How to Start Your Event Planning Business – Annette Nielsen

How to Start Your Event Planning Business – Annette Nielsen


>>How to start your wedding and event business. I am Annette Nielsen. I have been in the industry for over 29
years, both in this northwest and then down here in southern California. I have planned weddings from start to finish
and I also have worked with event and companies where I’ve gone in and have
restructured their event department. I’ve worked with facilities as well
where I am their event manager. What is nice about that is I know the
whole realm of how to work in the wedding and event industry, which
makes a tremendous difference. What inspired me to get started in the wedding
and event industry is the passion of being able to help people create something uniquely theirs. I enjoy working with each client
because they are each individual and that’s what this business is
about, is a very personal business. And what makes me an expert? Well, in the last 29 years, I have planned,
executed, and coordinated well over 2,000 events between weddings and other special events,
and it’s not what I do, it’s who I am, and I absolutely love it and
would not do anything else. So you want to start an event
and wedding planning business. What are the first three
things that you should do? Number one, get educated, and Cal State San
Marcos has a wonderful event planning program that makes a tremendous difference that
really gives you a step up in getting yourself into the event and wedding profession. Number two, you want to make sure that you are
getting into a mentoring program, internship. Get to work with a seasoned professional. You are that expert. If you do not know what you’re talking
about, the client will not be happy, so you need to get yourself educated,
work with a professional, and again, the Cal State San Marcos program requires you
to do both, which makes a tremendous difference, which puts you ahead of the rest, so
many people do not take those steps. The other one is networking. So many people don’t realize once you start a
business you’ve got to get yourself out there, so if you are not out there in your local
networking groups that are in your industry, you are not connecting with your peers. Wedding professionals and event professionals
refer other wedding professionals that they know on a personal level, that they know
will take care of their clients. I want to go over real quick
what the difference is between a facility coordinator
and a professional planner. There is a lot of misconception
of what a facility coordinator is. Everyone will say, “Oh, well, the
facility is providing the wedding planner.” Facilities do not provide
you with a wedding planner. A facility planner, as some of my
fabulous facility people who I know over the years have said to me,
“What we are, are sales people. Yes, we will help brides with a few little
things, but our ultimate job is to make sure that that facility, everything that they’ve
contracted that facility for is taken care of, but it is not my job to make
sure her vendors are there. It’s not my job to put down her
favors or any added decorations.” The facility is not responsible for the
bride’s or the client’s personal things. That is where a personal planner comes in,
and a personal planner’s job is really we are that liaison between the
facility and the bride and groom. We are also that liaison between the
vendors and that bride and groom. We are the person everyone goes to. If something goes wrong on a wedding day and
they don’t have a planner, who do they go to? They go to the bride or groom. When it’s a wedding day and the
planner is there, who do they go to? They go to the planner. I can’t tell you how many times
over the years there has been — I can always guarantee brides there will
be glitches, but you will never know about it because that’s why I’m there. I’m there to take care of those glitches. And so one of our biggest things a personal
planner does is make sure that the bride, the groom, and their guests truly get
to enjoy the day and they get to feel like a guest on their wedding day. Nothing is more rewarding to me
than when my clients say to me, “Thank you, I got to enjoy every moment.” That is what the true value of a wedding
planner is, or an event planner is. Your guests don’t have to
worry about the details. They don’t have to worry about the timing. Again, a facility coordinator, ultimately, if
you’re running behind, that’s not their problem. What they’re going to do is they’re going to
make sure that you’re getting to the dinner time when you’re supposed to because
ultimately that’s what’s important to them is the food is being served
when it’s supposed to be served. Other than that, it’s up to
you on the rest of the timing. So how to start your business. How to start a wedding and event business. Number one is deciding what
your business name is. So many people that’s a tough-time
thing to decide. I have two different businesses. One is Temecula Valley Wedding
Professionals and Events by Annette. Both of those business names
are fictitious business names. What is a fictitious business name? It is a business name that does
not have your last name in it. So if I had it as Nielsen Wedding
Professionals or Events by Annette Nielsen, then I would not need to get a DBA, and
that is what you’ll see next on there. After you see business name,
there’s then the DBA business name. That is your fictitious business
name, doing business as. You cannot get a business license with, say, Events by Annette without having your
DBA business license certificate first. You go to the county, you get your DBA, you
take that certificate, you go then to the city that you’re going to be opening your business. So in other words, my business address
is where I get my city license. Then I go to the city and I go and get
my city license, and then from there, I go and open a bank account, because as
a professional, it is very unprofessional to have your clients write
you a check to you personally. You have to have it go to your business. What that states to them is you
are not a professional business if it is not going to a business account. Next, after that, you need business insurance. I can’t tell you how many people in the event
industry do not realize how important having your business insurance is, those errors
and omissions, that liability insurance, that should always be the very next thing
you do before you even open your door. And nowadays facilities, because of how
