Q&A with Event Planning Expert Kristin Banta!


Hi everyone good morning good afternoon
even good evening, welcome to today’s event planning Q&A with Kristen Banta. As you could see you could see Kristen live in this webinar, say hi to
Kristen. We’re so happy to have her with us, hi Kristen.
Hi, I’m delighted to be here this morning how are you?
I’m good, so just in case anyone’s wondering, this is Meredith from AllSeated, my name may be popping up as
Rebecca on your screen, but this is Meredith, and I’m going to be moderating
the webinar with Kristen which I’m super excited about, because we put out as part
of the advertisement for this webinar, which you saw, where we asked for
questions even in advance. So while you’ll be able to type in questions that
Kristen will get to hopefully towards the end of the webinar, we do have a full
list of awesome questions written in by our attendees for Kristen to answer. So
as you know Kristen Banta events is among the country’s leading event design
planning and production houses, renowned for uniquely blending high-level design
with uniquely creative concepts, flawless attention to detail, expert execution, and
client responsiveness. So Kristen has been an innovator for over 15 years and
we are delighted to have her. So rather than waste any more time here, I want to
jump right into our first question from one of our attendees, and the question
revolves around the subject of wedding hashtags; are wedding hashtags a must
today, and if so how do I let people know in advance, aside from printing on an invite what our tag is, and you have recommendations
for creating a hashtag?
Gotcha well it’s a great question in terms of wedding
hashtags I think that – listen at the end of the day there’s no must, but I think
that what’s great about a wedding hashtag is that it allows your guests to
take photos and for you to see the coverage that they got while they were
in attendance at your wedding, which is a really fun and different spin than
the coverage that your photographer is going to get. In terms of how do you communicate that you can see we’ve shown you one one
version here where we have this printed on a sign that was displayed on one of the
bar cards at one of our weddings, you can do creative signage, you can certainly
print this on your menu, this could be something where you can actually do a
full back wall that becomes an actual photo backdrops for the guests to take
their photos against. I say get creative with this, if this is something
that you want to communicate, and in terms of determining in terms of
figuring out what that actual hashtag will be, have fun with it do something
that that shows your personalities and that is memorable, you don’t want them to
forget about it. When you wish to communicate this in
advance, obviously there’s a number of different ways that you can you can do
this, certainly you can put that on a website I think that’s a great home for
it, putting this on your save the date is probably the most appropriate in terms
of the collateral that’s going to go out in advance. I would probably shy away
from putting it on the invite itself, but say the date is perfect and your website
is perfect.
Would you say everyone basically has a wedding hashtag today?You know what not in my experience, I see it probably about 50% of the time. I certainly encourage it I think it’s I think it’s a great idea if you are
interested in seeing the wedding from the guests point of view, but I
think that some couples are not as interested in seeing the photos that
aren’t taken through sort of an expert eye of the photographer, which
I understand as well.
That’s a good point and also a good point I think is putting
out the wedding hashtag is getting your pictures out their live through social
media maybe before you wanted them all shared.
That’s yeah you’re absolutely right and you know and that’s kind of the tricky thing about today isn’t
it? I mean we whether we want to have this information out there or not we’ve
kind of have to throw our hands up we’ve lost a little
bit of control of it, and there’s a and there’s a plus and a minus to that, but it’s at least one option if you want to see it from their point of view
which can be kinda fun.
Great and I think this question leads right into our next
question of; how do you feel about phoneless ceremonies do guests always accommodate the request, that your request is made?
Yeah well in perfect segway the answer is most of the time, if they are if there
are good guests they should accommodate your request because they’re there for
you, and if that’s what makes the couple comfortable then certainly I
think that it is absolutely imperative that the guests acknowledge this, and I
think most the time they will. You know why is this a benefit, well it goes
back to what you and I were just talking about it, it allows the couple to have a
little bit more control over the photos that are put out into the public place
in the public forum, and this is special content, it’s very private content to
some. They may not want every photo out there that could make it feel less
special in the way that they want to see that information leaked. I mean I
think that it’s it’s really appropriate to to have a no phone rule at the ceremony, and at the end of the day isn’t it great to just be able to be
present in the moment which we so rarely do anymore, to just actually be there and
be at the ceremony, it’s a really special moment so be present.
So true, now I I’ve seen various ways of phoneless ceremonies, is it done through a sign
saying ‘please silence your phone’? I’ve seen where someone collects the phones, I
don’t know that I would personally hand over my phone.
That’s a little aggressive, but I mean to each his own I think a really elegant and just easy way of
doing this where it’s not so in-your-face it’s just to simply have
your officia do it, a little announcement hey everybody let’s put our phones away
let’s all just be present here in this moment let them have the
photos become a surprise to them later, just be here that I think is usually the
easiest way. We see it and there’s nothing wrong with that, I just
like the personal touch of having a very sweet and thoughtful way of kind of introducing this information through the person who’s leading the
ceremony. Agreed thank you, okay, moving on to
probably my favorite subject dessert. What is currently trending in desserts
at weddings, are you seeing small plates and unique snacks, or more traditional
wedding desserts what’s going on?
