Thursday, October 29, 2015

Event Guide: 5 Ghoulish Decoration Ideas for Your Halloween Event

It all started on All Hallow’s Eve night. The rain was heavy and thunder crashed from above. Witches flew on their broomsticks, and zombies crawled through the fields. In the distance, werewolves could be heard howling as if they were calling out to their former soul. Cauldrons bubbled and potions brewed.

Phew! OK, although I feel like we’re forgetting one scary group, I’m pretty sure we covered our bases on every potential spooky story told this week. We just wanted to prepare you for what’s to come when Halloween arrives on Saturday. Speaking of Halloween, how are you designing your next event? It doesn’t matter if it’s a wedding or a neighborhood party, decorations are key to making your event the spookiest. And the best part, you don’t even have to spend a fortune to create the perfect scene. We have five ghoulish decoration ideas for the scariest Halloween party! Don’t be too frightened—we promise to keep the vampire teeth from biting.

Candy Corn Flowers

Forget the sand, water, or rocks—it’s candy corn time! Candy corn is the one treat everyone associates with Halloween. Our idea for this candy though is not to eat or use it in place of bubbles at the end of a wedding reception. We’re thinking more of using it in flower arrangements.

Candy corn arrangements are easy to create. Fill glass vases with the candy and then add your flowers. For the perfect flower combinations, your options are wide open. We suggest adding twigs and branches to give base to your arrangement. And so far, gerber daisies are our favorite flowers for these centerpieces.

Mummy in the Bathroom

One of the most neglected places in an event space are the bathrooms. Here’s an area almost every guest visits, but it’s one we all forget to decorate. So we’re here to fix that! Even if you just add flower arrangements to the area, it can really bring your event full circle. But for your Halloween event, why not add a mummy to the bathroom? Toilet paper decorations and designs are cheap, making it perfect for decorating multiple spaces.

Vampire Teeth Napkin Rings

Instead of the traditional paper napkin ring, why not try something with a bit more bite? Vampire teeth are the perfect fit to a hold a napkin and utensils. These little gift bag souvenirs are available at almost every party store, and are reasonably priced too. All you have to do is slip the wrapped napkin through the teeth, and there you go, vampire teeth napkin rings.

Chemistry Beverage Set

Be the coolest mad scientist by having all of your drink mixes line your shelf in beakers and graduated cylinders. If you have a bar area set up in your event space, add colored lights behind your chemistry set to let the glasses light up and the spookiness take effect. We suggest adding labels to the back of your mixing containers; it can eliminate the confusion when everything looks the same.

Pumpkin Drink Holders

Everyone knows pumpkins are great for carving and creating Jack-O-Lanterns. But did you know they also make excellent drink holders? The idea for a pumpkin drink holder came to me when my brother-in-law sent me pictures of my niece in a pumpkin.  Loving the picture, I thought “What else can you put in a pumpkin?” And the idea for a drink holder came to life. Making this little craft is pretty simple: get a pumpkin, cut it in half, add ice and drinks, and you’re done! And since you can find this oversized gourd anywhere, this decorating tip won’t break the budget. 

Well I think that’s about it from us on this event guide. We hope you’re not too spooked to give these ideas a try at your next ghoulish event. Do you have a favorite Halloween decoration? Share your pictures or tips with us in the comment section below. Oh—that’s who we forgot: the vampires! And no, we don’t mean the ones that sparkle.
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Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Event Contracts: Your Armor and Your Shield

Contracts—the event industry can’t survive without them! Every event planner, musician, caterer, and photographer knows without a contract, a dream event can turn into a horror story real quick. From unhappy lawsuits to a loss of profits, contracts can save you from it all. But since it’s Halloween, we are feeling extra ghoulish and have a scenario that will spook you into creating a business contract for your clients, immediately.

It all started on All Hallow’s Eve night, in a cabin down by the water. Just kidding! Here’s the real scenario!

Lights, please!

