Filtering by Tag: event planner

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

A Personal Post: Why the Military Love

Randi Fracassi

Samuel (my best friend, soul mate, better half...) will officially be Active Duty for the US Air Force in April. He's my rock, my biggest supporter, and best sound board for anything and everything related to business (he, like many men, does not have a single care for anything aesthetic relating to weddings and events, which is ok!). He's my best friend, and I though I'm very supportive of his decision and dreams of joining the Air Force, a part of me is absolutely terrified (I'm sure I'll blog about it in the future, and link back to here). 

Though we've been keeping Samuel's journey relatively low-key, I've always been publicly supportive of the military. I get a lot of questions about why I'm so passionate about our armed forces, and though he's a big reason for it, my passion, love, and ultimate respect starts back into my childhood.

My father is a US Navy Veteran, and for the longest time when I would go the VA with him for his various appointments, I noticed that he was always the youngest guy in the waiting room. Sure, the doctors were about his age, but as far as patients go, we were infants in comparison to the Vietnam, Korean, and World War II folks in the waiting room. Now, Dad is a very sociable man when he wants to be, and when you're in a military hospital, everyone already has some shared characteristics and history to bond over. Though everyone would essentially sit by their battle buddies and others who were around their age, Dad never had an issue talking to other vets and listening. 

And I happened to be listening too. 

You build relationships with these people, and soon you come to recognize them in your comings and goings. You take notice when they haven't shown up in a while. And yeah, they may not always remember you, but there's a comfort in knowing they kinda-sort of think of and ask after you too. That someone with so many other issues will ask about your dolls and the drama of elementary school.  

I'm rambling, forgive me. But I have so many fond memories of Veterans at the VA and the doctors and staff who work so hard to make sure they were, and are, well. 

However, as I got older at the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan "began" to end, I was aware that Dad was no longer the youngest patient. I think I was 15 or 16 when I first saw a younger patient, and to be honest, I thought he was lost looking for his parent. And then it occurred to me he was checking in to his appointment. This veteran couldn't have been five years older than me...and it shook me to the core. 

And to be honest, as I watched him go take a seat, and watched all the older guys and their groups watch him too, I knew that it disturbed the routine that had been created in our hospital. Things would not be the same, and now everyone knew it. 

After that, I got in contact with a group that sent care packages overseas to those deployed. I couldn't tell you how often I sent socks, deodorant, sanitary napkins, and soap over there. Basic things, but they were always on the list of needed items. I don't tend to lament on the contacts I made or where they were from, but after I received a letter back...I stopped sending packages. 

When I got to college though, I knew I wanted to help and give back in any way I could. I ended up joining the LSU Army Scotch Guard, an all-female auxiliary counterpart to the Army ROTC at LSU. As a Lassie, I was able to work with future officers, give back to the community, and build a sisterhood of likeminded women. It is an experience I do not regret. I still keep in contact with all of my cadets (now officers, they're so grown and doing amazing things for our country!). 

And then I met Samuel, who was not affiliated in any way, shape, or form to the military with the exception of several distant relatives. And when he first mentioned joining the Air Force two years ago, I was wary. I had watched friends and their relationships be tested and fail, and I did not want ours to join them. But, with knowing and loving each other the way that we do, I have no qualms and only a little bit of nervousness about this new chapter and career. 

So yes. This is a summed up, rather personal look, into why I have such a passion and soft spot for our military (and really, all of our folks in uniform). I tend to keep Samuel and my relationship private, but as our life together progresses, I will be sure to keep you updated (especially if and when there's wedding planning involved in our future ;) ). 

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 ;) ). 

We're being published!

Randi Fracassi

I am SO excited to announce that Poppy Lane Event's Serenity-Inspired Styled Shoot from this past spring is going to be featured in Southern Celebrations Magazine's November Issue! 

Image courtesy of Southern Celebrations Magazine. Cover Photo by  Rachel Erin Photography .

Image courtesy of Southern Celebrations Magazine. Cover Photo by Rachel Erin Photography.

The folks over at Southern Celebrations even graced us with a teaser, and posted a sneak peak on their website. You can pre-order your copy of the magazine here, or pick it up on Southern newsstands this coming November. 

Let me tell you, Poppies, the creation of this styled shoot was not an easy task! Collaborating with vendors whose hours greatly differed from my own, and the threat of rain behind it all was exhausting and absolutely thrilling. It reminded me of why I chose to go into managing, planning, and styling events -- the stress of making sure all the details lined up and then seeing it all come to fruition made it all worth it. I love this work and its challenges working with fellow creatives to make visions and dreams a reality. 

Want to find out more about how to get published and the process behind a styled shoot? Stay tuned for more!