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The Tricky Thing About New Year Resolutions

PC Wear Action

PC Wear Action

You know what I'm talking about.

You get to the end of the year and you've eaten your share of holiday nostalgia, dropped the workout routine "due to necessary family commitments", and spent so much money that you're afraid to look at your bank account balance. We're such wrecks by the end of each year that New Year Resolutions just seem like the perfect opportunity to--forgive the stereotypical expression--start all over again. 

But come on, how effective are they really if we habitually forget about them after two weeks? Every single year? 

I wrote a blog post about this last year on another site where I stood adamantly against New Year Resolutions, holding fast to the idea that commitments like the ones we use for for them ought to be implemented immediately if we really believe in their value, rather than waiting until January 1st. After all, it's because we don't believe enough in their value that they only last the stereotypical two weeks. 

This led me to campaign to my friends, family, and LinkedIn about how--rather than setting lofty goals for January 1st, we should focus more on setting goals we can implement immediately. 

Time passed. I started my business this summer and have been working, picking up speed, and am now living and working at such a fast pace--meanwhile pushing to the side priorities like taking the time to eat well, vacuuming the house, and updating my Business Instagram--that a clean slate come January 1st sounds really good. 

I came to realize that the New Year Resolution may not even be about the actual Resolution. Maybe it's something we've created to give us the mental clean slate that we need after a year of the crazy, especially after a month of holiday binging, overworking, or whatever your vice is. I know that I need this; in the same way that I clear my morning thoughts with a fresh To-Do List even if yesterday's still has some unchecked boxes, every year needs a new, fresh start. And if that means adding a "Go to the gym" box to your daily routine, that's great!

Sometimes life needs to be changed up a bit. It's a good thing. Even if you do give up on the thing you originally set out to do, sometimes the setting out part is all that you need.

On the other hand, let's talk about the actual resolutions that we tend to set. Working out and dieting are healthy goals, but let's be real: they're overused, and there are so many other (more interesting) resolution options out there! 

For instance, this year I want to say "thank you" more, and try to complain less. To empathize with people instead of judge them. 

How life-changing would it be to resolve to unplug our social media when we are spending time with friends and family-members? To resolve to give to the homeless, or to a charity we care about, on a regular basis? What about controlling our tempers, and focusing on calmly, verbally expressing our feelings instead of whatever it is we do instead?

There are so many things we can resolve to do that can make a bigger difference than our physical appearances can. Obviously, taking care of our physical health is important, and we should be doing that regardless of what our New Year Resolution is. Something more internal might stick longer though...and it has the potential to turn something that was negative into a new good habit!

So this year I'm not turning my nose up at the New Year Resolution. Instead, I'm going to adopt one that personally matters to me...enough that I think it might last longer than the first couple of weeks of January. Who's with me?

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Weddings: You Get Exactly What You Pay For

PC Skyline Trade Show Tips

PC Skyline Trade Show Tips

I don't mean to be a bummer here. I AM a budgeting specialist, after all. But in my (recent) experience, it has become exceedingly clear that you absolutely get what you pay for.

That being said...is it possible to find adorable Sweetheart Table Decor on sale at Target, Party City or on Amazon? Yes!

Is it possible to save money by DIY-ing wedding favors that would cost twice as much to pay a company to put together for you? Totally!

Is it even possible to catch the vendor you want to hire having a sale on the perfect package? If you're lucky! (Jump on that, by the way! That's great!)

BUT what you can't do is bargain-hunt your vendors. It's the difference between coupon-clipping at reputable stores who have the occasional sale, and regularly shopping at the Dollar Store. The stuff at the Dollar Store cost less, therefore, it is worth less. 

A great example can be made of a recent wedding that I had the pleasure of coordinating. The florist was a wonderful lady that I believe was honest and ethical, and who did more than her job to accommodate a bride who wanted more than she was willing to pay. The bouquets of roses were a little bruised on the tips, but looking at the pricing on the contract, I know it was due only to a severely limited budget. Even so, the bride was very upset that the vendor dared deliver such work, and tried to get a discount. The florist came to me later and explained how she felt her hands were tied behind her back. There was nothing she could do if she didn't want to pay more for the roses than the bride was paying her to make them.

I understand that when you're in the lower- or middle-class, the average wedding budget can seem like a lot more than it turns out to be when translated into Wedding. But unlike the bargains you can conger up on a shopping trip, vendors whose bills are paid by the people who book them cannot afford to let everyone who asks get 50% off. Especially considering that there are only so many weekends in a year, and only so many of those that they may be able to book, it is vital that vendors charge enough to live off of. Their work is valuable, and if you choose to hire a DJ or a Florist or a Photographer for your wedding, you're going to have to pay for the quality that you expect.

This is true because--of course--vendors with low prices do exist. But vendors with low prices don't charge low fees because they somehow need less to live off of. They charge what they charge because they are hobbyists, they are inexperienced, or because the products and services they are offering are low-quality, and don't cost them much time or money to produce. 

You get what you pay for. You pay a high price to a reputable hotel for an all-inclusive wedding? You get all-inclusive. Things will run smoothly, people will do their jobs well, and your good money will have been well-spent. But you pull together a team of vendors who charge next to nothing--and then you expect a wedding with all the bells and whistles--and you'll be disappointed. 

Certainly, low-budget weddings can and should exist. Everyone deserves to have a wedding! All I'm trying to point out is that you shouldn't expect your vendors to deliver products and services you clearly aren't paying enough for. If you have a low budget for flowers, then simply don't choose expensive, out-of-season flowers. If you have a low budget for food, invite less guests to maximize food costs, or consider a food truck. If you can't afford a DJ--maybe don't hire a DJ. Not every child's 12th birthday is the magnificent Bat Mitzvah with the three course dinner,  plethora of decorations and bouncy houses, and clown handing out balloons that you've heard of. It's the same with weddings. Throw the wedding that you can afford, instead of pretending--up until your wedding day, when it all becomes clear--that you're throwing the one you haven't actually financially invested in. 

I'm not trying to be harsh at all. It is just so vitally important to understand that prices on wedding services don't lie. You can't get it for less. You might be able to get something ELSE for less, but it will cost less because you will be getting less.

Anybody have relevant experiences to share in the comments below? I'd love your input! 

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The Work-Life Balance

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PC officevibe.com

As a business owner fairly new to the position of "my own boss", I must say that it can be a challenge to stay on top of everything. And...when I say that, I don't necessarily mean on top of the actual wedding planning, because I love that part, and always get that done with plenty of time to spare. What I mean is that it's hard to balance life when I am not given perimeters that would otherwise separate the work from the down-time for me. You know, keeping the peas on my dinner plate from rolling over into my nicely rounded mashed potatoes. I'm talking about that work-life balance! 

For example: when you have school, a job, and a personal life, and all of those things have their own locations, the given requirement to arrive at each location at a different time generally keeps them all separate and organized. Each thing gets its own part of you and your time; each thing has its own box. This makes it easy to be productive in the work place, attentive at school, and relaxed at home.

