Filtering by Tag: baton rouge

Making the Most Out of Meeting with Vendors

Randi Fracassi

Meeting your vendors can be stressful and overwhelming – generally, you don’t know what exactly to ask, contracts can be complicated, and pricing may not make any sense whatsoever. Creatives and wedding industry professionals who are used to the language and work flows of weddings and events can sometimes overwhelm potential brides and grooms, and sometimes you may have questions that arise throughout, but you don’t want to seem silly for asking (spoiler: never feel silly for asking a question regarding investments you’re making on your wedding day!).  So, as wedding season kicks into full gear, I wanted to share some tips and tricks in order to have a successful vendor meeting.

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First, before you even schedule with vendors, it’s best to know what kind of financial commitment you want to make for your wedding. Whether you decide that by looking at averages of wedding costs for your city or region, or by determining who is committing the funds to make your dream wedding come true, making a tentative budget or getting a ballpark amount for what you want to spend is key.

Once you figure out your budget, start looking at the style you want to convey – light and air with lots of greenery, or something more formal with a sit down dinner at a hotel, will help guide you to vendors who have those kinds of experiences and tastes as well, ensuring that your wedding day is consistent in all things.  

My biggest piece of advice however relating to pricing, even when you’re reeling from the sticker shock or pleasantly surprised with a vendor’s pricing: keep in mind you’re not just investing in a final product after a service, but you’re also investing in a client experience. The money you are putting towards your vendors is a direct reflection on the product and experience you will have with that vendor.

What about when you actually sit down with a vendor? Of course, ask about experience, style, what’s included as a service and what is the client experience with them. But, it is to my recommendation to always ask about whether or not a vendor has a full contract, and if they carry insurance. With more and more venues requiring insured vendors (particularly with caterers), it’s important that the contract protects everyone’s interest, and that should the worst happen, liabilities are able to be covered and taken care of.

When you get to the portion of the meeting regarding deposits and retainers, ask about the difference and what is refundable or nonrefundable, and if the difference can be spelled out within the contract if it’s not already. A deposit, more often than not, can legally be refunded if service is found unsatisfactory or the event is cancelled unless it is strictly outlined as nonrefundable. It is so important for you as a client to be knowledgeable going into a contractual agreement. Ask if you can have a copy reviewed, or if they contract has been reviewed before. As always, it’s better safe than sorry.

Besides looking at making sure that everyone’s interests are protected and ensuring everything is in budget, there are key questions you should ask during your meeting. When you’re spending money and investing in your wedding day, you want to make sure that the people you’re hiring work well together and with you. Ask if they’ve worked with your other hired vendors or at your venue(s), but also learn about them as a person and ask what got them into doing photography or baking or planning weddings, what they do when they’re not working, and their favorite spots around town. Getting to know your vendors as people will help you build a relationship with them, and you’ll find that you have a better experience working with them in the long run.

So, in summary: research and inquire about pricing and availability, even in ballpark amounts, always ask about reviewing a contract and insurance, and get to know your vendors beyond what they do for you. Doing this will lead to better working relationship and a more satisfactory experience on your wedding day.

Happy planning,

Randi

Meredith & Hunter | November 17, 2018

Randi Fracassi

“I swear I couldn’t love you more than what I do right now, and yet I know I will tomorrow.”

When I first met Meredith and Hunter for coffee, I knew from the moment that it was going to be a perfect fit. They’re quirky, fun personalities were going to shine so bright on their wedding day, and they were committed to a fun, beautiful event that was a direct reflection of their joyful and selfless personalities. You could feel how much they cared for and valued what they had to say when talking with them — the way Hunter’s eyes light up and the ear to ear smile on Meredith’s face tells you everything you need to know about how much they love each other. It was such a pleasure to coordinate their wedding day at the LSU AgCenter and Botanical Gardens!

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Creating a Wedding Budget: How to Stay on Track, Get Money, and Not go Crazy

Randi Fracassi

Hello, hello! Whew! We’re just coming back from our trip to Michigan for some much needed rest and relaxation,  and per our Instagram poll, we’re sharing with you our tips and how-to’s on budgeting for your wedding day. This is a near and dear topic to us as planners, as creating a budget for your event is the most important factor in the planning process: without an established budget, the entire planning process will lack a level of control and consistency (that is, you will always be stressed about the costs piling up). We’ll be talking more so on how to create a budget versus what you can do to save money or get costs down, but we’ll be sharing our tips on that as well.

