Thursday, March 29, 2012

Tips for Hiring a Photographer for Your Event

The special moments in your life should be preserved with beautiful photographs, and event photographers are the talented professionals who make it happen. An event photographer can capture the significance of any occasion and create memories that will last a lifetime.

Since finding the right photographer is very important, here are some tips to help from professional event photographers:

-- Get acquainted with the photographer's style. You should decide what photographic style you like best for your event; do you prefer artistic, photojournalistic or traditional? Also, look at the photographer's references from other clients since this can give you valuable insight into his or her professionalism and personality. (From Birgit Pol)

-- Learn the photographer's personality. You need to figure out if your personality will mesh well with the photographer's and if you feel totally comfortable with him or her. You should always feel at ease when it comes to asking questions or making requests. Additionally, you need to look at photos from an entire event, not just a couple of samples; you need to be sure the photographer can shoot an entire event well from beginning to end. (From Aspen Grove Photography)

-- Ask lots and lots of questions. A few important questions to ask the photographer:
- Will you shoot the entire event yourself or will it be an associate?
- How many events like mine have you done in the last year?
- Is this your full-time profession or do you just photograph on the side?
- Do you have backup equipment?
- Are you a member of any professional associations?
- How many years have you been a professional photographer?
- What are the turnaround times for delivery of images and/or products?
(From RSVP Studios)

-- Discuss the fine print. Ask the photographer if he or she has a proper business license and if they have professional liability insurance. Also, be sure to find out about copyrights and usage of the images, and ask about payment schedules, cancellations, rescheduling and refunds of retainers. (from Dieter Chaney Photography)

-- The photographer should have questions for you as well. Any photographer you're considering should have lots of questions for you, too. These include things like your vision for the images overall, the event timeline and other basic information. When you've found a photographer you're very interested in, here are three questions to ask yourself before booking:
Price - Does this photographer fit into my budget?
Value - Is the package a good deal?
Intangibles - Is the photographer well presented, on-time, have good references, is friendly?
(From Photographer Marc Pagani)

If you feel comfortable with your answers, and you've done all the research, you should feel confident in your choice!


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

10 Inspiring Quotes for Wedding Toasts

Have to give a wedding toast and need a little help? Jump start it with a moving reflection on "marriage, love or soul-binding." Below are 10 quotes to consider; you can incorporate the works into your own original speech (i.e., "In the words of George Sand...), relating it to the bride and groom. You want the audience to feel the universal importance and emotional impact of the words you're speaking:

  1. "May your love be like the misty rain, gentle coming in but flooding the river." ~ Traditional African
  2. "We never live so intensely as when we love strongly. We never realize ourselves so vividly as when we are in full glow of love for others." ~ Walter Rauschenbusch
  3. "Marriage is like a golden ring in a chain, whose beginning is a glance and whose ending is eternity." ~ Kahlil Gibran
  4. "There is only one happiness in life, to love and be loved." ~ George Sand
  5. "Love does not consist in gazing at each other, but in looking outward together in the same direction." ~ Antoine de Saint-Exupery
  6. "Love is a fire that feeds our life" ~ Pablo Neruda
  7. "Love is friendship set to music." ~ Anonymous
  8. "We love because it's the only true adventure." ~ Nikki Giovanni
  9. "When love reigns, the impossible may be attained." ~ Indian Proverb
  10. "One word
    Frees us of all the weight and pain of life:
    That word is love." ~ Sophocles

For 20 more inspiring quotes, check out Wedding Toast Tips: 30 Inspiring Quotes

Thursday, March 22, 2012

How to Begin Your Event Planning Career

In simple terms, an event planner is a person who organizes events. Usually, when people think of events, they think of something grand and fabulous, an occasion where people get together, whether it's a wedding, festival or family reunion. But, there's almost always someone needed to ensure the event's success...and that's where event planners come in!

You don't need formal training or education to succeed as an event planner. If you're talented, creative, determined and willing to put in the work, you can definitely become an event planner extraordinaire! Here are some tips:

Learn all you can about the profession. The term "event planner" is broad and entails everything from corporate planners to wedding planners to catering/hospitality coordinators. Take some time, in the beginning, to read books, research online and talk to real event planners to figure out what areas you're most interested in and to become familiar with the expectations you'll have on the job.

Assess your talents. Successful event planners combine both great interpersonal skills and organizational ability to determine exactly what their clients desire, and they get the job done. Other important talents: resourcefulness and creativity that sets your skills apart from competitors.

