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Is your wedding business ready for Engagement Season?

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by Danielle Andrews, President of WPIC Inc.

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year.  It’s the happiest season of all.”

As a Wedding Professional you probably know that 70% of all proposals happen between the months of December-February.   What this means for Wedding Professionals is that we book the bulk of our clients in the months January-March.  If you didn’t use November to reboot and refresh, now is the time to make sure you are ready for “Engagement Season” and the wedding planning rush that immediately follows.

Here are some things you can do to make sure this years’ Engagement Season is a good one for you and your business:

1. Get Your Business Systems in check

Do you have a standard operating procedure?  Are you working most efficiently?  It’s time to assess what you have done in the past, what worked and what didn’t.  Is there an easier way to do things?  Many wedding professionals use online programs to keep them organized and help them to stay in touch with their couples.  Some of the most popular online systems for wedding professionals include: 17hats, AislePlanner, and HoneyBook.

2. Brush up on your Education

A Wedding Professional’s education is never finished.  Weddings are a trend-based business which means they are constantly changing and updating.  To think that you are above improving or adding to your education, is the beginning of your downfall.  Luckily, staying educated is easy to do.  There are tons of articles available to Wedding Professionals through different industry publications, Blogs, Association boards (like WPICAlumni), Facebook groups, and most importantly, industry conferences.  Not only do conferences provide important education, tips of the trade, best practices, and a look at new trends, conferences provide a chance for much-needed networking among wedding pros from all areas.  Check out our list of Wedding and Event Industry Conferences here.

3. Network with Past Clients

Too often we get focused on future and potential clients and forget about keeping up with our past clients.  Word-of-mouth referrals are still the number one way the Wedding Professionals get new business.  In order to get that word of mouth advertising, you need to keep up great customer service, even when your clients are no longer your customers!  The holidays are the perfect time to reach out to your past clients.  You can do something as small as sending a personalized Holiday card, or a little bigger like sending a gift to them.  When one of their friends gets engaged over the holidays (which you know they will!), you are more likely to come up in conversation.

4. Network with Vendors, Friendors, and Venues

There are a bunch of holiday events and association parties at this time of the year.  WPIC has been on fire with events lately.  Get out and mingle with other wedding peeps, so you are current and top of mind for them.

5. Perfect your Online Presence

You’ve heard it a million times before, but I am going to say it again.  Your website is your most important marketing tool!  Everything you do to market your business has one goal: to point potential clients to your website.  When potential clients are investigating you, they will go to your website. Your website is never finished, so make sure you are constantly improving and updating it.

Think about your own practices, what do you do when you are traveling to a new area? Research it online, looking for a new restaurant, check it out online. Hear about some new tool? You check it out online.

The minute the question is popped and the couple decides to get married, one or both of them will head online.  Make sure your website is up to date and reflects the style of couple and wedding you excel at working with.  Make it easy to contact you and give them lots of information to check you out online.

Want to know what other people think about your website? Get a 100% free evaluation from an anonymous volunteer at Peek User Testing.

6. Social Media

Get in your potential couples’ faces through Social Media.  Where are your potential clients? They are on Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, and Facebook.  Where should you have great business pages?Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, and Facebook. Enough said.

7. Branding

Now is the time to update your branding.  The wedding industry renews itself every year at this time, it is the perfect time for you to refresh your branding too.  Get a new logo, update your website, up your prices, have a copywriter rework the wording on your website.  Just make sure that your logo is the same on every single piece of advertising, on every Social Media outlet, on any print, and that your Facebook page matches, your Twitter page, which matches the style of your Instagram, that matches your Snapchat style, which matches your business and most importantly, matches you.  Think about who your ideal client is, and design everything for them.

8. Get in their Faces

There is no better way to literally get in your potential couples’ faces than at a Wedding Show.  Yes, Wedding Shows can be pricey, but there is no better way to get directly in front of your potential client.  They get to meet you, see your style, chat with you and learn a little more about your company directly from the source.

If you are going to invest in a Wedding Show, do it right.  Choose a show that will be visited by your kind of couple, decorate your booth in the style your perfect client would like, and make sure every thing you do to market yourself is geared toward your perfect client.  You don’t just want anybody, you want your ideal type of couple.

9. Get Your Books in Order

The end of the year is typically the Business Year-end for Sole Proprietors.  Luckily for Wedding Pros, it is also a slow time until the January planning season starts. This is the perfect time to get your books in order, and organize all of your receipts for tax time.  Get everything organized now so you can avoid tax time stress while you are in the middle of planning your dream clients’ weddings!