You met with your client, Victoria, several months ago to discuss the wedding photos she wanted taken. On the day of her wedding, you captured every cherishable moment for her and her new groom. And now after weeks of work, you’ve just handed the wedding album to the newlyweds. Victoria and her groom start flipping through the glossy pages, and she’s starting to look more unhappy the faster she flips. When she reaches the end, a fire-breathing bridezilla has replaced Victoria, and you’re left without a suit of armor to protect you. Victoria is demanding all of her money back along with the pictures you took—even the album you made. Without a defense, a contract, a shield, what do you do?

Alright, bring the lights back up!

Did we put a fright in you? Well, hopefully just enough for you to think twice before agreeing to lend your services without a contract. Here are some suggestions we have for you to create an air-tight contract that protects you from every fire-breathing ‘zilla you might encounter.

1. The Be Specific Clause

You’ve already described your services on your website, so what’s the big deal in including it in your contract? Well, as Donald Trump would say, “It’s huge!” Be sure to be specific and clear when writing about or discussing the services you offer. For example, do you help with selecting the venue, are you going to help them design a menu, or help them compose their invitation? Don’t just assume your clients will understand when you don’t show up for the cake tasting.

2. The Cooperation Clause

As the famous lyrics suggest, “Why can’t we be friends?”Well, unfortunately, not every event has a happy ending. That’s why a cooperation clause is an important element to have in your contract. A cooperation clause implies exactly what its name suggests—cooperation. Sometimes events, especially weddings, can end up as an emotional affair. To protect yourself and your staff, you need a clause that allows you to walk away (deposit and all) if your clients, their family, or their guests harass you or any member of your crew.

3. The Name, Media, and Likeness Clause

As a photographer, event planner, or any other event professional, you know the best way to sell your services is with pictures. Pictures capture our attention and make us want to click links to see more. And although you might know the rules of using pictures for advertisement purposes, we want to suggest adding a line in your contract to avoid invasion of privacy and misappropriation—just for safe keeping. We suggest keeping this clause broad so you have extended rights for using your client’s pictures, videos, and likeness. We’re sure most clients won’t mind, but it’s best to cover your bases before a lawsuit slides into home plate.

Phew! Now that we got all that over with, the Inspherio Crew is here to get you started. Log on to your Inspherio account, or sign-up for a free 30-day trial and check out our contract feature.

Start by clicking on the “Leads” button on the menu bar at the top of your screen in your Inspherio dashboard. Select the “Active Leads” tab.

Choose the client that you are writing the contract for from the list provided on your page. Under the Financial box, select the “Contract” icon and complete the steps to create a contract for your client. The last step of the process you’ll be able to compose your “Terms and Conditions” for your service.  

So make a contract, keep it concise and specific, always cooperate, and protect yourself. It’s the best way to do business, we promise! And if you hadn’t heard, Inspherio is always here to provide you the best tips and services for your business. You plan dream events, we plan dream businesses—it’s what we do. Join or renew your Inspherio membership with a free 30-day trial, today. Don’t wait a minute longer!
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Thursday, October 22, 2015

Gobo or Go Home: 6 Tips for Saving Money on Event Lighting

You thought about it, but your clients didn’t, and now there’s barely any money left in the budget. That’s right, we’re talking about event lighting!

In most venues, adequate lighting is usually provided. However, in more adventurous or eclectic spots, extra lights are a must. Well lighten up and don’t worry! We’re here with six illuminating, money-saving tips on how to light up event spaces at little to no cost. Ready to become enlightened on inexpensive lighting designs in this week’s event guide? We have a bright idea; let’s get started!

(Alright, the puns stop there—maybe.)

1. Uplighting

Uplighting is the best way to give your event the most light at the smallest cost. To create a successful uplighting look, place the lights on the ground close to a wall, with the light pointing up. You can even position these lights at certain objects or an area you want featured. We suggest adding colored lights to create more of a visual dynamic.