So what happens when you quit your job and work from home, take online classes--from home--and spend a huge amount of time doing all of these things that require different parts of you in the place that has always been designed for resting?

Simple: each thing fights for supremacy. It begins to determine what you "mostly" are. Are you mostly a student, or mostly a working stiff, or mostly a stay-at-home-whatever? Do you know what I mean?

I am not a college student--in that I am not working toward a degree--but I do take classes from time-to-time so that I am always learning. I would say that I most struggle to separate working from, well, living. There's always something to be done: updating my business Instagram, updating my advertising methods, broadening my network, filming a YouTube video, pinning on Pinterest, consulting with clients, coming up with fun things to blog about, the list goes on. Right alongside that, I have other things to do, such as schedule my hair appointment, or a dental checkup, or a coffee date, or make a run to the grocery store, take my spunky little dog on a walk, clean the kitchen, make lunch, run a load of laundry...

Being in a place where both types of things are possible (home), the tasks eventually begin to bleed together.  I find myself making lunch and then making a business phone call, and then filming a YouTube video following by a consultation, and then scheduling a quick appointment with a friend while I'm in the area. Walking the dog and then blogging and grocery shopping and then working on an Excel Spreadsheet... 

It's a beautiful mess of multitasking and hustlin' along to make life work (pun intended). Totally possible, but the constant switch wears on you after a while. It makes me really respect business owners who have successfully created the distinction between work and private life. 

The work-life balance isn't just a struggle for business owners though. It's also true for people in the midst of planning a huge wedding or event. It's a crazy jungle out there when your work-life balance is further confused by planning getting pushed into your private life! So exciting, but also...disruptive.

I understand the hustle. I think to some degree, we all struggle--from time to time--to keep life balanced. What are some things that you do to separate work from your personal life? I'd love to hear your ideas and experiences in the comments below. 

Keep hustlin'! You got this!

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Wedding Planning: What Not to Leave To the Last Minute

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PC Buhdoopspogspot.com

As a wedding planning, hearing a client say, "I'm leaving X to the last minute" is my literal nightmare. The stakes are so high when you leave only time enough for something being done at the last minute to work the first time around. It puts pressure on everyone involved, and it means that I may be left to figure out how to fix "emergencies" that could've been calmly sorted through had they been done a month in advance. It's not a good idea. It's SO preventable. This is one of the best pieces of free advice anyone getting married can get. 

So, exactly what do you absolutely NOT leave to the last minute?

Uhm, everything??? Okay, okay, fine. I'll narrow it down to the following five things.

1) DIY Anything

This is the one I am going to make a blanket statement about. It's because projects look fun on Pinterest, but what you don't know is those fun Pinterest projects took HOURS. Day's, even. And you think the picture is of the first version of the thing they made? No, the first version of every project ever deemed Pinterest-Worthy was considered a learning curve and then thrown away. So will YOUR complicated paper-mache wedding card box that you're going to make the day before the rehearsal be any different? I am sorry my friend, but unless you're a paper-mache magician, you'll probably make the project, look at it, stress-cry, and then immediately Google wedding card boxes that have overnight shipping options. Do we want to go through that? No? Well I have good news. Do it two months before the wedding, and then perfect it again and again until it's your spirit animal and Pinterest-Worthy as ever. Without the stress-crying and expensive expedited shipping. 

In addition to preventing paper-mache disasters and unnecessary stress-crying, doing things ahead of time also means that it's okay if you run out of ribbon for your invites. You can always order more. It's okay if the hot glue used in your banquet table centerpieces isn't sticking anymore after your fiance accidentally watered one (how sweet of him!)... You have time to make another or re-glue the whole thing. Do you see a pattern here? Extra time will save your tush!

2) Vendor Bookings

You haven't booked your caterer and your wedding day is how many weeks away? Are you crazy? Sure, you've talked to them, and your wedding date was still available a month ago, but if someone else comes along also getting married on your wedding date and they're ready to sign that contract and make a payment, you're outta luck. And you now get to find someone else to cater gluten-free French Cuisine food to your 180 guests for $15 per person--including the wine. What if no one is available? What will you do? This wouldn't have happened if you'd just signed that contract four months ago.

Do you want this to be you? (Please, don't let it be you!) Get this stuff done in advance! You (and I!) will both look back together, laugh about how crazy it would have been if we had put it off, and then high-five. That sounds way more fun.

3) Delegating Wedding Party Tasks

Do you know who your ushers are going to be? Is your best man supposedly driving you and your new spouse to your hotel room after the reception? ...Did you tell him this? Who is going to take your wedding gifts to your house after the reception and you've gone off to your honeymoon? Who is helping clean up all of your DIY centerpieces and taking them from the reception to be stored in their garage so that the venue doesn't throw them away? Do your bridesmaids know that they're carpooling to the salon to get their hair done the day of the wedding at 8:15AM?

Because weddings involve people who aren't being paid to do a job, delegation and communication with the wedding party are sensitive issues to be handled with the utmost care. You love the people who you've chosen to involve in your wedding, and you absolutely want those relationships to continue afterwards! They require care and consideration. In some ways, the wedding party must volunteer to do the tasks listed above. Of course, some one needs to get them done, but it's a matter of who is appropriate for and able and willing to give of their time for each task. Don't put this off. Ask with enough time left that people are comfortable saying "no" if they need to. This way, the person who is best for the task can be utilized. 

4) Wedding Vows

These can take a long time to perfect, and you DO want your vows to be perfect. Spend the adequate time on them that they absolutely deserve. This is not something you'll have time for the morning of the ceremony, unlike what you might envision. The morning of the ceremony is full of feelings, full of people who have questions and concerns, and full of things that need to get done before the ceremony. Are you really going to have an hour to sit in some garden with a pen and notepad while you wait--with a clear, peaceful mind--for a wave of poetic inspiration to hit? Gurlll, you'll be Googling vows and speed-printing some blogger's words five minutes before your ceremony. And you know why those vows will be better than your scrambled ones? Because they were written MONTHS IN ADVANCE WHEN THAT LADY HAD TIME ON HER HANDS UNLIKE YOU. 

I'm only yelling because I want what's best for you, okay?

5) Wedding Attire

Can I not have to list this? Do NOT tell me your seamstress needs you to order fabric for the top of your dress when it's three weeks from your wedding date. Don't stress me out like that. More importantly, don't stress YOU out like that. Get those wedding shoes on your feet months in advance to lovingly break in. Order that garter! Order it in two sizes so you have time to return both and get one that fits perfectly! And get that dress figured out months in advance. Please. For our sanity. With every detail, pace yourself, leave time for error, and leave room for second thoughts.