Educate yourself. Although you don't need a degree to become an event planner, certain areas of study may impress potential employees and clients. These fields include marketing, public relations, human resources, advertising, business, hotel and restaurant management and hospitality and tourism. If you want to develop your skills and enhance your natural abilities, degree programs are available specifically in event management; there are also industry educational seminars and home study courses.

Develop your material. Before you begin your job search, organize your self-promotion material so they represent you at your best. If you don't have a lot of actual experience on your resume, consider volunteering to work with an event planner, you could organize a small, local event. Be sure to ask the people involved for letters of recommendation for you to show future employers or clients. Additionally, have photos of your work in your portfolio to show what you have done (and can do).

Determine who's hiring. While you're using job advertisements to look for work, you should also directly contact any organizations you'd be interested in working for. Associations, larger businesses, non-profits, universities and municipalities need event planners, and so do hotels, tourism bureaus and other organizations. Asking a simple question: "Who plans your meetings and events?," could lead to the job of your dreams.

For five more tips on becoming an event planner, check out our source: 10 Steps to a Job as an Event Planner.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

3 Secrets on Getting the Most Out of Attending Events

By Michele Pariza Wacek

You've got your suitcases packed, your airline booked, and you're on your way to a live event.

But you're a little nervous. You've already spent a bunch of money, you're about to spend a bunch on hotels and food, not to mention the time away from your business and life. Will this turn into a good investment (i.e., help you business grow) or will it end up being just a waste of time and money?

That's an excellent question and as someone who has attended more than her share of events with fabulous (and not-so-fabulous) results, let me share my three secrets to getting the most of your attending events:

1. Set your intentions on what you want to get out of the event. Are you looking for joint venture partners? New clients? New ideas or information you can implement in your business? Is there someone you really want to meet in person? All of the above? Something else entirely?

It doesn't matter how you define a succesful event, what's important is that you actually spell out what you want to have happen, and make it as clear as possible.

If you're not clear on what you want, then your results could be equally murky. You want to visualize exactly what would have to happen for this to be a successful event for you.

Let me take a moment and share a quick story about this. At an event I recently attended, I was walking through the dining room at dinnertime, and I saw a woman sitting by herself. I went up to her and asked if she wanted some company, which she did. It turned out she had set the intention of meeting ME at this event, and we've ended up doing a couple of joint ventures together. Isn't it amazing once you set the intention how the Universe actually delivers it?

2. Don't just hang around your "crowd." There's no question that one of the reasons I love going to events is I can reconnect with all my old friends and colleagues. However, as much as I treasure the face-to-face bonding, I also want to meet new friends and colleagues, too.

Make a point of having either lunch, dinner, drinks, etc. with a new group each day. That gives you the opportunity to meet new people without going too far out of your comfort zone. (Now, if the thought of that is making you break out into a cold sweat, take a deep breath. Bring a friend with you, just don't only talk to your friend. Or only do this once or twice in the few days you're there, and slowly work your way up. You'll probably discover the vast majority of the people at these events are just as eager and just as nervous as you are, and it all ends up working itself out).

3. Manage your energy. This is a big one I never see anyone talk about, but it's really important. Events are exhausting. Period. Between being "on" when you meet people to absorbing all the information that's flying at you, it can wear you out.

So it's important to know your limits and listen to your body. You don't have to be at every single networking opportunity. It's okay to skip a group lunch or dinner and get room service.

Everyone is going to have different limits, and whatever that is, it's perfect for you, and you should honor it. The last thing you want to do is wear yourself out so much that when the perfect client DOES show up on Day 3, you're not so drained you don't properly represent yourself (and end up losing the sale).

Michele PW (Michelle Pariza Wacek) is your Ka-Ching!Marketing strategist and owns Creative Concepts and Copywriting LLC, a copywriting and marketing agency. She helps entrepreneurs become more successful at attracting more clients, selling more products and services and boosting thier businesses. To find out how she can help you take your business to the next level, visit her site at

[Photo Credit]

Thursday, March 15, 2012

5 Ways to Find Wedding Vendors

By S. Cohen

When planning your wedding, every single detail really counts. At the end of the day, the final outcome of the celebration really lies in the hands of the vendors you choose. A bride can have the most thought out suggestions and plans, but if your vendors are not capable of carrying out those expressed ideas, they mean nothing.

We have come up with some of the greatest ways to find wedding vendors in your area. Remember that each suggestion in itself is not meant to stand alone. A bride should really take advantage of all of the resources that exists in finding the right florist, photographer, caterer, etc.