Well you know in terms of I think everything we’re seeing in weddings, when we talk about trends my response is generally – the trend right now is towards personalization, it’s
towards experience we hear this term a lot; the experiential. Really at the end
of the day what that means is presenting your guests with an opportunity to interact, to be involved, to have a personalized experience, something that
is thoughtful. We refer to thoughtful design a lot,
well that goes into the world of food and beverage as well. So what I’m seeing
in terms of trends, personalization. If there are so many things that – if you
think about all of your favorite foods, not all of them are gonna be appropriate
to serve possibly at your wedding meal, sit-down dinner. If you love corn dogs, that might not be the best way to go for your actual dinner,
but if that is something that you’re really passionate about and maybe that’s
something that you shared it on your first date when you were both in
attendance that are carnival together, well great and definitely make sure to
serve it, and the most appropriate place to do that is going to be your tray-passed
hors d’oeuvres before the actual dinner, or in your late-night snacks. So late
night snacks think all the things that you love that you can’t serve during
dinner from the sweet to the savory. Savory is also a big trend in in terms
of your dessert portion because you know we see sweet and savory combined all the
time and now we’re just seeing just everything thrown in there for
late-night snacks, of course it started with little sliders and then we started to see that evolve, and now it can also be the some of the cuisines that you may not be able to serve during
dinner, not just the whimsical foods, but some – if your favorite type of cuisine is let’s say dumplings but you
didn’t want to do a full you know kind of more than an ethnic style
treatment of your dinner, maybe that’s the perfect way to do it is to during the after party, you know and that could be dessert so that could also be savory.
I’m loving the pictures on this slide, getting me hungry. Moving on
to the subject of bathroom baskets; do all venues provide this and if not do
you recommend that I make one myself? And do I make a basket for the men’s
room or just a ladies room, and adding on to this do bathroom baskets get used
only a weddings or all types of events, like what events do you recommend that’s good for?
You know this is it’s an interesting thing, I think this
depends very much on the crowd, and knowing your guests a little bit because
I have been in weddings where they had a beautifully presented basket with
gorgeous product, and it was untouched the entire night. And then I’ve certainly
been to those where=it’s been the rescue for that one or two guests that happened to need something from that basket, and then I’ve certainly
seen fewer, but some occasions where where it’s – I marvel the fact that
everything’s used. Certainly I think this applies much more towards the ladies
than the men, of course, which we can probably assume, but you know I mean in
in the men’s restrooms we see things like the mints going, but for women I think it’s more of a more of an emergency or it’s for jooshing. So it’s
never a bad thing, but most venues are probably not going to provide it, if
there’s things that that are special that you want to share or even things
that everyone knows are so intrinsic to the couple, where everyone knows that her favorite product is this and that’s what favorite hairspray, great put
that in the restrooms it will probably get used, but it’s certainly not a
necessity.
Okay good to know moving on to the subject of RSVPs; do you have any ideas on how to get people to RSVP within the
required time line or any other advice on the subject of RSVPs?
Well not really, other than sending over you know a big guy they can stare at them loomingly
saying “please send that RSVP right now, please” It’s tough you know people often get these invites and with the best of intentions they’re trying to
find out their schedules, and if they can go, and it gets shoved aside, and then
they forget about it and by the time that you need their response it’s
it’s long out of their mind, and now now they’re scrambling. This happens all the
time, the thing that we can do to try and
prevent that is first of all to not send it too early so that it gets lost in the
shuffle, and it’s so far in advance that it’s just it’s put off to the side to
deal with much later. The other thing is to – in your invitations when you’re sending them send something that’s gonna get their attention,
something that’s gonna be remarkable, something that’s maybe gonna make them
smile. I like creative wording on your RSVPs because it demands their attention a little bit more which maybe will bring it to the
forefront of their pile. However you can cut through, we get so much mail and
there’s so many different responses that we are constantly trying to navigate
through in our social schedules, and this one even though it’s a big one is
no exception. Perfect thank you, and moving on from the
RSVP right into thank you notes; when to send them out, handwritten vs
pre-printed, and anything else on this subject please.
Yes I love this question because I am a stickler for a thank you note. I really really believe in the the art
of a written thank you, I think it’s really important, so oftentimes we have
guests that are traveling great distances to come to these weddings,
they’re they’re spending on on lodging and airfare and sitters and even
buying new attire to attend, not to mention bringing a gift. It’s a tremendous investment being a guest at a wedding, let alone a guest that possibly is in the wedding as well, to send a written thank you note for
their participation in your day is a really important thing, and I do believe
it should be personalized. I don’t think it should be – even if it’s one line it should be thoughtful and personal and written. I think is the only
way to go.
How do you feel about a timeframe after an event, like how long
do you feel is really appropriate, we all know it’s a tedious task and other
things in life come in the way and if it’s a honeymoon after our wedding, or
it’s time after a bar mitzvah, sweet 16, or other type of event, what what do you
feel is realistic and consider kind of acceptable?
