Sunday, July 22, 2018

when trust is broken...

Did you know Disney has an entire department that has one job... to watch social media and every post that has Disney & Disney “Like” Characters in it? How do I know that because a dear friend and baker found out the hard way.   She was incredibly talented at creating Disney cake pops, cupcakes and amazing cake designs.  What does one do but to showcase their talents on Facebook & Instagram…right?  WRONG!!! Disney reached out to her and fined her for every photo/font on each social media outlet, fined her for every like, comment & share also (and for how long they had been actively published).  Fortunately for her, she reached out to Disney very quickly after already removing everything from all platforms, they worked out a deal for a much lesser fine for her quick actions and openness of not knowing. 

Now what they explained to her was because Disney pours lots of time, energy and money into creating their characters and image of their brand. They don't want a bad version of their characters out there and those to be associated with their brand.  Plus the biggest no-no was that she was making a profit/money off of their characters.  Now if you are a parent baking a cake in your home and you give your kid a birthday party…YOU can do that…but the minute you make $$ that’s the #1 can’t do! Your Baker can create a plain cake and you/parent can even purchase the Disney Characters to place on top…but the Baker can’t unless they own a licenses with Disney (that’s why your local grocery store can).

Remember back in the day when you would ask your Dj or you/couple would make a fun “mix” CD of all of the songs from the wedding and give them out to guests as party favors… this was a great idea because you’d relive all of those special moments every time you heard one of those songs…. THAT’s ILLEGAL TOO!  You do not own those songs and can’t republish them without the song writer’s permission.  It’s like you stole their hard work and gave it away for free.

So why do I share these stories…

I never thought in a million years that my trust with a vendor/venue would be broken.  I’m an open book.  I will share my knowledge and expertise to assist anyone coming up in this industry to better themselves and allow them to grow throughout their journey of finding who they want to be.  But that trust was recently broken when it was brought to my attention that another local vendor had taken our KYAE branded schedules and passed them as their own.  Literally they just took off our KYAE logo and replaced theirs… now they changed a few items that related to that particular event…but it was our exact font, layout, & flow of the night (which there are multiple options for schedules throughout the world). 

Now I totally get it…almost every wedding has the same traditions and basic facts… but A TIMELINE is the showcase of a planner/coordinator.  It’s how we explain to our potential and current clients how we execute an event.  Ours being a unique flare and combination of several places around the world due to our network and relationships from attending worldwide conferences and experiences different cultures.

It’s amazing how some planners/coordinator’s schedules are like ghosts, you never see them & their schedules never see the light of day.  Their vendors are so close to them they wouldn’t dare share their wisdom and how their flow even works.  I remember my dear friend Leigh telling me how she would send everything in a PDF and made it very clear that those schedules were property of her brand and style. They would remain confidential between vendors, clients and her… that’s why I started writing at the bottom of all my emails when I sent out schedules that:

Please note these schedules are property of KYAE

and shall only be used on ___date of wedding/event with a KYAE lead coordinator onsite.

~Thank You~

I think what hurts me most is I trusted this vendor and we liked working with them but now that trust is broken and I feel as if I have to update our schedules a bit because I don’t know if this is the first time they have passed our work on to their client/vendors or if they have been doing this since all of our weddings together over the past few years…

I’m sure the few vendors that cross paths with both of us will quickly notice our style/brand along with our 18 years of experience & expertise verses the poorly cut & paste, not correctly spaced version of our schedules. 

Why and I sharing my story…for several reasons:

·         BE HONEST!!! If you are just starting out whether you are a planner, building a venue, DJ, Photographer…any other vendor be up front if you are “stalking” another vendor in your field… I promise “you will get a lot more bees with honey than vinegar.”  Tell the person you’d love to sit down and chat with them about how they got started, tips/tricks, things to look out for.  Ask for advice… become friends!  There is PLENTY of weddings & events for all of us! Who knows, one day they might be booked and refer you (I recommend you doing the same.)

·         PAY YOUR DUES!!! Join Associations and the local Chamber to create your own network.  Those Associations have members willing to help you grow in your career.

·         GET EDUCATED!!! Take classes at a local community college or get a degree at a University.  Get certified in your skillset. 

