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5 Ways to Effectively Use Pinterest to Boost Your Presence

The big five of social networks (Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Pinterest, and Instagram) control the internet’s flow of information, photos, and friendships. Whether your business is present on them or not, these billion dollar companies won’t be leaving the internet anytime soon.

And that means, for you as a small business, being present socially online. Today we’re going to talk about Pinterest, the social website for sharing images. We’ll focus on five best practices to promote your business and presence and a couple not so great ideas. New to Pinterest or a veteran user (bride, planner, caterer or otherwise!), these tips should boost your sociability.

1. Pin often/pin regularly – Pinterest is all about community, pinning images you love from your own site and from other sites. Pinners that post on a regular basis, and often, are seen the most in the newsfeed (the Pinterest homepage when you’re logged in). There’s no hard and fast rule, but 15-20 pins per day, scheduled throughout the day do best. To ensure you’re not glued to the Pinterest page all day, you can use scheduling tools like Ahalogy, Viraltag, and Tailwind.

2. Create a portfolio board – Whether you’re a wedding planner or florist or photographer, always have one board dedicated *only* to your work. That board, let’s call it “Amy’s Wedding Cakes”, should be in the top row of your boards. This way, your board is always visible when a user visits your profile page. In addition, it’s an easy way for anyone to see your talent and know who you are.
Screen Shot 2014-12-22 at 11.25.46 AM

3. Pin from credible sources – When pinning or repining, always pin from credible sources. That means pinning from online magazines, fellow wedding professional sites, known wedding bloggers. If you repin, make sure you check the source of the pin and click on it. The worst pins are the ones that direct you to one site, only to direct you again to another site. You want quality pins, quality sources.

4. Create & take part in group boards – Weddings is one of the categories on Pinterest that has few group boards. For food, DIY, crafts, you can find thousands of group boards, but for weddings, a mere few hundred. A group board is any board where you invite others to pin to the board. If you created the board, you’re the board owner and can invite/kick out anyone, delete pins, or delete the board. As a group pinner, you can add pins to the board, and invite others to join (though most pinners frown upon this).

One of our group boards, just for our vendors:
Screen Shot 2014-12-22 at 12.01.59 PM
A few things to know about group boards:
– Group boards can bring out the best in pins, but also the worst. Make sure you have guidelines for your pinners to follow, and don’t be afraid to delete a pin or two if it’s not related to your board. At the same time, you’ll have to relinquish some control and trust that pinners pin quality stuff.
– Group boards grow quickly in terms of pins and followers. The more pinners in your group board, the more followers you will get (the group board appears on all the pinners profile pages).
– Keep your group board to under 15 pinners to maintain quality and a theme.

5. Have trend-inspired boards – Regardless of your niche in the industry, you should always have a few trend inspired boards. These boards can be about anything, from flowers to foods to destinations. A few examples, “Geometric Wedding Trends”, “Pantone Color of the Year – Marsala“, “Latest in Little Bites to Eat”.

Besides the best practices above, there are a few no-nos on Pinterest.
1. Don’t repin photos and add in your own url/company name to the description – This is increasingly common and frustrating for the community. You pin a wedding cake. Someone repins the image and adds into the description their own company name and website URL. It’s shady and bad for the community.

2. Don’t message magazines/blogs and beg them to repin your images – With the Messages feature, you can send a pin to another user in the network. While this is a great option to privately send your friend an image, it’s also easy to beg for repins. We receive dozens of requests from wedding companies asking us to repin their pin. In all instances, they never tell us about themselves – it’s the equivalent of sending generic press releases to journalists. If you really want to get in touch with another user, then type them a personable message.

I hope these tips help you boost your social media presence and your business with clients in the future. Like all social networks, Pinterest is about developing relationships, not forcing sales. Happy pinning!

Stop being busy, start creating cash: Clear advice to double or triple your hourly rates (even when you don’t charge hourly)

It’s an absolute epidemic. Ask anyone how they are these days and the response inevitably comes back as “Busy, just really, busy.” Busy doing what, I’d love to know since so many of us are not where we want to be financially.