1. Friends and Family. Your friends and family are an extremely valuable planning resource. They extend your reach of wedding knowledge more than you know. Each has attended or planned a wedding more recently than you think. So even if they only have a few bits of information, it all adds up to more than you had before. They can provide you with numbers, names and references before ever having to speak with a vendor. Ask, ask, ask!

2. Wedding Websites. Many wedding websites allow you to search by wedding location to find recommended vendors. Many offer packages of choices for you to sift through -- some with pictures and websites to look at. Please keep in mind, however, that many of these spots are purchased ads. Therefore, while a great place to get vendor leads, make sure to use your own research. You can also find sites that allow brides to give honest reviews of vendors they have used, visited with or seen at another wedding, which will give you honest (and not paid) reviews.

3. Wedding Discussion Boards and Blogs. The Internet has become an amazing place to look for wedding vendors. Many wedding websites have bridal blogs and discussion boards that allow brides to chat about their experiences and share details about the vendors they have spoken to or used. Don't be shy to ask questions!

4. Wedding Magazines. There are many magazines that are created for specific geographic locations. Many feature local weddings, therefore if you flip through and find centerpieces you really like for instance, look in the picture credits. You might find that the florist featured is around the block.

5. Wedding Reception Location. Your wedding location should be the first thing that you choose when planning a wedding. This is probably your largest expense and will really set the tone for what you have left to spend on the rest of your vendors. This will also allow you to use your location as a resource. Ask your hotel, hall, etc. if they have a list of preferred vendors.
         Most places will have this. These vendors all have established relationships with your chosen location, which is very important. For example, a preferred photographer will be lighting-prepared and know the best shots to take in a specific location. Please keep in mind, however, that this should only be one component of your choice. Often, there can be other contributing factors (politics) as to why they have been added to this list. But, all in all, this is a good list to have and use.

While the above suggestions help in the direction of finding vendors, it is once you actually sit down with each that you will realy get a true opinion of them. Look at their pictures, hear demo tapes and call references, and remember, no bride is ever bothered to speak about her wedding!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

4 Fundraising Tips for Your Nonprofit

Fundraising has become more difficult with the economy being the way it is. So, when you're raising money for your nonprofit's big ideas, think outside the box, says Samuel T. Jackson, founder of the Economic Empowerment Initiative (EEI), an organization providing financial literacy training, leadership and business development skills to youth and young adults in underserved communities.

Here are four tips to planning a successful fundraiser from Jackson:

1. Begin planning early. Nonprofit organizations should start planning fundraising events six months to a year in advance so there is enough time to develop necessary alliances, obtain venues and sponsors and create an event theme that will make an awesome event. Additionally, nonprofits should look for partners that will consider donating space and food in-kind or on an "at cost" basis. Do not use most of your organization's dollars on venues, food, entertainment and decoration (flowers, lighting, staging, etc.). The more things you can get donated or at a reduced cost, the more money you'll have to allot to actual programs.

2. Form a planning committee. It's essential to gather a strong and capable team of volunteers to help execute your fundraiser. Make sure to delegate clear tasks or form subcommittees (like sponsorships, ticket sales, programs) to be sure every detail is accounted for. Determine the people in your network who are actively involved in the community with their company, sorority/fraternity, school or other nonprofit, who can help you raise money or find volunteers for your event.

3. Create a list of potential sponsors/donors. When contacting potential donors, you don't have to start from scratch. Reach out to companies, small businesses and individuals who are familiar with your organization. Begin with board members and planning committee members to obtain a strong group of supporters. Also, form fundraising ideas that attract stakeholders, board members and other supporters to help gather support behind your event.

4. Highlight the work of your organization. Showcase and celebrate partners, clients, staff and sponsors who have come together to help the organization make an impact. Honoring those who make the work possible helps make the case for why more money is needed for programs. Testimonials from program participants are valuable as well. They help supporters and sponsors really see their money at work and know that their donations are actually making a big difference.