·         Attend local, national and international conferences to stay up to date on your skills and this ever changing industry.

·         IF a vendor shares their documents, contracts, schedules, ways of doing business… DO NOT COPY THEM!!! It’s okay to use these as a guide/inspiration to create YOUR OWN BRAND and style.  Remember no matter how large you think this industry is…it’s TINY and people talk!  Couples are going to inquire to several vendors in the exact same skill/service (shocking right?!?!?).  So don’t allow your files to look just like someone else’s paperwork because then they are going to question both of those vendors:

o   Whose file is this really?

o   Did they copy from someone else?

o   Who’s been doing this longer? 

o   Who has more experience?

o   Who is educated?

o   Who has associations and networks to back them up?

The carbon copy will never be as “perfect” as the original and the carbon copy will never do it like the original…that’s why I always say:

I personally DO NOT HAVE ANY COMPETITION…  Because NO ONE is going to do it exactly how I would do….

We each should have our own way of doing things not carbon copy what’s been done before or how someone else is doing it. Plus there are enough couples for all of us in this industry.


I thought long and hard about posting this blog because this betrayal of trust really got to me over the last few days…I just want new up and coming planners/vendors to be mindful and learn from this mistake… mistake of that vendor copying me & me trusting them with my thoughts and intellectual property… now everything will go out in PDF’s and our couples will no longer be allowed to share our documents via googledoc with other vendors.  My preferred list is going to become more narrow and we will be very weary of whom we share our full schedules with.  FYI I’ve failed students on projects before due to plagiarizing… this is no different.  So if you have copied information on your website or in your paperwork I would highly suggest to take the time this weekend and update everything to an original piece of work and give credit where it’s due.  I know I personally work hard in making sure to give credit to vendors and where I’ve gained my knowledge of inspiration.  I just hope others will follow in doing the same…

As for us and we just take a step back and upgrade what we're already doing.... Question is are you ready to step up the game with us?!??! 

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Seized Opportunities

I’m a firm believer everything happens for a reason and that you should take advantage of any opportunities that may cross your path.  Now, I’m not saying go into debt to create this journey…but if it means putting a plane ticket on a credit card to put you in a place that will impact your life and career…SWIPE!  That’s exactly what’ve done a few times in my career and every time it’s paid off ten times fold.   I wanted to share a few of my “WOW, this is really my life” moments with you and how they’ve changed my life…

I remember getting this email in my inbox about the Wedding MBA in Vegas probably 13+ years ago.  I had never heard of the conference, but it was right up my ally full of educational seminars and the chance of meeting some of the biggest names in the wedding industry.  I was very early in my career and to my knowledge not many people from NC was going to this conference back then.  I literally traveled out there not knowing anyone after convincing my boss to purchase my conference ticket.  WOW! I was hooked!  That was the first time I met Peter Merry & Sonny the founder of WeddingWire, heard Alan Berg and many others upon that stage.  It was also the very first time I heard Susan Southerland speak…she was an inspiration and after hearing her story I knew what I wanted my path to look like.  Without her knowing, she became an inspiration and mentor.  That year I was so broke I couldn’t afford her book, so she signed a color wheel for me.  Now to have her as a colleague and now mentoring me as a friend still blows my mind! 

That year I won a free ticket to come back the next year, so I invited Tricia & Gene with Culinary Visions to join me and every other year since then I’ve attended.  Each year I bring or invite others to experience where it all started for me.  Every year I meet more and more unique people in the industry, build deeper relationships with other vendors across the world and take our brand to another level.  A few years ago, I happened to be sitting next to Martha Stewart’s right hand assistant.  She asked me what I would be doing in a few weeks and then handed me her card along with a private invite to Martha Stewart’s Bridal Fashion Week in New York. I can’t tell you how fast I texted my Best Friend Tina, whom just happened to move to NYC.  I am a firm believer everything happens for a reason.  We had a blast touring NYC and going behind the scenes at Martha Stewart’s office.

