How to Become a Wedding Planner, Part 3

Once you have learned the ins and outs of wedding planning, it is time to start networking like crazy. If you have never attended many weddings, now is the time to make the most of any invitations and study each event with a critical eye. What went well? What could have been done better?

You will also want to vet various vendors, so do not be afraid to network at these events and get the details. Whenever you are out and about, collect business cards and think about the ways that you could use a reliable person for X task. We discovered the most fantastic hotel and caterer during a fun brunch cruise recently that we never would have known existed had we not enjoyed the food so much and asked questions of the cruise manager.

Your spreadsheet of contacts will soon start to swell, as well ideas for menus, flowers, cars, formal wear rentals, and more. Do read reviews and pay attention to word of mouth. Price does count too, but any red flags should be paid attention to as well.

Your business as a wedding and event planner will only grow as your reputation for organizing successful events starts to grow, so be very careful who you do business with. Sadly, we have tried to support our friends in their business endeavors in the past, and been let down. Their excuse always seems to be that since we were friends, they did not really think we would mind if they cut corners.

We did mind. Very much. If anything, you should go out of your way to impress friends and family even more than complete strangers, so that people will take you seriously in your new business and rave about it to others.

Once your studying and fact finding is well under way, you will also want to take care of the more formal aspects of opening a business. These tasks will include:

*registering your business
*writing a business plan
*creating a website
*creating a budget
*creating your payment policies and procedures
*outlining your marketing strategy
*setting up an efficient home office
*gathering ideals into files and books
*creating a scrapbook of your successful event
*getting testimonials
*creating a website for your business
*creating checklists, fact sheets, your database of contacts, and more.

You may feel as if there is no space to store anything in your home, but make the most of the space you have for your home office for meetings. The rest of the room should be designed with practicality and storage in mind.

Once you are ready to start taking on clients, it will be time to market your business. Online marketing will draw attention to your business. Free information such as articles, reports on how to have your dream wedding, and tips for brides-to-be, will help position you as an expert and attract clients.

Social media marketing will also be key-after all, there will be a lot of people at a wedding, and all of them can pass along the word about what a great time (or not) they had at a wedding you helped organize.

Offline marketing will be invaluable too. For example, you can contact local caterers and partner to promote each other. You promote their catering services to your clients and they can promote your wedding planning services to theirs. Word of mouth is a great marketing tool that should not.

Being organized and having a great attention to detail will be two of the most important personal qualities that you can possess. You might also want to specialize in a particular type of wedding. You might wish to specialize in outdoor venues, become a Vegas wedding planner, and so on. Make the most of your local contacts, or alternately, become a destination wedding specialist for a couple of popular destinations, or a cruise wedding specialist.

You will find that you might not have as many clients as a wedding planner who will take just any client, but you can also rest assured that you are doing a great job with a wonderful wedding package which has been tried and tested on various brides and guests.

Being a wedding planner requires a great ability to plan and execute. You must be organized, efficient and of course a good salesperson. It also pays to be very patient because some brides can be difficult. Being able to work with them and forge a mutually beneficial relationship takes a little extra skill but the rewards are that they will be happy to recommend you to others and word will spread about your skills.

A steady stream of happy customers is the best way to stay in business successfully, but a wedding planner is one of the jobs which is most dependent upon customer satisfaction, so be sure to do your research and be proactive about problem solving, to help brides have a great day no matter what their budget or the weather.


How to Become a Wedding Planner, Part 2

In the first part of this series, we discussed how to get started as a Wedding Planner and some considerations to keep in mind when working with clients. You can get organized to offer a range of choices for the people planning the wedding, such as the bride, the bride and her parents, or the bride and groom, but no one will want a cookie-cutter wedding.

So, where else can you learn all about wedding planning besides researching it thoroughly online and in books? There are also a number of online courses that you can take in order to get certified as a wedding planner.

Planning a wedding can also help you learn a great deal about the logistics of planning any large event involving a lot of people. You may have gotten the bug from planning our own wedding, attending lots of them, and/or being asked to help a friend or family member plan theirs. Whatever the reason, it is one of the most fun and exciting things you can do, but also nerve-racking if things do not all go according to plan.