Photography by Wild Wonder Photography, Floral by Hummingbird Floral Studio

Photography by Wild Wonder Photography, Floral by Hummingbird Floral Studio

First and foremost, reach out to vendors. Might sound crazy, right? The fact of the matter is, weddings and parties are expensive. Having the Instagram worthy and blog published events you see generally are quite the investment, and above all else, educating yourself on the costs and investments you’re going to be making will go a long way in determining what is reasonable, overpriced, or too good to be true. Don’t be afraid to ask close friends and family about what they spent on various vendors, or ask for referrals, or ask that vendor you see in a Facebook ad what their average client spends on their services.

Because friends, when you’ve already given yourself hard numbers to follow before reaching out to vendors, you’ll more than likely fall over in shock in your seat. When you get a response back saying that the greenery installation along a mantle is going to be $1500, and that’s what you thought your whole floral budget would be, it’s a hard pill to swallow. Or when the venue you’ve been dying over Instagram starts at $75 per person with a minimum of 150 guests (and that’s not including bar), it causes a cold sweat to break out. Educate yourself on your region’s averages, or your dream vendor’s average, and go from there.

After your initial research, determine what is important to you for your wedding. Sit down with your better half, and put it into writing what is important, whether it's the venue versus the date, a certain photographer or more so a style of photography, food, entertainment, invitations. Prioritize where you want the money invested from your wedding, and then get ballpark quotes from those vendorsIt’s not a quite a priority at this time to say you need X, Y, and Z, but by getting estimates that may be a little higher than what they will be in actuality will lessen sticker-shock and prepare you for worst case scenarios.

Determine who is funding what. This is a must have conversation with parents or anyone who has said they would like to contribute to the wedding. It is best to be blunt, and keep a written record of exact amounts or what vendors they are contributing to. Doing this will be awkward, without a doubt, but trust me when I say that making sure you keep everyone accountable for everything they commit to in the long run will be better for relationships with family members. Share what you have already collected from your research earlier, and be honest as to what costs are going to be for those vendors. Don’t be afraid to share that you would rather have this baker over another, or this time of year at a venue because it’s a different cost.

After this series of chats and talks, you’re going to feel the need to hard-core stick to your budget. I’m going to drop a bomb here, so brace yourself: don’t do it.

Wait, what?

By forcing yourself to stick to a number, you’re going to be overwhelmed and find yourself cutting costs from unnecessary avenues (booking your photographer for 7 hours versus 8, renting table overlays versus proper cloths, etc). Setting yourself up to have leeway, spending between (for example) $30-35,000 versus just $30,000 without exception will give breathing room (and, referring back to those ballpark quotes you got form the beginning, prepare yourself for the investment of weddings and help with the unexpected costs).

Now that there is an understanding of what the important aspects of your wedding are going to cost, divide and conquer the rest of the budget with other costs. This is where an Excel sheet is key! You can also keep track in your wedding binder, or have your wedding planner keep track of your budget for you. I would also be sure to include when payments have been applied and when payments are due (and making sure your phone, planner, or agenda have it noted when these payments are due in order to avoid contract cancellations). More and more vendors are attaching late fees for payments not made on time – avoid the stress of doubling your bill with your team by sending a reminder several weeks before a payment is due.

So friends, creating a budget for your wedding educate yourself about the industry. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, and while you hold yourself accountable to making sure things get done, stay true to yourself and what YOU want.  Planning a wedding can be stressful and overwhelming with the details and questions and dealing with family and friends as it is, and anything regarding money is bound to compound those stresses. By creating a budget and giving yourself the grace to have a range to stay within, you’ll be saving yourself the headache and worry of everything relating to money.

Happy planning,

 

Randi

The Best Investment You Can Make While Planning Your Wedding

Randi Fracassi

Thought I was gonna say me, huh? As much as I would like to say a wedding planner or coordinator is the best investment you can make or even photography, video, or food, I can’t lie to y’all and say that it is. Though having a planner in your arsenal of vendors can be a great benefit, and more often than not pays for itself in savings, time, and stress, I’m not going to attempt to sell you on those points. However, as I’ve been thinking a lot of the idea of investments and what actually does make a wedding memorable and gives your attendees the wow factor, and I’ve come to one conclusion.

