You’ve seen him on WEtv’s, “My Fair Wedding”. He’s been lovingly crowned ‘Wizard’, ‘Godfather’, ‘Fairy Godfather’, and ‘Prince’ by the brides who’s wedding dreams he’s made a reality. And last night I had the pleasure of being taken back to school by event planner extraordinaire, David Tutera at a Learning Annex event held at the lavish Hilton Hotel in Downtown Manhattan, NYC .
What can I say besides…He was fabulous! Throughout the course of the night we learned little DT Gems like he doesn’t belong to any associations, which is especially ironic considering he’s starting one in 2011, and he’s never paid for any form of advertising (thanks David!! I finally have an answer to my, To Advertise or Not to Advertise, question!). Just to give you an idea of how much information was covered, I went home with 8 pages of notes but because this is not a book report (remember those?), I’ll bestow upon you a few of my [paraphrased and in my own words] favorites, which I’ve categorized below:
Learn your Client. David urged us as planners to learn how to listen to the client and to learn what they want and who they are. “Become emotionally connected to your client…” He suggests that 75% of the conversation, during the first hour spent meeting with a new client, should be about them and as you’re listening jot down five adjectives that are a recurring theme in the discussion. Include those words in the proposal so they feel like they’ve written their own proposal.
Looking for ways to motivate (or rejuvenate) your creative edge? Opening up your client base and vendor base were two of David’s simple suggestions. In both cases, lack of variety can quickly lead to stale and cookie-cutter ideas. Creating a story also has many benefits to ensuring each event experience is unique.
Keep the Party Going. “Weddings are about the Bride and Groom but more importantly it should be about the guests. Something different should happen every 30 minutes putting guests on a journey and preventing boredom.”
With plans for 2011 that include the launching of a new jewelry line of wedding and engagement rings, the David Tutera Wedding Certification Course and the launching of a line of bridal crafts, it’s hard to not think of him as some kind of super wedding action hero so imagine how great it was to learn that he isn’t impervious to things like burnout, planners block, and annoying clients. Yes, annoying clients get on his nerves also! Here are some of his tips to help cope and better manage Life as a Planner:
- In order to avoid burnout minimize the amount of time spent socializing with people in the business because what you end up doing is talking about work all of the time!
- “Never under price yourself. When you do, you’re under pricing your confidence”.
- Take baby steps. Don’t leap. Become good in one section and segue way into another.
- Networking with organizations such as MPI, ISES, and ABC to build your contacts is good but also branch out and make your own networks.
- Your network mix should be 70% social and 30% corporate.
- “As event planners it is important to create a team of vendors who you are confident can deliver and are willing to support (even if something goes wrong)”.
- Reforecast yourself every 3 years and in that time, always move prices a little higher.
- Breaking even on a project is fine but losing money is never good!
- You are a Mediator, Therapist, Counselor, and Wedding Planner Last. Know when you switch hats”.
There were also valuable little tidbits about destination weddings and the real story behind the Joan Rivers scandal but you had to be there. Overall the learning experience was priceless and even though his manager came across as more of a sharpshooter for the CIA thus preventing me from getting a picture with David, I will still continue to be a faithfully loyal My Fair Wedding watcher til death do us part.