Naturally, some weddings will be more romantic events than others, and some will involve more food and audience participation than others.

The bride’s wishes are paramount when it comes to wedding planning, but it is also important to set the scene for the wedding in such a way that it not only reflects her personality, but that of the couple, and will be enjoyable for a wide variety of guests, from small children (who might or might not be invited, depending on the bride) to more senior and perhaps traditional wedding guests such as grandparents.

Making a list of styles and themes and sources for these items can also help keep you organized, and your clients happy.

In the next part of this article, we will discuss what to do once you have gotten yourself organized and want to set out your shingle as a wedding planner.


Bridal Bouquet Activities

When a bride orders her wedding bouquet, it might not seem that any “activities” will come from it other than as a thing for the bride to hold so she can look pretty and traditional.

But the bridal bouquet can be the source of many interesting activities to help make the wedding memorable.

During there ceremony there are all kinds of possibilities for the bridal bouquet. Certainly you can go traditional and have flowers for both the mother of the bride and mother of the groom.

But what if you turned that traditional gesture on its head and supplied flowers for both the mothers and the fathers?

If the bride supplies flowers to both the men and women, there are a couple of ways to do this. Dad’s flower could be enclosed in a verse that he will then get up and read at the ceremony? What if the flower is used as a symbol to recognize the members of the family who have passed, and it gives dad an opportunity to recognize those family members?

If the bride chooses not to have a unity candle, but wants to have a similar gesture, she can have her bridal bouquet designed by having several small bouquets put together.

At an appropriate time during the ceremony, the bridal bouquet can be “broken up” and various people might receive a share, such as the mothers and fathers of the bride and groom.

Now, if the bride wants to hang onto her bridal bouquet during the wedding ceremony, but is willing to have some fun with it at the reception, there are a few options there as well.

How about a dance involving the bridal bouquet? This is silly, but fun. The bridal bouquet is on display somewhere near the dance floor and guests must guess a flower that’s in the bouquet before they can enter the dance floor.

The first few guests might not have a problem as some flowers are obvious, like roses and tulips, but others might give people pause. Of course, this won’t work if the bridal bouquet is all roses or some other single and obvious flower but for a traditional mixed bouquet, it can work well.

For a naughty touch, the bride can hide her garter in the bridal bouquet and actually put it on her leg before the groom takes it off. Or she can have a couple of breakaway bouquets that are wrapped in garter belts, so hers doesn’t get thrown, but instead the tiny bouquets with garter belts attached are thrown.

When it comes time for the bride to throw her bouquet, there are several options. Some brides choose not to keep their bouquet and simply pluck one flower out of it before chucking the whole thing during the bridal bouquet toss. This is an alternative to having a special bouquet set aside for throwing, and there are others as well.

Are there are a lot of single women coming to the wedding? Maybe one thrown bouquet won’t be enough. Many brides these days are opting for something a little more fun.

One popular option is to have the florist create several small bouquets and then bundle them to look like one bouquet. They are tied lightly with a ribbon. When it comes time for the bouquet toss, the bride unties the ribbon, and throws the “bouquet” which is actually several little bouquets. Several women will catch the bouquet, rather than just one.

Other brides are opting for silk bouquets, so that they will have a lasting keepsake. You can have more than one bouquet like this, one to keep, and one that is thrown.

Whatever you decide, the bridal bouquet is an integral traditional part of a wedding ceremony. To help make your wedding memorable, try a bridal bouquet activity.


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Seated Wedding Reception Games Part 2

Continued from part 1

One silly game that’s always a hit really puts the groom in the spotlight. How well does he know the feel and touch of his new wife? In this game, everyone finds out. You can do this several ways. You can enlist just the wedding party in this game, or as many of the wedding guests that want to participate.

Line each participant up and blindfold the groom. Put the bride somewhere in the mix, and send the groom on a hunt for his bride. The participants can either shake the groom’s hand or give him a kiss on the cheek. In some versions, he might feel their hair or their leg. The details are up to you.