There has been a few other amazing moments in my career but joining the Association of Bridal Consultants has to be the BEST.  The places this association has taken me around the world and I’ve met some of the most incredible genuine people in the wedding and event industry.  I remember attending the first conference in Denver right after joining… I was sitting in the Sandals certified training class and for the first time in my life I was about to use every level & title of my UNCG degree.  I knew how important it was to see and touch the product that you were selling…so I went on several FAM trips the following year.  I wasn’t 100% ready and confident with my knowledge, so I made sure one was the certified weddingmoon specialist programs with Sandals, quickly followed up with a MEGA FAM trip which allowed me to see three resorts in just a few days.  Since that trip I’ve quickly become known for my expertise and hands on knowledge of the Sandals and Beaches brand.  Seeing Grenada two weeks prior to it’s grand opening was pretty spectacular, but my favorite FAM trip has to be last year when I was able to spend a week with the entire weddingmoon’s department.  I got to meet them on a personal level and see how weddings are handled first hand on resort.  This is extra special to me because I am a past Sandals bride so to see both sides really was something I will never forget.

Last year I was given the opportunity to join 17 other amazing planners and share our
stories of how we got to where we are today through co-authoring The Planners Unplugged book.  We were able to travel to DC for an incredible book launch and the sisterhood that has grown from this project will forever be grateful.  When you have an opportunity to combine your talents with other…the world is who truly benefits!

Since becoming one of 80 Master Wedding Planners in the World, I’ve been asked to speak in other countries, states and cities to share my knowledge and experiences.  I am currently heading back to UNCG for my master’s degree and hoping to create more courses for the private event industry. Who knows maybe I’ll write a textbook, create a degree and go on to get my PhD in it too! 

Sometimes things just happen without your knowledge and sometimes the stars just seem to line up just right to make magical opportunities happen.  My current opportunity started last year… I received an inquiry from the sweetest couple really just looking for a day of coordinator.  However, after speaking with them I quickly realized they needed a lot more assistance in the logistics and design aspects.  It took them a little while to decide if they wanted to go up to our next level of services but once they did, the knew they had made the right decision.  I remember early in the planning Rachael mentioned she was getting her dress from Kleinfeld… that’s cool (I think was comment).  I try to never let big names scare me or impress me because deep down I’m a firm believer we all put our pants on one leg at a time…right? 

Fast forward a few months into the planning…actually January 3rd to be exact… why do I remember that date so well?  Because the first three days of 2018 had me wanting to run back to 2017 (it had been amazing) and thus far I had frozen on the beach watching the New Year’s Day sunrise after working a 12+ NYE wedding in a different city, my pipes at my house had frozen once I got home, a wedding was canceled due to a break-up, one of my upcoming speaking engagements had been canceled… and this was all in just the first few days of the new year…. Then I got a call from NYC; I don’t really “know” people from there that would be calling me, so I ignored it...yep I ignored NYC (FYI don’t ignore NYC…lol).  I was on the phone with Flowers by Gary talking about a few weddings and I get this call again… so I took the call… LIFE CHANGING!

“Hi, this is Ronnie with Kleinfeld and we are dressing for Rachael for her wedding in May.  FYI all I heard was Kleinfeld, so I thought it was just a staff member, oh ok is there something I can assist you with? “Then Ronnie spoke to me as a dear friend and quickly I realized about third the way through this conversation that I was speaking with the owner himself… WOW.  We probably chatted for over an hour, just learning about one another and quickly became friends.  For the next few months we would speak every few weeks about the wedding and just how life was going… I still pinch myself, saying is this really happening.  The wedding day came, I had the honor of assisting Rachael in her dress and we couldn’t have asked for a more magical day.  Really, did I just plan and coordinate one of the sons of Kleinfeld?  Will’s dad was Ronnie’s Best Friend and Will was practically Ronnie’s Godson… You just never know who your client is or who they are friends or family with.  Something tells me this was all part of God’s plan. 


Throughout this whole planning process Ronnie and I spoke often, Ronnie has asked how often do I come to NYC and that I should come see the store…well today’s the day!  My roommate (and assistant who was there the night I got the first call and worked the wedding) jumped on a plane yesterday and are in NYC to see Ronnie, meet his team and see the behind the scenes of one of the most iconic bridal shops in the world. Stay tuned…

So the question I have for you is:

“Are you seizing all of the opportunities in front of you?”