But mowing and blowing and flitting around non-stop does not a productive person make. In fact, allow me to personally attest to the fact that having a fabulous looking “busy” business on the outside does not always translate to making a profit. In fact, if you know anyone who is chronically busy, day in and day out, no matter the season and always behind and overwhelmed, it’s a sure sign that they’re clueless in the productivity department. Unless you’re the single mother of triplets running a Fortune 50 company, you’re not THAT busy.

As a reformed busy addict myself, I know all too well the high that comes from stating how booked you and your business are and proving to everyone else that you’re just so in-demand. But when it comes to determining a concrete measure that we’re all familiar with, things get a little more elusive.

In order to level the playing field and come up with a key metric, let’s use an hourly rate. Note: I fully realize that not everyone charges hourly. In fact, I can hear the protestations already: I charge a flat fee! (Or just substitute the other options: percentage/markup/hybrid. Better yet, I sell products, no one charges hourly when you own a manufacturing company or a retail chain.) While you might not charge hourly on a pre-printed invoice, effectively, we’re all getting paid hourly based on how much time it takes us to produce, sell or complete something. Whether that “something” is a donut, a manuscript or a month long consulting assignment you’ve got the components: revenue, expenses and your time.

I’ve coached countless entrepreneurs on doubling or tripling their hourly rates, regardless of how they actually charge for their products or services, and the system boils down to the following key steps:

1. Determine Your Hourly Rate. The real one. Not the one on your rate card, but the hourly amount you earn after deducting all of the little expenses and your unaccounted-for time spent servicing your customers. (Hint: You can get it in two ways, both providing equally enlightening information.)

Here is the simplest:

Your REAL hourly rate is a formula based on how much:

Revenue you take in every year (R) – minus your costs (C):

Traditional expenses like:

  • COGS
  • Overhead

Non-traditional costs of keeping your job:

  • Gas to get to and from work,
  • Nanny you had to hire so you can keep the job,
  • Dry cleaning bills to keep you super starchy, etc. (Add up all of the C’s)

Then divide the total costs by the number of hours you work, including your commute! (H).

The formula: (R-C)/H = Your Hourly Rate

2. Set Your Goal Rate. How much you want to make hourly (whether or not you charge hourly!) for it to be worthwhile to make 7,000 cupcakes a day, 365 days a year? Would you gag if you were making less than $20/hour? $30? $70?

3. Establish Your Walk Away Point. Let’s face it, we all want to make $1 million an hour, but if it’s January, your slowest month, you might take a little less than you would during the peak season. If your goal rate is $50/hour, but the alternative is couch time watching re-runs, you might secretly take $30/hour.

4. Brainstorm Ways to Raise Your Prices Without Raising Your Prices. I borrowed this little idea from the airline industry and their baggage fees. In order to book a flight in the old days, you had to call each of the airlines and get their fares. Then you picked the lowest one, assuming the times were around the same.

When sites like Expedia came along, the game changed. But did United say, no problem, we’ll go from $747 to fly to Dallas and drop our fares to what Blue Sky Air is charging? Not so fast. Everyone kind of fell into line, but they made up the lost revenue with baggage fees, extra charges to change your tickets, etc. This tip is all about semantics and figuring out where you’re leaving money on the table.

5. Get a Lot More Efficient. I know, you’re already a machine, but we all have a long way to go in the productivity department. The most valuable tip I can possibly share that will never go out of style, is tracking your time. I don’t care if you track it on a napkin or the latest app — write it all down.

Give me one week of data on how someone spends their time and I can nail the health of their business. Need more sales? Look at your time log and allocate more of it to picking up the phone and drilling down on activities that bring in the most revenue at the highest profit margins. You can get an ROI on your time just as easily as you can on your money — IF you measure it.

6. Cut Your Expenses. All of them. Your cost of goods sold as well as your overhead. No, you are not living as leanly as an organic chicken. Get out your scissors and find some more Benjamin’s. I fully realize that this is not especially fun, but it is one of the best habits you can possibly get into.