Depending on how far you want to take this game, you can add a fun element to it that is sometimes popular. You have the groom feel the leg of each participant. The best man, or other male member of the wedding party, rolls up his pant leg, puts on a garter and has the groom feel that. The groom has to kiss whoever he thinks is his bride, while still blindfolded. Often, he ends up kissing a man.

For an activity that allows the guests to be audience members instead of participants, consider the game of “feed me”. In this game, the bride is seated and the groom is (again) blindfolded. He’s given a piece of food and then spun around a few times so he’s a little bit dizzy. Guided only by the helpful words of his new bride, he has to find her and get the piece of food into her mouth. Be sure to have the wedding party shadowing him so there are no serious accidents.

Once the groom has fed his new wife, the tables are turned and she is blindfolded and must find him.

A few notes about this activity: when feeding the bride, don’t use wedding cake or a piece of bread with dip. In other words, don’t use anything too messy. If the groom has a hard time finding her mouth, he might likely smear the food on the bride’s face and that is something that won’t make a bride – prettily made up just hours before – too happy. And you especially don’t want to ruin your wedding finery.

There are many ideas for keeping your guests entertained at a seated wedding reception. The only limit is your imagination.


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Wedding Weekend Activities

Weekend weddings are becoming more popular, particularly as families are spread further apart. They usually begin on Friday night, continue with the wedding Saturday and conclude with a post-wedding breakfast on Sunday before everyone returns home.

Planning activities for these weekend-long celebrations doesn’t have to be difficult; in fact, it can be quite a bit of fun if you keep everyone’s needs in mind.

First, consider the wedding. Will this be a formal wedding with a sit-down dinner at its center? If so, you might want to avoid a formal rehearsal dinner and replace it instead with an informal barbecue or picnic.

How will you keep people occupied during the long weekend? There are many activities to consider. Will the wedding be near a lake? How about planning a day at the lake on Saturday, filled with pre-wedding activities like swimming races and beach volleyball?

One popular pre-wedding activity is a scavenger hunt. Prior to the wedding weekend, a list of items can be gathered, and guests placed in two teams. The list should include things like “get a brochure from the jewelry store where (groom) bought (bride)’s ring” or “take a picture of the group at the location where the couple got engaged”.

You will have to tailor the scavenger hunt list to the location of the wedding and the age and energy of the guests who will be participating.

You can even offer lavish prizes for the team that wins the scavenger hunt, such as gift certificates or gourmet food and wine baskets. It might seem an obvious choice to divide the teams into groups who know or are related to the bride and teams who know or are related to the groom, but it might be a little more fun to mix it up a bit. You can create teams of friends versus family, or men versus women (always a popular choice).

Another activity that’s popular during wedding weekends is a competitive sport activity, such as soccer, baseball, softball, or tag football. Again, you can add a special twist to your game.

Offer prizes for performance (first home run gets a kiss from the bride). Or you can make silly rules, like members of the bridal party have to wear tiaras while running bases or members of the groom’s family should always have their shirts on backwards.

It’s important that during the wedding weekend, planners keep in mind that the weekend itself might be expensive for some guests, particularly those who had to fly in for the occasion, and do many of the activities should be free, or inexpensive. If they are more expensive, and planned for the entire group, they should be paid for by either the bride and groom, or by their families.

There are plenty of activities that don’t have to be expensive, but can provide big bang for a little money, such as the scavenger hunt suggested above. If the wedding weekend guests will mostly be family, you can schedule a home movie-viewing event, including home movies from both the bride and groom’s families.

For even more fun, consider an activity where the movies are mixed up and the guests have to guess which family’s videos they are watching. This might sound easy, but depending on the contents, it could be hard, particularly if the bride and groom are babies in the photos.

You can also plan video rentals, a hike in the woods, a board games evening, anything to make sure people are not just sitting in their hotel rooms or guest rooms just waiting for the big day to arrive and be over.


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Nice Bachelorette Party Games Part 2

continued from part 1

Bachelorette party games are not only designed to bring fun to the party, but sometimes to help people get to know one another. This might be a good opportunity for the bride’s best friend to get to know the sister of the groom, or for the bride to get close to the groom’s cousin or niece. So an icebreaker game isn’t a bad idea.