2. Cut the Cord

Wireless lighting is the new trend! You can save the extra cost and hassle of fretting over extension cords and wires to power your lights. Wireless lights, like tea lights, can be placed on tables or in arrangements. We suggest placing your wireless lights in areas you can’t hide a cord or where extension cords are needed. And there are even submersible tea lights, giving you endless possibilities to light up your event.

3. Candles

Our ancestors were doing something right when they used candles (ignore that it was their only option). Candles, in and of themselves, add the perfect amount of light and ambiance. We suggest placing candles on your event tables and around your event space nearest to people. Save your brighter lighting for the perimeter.

4. Gobos

Gobos are the brightest thing to hit the lighting market in a long time! Think of a gobo as a silhouette creator. They are either metal, glass, or dichroic, and are placed over a light source (usually a spotlight) to create different light patterns, monograms, logos, and/or special effects on walls, ceilings, and floors (think of a disco ball). Gobos are the perfect way to decorate an event space and add visual appeal to plain walls or floors. We suggest finding star-shaped gobos to create a starry night scene on your venue ceiling.

5. Projections

Similar to Gobos, shining a projection on a wall or ceiling can dramatically brighten up your event space. With a variety of colors and range of brightness to choose from, projections can cut down on your lighting needs. However, we suggest limiting the amount of decor when using projections; you don’t want to overcrowd/over-decorate your event space.

6. String Lights

Have you ever seen or been to an event that used large string bistro bulbs? These Hollywood lights (as I call them) are inexpensive, but create dramatic effects on your event space. You can drape your string lights to create a more intimate space, especially in large, outdoor areas. We suggest searching for Edison bulbs to create a more vintage look. Edison bulbs are clear and allow you to see the glowing filament inside.

It’s time to stop looking so gloomy, and brighten up! Do know of another way to bring light into your event space without spending a fortune? If so, share it with us! And remember, the Inspherio Crew is here to help you stay on budget with all of our great business management features. Check us out and see for yourself; we’ll even give you a free 30-day trial on us!
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Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Pinktober: Have Hope & Give Hope

On average, 1 in 8 women and 1 in 1,000 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. In 2015, over 220,000 women and 2,150 men will be diagnosed in the United States alone, with a projected death toll of over 40,000. With such high development rates, breast cancer is real and it affects us all.

This month, let us stand together to remember the people who have lost their lives, those who have survived, and those who are still fighting the battle. We cannot deny that breast cancer is a serious threat to the world’s population. We cannot deny that our support is needed to help find a cure. We cannot deny early detection and treatment for those diagnosed. And we certainly cannot deny that it’s time we have hope and give hope.

Whether you are a wedding planner, caterer, or a photographer, you have the opportunity to help raise awareness and give hope to those who are battling or who’ve battled breast cancer. And the Inspherio Crew could not be more supportive of the cause. As we strive to find a cure, one of the hardest parts is knowing what we can do to help. Here at Inspherio, we’ve been thinking of several different ways to raise awareness and educate others on breast cancer. Between our campaigns and our efforts on social media, we have some ideas on how you can raise awareness and funds to find a cure for breast cancer.

Host an Awareness Event

Doing what you do best—planning an event—can be the best way to raise awareness and funds for breast cancer. Many sponsors are searching for an event professional to help plan, cater, or provide entertainment for their breast cancer awareness event. We suggest brainstorming ideas and reaching out to potential leads to inform them of your services.  

Special Service

Dedicate one of your services or plan to donate a small portion of your profits to finding a cure for breast cancer. By using the Inspherio pricing package feature, we can even help you keep track of the amount you’ll be able to donate.

Donate Your Time

You have the opportunity to make a difference, whether it’s racing in a 5k for a cure, donating money to a few of these reputable charities like the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, or being part of a support group. No action or donation is too small to help make a difference. So don’t hesitate to give one, today. 

