All posts in “wedding planning”

Setting your Goals for 2016

Your journey through life is like an envelope - it's all about the labels your experiencesput on the front! Where's your letter of life going_ngHappy 2016!

Wishing you all a year ahead filled with good health, prosperity and a steady path to your 2016 goals.

We wanted to share a look at our last year:
• The Academic Specialty Course was launched and enjoyed its first graduates.
• Our Weddings Specialty Course became Educationally Approved by the International Special Events Society (ISES Approved).
• We partnered with Bryant University to offer a Certificate in Event Management through their Executive Development Center.
• We presented 5 more groups of graduates with their Certificate in Special Events Planning – and sent them on their way to job promotions, new businesses and exciting opportunities!

And here’s what we are looking forward to:
• The Corporate Event Course is open – it’s filled with fantastic guest lecturers, charts, tools and resources. We are using Professional Meeting Management as a textbook – it’s a great way to prep for the CMP if that is on your “GOAL LIST”.
• We’ll be speaking at the The Special Event Show on Tuesday (#TSE2016) in Orlando, FL. Instructor Karen F. Salhaney, M. NP and I (Jill S. Moran, CSEP, Executive Director) will be giving a talk on Internship Programs, Tuesday, January 12th at 11:30AM. Stop by if you are at the conference!
• Partnerships – We are working with colleges, universities and associations to bring some exciting new educational offerings to event professionals in the year ahead! Stay tuned!

My personal goals this year center on the theme “moderation”
• Keep goals to a minimum – no more than 3 a day.
• Celebrate even a small success every day.
• Listen to my body – keep it healthy and feeling good through good eating, exercise and rest!
• Take time to enjoy things that recharge and regenerate me – walking, a chat with family or friends, being in my garden or outside.
• Remember to say “thank you “– and smile! Live a life of appreciation and gratitude!

As a gift, I’d like to offer COVER_EventPlanningBusinessa chapter in the latest edition of my book, How to Start a Home-based Event Planning Business. It’s the chapter on Being your Best. I hope it offers some ideas to help you create the life you dream of and enjoy the journey along the way!

We look forward to continuing to be a resource for you and staying in touch in the year ahead!

jsmoran signature




Jill S. Moran, CSEP
Executive Director
Special Events Institute

Sharing the creative wealth!

Wedding & Event Planners Yard SaleCan you relate to the challenge of finding just the right platters for that Hawaiian themed event? Or the buffet or event decor that would take that your special event or party to the next level? Or not wanting to leave behind those vases and wedding decor that could be used for another wedding or event?  While I have re-purposed and reused many a floral centerpiece, vases and novelty items, there comes a time where you start feeling like a rental company and not an event planner!

After many years planning fun, creative and unique weddings and events, I have collected quite an assortment of decor and specialty items. It seems a shame to have them tucked away waiting to be used again and not enjoyed by other planners for their upcoming event! My “GIANT YARD SALE” that I hosted at my home sent a few items on their way, but there are still beautiful mercury vases, seashell platters and blue and green sand dollars and starfish that are looking to brighten up another special event. And lots of vases too!

So, I started a Facebook Group called Wedding and Event Planners Online Yard Sale. Request to join and you’ll find a great community of event designers and planners that my have items to share or buy!  I hope this will also spark some creative ideas as you peruse the items listed for sale.  You’ll be responsible for working out the purchase and delivery details, but you just might find that perfect item for your next wedding or event!  Enjoy!

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Evening of Sass with Steve Kemble

IMG_2888It’s always great to carve the time to meet up with industry colleagues and enjoy a night of education and fun!  ISES New England did a great job at their May meeting choosing the Music City Queen docked behind the Boston Harbor Hotel as the floating venue for an evening with America’s Sassiest Lifestyle Guru, Steve Kemble. Steve’s infectious laugh, hilarious comments and candid stories entertained and educated us all on how to create a brand that allows us to showcase our best qualities and connect with the RIGHT clients.