What are some of the things that you are doing to get ready for this Engagement Season? Let us know in the comments.

25 Most Romantic Places in the World to Propose

Ask any bride-to-be and chances are she has thought of million scenarios about how her boyfriend will  pop the question. Where and how it happens is very different for every couple.

Although popping the question in front of the family is a traditional way to ask for someone’s hand in marriage, how about you plan something different and travel to one of the world’s most romantic places to propose?

With the engagement season knocking on our doors, the team at WeLoveHoneymoons.com has put together a list of romantic places in the world to propose, that are suitable for every budget.

St. Lucia, Caribbean

st-lucia

A perfect destination for an unforgettable wedding, Saint Lucia is also a romantic place to propose. The superb natural setting makes it a great choice for any couple who loves the beach.

The hotels are more than happy to help you prepare your proposal, so don’t be shy to ask. Of course, you can always choose the simpler way and plan for a long walk on the beach, followed by a picnic and a ring, which magically appears at the bottom of the champagne glass. Now isn’t that a great idea!

 

Empire State Building, New York

empire-state-building

Chuck Bass’s (of the Gossip Girl Series) Empire State Building proposal might have not gone the way he hoped it would, but there’s no reason yours would have to suffer the same fate. In any case, first, make sure she gets there.

Standing 102 stories high, the Empire State Building has one of the most popular observatories in the world. Located at the 86th floor, the observation deck offers 360 degree views of the city. A completely enclosed, smaller observation deck is located at the 102th floor. Both are perfect romantic places for a proposal.  There are special tickets available for couples and you can even plan your romantic proposal on days when a saxophonist ensures a romantic mood.

 

Tulum, Mexico

tulum-beach

The Mayan ruins are surrounded by an intriguing and romantic aura. Climb the 120 steps at Tulum’s pyramid and pop the question while soaking up the panoramic view. Then, take your fiance on the beach for your first dip as an engaged couple.

If ruins aren’t your thing, then explore the cenotes, located close to central Tulum. Thanks to the daily limit of visitors, you can make your experience special at Labnaha Cenotes & Eco Park. Plan to snorkel and pop the question underwater.

 

Central Park, New York

central-park-nyny

Romantic proposals in parks are quite common but no park in the world is as beautiful as Central Park.   Stretching over a huge area, the park offers a lot of romantic places to choose from.

If you want your beau to feel like a princess, plan the moment around Belvedere Castle.  Or you can plan a carriage horse ride. If you want to pop the question during winter, then the Wollman Rink is a great choice. Plus, it’s super easy to hide your intention when you ask her to go skating on your date.

Sarah from Travelosio shares her lovely story: “We were wandering through Central Park when we found ourselves walking beside the reservoir. The view of New York City skyline was absolutely breathtaking! And, just when the sun was setting, my boyfriend popped the question in the most adorable way. Of course, I said YES! “

 

Havasu Falls, Arizona

havasu-falls

Grand Canyon is majestic and offers plenty of romantic places to explore. One of them is Havasu Falls, which happens to be the most visited and most famous of the falls along Havasu Creek.

There are picnic tables available on the opposite side of the creek and it is possible to swim behind the falls. You can surprise her with the question as you swim and then celebrate with a lovely picnic (you have prepared beforehand).  Since there’s also a campground nearby, you can plan all this as part of a weekend getaway.

 

Grayson Highlands State Park, Virginia USA

grayson-highlands

For those who love scenic views of alpine-like peaks, Grayson Highlands State Park is a great choice for a romantic place to propose. Take one of the hiking trails leading to waterfalls and stop at one of the overlooks to pop the question.

Amy Hartle from Two Drifters talks about her engagement story:  “My now husband proposed to me just about a year ago at the top of a mountain in Virginia. The place was called Grayson Highlands, and it was so special. Roaming around on the trails are adorable wild ponies! This was the ideal place to take me, because of our shared love of wildlife. With incredible views and not a soul around, Nathan knelt down behind me as I was sitting on a rock, and when I turned around said the sweetest words to me and then asked me to marry him. I said yes, through tears, of course. It was one of the best days of my life….and then the wild ponies stampeded us to get our carrots. Just kidding! But apparently people do feed them, so they are EXPECTING food. Fair warning!“

 

Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, California

golden-gate-bridge

The Golden Gate Bridge is a very popular landmark in San Francisco and the sight of many romantic proposals. Whether you choose the overlook at Battery Spencer or Baker Beach, you will have the stunning bridge as a background for your photos.

Rent a car and plan to spend at least half a day driving in the area and walking around. Selfies are a must, of course. Winters can be brutally windy, so plan accordingly.