weddings and events are such a huge production, they do require most outside vendors
to have a million-dollar policy, so that is very important, to be able to
provide them with that declaration page. After you get your business insurance,
start thinking about your branding. Branding is so very important in this
industry because it is your image, so when you create your brand, you’re creating
the look for your business cards, your website, your marketing, your social media, figuring out which social medias are
right for you in that industry. Real big in the event industry is
Pinterest because it’s all about the photos. It’s all visual and it helps
you to help your clients. So it’s very important that you look at
that branding, keep that consistent branding because that’s what gets
them to know that it is you. Whether it’s a magazine ad, a
website ad, a business card, a postcard, keep that consistent look. Makes a tremendous difference. Next, join networking groups,
local industry networking groups. Again, I can’t stress enough how important that
is in getting those connections with your peers and to get to know the facilities. That helps you build your
business better than anything else, not to mention when you are referred from
another wedding or event professional, that is those golden referrals because you
have already been endorsed to that client that you know what you’re talking about. Now the different styles of event planning. This is something that all wedding and event
planners have to think of: What is your style? When I talk to different
young ladies starting — and men starting in this
industry, I get across the board. Some only want to do day of
event, some only full service, some only want to do event to site. Know what your style is. Know what you want to market to the clients
because it makes a tremendous difference, and know everything about what you’re doing when
you are planning to market that to the client. So there is the day of the event planning,
month of planning, full service planning. You have offsite planning and that is one
that a lot of people don’t know a lot about. Offsite planning is a whole nother beast
because you don’t have the back of the house. We’re at a hotel, you have all of the
housemen doing all the tables and chairs. You have the servers setting
up all of the glassware, flatware, and china, the place settings. You have their full-on kitchen
staff that’s preparing all the food. On an offsite, you’re at a property
where there is nothing but the property. It’s a clean slate. You have to bring everything in. If you don’t know how to orchestrate
that, it can all fall apart, so that, you really need to be educated on those. Destination wedding planning
is becoming bigger and bigger. We’re in Temecula wine country. It is a big, big place to bring
in people from out of the area. Event design, helping people create that
image makes a tremendous difference, taking their vision and turning it into reality. So know your style. Know what is going to fit what your core values
are of what you want your wedding business and event business to be and that’s when
you’ll find the right clients for you. Next, I feel it’s so important for all people when they’re starting their any
business is their code of ethics. To me, it is very important. My golden rules are honesty, integrity, and
professionalism because when you stay consistent and true to your core values, you
will get respect in your industry and that business will come, and that to me is
number one, and these questions that you see up here on the board are just
some of the ones that I want you to ask yourself: What do I expect from others? You know, and what do I think is most important? When you’re planning an event, what do you find
is most important when you’re hiring someone? What is also, how do you dress for success? To me, your first impression is everything, and
how I — when I meet with someone, you know, if they’re dressed in jeans and a T-shirt,
to me that says they’re not professional. No matter if I’m going with a
client to an offsite property where I know I should really have
tennis shoes on because of the property, I’m going to dress professionally because
it may be the first time I’m meeting them. Now, if I’ve met with them and we’ve gone
through our process, then I know I can, on a property like that, dress in jeans and
tennis shoes because we’ve already established that first meeting, that first impression. That makes all the difference in the world. I always say do unto others as
you want them to do unto you. I want people to treat me with honesty and
professionalism and that’s how I treat others. That’s very, very important. And so, again, think of what your code of ethics
are, what you expect to do for your business and implement that and stay true to that. Business tools, over 25 years ago
when I started in the industry and where they are today
are a tremendous difference. It is amazing all the added
tools you have nowadays. But the one thing that I have to say that I feel
is very missing is some of the newer ones coming in the industry don’t realize how
important that personal touch still is. Even though you have all these fabulous ways
to communicate with that bride without picking up the phone, don’t forget to pick up that phone and have those personal touches
with your clients. Every so often just drop
a little note in the mail. People like that. That sets you apart from the rest. Those are just some of those simple things. Even though we have moved past that,
we still have to think about that. There are some people in the
industry will only text and email. They will never pick up a phone. I feel you lose a lot of business by doing that. And then how to build your
business, get out there. People are not going to come. Just because you hung up that shingle, they
are not going to come knocking at your door. You have to go and get yourself out there. Join the chamber of commerce. Join other local networking groups. Get yourself out in front of people. Go knock on doors. I can’t tell you, over the years, how
many times I’ve gone and knocked on doors, and I’ve had doors shut in my face, but I’ll
go and knock on more, because they won’t know who I am if I’m not out there getting to them. They’re not going to come to my door
without me going and asking them to. And so now begins the journey
of planning your own wedding and event business and I
wish you a lot of success.

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