[Source; Photo Credit]

Thursday, March 8, 2012

5 Ways to Keep Your Wedding Guests Happy

As you probably know, your guests just want to have a great time at your wedding. However, you'll need to do more than throw a great party to keep them really happy. Here are a few tips to be sure your guests have an awesome time from your engagement announcement until the end of your wedding:

  1. Don't choose a bad date. You could choose Super Bowl Sunday as your wedding date. But if you do, don't be surprised if some of the groomsmen seem a little distracted throughout the ceremony. Your guests will be much happier if you stay away from big holidays or national events where people may already have plans. Additionally, check your community calendar to be sure you're not competing with major events such as a city festival or parade.
  2. Create -- and maintain-- your wedding website. Just like your registry, you should set up your website early. Include the information from your invitations and anything extra such as things to do, hotel info, registry info, what to pack (if you're having a destination wedding) and even details about your bridal party. Once you have everything set up, the main thing is to keep it updated.
  3. Start your ceremony on time. And write the real time on the invitation. Believe that your guests will arrive on time to your wedding and that you don't need to write 3:30 PM on the invitation when you're planning to begin at 4 PM. Yes, there may be stragglers but sticking with your time frame will keep the guests who are on time happy.
  4. Don't ask them to spend money at the wedding. Whether it's paying for parking or having a cash bar, asking guests to spend is a big don't. All ceremony and reception costs should be taken care of. If the bar is too pricey, cut back by not offering liquor or hosting the wedding earlier in the day (when guests are likely to drink less).
  5. Place them with people they know. Your wedding is not the time for you to be a matchmaker. Place your guests with their friends so they can converse freely the entire time. And if you must hook some folks up, introduce them to each other right after the wedding.

For 20 more ways to keep your wedding guests happy, check out 25 Ways to Keep Your Guests Happy.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

8 Elements You Need for Your Event Planning Website

If you own an event planning company, you probably have a website (and if you don't, you definitely need one). Here are the aspects you need for your site to be successful:

1. Clear navigation. Your website's navigation lets your clients know how to find the info they need. The simpler it is to get around and read it, the more engaged and interested people will be in your services. A prospective client on your site shouldn't have to spend time figuring out how to work their way around it.
2. An "About Us" page. A general description of an event planning company will not help your business. The "About Us" page on your website should talk about what makes you and your company different. A few questions to answer include: What motivates you? Why do you plan events? What are your interests? What do you love? What inspires you?
3. A professional photograph of you. Event planning is a personal business. So, potential clients want to see how you look and your style. People are more likely to contact you if they feel a connection with you and your website. And if you have other planners working with you, include their photos as well.
4. High quality images. Your website needs photos of events you've done from professional photographers. If you use photos from your smart phone or your own camera, you won't give a professional look and feel to your site.
5. Blog. This helps you connect to your visitors. Your blog will let them know things about your business they didn't know, give them tips and a place for you to share any deals, products and/or new services. Also, you can share links from your blog on your social media accounts. Finally, your blog is the best place to highlight all of your events.
6. Clear and simple to find contact info. It should be very easy for website visitors to find your email and phone number. Although you may have a contact form, still include your email, business address (if applicable), phone number and social media information.
7. Reviews and testimonials. Word of mouth is the best marketing you can get. Having customer reviews and testimonials provides proof that you've planned events before (or have done this many times) and have pleased customers. If other websites have good reviews for your business (like Yelp or Google), include a link to those sites on your website.
8. Have consistent colors, fonts, look and feel. Every page on your website and blog should have uniform colors, fonts and overall style. Prospective clients need a good feel for your style and brand by looking through your site.

Have more tips? Please share below!

[SourcePhoto Credit]

Thursday, March 1, 2012

3 Ways to Promote your Offline Event on the Web

Events like meetings, conferences and parties may not be or start online, but they can surely benefit from online mention and promotion with smart social media marketing. Here are four ways to maximize your event's exposure with online tools.

  1. Blog. Blog about your event before, during and after it. Doing so beforehand can let others know about your event and encourage them to learn more or register to attend. By live blogging throughout your event, you can create enthusiasm and buzz for people who weren't able to attend (also, provide a snippet of what they missed; this will encourage them to be on the lookout for the next event). Finally, blogging after can sum up the event while giving info on ones coming up.
  2. Post event pics on Flickr. Everybody loves to see pictures of themselves (as long as they look good). Posting your event photos on Flicker and tagging them with individuals' names can create interest from those who attended and the people who follow them on different social media outlets.
  3. Put the event on Facebook. You can post pictures and tag them on Facebook as well. An additional benefit of posting on Facebook is when you tag someone, it shows up on their wall; and anyone who's a friend of a person you tag can see the photo. The idea? This will lead to other people wanting to learn more about the event and attend. Keep in mind that you'll only be able to tag people you're connected to. 
Additionally, if your business or event has a Facebook page, you can include highlights from the event such as activities, keynotes or awards. And for even more interaction, visit the profiles of attendees and leave individual comments.

Want more tips? Check out four more at