 

....You might be thinking, "Wow, MaKenna, that's really harsh to expect all of these things to get done so far in advance." I understand that feeling. It's easy to think that 6 months until your wedding leaves you rich with time to spend leisurely considering twenty different things without actually committing to any. But 6 months will be 1 in so short a time that you just won't believe it. And then you'll realize that you have to make twenty big decisions in a week--and just watch, it'll be the week that your boss asks you to work overtime three days in a row for a big project, your car needs to go in for repairs, and the dog gets fleas. That's just life. You'll be sitting there at 2AM with your poor dog reading through contracts, wishing you'd just signed when you'd met with the caterer in person.

I don't write about this just because more on-top-of-it brides would make my job easier. The reality is that while I care about your wedding, nobody cares more than you. If your DIY origami name cards don't work out, I'll be able to objectively keep them off the banquet tables without much regret. If the fabric you ordered for the top of your dress comes in off-white, and you have to wear it, and a few people notice, you're going to care much more than I will. If you failed to sign the contract with the caterer you wanted in time, and have to settle for second best, I am not going to experience that sinking gut feeling, although I'll be sad on your behalf. In the end, these things impact you. The stress of the 11th hour may not be my favorite ever, but it's my job. It's YOUR wedding.

So take this with a grain of salt. This will ultimately help you. It will greatly improve the chances of your wedding's success! I know you can do it!

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11 Questions You Might Forget To Ask Your Venue (Before Booking)

This list doesn't need much description. Sometimes the venue search is too exciting to remember all of those important questions. Not to worry! The questions below are commonly forgotten, so if you go over these, and remember the basics, you should be golden.

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PC Belle The Magazine

1) Do you have any discounts if I book on a day other than Saturday?

2) How many people can this location accommodate?

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PC The Knot

3) Do you require that I use your caterer?

4) Are there alcohol restrictions, or corkage fees?

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PC Pinterest

5) What's the weather contingency plan (for outdoor venues)?

6) Are their music volume restrictions my DJ will need to be aware of?

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PC WeddingWire

7) Is there ample parking?

8) Are there any hidden fees like service fees, gratuities, cleaning fees, or overtime fees?

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PC Chaine Des Rotisseurs

9) Are there any decor limits? (Such as lit candles?)

10) Are there any photo restrictions?

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PC Brides

11) Who will be available during the event to direct us? 

Wanna know more about why these questions are important to ask? Check out the video below for my personal explanations.

Did you find these questions helpful? Have one to share? Let me know in the comments below!

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Guest Post - All About Your Wedding Planner

I recently networked with a Wedding Planner in New York who was only too happy to share her insight into the business with me. I thought her answers to the questions listed below were an awesome resource for couples in the planning process of their weddings, and wanted to share.

Chantal Stephens is the owner of Events by Coco, located in New York.

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PC Silver Fox

As a planner yourself, if you were hiring a planner/coordinator for your own wedding, what 3 things would you look for in that planner/coordinator?

"If I was planning the most important day of my life, I definitely would want a few particular things in a planner! She would need to be trustworthy, as I would want to make sure I feel comfortable trusting her with every detail in the planning process. She would need to have excellent communication skills, as I am the type of person that really likes when people are quick to respond. And she would need to be super friendly/caring as I would hope we would become friends because we will be together so much so I would want her to be someone I can easily get along with and have fun with!"

What's the most surprising thing you've learned about planning weddings?

"I have learned (quickly) that weddings involve a lot of details! They are very time consuming and take a lot of patience!! As a wedding guest, you are really missing ALL of the background noise and what it takes to make sure everything goes on without fail."

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PC Marrero Events

Do you think having a Day-of Coordinator is absolutely necessary for a wedding to run smoothly?

"Yes, I absolutely do. As I mentioned above, weddings require many details, timelines, and it really gives a bride a much needed relief to not have to deal with all of that on their day. I love to be able to allow brides to enjoy the most important day of their lives!"

What's one thing you really want future couples to know about the wedding planning process?

"It doesn't have to be stressful!!! And there are so many ways to save money! It can be so much fun and enjoyable if you have the right planner guiding you through!"

What roles outside of a planner/coordinator does the wedding planner sometimes need to assume on the job?

"We are definitely a wearer of many, many hats. Whether it be planner, mediator, therapist, fashion adviser, quick thinker, problem solver, janitor, and so much more! Whatever we are faced with, we put that hat on and get to work!"

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PC The Balance

What are the 5 top qualities you believe a good planner must have to be successful?

"Communication, compassion, strong planner/organizer, strong net-worker, creative eye!"

On the day of a wedding, what emergency items do you bring with you to solve potential issues? Why?

"I have a big emergency kit full of anything from tide, Advil, Pepto, wipes, water bottles, band aids, nail file, nail polish, tissues, mints, and so much more."

Any tips for couples looking to hire good planners/coordinators?

"When you first meet with them, you will feel whether they are right or not. The right planner will ask you the right questions, and you will truly feel like she could be your friend!"

Have anything to add? How would you answer the questions listed here? Let me know in the comments below!

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5 Things To Do BEFORE Choosing Your Venue

PC Karma Hill

PC Karma Hill

Everybody seems to think that the FIRST thing you do after getting engaged and begin the planning process is book your venue. While it certainly is smart to get it figured out right away, choosing it before deciding on anything is a huge mistake. Venue deposits generally aren't refundable, and generally represent a fairly large portion of your budget, so this isn't something you want to mess up on...

As a wedding planner, I've worked with clients who chose and booked their venue before understanding what they wanted the very essence of their wedding to be, and it forced them to adapt many of the big details they would've changed otherwise to match their venue. It makes me frustrated that couples who believe they need a planner don't think it's necessary to work with a planner to find their venue also. Trust me on this--there's a little more to it than just finding a space that you like that you can afford!

In hopes of improving others' experiences with venues, I've written out the top 5 things to do BEFORE choosing your venue. These things are so important to work through FIRST that I can promise the couples who go through this list and do the work a much happier experience with their venue choices throughout the entire planning process. 

Ready?

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PC lesanella.com

#1 - Decide on Your Wedding Theme

Why? It doesn't make sense to book a barn for your reception if you are still thinking about a beach-themed wedding. Barn screams rustic, country, romantic, while beach says luau, chill vibes, and BBQ. Choosing a theme dictates what the desired atmosphere of your venue should be, and understanding that desired atmosphere as you look through venues will make the task of choosing much easier. Either it fits, or it doesn't. The bonus of choosing a venue that matches your theme means that you won't have to over-decorate to make your venue and theme marry (gasp! wedding pun!). If they're the right match, they'll work together perfectly just as they are, and isn't that better?

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PC Your North Country

#2 - Create Your Guest List

Since invites don't generally go out before 6-8 weeks before the big day, it might not seem obvious that you should have the guest list hammered out now--but it is so important! Venue rooms have a guest limit, so if you book a venue that fits just 100 heads, you can't add another 50 to your guest list after your mother comes to you with more names! 

Here's your Handy Dandy Guideline:

- For the ceremony, you should have about 6 square feet per guest.

- For the banquet tables, there should be about 12 square feet per guest.