Let’s continue helping our neighbors; let’s find a cure to prevent this disease from taking more lives. It’s time for the ratios of 1 in 8 and 1 in 1,000 to disappear. It’s time to beat breast cancer once and for all.
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Thursday, October 15, 2015

Event Guide: Staying on Budget

Budgets are tough! No matter if it’s an event budget, a personal budget, or a business budget, restricting your spending always seems to limit the fun factor. As an event professional, keeping to a budget and calculating all the expenses is an absolute must. Your clients trust you to take their budget, provide services, and ultimately create the event of their dreams. Going over the allotted amount only leads to hurt feelings and unhappy customers.

We’ll give you an example:

Without naming names, there is a reality TV show that redesigns a person’s home to make them fall in love with it again. However, the show also takes the homeowner to view other home options if they decide to list their current house on the market. Per usual, the couple provides the designers with their budget. But it never fails, the budget is repeatedly adjusted to accommodate for extra expenses. The homeowners become discouraged, there’s usually a disagreement, and the only way to get what they want is to increase their spending.

Want to know why this happens? Although the clients have big dreams and a certain vision of what they want their house to look like, the designers never fully prepare the homeowners for the hidden fees and realistic costs of their wants.

Your clients hired you to help them stay within their event budget. Don’t give them a vision of their event you know will not work, or force them to spend more than originally planned. But that’s what we’re here forto prevent hurt feelings and crushed dreams before they happen. Without further ado, we’re proud to present this week’s event guide—staying on budget.

Quick Percentage Rundown

Based on percentages provided by our friends at theknot, here’s a quick rundown on how much of the budget is typically dedicated to each part of the event.

We find this approach to be super helpful and a great tool! However, there’s more you can do to make budgeting easier. Borrowing from our previous blog, we suggest dividing the budget up into different sections and categories. For a wedding, you have three events to plan for: the rehearsal dinner, the ceremony, and the reception. Allot a certain budget for each of these events, before delving into figuring out the flower budget, food budget, etc.

An Example:

Rehearsal Dinner
Grand Budget Total: $17,000
*budget isn’t based on actual wedding.

Now that you’ve helped your clients get a budget in mind, here’s a few tips on how to get them to stick to it. 

Record, Record, Record

Recording every payment and IOU is a great way to keep on track of the budget. Luckily, if you’re an Inspherio user, you have an accounting feature built into your membership to help you monitor all payments and spending activity.

Learn all the Hidden Costs and Fees
Forgetting to factor in tips or overtime for vendors is the surest way to stumble upon bills at the end of the event. Remember there is usually someone who cleans up after the event, service charges for venues, florist’s demo costs, license fees, etc. Also, be sure to include enough money in the budget to provide gratuity for the extra help. 

Pad the Budget
The best way to avoid overages is to build in a budget safety net. We suggest earmarking at least 5% of your budget for the unknown. You might need to purchase umbrellas if it’s raining, more flowers, or cleaning supplies. You never know what could happen, so it’s best to be prepared!

3 Ways to Save the Budget
Sometimes you are given a budget that doesn’t match your client’s dream event plans. Well, we have some tips on how to work with that, too. 

What’s Important
What are the top priorities at the event? If you are helping your clients plan a wedding, their top priorities might be the venue, the catering, and a DJ. The items they can probably use less of the budget on is flowers, invitations, and the cake. Deciding on what’s most important early on can be a big money saver.

The Guestlist
The more people they invite, the more money spent. It might be tough for your clients to draw a red line through guests’ names, but it’s the fastest way to save money. We suggest having your clients sit down with the guest list over a span of several days to really think about who they want to invite. 

Instead of going for filet mignon, why not choose the sirloin? If it’s winter, choose a flower like a rose or a Star of Bethlehem instead of a sunflower. By simplifying the menu or choosing decor that’s in season, your clients will save more money.

Never let a budget scare you away from planning your client’s dream event. Give us some tips in the comment section below on how you stay under budget!
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Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Listen Up, Wedding Planners: 5 Challenges Facing You Today

Every planner deals with a variety of issues when organizing an event. From the vendors not showing up, to clients changing their minds at the last second, complications do happen. However, as a wedding planner, you have your own set of challenges that differentiates you from any other event planner.