None of it matters.

I know what you’re thinking, but stay with me on this.

The money spent on photography, food, the perfect venue, the most gorgeous dress, the gifts for your bridal party, none of it matters. How your wedding looks or what your guests say about those things, doesn’t matter. Money, after all, is only valid because we believe in the value a fancy piece of cotton and paper holds in the exchange for another thing. I live for the Dr. Suess quote, “those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind”. The material goods, products, and even services on a wedding day mean next to nothing if you don’t make this one key investment.

And that is, the investment into your marriage.

A wedding after all (and I’m taking this from my Christian upbringing on what a wedding is supposed to be) is the covenant exchange between you and your future spouse to build a life together, always support one another, and be each other’s partner in building a life together. Essentially, it could be just you and your spouse making this to each other, and it’s bonafide, the officiate just acts as a witness (thank you, government, for being ever present in the biggest moments of life).

Alas, I digress.

When you have a wedding, you make that promise to each other for your marriage. Whether you use traditional “love, honor, obey, in sickness and in health” vows or write your own, you do make that commitment to listen to each other always, compromise when needed (and equally), take care each other spiritually, physically, mentally, and emotionally, and always put each other above yourselves. It’s making hard decisions and little decisions and family and financial choices, as well as dealing with the merging of two separate entities into one (again, thanks government). There’s a whole lot of things that go into this marriage journey, and it’s incredibly different from your dating life, even if you’ve lived together or been with each other for a long time. It’s different and it’s an immediate change.

Setting yourself up for this commitment, for this change in your relationship and this new chapter you are taking with this person who you want to share the rest of your life with is the biggest investment you should be making throughout your engagement. Even if you’re not getting married by a traditional priest or pastor that generally offer counseling services, definitely go through couples therapy and let the therapist know that you’re looking for premarital counseling. Bringing to light the issues or possible issues that will come up as you continue on in your married life together before you’re married will facilitate better and healthier discussions (whether these are arguments, talking about your days, unloading stress or talking about successes), and ensure that when conflicts do arise that you as a couple have that foundation in order to have a healthy way to resolve them.

The idea of investing in premarital counseling can seem like an additional expense, and it is, but in the long run the conversations that arise in the very beginning, and that you’ve already talked about in a safe and moderated environment before you’re juggling bills, kids, work, and other stressors together, will set you and your marriage up for the best success. We’re all trying to beat the 50% statistic of failed marriages here, and the best investment you can make to ensure that your marriage and your life that you are building with your soul mate is undergoing (even if you have to find topics and bring up these conversations yourself)  premarital counseling or therapy, and making sure that your core values and beliefs in how you want your lives to be are on the same page.

I hope this was helpful and enlightening, friends, and I hope that you take into serious consideration the value of having premarital counseling and investing yourself into good, deep conversations in order to set up your marriage in the best way possible.

Happy planning,

Randi

It's Not a Hustle

Randi Fracassi

Being a small business owner is not a hustle. It’s not a side gig, or extra money. It’s not just something to do for fun (though I do enjoy it immensely), or whenever I feel like it. It’s not a hobby or a fleeting interest or trend, and it’s something I don’t play around with whenever the urge strikes me.

What a lot of people see is strictly Day Of, or at meetings, where I’m calm, cool, and collected, a figure with an assistant in understated clothes maneuvering about, occasionally talking to the bride and groom, and oftentimes cutting a delicious cake. They don’t see the hours talking to the venue coordinator about the placement of said cake and staging tables (often taking measurements and playing around with graph paper when I get home to make sure everything is perfect), the emails and phone calls exchanged between the photographer, hair and make up stylist, and transportation company to make sure times are exact and on point, or the time it takes to listen to twenty covers of the same song to get the exact pace and style to walk down the aisle to.