Remember, I was the girl who closed a deal and headed to Neiman Marcus before the deposit had even cleared, so my idea of a good time was not exactly whipping out the p&l and slicing and dicing. But if this over-shopped wonder can fall in love with a good hack, you can too. Literally you can turn it into a game, but you’ve got to be looking at your expenses every time you open the mail and at LEAST twice a month.

I am constantly amazed at how that trite “Measure it and it will improve” quote is so right on. As soon as I scratch the surface and pick up the phone to see if I’ve got the most up to date xyz plan, I start to save money. It’s crazy.

When you’re trying to trim your budget, question every single expense, starting with the biggest ones. I thought I had a pretty good handle on my payroll and staff time until I had everyone actually start clocking in and out for events, on the spot. Paying someone for being on the schedule from 11am ““ 5pm who actually WORKED from 11:10am ““ 4:40pm really adds up.

The Net/Net: Accept the fact that once you dig into this whole concept of determining your hourly rate, setting your goal rate and then coming up with unique ways to fix it, the process will probably become second nature. The added bonus is in the confidence department. I love knowing how long it took to type an invoice or load a catering truck, because I’ve TYPED AND LOADED.

Literally, sit next to your bookkeeper/data entry person/fill in the blank and educate yourself on their processes. You’ll be amazed at the gold you dig up hiding barely below the surface.

Right now, Marley Majcher, author, TV contributor and big boss at The Party Goddess! is probably knee-deep in glitter sipping martinis with Pierce Brosnan (literally)”¦ But you take her free quiz to find out just how productive you are right now at http://theprofitgoddess.com/tses/.

How to nab the clients YOU want to work with

Through my party planning company The Party Goddess! I’ve worked with Britney Spears, Sofia Vergara, Gwyneth Paltrow, Pierce Brosnan, and a list that grows by the day. Celebrity clients are a great way to leave your competition in the dust no matter HOW saturated your market is — it’s the easiest way ever to get paid a lot more for what you do. But it’s not just about landing the celeb — it’s about leveraging them.

You should care about celebrities, even if you don’t care about celebrities. Why? (Hint: it’s a 5 letter word and starts with “M”). M-O-N-E-Y. And not just theirs, everyone else’s who will now pay you a premium because of your association.

Two things sell: Sex and celebrities. Period. Therefore, you can sell your soul, or just get some celebrities clients. Here’s how I got mine:

1. I determined my “why.” I can’t emphasize enough how crucial this first point is. Do you want celebrities so you can lead an exciting life, hobnobbing with the rich and famous? Or do you want celebrity clients to get attention for your brand?

2. I quantified the end goal. If you want celebrities to help your brand stand out, that’s great, but how much cash, time and product (even at your cost, products still take money to produce) are you willing to budget and what kind of ROI are you expecting.

3. I got clear on how I would quantify success. I have a certain “quota” of A-listers that I want to work with each year because historically each celeb translates into a certain number of national magazine mentions. Those mentions in publications that my target audience reads translates into a certain number of hits on my blog, which translates to a certain number of inquiries, which translates to a certain percentage of closed deals. Get my drift?

4. I identified my targets. Who did I want to plan a rockstar-fabulous event for and why? If your ideal customers are Kardashian-following, clothes-loving, latest-restaurant type foodie hounds, it won’t do you a ton of good to land yourself a country Western singer that Tinseltown isn’t super enamored with. It will be a waste of your resources and can even turn your audience off.

5. I got their attention — with gift certificates. Beautiful, personalized, and for a significant dollar amount. Celebrities are used to getting everything for free. Just like in every other aspect of your business, even your “gift” must rise above the rest.