Yeah you know technically the timeframe just as it is with a wedding gift, technically it’s a year.By the time of year passes I think that the moment is kind of escaped, so I don’t
recommend it. I’ll never forget that for my own wedding somebody sent me a gift
there was literally timed to the day of my year anniversary, which I
thought was really funny because it was – I thought it was funny that
this guy would would know that this is technically the rule and would time it
perfectly to be one year later. But you know I think for most they will probably
think that you’ve forgot about them, either from the gift side or the thank you notes side. I think they’ll feel that it kind of got pushed under the rug so truthfully I would really shoot to send
these out before six months while it’s still in your mind and while it’s still
on thier’s.
And just one more question on this subject because I actually wondered
myself back in the day when I was married; if you get a wedding gift prior
to your wedding day, let’s say it’s a month, two months, sometimes people are
sending checks back with an RSVP card, can you send a thank-you then or do you
wait until after the wedding to thank them?
You can absolutely send it then, in fact I encourage sending those thank-you notes throughout the process so that you
have less after the wedding, because you’re correct in that it can be a little overwhelming, you’ve just finished off the wedding
you’re trying to get back to your life you’re going on your honeymoon,
there’s kind of a lot happening there, and to feel as though you have this
daunting task in front of you can be a little bit overwhelming.So send them as you get the gifts absolutely.
Yeah and I guess you would write ‘I look forward
to celebrating with you’ versus ‘thank you for celebrating with me’, I think it’s
smart to do it that way okay thank you for clarifying that for me, personally.
Yeah asbolutely, and thank them in advance you know I mean just to that effect too, you’re not just thanking them for the gift you’re thanking them for just celebrating with you and being a part of the whole experience, so you’re absolutely correct in that ‘thank you in advance for for sharing this day with us’
is perfect.
Perfect and it’ll save you the time and headache after the fact, so
after the wedding you have less cards to write, great. Moving on to dress
codes; what are the most common dress code terms today? We keep seeing so many creative ways to list a dress code and I am not sure that my guests will even
know what they all mean. This is – I love the intention behind creative dress code, the pro in the con of this is that – listen
let me rephrase, I want to make sure that’s very clear that I have nothing
but affection and celebration for thinking differently and encouraging
creativity and abandoning the formulas that we have seen for so
many years. I think creative attire is fantastic, the only problem that everyone
needs to kind of know if they take this particular route is that you don’t know
what you’re gonna get, you don’t know what you’re gonna end up with. I mean you could end up with somebody that literally shows up shirtless with a vest on and and gold lamé shorts thinking you will
appreciate this move, which I probably would but it’s not my wedding, so you
really need to think about how serious are you about letting people free style
the dress? I will never forget a story that somebody told me once that involved,
for whatever reason they were getting married in kind of a woodland
environment and so they elected put on their – I want to also remind you
that this was not one of my weddings – they elected to put on the on the invite
for the for the entire woodland attire, and one of their guests showed up in a
bear costume. So I think that we can all learn something from that, and you can’t
think about sometimes in this particular case, the benefits of going with a little
bit of clarification about what that means. So if you do freestyle it you want
to go with something like you know festive or sassy attire, just maybe modify that with what that means to you, and if that means gold lamé
shorts go ahead and put in the descriptive let’s do this.

I have a question because I see the one denim and diamonds a lot, so what do
you think of when you hear that just so we all know, denim and diamonds means
dressy with jeans?
Look I mean gentlemen diamonds to me makes me sweat a little bit, because that means I don’t know I’m interpreting that as I need
some sort of a hat it’s glittery, which is probably gonna look really awkward on
me because that’s not my jam, but yeah I think you would absolutely expect that
you’re gonna see jeans and cowboy hats and probably some bolo ties.
Just wanted to put it out there thank you.
No I’m glad you did. Because I get confused, okay; email invites vs paper invites, where do you see invitations going in the next
few years? Will weddings and major events ever
really switch over the email invites or will they always use the traditional
paper invite, and I guess we could tie in email RSVPs and also email thank-you notes, I know you like a
handwritten but let’s just tie it all together because I know people actually
wrote in while we’re talking about it. It’s a great question that’s actually and it’s a responsible question because I mean I love a written note of course, but I also we I think we all need to be thinking about the environment and
that’s where this is really going to more and more take center stage. The
reason why we’re going to continue to see a electronic take the place of a
traditional printed piece and the printed collateral that often comes with
wedding sweets, is because it’s environmentally responsible and I think that’s why we’re seeing this more and more. I don’t think there’s ever
going to be a one or the other, I think that we’re gonna have right now we’re
seeing our early adopters and happen first place in time, that are moving over
towards a paperless system, and that’s great and good for them. It’s tough for
me because I really appreciate that, but I love an amazing well-thought-out
invite, I think that it’s exciting it’s like opening a gift, there’s foreshadowing so that I know when I receive my invite what kind of
party it’s gonna be and how much are they putting into it based on that invitation, that means how much time am I going to maybe think about getting something special to wear,and that may even dictate the
the time that I spend in looking for a gift based upon how traditional or
untraditional the piece is. For me that gives me so much information and it’s -there’s so many different things involved with it where it’s a multi
medium experience, an invitation. If you’re taking full advantage of it, to share all
the information needed in this one package, I think it is a little bit more
challenging to do that when we’re talking about electronic because it’s a
little bit more of a flat piece, we don’t have as many avenues of expression as we
do in the printed world if that makes sense. So I don’t think it’s ever
gonna be one or the other, I think that the traditionalist, and maybe those like me that love that experience and want to share that
experience of this little gift will always stay within that lane, but
more and more we will see a transition from the early adopters to a more
universal movement towards not destroying so many trees.