- For the dance-floor, there should be about 8 square feet per guest.

Follow these guidelines and you'll be golden!

PC Coco Wedding Venues

PC Coco Wedding Venues

#3 - Understand Your Wedding Budget

This determines what you can spend on your venue! If you book a venue for $5,000 without realizing that your total wedding budget is $10,000, you just spent a (generally non-refundable) 50% of your budget on your location! That's not much wiggle room...

PC Bridebox Wedding Albums

PC Bridebox Wedding Albums

#4 - Decide What Other Kinds of Vendors You Will Hire

This is important not only so you can understand where you stand with your budget, but to understand how to accommodate your vendors needs...

Are you booking a DJ? You need to know--is there room for his DJ booth? Are there ample electrical plugs near the dance-floor? Will that booth fit around other tables you'll need such as the cake table, the consumption bar, the gift table, etc.?

Are you booking a caterer? Do they need a commercial kitchen or will they set up shop outside? If they set up outside, does the venue permit this? Is there an area where they can do this without being right in everyone's view?

Are you booking a florist who will need to arrange flowers on-site? They will need a corner during the morning of the wedding to do this without disturbing anyone. Will they get early access to the room?

These are all questions to keep in mind as you consider venues! Don't do yourself or your vendors the disservice of overlooking these details.

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PC Harper's Bazaar

#5 - Create a Basic Outline of Your Wedding Week Schedule

You might know you're getting married on a specific Saturday, so that's obviously the day you'll book, but did you make sure the venue is also available the day before for your rehearsal? You'd be shocked at how few couples think about this! Additionally, think about whether you'll need to be at the venue any other times before the wedding, and confirm with the venue manager that this is okay. You should especially be aware of when your decor and rentals will need to be delivered and set up. The venue will need to accommodate these vendors. (Late set up presents a whole new host of problems!)

Your wedding day schedule is also important to be aware of as you look at the actual building layout of your venue. If you have your wedding at the same venue in two different areas for the ceremony and reception, consider whether moving the crowd from one room to another other will present any technical difficulties. If there are other weddings or events going on the same day, is it possible your guests might end up in the wrong reception room? Don't let it happen!

Have any tips to add? Don't hesitate! Add them in the comments below!

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3 Ways To Stay Organized During The Planning Process + Freebie!

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PC pixabay.com

One of the issues I've faced during the planning process of some of my projects is what I call "Unexpected Eleventh Hour Syndrome". This is what happens when you spend all of the months leading up to the Big Day waiting for the last few weeks to do what you didn't realize you could've done ahead of time. It's not purposeful procrastination--just learning the hard way that you could've done something differently to make your life about a thousand times easier. 

Don't do that. Unexpected Eleventh Hour Syndrome (UEHS) is a terrible curse to be avoided when at all possible. To help you out, I've listed some things that I personally do to avoid last minute crazes, and I'm also giving you access to a free downloadable to help you keep track of the To-Do's leading up to the Big Day.

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PC thesuburbanmom.com

1) Devote an entire calendar to your event. 

This allows you to connect your To-Do's to a visual time-line that puts itself in the context of real time. The freebie mentioned in the headline is an Excel Spreadsheet I made for this exact purpose! It includes an edit-friendly calendar starting from September 2016, lasting through December 2017, with a large area available for notes to be made pertaining to due dates, specific tasks, and vendors. (Check the end of the post for more details.)

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PC thehuffingtonpost.com

2) Plan backwards.

What needs to be done the day of the event? What about the day before? Treat this like a pyramid--the day-of tasks are the very top, resting on a foundation of the tasks done the day before. Those things rely on things done the week before, and the month before, etc. This will force you to understand what things must be done in a specific order, and why. From there, you can figure out when you can most efficiently complete certain tasks.

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PC vertex42.com

3) Stay ahead of schedule.

If you're down to 6 months before your event, you should be working on those things as well as the things you'll need to do during the next month. Keep in mind that this requires you to understand the productivity rates and accuracy of you and the people responsible for completing the tasks on your lists. So if you or another person responsible tend to put things off or work slowly, compensate by working ahead. This will enable you to avoid the much dreaded Unexpected Eleventh Hour Syndrome!

Want this freebie? All you need to do is fill out my Contact page and ask me to send it to you! You'll find a downloadable version in your inbox shortly!

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How To Handle Your Mother-In-Law During Wedding Planning

I see you over there--hiding behind the couch with your glass of wine feverishly sipping, hoping that your mother-in-law won't leave the kitchen before you can down the glass...hoping that her opinion of how your wedding should be planned will quiet as you do so...

Just kidding. But seriously.

Handling your mother-in-law (MIL) during the planning process can be a tricky thing, and like most tricky things, you need some tools for the job. As simple as they seem, the five suggestions listed below can be very helpful tools for you to use as you navigate your relationship with your new MIL--as well as other relationships close to you. 

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PC theodyssyonline.com

1) Stand firm.

Just like you know you're not going to take all of the advice and every suggestion you receive from friends and family during your engagement, be willing to stand up for your own opinion when your MIL tries to convince you that orange, blue, and white are much better wedding colors than your purple, green and grey. Keep in mind that by remaining enthusiastic about your own ideas, rather than hesitant to tell her and everyone else that you don't like their ideas, you're much less likely to deal with conflict.

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PC bostonvoyager.com

2) Communicate.

Is your MIL hurting your feelings by pushing too hard? Do you think you've accidentally offended her by shooting down her ideas? These are things that should be communicated in a mature conversation that can start something like this, "MIL, do you think we could sit down and talk about some things involving our relationship? I want to include you in my wedding planning, but I think we might have hurt each others' feelings, and I want to clear things up." Try hard to understand why she wants to be so involved in your wedding planning. Ask yourself: is she really acting this way because she's a control freak who wants to redo her own wedding vicariously through you? Is she trying to ruin your wedding because she's furious you're stealing her child from her? Maybe not. Maybe her desire to be involved stems from an emotional need to feel needed, helpful, loved, important, or included. Maybe she sees wedding planning as a chance to bond with you. Having a conversation about how she feels and how you feel is a good opportunity to be transparent and compassionate with one another in an effort to strengthen your relationship. 

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PC theknot.com

3) Keep her involved.

This doesn't mean she gets to choose your dress and the reception decor...just keep her busy. Give her things to put together--DIY favors, invitations, photo-booth props...anything you've already designed and simply need done can be handed to her to execute, giving her the feeling that she's involved and needed, without giving her too much control. 

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4) Compromise.

When wedding planning, it's important to see the bigger picture: your relationship with your MIL is going to exist after the wedding. Preferably not in shambles. With this in mind, it's worth mentioning that some sacrifices may need to be made for the betterment of your family relationships. Sometimes, even after having conversations about how you feel, you and your MIL will not see eye-to-eye; to ensure that minimal resentment exists post-wedding, it might be necessary to let her make some decisions.