This isn’t perhaps the most intellectual icebreaker game, but it will likely help thaw things out early in the evening before you head off to other events.

Play a game called “I never…” and see who takes the most drinks. So the first woman says, “I never…” and completes the sentence. The women who have done the thing the first woman says she’s never done take a drink, or get a point. Then the next woman claims to have “never” done something.

Some suggestions for this game are: “I never …”

*Lied about my age

*Lied about my weight


*Got a speeding ticket

*Ran naked through my house

The one with the most points at the end of the game is the winner. If you are playing for drinks, then the one who has the most points will definitely need a designated driver! Or the bathroom. Always be sensible about drinking at your bachelorette party, and make sure if it is taking place the evening before your wedding, that no one gets too exhausted and that it does not spoil the festivities for anyone the following day.


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Wedding Reception Centerpiece Activities

The question of who will get to take home the centerpiece can sometimes be a real bone of contention with guests, particularly if the centerpiece is particularly pretty or original.

Making a game of who gets the centerpiece, then, can be an amusing diversion and one many guests will enjoy participating in. It will also take out the envy element, the bossy one and the sense of entitlement issue. Here are some ideas for giving away that reception table centerpiece.

How about a game of 20 questions? Give each guest a piece of paper and a pen or pencil. The MC or DJ asks a series of 20 questions, but first gives the guests the basic background information, that is, that the answer is place, person or thing. Once that’s taken care of, people can shout out questions and the MC or DJ will answer yes or no, and whoever figures out the answer first gets the first centerpiece, and that particular table is done playing. The game is repeated until one person at each table has won the centerpiece. Obviously, this will work with small receptions.

One of the most popular ways brides give away the table centerpieces is to put a number on the bottom of the centerpiece and give each guest a number. At some point in the evening, a number is called, each guest checks his or her number and whoever has the called number gets the centerpiece. There are many ways to put a twist on this traditional activity.

For example, you might provide each table with a number, but make it a lower number (ie. between 1 and 10) and the DJ or MC could move from table to table and have each guest do something a certain number of times. So, at the first table, for example, the guests might need to do “head, shoulders, knees and toes” six times and whoever does it first gets the centerpiece.

Or, at the second table, the guests might be required to sing the alphabet 3 times or sing “twinkle, twinkle, little star” three times and whoever does that first get the centerpiece.

Another fun activity for divvying up the centerpieces is to require guests to produce a certain item. The DJ or MC moves from table to table, announcing what guests at that table will be required to produce in order to get the centerpiece. Maybe it’s a Georgia quarter or a mint, or a doctor’s appointment card. Whatever it is, the guest at each table who produces the requested item will get the centerpiece.

You can always make it easy and offer the centerpiece to the oldest person at the table, or the one who took the least or most number of years to finish college.

Perhaps you could create an activity where the person who has the strangest talent (as voted on by the tablemates) wins the centerpiece. Then, if possible, that person might show off the talent for the entire reception party.

If you like musical chairs, you can play a game of musical salt shaker in order to give the centerpiece away. The music begins playing, and everyone at the table passes the salt shaker. When the music stops, whoever is left holding the bill gets the centerpiece.

Or this game can be played a bit more traditionally with the person with the salt shaker being eliminated, and the game continuing until only one person is holding the shaker. That person can then be awarded with the centerpiece.

Or, for a fun twist, the shaker can be passed around and when the music stops, the person holding the shaker is told to return it to the person who first gave it to them. That is the person who gets the centerpiece.

Some fun, and fairly traditional, ideas include the birthday person getting the centerpiece. At each table, the person who has a birthday closest to the wedding date gets the centerpiece.

Or if there are married couples at the table, the couple who have been together the longest can get the centerpiece, or the couple who were married most recently.

Perhaps the centerpiece should go to the person with the longest hair, or the strangest shoes (again, this would be voted on by tablemates).

The wedding reception centerpiece is an integral part of the wedding but it can cause a bit of turmoil if people set their eyes on the same flowers and won’t take no for an answer, so having wedding reception centerpiece activities can solve that problem and make sure there are no hard feelings.

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