Yeah I agree and I also see a trend myself I’m seeing it going to the email ones to save money,
like if there’s a budget need I see people, and I don’t know is that your
experience too, like is this the place maybe to save your money as much as we
love a traditional paper invite.
Yeah it certainly can be a good way of saving
money, the other thing to keep in mind though is it depends, electronic can be
that can be a pricey route to take depending upon how it’s done, just like a
printed invitation. You know you can do a flat print maybe spend a little bit less
in that area vs a letterpress or a foil. And the same thing goes for the
electronic, you know we have had some very expensive programming efforts that
have gone towards this for those that we that were not necessarily to save but
were looking to maybe be more thoughtful about the environment, we did a custom website and you know a custom email system and specific passwords, it can add up as well.
Yeah I feel I agree, love the traditional paper invites and the sweets they really are so pretty. Okay moving on; could you explain please your workflow from enquiries to
event production? In big lines of course. Yeah absolutely,you know I have a very specific way that I like to work with clients, when we first sign a client we’ve been going back before that, you know we have a
vetting process. I know that that we are looking to make sure that’s a fit for us
just as much as they’re looking to make sure that we are a fit for them, and it
has to be mutual partnerships so that we both get what we need out of the
experience, so that we both feel good. And I think you know once we have vetted our
couples to make sure that from a design standpoint it’s the right project, and all the other details make sense for us to proceed together. The first
thing I like to do is to sit down with a couple and
to really get an understanding of what is driving their vision, and what I
encourage is for them to put together as many images as they can for me that kind
of showcase all the things that they love. Anything from the places they’ve
traveled ,and the things that they collect, to their perfect version
of their perfect home, artwork that they love, movie lines that they love, and to
really put this together, to do it together and to do it separately, I want
to see both personalities and I don’t want to see anyone else’s event. I
don’t want to see images from another wedding I really encourage them to dig
deeper and to go beyond that into everything from you know architecture to
museums, once we see this mosaic which is the most wonderful thing for me, I like
to accompany it by a little questionnaire that they do for me, which
quite honestly is not that dissimilar to those questionnaires that you used to get
when you were in junior high where they would send them around and be like
what’s your favorite color? You know maybe not that simple but you know I do
like to know what’s the favorite place travelled, what’s influenced you more than
anything else, is there a particular artist you’re passionate about? And so I
match off my questionnaire with their images and then I can start to see a
pattern take place, I can start to look at this mosaic and see the things that
pop out that tell their story to me as an artist and how I can then direct this
into what I call the design mind of the event. I then take their images and then
I start to create the story and a design line that is inclusive of my own images
but reflective of theirs, so that’s the second part of my process creatively. Once I have all of my images that are starting to tell this story of what they’ve given me, and pulling out certain things that stand out to me then
that’s when I start to actually design it and then fulfill it from an inventory standpoint, where am I gonna find this, what am I gonna have made
vs what already exists in life, and that’s how we develop this. And then at
the end of that process I bring them in we take a peek and I show them a little bit of a snapshot of what its gonna look like, and make sure that they love it as much as we do. At the end of the day it’s their wedding, but hopefully if I’m guiding them in the right way we can
develop something that is not just pretty but that is entirely and very
deeply relevant to their particular choices and their passions.
I like that I think everyone should be unique to themselves rather than like cookie
cutter looking like the next person’s event.
Yeah absolutely it’s too wonderful of an opportunity to lose the personalization of it and that takes time, I mean until I know who they are
and what they’re about, sometimes I can feel like it’s almost like writer’s
block where if I don’t have that information I can’t create. But then once we start to get that, it starts to kind of illuminate and come together, and the the way of making it relevant for me is about
really spending the time with it so that the personalization goes goes deeper
than just maybe a you know monogram of a dance floor, not that there’s anything
wrong with that that’s wonderful, but you know how can we go beyond just a logo or
they’re their initials, let’s figure out how in every corner that it’s reflective of all the things that make them smile, so that when they’re walking
through and their family and their guests and people that know them can
walk through and just have that sort of internal smile of seeing them in the
event.
They recognize that, they recognize their personalities in it,
that’s great. I’m moving on; which system and or programs do you use?
There are so many, from a social media standpoint you know all the usual suspects Twitter,
Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, we use them all for very different things and each one showcases our point of view to a slightly different audience, whereas you know linkedin is is also another one
that’s great because it’s a great way of connecting in a different
way, so of course we love it as well.