Here are a few takeaways from Steve’s chat:

  • Figure out who your ideal client is and focus on them – find out how you can over deliver and make them want to come back for more!
  • Create a brand and a tag line that works for you.
  • Use a focus group to test your brand building.
  • Choose your company name and brand wisely and walk the walk – live it in how you dress, what you drive and how you face off to the world.
  • Consider tying your brand to YOU – and connect on a personal and real level with your clients so they get to know you.
  • Overhaul your website and launch it only when it’s finalized.
  • Get savvy with Social Media – create a blog and post regularly (I listened Steve!), tweet and post on FaceBook and Instagram.
  • Market yourself in various forms – newsletters, articles, television or radio.
  • Consider hiring a publicist – they can help you to juggle all the channels and coach you on taking the right steps to skyrocket your brand.
  • Don’t overlook your professional image – from a handshake to thank you notes – make an impression that is lasting and positive and showcases your talents and style the way you want it to!

IMG_2889UD Kitchen hosted delicious Thai-Asian bites, and Gordon’s Fine Wine’s and Liquor’s provided refreshments. Thank you also to Shutterbooth New England for the fun photo booth!

A big shout out to my friend and colleague Karen Salhaney and the recent Event Management graduates who joined her. It was great to meet them all and host a mini-book signing of my Event Planning and Wedding books!  It’s inspiring to see their passion for the industry and the steps they are taking to prepare themselves for successful careers as event professionals!  Congratulations to all!

Join me in a FREE COURSE – A Career In Events – What’s It All About?

Each semester, I visit the University of New Hampshire to chat with students in the Intro to Event Management class about what it’s like to be an event professional.  I get such a great response from the class – here are a few comments I have heard in the past:

“I didn’t realize what it was really like and all the different things a planner can do! Working with nonprofits, in communities and with people that really don’t understand how to pull all the details together. I know I can make a difference!”

“It’s great to know that you’re not just a ‘party planner’ and there’s a whole world of professionals out there with jobs that actually pay well.”

“There’s a lot more to it than I thought – knowing how to use software programs, being active in social media and being able to create and manage planning documents and spreadsheets – but that’s what makes planners true professionals.”

“I like that I can use my creativity and my business sense at the same time – doing a job each day that I really love!”

So, I decided to create this FREE COURSE and offer it to ANYONE, ANYWHERE through my online education school, to help all those who are wondering…Is a Career in Events Right for Me?

It’s simple to enroll – just complete this ENROLLMENT FORM and create a user name and password on our Student Site to begin the course. There are five topics with video presentations, resources and tips as well as a chance to share your ideas, concerns and questions in forums – with ME!  I’ll be your coach and mentor during the course and answer any questions you have about becoming a professional event or wedding planner.

Please don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions as I am always here to help!  I look forward to seeing you in the virtual hallways of the Special Events Institute!

Executive Director and Founder

Career Tips: Working out of the home

IMG_4610Business software seems very expensive. Do I need event planning software right away, or should I wait until I have multiple clients?

To get your business off to a professional start, I would recommend a basic office suite that, at the very least, includes word processing for letters, proposals, invitations, and menu cards, and a spreadsheet program for budgets, lists, and charts. (You can add to this with specialized software for wedding planners as you grow.) Doing things from scratch will help you develop some basic skills to keep your business and your clients organized and to help you understand the basic steps of your wed- ding planning business. If you don’t want to invest in financial software, you could create your invoices in Excel, but as soon as you can, it would be worth streamlining things and moving to a program that interacts with online banking and your receivables and invoices, such as QuickBooks.

How do I separate my household to-do lists from my event business or wedding planning to-do lists?

