Events in Color!

How important is color when planning a wedding or special event?  What role do the colors used in table linens and décor play to make an event successful? As an event professional, not only is it necessary to stay on top of the current trends in special event planning, but knowing and sharing the key colors that are trending now and forecasted for future seasons will set you apart as an industry leader.

Generally, brides will choose their favorite colors for their special wedding day or want Pantone’s “Color of the Year”; however, when it comes to corporate or social clients they may not already have a certain color theme in mind.  Color definitely sets the tone for the design of the event and is a topic I always discuss when first meeting with a client. When we are planning events anywhere from three months to a year or more in advance it is helpful to know where to find upcoming color trends. (Don’t we all wish we had those lead times?!)

We all know that the fashion business sets the trends in colors, fabrics, and textures and that ultimately it trickles to home and event décor.  It used to take a year or more for these trends to hit our industry, but with social media like Pinterest and Instagram playing a daily role in our lives we are seeing these trends much quicker.  As a savvy event professional you may work with your client to utilize an upcoming trend, but if you have a client who is trend-conscious or a bride who is interested in what that “color of the year” might be a year from now, this is where you can shine.

Don’t always count on your client knowing their color inspiration, but even if they do, it is in your benefit as their professional planner to be on top of the current color trends.  I spend countless hours every year discussing colors, styles, fabrics, and textures with our design specialists so that we are current with, and ahead of trends. This information is needed as an integral part of our business and helps us forecast what types of fabrics and colors to add to our linen rental inventory.

Every year, Pantone declares a “Color of the Year.”  This particular color is actually thought out over a year in advance by representatives from various nations who meet twice a year to present and debate on what this color is going to be.  The color ultimately connects to the spirit of the time, or “Zeitgeist”, so-to-say.  It truly represents what is going on culturally and economically in the world.  When Pantone announced the 2013 color of the year, Emerald, the reasoning was that this color “served as a symbol of growth, renewal and prosperity.”  This year’s color of the year, Radiant Orchid, was chosen because “it reaches across the color wheel to intrigue the eye and spark the imagination,” said Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone. “An invitation to innovation, Radiant Orchid encourages expanded creativity and originality, which is increasingly valued in today’s society.”

Here are the hot colors recently announced for Fall/Winter 2014/15:

The color of the year is announced annually in late Winter/early Spring; however, Pantone also announces several seasonal color trends for Fall/Winter and Spring/Summer about six months prior to the actual seasons.  These colors, along with a full fashion report can be found on and generally announced at the same time as New York Fashion Week (early September for Spring trends; early February for Fall trends).

Knowing what colors are hot and complimentary can really help an event planner excel in their business.  Industry-related forums and blogs are an excellent way to find hot color trends and to mix and match color palettes.  Here are a few of my favorites to consider following so you can stay on top of these trends!

The Knot

Wedding Wire



Design Seeds


Fashion & Home Décor Publications such as InStyle or ELLE DÉCOR

Here is a sneak peek at what hot colors are being predicted for 2015:

You can also find a lot of these trends on the TSE trade show floor or in the amazing design sessions they offer. For more tips and tricks check out our blogs at or come see one of my trend presentations being held at various industry events around the country.

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TSE = Talk! Surprise! Engage!

Every chance meeting is an appointment.

Pablo Neruda

I live in Los Angeles and I have to admit it’s easy to forget that there’s a world beyond the Hollywood Hills.  And that’s what I love about TSE – it’s an opportunity to remember that “my world” is not the only world!

While I learn a lot at TSE from the speakers, presentations and exhibits, I learn just as much – maybe more – from my encounters and conversations with fellow TSE-ers.

I’m biased – I believe that learning comes about from conversation.  I know this is true because years ago I lived on an island in the South Pacific that was devoid of much technology, i.e. no Wi-Fi, no smart phones, no TV.  It was a society that had no written history – everything was passed down by song, dance, myth and legend.

Coconuts outnumbered distractions, and so I learned to live in the moment and engage with the people near and around me.