Besides the actual planning part, which my logistics and detail oriented mind is obsessed with, comes the less fun (well, actually, it is pretty fun when you realize the impact it has to make more of those site and vendor visits happen), is the actual running of a business. There’s annual and quarterly reports due to the Federal and State governments, taxes and licensing, making sure your business insurance is up to date and covers you in the event of a guest assaults you (yep…it’s happened). It’s putting the most up-to-date marketing and media tactics in place to garner the attention of potential clients, and figuring out how to turn those potentials into actuals. Alongside all of this, is making sure payments are received, clients and vendors are met with, blogging is done, and life is lived…

I often state that planning an event starts at 38 hours of work. Eh, yeah, just under one average work week here in America. Mind you though, that’s one event. If we took one event, that 38 hours, and added it to the secretarial and assistant work, the marketing and public relationship departments, accounting and financial duties, we’re looking at nearly 160 hours (that one event included).

Now let’s add anywhere from 10-20 events a year.

6,810 hours a year. Minimum.

Just under 130 hours a week. Minimum.

No holiday breaks, no vacations, no quit everything and have a personal day. No personal leave.

Broken down to a daily basis, you’re looking at 5 hours each day left over to sleep, socialize with friends, and have family time.

This love for that moment when my bride and groom look at each other right after they got married, or the look on a child’s face when they see their party, or the way an elderly couple hold hands as they’re surrounded by friends and family, that’s what drives the love, the passion. The care for this business. The 130 hours a week talking to people, doing floor plans while listening to business podcasts, organizing an Instagram to be cohesive and appealing, working more so that you can go to a conference to learn how to work smarter, drives this planner. That love drives this business.

So no, wedding and event planning is not a side hustle, it’s not a gig. It’s not a hobby. It’s a passion and a true love, a career that my soul is married to for all time. My small business is an extension of myself in all of the best ways, combining everything good and bad, making me want to be better as a person and as a entrepreneur. It may fail, yes, there’s a chance, but with the drive and dedication to make sure that this part of me that I hold and love so dearly there is no way that failure can happen.

Happy planning,

Randi

"Is this a good deal?" and Other Questions Relating to the Value of Vendors

Randi Fracassi

The question “Is this a good deal?”, the statement “I’m paying X dollars for a photographer and second shooter for eight hours, 1000-1500 edited images, and engagements, is this fair?”, and “I’m suffering sticker shock – the venue I just looked at just cost X. And that’s not including the food minimum!”. Most of these statements are followed by the comment “Well, when you attach ‘wedding’ to anything, the cost goes up”.

When you’re looking at venues and photographers and caterers and invitations, and you’re reaching out and getting quotes and suddenly there’s a lot more money involved and it’s surprising you, here are few things to keep in mind.

There’s a lot more than just the wedding day as far as working for your vendors. Leading up to a wedding I am coordinating, I spend roughly 50-75 hours speaking with vendors, clients, and everyone involved in a wedding. Broken down to regular work days, that’s about 6 to 10 days spent on the phone, coordinating site visits and final walk-throughs, rehearsals, and the day itself (which for a 5:00 pm wedding, starts at about 9:00 am for my staff and I). For a photographer, not only are they making sure their equipment is ready, but purchasing additional cards, straps, repairs, talking with vendors, and after the day itself (if they’re starting as early as I am for a 5:00 pm wedding), editing and culling thousands of photos to present you with the very best. On average, most photographers in the Baton Rouge area spend 4-9 weeks editing photos and galleries, and more so if they’re assembling prints and albums. 

The vendors that you're getting quotes and proposals from are full of knowledge, but everyone's knowledge is different, and that's a part of the cost. A caterer fresh out of culinary school, or even if they’re based in their home without formal training, is going to provide a menu and offerings than a caterer who has been in the field for 15 years, has a diverse staff, and gives advice or includes floor plans and food displays. With photography, live music, calligraphy, and other fine arts that are services, generally the more you’re paying should be reflected in the quality, service, and presentation. You will be hard pressed to find next to free photographers that have experience in the wedding industry, provide fully edited images, process culling, and best and most importantly of all, ensure that every shot you want on your wedding day is taken.

Fun fact: you’re paying for the experience of working with these vendors. That’s right – the way that they treat you is something you’re paying for. You’re investing into your vendors, you’re giving them a substantial amount of money to work with them, and how fast they respond to emails and phone calls, send back and forth contracts and edits to floor plans, menus, and timelines, how little stress you feel while working with these amazing and awesome folks…that’s a big part of what your money is going towards. You’re paying to work well with a vendor, and if there are bumps in the road or in your relationship, then you are most certainly not getting your value in with them.