WordPress is obviously for website I like Timeline Genius I thinkthat’s a really helpful tool, of course. I’m not
going to not because I think it’s unbelievable in an amazing tool.
AllSeated, I mean this is something that is going to start to transform those that are coordinators to those that are producers how we are able
to navigate through our events. We have weather systems we use, we have
used systems like HootSuite to be able to track what our social looks like on Instagram, and then of course Waze. I know that doesn’t quite
count but it counts [laughter].
Certainly it does if you want to get somewhere on time.
I can’t live without it, I live and die by Waze, I’m that person who’s constantly rerouting every five seconds that’s me, it’s terrible you should never be in the car
with me.
Okay next up; I need some help organizing my venue space for the amount
of guests invited, with an exclamation point.
I mean let’s think about how obvious thing of the day here, I’m just gonna say
it AllSeated, need we know anymore? That’s it’s the perfect
tool, there’s nothing that’s more user friendly that you can have at your
fingertips. You don’t have to have the rental company doing your CAD, or to have an expensive CAD program this, is an easy plug-and-play model that will
help you figure it out, and then you can run it by a by a designer and
see if it’s the the best way possible if you are looking at from the aesthetic
standpoint of course. But in terms of just organizing and determining if
capacity matches space, there’s no better tool.
I agree, not just because I work with AllSeated, but because I have used AllSeated personally and there’s no better way to organize your venues, save
your floor plan, and do your seating charts, absolutely no better way, it
really saves you time and there’s no stress and you’re organized and ready to
go. I went out of order on the questions, I’m sorry so here is; what is
the biggest lesson you learned in the last few years?
Oh wow I mean there’s so many. I think that for any of us in any small business we
have to constantly be learning and constantly be shape shifting based upon
the new intel that comes to us on a daily basis. Every single wedding or
event that I do I learn something new, you know this past year I’ve gone from
doing an opening closing party with a six week lead time on the Asian Seas, to
you know having a wedding that was you know threatened by by bad
weather. Every single circumstance
that we find ourselves in is an opportunity to learn, to grow, and to kind
of restructure and revise. My contract over the years has changed every single
year based upon the things that I’ve learned. I think that for me the most
important thing this particular year that has really been a driving theme is
diversification, and what I mean by that is you know we can’t fall asleep at the
wheel at anytime on not constantly reaching into getting new business that
feeds me creatively, and it feeds my business and the staff that I’m lucky enough to have behind me, we constantly need different creative
outlets, and so we have to really spend time into reaching into different areas, from having ample corporate work and social as well as
weddings. This year is also – well in the past few years has really been
reflective of our endeavors to branch out and we do a lot of consulting now with hospitality, we have clients that range from Seattle to Korea in terms of the partnerships that we’ve formed,
and those jobs that I’m now doing as a consultant and designer overseas
and domestically. This year I partnered up with Z galleries so that we are now
occupying more of an interior space so that we have a diverse brand, and I think
that’s what keeps things interesting and that’s what keeps our businesses alive
is if we can constantly make sure that we’re
stretching into different areas.
On a related note we have a question that
came in during the webinar; do you market yourself as an event planner or more as
a designer, and how do you market yourself if you are considering both.
Sure. You know I was raised this business – I’ve been in this business since since
college since my undergraduate, and throughout my career I’ve worked in a
number of different areas and you know that I got a degree in
marketing and I put all this together to to qualify as an event producer, and
that’s always how I’ve qualified. I’m trained in design, I’m trained in stage
production, I have a background of marketing, which is why we do focus and towards that. You know what you hear a lot this sort of experiential
space, that’s why we occupy these areas that we do, and we market to all them we
may market in two different circles differently. Within the wedding space
though we qualify as an event producer and a designer, design is really the core
of this business and why I opened it many years ago. But it really depends
upon what what the consumer is looking for, how do they need to hear that to
understand it because if I market as an event producer in the corporate
space they know exactly what that means and you know what’s what they’re getting, vs weddings there’s a big range of all of us and there’s a
need for all of us, from coordinators to planners to designers to producers, but
it’s just a matter of where we’re marketing and in what circles with
that particular area. We also market ourselves as a design house, there
are a number of clients that we have where I literally just step in as a
creative agency for them, and the design house for those jobs when they
may actually be producing it internally. So we market differently depending upon
where we’re marketing if that makes sense.
Staying on this note we also have another question on this topic; do you market your company during events, and if so like do you ask the bride and groom if you’re doing a
wedding for their permission, is it stated in your contract, how do you
handle things like that?
I do not ever market on someone else’s time. The
opportunity to market is is merely the viral opportunity of doing a good job
for the client, and for the opportunity to to have their guests have an amazing
experience, and then if they wish to inquire after that event who the
producer was or who designed it then they can. But it’s rare, we’re very careful
even when someone asked us for a business card during that wedding, I am
not there for me I am there for my client. When it comes to how do we market
it afterwards, it is in our contract that any of the collateral from that wedding
I can utilize, and then put that out there as I see appropriate, because
we own that design but if it features them or if it features anyone from their their family, friends, guests, we do not put any of that
out without their express permission. Okay great thank you.