How & why to leave your competition in the dust

Here is the premise from which I operate:

  • Celebrities = Press
  • Press = Notice
  • Notice cuts through the noise
  • Noise keeps you chasing clients & your prices low
  • Notice = Expert
  • Expert = More $
  • The marketplace these days is so cluttered, crowded and noisy that it’s taking a lot more than just a great product to get people to take a second look at your business. We’ve all heard a lot lately about “becoming an expert.” The bottom line is, if your target audience identifies you as the leader of your pack, the one who really is the go to resource in your industry, you can command higher prices. That’s just how perception works, right or wrong. Therefore, demonstrate you’ve got the street creds and your customers will vote with their feet, right into your back pocket.

    How to identify your own top 5-10 celebrities:

    Don’t live in the 90210? No problem. Your optimal “celebrity” doesn’t have to be an actual celebrity. Think of an influential person in your area — the mayor, a well-known family or a media person. Well known people in a local area are seen as “celebrities” so brainstorm your list. Create a plan. And then just freaking go after them with a specific roadmap.

    Once you have your celebrities, it’s all about leveraging them! It’s not enough to just “get” the celebrity client of your town. That’s akin to a tree falling in the forest: If no one saw it, did it really actually fall? Notable events are the same. Your target audience must be made aware, and made aware, and made aware that this is the kind of clientele you have, that that sets you above the rest, makes you good at what you do and therefore, super desirable as their number one vendor of choice (which just happens to mean you can justifiably charge more.)

    In order to leverage your hard won celebrity cadre, secure these three things (or at least the first two.)

    Key #1: They are your client ““ They must sign off saying that Marley Majcher, The Party Goddess! gets to include Pierce Brosnan (yes, he really is that good looking AND nice) on her client list.

    Key #2: Photo ““ A picture speaks a thousand words. Enough said. Get the shot.

    Key #3: Testimonial! ““ IF you can, get a testimonial. It doesn’t have to be long or formal, heck, it can even be a Tweet, but TRY and get something. 80 characters and a smiley face from George Clooney is as good as cash.

    Now go and tell the world! Use your three keys above to tout your success. In the beginning it will feel awkward, but you must do it, or all of your hard work will be for naught. Blasting it through social media, ezines, press releases, and of course, your website press page, blog and client roster are just a few examples of getting the biggest bang for the buck.

    A few bonus tips. Remember The Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would like them to do unto you. Protect your “celebrity” clients like you would protect your children. Assume nothing. If you gift them with your services, be clear and upfront about what’s involved so that everyone is straight going in. The LAST thing you want to do is get a celebrity and then sell them out. The world of famous people, whether it’s Hollywood, or the local group of reporters in a small town is usually a tight group and people talk. Your reputation for keeping your mouth shut is VITAL. I can’t stress this enough. Exchanging your services for their photo, name as your client and testimonial (if you can get it), should be clearly spelled out. You wouldn’t appreciate someone abusing your trust, so don’t abuse theirs, even if they deserve it. And a lot of them do. Take your informal count of their martini consumption to the grave.

    People do business with people who they know, like and trust. TRUST. Develop the relationship and that celebrity, and many others will be yours for the taking. You can still leverage the relationship by mentioning details of your upcoming event (or past event) without naming names or giving specific dollar amounts. Don’t risk your newly acquired elevated status with an overconfident remark to the press about someone being cheap or anything less than fabulous.

    Now go draft up those gift certificates and shout your results from the rooftop.

    Right now, Marley Majcher, author, TV contributor and big boss at The Party Goddess! is probably knee-deep in glitter sipping martinis with Pierce Brosnan (literally)”¦ But you take her free quiz to find out just how productive you are right now at http://theprofitgoddess.com/TheSpecialEvent

    Florist Toolkit: Essentials for Event Set-up

    Special event florists know they need to arrive at an event ready to hit the ground running, prepared to transform the space with amazing floral designs in a relatively short amount of time. Over the last few years of working with floral designers (from the wholesale side), I’ve heard lots of great advice on setting up for events including: transportation tips, how to make sure your designs are stable, and how to make last-minute touch-ups on arrangements without needing extra flowers.