But wait, what about when someone is offering a deal or discount? What does that even mean? Well, it can mean a variety of things. It could be just a celebratory discount to appeal to clients who normally couldn’t afford their services, or maybe they just want more bookings. It varies, and you can’t put a lot of stock into why a discount or deal is being offered other than it is. However, when this deal or discount is repetitive is when you need to be cautious about the vendor, and take a hard look at their portfolio and what others are saying about them (especially other vendors).

At the heart of it though, what does it mean when you’re getting a deal or there’s a lot of value? Value and deals are subjective to who is looking at the overall cost; for instance, the services of Poppy Lane Events may seem like too good of a deal to some, but other potential clients may see them as a great value for the cost. Keep it all relative to what your budget is, what you’re looking for as an experience, and what is all included in the overall cost (asking for an itemized and detailed quote is a great idea). With that in mind, what’s a good value and deal will be easily answered, and you’ll be well on your way to having the wedding of your dreams.

Happy planning,

Randi

How to Establish a Budget for Your Wedding

Randi Fracassi

Hello Poppies! I had mentioned a few weeks ago in Pinterest: Good or Bad for Your Wedding Planning about the increase in wedding budget info-graphics and more advice from popular wedding websites like The Knot and WeddingWire, and as engagement season is coming into full swing, I thought that perhaps I would share with you how I help establish budgets for my clients. Creating a budget for your event is the most important factor in the planning process: without an established budget, the entire planning process will lack a level of control and consistency (that is, you will always be stressed about the costs piling up).

Photo:  Rachel Erin Photography

First and foremost, determine what is important to you for your wedding. Sit down with your partner, and put it into writing what is important, whether it's the venue versus the date, a certain photographer or style of photography, food, entertainment, invitations. Prioritize where you want the money invested from your wedding, and then get accurate quotes from those vendors. 

Determine who is funding what. This is a must have conversation with both parents or anyone who has said they would like to contribute to the wedding. It is best to be frank, and write down exact amounts that are being contributed; trust me when I say that making sure you keep everyone accountable for everything they commit to in the long run will be better for relationships with family members. Share what you have already collected from your research earlier, and be honest as to what costs are going to be for those vendors. 

So, what happens when the vendors you want are outside of the budget after talking about money? I'll be sure to the upcoming posts relating to budget at the bottom of the post!

Now that there is an understanding of what the important aspects of your wedding are going to cost, divide and conquer the rest of the budget with other costs. This is where an Excel sheet is key! You can also keep track in your wedding binder, or have your wedding planner keep track of your budget for you. Set up your sheet with Vendor Name, Point of Contact, Contact Number, Email, Quote, Quote Date, Invoiced, and Invoice Date. I would also include when payments have been applied and when payments are due (and making sure your phone, planner, or agenda have it noted when these payments are due in order to avoid contract cancellations). 

Another thing to do is make sure to either round up the total cost or entail the exact cost in this spreadsheet. You can scan your receipts and invoices and add them to the sheet, or keep them in an envelope in your wedding binder, highlighting what the total cost of that vendor will be. In my personal budgeting, I always round up my expenses versus my income, and then subtract from my exact income. If you would like to see a spreadsheet that demonstrates what is left of your income for your event versus the expenses, let me know! 

Lastly, stick to your budget. I like to think of it this way: when you go for a night out with your friends and you're getting dressed, you're making a commitment to the shoes you're wearing, right? In the middle of the night, you're not going to take off your shoes because doing so will probably result in dirty and cut up feet and you might loose your shoes. It's ok to splurge here and there on items and services throughout the planning process, but know that those costs do add up, and can send you over your budget.

So, in summary:

  • Prioritize what vendors or services you absolutely want for your wedding and get quotes

  • Determine income for wedding expenses and make sure that income is committed 

  • Establish a spreadsheet or tracking method for wedding expenses

  • Stick to your budget!

I promise that doing this form of budgeting will make a difference in the way you plan your wedding! Keeping what is important to you and making sure you get what you want out of your day will make sure that you get the wedding of your dreams (and keep down the stress of planning it ;) ). 