Of course.
How do you feel about late arrivals at the ceremony, do you keep
waiting for guests to arrive, or once it starts and people arrive late do you
allow them to walk in and take a seat, how does how do you handle that?
Well often it’s something that I discussed with the couple find out what they’re
comfortable with, particularly if we are in you know major cities New York, LA
it’s really hard to get anywhere right on time.Sometimes even with the best of intentions and really careful Waze-ing. We just don’t know what we’re going to hit, so I think that most the time we do allow a buffer and it’s really really rare in my experience that the couples are not supportive of that. I don’t like to have
a lot of people coming in during the ceremony if we can avoid it, if a few
trickle in I’m not offended by that, I think that it happens and so let’s make
sure we quickly get them a seat and get them in there so that they can witness the ceremony but I do prefer to wait until we’re at least
about 90 percent at our expected guest count before we proceed, just so that we don’t
have the distraction if a lot of people continue to come in.
Perfect thank you; what is your biggest piece of advice for the DIY bride? Great question.
Oh that’s a great question, you know I think it’s important, it’s so overwhelming when you get engaged and everyone’s asking you questions and you’re getting sticker shock and going through this process to determine
what do we have to have, what can we omit, it can be really tricky and the piece of
advice that I would put forward is for starters it’s not about the biggest budget, because you can have all the money in the world and spend all the money in the world on your wedding but if it’s not thoughtfully designed it doesn’t make anyone feel anything, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s gonna be fun or beautiful. What makes it fun and
beautiful many times, it makes one feel anything upon showing up which is part
of when it becomes fun, is when it’s relevant and when it’s it’s reflective
of the couple, that’s what makes it special and that’s what makes it
different than all the other weddings that we’re going to attend in our
lifetimes. So you know at the helm I would first advise to always remember
thoughtful design, keep it personal keep it reflective, you don’t have to have it all. But if you do to use that opportunity use that investment to do something different. If you have a favorite quote you know rather than spending on just having another napkin
with a monogram, put that on the napkin if that’s where you want to spend it, but
you don’t have to have all the things. You know the other thing to think about
when you’re designing your fantasy, sometimes it’s about less is more and simple statements can go a long way. I often, particularly when
working with budgets, I love the drama that can be created by finding one unique and reflective inspired decor item and repeating that, because we can get tremendous drama with that if it’s done
well. And on the flip side it often can be a cost effective approach.
Thank you I think that today with Pinterest and all these DIY projects, it can be very overwhelming for the DIY bride or miss for Mom or any type of event planner
where you think you can do it all and you’re not sure where to begin or what
to do.
Yeah I absolutely agree.
Do you think on that same subject that
Pinterest is a great tool or it’s kind of like a love/hate thing, how do you
feel about Pinterest?
Yeah I love this question because I think that it’s a hot topic right now. The problem with Pinterest I’ll start with the
the problem that I’ll tell you why I use it and why I love it, I think the challenge kind of can be problematic with Pinterest is
that I think it can actually crush creativity a little bit. Because if used,
and if the user is too literal in their search, or I’m planning a mitzva and I’m looking at very specific mitzva images, it
can end up boxing us in it as to where we’re only looking at somebody else’s
experience. If you’re looking specifically at weddings that’s
somebody, if it’s done right, that’s somebody else’s story, that is somebody
else’s lifetime together and adventure together and how it was reflected within
that day. So to look at that it can almost squash creativity because we
don’t need to repeat any of those other things, what we need to figure out is
what can we do for you that’s different. So you know I think that
sometimes it ends up kind of getting us a little bit too tight in terms of the the possibility of expansiveness that it actually should be
used for. And so that’s when I can weigh in on what I love about it, and
that is it’s an amazing search engine and an image bank that is completely
expansive, there’s just – I mean I when I’m trying to kind of awaken in my mind and
and and get into a creative space to just start thinking in all different
areas, it’s an amazing opportunity to kind of do what I call the rabbit hole with Pinterest and you go through and down, and finding these
different things and I can look up anything from things found in nature that I may never see in real time, to beautiful moments within architecture, and it’s amazing how I can start to get clarity I mean some
of some of the most special moments that I have been able to create have often
stemmed from a single image that I found on Pinterest.