 

Mount Hiei, Japan

mount-heie

Located to the northeast of Kyoto, Mount Hiei stands 848m / 2782 ft tall. The mountain is well known for the incredible views over Kyoto, Ohara, Lake Biwa, and Shiga and for the temple complex of Enryaku-ji.

Cory from You Could Travel shares her proposal story: “I’ve always had a fascination with Japan. If you go to my old childhood room you will probably be astonished by the sheer amount of books about this incredible country. It comes as no surprise that when we booked our trip to Japan, I couldn’t stop jumping up and down. It was a dream come true, and G knew this. During our stay in Japan, we decided to explore Mount Hiei. Once we got to the top, we got rewarded with some incredible views over the Kansai Region. It was there that G asked me to be his wife. For the love and mountains and Japan, I couldn’t have picked a better place.

 

Taj Mahal, India

taj-mahal

Taj Mahal was commissioned by the Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan, to house the tomb of his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal. A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1983, the mausoleum is considered to be one of the most romantic places in the world and a great choice for a marriage proposal.

You do need to plan for the very many tourists who visit the iconic landmark. Wake up at the crack of dawn and make sure you are at the entrance at 6 am (when it opens). Chances are you’ll have a bit more privacy than if you plan your visit for later in the day.

 

Noosa Heads, Australia

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Located on the Sunshine Coast, just 136 km / 85 miles from Brisbane, Noosa Heads offers a lot of romantic places to propose. Take a scenic drive and stop somewhere along the way or choose one of the beaches for your magical moment. While Noosa Spit is a popular local picnic spot, the entire area is a world-famous surfing destination.

 

Hunter Valley,  Australia

hunter-valley

Australia knows good wine and with wineries come the magnificent rolling greenery and cottages with wonderful mountain views. What better place to ask her hand in marriage than in front of a fireplace sipping wine?

Although Hunter Valley is easily accessible from Sydney, it is one of those places where travelers go to retreat from civilization. Offering exceptional reds, this place is ideal if you are looking for privacy.

 

Queenstown, New Zealand

queenstown-nz

Many newlyweds choose to spend their honeymoon in New Zealand  thanks to the country being known for the romantic places to explore.

If budget is no issue, then plan for a hot air balloon ride over the spectacular scenery to ask her hand. For a more down to Earth approach, you can plan some hiking or trekking. There are a lot of trails close to the town and offering various difficulty levels.

 

Pont Neuf, Paris, France

pont-neuf

Probably one of the most romantic places in the world, Paris is always a good choice for a romantic proposal. Skip Pont des Arts with its love locks and head to Pont Neuf for your special moment.

From here, you can take a walk hand in hand on the banks of the Seine, only to stop for a croissant at one of the charming cafes.

 

Lucerne, Switzerland

lucerne

Lucerne is a small town in the heart of Switzerland, easily accessible from both Zurich and Basel. Plan for a day trip and, while you are on the Chapel Bridge, surprise her with a marriage proposal. Then, you can walk hand in hand and explore the beautiful preserved Old Town and celebrate with incredible amounts of Swiss chocolate.

 

Venice, Italy

venice

Venice is one of the most romantic places to propose in the world and even if you skip the oh-so-touristy gondola ride, there are a lot more interesting things to plan. By all means, visit the important landmarks: St. Mark’s Basilica, Piazza San Marco, Rialto Bridge, and the Grand Canal. But for the special moment, plan a trip to one of the islands in the lagoon. Murano and Burano are very well-known among travelers but Chioggia – a miniature version of Venice – can offer a great place away from the crowds.

 

Verona, Italy

verona

Shakespeare fans have all the reasons in the world to head to Verona and make it the scene of their romantic proposal. Although the writer never set foot in Italy and Juliet’s balcony is not the real balcony either, there’s something romantic about Juliet’s house. And yes, it’s a major tourist attraction so you will have to wake up at the crack of down unless you want a lot of witnesses.

 

Rome, Italy

rome

The Eternal City has an incredible romantic aura. Whether you want to kneel on the Spanish Steps or in front of Trevi Fountain, be sure to get there early to avoid the crowds. Unless you want a lot of witnesses, that is.

Or you can plan a sunset proposal at Gianicolo, with a stellar view of Rome before you. For a quieter place, walk slightly further from the belvedere and stop on the steps of the amphitheater Quercia del Tasso. The views are equally amazing, but the crowds are non-existent.