While I now have an office full of every piece of technology that begins with “i,” the gift of the islands lingers.  The sharing of stories has been the great gift of my travels and it influences what I do within the world of “events” – i.e. officiate non-denominational, inter-faith, cross-cultural wedding ceremonies.

I love TSE because in some respects it’s a story-telling jamboree!  Each time I go, I’m reminded that we ALL are both the same – and different.  And I’ve been reminded of this great truth because of my conversations with people who are so like me and, yet, so different from me.

And so, I have just one simple question for you –

When you go to TSE, do you talk to people?

I know – it seems like an odd question, BUT, I don’t think it’s that odd!

So often, when we go to TSE, we go with friends and colleagues.  We debrief with them over good food and drink.  Many of us post our experiences to Facebook and still others of us are pinning to Pinterest or tweeting out to followers.  But do we pay attention to the stranger sitting next to us at a talk or standing in a slow-moving line at a social?

You know as well as I that whenever we’re waiting for anything, even if it’s a latte at Starbucks, we’re usually doing so with smart phone in hand.  We rely so heavily on  technology to mediate our social interactions that we oftentimes fail to notice the live person nearby!

So I want to make a simple suggestion – when you’re at TSE, for a few moments, stop posting to social media and actually be social!  Notice the person next to you, behind you, in front of you.

I’ve had some great conversations at TSE over the last years – conversations that got me thinking about why I do what I do in the way that I do it.  Conversations that challenged me to think beyond SoCal.  Conversations that made me laugh and that inspired me.

The quality of your experience at TSE is in direct proportion to the quality of your interpersonal encounters.

Be radical – have a conversation!

Years ago (more years than I care to admit to in public) New York Magazine ran a competition in which they asked readers to submit their most intriguing conversation opener.  All these years later, I still remember two of them: “Which end of the bathtub do you sit in?”  and, “If snow were a different color, do you think the world would seem smaller?”

Outrageous?  Oh, yeah.  Silly?  Beyond.  Humorous?  Well, my humor is a tad offbeat!

But here’s the thing – for more than two decades I’ve been coaching people in interpersonal communication skills and THE #1 skill people ask me to help them with is – how to have a conversation with strangers (who might morph into clients).

Having a conversation is simple – you just express curiosity about the other person.  “Where are you from?  What do you do in events?  What got you interested in your field?  What do you like about what you do?  Have you found anything helpful here at TSE?” And all the while you look for connections, for those places where you have some overlap, no matter how small or trivial it might be.

Trust me – give a person a chance and they most likely will surprise you with their story.

So here’s another simple, though radical idea – what if during your time at TSE you made it a point to have at least one “real” conversation with a stranger – and then blogged about that person and your conversation?!  This would be a way for you to “pay forward” the good you experienced at TSE.

Just for the heck of it, here are five questions that I think could start an interesting conversation:

  • What did you learn at last year’s TSE that you’ve incorporated into your work?
  • What was the most valuable thing you learned about your business in the past year?
  • What are you doing differently today than when you first started out?
  • Who’s your favorite vendor to work with and why?
  • What’s the oddest thing you were ever hired to do?

And, YES, if you spot me wandering around Anaheim, flag me down and I’ll be happy to grab a latte and have a conversation!

TSE = Talk!  Surprise!  Engage!

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5 Tips For Overcoming Networking Shyness

Only a mediocre person is always at his best.

Somerset Maugham

No matter how competent a person is, most of us have a fear (usually an odd fear) that trips us up and sabotages our effectiveness in strange ways.

Although I’ve had the honor of speaking at TSE 2012 as well as at other fav gatherings, associations and networking events, the truth is I usually head-off to a networking event feeling uneasy!  Why?  Well, I’m not sure I can give you a logical explanation.  While I have no problem speaking before hundreds of people, put me in a room where I’m supposed to strike up conversations with people I don’t know and I become tense and uncomfortable.  Weird – I know.

Even though I coach professionals in how to speak in public, when it comes to one-on-one conversation, I don’t like to be the one to initiate a conversation; I prefer that a person come to me.  It’s not that I’m a snob (!); it’s just that I believe the crazy talk in my head.