    Jackie's Flowers photo by Bret Cole Photography

    Jackie Perez, owner of Jackie’s Flowers, puts the finishing touches on a styled shoot on location in Bodega Bay. Featuring: California Vintage Rentals, photo: Bret Cole Photography

    To learn more tips for successful event installs, I asked several California-based floral designers about their must-haves for their on-location toolkits. I received a variety of responses, including what to bring along to make clean-up faster, and handy uses for florists’ favorite adhesive. Here’s what they had to say:

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    Six ways to get serious with your small business and stop treating it like a hobby

    It often starts like this: “You’re so amazing at [fill in the blank] planning parties, Julia, you really should go into business.” And I cringe every time a newly minted entrepreneur tells me their story. Why? Because, it takes so much more than a great idea or amazing pastry skills to make a profit. And that is the difference between a hobby and a business: Profit. Yes, it takes talent, passion and a lot of other things. But one of the most important is the commitment to a plan.

    Following is my quick and dirty system for going from Betty, the neighbor down the street who can help you with your daughter’s birthday party, to Betty, the go to girl if you want to knock it out of the park for your super spawn.

    1.  Make a plan and write it down. You MUST address the key components of a business plan before you go from hobbyist to the real deal. What makes you better, stronger or faster than everyone else in the marketplace and why are your future customers desperate to have you solve their problems or mix their martinis? You cannot merely be great at baking cakes. No matter what the neighbors say, they’re not enough to sustain you when it’s time to whip out the credit card.

    2.  Show me the money. What is your pricing strategy, your upfront costs and your overhead? Have you really drilled down on ALL of your Cost of Goods Sold, even the ones that seem inconsequential like that 10 cent label on the bottom of your magic lotion? It’s not enough to hope your sales will exceed your forecasts and you’ll get to somehow take a salary.

    3. Create a time tracking system. From. Day. 1. Get used to it. You can always make more money, you can never get back lost time. How you spend your time will directly correlate to the success of your venture.

    4. Get the ROI for your time, just like your money. You wouldn’t give your stock broker $10,000 without some sort of expected ROI, yet we don’t approach our time with nearly the same ferocity. Then we wonder why we can’t get everything done. Say adios to long lunches with friends of friends of cousins who just want to “pick your brain”, your core activities must all contribute to the bottom line.

    5. Assemble a support system. My old business professor calls it a “Kitchen Cabinet” since a Board of Directors sounds a little formal for your spare bedroom scrapbooking company. But rest assured, entrepreneurship can be lonely. Save yourself a lot of sleepless nights and assemble a group of the smartest people you can think of, especially in key areas where you’re weak.

    6. Tweak your model. Know going in that things aren’t going to go exactly as planned, but that doesn’t mean the planning was faulty or fruitless. Expect to react to the market and be nimble, lean and decisive.

    Right now, Marley Majcher, author, TV contributor and big boss at The Party Goddess! is probably knee-deep in glitter sipping martinis with Pierce Brosnan (literally)”¦ But you take her free quiz to find out just how productive you are right now at http://theprofitgoddess.com/TheSpecialEvent

    It’s Not Sex; It’s Business: How to Prevent Emotion from Ruining Your Profits

    Over the years working as a business and marketing consultant, I have recognized that most business owners approach running their businesses like they are in a romantic relationship with it.

    Now, before you start rolling your eyes, hear me out! It’s true. There are a number of business books out there that all offer their own takes on how to run a business, but most of them seem to operate in a bubble of perfect conditions and suggestions.

    But we’re human, and we don’t operate like that. True, there are sound business practices. Anyone who has worked at a major corporation (whether it be McDonalds, Walmart, or Google), knows that there are usually set procedures put in place to make sure employees (and management) know what to do.

    Those systems didn’t go up overnight. All businesses start somewhere; maybe a garage or a single shop on Main Street. However they came to be the monsters they are I’ll guarantee one thing: they started small and had to overcome the same adversity that small business owners all over the world have to face.

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    3 NFC Trends on the Event Industry Horizon

    Near Field Communication (NFC) is a form of wireless communication that allows the flow of information between two devices. Wearable NFC devices are beginning to proliferate and have significant impact on the hospitality industry as attendees demand a streamlined response to their registration, payment and engagement needs.