 

Polignano a Mare, Italy

Polignano a Mare

Apulia (Ita: Puglia) has been emerging recently as one of the most sought after destinations in Italy. And with good reason, since the area is absolutely stunning. While Alberobello is no longer a secret – and the tourists visiting surely prove that-, for a less crowded experience, once you get to Bari, head towards Brindisi and stop at Poligano a Mare.

The city sprawls on the cliffs overlooking the Adriatic Sea and with just a tiny place to explore, you can easily rely on your feet. For the special moment, pick either the narrow streets of the Old Town or the rocky beaches.

 

Dubrovnik, Croatia

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This compact Medieval Town recently got a lot of attention – and prices to match – due to the Games of Thrones being filmed here. Whether you just love European walled cities or are a fan of the series, this superb Croatian town is a great choice for a romantic place to propose.

If budget allows it, you can rent a yacht and pop the question as you are looking at the city from the Adriatic Sea. Or you can take a more traditional approach and plan for a picnic on one of the town’s beautiful beaches.

 

The Shard, London, England

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Good bye, London Eye! Hello, The Shard! If you love London as much as we do and you think it is a romantic place to propose, then look no further than the newest place to see the city from above: The Shard. Standing 309.6 m / 1,016 ft high, it is the tallest building in the UK and the fourth tallest in Europe.

The observatory (The View from the Shard) is a great place to pop the question, with stunning views of London as background. For such an event, you can book a Champagne Experience and wow your significant other.

 

Prague Castle, Prague, Czechia (Czech Republic)

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Straight out of a fairy tale, the world’s biggest ancient castle is an amazing place to propose. Plan your visit for winter, when chances for snow will be high, making everything look even better.

You can then celebrate with a walk on the famous Charles Bridge and have your portrait painted by a street artist. If you prefer selfies, be sure to be  on the bridge for sunset, as the light offers an incredible background for any photo.

 

Santorini, Greece

santorini

The iconic white-washed houses and blue domed churches make Santorini a picture perfect location for any trip. Whether you plan a honeymoon on the island or you want to pop the question, Santorini’s Oia village is where you want to be.

This eye-cathcing island in the Cyclades is served by an airport, but you may want to arrive by boat and be stunned by its sheer beauty. For a gorgeous proposal, look into renting a yacht and exploring the area around the island. Or you can ask her while you watch one of the lovely sunsets and sip some local wine.

 

Petra, Jordan

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Petra by day is an overwhelming experience, but the site at night is breathtaking. Candles guide  visitors all the way to the Treasury. It is a magical place to pop the question.

Petra can be visited by night on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays during a tour.  As part of it, there will be a live performance by local musicians. Once that’s completed and the crowd starts to dissipate, stay behind. Take your beau’s hand and go in the center of the square. Now it’s the time to make it happen.

 

Fiji

fiji

Honeymoons in Fiji  are among the most sought after among newlyweds but these wonderful islands in the South Pacific offer excellent romantic places to get engaged, too.

Your best bet is to look for a deserted beach. The white sand and the blue waters make for perfect background for your photos. Plan a picnic with champagne, tropical fruits and, of course, the ring.

 

Bora Bora, Tahiti

bora-bora

Bora Bora is the place to go for a romantic escape. And it also an amazing romantic place to propose. If you are an active couple, then hike to the top of Mt. Otemanu and soak up the amazing views while you pop the question.

Do you want to just relax and soak up the sun? No worries! Plan to ask her on a clear night while you go stargazing. Spend the night camping on the beach.

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Cris Puscas is a contributing writer at WeLoveHoneyMoons.com, the best place to book honeymoon travel. She is a hopeless romantic, equally passionate about discovering new places to explore and writing about them.

WPIC Wedding Professional of the Month of November- Paras Mehta

We are so excited to share WPIC’s Wedding Professional of the Month of November with you; Paras Mehta of PARAS Events

For those of you who know this kind and gentle soul, you can just read along.  For those of you who don’t, then you are in for a treat. Paras is someone who is always there to give encouragement and support.  He will boost you up and offer words of encouragement. He has a crazy talent for seeing the good in the world and it is so refreshing! Paras has personally surprised me with birthday cards, short little messages out of the blue, and his thoughtfulness is always appreciated.  Not only is he a great person, but he is an extremely talented designer. Paras is known for his clean and modern designs. Everything has a purpose and is strategically placed for the greatest impact. We are proud to have him as a WPIC alumni and even prouder of his successes.

-Tracey Manailescu

Photo credit: Verve Photo Co

Photo credit: Verve Photo Co

Why the name Paras Events?