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PC advancedcounseling.info

5) Seek counseling.

Of course, bringing a family counselor in is a risky business, depending on family dynamics and skeletons-in-the-closet. It's certainly something to ask permission of involved family members before taking action toward it, and finding a professional neutral third-party is key. It has the potential to go both ways, though. Sometimes family counseling in the midst of wedding-planning is a good idea, and can improve relationships and communication. Sometimes, however, it can be seen as an offensive rout, so be considerate and wary if you pursue this. 

Do you have a recommendation on how to handle MIL's? Leave it in the comments down below!

 

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Three Things to Remember When Wedding Planning Gets Tough

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PC pinterest.com

The wedding industry is one not just of weddings, but of (very loud) opinions. Certainly the abundance of strong opinions is not a quality isolated only to the wedding industry, but it is one that I, and presumably others too, were surprised to find when first poking our heads through the industry's door. It would appear that--pretty often--the romantic, carefree feelings associated with wedding bells are not as present as the tricky guest-list etiquette, pressure to follow new wedding trends, and family's eager vendor suggestions seem to be. Wedding planning easily becomes expensive, overwhelming, and even conflicted very quickly... I get it. But hey--it doesn't have to be that way!

This post is written in with deep empathy, and with the hope that the following three suggestions will empower and encourage those who feel cornered by wedding planning complications.

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PC prezi.com

1) Expect and embrace that there will be conflict.

Be ready for it. Everyone has an opinion, and there will be so many of them that are so diverse that even the most people-pleasing bride will have to choose between some. That's okay--let me repeat myself on this one--conflict is normal, and should not surprise you. Not everyone's tastes or experiences match yours, nor should they; and while you now know that after reading this, keep in mind that not everyone consciously registers that wedding ideals differ. Furthermore, remember that many people consciously have no idea what kind of pressure or expectations their opinions may put on those around them. Do give people the benefit of the doubt here.

Here's how you deal with it: don't let it pressure you. Take it in stride. Definitely don't try to appease others wishes by letting them design your wedding for you; be gracious, but be firm. Be willing to say when necessary, "That's a really lovely idea! Actually, my fiance[e] and I were thinking we'd do [different idea] instead. Here, let me show you a picture!" 

At the same time, keep in mind that these are relationships that will exist post-wedding, so it's not worth it to permanently cut ties over something as temporary as cupcake flavors or reception playlists. Should a relational issue come up that is not solvable with a bit of insistence, consider compromising for the sake of the relationship. Sometimes you'll have opportunities to meet halfway. For instance, let's say your cousin is allergic to chocolate, but your fiance[e]'s favorite cake flavor is chocolate. So serve chocolate cake in most of your cake layers, but have one layer in a flavor you know your cousin prefers. This compromise is a great way to show how much you appreciate your cousin and want him to enjoy the wedding as much as you do. 

Compromise is key, but you can't bend every time your new mother-in-law insists upon having something her way, because this relational pattern is bound to continue post-wedding. And post-wedding, the issues being insisted upon will likely be more important, and you may have an even greater difference of opinions on them. (For instance, parenting.) All things considered, perhaps establishing during wedding planning the kind of steadfastness you will need later on will improve your relationships for the long-haul. Handling delicate issues with this in mind will also put disagreements over things like cupcake flavors in perspective. 

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PC goodhousekeeping.co.uk

2) Forget about following trends.

Do you like the recent wedding trends? If so, go ahead and do them all! But if you don't, then please, please don't have a trendy wedding if it isn't you. This wedding you're planning should be the ultimate expression of who you and your special somebody are. Just because naked cakes like the one pictured above have been trending for the last couple of years doesn't mean you too must have one. Get the cake you want. This cake is for you, not Pinterest. Having a trendy wedding can get expensive fast, especially if your decor becomes competitive with magazine pictures--or the wedding your sister had last summer. Be mindful about why you make your wedding decisions and ask yourself the following questions:

1) "For whom/why am I making this decision?"

2) "Is that what is best, or is there a cheaper/easier/better/different way to do it?"

3) "Does it match my and my fiance's personal tastes?"

4) "Will I look back and wish I had made a different decision?"

Move forward based on those answers, keeping potential conflict in consideration, and knowing that the more bells and whistles you throw in based on what's trending, the more expensive things will become. 

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PC brides.com

3) Remember your guests.

I used to feel strongly that wedding decisions ought to be made based solely on the tastes of the marrying couple--that is until I started to read Emily Post's Wedding Etiquette. Early on in the book it expresses the opinion that the wedding reception is a celebration of the happy couple's marriage as well as their valued relationships with all of the guests. This idea struck me as very balancing, since I see a lot of complaints online about how couples have poorly hosted their guests, who--on some occasions--have traveled, booked hotel rooms, and taken time off of work to make it to the wedding. It seems appropriate to thank them for their investment in the couple. 

Before I go on, I want to clarify what I'm NOT saying: 

1) "Weddings are all about the guests."

2) "The bride and groom have to spend a lot of money on their guests."

We clear? So here's what I AM saying:

A reception is a great opportunity for the bride and groom to thank their guests for their involvement in their lives by hosting a reception designed in part to pamper their guests.

Try not to think of the wedding in terms of money. Or heads in a banquet hall. Try to think of it in terms of an party with your dearest friends and family--even when price tags tempt you to think otherwise. You absolutely don't have to choose the most expensive food options or fancy dance-floor lights in order to communicate your sincerity, either.

When creating your budget, it's important to figure out what you and your fiance[e]'s priorities are. You each can list out your top five priorities, and then each come up with two ways through which you can treat your guests in a way that says "thank you" for their support and involvement in your lives. From there, compare lists and see where your priorities match. Try to consolidate both lists to one smaller one listing 5-6 of your top priorities, and do the same with your guest thank you list. The things on those lists are your big ticket items, and the things you choose to treat your guests with are where you can focus your attention without spending every penny you have. 

For instance, instead of spending money on food, an expensive cake and dessert table, alcohol, a DJ, entertainment, and a massive dance floor setup, choosing to treat your guests mainly to a great dinner and a generous consumption bar will make for happy, comfortable guests. They won't mind a smaller cake and dance-floor as long as their bellies are well taken care of. HINT: drinks make for a cheerful crowd that will happily dance anywhere. 

 

Obviously, there are other tough issues that come up with wedding planning that these three points don't cover. But these three suggestions do have the potential to minimize stress and drama during the planning process. By being ready to handle conflict, being focused on designing the wedding you want--regardless of what the magazines say,--and keeping your guests' happiness in mind, you'll be well on your way to planning a wedding that has something in it for everyone. 

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Battling the Budget Part 2: Inexpensive Alternatives

Nothing ruins wedding vibes like price-tags that say "no." In the same way, price-tags that scream "YES!" can really make a difference in the planning process, which is why I love my job. I have kind of an obsession with finding good prices and using creativity to come up with lovely alternatives to things such as standard wedding fare. (Don't believe me? I once developed a month-long meal-plan for myself that priced out everything with recipes, shopping lists, and all organic ingredients for three square meals a day with a budget of $100.) 