Holiday 2016 Styling & Decorating

Randi Fracassi

Instead of our usual Wednesday blog post, we wanted to share with you that we are available for Baton Rouge and the surrounding area for styling and decorating your home, apartment, or business for the holidays! Services include tree decorating, mantle and table setting displays, and more.

For more information and to receive a quote for your holiday party, please use the form below! 

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Event Date *
Event Date

Pinterest: Good or Bad for Your Wedding Planning?

Randi Fracassi

Firstly, happy November, Poppies! It's the official start for us here in the office of the holiday and engagement season, and we're picking up speed for the Spring 2017 weddings and events. Clients whose dates are approaching are asking questions, vendors are being contacted, and details are all coming together. Not to mention, our families and friends are gathering together to celebrate and plan for their own parties and shenanigans. All in all, it's our favorite time of year!

Today as I was browsing Pinterest with my grandmother-in-law on the phone talking about Thanksgiving plans, I couldn't help but be a little overwhelmed by the suggestions; from table settings to menus, looking through it all was starting to make me become mentally claustrophobic (but that could also be because I didn't have my handy boss mug by my side filled with God's own sweet nectar: coffee). 

This lead me to thinking of my clients and recent consultations and their use of Pinterest to create mood boards for their weddings (as well as crafts, clothes, food, decor, child rearing...literally, everything can be categorized these days!). Most often than not, they are filled with elaborate styled shoots, costly fabrics and floral arrangements, and locations that are generally not available in their area. And as someone who loves to please people, this breaks my heart because I always want to make my client's dream a reality.

I've also noticed that more and more clients are referring to a variety of info-graphics to help in creating their budgets. Some are breakdowns per the budget range, and some are percentages. And don't get me wrong, it's great that there is an increased awareness in regards to budgeting, money, and how and what you should be spending your wedding fund on, but there also needs to be a consideration of your location and what you feel are important aspects to your day. (You can check out more about budgets and funding your dream wedding in upcoming blog posts, which I will be sure to link back here.)

On a positive note, once the budget and expectations are set, and there's an open dialogue about what is important to the couple for their wedding, Pinterest becomes my greatest tool in designing. I find that it's often not the whole element of an image or and idea that's desired -- it's really a little piece here and there, and it becomes a matter of connecting all the pieces together to make an event or wedding go from I-just-copied-my-Pinterest to something totally unique and customized for your wedding day. And with the ability to track back to vendors who produced the items or easily find where a location is, it takes a few steps out of the research and evaluation phase of event planning and design. 

So, all in all, I feel that in aspects to collecting elements, Pinterest is a great tool for wedding planning. However, with respect to determining your budget and funding, there's more to be desired. And that's the beauty of doing what we do here at Poppy Lane Events: we get to make it personal and custom to each couple, and endeavor to make sure that regardless of budgets, we achieve make sure the vision becomes a reality. 

What does it mean to be "Published"?

Randi Fracassi

Sure, we know what the word "published" means -- a form of work that is put into print or available for others to see, generally on a blog, book, magazine, or even video. However, what does that mean in the world of weddings and events?

Being published or featured in the wedding industry means that the images taken, whether for a styled shoot or from a real wedding, fit within the stylistic parameters of a particular website or magazine that will further promote the vendors that came together to make the vision come to life. Some vendors will actually have it within the contract stating any pictures taken at the event can be used for marketing and media purposes, but those that want to have the images published (usually the Event Planner or the Photographer) will also ask about using the images for a publication. 

Being asked to have your wedding day published is truly a big deal! Though your vendors are always proud of their work and being able to collaborate with you, when they are especially pleased with how everything came together to make an idea come to life and they feel that this is really why they do what they do, it makes the opportunity to work with you as a client that much better when we ask "Hey! Would you be ok with your wedding being featured on The Knot or OnceWed?" and you say "Yes!" 

So Poppies, in summary, having your event published on a blog or in a magazine is an exciting opportunity for yourself as a client and for your vendors. It brings attention to you, giving you notice for the excellent and beautiful work that went into the creation and management of your event. If you ever have questions or concerns about being published, feel free to contact us!