Planner Panel: Thursday Round up!

Over the last six weeks I have had the great opportunity to sit on a "planners panel" for the great site Wedding Industry Experts...I truly am not sure why they picked me of all people but it is an absolute honor nonetheless (truly, some of my industry mentors and idols are on this panel). Myself along with some of the Worlds foremost event planners (yes, it's world wide, not nationwide! YIKES!) have spent time each week answering questions about the wedding and social event industry. Today I thought I'd post the first 6 questions in one place so you all can learn a bit more about myself and my team, Team ACE. Below is a screenshot of the site but you can also subscribe to receive these weekly updates as well!

1. Why did you become a Wedding Event Planner or Wedding Designer?
     I became a wedding planner for the emotional impact of the wedding planning process. I was raised in the behind the scenes hustle and bustle of the event world through my grandparents food distribution business. I remember attending conferences and events with my grandmother since I was young and always loved the details that went into these events thrown for her clients with their product. 
     After graduating high school and attending college I held numerous internships and positions that helped bring those detail oriented memories into a full time career. When I graduated college I held positions in radio promotion and for a large wireless phone provider as a corporate event planner but soon realized while I loved the details, organization and promotional aspect of my career I needed more… I needed emotion. I wanted to work with clients that were as passionate about their love and vision as I was. 

In 2007, this dream came to fruition with the opening of Antonia Christianson Events.  

2. What advice would you give someone thinking about becoming a Wedding Event Planner or Wedding Designer?
     I think I give the same advice to each person that contacts me about becoming a wedding or social event planner…Create realistic expectations with a clear vision of your future and research, research, research. I often hear through Antonia Christianson Events interns and newer industry professionals that they wish they had known more about the ins and outs of the event world before they went into business for themselves or chose the social events planning career path. 
     In our modern time, weddings are sensationalized and growing by leaps and bounds daily. The thought of becoming a planner is exhilarating and trendy but it is by no means easy or a  weekend job. If you are in a position that an internship would be applicable to you, I would recommend taking it, this will help gain real life experience and let you get a accurate vision of what it is that planners do on a day to day basis. 
     I would also invite event mentors from your community to lunch or for coffee, talk to them about when they were starting out, how you can grow and any advice that they might share with you. Having a mentor in your profession is key and something that has personally helped myself and my business grow. 
     Throughout these experiences and vendor research you will be able to create a clear vision with realistic expectations, and goals for your own potential business.

3. Before you built your reputation as a leading Wedding Planner or Wedding Designer, how did couples find out about your service and how did you land your first paying client?
     Luckily for me, I was born and raised in the market that I mainly plan out of. I had worked in radio promotion and corporate events for years so the transition to Social and Wedding Planning was easy and natural. 
     Many of the vendors that I had grown to know and love (and even grow up with) were already familiar with my level of professionalism and experience because they had worked with me first hand. 
     As I grew into the wedding industry many of my first paying clients were brought to me by the corporate event world. For me, it was an honor that these corporate professionals saw the need for me to grow outside of that bubble and to expand my planning business.

4. When you first started your business, If you could have done one thing differently, what would it have been? 
     If I had the knowledge that I do now about being a business owner when I first opened Antonia Christianson Events I would actually change two key things. First, I would have a more solid, proper contract. I look back at old contracts and laugh. I didn't have clients addresses, event dates, any detail of importance.  I had a simple one page “contract”  that listed what the client would get and no “fine print” to protect myself or my company…of even the client for that matter. 
     Thankfully no issues ever arose, but a strong contract is definitely something that should be taken seriously. 
     Second, I would have a stronger brand. It sounds silly for me to say coming from my marketing background but my “previous brand” was definitely lackluster. Our previous company logo, website, and over all company aesthetic or lack thereof makes me a bit uneasy to even think about. I am so proud of the steps that I took to make sure that myself, my staff and my company now exude the strong “Antonia Christianson Events Brand” that I had always envisioned.

5. What is the name of your business and why did you choose it?  Do you have any advice for people trying to decide on a name for their Wedding Planning or Designing business? 
     The name of my business is Antonia Christianson Events and I chose it for more than the obvious “It’s My Name”. When I was deciding what to name my business I had a million and one ideas running through my head, but a few key factors stood out. I wanted a name that showed my dedication to my clients and the industry along with something that could be abbreviated easily without ruining my brand.
     By naming my business my personal name it is a constant reminder that If I do something that I would be less than proud of, or my staff does…not only would business go down the drain, but so would my literal name. Many vendors and clients in my local market also call us “ACE” and I call my dedicated staff “TEAM ACE”. To me this represents not only that we are “top notch” but also that Antonia Christianson Events is a team effort, not just a one lady show.  
     If I were to give advice for new vendors trying to choose their business name I would say, think thoughtfully, make sure it is a name that can carry itself through many trends and decades of business along with something that you would be proud to call your own.

6. What type of people make the best Wedding Event Planners or Wedding Designers?
     I do not think there is one specific “type” of person that makes the best planner…but I do think there is definitely a common ground between most planners. In my experience, great planners always have their clients best interest at the forefront of their mind, they have a clear vision for the client (which goes past their personal opinion or taste), they are organized beyond belief and are able to speak eloquently and respectfully to couples and vendors alike.

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