In the previous blog-post, I pinpointed the five common large expenses that nearly all weddings struggle to escape. In this blogpost, I'm going to return to those same five things and and share my ideas on how to avoid the price-tag with some creativity and extra thought. Ready to learn how to keep your wallet from emptying?

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PC Venuesafari.com

1. Ways to Save Money on Your Venue(s)

a) Just rent out ONE venue. Think about it: renting one area at a ceremony location costs, say $1,000. Later on, you decide you want to rent a second area at that same location for the reception as well. However, instead of that second area also costing $1,000, it costs $500, because you've already rented another part of the venue. So you're at $1,500. Now, let's suppose you rented a second location instead of an extension of the first location. Is that second location going to cost just $500? Probably not, because many venues have a minimum rental requirement, or they simply charge a higher minimum for rental of any area at their venue. So it's likely that the second venue will also cost around $1,000. So now you're at $2,000, instead of the $1,500, for the SAME purpose! Renting two different venues is also a lot more trouble, because sometimes you have to take into account the transportation of your guests, which might also come out of your pocket. 

b) Get hitched on a weekday. Most weddings are on Saturdays or Sundays because it's most convenient for guests to attend. However, because of their popularity, venues generally hike up the prices of venues on weekends, a lot like how airfares are three to four times the price on holiday weekends. They do it because they can. On weekdays, however, very few venues get weddings booked, so their prices generally go down. If your guests can get off work a few hours early, consider having your wedding on a weekday, such as Monday, to save some bank.

c) Have your wedding at a private venue, such as a friend's property or large house. This can save you thousands of dollars, and often does not compromise the quality of the location. It really does pay to know certain people!

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PC theweddingspecialists.net

2. Ways to Save Money on Catering

a) Plan your wedding around a lighter meal, such as brunch or lunch. Serving coffee, fruit salad, muffins, and deviled eggs for a light brunch is much more cost-effective than almost any dinner will be. Even a lunch of fruit, veggies, and tea sandwiches is cheaper than the dinner plates that most caterers will offer for evening meals. Including a brunch or lunch will change a wedding schedule around entirely though, and will only work if your vision includes a day wedding. 

b) Have a Potluck Wedding. This is more styled toward country weddings, or small church weddings where this kind of meal is common. It can certainly save a lot of money, though. 

c) Have the family provide the meal. This is similar to a potluck wedding, but it puts the provisional responsibility on the bride and groom's family members instead of on the guests. It is best suited for more intimate weddings, and is very convenient for weddings located at a house. 

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PC romanticdecorationnow.blogspot.com

3. Ways to Save Money on Guest Seating and Details

a) Move those chairs! When you have a ceremony as well as a sit-down dinner, you need twice the amount of chairs--unless you MOVE the ceremony chairs during the cocktail hour to the banquet hall! This can cut your chair bill IN HALF, and won't be noticed if your guests are distracted during cocktail hour.

b) If it is appropriate, consider paper napkins and plates, and plastic cutlery. Especially if your meal is potluck style, this won't be surprising or distasteful, and will save money the caterer or venue would otherwise charge for dish usage. It also eliminates the possibility of paying for damaged dishes, which is almost guaranteed to happen at least a couple of times at a wedding.  

c) Consider DIY wedding favors, such as cute baggies of Jordan almonds, prettily-packaged flower seeds with a reference to "growing love", tiny jars of homemade seasoned salt, infused olive oil, jam, or honey, servings of wedding cake, boxed truffles or bonbons, miniature s'mores kits, or homemade bath salts. Pinterest has about a million ideas!

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PC britishschoolalex.org

4. Ways to Save on Your Wedding Gown

a) Make your own wedding gown (if you know how to sew), or hire a friend or relative who knows how to sew. This gives you complete control over how you want it to look, but is a very time-consuming process. My mom did this, and saved plenty of money on the labor and alteration costs that she instead did herself. Fabric will be your largest cost--and it WILL cost something. But only a couple hundred dollars, as opposed to the thousand or so you'd pay otherwise.

b) Alter your wedding gown to fit you and your tastes. Whether it's your mother's gown or one you found at a thrift-shop, altering a gown allows you to keep the parts of it you love and jazz up the areas you're not so excited about. It's a money-saving, much less overwhelming process than creating a whole dress out of nothing but fabric yardage can be. 

c) Find a used wedding gown. Online stores such as www.preownedweddingdresses.com have dresses in all sizes, styles, and price-ranges that have been cherished by brides already, yet are still in tiptop condition. They are marked down considerably, and are a very lovely option that won't compromise your tastes at all. 

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PC portlandweddinglounge.com

5. Ways to Save Money on Entertainment

a) Replace a DJ with an iTunes playlist. You can make this yourself, hook it up to a speaker and have your wedding party members tweak it from time to time during the night. Have someone from the wedding party MC the evening instead of hiring a DJ to do this for you. 

b) Ask a friend who DJ's on the side to DJ as your wedding gift, or offer to pay him a fee. Be tactful about this, as you don't want to insult your friend or his side-business. If his business is too big, this might not be a good option. However, if he is a close friend and is invited to the wedding anyway, he may volunteer to DJ, or offer it as a wedding gift anyway. If you do pay an amature to do it, it is very likely that he won't charge commercial prices. 

 

No matter what your wedding budget is, at least a few of these fifteen suggestions can be applied to your wedding to free up money that can be put toward the most important details so that you get the day you've already imagined.

Have a money-saving tip of your own? Post a comment below!

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What You Need To Know About Catering

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So you have 200 guests invited to your wedding, and you want to know what you need to know about feeding them. A sit-down restaurant is possible, but definitely a challenge with 200 guests. If you're going for catering, you have two options: pay someone to figure everything out for you, or save some bank by doing the proper food-sleuthing yourself.

Since I've been in the catering business myself, maybe I can help.

Calculate A Proper Costs Per Head

It's hard to imagine that $2,000 might not be enough to feed your crowd, but just think about it. 200 guests x $10. You can barely get a plate of food at a good restaurant for $10 as it is. At weddings, between $12-20 is commonly allotted per head. Get familiar with that term too, because your caterer will use it, and expect you to know that it simply means per person, and therefore per meal. There isn't really a way around this one. If you're looking to save money, consider a morning wedding where brunch is served--muffins, fruit, coffee, and lighter fare--that may cost considerably less. 

Here's the thing about costs per head though--it's not just the entree that costs money. A good slice of cake--including cupcakes--costs around $5 as a starting point. If you have a dessert table as well, this can rack up some serious bills, and needs to be taken into account in the budget early on. If you're serving drinks at your wedding, that's another cost--wine, beer, mixed drinks, bar-tending...even just coke or lemonade can add up, so keep that in mind. To save money here, consider bakery chains like Nothing Bundt Cakes who sell small bundtinis or their larger bundt cakes in tiers for much less than the average designer bakery. Maybe a dessert bar isn't necessary. Provide drink tickets in the invitations to your guests to indicate there is a limit to the free alcohol, and then provide a cash bar for after their tickets are used.