And what is that “crazy talk”?

“Automatically” I tell myself that “they” aren’t going to want to chat with me; that they’ll think I’m trying to sell them something or get something from them.  I tell myself that the conversation will go nowhere and I’ll embarrass myself.  In short, I self-hypnotize myself with this nonsense.

And I know I’m not alone in thinking this way.

Recently, I was at a networking event for wedding professionals and after wandering around the ballroom for twenty minutes, I panicked.  I decided to leave even though I didn’t feel happy about giving up so quickly.  At the last minute, I decided to get a drink and just sit in the lounge area outside the ballroom.  That’s it.  My plan was not to leave—just sit and see what happened.

Within five minutes, Pat, a woman I’ve done business with and who has become a friend, walked by on her way to the ladies room.  We hugged and she told me not to move, as she’d be right back.

When she returned, we played catch-up as we made our way back into the ballroom where she introduced me to some friends, who introduced me to friends and so the night went on.  I ended up enjoying myself and would have missed out on some great conversations had I given in to my early discomfort and fled.

The night was a great reminder of what can happen when I stand (or sit!) my ground against irrational fear.

Here’s the thing, TSE is a wonderful experience – for so many reasons.  However, it can also be overwhelming, especially if you’re there alone and tend to become uncomfortable in the presence of so many unknown faces!

Here are my 5 tips for snapping yourself out of your self-imposed paralysis

1.  Monitor your thoughts.  What are you saying to yourself to make you feel uncomfortable?  Why are you reluctant to start a conversation?  How realistic are your thoughts?  Recognize the crazy talk for what it is.

2.  Put your smart phone away.  No one will talk to you if you’re engaged with your phone!

3.  Be mindful of your non-verbal signals.  Huh?  Well, do you know what you look like when you’re alone and not talking with someone?  Do you look stern and unapproachable?  If so, you may be unintentionally shooing folks away.

4.  Take the initiative and strike up a conversation – at a social, on line or while waiting for the start of a talk.  It’s not hard to do at TSE.  Keep an open mind, knowing that everyone has a story.

5.  Have no expectations.  TSE is wonderful for a host of reasons.  While you might be there “for” work, don’t think of it as ‘work.”  Enjoy.  You can’t fail. BUT, you can miss out on great opportunities if you don’t step out of your comfort zone and reach out to new people.

And if you do find yourself panicking, then simply take a deep breath, “have a seat” and let yourself be surprised!

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Top 7 Things You Can Do Before, During and After TSE To Be A Stand-out

Back in 2012 I had the honor and fun of speaking at one of TSE’s breakout sessions (Dealing Tactfully With Bridezillas).  At the end of the presentation, Nancy (name changed) came up and complimented me on the talk.  She gave me her business card along with a letter-sized envelope.  Later, I opened the envelope and was surprised to find that Nancy had written me a thank you note!  Yes, she had brought stationary and while others were chatting with me, she took a few moments to hand write me a thank-you note.

I was blown-away!  In all my years of speaking at events and workshops, I’d never had someone write me a thank-you note on the spot.  I was both amazed and gratified with Nancy’s generous act.

The next couple of years I attended TSE, though I did not speak or exhibit.  But both years I thought back on Nancy and her extra-ordinary kindness to me.  Her kindness challenged me to rethink how I attend conferences.  She challenged me to consider – who do I want to be when attending the TSE?

Typically, we go to a conference with the idea of networking, socializing with old friends and learning from some great speakers.  We “attend” an event as something of an anonymous, passive audience participant.

Nancy, though, reminded me that there’s another way to attend a conference and that’s as a “presenter” – which is not the same thing as a “speaker.”  Nancy came wonderfully prepared to TSE.  She knew who she was; she was proud of what she did; and she had a story to tell.  I may have given a breakout talk, BUT she presented herself to me and engaged with me in a lively, personal, memorable way.

She didn’t simply “attend” TSE!