So listen up, wedding planners—here are five of the biggest wedding roadblocks, and how you can overcome them.

Challenge #1: Do It Yourself (DIY) Brides and Grooms
Oh, Pinterest! As the world’s greatest site for wedding planning ideas, do it yourself (DIY) projects, and photo sessions—Pinterest can be your worst nightmare (no hate, Pinterest; you know everyone loves you). Some brides & grooms swear by DIY, and believe it to be the best money-saving option for their wedding. However, doing it yourself doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to be cheaper.

An example: A client buys twenty-five floral vases for the reception tables. She realizes the vases will not work with the flowers, but now she can’t return them, and it takes away a significant sum from the reception budget. Instead of doing it herself, the client could have rented vases from the florist, who knows what sizes will work best with the floral arrangement.

Our Advice: To limit the DIY bride from taking over, meet with your client regularly, listen to their ideas, and offer your advice on vendors who can replicate their vision. And just between you and me, it’s usually better to leave the DIY alone and hire professionals.

Challenge #2: The ‘zillas Have Arrived

We have all heard of the term Bridezilla—there is even a show on HGTV about them. (You know, the ones who want to control every aspect of their wedding, and throw huge temper tantrums over the smallest details.) Thankfully, it seems bridezillas are slowly fading away, but their replacement doesn’t look good. Prepare to meet Groomzilla!

Today, men are helping pick the flower arrangements, food and drinks, wedding date, and even the venue. Because most couples share the wedding expenses, men are becoming more involved than ever before.

Our Advice: To prevent a Groomzilla from making an appearance, be sure to include the groom in decisions and meetings. We also suggest giving the bride and groom individual tasks to work on. And remember, this is his day too; make him feel included.

Challenge #3: Small Budgets, Big Dreams

Laughter and love=priceless
Hugs and Kisses=priceless
Growing family= priceless
Planning a wedding= $25,000

Weddings, with an average price-tag of about $26,444, do not cost what they used to. As a wedding planner, clients hire you to plan their dream event without breaking the bank. However, creating and adhering to a budget is difficult, which is why we consider it perfect for challenge #3.

Our Advice: Divide the budget up into different sections and categories. For a wedding, you have three events to plan for: the rehearsal dinner, the ceremony, and the reception. Allot a certain budget for each of these events, before delving into figuring out the flower budget, food budget, etc.

An Example:

Rehearsal Dinner
Grand Budget Total: $17,000
*budget isn’t based on actual wedding.

Challenge #4: Unrealistic Expectations

One of your toughest challenges is fighting the unrealistic, reality TV expectation clients have for their wedding day. Unlike what they see on TV, appointments are needed, you have to decorate, and yes, it all costs money.

Our Advice: It’s OK to say no. If you notice your clients are trying to get more than what they paid for, or becoming a ‘zilla, it’s alright to walk away and not accept the job. Take control of the situation before it takes control of you.

Challenge #5: Weekend Warriors

In the wedding industry, there is not a uniform standard of service or quality, which makes it difficult to find reliable vendors. Anyone with a passion can become a weekend wedding planner or a wedding vendor—so knowing who to trust is quite a challenge.

Our Advice: Don’t wait for others, set a standard; partner with vendors who uphold the same standard of quality and service you provide. And show your clients that the quality of your services can’t be matched or topped. When you set a standard, others will follow.

A wedding can be an emotional and stressful affair, but it is also one of the happiest days in your client’s life. Although you may face challenges in your job, isn’t it worth it when the groom sees his bride for the first time on their wedding day? We like to think so!

Remember, Inspherio is here to make sure every day is the happiest day. With our all-in-one event and business management program, we help make creating dream events and overcoming challenges that much easier. What are you waiting for? Try our free 30-day trial today!
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