As a last detail, make sure you're budgeting for tableware, because chairs, linens, chargers, glassware, and silverware are going to cost money too. Saving money in this area may be easier than you think--pay for an all-inclusive venue that includes tableware, or find a catering company that provides tableware with their catering services.

Be Aware of Food in Season

When certain fruits are in season at the grocery store, they're always much cheaper to buy than fruits that are out of season. It works the same with catered foods. If your wedding is in the winter, do a bit of research and find foods that are specifically in season to make sure the fresh apricot sauce you want on all of your pork chops isn't going to be three times the price it would've been in spring. 

Be aware of Changing Food Prices

When I worked in catering, my boss complained all the time about how food prices fluctuate on a weekly basis. Remember last year when all of these chickens in California got sick and egg prices more than doubled in most grocery stores? That was a drastic price fluctuation, but stuff like that happens, and it's part of why many caterers have disclaimers saying things like "Food prices subject to change without notice." Be aware of this and leave some wiggle room in your food budget so you don't deal with any last-minute cost per head surprises. 

Know that Catering is Hard

When I catered, I had a really neat boss whose main theme in life seemed to be "recycle everything." Not only did this mean she saved a lot of money on food for herself and her clients, but it meant that we had to be creative with what food we prepared. I once watched my boss turn a half-demolished, stabbed-to-death Costco chocolate sheet-cake into a decadent chocolate bread-pudding that wowed everyone. One time we had to prepare tofu in a way that was gluten-free, dairy-free, Kosher-friendly, and vegetarian, and I remember fumbling through the kitchen pantry and finding gluten-free bread mix, and bringing it to my boss to use for binding the tofu. We rolled it into balls and fried it, and it was amazing. We had soooo much freedom, but we used that freedom to create food that perfectly suit our client's needs. Because we had that freedom to figure the details out ourselves, I believe we did a better job than we would've been able to do had our client micromanaged the process.

That said, when you hire a chef, hire someone you can really trust, and communicate to them exactly what you want, but then...give them the freedom to call some shots. Chances are they probably know food better than you, and can make things work out better than you could have planned anyway. 

Feel uncomfortable about this? Give your chef your vision, have him/her work their magic, and then ask to try the food beforehand. This will give you a concrete idea of then product you know you are purchasing, and it may clear up any misunderstandings long before they would become an issue. For example, some people's interpretation of "roasted" is someone else's "burnt" (*cough* roasted marshmallows *cough*).

Be Consistent With Your Order

When I catered, I remember feeling a constant awe when I watched a crowd of people demolish in forty-five minutes what took weeks to plan and days to prep. You order a salad for 200 people with all of the fixings julienne-cut delicately atop your fresh leafy greens? That's like 4 hours of washing, chopping, and packing for one person, and even more for plating if it's not a buffet.  

With that in mind, I want to be your chef's advocate--don't change your mind at the last minute on a really important detail. You decide you want caviar instead of scallions atop your clams two weeks before? Fine. But don't decide you want your chicken stuffed with ham and Swiss instead of marinated in teriyaki the day before your wedding. Your caterer may tell you he can do it, but he's saying that through gritted teeth and an incredible headache. Besides, last minute changes will cost you more money because the ingredients for the original plan have most-likely already been purchased, and may still be charged to you for inconvenience. 

 

Finding a caterer and creating a meal-plan can be stressful work, but by using the information from this post, hopefully the process smooths itself out a bit. If you're overwhelmed with the planning process, talk to a wedding or event planner such as myself; we are here to make things easy!

What are some of the issues or solutions you have come across during your catering experiences? Do you have any caterers you'd like to recommend? Comment away!

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Troubleshoot That Event!

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PC Huffington Post

Story-time! A client was telling me this week about how things at her wedding years ago got a little too heated for her taste. Her father-in-law was taking photos, and was one of those really traditional character who wear dress shirts with gathered sleeve cuffs and a whole lot of buttons (a lot like the outfits poor Ron Weasley was haunted with by his overzealous mother at Christmas time)... As he took pictures, he got a little too close to a nearby candle, and in one puff, his sleeve was...toast. Just as he began to scream that he was on fire, the bride, without thinking, put the fire out by snuffing the burning cuff with her bare hands, only to sustain some very painful burns. For the rest of the night, her hands took turns being dunked into ice water. 

Not necessarily the most enjoyable wedding, but certainly a laughable story to tell the kids years later. As unusual as a fire fiasco at a wedding may be, general mishaps are not. In fact, I like to say that problems are an event's most-likely unwelcome guests, since they show up where they are least-expected, and definitely least needed. Catching one's ancient sleeves on fire might not be preventable with anything other than the wearer's own caution, but many other common mishaps are. So without further ado, here are the top fivw most-likely event mishaps, and how you can prevent them. 

#1: The cake falling

Prevention Tips

Have the bakery deliver the cake; they know how to transport it better than anybody.

- When signing your contract with your baker, make sure there's an agreement that if the cake falls upon delivery at the fault of the bakery, there is a satisfactory percentage of the price refunded.

- When the cake arrives, make sure the cake stays at room temperature or colder, according to the baker's recommendations. Some frostings can hold up better than others, but the frosting is the glue holding that cake together! Help it out!

- Don't let anyone touch the cake til it's time to cut it, and for goodness sake, be careful! Don't be the bride in the picture above.

- In anticipation of a cake disaster, have your planner scout out local bakeries ahead of time who's cupcakes can be purchased to replace the original within an hour of a mishap.

#2: Rain!

Prevention Tips

- If there's ANY significant chance of rain, get a tent, or get an indoor venue. It's not worth the risk of soaking wet guests and a ruined, possibly muddy dress.

- Find out what the venue's policy on rain is, and inquire about umbrellas. If they don't offer umbrellas, and if you don't have a tent, and won't consider one, PLEASE invest in renting umbrellas for your guests. They will be very grateful.

#3: Surprise Guests

Prevention Tips 

- Make sure you're clear about whether guests can bring their significant others as +1's.

- Delegate the job of following up with guests who have yet to RSVP to whoever will get the job done. Make every effort to contact silent invitees to ensure an accurate turnout at your wedding.

- Pay for a couple extra plates of food and have some extra seats at tables set, just in case. If nothing else, don't pack your tables too close, and have a few extra chairs available to fit into tables as necessary.

#4: A Tardy/No-Show Vendor 

Prevention Tips

- Find vendors--or hire a reliable planner who will find vendors for you--who are reliable and have good reviews.

- Have your planner create a schedule that allows buffer time. For example, if the catering needs to arrive to begin setting up by 4pm, tell them to arrive by 3:30pm instead. Better to give everyone extra time to set up than to have too little.