    In 2013, over 300 million NFC-enabled phones were shipped ““ note the date there. That means that right now, you may be the unwitting owner of a mobile device that is equipped to facilitate NFC applications. It’s like a little sleeping giant is cradled in your hand. Once the iPhone 6 goes on sale in January of 2015, that number will explode.

    This shows that companies are positioning themselves for a massive industry shift ““ and the meetings and event planning industry need to be ready for adoption of these technologies. Here are three trends to watch out for:


    Uber led the proverbial pack in mobile payment solutions for transportation by allowing users to connect their credit cards to the Uber app. Queue hysteria from the taxi industry followed by a too-late, inelegant scramble to implement credit card systems within individual cars. A good attempt, but let’s call a spade a spade: swiping a card is not nearly as attractive as having an automated receipt in an inbox 5 seconds upon arrival at a destination.

    Now let’s pivot to public transit. The efficient and impatient side of me is always shocked when I arrive in a city and there are no mobile payment options for public transit. Take Washington, D.C., which forces you to pre-load $10 onto a plastic fare card or pay an extra dollar for a smaller amount on a paper (read: wasteful) fare card. NFC technology will allow your event attendee to swipe their phone over a reader.

    So how do these two transportation options apply to the events industry? Consider the opportunity for partnership or cross promotion with Uber or a city with discounted pricing for transportation integrated into your event’s app. You bring economic dollars into the local economy by hosting an event.

    Once NFC technology is capable of integrating with multiple parties, this could be a very real reality that enhances your attendee’s experience while generating additional monetary stimulus for both your event and your transportation partners.

    Attendee Tracking

    One major element that will gauge the speed NFC’s adoption will be the planner’s ability to understand the customer journey that will occur with the introduction of NFC technology. The goal of introducing these technologies is to enhance the customer experience. One such experience is the ever-awkward name badge.

    Name badges exist for two reasons: reading one another’s names, and scanning a bar code for attendee tracking purposes. Name recognition is fine, but the bar code is not.

    The problem with scanning someone’s badge is that it’s one of the most obtrusive, awkward things you can do to a stranger. “Oh, hello! Thanks for arriving at our breakout. If you don’t mind, let me just bend over and awkwardly point a laser beam at your sternum/belly button! Great, all set, enjoy the program!”

    I mean, come on.

    The future of name badges will be a combination of a wearable NFC device and a data collecting fortress. Take Disney’s MagicBands for example. These wearables allow park visitors to personalize their experience at Disney properties by using these NFC-enabled wristbands. Disney monitor’s this data to identify where crowd flow is heading and to predict guest’s actions based on history.

    Imagine what you could do with that type of data. How about opening up another escalator when you see 90% of your event attendees are heading to one location and a back up is imminent?

    Smarter Breakout Scheduling

    Data can help you tell a story ““ your story, and NFC technology is about to take you into the next chapter. Conferences are always gauging how many seats are left in a room. First, we offset this problem by physically counting seats. Then, we got fancy and purchased clickers. Today, event staff are placed in front of doors with scanners for accurate calculations.

    The room capacity recognition of tomorrow will be a nearly inconspicuous device that tracks entrance through a door based on the event app’s GPS beacon, notifying the staff member when the room can no longer accommodate another individual. It’s not intrusive. It will provide real-time data on attendee locations, and it will help planners immediately identify when a session needs to have an encore based on capacity gained over time.

    As adoption to this ramps up, how do you think the event industry will react?


    As the Immediate Past President of WIPA (Wedding Industry Professionals Association), and a planner with a finger on the pulse of weddings in California, we are definitely seeing an up-tick in wedding spending and changes in where those dollars are spent.

    Our Survey Monkey was sent to our entire membership list, as well as questions to our WIPA LinkedIn group.  Here are the results of our questions, many of which will probably not surprise you.