And that’s the gift Nancy gave me.  She showed me that I didn’t have to give a talk in order to present who I am and what I’m about.  I can do that each time I mindfully encounter speakers and fellow TSE-ers.

Keith Ferrazzi, author of the groundbreaking book on life-enhancing networking, “Never Eat Alone”, maintains that genuine networking is grounded in a spirit of generosity.

He says that the only way to build a relationship with someone is to “serve them.”  It’s a near brainless act to click a button that says ‘like’ or ‘follow.’  Ferrazzi, though, asks us to consider –after the ‘liking’, ‘linking’ and ‘following’, what do we do for any of these people?

Nancy was generous in writing me a note and even more generous when she wrote about me on her blog when she got home.  Now that’s “connecting!”

As you think ahead to TSE 2015 (in the ever-so-fab SoCal Anaheim!) I encourage you to think about your participation in a way that goes deeper than simply listening to speakers, collecting gift bags and business cards – all of which are good and beneficial.  BUT, you (and I) can do and be so much more.

Here’s my list of. . .

7 Things You Can Do Before, During and After TSE To Be A Standout

1.  Regularly check out who’s been added to the line-up of Speakers and Exhibitors.  Who interests you?  Begin following them via their blog and/or social media.  Comment, re-tweet, re-post.  Begin the “conversation.”  Small gestures can have a big impact in developing your network.

When at TSE 2015, introduce yourself to speakers and vendors whom you’ve been following.  Ask them a question or give a compliment based on your familiarity with their style and thinking.  Afterwards, you can invite them to ‘like,’ ‘follow,’ or ‘link.’

2.  NOW is the time for you to review all the materials and media you use to “present” you, starting with your website.  Who are you?  What are you known for?  Is there a particular service, skill, talent that you’re associated with?  Is all of this reflected in the experience of your website?

What about social media?  While it can be daunting to be actively engaged in all the social sites that seem to keep popping-up weekly, do you have a presence on at least one site, i.e. Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram?

Are you “generous” on your website and social media – meaning, do you offer visitors more than just your contact info?  Do you offer resources that help clients and colleagues?

3.  What does your business card look like?  Does it reflect your style and personality or is it simply a little piece of paper?  When you go to TSE 2015 remember your cards and remember to bring them wherever you go.  And be sure to have them in a handy place.  I’m always puzzled when a person fumbles for their card, apologizing with, “It’s here somewhere!”  It makes me think this person is really not interested in making any attempt at connecting.

4.  If you go to TSE 2015 with friends be sure to talk to people – on line, sitting next to you, and at socials.  It’s easy to stay within the comfort zone of friends BUT isn’t part of the TSE experience challenging yourself to expand your world view?!  Remember – everyone has a story and everyone is a story.

5.  Respond to anyone who gives you their card within 24 hours.  Hey, you want to be a standout, yes?  You don’t have to carry around stationary and write notes like Nancy BUT reaching out promptly helps to define how you present yourself.

Be specific when you reach out, referencing something that came up in your conversation.  This will assure the person that you really do remember who they are!

6.  When you return home, take time to blog about your experience – and not just about the trends you spotted.  Tell a story about a moment during TSE 2015 when you felt happy that you’re part of the Event Industry – the story of a moment when you realized you’re not alone, that you’re part of a tribe.  Your clients will pay attention.  Your colleagues will be gratified.

7.  Organize a social back home for those who attended TSE 2015.  You may not all even know each other, so this will be an opportunity to become familiar with the folks in your own geographical community.  You could reach out via LinkedIn.   Keep the TSE momentum going!

The poet Mary Oliver writes that the “instructions for living a life” are:  “Pay attention.  Be astonished.  Tell about it.”  I think these may also be the instructions for celebrating TSE.

Do all three, in your own way, in your own style and you won’t have to speak at a breakout session to be a breakout TSE “presenter”!

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The Importance of Education in the Wedding Industry

By Linda Smith, Co-Founder of Wedding Market Expo

Many professions require continued education courses or training seminars for the purpose of remaining current on business practices and trends.  The Wedding Industry, however, is not regulated, and does not require continued education.  This is a practice for those serious about their profession and their business.  As we hope our doctors, lawyers, teachers, accountants and yes, hair stylists continue their education…how important is it that we, as Wedding Professionals, do the same.