- So what happens if a vendor doesn't show up at all? If you've purchased wedding insurance, sometimes the cost of finding a last minute replacement is covered. Look into what your insurance offers coverage on.

- No matter what, have your planner create backup plans for every scenario. Catering doesn't show up? Your planner should have created Plan B, where a pre-decided restaurant can deliver emergency food, be it pizza or Chicken a la Carte. It can be done; it just takes a savvy planner. 

#5: Not Fitting into Your Dress

Prevention Tips

- First of all, DO NOT buy a dress in a size that does not fit you. It will cause you undue stress trying to fit into it as your wedding day draws nearer, and runs the risk of a new emergency dress being needed.

- If you want to lose weight for your wedding, buy/rent a dress in your current size, and as you get closer to your wedding day, if you've lost weight, get the dress altered to fit you. Dresses can be taken in, but there is very little that can be done to take a dress out to make it bigger. 

 

These are only some of the many things that can happen at a wedding. I imagine that almost anything you can think up has happened at some wedding in history. What are some wedding disasters that you've encountered, and how were they fixed? Were they preventable? Comment down below! 

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Starting Your Own Business 101

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This isn't what you might expect. Most articles on the subject of starting a business are about how you first need to get your business license, that you immediately need to take out a loan, or that you probably can't do it at all because...what do you know?

This article is different. I am only 20 years old, and I have recently taken the leap into business ownership as a wedding and event planner. I don't even have a college degree; I haven't taken out any loans or involved any investors. Clearly, I'm not here to say what dozens of other articles showing up on your google results have already said. 

In my opinion, starting a business is more than coming up with a clever name, putting up a website and waiting for customers to knock down your door. It's also much more than investing tens of thousands of dollars in professional advertising and patenting your idea. Starting a business is an emotional experience--one that I feel is vastly overlooked by most of the other articles on business out there. For your business to succeed, I believe it is necessary for you to do the following five things.

1. Believe in your idea.

Confession time: when I was first toying with the idea of starting my own business, I was plagued with doubt. It was not myself, but my boyfriend, who originally built me up and made me believe in my idea. For a long time, I'd been making career choices that made financial sense, but didn't make me happy. I kept saying things like, "Well, I probably should keep my job at xyz..." but my boyfriend stopped me and asked (repeatedly), "What do you WANT to do?" ...Not what makes the most financial sense. Not what everyone expects. Not necessarily what is safe. 

It's a very good question, one worth repeating. What do you want to do?

Here's another good question, one that I literally found after I googled "Should I keep my job or start my own business?", which--in the end--convinced me to take the plunge. In ten years, what will you regret more: not starting your business, or starting it? 

I, for one, would regret not starting it...because I would be left to wonder what would have happened. Maybe I would've been successful. Maybe I would've become a much better person. It made me realize that the worst that could happen was failure, and even failure isn't so bad.

My biggest hurdle has been to convince other people that starting a business at the unripened age of 20 is a sane idea. I've managed so far by reasoning that--sure, I'm really young--but I'm also the most financially stable that I will be for the next decade. Think about it--I still live at home, and nearly all of my expenses are paid. In five years, I might be more experienced, but I also will be living on my own with a handful of bills that need paying. Is it really smart to start a business then either? A better question--is it ever circumstantially ideal to quit your job and start from the bottom with nothing but an idea? 

The truth is that there will always be people who think I don't know enough to start my own business. And the odds are against me that it will ever appear to 100% of people watching that it is financially-wise to invest money into starting up my own gig. No matter which way the dice rolls, it will most-likely always take a lot of time and effort to get a business off the ground. No matter how many years older I get. You see? The hurdles don't go away, so why wait any longer?

With this in mind, as a start-up business owner, it is imperative that you become your own cheer-leader, and believe that you can do it. Believe that you are valuable asset to the economy and smart enough to start your own business. Believe in your idea! After all, every great idea we have today started out as...just an idea. And yes, for every single one, there was somebody who thought it was rubbish. 

2. Get a support group.

Being your biggest fan is the first step, but the second is to surround yourself with other fans. It is frightening true how similar to the people around us we eventually become, and if you're constantly around people who think your business is stupid, you're not going to feel empowered to keep going when the newness hype wanes and your website gets no visits for a month straight. Networking with like-minded individuals is essential to your mindset, which sometimes means networking with fellow competitors. Friendly ones will understand perfectly the struggle you're experiencing, and may be able to share advice, research, and much-needed encouraging words. Remember that hater's gonna hate, but you don't have to listen to them. 

3. Be fierce. 

Starting your own business takes guts and determination. Quitting your job is hard. Explaining to everyone who asks why is sometimes harder--it sure has been for me. This is just the first hurdle you'll be dealt, however. You must be brave enough to invest your money and time into making your business real. Research what you need, travel to necessary offices for that paperwork, network with everyone you know. Everyone. Dedicate yourself to working at your business everyday, even when you feel like it's stagnant. Don't be afraid to advocate for yourself, your idea, your services, and everything that your business offers. Even when dealing with a personal confrontation, take it in stride--he won't be the last business confrontation you're likely to deal with.

4. Be creative.

Don't depend on others to make a huge part of your business take shape. Be willing to work hard and use any resources you can (hello Google) to figure stuff out. Take advantage of all the social platforms we have available through the media. Advertising doesn't have to cost thousands of dollars. Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Reddit, Tumblr... They're all free. And they're all easy enough for YOU to use to market yourself and your idea. Consider building your own website, writing your own ads, creating your own logo, investing in the tools necessary to build your own product, etc. You might discover some new talents in the process of saving yourself a load of money. Use the internet to teach you everything you need to know, because it's ALL out there. You don't need a business degree to start your own business, because everything a business degree will teach you is out there somewhere on the internet; the only difference is that a business degree has gathered all the information for you, and gives you a diploma once you learn it all. Not convinced? Consider buying books, even old editions of college textbooks on Amazon, Half-Priced Books, or other sites for sometimes pennies. Don't get played by the businesses that make their money off of convenience. Be resourceful. Do the work and save your wallet. 

5. Be patient. 

Building a network takes time and continuous effort. It's important that--in the process of starting your business--you continue to cultivate it even when things get slow, look bleak, don't get any attention, or even face ridicule. It's okay; just wait. This doesn't happen overnight, most of the time. In the meantime, keep busy. Set new goals, keep on researching new ways to market yourself, improve your product or service, and make sure that the whole process is shaping you into a well-developed, fully-rounded person. Focus on your process, not just the results. For inspiration, learn about other great thinkers who developed ideas and experienced failure along the way. Did that stop them? Where are they now? Can you see yourself grouped amongst those people?

You should. We need more people like them in the world. 

As emotional as the business-ownership terrain can get at times, when all is said and done, you've started a business, so you're pretty cool. Speaking of cool, let's network! If you're just starting out with your business, send me a message, or connect with me on LinkedIn! If you're local, maybe we can swap business cards.

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