Great yeah I’m happy to hear your thoughts on it. I think I agree with you completely and I do think it’s
a rabbit hole and I think as the bride or the Mitzvah mom or any event that
you’re planning, it’s a great place to start just know you’re going to get
overwhelmed, but you may actually find or lead to what your end product will be,
just the ideas can become overwhelming if you allow it to let you get
overwhelming, which I did personally [laughter].Okay moving on; when designing something this
personal how involved are the clients during the process beyond the initial
phases, do they get to pick some of the rental elements and props or do you leave it all on you to make decisions. I mean for most of our clients are coming to me to find out who they are, to understand them, and then to
design something for them, which we do in-house and then I start fulfilling it with the vendors and suppliers that can deliver
what it is that I’ve designed. So for our client they are not particularly involved, but I still want them to love – it’s really important that – you know
sometimes I’ll say okay I’m looking at these two chairs what do you think? I
want to make sure that this is them, and if there’s any lack of
clarity I will always go to them to make sure it remains reflective of them. At
the end of the process once I pulled everything and I know that I can get the
quantities I need, I know I can have a fabricated, or I know that it’s it’s available, or you know that I can get it and I can
have it reupholstered the color that I want it whatever that is, I will then bring them in to have a design wrap and mock up to see their tabletop and to go
through the boards of what is what are the finishings gonna look like,
this is the fabric for the drape here this is the flooring, over here this
is the linen for this table and the finish for this other
table, whatever that is.
Okay perfect now do you ever get clients that really wash
their hands of their own wedding or event and just leave it up to you?
Yeah absolutely which I don’t mind but I still just need one thing from them, I just need them to kind of take those first few steps so that I know who they are. When they don’t it can be an incredibly frustrating process for
me just because if I’m not – if creatively I don’t have what I need,
then I just it’s it’s too big of a world, I don’t even know where to start and I
just don’t want to do anything that – I’m not gonna do anything twice, and I don’t
want to do anything that could possibly end up not being them. I want our clients
to be happy, I want them to walk in and even if they’re totally surprised they
haven’t seen anything before, or weren’t able to picture it, or had no idea what I
was planning because they did wash their hands of it, I still I need them to love it. Okay how did you first start promoting yourself and getting
business to the point where you could sustain yourself?
Well I think that’s that’s a slow process for many, I’ve been in this for many many years
and I started with a few clients, I started where I’ve worked for others I started to kind of slowly put my name out there, that hey this is
what I want to do and I think I want to open a business to do this. It really started with just a couple of clients that I had
done events for, and then I slowly started to kind of parlay those into a
viral effort to get several new clients from this client and then from
that client, and to just get slowly larger and larger in terms of the market share that
we’ve been able to work with over the years, and then of course expanding my business to have the amazing talents that I get to work
with every day here. So it’s certainly a process and I have learned
over the years where we are best suited to market in certain areas, where in
other areas maybe it’s not as effective for what we do and what we bring to the
table uniquely.
Great thank you, we have a question from a wedding couple; I have set
my wedding day two years out from now, when is a good time to start reaching
out to photographers and other vendors, like how early is too early?
Sure well for starters it depends upon what market you’re in, because certain markets
are going to be a little bit more used to long timelines, that’s a very long
planning timeline, that’s not as reflective of for instance the west
coast. West coast we usually don’t see much more than a year and even now we’re
seeing much much shorter planning timelines, we’re seeing six months to
eight months with tremendous frequency. So you know if you’re going to any vendor even eighteen months out, that can be a quite a distance and sometimes
challenging to really lock people down because it’s just so far in advance. But I wouldn’t go any any earlier than eighteen months, and for a
photographer I think you’re absolutely great eighteen months to a year out is completely appropriate for any market.
Agreed if anything it’s good to get started, just from my own personal opinion as a bride, if you take the time
now you can do things slowly and organized and really think it out because if you wait too long and then you feel pressured, you may not make the
best decision for your personal event or wedding.
You know I agree with that and then on the flip side though I will tell you this, I think sometimes – well listen an outside of the venue, which I think is really important to
lock down because that then determines everything, it’s going to allow you to make all the decisions going forward from attire to capacity to having a date to be able to proceed with anyone
else, so that’s great you know and if you do have a long planning timeline sometimes my advice is; great lock down your venue and then just chill, just chill for a little while and and pick up on the rest of it a little bit later. On the
flipside having a shorter planning timeline can mean less stress, as long as
you have a little bit of help or if you’re working with the producer, that goes without saying that that’s fine, I mean some of my largest
productions I’ve done within I don’t know eight weeks, but I do agree with you
and that if you have too short of a planning window if you’re starting everything from scratching you don’t know who to go to you’re trying to
vet vendors, that can be a little overwhelming.But so would having too
much time, because I think it really can allow you to to overthink it too much
and to really start to question yourself and to go back, and especially
if you are one of those couples that’s really carefully watching the trending,
which I try to discourage because you don’t want your wedding to be about
what’s trending, but anymore then it means that you can end up in myriad of a lot of questioning.
You just have to find that right balance for you I guess.
Okay if you know a client isn’t your ideal client or going
to be a good fit for you, how do you handle that?
Oh this can be a tough one, you know and there’s no easy answer here. With many we will just suggest that I think for you know recent XY and Z, I think I might have a better fit for you can I give you a couple of names, if I feel in any way that there is a risk that I could possibly offend someone, I would never ever want to hurt anyone’s
feelings or make them feel as though their vision weren’t important or that
they weren’t important or that their that their budget is something that it’s not to be respected. I you may not be available that day just because you never want anyone to feel as though they didn’t qualify and I want people to feel good when they’re calling us at all times, it’s always an honor when we would
be anytime anyone thinks of us. So it is a little tricky there’s not an easy
answer to that.
