what is yours? Tell me about it and post a link in comments so other readers can discover your Pinterest boards and repin images that their followers would appreciate.



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Wedding Planner Q&A “How Do I Market to Brides with Postcards?”

 

Attracting Brides with Postcard Mailings

With the popularity of online marketing, wedding planners often forget about mailing postcards to attract brides. However, mail can be a very effective way of reaching them, here’s how to start a campaign.

Question

I’d like to do a postcard mailer to attract brides. Where can I get a reliable mailing list? What’s the best way to do a mailing?

Answer

The best list is the one you create yourself from information you’ve collected at bridal events. But, if you haven’t been in business long enough to create your own list, here are 3 places that sell them:

1) Bridal show management companies – they often sell lists of brides who have attended their events.

2) Bridal magazines and wedding websites – they sell lists of their subscribers, contact their advertising sales offices for information.

3) There are also list brokers who are in the business of just selling lists. You can Google to find some of the top companies. Most of them get their contact names from bridal magazines and wedding catalog companies.

Here are tips to help you be successful with you list:

  • Have a well thought-out budget, in other words, know how much you can spend on lists, creative design or photographs for the front of your postcards, printing and postage.
  • Be very clear about who the brides are that you are trying to reach, know their age, income, zip code, wedding budget and their wedding dates. You must really narrow it down so you can request lists that have the brides you want.
  • Don’t just send out sales pitches. Share information and marketing messages that show your brides that you understand their wedding planning problems.
  • Make sure you have a call to action that sends them to your website or an opt-in page where they can leave their email address to get a list of wedding tips or a checklist that you have created (your webmaster can help you set this up). With their email addresses you can start marketing to them less expensively than you can with mailers.
  • Plan to do a series of mailings, not just one or two. Research has found that you won’t catch a bride’s attention until she’s received something from you at least seven times.

And if you have a pressing question about starting or running your wedding planning business, you can send me an email at questions@sharonhill.com. I will answer them on this blog or in my ezine, “Wedding Planner Tips,” which you can subscribe to here.



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Wedding Planners – 3 Services Brides Expect You to Provide

 

Brides have some basic requirement sof every wedding planner

As a wedding planner, no matter what types of brides are in your niche, they’ll all expect you to be able to handle the same basic wedding planning duties.

Here are 3 important ones that you need to provide as part of your services:

1) Vendor negotiation and management

Most brides don’t have experience working with a variety of vendors, negotiating rates and managing event details. They’ll rely on you to help them through all of this, especially negotiating rates.

Take the time to develop good relationships with other wedding vendors so you know which ones can offer your brides the services they want at prices they can afford. Also, learn how to negotiate fairly to get good deals for your brides while still treating vendors with the respect they deserve for the work that they do.

2) Time management

Free wedding planning apps and online wedding timeline forms can be frustrating and overwhelming. A bride will rely on you to create a customized timeline that fits her schedule and still allows her to have the wedding she wants by her wedding date.

This means you must be super-organized, always on top of the details of her wedding and willing to be firm with a bride when she needs a nudge to complete any tasks assigned to her.

3) Management of wedding day details and emergencies

Most brides will expect you to be in charge on the wedding day. This means handling set up, managing vendors, keeping the wedding on schedule and calmly and expertly averting disasters.

Be sure you add information about these basic services into your written contract along with details about the customized services you are providing so your bride understands what to expect.

And if you want more help to become a top wedding planner, sign in to get my ezine “Wedding Planner Tips.”



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Wedding Planner Q&A – “How Do I Follow-Up After a Bridal Show?”

 

Following Up with Brides After Bridal Shows

It’s bridal show season and if you’ve been an exhibitor, keep in touch with the brides who visited your booth so they think of you when they are ready to hire a wedding planner. This Q&A shares tips on how to follow up.

Question

How do you recommend following up with potential clients whom I meet in my booth at a bridal show? What do I say in an email, mailer or phone call?

Answer

So glad you realize the importance of follow-up, wedding planners who don’t often don’t get any clients after exhibiting in a bridal fair.

Here are 4 tips for following up along with ideas for what to say:

1) Reach out within 48 hours after the show

Brides are busy and many go to multiple shows. You want to reach them while you’re still fresh in their minds.

2) Call your top leads

Personally call and confirm any appointments you made with brides and call any whom you and your staff thought were extremely interested in your services.

Chances are good that you will get their voice mail so leave a message reminding them who you are and where you met. Then mention something the two of you discussed and ask them to call you to set up an appointment so you can help them further. You can also send them a personalized email message.

3) Email everyone else

If you got permission to email brides when you collected their contact information, you can send emails through an email service. Don’t attempt to send large quantities of email from your own email address or your Internet Service Provider may tag you as a spammer.

The subject line of your email should include the bride’s name and a reference to the show so the bride knows it’s from someone she met.

Example: “Jane, thinking of you after the Anytown Bridal Show”

Include a photo of your booth or another image that will remind brides of who you are. Mention any special you offered at the show, whether it was a free consultation or discount, and the expiration date.

4) Stay in contact

Continue to email your brides to establish relationships and help them see you as the expert they can trust. Your emails should remind them when your show special expires, provide them with wedding planning tips and let them know the benefits of your services.

Always close your emails with a “Call to Action,” ask them to “Like” you on Facebook, follow you on Pinterest, Instagram or Twitter, visit your website or blog (these should all be clickable links) to learn more about you and get your latest wedding tips or contact you for help with wedding planning.

You can also stay in contact by mailing a series of postcards, they are more expensive than email but they may be just the thing that captures the attention of the brides you want.

And if you have a pressing question about starting or running your wedding planning business, you can send me an email at questions@sharonhill.com. I will answer them on this blog or in my ezine, “Wedding Planner Tips,” which you can subscribe to here.



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Wedding Planners – 3 Money Management Mistakes You Can’t Afford to Make

 

 Money Management Mistakes Wedding Planners Make

You started your wedding planning business to plan fabulous weddings but that’s not the only thing you do when you have a business. You also need to market and sell your services and manage your business finances. Many times wedding planners aren’t prepared to handle the financial side of their business and run into trouble.

Here are 3 money management mistakes many new wedding planners make and what you need to do instead:

Mistake #1 – They don’t know how to invoice their brides

The contract you have your bride sign (yes, you need to have a contract) should spell out when she owes you a payment and how much it is. However,  your bride may not remember the terms of her contract so don’t be afraid to present her, or the person paying for the wedding, with invoices.

Be aware that not everyone pays on time and you might need to remind them when payments are overdue.

Mistake #2 – They don’t plan for slow periods in their business

You may get wedding planning opportunities all year but there still may be times when your business is slower than you would like it to be. Be prepared by stashing some money aside for these slower times so you can still pay your bills.

You might also want to investigate the possibility of getting a line of credit for your business, just don’t use it unless you need it.

Mistake #3 – They don’t protect their personal assets

In order to protect your home, savings and other things you own, chose the right ownership structure, sole proprietor, partnership, Limited Liability Company or corporation, use a contract with your clients and purchase liability insurance. You want to be protected in case something unfortunate happens. An attorney can help you with these aspects of your business.

Be smart, learn to manage the financial side of your wedding planning business as well as you manage weddings and you’ll have a successful, thriving business for many years to come.

And if you want more help to become a top wedding planner, sign in to get my ezine “Wedding Planner Tips.”



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