The evolution of my design firm has come from re-evaluating my business model on a yearly basis to ensure I am operating a sustainable customer service based business based on my demographic and geographical location.  After ten years of operating as a decor rentals and design firm, in 2013, the business was separated into two distinct segments – a) event design & decor services and b) event rentals.  The name Paras Events evolved from my clients requests to work directly with me as their designer.  I went into the business of selling my design expertise and design aesthetic to prospective clients, in place of product alone.  This became a very transformative part of my business journey.  I was able to establish a business with multiple revenue streams.

PARAS Events

PARAS Events

Year of Establishment 

I began my small business in the dining room of our family home in 2003.  I did my first design consultations from this space using storyboards and linen samples.  I did not have a portfolio at the time, so I communicated my ideas through my sketches.  I asked my clients to put their trust in my vision and I re-assured them that my very little experience would not affect the outcome of their event.  Our garage, living, room, and basement was full of columns, crystals, vases, and textiles.  We outgrew our home within two years and I made the ‘scary’ decision to lease my first commercial space.

Paras Events

PARAS Events

WPIC since?
I saw the importance of becoming educated in my profession and have always encouraged my own personal and professional development.  I became certified in 2004 and began working full time as an event planner and designer for another design firm.  I began my entrepreneurial journey as an event planner, but very quickly realized that design and décor is where my passion lay.  I learned how important it is to narrow your focus in this business and ensure your clients know exactly what your role is in their wedding or event.  Are you a designer?  A planner?  Both?  I highly recommend creating a business and brand that clearly demonstrates and defines your range of services.

I operate my business by three simple rules: determine your focus, exercise it daily, and re-evaluate it annually.  It has increased the efficiency of my business.

 

Favourite part of the design process? 
My favourite part of the design process is concept development and ideation.  I take the inspiration my client has given me and mind map the several ways the design can be interpreted.  I enjoy the challenge of creating events that are unique to my design firm, but also unique to my clients design preferences and personal taste.

I employ the use of sketching, storyboards, proposals, and swatches to paint visual stories that communicate my ideas to clients.  In my business, we incorporate a four step design process that takes our clients from concept development to event evaluation to ensure we meet their design and budget preferences.

PARAS Events

PARAS Events

Please tell us some things you have learned over the years that have helped you grow?

There are so many to share, but I will summarize with the following:

Event businesses require five years of consistent work and effort along with a strong business strategy (which I did not have, so trial and error became my ‘expensive’ solution).  If you would like to create a sustainable business, you must:

a) establish your revenue goals

b) determine your overheads

c) calculate your break event point.

From there, work backwards towards your goals to ensure you are in full control of your business.  I learned this the hard way.

Be in this business for the long haul.  There is no such thing as ‘overnight success’ in this business.  ‘Dabbling’ will not cut it.  Commit to your business and your professional development 200% and you will see the results.  I am so proud to be a co-founder of the Canadian Institute of Event Design.  I am a huge proponent of remaining educated in our industry and began this Institute to help event professionals become well rounded in business and design.  It has become the foundation or first‘stepping stone’ to a formal education in event design.  I am very proud of its mandate to standardize the practice of event design in Canada.

paras-quote

Managing a clients’ expectations and your deliverables are the single most important factors in a customer service based business in the weddings industry.  Understanding the couple (and sometimes their families), their needs, and preferences along with their expectations will ensure their satisfaction.  Consider fully outlining your expectations to the client as their service provider.  You may choose to review this at your initial consultation and within your contracts/service agreements.

Take time for yourself.  I am the WORST at this, but I try to get better every year!  Burn out is real, and I have experienced it three times over in this business.

PARAS Events

PARAS Events

paras5

PARAS Events

Tell us about a challenge that you overcame that made you a better designer and business owner?
As cliché as it may sound, failing over and over again, made me the business owner I am today.  Countless errors included:  lack of business strategy, lack of focus and direction, ineffective business operations, and not understanding my target demographic.  I could certainly design and sell my vision to my clients, but without the appropriate business systems in place, my business did not grow the way I envisioned.

Develop your signature as a planner and/or designer and ensure your entire brand identity revolves around this.  Guests should be able to walk into a room and know exactly who the designer or planner is.  Remain distinct in your business and stand out through your expertise, education, business integrity, marketing initiatives, and personal development.

PARAS Events

PARAS Events

What is a piece of advice you would give to someone just starting out in the industry?

You must LOVE, and I mean LOVE, your business and this industry in order to find success in this business.  Always encouraging a growth mindset and facing your fears head on will create a business that you can be proud of and one where your signature as a professional stands out.  Do not compare your success to others and remain focused on your goals and what you would like to achieve.  If you remain consistent in your commitment and integrate a sound business strategy, you WILL find success.


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