    Spending More on Décor, Food or Music?:  almost 50-50 on décor and food; not so much on music

    Are guest counts larger or smaller : 50-50 on yes or no

    Spending More on Luxury Items: 70% responded yes

    Paying for more of the wedding themselves: 90% said yes

    Having multiple day events: 55% said yes

    Importance of a large guest count: 73% said fewer guests, with more dollars to spend per guest

    Changes in discretionary spending: 80% said yes, definitely spending more!

    Invitations: 60% said their couples are still using traditional invitation sources; the others are

    using online design formats or electronic.

    Music: 53% told us their couples are opting for a DJ over a band; interestingly 40% told us their couples are using both

    Take Aways or Party Favors: 63% said yes to party favors

    Specialty Linens: a whopping 90% of our respondents said their clients are using specialty Linens

    Specialty Chairs: almost the same “¦ 83% said yes

    Table Top Upgrades: again, 86% said their clients are doing this

    Destination Travel: 73% of the clients are doing this in some way

    Across the board we are seeing more attention to specialty décor and specialty food.  The trend toward special linens and chairs is a good example. Chairs truly fell by the wayside during the economic downturn.  Now they’re back.  We are seeing more destination weddings, more entertainment options like the ever popular photo booth, and a much greater desire for a unique venue.

    Along with that, lighting is “in”, as well as anything vintage.  Happily, for most of us, the mason jars and burlap are fading away.  Family traditions are being observed, and at the same time, non-traditional elements (like colored wedding gowns, or fascinators instead of veils) are coming to the fore.

    The personal touches are most important to these couples, and the emphasis is on making the wedding “their own” “¦ it’s not “Your mother’s Wedding”!

    Mary Worth: A Cultural Catalyst

    Mary Worth: A Cultural Catalyst
    Here in the Midwestern non-profit world of the 21st century I often see “mediocrity” showing it’s pale, bland, uninspired little head at events time and time again. Many non-profit events seem to reach across the parking lot for inspiration instead for the stars. Could it simply be due to creative exhaustion? Maybe their design engines are running on empty? Non-profits are notoriously understaffed and the few fulltime staffers they do have typically wear many, many hats and are pulled in countless directions. At some of the organizations where I have worked it was always seemed like we were herding cats while simultaneously conducting an orchestra in the midst of frantically moving events forward. But in my own experience, we were still able to create some truly memorable events with a miniscule budget and just a few volunteers.

    Maybe it is the path of least resistance.
    Just get the job done so you can go home, it worked last year so let’s just do the same thing again.
    It can’t have anything to do with the creative process or can it? Nowadays we are bombarded with glorious non-stop inspiration from every media source in existence. Lest we resort to falling back on our own imaginations, brilliant ideas can be garnered from countless television shows, endless websites, magazines, newspapers, as well as a plethora of social media sites and forums that provide not only the specific details but interactive feedback to any question imaginable along with the resources and step-by step instructions.

    What could it be?
    I think it is simply that their corporate culture doesn’t allow them to “dream!” In the midst of all their planning, fundraising, mission following, scheming and do-gooding ““ they no longer dream of the possibilities. Non-profits frequently get mired in the minutia of checking items off a list and chanting the non-profit mantra’s: it will cost too much, so why bother; this is all we have time for; we don’t have enough people to help; who is going to do it because it isn’t going to be me; and so on. From time to time someone may come across a new idea in a magazine or in a Pinterest post but their corporate culture shoots it down so fast people just stop trying.

    Change the culture you change the process!
    These poor souls have neglected the daily opportunities to dance, laugh, smile, and sing as needed. Dreaming is not about the cost or the resources, it is about the possibilities. Dreaming is what can happen when you let go of all restrictions and travel back to your childhood when everything seemed possible. Dream for no other reason than to dream of something totally amazing! It is FREE to imagine and create and celebrate and make the unseen and the unexpected a possibility.