I think I like that you’re just not available that day, I
think that’s great. I like that a lot. Okay I like this question a lot too; wedding seating when it comes to the
kids, how do you recommend seating the children?
Yeah this is another one, it’s very specific to the couple it’s very specific to the guests
as well. It depends upon the age of the child and it depends upon the child
themselves. It may be that the child is 10 years old and you know would be
perfectly appropriate to sit by themselves maybe at a kid’s table, but
maybe that child is not super outgoing or is a little shyer doesn’t know anyone,
and if that’s my child I’m gonna be as the parent incredibly uncomfortable with
having my little guy feeling like they’re on their own and that they
can’t be with me. So that’s a very specific question to the parent, if the
child is too young that’s also going to be really uncomfortable for the parent
if they feel that they can’t be trusted and might not be capable of hanging appropriately at a young age that they’ll want them with them. You kind of get some of this question that I think this always comes up regarding to have kids at the wedding vs to not have kids at the wedding and that discomfort of how to communicate that, and how to handle that if they are at the wedding, or how to handle that if they’re not, but if they are present
at the wedding we want to make sure that the parents are as comfortable as the
children.
I love that answer it had happened to me where my son we were at a family wedding and he was eight or nine and they thought he would be fine sitting with these other kids and he really wasn’t, even though he is outgoing
he didn’t know them and he wanted to sit with me and we worked it out, but I really loved your response on how to handle it, because that’s so
true.
Okay I think we have time for one more question I can’t believe this hour
is almost up I’m having so much fun
I could talk to you forever I’m have so much fun, and I love these questions! Okay, let’s get to one more. How do you go
about budgeting for your client’s event? Budget is one of the biggest challenges I think that I have in life, particularly with weddings almost across the board. I
mean corporate aside, anytime we’re dealing with with wedding or social we are so often talking about sticker shock. Why would anyone know
exactly what things cost, I don’t expect them to, and I just lament this process of having clients get sort of bombarded by price tags and having that
in any way overshadow the fun of the wedding day. Most don’t know what they’re
walking into at the end of the day if we look statistically most will probably spend 30 percent over what they intended .Why
is that? Well it’s not just about the upsell because that’s often where
everyone assumes, oh you know we’re being up sold or the prices are higher because
of weddings. And that you know is often not the case, but what ends up
happening is throughout the process we start to get exposed to more, where it’s
like oh I didn’t know that that was out there I have to have that, and that’s it
that’s a normal thing. And anytime we’re talking about weddings or social we’re
talking about events that are embedded with emotion, and are very personal so
we have this constant idea of, well I’m never going to be able to do it again,
which is why we see these budgets jump up, but it doesn’t mean that it’s not without shock. What I want our clients to walk away from, is regardless
of how much they spent, that they feel good about the investment made, that they
never lament any dollars spent, and that they see their investment. If they’re spending needlessly on something I don’t think that they’re going to see their return on, that’s my job to see
that and say, I understand this is important to you and if it is it’s
important to me as well but I do want to offer that this may be an area you can
cut back in. We just need them to feel good about their investment, because
everyone’s always going to be shocked, so going back to kind of the core of the question, how do we deal with budgets. Well we like to know what is
their expectation of what they think they’re going to spend, is that realistic,
is that realistic for the market that they are getting married in which is
another thing that we need to look at, and then how do we kind of walk them
through. We’re gonna obviously take the budgets that are appropriate for what we
do and they allow us to put out jobs that are consistent with the collateral
that exists out in the marketplace right. If it doesn’t look like it’s going to match the portfolio that exists on my website well then I can’t take it, because then I’m they’re not getting what I do. So we first have to analyze that and if then it’s the right fit we then kind of proceed down the tracks of
making sure that we are acknowledging their budget at all times and reminding
them, listen I’m gonna show you a lot of options if you wish to stay up to this
budget and you would like to have all of them you’re going to overspend, but let’s
keep the control in their hands so that they’re making the best choices for them,
it’s not my day it’s their day and they need to find out what’s important to
them. And that’s often how we kind of walk them through it so that the control
remains in their hands.
Perfect and I can’t believe we are at the hour mark,
this hour might be the fastest hour I’ve experienced in a really long time. I love
learning about this stuff from you Kristen and I love chatting wedding and
event planning, and I hope that all of our attendees learned so much and as
much as I did because this was great This was so gerat can we do this every week?
I know we really need to
look into this because the questions really, I mean there’s just never-ending. And you know so much and we can’t thank you enough for sharing their knowledge
and expertise with us.
Well thank you for the great questions, they were amazing questions it felt like this was like a little therapy session I
loved it. Right I know, I hope that everyone learned and took something away from here and we’re going to be sending out a
link to the recording via email hopefully by tomorrow so you can listen
and take notes, and we’ll also give you an email address if you have any further
questions for Kristen, she’ll be happy to answer them and have a great day
everyone enjoy the rest of your day and happy planning, thanks again Kristen
Thank you so much for having me. Bye everyone.

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