While lists are important, too many lists can be overwhelming. Since you may be responsible for being at every business appointment and lacrosse game, a master appointment schedule is the way to go. To complement your appointment book or smartphone or computer calendar, to-do lists will keep you on track to get things done on time. Too many items on your lists can be difficult to manage, so consider grouping them by clients or projects. I am not advocating leaving out details—in this business, it is important to remember even the smallest task—but to organize them in a manageable fashion. I recommend having a notebook or computer document that you can use to create your to-do list, which can be updated daily or weekly. I also have a notebook by my bed that I use to jot down things that I need to get done the next day; by writing them down, I can put them out of my head and get a good night’s rest. I also have small note- books and sticky pads handy in my car and purse for phone messages or things I don’t want to forget; I jot them down and transfer them later to my master to-do list. For your home tasks, consider using a corkboard or message area to enlist the help of other family members in getting things done, thereby removing some of the burden from your shoulders.

I don’t know any specialty vendors. How do you compile and build a list of vendors/resources?

The best way to find good vendors is to ask someone who has used them. If you can put together a networking group to share ideas and issues, you will learn who your colleagues are using and who they have had success or problems with. If you join an industry group such as the International Special Events Society (ISES) or the Association of Bridal Consultants (ABC), you will have access to monthly meetings and wedding professionals who attend meetings and are members. These are great resources for building your little red book of names and contacts. Don’t be afraid to ask hotels or country clubs you visit who they have had success with. They will be happy to share their top picks for floral designers, photographers, or limousine services.

How many clients should I take on in my first year?

Depending on how much time you have and whether you will start your business full-time or ease into it will determine how much you can take on at the start. My advice would be to apprentice with an experienced planner at the outset, and also offer to help a close friend or family member with his or her nuptials. Start with a smaller wedding with traditional details and ease into the destination or multicultural affairs. During high wedding season (spring and fall), you could end up with a wedding each weekend, but I wouldn’t take on more than two per month to start with. Once you get your planning timelines established and resources lined up, you can take on more as you feel comfortable. At the beginning, you will be doing most of the planning, meeting, and legwork yourself, so make sure you allot sufficient quality time for all of your clients to keep your business and reputation solid.

Career Tips: Becoming a Wedding Planner

HTSHBWedding2EdI am graduating from college and want to start my own business. Will brides be willing to hire someone who may seem young and inexperienced?

The best way to get hired is to begin as an apprentice with a more experienced planner. The early stages of a client relationship may include an initial meeting where you serve as an assistant to the seasoned planner. As the planning progresses, you will have the opportunity to show your value as you offer advice and take care of the countless details involved in the planning process. This is a great way to get a handle on the process while being under the watchful eye of a pro.

I am a teacher; could I run a wedding planning business as a second job, seeing that I have weekends and summers off? Is it even possible to juggle this new venture with an already-existing job?

It’s not only possible but advisable to consider another plan for income when you are just starting off in the wedding planning industry. You will want to have some financial support, whether it comes from another job, a loan, or a partner who helps with your living expenses while you get your company off the ground. Meetings with vendors and clients can be worked around a light or part-time day schedule. Weddings are often on weekends, when a typical Monday- through-Friday job would not interfere. Consider easing into your new business to keep your stress level down, at least when it comes to finances.

I just helped plan my sister’s wedding, and it was a great experience. How can I get my feet wet in the industry?

Consider approaching a church and asking if they have a day-of-event coordinator on staff. It may be a paid or volunteer job, but it will get you in the wedding mode quickly. Or, contact an established planner and ask if he or she needs help with setup on wedding days. Most planners would love to have an able and willing person who is passionate about the industry assisting them; a person who will treat the wedding process with the attention for detail that is necessary. Even if you aren’t paid for some early projects, it will give you the experience you need to launch your company and give you something to reference with a new client or prospect.

Are wedding consultants in demand today? Is it a growing industry?

While many industries go through slumps from time to time, for special event planners, the wedding market tends to remain consistent. Even if the economy takes a dip, weddings will still be celebrated and busy people will still call on professionals for advice and assistance. While budgets may be smaller, wedding planners can add value by offering ways to cut costs and still get a memorable wedding day. People still believe in the institution of marriage and celebrate this custom with a festive affair. With couples approaching their nuptials at a later age, both often employed and busy, hiring a wedding planner is a must! Destination and multicultural weddings have also become increasingly popular options for a specialized segment of the wedding planning industry, adding to the demand for experienced planners.