    How we changed the “Culture” at our non-profit organization.
    I was fortunate to work for a short time at a non-profit where the staff embraced an environment of interaction, playfulness, spontaneity, joy and humor and that culture was infused throughout the workplace. We were able to create some really memorable events with a miniscule budget and just a few volunteers. Being a tiny organization it was always all-hands-on-deck for every event. And while the staff was always a part of the actual event they had little to do with the creative process. This all changed one day at lunch when someone asked have you read the Mary Worth comic strip today? Before long it had become not only a daily occurrence but evolved us all acting aloud the cadre of fictional characters. The strip became our daily affirmation that united us all. This lengthy bout of blatant silliness led to other infectious antics like haiku poetry and the noteworthy “All Things Cheese” potluck. We soon discovered the book “The Fish Philosophy” which spoke to us as we followed its four key points; Play, Be There, Choose Your Attitude, Make Their Day. We “played” more and embraced these ideas and eventually all the volunteers became infected with this cultural contagion. By engaging the volunteer brigade in the process excitement flourished and positivity reigned. Creativity ran rampant throughout the organization and dreaming of the possibilities ensued. Now that everyone had become part of the process, our events and initiatives benefited, donations increased and it was like a dream come true. People began to dream again and those little acts of silly behavior became the catalyst for our organizations new corporate culture. All those negatives and realities seemed much easier to solve now. We found that dreaming is a lot like exercise, finding the time for it may be challenging but it is an essential component for the health of any event. Change the culture at your non-profit and revel in that “dream moment” when the anticipation of something great is possible. Also have fun with Mary Worth, dream big, reach for the stars and make someone’s day!

    Tips on how to start planning your Destination Wedding

    Maui Wedding Sheraton

    Destination weddings are popular anytime of year, but particularly when the weather starts to change from summer into fall and winter.   Here are the some top tips to think about when planning your Destination wedding

    First is budget, like all weddings, this determines all.  Talk to your fiancé and whoever will be financing the wedding to get the total budget.

    Start planning at least six months out ““ just like any wedding you do need to start researching the following, yes you can do this quicker, but I always suggest planning a great event with family and friends attending takes at least this much time.

    Where and Feel

    Where?  Will it be another country Mexico, Caribbean, Hawaii, or Europe?  Or will you choose a different state from where you live, or possibly even within your own state?  A destination wedding is considered a destination if it is more than 50 miles away from your residence.

    Then the feel of the wedding, are you active, do you want something more secluded or in the lap of luxury, there are lots of options in each of these categories.

    Marriage Requirements

    Once you have figured out where you and your fiancé are getting married, then you need to research marriage laws.  Some countries, it is easier to get married in the US before going oversees.  If it is in another state what are the rules, is there a waiting period or can you pickup your marriage license and get married that day.  Spend time on this, you don’t want to go and find out that you need a longer waiting period or blood work done before getting a marriage license.

    Hotel vs Event Space

    Hotel vs Event space the question that can be determined on the feel of the wedding.  Hotels are the first places most couples look when planning a destination wedding. Many hotels offer packages that include all that you need for a wedding, and your reception can be held in the hotel restaurant or ballroom. Since everything is on property, hotels are a great option if you are seeking ease of use.

    Event venues are great places to consider as well. Most offer a private area to get ready, and you can bring your own wedding professionals. Check with the venue to see if you or your caterer will need to rent tables, chairs, and linens. Most venues offer packages so you can use their preferred vendors to make your wedding special.

    Other items to review with your fiancé is who is invited to the wedding, close friends and family or just family.

    Finally have fun while planning your destination wedding and once you get to where you are going delegate to either a planner or close friend who is not in the wedding party to help you.  This is the time for you to enjoy your wedding!

    About Taylor’d Events:

    Founded in 2005, Taylor’d Events is a nationally recognized, award-winning event planning company based in Woodinville, Washington, that specializes in destination weddings on the island of Maui. A team of approachable, experienced, savvy and relationship-driven planners, Taylor’d Events stays on top of the latest trends as well as the best of wedding traditions, to provide an array of services creating distinctive and meaningful events tailored to each client. Whether it’s a Pacific Northwest wedding or on the island of Maui, Taylor’d Events creates weddings that reflect the character of each couple.