One way to accomplish this is by goal setting and budgeting for conferences as part of your annual education budget.  A good business plan, a good marketing plan, and continued education are catalysts for a successful business.

Being a Wedding Industry professional often begins because of a love of weddings, a love of romance, a love for your craft and wanting to be in the hospitality industry.  Oftentimes being your own boss and owning your own business sounds much more ‘romantic’ than the reality of being a business owner.  Whether in the industry for one day or 20 years, learning remains an important part of growth.

Five Reasons to Attend a Wedding Industry Conference:

  1. Education:  Build your industry and business knowledge, and be the absolute best you can be!  Being in the wedding business typically does not offer a lot of down time, so attending a conference allows you to carve out and create that time for education.  Speakers offer real tips and information, and make sure you attend a conference where the speakers remain accessible for personal brainstorming and advice.  Being great at what you do is one thing – being great at running a business is another – attend conferences that will help you be a better business and business owner.  Let your clients know that you invest in continued education in the Wedding industry – promote it in your social media platform. Let clients know how important staying current with industry information and trends are to you.  Your clients will appreciate your dedication.Also, see if the conference you attend qualifies for Continuing Education Units (CEU).  If you are a planner, this is especially important.
  2. Motivation:  Entrepreneurship has a high rate of failure – not because of lack of talent in incredible individuals, but so often because of losing your motivation.  Running a business is hard work, and it can be easy to get down and become unmotivated.  Surround yourself with others doing what you do…having the challenges you have…and rising above those challenges and struggles in work and life, and succeed!  Speakers will be real and share their real journey with you, and this will help give you the motivation you need to continue doing what you love!  Watch this motivational video for Success in Life and Business!
  3. Current Trends:  Trends come and go, but as an industry professional, your clients count on you to stay current on what is happening in the wedding industry.  Seeing the latest products and services for not only weddings and events, but also tools for your business is a great way to get a lot of information in a condensed amount of time.  I also suggest you spend 15 minutes a day to stay current on trends.  Choose 5-7 blogs to follow that help keep you up to date and that you enjoy reading.  Just add them to your google reader and away you go!
  4. Networking:  How important is networking?  Ask a politician, a successful salesperson, or a community leader what helped their career, and the majority will respond with the word “networking.”  Networking is the single most powerful marketing tool you have to accelerate your business success.  Competition is about rising above and being noticed…it’s all about who knows you!  There is a lot of ‘noise’ in a couple’s day with emails, tweets, special offers, exhibit booths, and advertisements.  Developing a strong network of relationships will help you stand out among the noise.  Attending an industry conference gives you a unique experience to create those relationships – both in your own hometown as well as other cities.
  5. Fun:  Honestly, I think the fun you have by attending conferences is the bow on the package!  You work in the romance and hospitality industry, and let’s face it – you are constantly giving and helping and working to please others.  You absolutely love this part of our job, I know, or would be doing something else, but it’s also important to give you, the business owner, some time to have fun.  What better reason than to attend a conference where learning and fun are both included!  It’s an all-inclusive package!

My recommended national conference is without a doubt, The Special Event Show.  This conference is packed with great information, exhibits, and fun for Wedding and Event Industry professionals.  My recommended regional conference is Wedding Market Expo.  This is my business, so I am maybe a little partial.  We offer a great two-day conference for all Wedding Industry professionals in four different cities throughout the year.  The advantage to attending Wedding Market Expo is the smaller size offers a more personal learning experience.  When I’m asked which conference a wedding pro should attend…my answer is always the same!  BOTH!  You’ll gain so much from TSE, an incredible national conference – and you’ll gain so much from a smaller, more personal conference as well!  The important thing is that you attend…learn…and grow, both as a business and an individual!

Give yourself something nice!  Attend a Conference!

Give yourself something nice! Attend a Conference!

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